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First time to Japan for 2 person (Feb 2015). Need help with itinerary.

Posted by Ericchan7 on 2/8/2014 at 08:53

Dear all, would appreciate if you guys could give us some advice as we are looking to travel to Japan for the first time!

Our travelling dates are 1-16 Feb 2015, we are planning to visit Kyoto (1-6 Feb), Hokkaido (7-12 Feb) & Tokyo (13-15 Feb). Effectively we have 15 days & nights in Japan, as we are having morning flight back to Singapore on the 16th.

1) Recommended way for us to travel from Kyoto to Hokkaido and Hokkaido to Tokyo. We should be getting the 14-day JR pass to save cost.

Following are some of the objectives we want to include in our itinerary:
- Culture... Temples/shrines in Kyoto -> Have not decided which one we are heading, feel free to advise.
- Nara (not exactly sure what's there but saw some article about some deers on the streets)
- History... Hiroshima & Miyajima Islands
- Scenery for phototaking... Takayama? Mt Fuji.
- Castles... Matsumoto?
- Snow Monkey
- Onsen! in Hokkaido?
- Sapporo Snow Festival & Otaru Snow Light Path Festival (6-15 Feb)
- fresh sashimi and Seafood market and shiroi kobito chocolate factory
- Hokodate seafood market and some sightseeing?
- as for Tokyo, just some shopping around the City i supposed?
2) From this list, anything that we should skip?

3) Any other recommended itinerary that we must add on?

Looking forward to hearing from you guys! Many thanks!

Eric

#1 Ericchan7 has been a member since 2/8/2014. Posts: 1


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Posted by foodtravellife on 19/9/2014 at 18:08

There's so much to see in Japan so I'd recommend saving time and flying to and from Hokkaido from the south rather than training it all.

Sapporo snow festival is amazing, so much to see and loads of photo opportunities. As is Otaru, very romantic. It's also worth heading out to Noboribetsu Onsen, Hokkaido's most famous hot spring resort. (blog post here Noboribetsu Onsen)

Hiroshima is incredibly interesting. You can get some great shots of the water shrines. If you're going to go all the way down south-west to Hiroshima from Hokkaido, that's a lot of mileage you're covering? Might be better off concentrating on just a few destinations perhaps?

#2 foodtravellife has been a member since 19/9/2014. Posts: 6
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Posted by kuroneko on 21/9/2014 at 01:48

Hi,
First, I'm not sure who recommended getting a 14 day JR Pass for you - with your itinerary, you will almost certainly recoup the costs of it, but there is a huge amount of wasted time. Just by going Tokyo-Sapporo takes about 770 minutes, according to hyperdia.com - it can't even calculate it from Osaka or Kyoto - it's just too far. Taking the train is INSANE.
You should consider flying to/from Hokkaido, and perhaps using some local train passes for within Kansai and the Kanto areas.
You can fly from Osaka to Sapporo in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
For flights there are a few possibilities - one is an airpass - available both through JAL and ANA. If you take a One World or Star Alliance airline for your international flights it gets even better. See:
www.jal.co.jp/yokosojapan/
www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/fare/special/airpass.html
www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/fare/special/visit.html
Another possibility is through ANA's experience Japan fare:
www.ana.co.jp/wws/us/e/wws_common/promotion/experience_jp/
Be warned though that for the last one, there are no date changes or refunds, and for at least the first 3 you must be ticketed before you arrive in Japan.
You could also try a low cost carrier like
http://www.jetstar.com/jp/en/home
http://www.skymark.jp/en/
and then check various regional rail passes on:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html
Note also that the JR Pass is not valid on city subways/buses etc.
For Kyoto there are too many temples and shrines to see with your time. And the dead of winter is not the best time to see the beautiful flowers that come out. But 3 of the biggest places to see are Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), Kiyomizudera, and the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The first you can see quite leisurely in 30-45 minnutes, tops. Kiyomizudera may take 90 minutes or less, and Fushimi, depends on how far up the mountain you want to go. Some samples are at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7ayLBJI_Sw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gct9a91IMJg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EandKTAwfOM
For other ideas, try: http://www.kyoto.travel
As for Nara, no there are no deer on the streets, but Nara is a must-see place for at least 3/4 of a day. The Todaiji Great Buddha is an icon of Japan, and Nara Park is where it is (about 20 min on foot from the JR Nara Stn). The park is also where the deer are, as well as on the other side the Kasuga Taisha shrine, which is really quite tranquil and worthwhile.
If you're going to see Hiroshima and Miyajima, you could only briefly see a few areas in Hiroshima City, like a fast look through the Peace Park/Museum. Miyajima will take up at least 3/4 of a day, and with little daylight in February you'll be hard pressed to see much. Two days would be better.
For the rest of your trip, it's hard to imagine when you are going to see Takayama. It'd be over 4 and a half hours to even get there from Tokyo. You could reach Matsumoto in about two and a half hours, but as a day trip that's 5 hours lost in a day there and back. For Mt. Fuji it'd be far better to see Hakone - many times Fuji is obscured by fog or clouds - you can get a good view of it from Hakone if the weather cooperates, but there are also other things to see there as well.

#3 kuroneko has been a member since 21/9/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by avidtraveler189 on 3/11/2014 at 05:10

I found the most convenient way (at least for me traveling to Japan for business) was to avoid dodgy drivers and use a reliable private car service. My colleague suggested Asia Car Service to me if you are looking to do some tours and go to some nice places they were able to arrange that for my family as well while I was in meetings. Also, them providing an English speaking driver was super convenient. Hope this helps with any of your travel woes and enjoy your trip! Cheers

#4 avidtraveler189 has been a member since 3/11/2014. Posts: 2


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