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Suggestions for Spring 2018 trip to Japan for Repeat Visitors?

Suggestions for Spring 2018 trip to Japan for Repeat Visitors?

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Old Nov 22, 17, 12:55 pm
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Question Suggestions for Spring 2018 trip to Japan for Repeat Visitors?

Hoping to get some suggestions on planning a spring 2018 trip to Japan.
The missus and I are considering taking advantage of some cheap flights on ANA to Tokyo that have spotty availability from now to June. We're thinking of traveling in the spring (March to June) timeframe for about 2 to 2.5 weeks. Looking to avoid Golden Week. Focus on festivals and food. Catching Sakura would be nice but not critical. The dates that kind of work for flights and work are the latter part of March, mid-April, and mid-late May. Thinking of avoiding June due to rainy season (?).
Thoughts on dates and corresponding festivals to hit?

We've been to Japan a few times (me=6, her=4) so we've caught a lot of the common places (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshimi, Miyajima, Mt Koya, Fuji Five Lakes, Kinosaki) and vicinity, some a few times and have our favourites there. We'll build in some repeats but looking to add a few new places. A few cities/towns we haven't been to that kind of stand out in terms of food destinations we're considering are Nagoya, Hakodate, Fukuoka, Matsumoto,and Okinawa. We've been meaning to visit Hokkaido and Okinawa. I doubt we can fit both in this trip from a practical perspective. We're also thinking about just getting a 2 week railpass and going up and down the country from Sappopro to Fukuoka even though it sounds to be grueling and we'd be back tracking a bit if we started in Tokyo. Might have to consider tacking on flights on a LCC if just for one way of each the northern most and southern most locations.
Thoughts on places to visit and transport ideas?

TIA.
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Old Nov 22, 17, 2:37 pm
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I have done open jaw Canada - Sapporo/Hakodate ; Fukuoka -Canada , and a 7 day rail pass from North to South, with additional nights and regional passes spent at both ends of the country. Or used discounted domestic tickets (10,800 yen) on ANA/JAL to fly long distances.

Lesser travelled areas using regional passes: Shikoku, San'in
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Old Nov 22, 17, 4:26 pm
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My favorite less traveled areas are Shikoku, San'in Coast (Matsue/Izumo) and Kyushu. As a self-confessed rail geek, I have also done the rail trip from NRT up through Tohoku to Hokkaido and back, which was very enjoyable but a bit tiring. For that, I would suggest building in a couple of days at, say, Sendai/Matsushima, Hakodate, Sapporo or Asahikawa and maybe Aomori or Morioka on the way back.

I don't think even I would try Tokyo-Hokkaido-Kyushu-Tokyo by train all in one trip. That would be exhausting. With only a couple of weeks, it might be better to go either north or southwest, not both.
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Old Nov 22, 17, 5:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Jay71 View Post
We've been meaning to visit Hokkaido and Okinawa. I doubt we can fit both in this trip from a practical perspective.
Why not?

Not that GF & I saw a ton of either place but in an eleven day trip, we did Sapporo, Hakodate, Yokohama, Tokyo and Iriomote (part of Okinawa). While the time was certainly short for all the places, in a fourteen to seventeen/eighteen day trip, you could certainly spend a decent amount of time in Hokkaido and Okinawa.

I had been wanting to visit Hakodate for a few years now and we ended up doing three days/two nights, which I thought was enough. I guess we could've extended it another day to spend some time at Onuma Quasi-National Park but having passed through it while on the train between Sapporo and Hakodate, I didn't think we missed out a ton but not getting to properly see it. As for Okinawa, we spent our time on Iriomote for a length of four days/three nights but the travel to/from Iriomote took up a lot of time. Once there, I felt like we had scheduled the proper amount of days but to be fair, we did not do a lot of the typical things tourists do in Iriomote (river cruise, Yubu Island visit, etc.). I'm not sure what your plan would be on Okinawa (or Miyakojima or Ishigaki) but once again, for such a long time in Japan, you could reserve enough time for Okinawa.
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Old Nov 24, 17, 10:24 am
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll be looking up these regions/towns this weekend.
Unfortunately the flight deal is gone but I think we're still set on heading to Japan again this year.

I prefer doing open jaw. Originally, I didn't think the flight deal allowed it but some some subsequent info suggested there were some options to fly back from Osaka which would have been nice.
I know 2.5 weeks isn't a lot of time but one of the things I think we'd like to do is with the rail pass, get off the train to explore town along the way for an hour or two before continuing onto the destination for the day.
While we're pretty go-go-go type travelers, there are a lot of things we kind of like to repeat so that's why I don't think we'd be able to tack on both Hokkaido and Okinawa. We're happy to travel to Japan frequently enough that we feel we can add in things on subsequent trips. But we'll check out the logistics more closely once we start building the itinerary.
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Old Nov 24, 17, 2:26 pm
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Some places I've been and enjoyed that are not on your list of have-been places:

* Hakone
* Himeji (castle renovations are done now, so you can go inside)
* Nakasendo trail
* Sapporo (though you do have Hakodate on your list of possibles)
* Sendai
* Kamakura
* Nikko
* Takayama

How grueling your plan is would come down a lot to how much stuff you'll carry around with you and how easy it is for you to pack and unpack to move.

For 2-2.5 week trips, I've almost always found a 7 day pass to suffice. I usually do a few days in a big city at the ends, and do my nomad act in the middle. If you really don't want to spend any significant time in one place, that might not work for you. But, if food is a heavy focus for you, you'd miss a lot not to spend a chunk of time in Tokyo and/or Osaka.

For domestic flights, you don't have to go LCC to get cheap prices - there is a fairly universal 10,000Y/flight deal for foreigners for just about any domestic flight.
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Old Nov 24, 17, 5:57 pm
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Originally Posted by angra View Post
... For 2-2.5 week trips, I've almost always found a 7 day pass to suffice. I usually do a few days in a big city at the ends, and do my nomad act in the middle. ...
I can +1 this. With an open jaw, I'd try to do 3 days or so in Tokyo upon arrival, 7 days on the move and then 3-4 days at the end in Kansai before leaving from KIX. If you still want a little mobility during that last week or so you could add a Kansai regional pass to supplement the 7-day ordinary Rail Pass. The Kansai Wide Area Pass covers travel over a very wide area (pun intended) from Biwa-ko to Okayama/Kurashiki and even to Takamatsu on Shikoko. There are limits to which trains may be used so you'd want to be familiar with the rules.
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Old Nov 25, 17, 10:37 am
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I'm back in Tokyo next Spring having been a repeat visitor. The tickets are booked and coincide with the Easter School Holidays (they just get more expensive from here on in).

I've been to Matsumoto with my parents and had the chance to go back and take my daughter there a couple of years ago. It's hands down my favourite castle in Japan and the last visit coincided with the Sakura in full bloom. Fabulous! And not at all crowded.

I want to take my kid to Nikko this year. Wanting to return to places so that I can show them to a child is the highest recommendation I have really.

My brand new destination will be Okinawa. Am planning a trip with the kid and my Japanese father-in-law. None of us have ever been. Main draw is the snorkelling. Alas, I'll have to go easy on the awamori and just focus on getting it back in a suitcase - eventually I'll drink it at leisure when someone else is looking after LapChild.
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Old Nov 26, 17, 4:00 pm
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Nagasaki is lovely.
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Old Nov 26, 17, 10:53 pm
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Originally Posted by jphripjah View Post
Nagasaki is lovely.
Kyushu in general is worth a visit, probably could figure out how to do a really nice week there between the volcanoes, onsen, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka.
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Old Nov 28, 17, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
Kyushu in general is worth a visit, probably could figure out how to do a really nice week there between the volcanoes, onsen, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka.
I third this- spent five days in Kyushu and loved Nagasaki- one of my favorite cities in Japan. I liked Kumamoto, Beppu,and Kagoshima as well. You could easily spend a week there. I'd advise either combing it with Shikoku or flying between Kyushu and Hokkaido.
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Old Nov 28, 17, 6:59 pm
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Agree with kevincrumbs that you could really do both Hokkaido and Okinawa if you wanted.

Originally Posted by Jay71 View Post
A few cities/towns we haven't been to that kind of stand out in terms of food destinations we're considering are Nagoya, Hakodate, Fukuoka, Matsumoto,and Okinawa.
TIA.
I'm going to Okinawa for the first time next year but, from what I've seen, it doesn't exactly seem like a culinary mecca. Not like Tokyo or Fukuoka or Hokkaido. If you're doing Hokkaido, you should wait until late spring when it's warmer. Hakodate is nice but a bit limited. For me, a couple days was enough. You can spend a week to explore the Hakodate-Onuma-Noboribetsu-Sapporo-Otaru corridor.

Originally Posted by angra View Post
* Hakone
* Himeji (castle renovations are done now, so you can go inside)
* Nakasendo trail
* Sapporo (though you do have Hakodate on your list of possibles)
* Sendai
* Kamakura
* Nikko
* Takayama
Yeah, I love Hakone. Takayama is nice. Kanazawa is not far from Takayama, is a nice town, and warrants more time than Takayama. Love Sapporo.

Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
Kyushu in general is worth a visit, probably could figure out how to do a really nice week there between the volcanoes, onsen, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka.
Totally. Great to spend 7-10days driving around northern Kyushu. Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Sasebo area, Shimabara/Unzen, Kumamoto/Aso (assuming it's back to normal).
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Old Nov 28, 17, 8:00 pm
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If you wanted to try something different - go to Shikoku - Matsuyama and Kochi. The food in Kochi is particularly excellent and well Matsuyama has Dogo Onsen.

After that you can go to Kyuushuu via the overnight ferry from Matsuyama.
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Old Nov 29, 17, 6:40 pm
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If you enjoy art and architecture, I highly recommend visiting Naoshima and the surrounding islands like Teshima, Inujima and Shodoshima. Check out the Benesse Art Site homepage for more details. You can stay on Naoshima or on the mainland in Uno port (Honshu) or Takamatsu port (Shikoku) and ferry over every day.
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Old Dec 22, 17, 10:23 pm
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Nothing here. Move on.

Someone else in this thread, with thousands more posts here on Flyertalk, has reacted harshly to my responses.
He must know better than do I.
So I have removed those contentious responses, and will not clutter up this thread again.

Last edited by pudgym29; Jan 21, 18 at 6:24 pm
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