I'm looking to spend the first two weeks of May in Japan and want to get as much planned in advance as possible (it's 'Golden Week' from 29th April - 5th May so hostels etc. are likely to be busy). My guidebook is already getting grotty from the constant reading but I'd also so like some advice from people who have been there before...
The vague plan at the moment is... few days in Tokyo then get the bullet train Kyoto, then onto Hiroshima (one night maybe?). However, I'd like some advice on what 'side trips' are worth doing on the way - Nara? Takayama? And whether to continue further South from Hiroshima; we'd defiinitely like to experience an Onsen or two ;-)
Come on guys, or does everyone just go to NZ and Oz nowadays?!
Not too worried about cost. We'd like to keep it to a minimum once the Japan Rail pass and accommodation has been bought, of course, but we don't want to miss out on anything.
I arrive in Japan on the 29th April where I will be I will be travelling for two weeks. I've got no route planned, there seems to much to see ans do. I'm interested to visit mount Fuji tho. Are you buying a Japanese rail pass?
Well Kay's house in Kyoto was one of my favorite places to stay.
To get a bit off the beaten path I loved Kanazawa - has some of Japan's best gardens, interesting markets and is a very friendly little city. Well worth a day or two by itself. The seaside resort town of Waijima was an experience, and was easily accessed from Kanazawa and gives you a look at the west coast of Japan which is largely off the tourist and guidebook trail.
Nara is well worth a day.
if money isn't a big problem stay at any of the businessman hotels when you can't find a good hostel place. There are quite nice and I liked the Heartson and Green hotel chains a fair bit.
I actually enjoyed going to Osaka and Nagoya too - gives you quite a sense of modern Japan which I didn't really feel in the vast sprawl of Tokyo. Plus is was lots of fun to go to a Japanese baseball game to see the depth of passion that the fans have and to see "sport" through their eyes.
Taking in a sumo match is fun, but needs to be coordinated on the sumo schedule.
I never made it south even as far as hiroshima since I found so much stuff in the center of the country, but I'd want to go north more than south anyway to see what is left of "wild" Japan in Hokkaido.
Hope that helps a little.
Thanks, DocNY, that's really useful.
Seany - We're getting railpasses because, having looked at the trainfares, a return from Tokyo - Kyoto is almost the same price. If you're travelling any further, like we are, then it seems to be worth getting one.
Ok - the draft itinerary is as follows
Tokyo - 3 nights
Kyoto - 3 nights
Nagasaki - 2 nights (recommended by a friend)
Nagasaki to Hiroshima (day trip) onto Matsuyama
Matsuyama (2 nights)
Kanazawa (2 nights)
Kanazawa back to Toyko (1 night)
Any thoughts from anyone? Based on japan-guide.com, this seems a do-able route but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's done any of the journies.