Backpacking Japan alone: need help organizing!
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 6, 2013 11:41 PM Last Post By: kokiri
Dec 9, 2012 6:29 PM
Backpacking Japan alone: need help organizing!Hi everybody! I'll be in Japan from 7 to 26 January. I just bought tickets and I don't have much time to organize my trip. I'm trying to see as many places as possible (is my first time in Japan) without spending too much money. I'm not very interested in big cities, I prefer to visit temples, castles, sanctuary, nature and small towns (the traditional Japan). Here is my program, what do you think? Do you suggest changes?
1 ) Arrive in Tokyo
2 ) Tokyo
3 ) Tokyo
4 ) Tokyo-Nikko
5 ) Tokyo-Kamakura
6 ) Tokyo->Ise->Nagoya
7 ) Nagoya->Kanazawa
8 ) Kanazawa
9 ) Kanazawa->Kyoto
10 ) Kyoto
11 ) Kyoto
12 ) Kyoto
13 ) Kyoto-Nara
14 ) Kyoto->Mount Koya
15 ) Mount Koya->Okayama
16 ) Okayama->Manabe Shima->Miyajima
17 ) Miyajima
18 ) Miyajima->Tokyo
19 ) Back to Italy
What do you think? Too many places? Do you suggest to book hostels online for every city? Do you suggest any website/hostel for these cities? Please give my any advice, I need your help! Thank you very much
Dec 9, 2012 7:02 PM
Hi everybody! I'll be in Japan from 7 to 26 January.
How did you plan on moving between cities? A 14-day JR Pass will probably pay off. Alternatively, you can use overnight buses or buses for some of the journeys.
I'd probably change this and go Nagoya - Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa - Kyoto. You could overnight in Takayama and Kanazawa or if you wish to try sleeping in a tradition farmhouse (Gassho Zukuri) you could also overnight in Shirakawago. If you don't stay in Shirakawago then it can be explored in 2-4 hours as a stop between Takayama and Kanazawa.
You may wish to add a day to this loop though.
The rest seems fine.
Looks good overall.
It is a fast pace at times but would be fine for me.
Yes. And a temple at Koyasan if you can afford it:-
Note that if you do decide on the 14-day JR Pass it must be purchased before you come to Japan and is priced at 45,100 yen.
Dec 9, 2012 7:32 PM
2thank you for your very useful answer. Yes I was thinking to buy the 14 days japan rail pass. Can I use it to do all these routes?
Dec 9, 2012 8:35 PM
That's what I would do.
Access to Mount Koya is not covered, so I would look into the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket which you can purchase at Namba or Shin-Imamiya Stations in Osaka.
Minabe-Shima is obviously not covered.
Everything else looks ok, although if you take my suggestion about Takayama/Shirakawago then the buses from Takayama to Shirakawago to Kanazawa are not covered (4200 yen total).
Transport within some of the cities like Kyoto are not really covered either but most of them will only be 500 yen or so per day maximum.
Dec 9, 2012 8:55 PM
4Good advice from acc. I would ask your airline if they fly out of Osaka and if an open jaws ticket costs any extra, to save you going back to Tokyo? I'd also spend a 1/2 day in Hiroshima, because you go through there anyway to get to Miyajima. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial
Dec 9, 2012 9:08 PM
5K's House(=hostel chain that is greatly suported by many foreign travelers who travel to Japan) covers Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima(→Miyajima) and also Takayama(→Shirakawagou) if you stop there on the way to Kanazawa（in ＃１）
in the case it's OK to you-----
*Reservation on line
Dec 10, 2012 12:34 AM
6Personally I would allow less time on Miyajima (which is tiny), unless you want to daytrip to Hiroshima from there.
Do you suggest to book hostels online for every city?
Mid January is not a very busy time for tourism, so finding accommodation on short notice is not a problem. If you want to keep your itinerary flexible, booking a day before or even same day (by phone) should not be a problem. Just be aware that in Japan you are expected to book any accommodation. Backpacker hostels are likely not that strict about it, but turning up at a ryokan-minshuku without prior notice is not a good idea.
You may book online (if available) or via phone (the usual option in Japan). Not all the places in your itinerary will have budget hostel accommodation, e.g. Miyajima, Koyasan,...
Dec 10, 2012 12:48 AM
7You might want to arrange your itinerary to hit a festival or two. See for instance:
But there are many many more. Do a search for any city or prefecture you are passing through. For instance for Kamakura: http://www.kamakuratoday.com/e/event.html
Edited by: bamse
Dec 17, 2012 5:39 AM
8If you like castles then Himeji is a must. It's the best one in Japan and can conveniently be visited as a half day on the way to Okayama. Also I'd recommend an overnight in a traditional old house such as the ones in Shirakawago near Takayama or Tsumago/Magome near Nagoya.
Don't forget it will be very very cold and probably snowy, especially in Koya, Kanazawa and Shirakawago so take plenty of warm clothes
I would skip Manabeshima unless you have a special reason for going there. Is lovely in summer but probably gets very quiet/closed down in winter.
You could also shave a day or half day off Tokyo and Miyajima to make more time in other parts of your schedule.
Booking ahead isn't usually necessary except for Saturday nights when it tends to be busier or for traditional inns where they prepare meals for the guests. Note that Jan 14 is a public holiday so sun 13th maybe busy too.
Dec 17, 2012 5:55 AM
You do realise it is being renovated and currently covered by scaffolding, and that the main keep is either partially or completely off-limits to tourists?
I'd skip it and pick a different castle like Hikone Castle if you wish to see a Japanese Castle, which is an easy half-day trip from Kyoto. Alternatively, pick one of the other 12 originals around the country or one of the many other reconstructed castles.
Dec 17, 2012 6:06 AM
10No sorry I didn't realize that. So skip Himeji then. I wouldn't recommend Hikone though, it's pretty small and the upper levels are covered with chicken wire to keep pigeons out. Matsumoto castle would be a good pick but it's not really on your route. Inuyama is on the small side too but easy to visit from Nagoya
Jan 6, 2013 11:41 PM
11I always wonder why people always want to visit Ise when there is really not much to see; It's so sacred to the japanese that all the buildings are surrounded by a fence and you can really see the architecture. Plus on festive days it's packed with japanese people. It's quite far too from Kyoto or Osaka.
I loved the wedded rock though but that's a little bit outside the main shrine.
(5 star Hotel)
From US$421.79 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$348.33 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$230.62 per night