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Need help for itinerary and best travel options for japan

family of 4 will travel to japan in may of 2020.we will fly to Sapporo from Canada first as we wish to visit a friend in ashoro for a few days. we will fly from Sapporo to naha Okinawa and stay for a week then fly to Nagasaki to begin our mainland tour. we will have a month to enjoy the japan mainland with interest in culture, nature, history,martial arts, traditional food. we would like to not have to change accomodations too much and like a leisurely pace and would like to spend more time in Kyoto and Tokyo with maybe a week at each. could you suggest a travel itinerary for us to end at a city where we can end our trip and fly home from. we appreciate any suggestions as we are not familiar with japan and travel times. also which type of rail passes would be more economical for our travels. thank you in advance for any help which we greatly need and appreciate.



Comments

  • Hello Funky.

    You will be traveling around Japan for more than a couple weeks and at an especially leisurely pace.

    The nationwide JR passes are really meant for (more or less) intensive rail travel within 7, 14 or up to 21 days, typically paying off with a round trip to your fly-in/fly-out city, which it doesn't appear you'd be doing.

    It's hard to recommend anything without you deciding on any details of what cities or regions you intend to hit up over the course of your month.

    However, my very personal suggestion is to tackle Japan in two "segments" with your first break being your week in Kyoto. The tail end of your second segment would have you leaving Japan from Tokyo after your week in there. Tokyo is where the bulk of Western carriers fly from.

    For each of these two segments, you would travel with a different rail pass.

    These are my suggestions:

    Segment 1: JR Sanyo Sanin Northern Kyushu Pass
    https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_sanyo_sanin_kyushu.html

    You mentioned not wanting to change accomodations too much. I suggest using Hiroshima or Okayama as your base for this segment. Naturally, the Shinkansen (red line on map) is extremely quick and can conveniently whisk you around much of the coverage area.


    Segment 2: Your choice between Hokuriku Arch Pass (or the 7-day JR Pass if you would instead like to explore the Tohoku region).
    https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_arch.html
    https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/pass-regional/central/osaka-tokyo-hokuriku-arch-pass?ap=j0095g

    I suggest basing yourself in Kanazawa/Toyama and Nagano for this segment.

    Each listed pass is good for seven days of travel, totaling a month with your stays in Kyoto and Tokyo.

    Remember this is just my idea, or what I would do. Feel free to follow up with a question if you'd like!
  • hi Faiyez Thank you for the info. I had planned Nagasaki-3 nights, fukuoka 3 nights, matsue 3 nights, Hiroshima/miyajima 3 nights, Matsuyama 2 nights, kochi 2 nights,takamatsu 1 night then Kyoto and Tokyo for 1 week each. I wasn't sure what order to do this in or with what means of transportation. thank you for helping me with my travel. what order do you think is best for these places and am I staying too long in some. thanks again.
  • Hi.

    An optimal routing would be Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Kochi, Takamatsu, Matsue and Kyoto.

    I have determined that a 14 day JR Pass can offer savings for your trip during two of your weeks in Japan.

    If your first 3 days are in Nagasaki and your next 3 days are in Fukuoka, activate a 14-day Pass on your fifth or sixth day while in Fukuoka. The last valid day of the pass would be on the day you leave Matsue for Kyoto.

    Please note that using Japan Railways to travel to and around Shikoku can be a bit slower and roundabout. For instance, the segment from Hiroshima to Matsuyama would be through Okayama.

    Outside of the 14 days of coverage, you have a trip from Nagasaki to Fukuoka, as well as a trip from Kyoto to Tokyo. You would book your trips normally for those two segments. In the case of Kyoto to Tokyo, besides the Shinkansen, consider the option of flying.

    I hope this is useful!
  • Hi Faiyez I thank you for the useful information. I want to look at all my options for travel also. The only reason I travel to Hokkaido first is to try and catch the end of the cherry blossom season there. also I wanted to see Okinawa before the rainy season began,and also to avoid Golden week. do you think I would be ok to go to hakkaido or Okinawa during golden week as they might not be as busy as the mainland. If I could alter my schedule would it be better to go from Tokyo to Nagasaki area stopping to see the sites on this route and then leave on the coastal route to matsue seeing the sites there and then do Kyoto and lastly Tokyo. Im just looking for the easiest and most economical way without backtracking. We just want to see as much of japan as we can at a leisurely pace. we like history, culture, old architecture,martial arts history, traditional foods, some theatre plays, interaction with Japanese people, old traditional trades and means of gathering food for everyday life. Thank you again Faiyez for any of your valuable input.
  • Okinawa should be especially busy for Golden Week.

    If you look closely at a map of Japan, you should determine what route is more straightforward.

    If you tackle Japan within the confines of the regions described in regional rail passes, you could have the most savings. There are quite a few options to choose from.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks again Faiyez.
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