Have a question ?
Use our forum

Hokkaido/Nagoya/Osaka. First trip in Japan

Hi Tenjin,

Need your advice here...3 of us will be travelling to Hokkaido (Sapporo) on 29/12/2019 and leave from Osaka on 10/1/2020

Stay in Sapporo and also Hakodate - 5D4N. Still not decide yet whether should take train from Hakodate to Nagoya or take flight.
Stay in Nagoya - 4D3N (2/1/2020). Plan to go Shirakawa for one day trip.
Stay in Osaka - 6D5N (5/01/2020). Plan to go Kyoto, Kobe & Nara

Do you think this itinerary is OK ? Do you recommend JR ALL Pass ? If i buy JR ALL then we might take the train from travel from Hokadate to Nagoya. It's crazy I know.. It's a bit costly if we buy JR ALL and inter-flight ticket together.


Thank you !!


  • I think you could make a case either way - it depends on how much you value your time.
    You can get a cheap ticket from Hakodate to Nagoya for example on ANA's Experience Japan Fare.
    From NGO it is a 30 minute train ride into central Nagoya. If you choose this way, you could use a Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass.

    The other option is by train - you left out how long you plan to be in Sapporo vs Hakodate. But if you activate the pass in Sapporo, you can use it on the train to Hakodate as well. The trouble is it will take you a minimum of 6½ hours to get to Nagoya from Hakodate. You will have to change trains in Tokyo, and wait for a Hikari train - there are only about 2 per hour (you cannot ride Nozomi trains with the pass). The other issue is that there is no rail access to Shirakawago - you will have to pay for the bus from Takayama to Shirakawago. The Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass though covers the 2600 yen bus fare - and if it's still valid on Jan 10, you can use it to go to KIX.
    If you have the chance, seeing Kanazawa is also very worthwhile. Since your time in Kansai looks pretty short, you can see most of the best in Nara in half a day at Nara Park.
    For Kyoto, you could not see all there is in 6 months. But you can see a lot of the best most efficiently in the Higashiyama area - there are tons of good places almost next door to each other. There are loads of good places all over though.
    You should be aware though that some places will close at the end/start of the year. Worst case, there are always convenience stores like 7-11 open, and if you need to get yen, their ATMs are always available.
    I highly recommend you verify the places you plan to go to are open first.
    You won't find champagne and fireworks on New Years Eve. But you can celebrate the Japanese way - Kyoto's Fushimi Inari Taisha & Osaka's Sumiyoshi Taisha are 2 big busy shrines.
    You can check on train info on Hyperdia - you can see regular fares, routes, and schedules.

    Also, you can look at some previews of some of the best places to see in Japan on:

    There are also loads of other tips on

    Best regards.
  • Hi Tenjin,

    We plan to stay in Sapporo for 2 nights and Hakodate 2 nights. I think there is no choice that we have to buy JR hokkaido pass if we want to see around between Sapporo-Otaru-Hakodate, am I right ?

    As per your advice, i went to see the train and bus line covered Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, i saw that it is covered Kyoto, Osaka & KIX. Actually we flight to Nagoya is mainly for visit Shirakawago, then I saw we can actually go Shirakawago from Kanazawa. Since you also recommend seeing Kanazawa. Is it better if we flight to KIX instead of NGO from HKD ?

    I think we should skip Nara so that we have more time in Kyoto and Osaka ? So far i have yet survey where to go in Kyoto and Osaka. I will watch the youtube link you shared later. Thank you so much !
  • Hi,
    Well first, a Hokkaido Rail Pass would not pay off with a round trip to Otaru and to Hakodate one way. If you are going to Nagoya just for Shirakawago, it would make more sense to fly to Kansai instead of Nagoya. It only takes a few hours to see Shirakawago (and don't miss the overlook over the village), and for the rest of your time, it would be more productive to spend it in Kansai. Every place has something, in fact near Nagoya in Inuyama is Meiji Mura, which is the finest open air museum in Japan, but Nagoya is one of the least interesting big cities in the country.
    You could do Kanazawa and Shirakawago as a day trip, though it would need an early morning start and be rather painful. You do actually have a closer alternative though - you could see Miyama.
    You can get there in half the time, and it's less crowded - Shirakawago is flooded with Chinese tourists.
    Regardless, it seems to me you still have the time to see Nara. To miss it would be a tragedy. Osaka has not that much for the daytime. For temples and shrines, Kyoto & Nara vastly outshine it. It has a nice but pricey aquarium, and the usual big city stuff. Where Osaka does best is at night - it has some great places like Dotonbori and Shinsekai, which you can see after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto. The night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, Abeno Harukas Bldg, and Cosmo Tower are also very good, best seen just before sunset to watch day turn to night.
    And if you move the 4D/3N from Nagoya to Kansai, you also free up more time to see other places - Himeji is one, with the country's finest surviving castle (most are reconstructed fakes, and Osaka Castle isn't even a reconstruction but a museum with a castle facade over it).
  • Hi Tenjin,

    Based on your advice, here is my tentative itinerary.

    Day 1-3 : Reach Sapporo in the morning. Stay 2 nights.
    Day trip Otaru & Ashahikawa
    Day 3-5: Train to Hakodate. Stay 2 nights.
    Day trip to Hokuto, Mount Hakodate.
    Day 5-8: Flight to Osaka. Train to Kyoto. Stay 3 nights.
    Day trip to Kanazawa & Shirakawago.
    Day trip to Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu-dera (alternative)
    Day 8-12 Train to Osaka. Stay 5 nights. Explore Osaka, Dotonbori, Shinsekai, Shopping, etc
    Day trip to Nara Park, Universal Studio, Himeji Castle.
    Day 13: Free n Easy in Osaka. Depart from Kansai Airport at night.

    Do you have any other recommend place must go during winter time ?
  • edited October 2019
    Not sure why some part of my comment was missing. Sorry to add here.

    "With this itinerary, am I still need to buy Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass? Or i can just buy regular price ticker for my trip ? I am actually quite confusing on the JR pass, what pass I need for which type of transportation ? "
  • Hi,
    OK, if you are doing things like adding Asahikawa, that changes the equation - so if you can do that day trip as well as go to Hakodate on your last day, the 3 Day Hokkaido Rail Pass could pay off.
    Also if you are going to Himeji, then if you can bundle that with going to Nara and KIX, a Kansai Area Pass might work for you.
    Or alternatively, a Kansai Thru Pass might work - you can use it on non-JR trains and subways.
    For Kyoto, you could in fact spend a half day at Fushimi Inari alone if you want to run through all the trails, but otherwise, you could fit in some other sights on that day as well - Tofukuji between what you mention is good, as well as Sanjusangendo. Walking through Higashiyama (Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka etc) also captures a lot of the traditional Kyoto atmosphere, though it is swamped with tourists.
    Another option you have if you have the energy is after a day of sightseeing in Kyoto is going to spend the evening in Kobe - its waterfront is popular, plus its Chinatown is one of Japan's best, and there are some other good sights there as well.
    For Himeji, you can see the castle and beautiful Kokoen Garden nearby (get the combo ticket at the ticket office to save a little) for half a day and then spend the rest in Kobe, or in Himeji continue on to see Mt Shosha to make a full day out of it.
  • edited October 2019
    Hi Tenjin,

    Really appreciate your valuable comments & advices. Thanks a lot !
    Anything unclear will come back to look for you here, Thank you ^^
Sign In or Register to comment.