Tuesday, March 30, 2010

19-day Itin - pls comment

Hi all,

I%26#39;m planning a Japan trip for next year for family of 4 adults. Having gone through some 40 pages of this forum in the past 2 days, I came up with the following prelim itinerary. Would greatly appreciate your views on it. Tentative time of travel is 11-29 May.

D1 Kyoto [overnight hyatt]

D2 Kyoto [overnight hyatt]

D3 Kyoto [overnight hyatt]

D4 Kyoto --%26gt; Kinosaki onsen [overnight Yutouya Ryokan - anyone stayed here?]

D5 Kinosaki onsen --%26gt; Himeji (spend 4 hours) --%26gt; Miyajima (what time should I be here so as not to miss high tide? I looked up schedule and it seems to be early afternoon rather than late, that doesn%26#39;t leave me much time in Himeji..) [overnight Iwaso Ryokan]

D6 Miyajima --%26gt; Nara [overnight Nara, some place quaint?]

D7 Nara --%26gt; Koyasan [overnight Shojoshin-in]

D8 Koyasan --%26gt; Osaka (any other alternative besides Osaka? Not too keen to spend just 1 night in big city)

D9 Osaka --%26gt; Kanazawa [overnight Kanazawa]

D10 Kanazawa [overnight Kanazawa]

D11 Kanazawa --%26gt; Shirakawa-go [overnight Magoemon]

D12 Shirakawa-go --%26gt; Takayama (how to reach the Alps and how long to spend?) [overnight Takayama]

D13 Takayama --%26gt; Tokyo

D14-19 Tokyo [one wk at Oakwood apt]

Some general questions:

1. Worthwhile to get JR pass? I looked up train times on hyperdia and got a bit confused whether JR passes are applicable to some of the routes.

2. Would appreciate accommodation suggestions for Nara, Kanazawa, and Takayama, budget about 7,000Y per head.

3. Your views on the Ryokan choices / recommendation for cheaper ones as the current ones are a bit pricey (but they sound lovely)...

4. I realise the time we%26#39;re going isn%26#39;t yet festival season, but will there by any near the area we%26#39;re heading to?

5. When should I start making hotel reservations? It%26#39;s already showing ';no availability'; at oakwood but I wonder if it%26#39;s b/c I%26#39;m too early?

6. Any bad experience with booking via the japaneseguesthouses and japanican websites?

Thank you!!

19-day Itin - pls comment

You have done your homework and thought about your itinerary and it shows.

A few things strike me right away.

1. You are going to Miyajima but not Hiroshima, and your Miyajima time is severely limited. Hiroshima Peace Park and museum is a place not to miss imo, and Miyajima deserves more of your time I think. It is nice to wander around around the village at the waterfront. There is nice hiking up the ';mountain'; or you can take a ropeway up and hike down. Worth the time I think. You might want to spend either 2 nights at Iwaso, or a night at Iwaso and a night in Hiroshima.

2. Miyajima to Nara is 3 1/2 hours, or the morning. 1/2 a day for sightseeing in Nara is too short to make it worth the trip, again in my opinion. I love Nara, and this year we have spent 8 days in 3 trips there and not seen all that we want to yet.

3. I might be inclined to skip Koyasan rather than go up there for the short time you have allocated it. Or, if you want to go, skip the Osaka stop between Koyasan and Kanazawa and do the 5 hour or so trip right to Kananzawa.

4. JR Pass is valid on JR Lines. Hyperdia will say if it is not JR. You were off to a good start by plotting out your trip cost...that%26#39;s exactly what you have to do.

5. There is a bus from Shirakawa-go to Takayama, actually same bus you will get to S-go on continues to Takayama. It is not that far. It is very touristy. Shirakawa-go transforms after 5:00 pm and the last bus tour leaves. Takayama is a small city that looks and acts like a small city....with an old preserved part. If you were hoping for countryside and village life, neither is really that. You could rent a car in Kanazawa and drive out there and go to the villages of Gokayama, which are smaller than S-go, less touristy (though still equipped for tourist visits), less crowded (much) and the drive is nice and easy.

6. Accommodations.

In Nara, we like a place right in the deer park called Aobajaya (phone number 0742-22-2917). Family run, lovely rooms, fabulous quiet location, lovely family, English spoken, great food. About ¥15,000/person/night with dinner and breakfast, about ¥11,000/person/night with breakfast only.

In Kanazawa, the APA Chuo and the Toyoko Inn Kohrimbo are well within your budget. They are business hotels, so rooms are pretty tiny, but location is great, much better than staying in the station area which is convenient for catching the train but not for much else.

In Takayama, the Rickshaw Inn is a popular budget place. I like a place called Kotoyume for a little retreat in the city.

Japanese Guesthouses and Japanican are both reliable and safe to use. You can also likely save yourself some money and have wider variety of choice if you book directly.

Reservations for May, about 3 months before you could start to look. There are no holidays after Golden Week so I wouldn%26#39;t expect any trouble at all with availability. Often the English version of websites will show no availability when the Japanese version shows some. Also, English versions often show fewer room types and fewer rate types, with fantastic special rates available in Japanese but not English. It wouldn%26#39;t hurt to learn how to use the online translation sites for translating Japanese language websites for you.

7. 3 nights in Kyoto and a week in Tokyo sounds a bit lopsided...I%26#39;d add nights to Kyoto if possible unless you have huge interest in Tokyo. There is much to see in Kyoto and the surrounding area.

19-day Itin - pls comment

Hiroshima should not be missed if you%26#39;re going to Miyajima. On a tight schedule, both can be done on a day trip from Kyoto. You can look up tide condition for Miyajima here: http://tinyurl.com/5nmt47

Spending a night in one of the temples in Koya-san is an experience itself, but if time is limited, at least do a day trip there from Osaka.

Also spending a night in one of the gassho-zukuri farmhouses in Shirakawa-go is special, but again if you want to save time, you can tour Shirakawa-go from Kanazawa and continue to Takayama for the night.

For the Japanese Alps, from Takayama you can take a bus to beautiful Kamikochi and do some hiking. Time allowed, spend a night there and continue to Matsumoto before going to Tokyo.

The route Kanazawa - Shirakawa-go - Takayama - Kamikochi - Matsumoto is done by bus and is not covered by JR rail pass.

Thanks to both for your valuable suggestions. I%26#39;ve been having second thoughts about Koyasan too and wondered if I should spend some time in Hiroshima. So now I%26#39;m leaning towards spending one more night at Kyoto, which should permit me some time in Osaka, one more night at Miyajima, skipping Koyasan and going directly to Kanazawa from Nara.

I%26#39;ve been wanting to check out Shirakawa-go and Takayama for some time so I think I%26#39;ll keep it, but will definitely try to swing by Gokayama. How long is the drive?

I looked up Kotoyume%26#39;s website and the place looks ideal, thanks for the tip!

I haven%26#39;t considered Kamikochi, is the hike strenous? Our parents are fit and in good form but still I don%26#39;t want to stress them out too much.

Kanazawa to Gokayama interchange is under an hour by expressway, a few minutes farther to Shirakawa-go, w hich is the next exit. While there is limited bus service in the Gokayama area, the stress is on limited, very limited, so I would not recommend depending on it. It is an easy day trip from Kanazawa that we do several times every year.

In Kamikochi, we didn%26#39;t hike up the mt., we walk along the Azusa River for a couple of hours. From Kappa-bashi we went to the other bridges, Hotaka and Tashiro, and then to Tashiro-ike and Taisho-ike ponds. It%26#39;s all on level ground and the beautiful scenery will make the long walk look shorter.

For hiking up the mt., let%26#39;s hope our Nara expert ';Shot'; see this thread and give your more insight on it. Maybe you can start a new post to get his/her attention.

Thanks, William512, for mentioning my name, by way of introducing Kamikochi. Made my trips there twice this year, one in early May and the other in early September.

Snow lingers in the surrounding mountains in higher altitude until around June/July and provides you with awesome views; tree leaves in lush green, serene waters down the river and bluer sky can be had in August/Sepetember; autumn foliage looks most gorgeous in somewhere around mid-to-late October. Thus Kamikochi never ceases to lure you into nature, imo.

Kamikochi itself is higher than Mt Snowdon by about 500meters and is part of a nationla park in Honshu (main) Island, drawing a large number of tourists/hikers particularly in summer months. Yes, you could enjoy the ridge traverse from here, but that%26#39;d involve more often than not staying at least overnight in a cottage(6hrs%26#39; walk one way) or a tent of your own. That being the case, you can enjoy a nice walk along the river like other tourists/hikers as a side trip from Takayama.

My thoughts are:

1)get up early in the morn, hayle and hearty, and roll. If you use public transportation, then from Takayama you can take a Nouhi Bus bound for Hirayu, switch buses in here and then to Kamikochi. FYI, if you are alert, you may catch the sight of monkeys from the bus window.

2)to fully enjoy views and ambience in Kamikochi, you should get off at a bus stop called Taisho-ike, not at the Imperial Hotel or Kamikochi Bus Terminal.

3)at Taisho-ike Pond, a column of smoke or two can possibly be seen coming out of the top of Mt Yakedake, an active volcano. Go along the promenade along the river and drop by Tashiro-ike Pond, where the shallow waters in here are gleaming proudly with morning sun, Mt Kasumizawa and Mt Yakedake standing as a nice background.

4)from there, take the right side of the promenade toward Tashiro Bridge, and then toward Kappa Bridge also on the right-hand side promenade so you can see the Japan Alps and the Azusa River better. It%26#39;s a good 60min%26#39;s lovely walk.

5)from Kappa bridge you can farther hike along the promenade on the river toward Myojin-ike Pond located upstream, another 1hour walk there. Touristy as it is, Kappa Bridge offers a gorgeous view of Dakesawa Chimney, a huge picturesque slope leading up to Mt Oku-Hotaka, which ascent is an object of envy among ordinary hikers. Let company aim the camera at Dakesawa so they can put you in a beautiful photo. Maybe you can verify what I am talking about if going to the photo link in my profile page here on TA.

Lastly, am not sure if you are interested, but you can locate a beautiful fish or two, Japanese breed, in the brooks on you way to/from Myojin Pond. Yes, there%26#39;s schools of them in that pond. Rowing a boat on the smooth-as-silk waters there might be an idea.

You sure have a helluva nice trip up in Kamikochi, I gather.

Wow, thanks for such detailed steps. I feel I could just pack up and go now. It definitely sounds like something we would enjoy, maybe I should spend 2 nights in Takayama and day trip to Shirakawa-go and Kamikochi. Revised itin - pls comment if it%26#39;s too ambitious, don%26#39;t want to stress ourselves out from all the train and bus rides:

D1 Kyoto [overnight Kyoto]

D2 Kyoto [overnight Kyoto]

D3 Kyoto --%26gt; day trip Osaka [overnight Kyoto]

D4 Kyoto [overnight Kyoto]

D5 Kyoto --%26gt; Kinosaki onsen [overnight Kinosaki onsen]

D6 Kinosaki onsen --%26gt; Himeji --%26gt; Miyajima [overnight Miyajima]

D7 Miyajima --%26gt; Hiroshima --%26gt; Miyajima [overnight Miyajima]

D8 Miyajima --%26gt; --%26gt; Nara [overnight Nara]

D9 Nara --%26gt; Kanazawa [overnight Kanazawa]

D10 Kanazawa --%26gt; Gokayama --%26gt; Kanazawa [overnight Kanazawa]

D11 Kanazawa --%26gt; Takayama [overnight Takayama]

D12 Takayama --%26gt; Kamikochi --%26gt; Shirakawa-go --%26gt; Takayama[overnight Takayama]

D13 Takayama --%26gt; Tokyo

D14-19 Tokyo [one wk]

I can%26#39;t make up my mind about the Nara bit, I want to take up fish%26#39;s suggestion to spend one more day there, but besides the deer park and temples, what else shouldn%26#39;t I miss? I don%26#39;t want to get OD%26#39;d with temples. :)

It%26#39;s understandable that you don%26#39;t want to change hotels too often, but in your itinerary there%26#39;s quite a bit of back-tracking which I personally would avoid since it means more time on the road un-necessarily.

Could you do the Osaka/Hiroshima/Miyajima bit earlier on and fit in Kyoto after it since Nara and Kanazawa are more directly connected with Kyoto. BTW I think one night%26#39;s stay in Miyajima is enough.

Doing Gokayama and Shirakawa-go on separate side trips seems un-necessary, they are just 30 min. drive apart. Even if you don%26#39;t want to follow the one-way route Kanazawa - Gokayama/Shirakawa-go - Takayama - Kamikochi, doing Shirakawa-go and Kamikochi on the same day from Takayama is too much because the 2 places are in opposite direction from Takayama. And if you really want to do some hiking to take in the Japanese Alps, you should at least allocate a whole day for Kamikochi.

Agree with William512:

Like he says, having to backtrack is a waste of time. So maybe you%26#39;d like to factor in the geographical locations and the precious time involved in otherwise routing yourself through the same place.

Kamikochi is a whole day trip even from Takayama if you plan to soak in nature up there. One other suggestion is, you can make a half-a-day trip from Takayama to a venue called Shin Hotaka, (an alpine onsen town with a panoramic ropeway running to the nearest gateway to Mt West Hotaka) which nestles down the northern foot of Mt Yakedake, which name I mentioned in my last post. If you are a serious hiker, you might possibly be interested to know there is a trekking course from here to Kamikochi, via that active volcano. But that%26#39;d take 6-8hrs covering on foot, depending on your fitness level/skill.

As far as I know, from here most of the hikers (in summer months only) prefer hitting West Hotaka to going up and down to Kamikochi, part of which route to West Hotaka, rewarding though, is really not risk-free. Yes, I saw 4 international couples here as I was making it this September. Hate to be a scaremonger, but maybe they were experienced hikers and wouldn%26#39;t have cared a hang about climbing up/down the clusters of rocks, making a tight grip on strong chains set up on the rock walls. Good trekking shoes are a must, I have to say. Um, footgear for tennis/jogging is quite ok when you walk on the roads along the river in Kamikochi.

%26lt;%26lt;Could you do the Osaka/Hiroshima/Miyajima bit earlier on and fit in Kyoto after it since Nara and Kanazawa are more directly connected with Kyoto.%26gt;%26gt;

%26lt;%26lt;Doing Gokayama and Shirakawa-go on separate side trips seems un-necessary, they are just 30 min. drive apart. Even if you don%26#39;t want to follow the one-way route Kanazawa - Gokayama/Shirakawa-go - Takayama - Kamikochi, doing Shirakawa-go and Kamikochi on the same day from Takayama is too much because the 2 places are in opposite direction from Takayama. And if you really want to do some hiking to take in the Japanese Alps, you should at least allocate a whole day for Kamikochi.%26gt;%26gt;

Oh, as for ';what else is there in Nara,'; there%26#39;s the Mt Yoshino, the Ohdaigahara Height, the Ryujin Onsen, and etc, etc, nature-wise. Yes, hitting most, if not all, of these places is terribly time-consuming. Nara(Deer) Park alone takes a good 3-5hrs if you hop around every nook and cranny, besides feeding dear, visiting nearby Great Buddha Hall and climbing Wakakusa Hill for the gorgeous sunset in summer(take a look at the pic under my name). Hope you%26#39;ll have a blast in Nara also.

Morae -

We%26#39;ve just returned from a 10 day trip to Japan, covering much of the area you have in mind. Our (lengthy) notes from the trip - which hopefully will assist:

If you haven’t been to Japan, do yourself a favour: pack your walking shoes soon, and go.

We thought Japan and the Japanese were FANTASTIC.

The country is visually exciting – different to other parts of Asia…gentle…in contrast to say Thailand, form and shape are important, colour is less so…with a distinctive Japanese style (STYLE in capitals!) to many things (e.g the wonderful designs on very simple utilitarian things like manhole covers – so much so, I started photographing different manhole cover designs).

Also in contrast to other parts of Asia, there is (appealingly to us) no haggling or pressure to buy from shop assistants.

The country feels safe, and is incredibly clean – there is no litter, there is absolutely no graffiti.

Everything is ordered (you only cross the road, when the green light shows, at the pedestrian crossing at the corner!), and everything works so well. It’s easy to get around, even for 60-year-olds! (Forget group tours – explore on your own [you’ll discover a lot more and save at least

50%]). English signs are everywhere – especially at train and bus stops. Hotels are first rate, and hotel staff are courteous and helpful. There are (spotlessly clean, free) public toilets everywhere.

The food is superb…and so cheap! (outstanding meals for Y2,000; you can put together a picnic lunch to eat in the park for well under Y1,000!)

The people are incredibly polite, friendly (will talk to you in restaurants; we were ‘interviewed’ by a school group in Hiroshima Peace Park) and very helpful (see the two examples below of our ‘misadventures’ on trains; another example – enquired at Takayama Tourist Centre about availability of internet – “come in, use ours” – for free…and then they gave us two small Sarubobo Dolls!).

Perhaps the major surprise was the amount of Japlish. We thought the Japanese desire to get things working absolutely perfectly would have extended to ensuring translations from Japanese to English were absolutely correct – but that’s not the case. Two favourites: from Hakone (a major tourist area) “Building asks a smoked visitor in the outside smoking section that you cannot smoke in” [we think they were saying if you must smoke, you will have to go outside]. And instructions from a National [international brand!!] high-tech toilet: “When you sit on the seat, automatically the cold water flow. Wait for ‘off’, the lamp to wash. When you sit on the seat, ‘STANDBY’ lamp starts flashing. If you press (a symbol) upon seating, you may have a cold water spray…Contact front desk if the following occurs: ‘STAND BY’ lamp does not stop blinking. Cold water continues to flow, even after pushing the ‘SHOWER’ button.” [Hope you now know how to drive this toilet! {you can also use it just like a toilet in Australia}]

Another surprise was the amount of sampling used in Japan – one hotel gave us free sox, a free washer, a free set of nail clippers, a free pack of toiletries/cosmetic items for the lady; packs of tissues [promoting various things] are offered freely on the streets; many food items in markets and in department store food halls are displayed with samples to taste-test – you could easily help yourself to enough samples in the larger markets or food halls and then not have to eat lunch or dinner!

Another strong impression is that the Japanese are big on announcements. On trains, they sometimes seem to be virtually non-stop. Significantly, some trains even have “quiet carriages”, where announcements are not broadcast.

We were prompted to visit Japan because of very low Jetstar fares to and from Kansai, Osaka ($553 each, including meals). Basically we then headed north, west and south in a circle from Osaka, using a JR Rail Pass (Y28,300 each for 7 days. Must be purchased outside Japan. A voucher is swapped for the rail pass at any major rail station and [recommended!] free seat reservations can simultaneously be made for long distance trips. JR Rail Pass also provides free passage on JR Ferries – including one to Miyajima Island near Hiroshima. JR Timetables are at www.hyperdia.com) and by selecting/booking hotels via the internet.

First stop was KYOTO for 4 nights (Aranvert Hotel Y57,000 a double for 4 nights). First morning we organized all train bookings, and then a wonderful university student volunteer guide, Jyunko (through Good Samaritan), showed us some of the sights in the north and north-west of the city – the Golden Temple, Ryoanji Temple [with its famous rock garden], Ninnaji Temple, and then over to the Arashiyama area (including a walk through its spectacular bamboo forest). She also took us to a wonderful buffet all-you-can-eat-in-50-minutes restaurant that served local home-cooked style food. This was a great way to start the visit to Japan.

The next day we explored the east of the city ourselves – basically taking in 2 suggested walking tours and missing a third, because we walked the track to Mt Nyoigatake and then kept walking (the Lonely Planet instructions didn’t say to return by the same route!). We came across a stunning outdoor display of posters promoting Kyoto and we happened across a festival at the Ginkaku-ji Shinto shrine from which we had planned to start the walk. The following day we spent in Nara, and then visited the amazing Fushimi Inari Shrine (1,000 Torii gates – which ward off bad spirits – along a 10 km path up a hill…and hundreds of live cats!) on the way back to the hotel. An excess of temples and shrines! Kyoto also has an amazing, modern railway station.

Then it was to HAKONE for a night (Hakone Yumoto Hotel Asuka. Y18,300 a double including dinner and breakfast – the Japanese dinner and breakfast were wonderful! Thanks to the patient Manager for explaining what side dishes/sauces to eat with each course [we were the only non-Japanese in the hotel]). Lonely Planet’s description of the Hakone area is accurate: “you’re riding a conveyor belt” (train, train, funicular railway, cable car, ferry (actually Pirate Ship!), and bus (what an amazing bus ride it is, too!). Disappointingly (but not surprisingly), didn’t get a view of Mt Fuji. Bought and ate 6 black eggs – each of which is supposed to add 7 years to our lives!

Next stop was TAKAYAMA for 2 nights in a Japanese style room (Rickshaw Inn Y11,900 per night). Visited two morning markets, walked and walked through and around the outskirts of town, and visited the Hida Folk Village. Two great meals in a Chinese/Japanese restaurant.

Then, over the mountains for 2 nights in KANAZAWA on the west coast. The major attraction here is the stunning Kenrokuen Gardens (considered one of the 3 best gardens in Japan) and the magnificent Kanazawa Castle. Kanazawa also seems to be deliberately trying to be a 21st Century city – its 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is well worth visiting (a wonderful display of television and cinema advertising; discovered The Very Hungry Caterpillar [even though it’s not a 21st Century book!!] is also a favourite with young Japanese children; played an oversize football table game), there are sculptures all around town, explored and ate at their fish and fruit market, and had a great meal at a restaurant (suggested by the front-of-house manager at the hotel) specializing in local Kanazawa food. Stayed at the Toyoko Inn Korinbo Kanazawa (Y16,380 a double for 2 nights – including breakfasts, plus the numerous give-ways on arrival!).

Then it was a couple of trains to Himeji – or at least that was the plan! Foolishly I left my backpack on the first train, when changing trains at Kyoto. I quickly reported this to the person in the Fare Adjustments office – who asked for details of the train (which was then on its way to Osaka). Within a minute, a 2nd station employee arrived to help. About 5 minutes later they advised the bag had been retrieved, that we should take the next train to Osaka, pick up the bag from the Lost Property counter (they gave us instructions on how to get there and wrote a note in Japanese to the staff there), then catch the train from Osaka to Himeji [thus going 2 sides of a triangle, instead of going direct from Kyoto to Himeji. All at no extra cost, because we had the JR Pass]. The backpack was waiting for me at Lost Property, and our journey was lengthened by perhaps 1 hour. What a contrast to what would have happened in Australia (if, indeed, the backpack had been recovered at all)!

HIMEJI has a great Castle dominating the town, and some amazing covered shopping arcades. We stayed at the Comfort Hotel Himeji (Y9,000, including a big, big breakfast). With assistance from the very helpful front desk staff at the hotel, dinner was tako-yaki (octopus balls, with a sauce) from a hole-in-the-wall take-away and akash-yaki (the local version of tako-yaki) from a food court at the station.

The final day was a dash to MIYAJIMA ISLAND (and up Mt Misen by cable car to get a great view of the Hiroshima area and surrounding islands) in the morning (because this coincided with high tide, to see the red floating torii gate at its best), and then to HIROSHIMA Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome, before heading to the airport.

This last leg of the journey involved a change of trains at ShinOsaka and was designed to give us time to comfortably check in at the airport, use the coin-operated showers before embarkation and grab something to eat. Unfortunately JR cancelled the train we were supposed to catch (and had seat reservations for) from ShinOsaka to Kansai airport – so we were looking lost and perplexed on ShinOsaka platform when the train dispatcher spotted us and came to see if she could assist. She explained our train had been cancelled, and we would have to catch the next train – which would arrive at Kansai with no time to spare. We explained this, and within minutes another JR employee (armed with a timetable the size of a phone directory) was trying to help us by re-routing us on other trains. In the end this turned out to be impractical – so we reluctantly had to catch the later train (with new seat reservation tickets organized – without us having to request them – by the train dispatcher; and the 2nd girl giving us explicit directions on how to get from the train to our check in counter)…and we then sprinted across Kansai airport and arrived at the Jetstar check-in counter 1 minute before the flight closed. So a quick wash in a basin in the toilets was all we could have – and dinner had to wait ‘till very late on the plane. Again, the understanding and helpfulness of the JR staff was incredible – and a complete contrast to what we feel would have happened, had we been in a similar situation, in Australia.

In summary –

A great holiday.

Jetstar was good – very much better than the Bangkok to Melbourne leg we did 12 months earlier. Their meals were good. They even served prepared coffee (in contrast to providing a coffee bag and a paper cup of luke warm water on the previous flight)! And exceptional value.

All the places visited were fabulous, and different enough from one another to make everything interesting. An extra day in Miyajima and Hiroshima would have been welcome, as we didn’t do justice to that area. Pleased we went a little off the beaten tourist track to Takayama and, particularly, Kanazawa.

Not excessively expensive. All up, the trip cost us A$5255 – and this was at a time when the A$ had dropped about 40% against the Yen in the 2 months prior to our departure. (Internet advice suggested that one budget a total of Y10,000 for site entrances [typically entrance was Y300 to Y600 per site], Y20,000 for non JR transport [major expense was Hakone Free Pass, which was Y3,900 per person ex Odawara for a 2 day pass; most bus or local train tickets were around Y200 one way] and Y2,800 to Y3,200 per person per day for food [a noodle meal is about Y700; prices in a 7/11 type store in Hiroshima were Y126 to Y136 for a bag of crisps, Y147 for a can of Coke, Y136 for 500ml milk, Y115 for a 500ml orange juice, Y306 for a 500ml Kirin Lager, Y110 – 141 for a 160g yoghurt, Y185 to Y275 for 2 rounds of sandwiches, Y200 to Y1,000 for a pack of sushi for 2 people. In the markets, Y100 for a BIG apple, Y300 for a bag of mandarins, Y200 for barbecued cuttlefish or octopus on a skewer.]. We found this suggested amount to be generous.)

The time of year was good. Weather was comfortable, and the autumn leaves were just coming on (2 or 3 weeks later and they would have been absolutely spectacular).

I%26#39;m also putting reviews of the hotels up on trip advisor.

Enjoy your trip

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