Most of the travel resources can be found via

  1. search engines
  2. Japan guide
  3. respective official website per city with suggested routes
  4. Japan forum on TripAdvisor, where I am a frequent contributor


Should you have any Japan travel related questions, you may comment below or on the respective pages on this website. I shall try my best to respond to your query – when I’m not on the road.

Cheers, dli_hk

Should you want to make use of our photos, kindly quote our website

9 thoughts on “Comments”

  1. I would like to know how much I can see or do, using a 21-day Japan Rail Pass – starting in Sapporo and making my way back to Tokyo by train. Places on my “wish list” are:

    Sapporo- Otaru – Yoichi – Daisetsu-zan National Park, Shikotsu-Toya N.P – Noboribetsu Forest – Lake Toya – Hakodate – Lake Onuma – Aomori – Lake Towada – Sendai – Yamagata- Matsushima – Niigata/Sado Island – Nikki – Nagano

    I would prefer to concentrate my time in Hokkaido, Tohoku and Central Honshu, and not trying to do too much in one trip. Ideally, have a few bases and do day trips from each one. Does this make sense to you?

    I would also like to see Tokyo during this trip.

    I think it would be unwise for me to go south of Tokyo as I think I would need another 3 weeks!

    My interests are nature, shrines, scenery, walking, lakes, countryside, the snow monkeys.

    Hope this helps you to understand me. I am 72 years old, who is active and enjoys the outdoors life. I really enjoy walking and I can walk for many hours in one day

    Thank you for all your help. Brigid

  2. Dear Brigid,
    Agree with your travel philosophy. I’d plan similarly to enjoy rather than rushing through too many spots in one trip.

    To rely on public transports, use to check train schedules. Consider using Takuhaibin to send luggage to next destination hotel/ryokan 1 day in advance.

    Refer to a high-level travel itin by public transports below.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have further queries.

    In Hokkaido (11N)

    Sapporo- Otaru – Yoichi (3N) by frequent JR commuter train based in Sapporo.
    Daisetsu-zan National Park (2N) – Sapporo > Asahikawa by frequent JR Kamui express train in about 90min, then change bus to Asahidake onsen

    Shikotsu-ko (1N) – Asahikawa > Sapporo > Chitose by train then change bus to Shikotsu-ko, which is a serene and beautiful lake on clear days.

    Noboribetsu (1N) – Chitose > Noboribetsu by train then change bus to onsen town

    Toya-ko (1or 2N if you visit Usuzan, lake cruise) – Noboribetsu > Toyako by train then change bus to onsen town. Fireworks after dinner every night from May till end Oct.

    Hakodate (2N) – Toyako > Hakodate by JR Hokuto express train. Onuma NP can be visited either en route or as a day trip from Hakodate. There is a train station for Onuma NP. Don’t miss the night view on top of Mt Hakodate and better take ropeway up there to avoid traffic congestion. The seafood morning market is famous in Japan.
    Amongst the old historical buildings, the ex-British Consulate has a nice tea room with tea set served overlooking a nice garden. We were there twice.

    In Tohoku (about 7N)

    Towada-ko (1or 2N if you visit nearby Oirase stream) – Shin-Hakodate > Shin-Aomori by Hokkaido Shinkansen then JR bus to Yasumiya in Towada-ko.

    Sendai (2 or 3N) – Shin-Aomori > Sendai by Tohoku Shinkansen. Day trip to Yamadera and Matsushima Bay by JR express train in about 30min.

    Niigata/Sado Island – Sendai > Omiya by Tohoku Shinkansen then change Joetsu Shinkansen to Niigata. Take ferry/jetfoils to Sado Island.
    I have not visited these places and thus not in a position to make recommendations.
    Niigata > Tokyo by Joetsu Shinkansen direct.

    Tokyo (5N)

    – visit the Snow monkey park as day trip or stay overnight in nearby Shibu onsen, Yudanaka onsen or in Nagano city.
    Tokyo <> Nagano by Hokuriku Shinkansen, then change bus or Nagaden private train to Yudanaka onsen town.
    October is the harvesting season of apples and chestnuts in farms nearby Obuse town. In Nagano city, don’t miss famous Zenkoji.

    Nikko can be easily visited as day trip from Tokyo by Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya then JR Nikko train. Don’t miss World Heritage Toshogu Shrine.

    For temples and shrines, consider also Kamakura about 1 hour by JR Yokosuka commuter train.

  3. Thank you so much for all this info – it is exactly the kind of things I wish to do and see.


    1. Did you stay in expensive accommodation on each trip? I am a backpacker, because I travel alone I meet other like-minded hikers in hostels or family homes – would this be a problem? Also, my budget has to include: long-haul and short- haul flights, accommodation, food, entrance fees to places of interest and a 21 day JR Pass. Do you think I would be able to get reasonable accommodation for 5000 Yen per night? Any idea what a daily budget should be – excluding JR Pass and flights.

    2. During your 5 nights in Tokyo did you do the day trips as extra nights or were they INCLUDED in these 5 nights?

    The more I read about Japan I am wondering if I should spend 25 days to cover the area from Haikkdo as far as Tokyo – including the day trips to Nikko, Nagano and Kamakura.

    3. Do you know anything about internal flights to Sapporo from either Haneda or Narita airports?

    4. I am still not sure if my best choice would be to fly directly from my international flight, on an internal flight to Sapporo as I now know that there are some flights from London which arrive in Tokyo at 1.30 pm – this would allow me enough time to take an onward flight to Haikkado.

    5. I shall make a list of my must see places and prioritise them, before I write to you again.

    6. I definitely feel that going south of Tokyo is not an option on my first trip. I do not want the rush from one place to another – I wish to explore at a leisurely pace – like you have done.

    I hope this is not taking up too much of your time – I appreciate your help.

    Kind regards.

  4. Q1.
    There might be more hostels and guesthouses in larger cities like Tokyo, Sendai and Sapporo along your itin. Note that you might have to share bathroom/toilet depending on premises. I have not stayed in this category though. You may search on the TA forum for past comments or post a new thread. Alternatively, you may check out local no-frill business hotels for budget travellers. Toyoko Inn is one of those often mentioned in the forum. It has all the basic facilities of a hotel room including own bathroom and toilet. Daily rate is around JPY10K, maybe less for single room and depending on location. However, in rural areas like Asahidake onsen, Toya-ko etc, search for pensions whose daily rates range from JPY5-10K+, including 2 meals. Most likely you’d have to share bathroom/toilet in these as well. We have stayed in pensions twice in Biei, though we picked a room with own bathroom and toilet which cost a bit more. While searching via 3rd party websites, book lodgings with free cancellation option as Japan hotels/ryokans usually allow 3 to 6 months booking in advance.

    The national 21D JRP is not cheap at nearly JPY60K. After your itin is fixed, it’d be in a better position to evaluate the most valued option on rail passes. For bus trips, roughly estimate JPY1.5K for a journey over 1 hour.

    Prices of normal meals have remained more or less flat over the last 20 years – due to their deflationary economy since I first visited Japan for business and subsequently personal travels. In all major cities, you could have a beef/pork/chicken rice set of less than JPY800 in 24-hour local chain shops. In the basement floor of larger department stores, cooked food in all sorts of varieties are sold at a bargain of few hundred Yen from 18:00 each day for take-away. Local vege and fruits are extremely fresh and delicious. You can smell freshly baked bread rolls from over 50m away, while patisseries are eye-catching and not sweet. In all convenience stores round every corner in major cities, you can buy bento, rice balls, sandwiches, bread rolls etc.

    Thus, you may estimate a rough daily budget of JPY15-20K, excluding train rides and flights. It might be easier to meet the lower end of the budget in Hokkaido and Tohoku before you return to Tokyo.

    Q2. The 5N in Tokyo that I have proposed does include day trips. If you intend to visit certain spots in Tokyo, do add days as appropriate. For 1st-timers in Tokyo, I usually recommend 4 days. Though for your interests, you may visit city parks like Shinjuku Gyoen and possibly 1 day to Takaosan for an easy hike. Don’t miss Senso-ji in Asakusa, though it’s pretty crowded most of the time. An afternoon/evening visit to Shibuya, Shinjuku and Omotesando would let you feel the vibrancy of the modern mega-metropolitan.
    my visit to Takaosan in 2013.

    Q3+4. Re the forum, domestic airlines like ANA and Air-DO operate cheap flights to Sapporo-Chitose in less than JPY10K one-way, much cheaper and faster than by train. From London, consult with your airlines to issue one single ticket to Sapporo-Chitose (CTS) via a transfer in Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT). Partner airlines will arrange appropriate connections while abiding by IATA rules in allowing enough buffer for pax to transfer from international to domestic flight.

    Q5. That’s fine, but if you have other questions in mind, just feel free to shoot them over.

    Q6. Agree. I’d do the same to focus my visits on particular themes or spots, not just in Japan but also elsewhere in the world. After a few weeks, the law of diminishing marginal utility will start kicking in.

    I have been advising other travellers on the TA forum anyway, so no worries 🙂

    Kind regards,

  5. Hello,

    My husband and I plan to take a trip to Japan next year from mid May to early June for about 20 days. Our focus is the Japan Alps and Kansai, so my plan is to fly into Kansai Airport and travel in a loop before departing from the same airport. I’m trying to build an itinerary right now but have some considerations and wonder if you can give me some advice.

    1) Is the weather in the Alps still too cold in mid May? Does it make a difference if I schedule the Alps in the beginning or end of the itinerary?

    2) What will be the most efficient route for visiting the following places: Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Shin-Hotaka Onsen, Gero Onsen, Kanazawa, Kyoto, and Nara? Is it wise to add Hiroshima?

    3) What regional rail passes will best suit my purposes? Can I still make use of the regional passes if I want a more relaxed pace since those five or seven day passes are all based on consecutive days?

    I was amazed at your extensive travels in Japan and would really appreciate the assistance.


  6. Hi Julie,

    1. May is in general Spring in Japan (except in higher elevations such as the Alpine route). Thus weather is pleasant and good time for visiting those locations. If you’re worried about cold weather, better cross the Alpine route towards end May/early June. Besides, it’d less crowded for the Snow-wall walk which is the main theme till late June.

    2. Consider a high level itin to avoid backtracking :
    – 1st week in Kansai area including Kyoto and Nara (Hiroshima/Miyajima can be added but better stay 1 to 2 nights for a less rushed trip. Buy a 5-day JR West Kansai Hiroshima Pass (KHP) ONLY IF you visit the latter.

    – 2nd to 3rd week Kyoto > Gero onsen (1N) via Nagoya > Takayama (1N) > Kanazawa (2N) while stopping over Shirakawa-go for few hours by Nohi bus > crossing the Alpine route via Toyama and exit in Shinano-Omachi onsen (1N) > Shin-hotaka onsen (1N) via Matsumoto > Kyoto via Nagoya

    Matsumoto is a good base to visit other JP Alps locations such as Kamikochi, Kiso valley etc.

    Notes – days suggested in the JP Alps are the minimum to explore without rushing. You may adjust according to your travel pace.

    3. The JR regional passes in Central Japan and Kansai are by consecutive days. This 5-day Alpine-Takayama-Matsumoto Area Tourist Pass might be more relevant to your itin though the whole loop needs to be completed in 5 days to payoff.

    Otherwise, just buy the JR option ticket for crossing the Alpine route one-way.

    you may refer to our trip in late May 2007 covering parts of the JP Alps in 1 week.


Leave a Reply

Visits to Japan on our own since 1999

Follow JapanTravelInsights

Email address

%d bloggers like this: