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Advise on travel route? Month long solo trip


I’m going to be visiting Japan for the first time in May 2018 and I was wondering which travel route to take.
I would really love to see the northern part of Japan, but I’m traveling alone and I don’t speak/read Japanese so I wasn’t sure if my traveling plans are doable for a noobie. (friends told me, the farther away from Tokyo the less signs are understandable)

I will of course be buying a JR pass, but I’m not averse to taking buses if the distance isn’t too long (max 6h).
I’m even willing to take a budget flight but I would like to avoid that considering I’m mainly coming to Japan for the nature and culture. I don’t mind a 6 hour bus rit if I can see the landscape. You miss that with a flight so …
Also boatrides are no problem, not keen on driving though. It’s a big cost if you’re alone and well … They ride on the wrong side of the road so :wink:

Anyway at the moment I will be arriving in Japan on May 3 (yes, Golden week I know, but I won’t be leaving Tokyo until the 8th - end of Golden Week). At the moment I will be staying until 6 June, but this date can be pushed back a little bit.

I have two routes in mind at the moment, one with the north included and one without. Could you give me some advise on the routes or maybe alternative routes to travel across Japan? Thank you very much!

  • Tokyo => Sendai => Niigata => Kanazawa => Kyoto => (Kinosaki, if possible) => Hiroshima => Nagasaki => Beppu => Matsuyama => (stop in Hiroshima) => Osaka => Tokyo

  • Tokyo => Takayama => Kanazawa => Kyoto => Okayama => Iya Valley => Matsuyama => Fukuoka => Nagasaki => Aso-san => Hiroshima => Osaka => (Kinosaki, if possible) => Tokyo

So I’m thinking about maybe 2/3 days at every location, but I know this is quite ambitious. I would love to have some advice on which towns are worth the trip, a bit touristy (but not too much) and easily accesible by public transport.

Also any advice on good meeting spots for solo travellers would be appreciated!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, and I appreciate all advice.


I wouldn’t worry about the not speaking English thing. It’s true that there is less signage outside Tokyo (and probably Kyoto) but people are almost always helpful and the worst that is likely to happen is that you take a few wrong turns - which is often a positive thing when travelling :slight_smile:

All of those places are pretty awesome - at least the ones I’ve been to! I would suggest 2 to 3 days in Beppu might be a bit much. The 7 or 8 hells of Beppu can be done in a day and aside from that it’s pretty touristy - and hardly anyone leaves their hotels so the street life is fairly non-existent. The nearby town of Yufuin is pretty awesome though.

Also, Aso-san is still effectively closed. There’s not really anything to do unless you can get close to the crater - and you can’t. The surrounding countryside is nice enough I guess.

More info on the closure:


Owh thank you! I didn’t know Aso-san was still closed. I read somewhere they had lowered the danger level, so I thought you could approach the area again.
Any other ideas in the region?

And yeah I was wondering about Beppu. I would love to see it but I was wondering if maybe it’s a bit too touristy? Maybe Kinosaki Onsen would be a better idea, or is there a good alternative on Kyushu?


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