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Month long trip Advice

I’m tentatively planning a month long trip to Japan next year for the cherry blossom season. I’ve decided on the majority of my itinerary, but I’m trying to figure out the last eight days. I’m planning on heading to the Tohoku region as well as possibly hitting a couple of sites in Hokkaido, (mainly Hakodate, Sapporo, and Otaru). My current plan is as follows:
April 12th, Head around Nikko, then to Sendai and Matsushima.
13th, Go around Sendai and surrounding areas, (Hiraizumi and Yamadera, possibly).
14th, Head to Tsuruoka and spend the day there, (mainly Mt. Haguro)
15th, Head to Hakodate, stop by Akita, Hirosaki?
16th, Enjoy Hakodate, head to Sapporo.
17th, Enjoy Sapporo and Otaru.
18th Fly back to Tokyo, (maybe highway bus?)
19th Fly home.

My main questions are:
1.Would I be getting the most out of both regions with the extremely limited time I have? Or should I pick some different parts to focus on?
2. Should I focus on Tohoku this time around and try Hokkaido on another trip, in order to better enjoy the region?

This will be my third trip to Japan, so I"m hoping to see a lot more of the country than the usual tourist. My main interests are historical sites, religious sites, cherry blossom viewing, and getting as much off the beaten path as possible, (though I’d still like to see the major cities in each region). Thank you in advance for any advice!

Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into your itinerary! My two yen would be to focus on Tohoku this time around. Yamadera alone is a day trip. It takes a long time to travel between cities in Hokkaido, and you probably don’t want most of your memories to be of the inside of a train. :slight_smile:

Perhaps give us your FULL itinerary, so we know where you will have BEEN…

Kyushu? Shikoku? Okinawa? You can see a great deal of Japan in 1 month…

Alright, let’s see.

The first half of the trip will be with two other people, one of whom hasn’t been to Japan yet, so we’re doing a bit of a modified Golden Route.
March 21st, Arrive in Tokyo.
22nd-24th, Head around Tokyo and nearby daytrips, (Fuji and probably Kamakura).
25th, Head to Kanazawa.
26th, Go around Kanazawa, head to Kyoto in the evening.
27th-28th, Go around Kyoto.
29th, Last day in Kyoto, head to Nara in the evening.
30th, Head around Nara, possibly Yoshino, and head to Koyasan in the evening.
31st, Enjoy Koyasan, head to Osaka in the evening.
Apr 1st, Head to Fukuoka, stop by Himeji and Hiroshima on the way.
2nd-4th, Enjoy Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Usa, and possibly Kumamoto and Beppu
We’ll be splitting after Kyushu, and so I’ll be alone for the next two weeks.
4th, Head up to Izumo, Matsue, and Tottori, (which I know is insane, but I really want to see that part of Japan).
5th, Enjoy Tottori and keep heading along the Sea of Japan coast to Amanohashidate, then head back to Osaka.
6th-8th, More Kyoto, Osaka, Kansai in general.
8th, Head to Takayama.
9th, Enjoy Takayama and maybe Shirakawa-go, then head to Magome.
10th, Walk the Nakasendo from Magome to Kiso-Fukushima.
11th, Walk the Nakasendo from Kiso to Narai, then head to Nikko.

I’ve been to Shikoku once before, and I’d love to go back, but I’ve decided to prioritise the Sea of Japan and central Honshu this time around. I’m fine not seeing any of the Southern islands as well this time around. If I was going on my own, there’s quite a bit I’d cut out or back, but I want my friend to experience the big sites as well as some out of the way ones. I’m kind of set on the itinerary I’ve already set up, but I’m also open to suggestions for the entirety of the trip where I’ll be alone. I do feel like I might be stretching myself a little thin with this plan, though, now that I’ve lined it all out on here. I appreciate your input!

Quite the itinerary!

I lived in Osaka over the summer, and Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and even Tottori are all easy day trips. There’s not a whole lot to see in Tottori, just sand dunes. The museum has been closed, but if you are travelling down the coast it’s probably worth a stop. You could literally do Kobe, Himeji and Tottori in a day…Have you considered Ise? Quiet little town (Meoto Iwa is a bit underwhelming), but a nice place to visit. Unfortunatey I missed the shrines by an hour…I too like the cultural and historic elements…Of course it’s in the opposite direction of your current plans…

These days there are 0 tourists, even in the touristy places like Beppu, but 6 months from now who knows…I’ve been to major tourist spots in Kansai over the last few months and there are literally more staff than tourists. On the one hand it is very sad, on the other its nice to not be herded through Kinkaku-ji…

As far as Hokkaido, I would definitely make the time. Not sure if the snow is still around in April but I hear it’s very beautiful and various festivals occur (if they are allowed…) Planning a trip there myself, probably in February. I think you could probably get a nice experience with 3 days there. Maybe cut a day out of Osaka/Kyoto (love Kansai, but after awhile, unless you’ve studied history, the various temples and shrines tend to all look the same…)

I assume you will have JR pass? I’m a huge fan of the Shinkansen, but lately I’ve also taken to air travel to get around. Might add a little more time to your adventure…I flew from Osaka to Nagasaki and had plenty of time to wonder around, then hopped on a train for Beppu.

Enjoy your trip! Obviously if you’ve been to Japan before, you know what to expect. Or not to expect. Definitely make time for Hokkaido. I’m sure the people there are as different as Osaka-ins, and Tokyo-ites…

Wow you are so lucky to be able to spend an entire month!
But I thought Japan wasn’t allowing tourists until April 2021? We had to delay our October 2020 trip to December 2020 and now will be delaying it to possibly December 2021.