Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chasing Sakura - Japan (1)

It's cherry blossom season again!  If you have been following this blog for some time, you probably know I am making another trip to Japan (this coming April).  This time, we are going during the peak of cherry blossom season!


This is from my Washington DC trip back in April 2010.
I missed DC!  Maybe I will do some blog posts on past travels.

Originally, this was going to be another solo trip but 2 of my friends decided to join me.  We started planning really early (I literally had a draft ready last November).  Tickets were booked and rooms were reserved before 2012 was even over.

As promised, here's the final draft of my itinerary.  Again, it's a very ambitious plan and let's see how much ground I actually cover this time!

Day 1Arrive at Kansai Airport around 05:25, clear custom and buy the round-trip Haruka+ICOCA (¥4,000) at the ticket counter.  Take the first train departing 06:29 arriving in Kyoto (京都) at 07:59.  Walk to hostel.  Take Yamashina express bus (¥300) to Daigoji (醍醐寺).  Check out Sanboin (三寶院) and Reihokan (靈寶館) (¥1,000).  Take bus (¥300) to Daigo Station and take subway (¥280) back to Keage Station (蹴上站).  Check out Philosopher's Path (哲學之道).  Take bus (#203) back to Gion (祗園) and walk to Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) (¥400).

Day 2 - Take Thunderbird (¥6,200) from Kyoto Station (08:11) to Kanazawa (金澤) (10:25).  Walk to hostel.  Buy bus pass (¥500), take bus to Ohmicho Ichiba (近江町市場).  Visit Myouryuji (妙立寺) (¥800), D.T. Suzuki Museum (鈴木大拙館) (¥300) and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (21世紀美術館).

Day 3 - Take bus to Kokoyui (心結和服) (¥6,500) and change into kimono.  Buy the Kenrokuen +1 value ticket and visit Kanazawa Castle (金沢城) and Kenrokuen (兼六園) (¥500).  Check out the Nagamachi samurai residences (長町武家屋敷通り) and try the tea houses in Higashi Chaya (東茶屋街).

Day 4 - Take bus from Kanazawa (08:45) to Shirakawago (白川鄉(10:00) (¥1,800).  Check in at the gassho house and walk around town.

Day 5 - Take bus from Shirakawago (10:45) to Takayama (高山) (11:45) (¥2,400).  Walk to hostel.  Check out Old Town (古町) and Higashiyama Trails (東山步道).  If time allows, check out Hida no Sato (飛驒之里) (¥700).

Day 6 - Buy Okuhida Value Ticket (奥飛騨まるごと・バリューきっぷ) (¥5,000) at any LAWSON convenient store.  Take bus from Takayama (07:40) to Shinhotaka (新穗高) (09:13).  Take ropeway to the top.  Enjoy the scenery, soak in the onsen (¥480), walk the trail, etc.  Take bus from Shinhotaka (13:55 / 14:55) Hirayu (平湯).  Check out the Hirayu waterfalls (平湯大滝(bus ¥100), try the onsen (¥400).  Take last bus from Hirayu (17:30) back to Takayama (18:27).

Day 7 - Take bus from Takayama (08:00) to Nagoya (名古屋) (10:40) (¥2,900).  Activate the Kintetsu Rail Pass (近畿鐵路五日周遊券) (¥3,700).  Visit Atsuta Jinja (熱田神宮), Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) (¥500), and Yamazaki River (山崎川).  Take train to Osaka.  (Last train leaves at 21:30, travel time ~2 hours)

Day 8 - Take Kintetsu from Osaka to Nara (奈良), train leaves every 10 minutes, travel time ~40 minutes).  Visit Kofukuji (興福寺) (¥800), Todaiji (東大寺) (¥500), and Katsuga Taisha (春日大社(¥500) inside Nara Park (奈良公園).  Leave Nara and head to Yoshinoyama (吉野山).  Return to Osaka and check out the Floating Garden in Umeda Sky Building (空中庭園展望台(¥700).

Day 9 - Take Kintetsu from Osaka to Akame (赤目).  Visit Akame 48 Taki (赤目四十八淹(¥300).  If time allows, go to Iga (伊賀) and visit the Ninja Museum of Igaryu (伊賀忍術博物館(¥700).  Return to Osaka, do some last minute shopping and head to the airport (21:15).

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