Japan Trip 2015: Itinerary

Japan Trip Winter 2015


Trip number five!

I've been at university lately studying a Master of Information Technology, while also working full time, which means our travels have to be scheduled during the set uni holidays. Basically this means July or January/February.

Up until the last trip we've been taking, on average, a three week holiday every nine months (equal to four weeks annual leave received a year).

This got a bit messed up though as we can now only take a holiday every six or twelve months. After a bit of consideration we decided to take the next holiday in six months, and then the next one twelve months after that.

Where to go?

We had an open mind, but thanks to the ease of planning, and because we wanted to visit the snow festivals in Hokkaido and try skiing we decided upon Japan Winter 2015!

We were also seriously considering the USA, but decided to postpone it as we were not sure we'd have enough time to plan such a trip. We're actually now booked to visit around the same time in 2016.

We're not just visiting Japan this time however as we also decided to visit South Korea for a couple of days.

I was wondering if I should write about Korea as this blog is "Trip to Japan", but our detour was part of a trip to Japan so it's in.

Like every other trip we made a Japan Book filled with transport times, and things we wanted to do in each city. As University finished at the end of November I was able to work on the Japan book though made some optimisations to save time (i.e. no pictures!). I'm also able to quickly copy nicely formatted tables out of Hyperdia using excel. Kate worked on the Korea section as neither of us can understand Korean however as I can read Japanese I worked on the Japanese part.

I must have been having a lot of fun in excel as I made this itinerary:

Everything looks very planned out but we're generally pretty flexible and didn't end up following that exactly. In fact we even cancelled one of our hotels mid trip and went somewhere else!

The major experiences we wanted to get out of this trip are:
  • Lisani concert in Tokyo mainly to see fripSide and ZAQ
  • Japanese cooking lesson
  • Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) in South/North Korea
  • Round one sports entertainment centre
  • Skiing in Furano
  • Snow festivals in Sapporo and Asahikawa
  • Ice breaker boats in Abashiri
  • Cat Island
  • Kushiro crane tour and steam train ride
  • Sake brewery and whisky distillery tours
  • Indoor go karting
  • Two ryokan stays
We also wanted to try and have a bit more of a plan on what food we're going to eat and allocate some time for this, rather than grabbing quick soba/udon meals or convenience store food (not bad in Japan though).

As far as things we booked beforehand, this included all our hotels, the Kushiro Crane Tour, the Ice Breaker boats, Skiing equipment hire and lessons, DMZ tour, cooking lesson and the concert.

Just the one ticket for the concert as it was impossible to get tickets when they were released and the Kate didn't want to pay for the high cost of the resale tickets (about $200).

As with the last trip, we bought a Canon 600D to take photos with, though because of the cold I ended up just using my phone's camera a lot of the time.

Unlike last time, a JR pass paid off for this trip, massively in fact, and we even got the three week version, which is the hardest to make pay off.

We were coving a lot of ground this trip, and had to be careful not to spend too much time on the train. We were able to deal with this pretty well by scheduling almost all of our long train trips in the evening so we wouldn't waste daylight hours. Generally we wanted to leave around 4-6pm and arrive around 7-9pm.

As far as flights from Australia we managed to get some cheap Jetstar tickets, around $600 return. We didn't need an international driver’s licence this time as we had no plans to drive on the icy winter roads.

Here is the written day by date itinerary:

Remember, this is the plan, not quite what we ended up doing in the end!

Sat 24 Jan: Tokyo - Arrive into Tokyo

Sun 25 Jan: Tokyo - Shopping at Ginza morning/midday, Lisani concert in afternoon and evening

Mon 26 Jan: Seoul - Cooking lesson in Tokyo, catch plane from Narita to Seoul

Tue 27 Jan: Seoul - Look around Seoul, markets, tower park, Changdeokgung, lock museum, 63 building

Wed 28 Jan: Seoul - Visit the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) and tunnels that North Korea dug into South Korea

Thu 29 Jan: Yumoto - Travel back to Narita from Seoul, and then on to a ryokan at Yumoto Onsen in Nikko

Fri 30 Jan: Koriyama - Visit natural sights and waterfalls of Nikko, travel to Koriyama in evening

Sat 31 Jan: Sendai - Visit sake breweries in Aizu, Round One games in Koriyama then travel to Sendai in evening

Sun 01 Feb: Sendai - Day trip to Cat Island

Mon 02 Feb: Hakodate - Day trip to Miyagi Nikka whisky distillery then train to Hakodate

Tue 03 Feb: Furano - Visit Onuma Lake then travel to Furano

Wed 04 Feb: Furano - Skiing, lesson in morning

Thu 05 Feb: Furano - Skiing, lesson in morning

Fri 06 Feb: Furano - Skiing, lesson in morning

Sat 07 Feb: Kitami - Travel to Asahikawa, see the winter festival and then the zoo, continue to Kitami near Abashiri (non-smoking hotels booked out in Abashiri)

Sun 08 Feb: Kushiro - Travel to Abashiri, go on an ice breaking boat, visit prison museum, and travel to Kushiro in evening

Mon 09 Feb: Sapporo - Tour the cranes in the Kushiro Marshlands by bus, ride on a steam train then travel to Sapporo

Tue 10 Feb: Sapporo - Visit the ski jump and museum, snow festival at Tsu Dome then Odori snow festival and Susukino ice sculptures in afternoon/evening

Wed 11 Feb: Sapporo - Day trip to Otaru, visit city museums, Nikka Whisky distillery then the Otaru snow light path

Thu 12 Feb: Aomori -Travel from Sapporo to Aomori, have lunch at the fish markets, visit Sannai Archaeological Site and then karaoke in the evening

Fri 13 Feb: Nyuto Onsen -Travel to Nyuto and spend day relaxing in the many onsen

Sat 14 Feb: Tokyo – Travel back to Tokyo, do indoor go-karting in Chiba and then Yakitori in Ginza

Sun 15 Feb: Tokyo – Play games at round one sports entertainment in the morning, catch a shinkansen to do some sake tasting at Echigo Yuzawa then return to Tokyo for UFO machines and Karaoke

Mon 16 Feb: Plane -Maybe visit a cat cafe before returning to Narita for our flight home

These are the hotels we stayed at and the total cost for two people- a lot fewer one night stays compared to last trip!

Tokyo: Toyoko Inn (Business hotel, 2 nights - ¥17,064)
Seoul: Skypark Myeongdong 3 (3 nights - 267,300)
Yumoto: Itaya (Ryokan, 1 night - ¥27,200)
Koriyama: Chisun (Business hotel, 1 night - ¥7,920)
Sendai: Daiwa Roynet (Business hotel, 2 nights - ¥18,900)
Hakodate: Comfort Inn (Business hotel, 1 night - ¥9,000)
Furano: Hotel Naturwald (Ski Lodge, 4 nights - ¥56,160)
Kitami (Abashiri): Dormy Inn (Business hotel, 1 night - ¥8,290)
Kushiro: Comfort Inn (Business hotel, 1 night - ¥6,500 )
Sapporo: Super Hotel (Business hotel, 3 nights - ¥29,600 )
Aomori: Sun Route (Business hotel, 1 night - ¥7,500  )
Nyuto Onsen: Ogama (Ryokan, 1 night - ¥21,600)
Tokyo: Toyoko Inn: (Business hotel, 2 nights - ¥17,064)

The next post will cover our arrival into Tokyo.

Continue reading: JT5: Flight and Tokyo


  1. Looking forward to it... :0)

  2. I can't wait to travel around Japan!

    1. I'm sure you'll have a great time!

      Thanks for the comment :)

  3. i think the planning part is the most exciting part of tour. However this time, i'm so looking forward for japan tour not just for planning but for actual travel!!

    1. Haha planning can be fun but I don't enjoy some aspects, like booking hotels!

      Thanks for the comment!