Our 2017 Honshu Road Trip Itinerary

Our trip begins on Tuesday 31 January 2017 and our flight out is:

Depart: London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 2 19:00
Arrive: Haneda International Airport (HND) 15:50
Duration: 11h50

We picked this flight because it means we can both work that morning, maximising our annual leave allowance! We always fly direct (where possible) to allow us to spend as much time as possible at our time at our destination, and pick evening flights when travelling to Asia and try to get to our destination for PM the following day as we find we minimise jetlag that way. This particular flight option is with ANA and costs around the £600 mark per person for a return flight. The added bonus is that it flies into Haneda not Narita, which is much closer to central Tokyo.

Other than the hotels, this itinerary is very loose. We may or may not see everything and have mainly compiled the list to give us some ideas. Our plan for most of the trip is to just explore interesting things/areas/places that we see on our route.

The plan looks like this:

Day 1 – Wednesday 1 February
When we arrive at Haneda we’ll take the monorail from the airport to Hamamatsucho station which, last time we were there, cost ¥483 using our IC cards from previous trips. Next we’ll take the Yamanote line to Shinjuku station and from there we’ll walk to our hotel - Citadines Central Shinjuku.

Once we’ve dropped our stuff off at the hotel the plan is to go out for the evening in Shinjuku.

Day 2 – Thursday 2 February
We’re picking our delightful Honda Fit (Jazz) up from Nippon-Rent-A-Car in Shinjuku early in the morning (we’ll be jetlagged so will be up at the crack of dawn no doubt) before collecting some supplies and embarking on our journey.

Our end point for the day is our hotel in Matsumoto so the basic route looks like this:

Potential stops/activities on this day are:

Exploring Kofu
Matsumoto Castle

The hotel is Matsumoto Hotel Kagetsu, it’s centrally located in Matsumoto and there are plenty of restaurants and bars as well as konbini all within walking distance.

Day 3 – Friday 3 February
The end point for day 3 is our hotel in Nagano, there is so much we want to see and do in this area so we’ve purposely ensured our journey time is minimal so that we can maximise our sightseeing time. Here is our basic route:

Nagano is in the Japanese Alps and covered in thick snow and I think I am most excited about this part of the trip. Activities include:

Jigokudani Monkey Park (where the snow monkeys bathe in the hot springs)
Nozawa Onsen
Exploring the ski resort areas

Our hotel is Jizokan Matsuya Ryokan (we’ve never stayed in a Ryokan before – exciting!). There are plenty of restaurants and bars within walking distance, as well as shrines and temples. Nagano is the home of soba noodles so should probably try some whilst we’re here!

Day 4 – Saturday 4 February
The end point for day 4 is our hotel in Niigata, which is located on the North coast of Japan. Our basic route looks like this:

We haven’t got a lot of activities planned en route so hopefully we will see plenty that take our fancy when we’re actually there, Joetsu is potential place to stop off for lunch. Niigata itself looks interesting and there seems to be plenty to do when we get there.

Our hotel is Chisun Inn Niigata and it’s a bit out of town so it might be that we head to the central station area for the evening, or we use this night as a bit of a chill out night.

Day 5 - Sunday 5 February
There is quite a distance to be covered on day 5, we’ll be heading back across the snowy mountains to the south/east (not entirely sure which one is the most accurate description but probably south) coast to Sendai. The basic route looks like this:

We’re intending to check out Yamadera Temple and also Tashirojima (cat island!!!) on this day.

Our accommodation is Hotel Vista Sendai Hotel it is well located and there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby as well as konbini all within walking distance. If the internet is to be believed then Sendai has some pretty good night life, we plan to check out Clis Road – a covered arcade with lots of bars etc including nomihoudai karaoke bar where you make your own drinks and Kokibuncho - the main area for entertainment.

Day 6 - Monday 6 February
We’re aiming for Koriyama on day 6 and this is the basic route we’ll be following:

In this region we want to see Mt Zao, the snow monsters, Okama Crater, Lake Inawashiro and also fox village. It might be that we cover some of this on day 5 though, depending on how we’re doing for time.

We’re staying at Hotel Hamatsu in Koriyama, it has a piano bar and is a 15 minute walk to Koriyama Station which is where the majority of bars and restaurants appear to be.

Day 7 - Tuesday 7 February
The route on day 7 takes us to Nikko, a snowy destination north of Tokyo. We’ll be travelling through a national park to get there and our intentions are to explore the wildlife and waterfalls it has to offer. The basic route looks like this:

Our hotel for the evening is Nikko Green Natsukashiya Fuwari Hotel (Ryokan number 2!) it is out of town but looks like it does some fantastic authentic Ryokan cuisine so we might choose to stay in and enjoy that!

Day 8 – Wednesday 8 February
Day 8 is the final leg of our journey and the destination is Tokyo, Shinjuku to be precise to drop of the rental car. Here is the basic route:

The main attraction on the way is Askikaga Flower Park, something I’ve wanted to see for a very long time.

Once we get to Tokyo and drop of the car we’re headed to the Shiodome area, one of our many favourite parts of Tokyo where we’re staying for our final evening in the Park Hotel Tokyo Shiodome. We plan on going out in Shimbashi for the night as it’s very close and we’ve spent many drunken evenings there and always had a good time.

Day 9 – Thursday 9 February
This will be an early-ish start getting to Hamamatsucho on the Yamanote Line to then take the Monorail to Haneda for our flight home:

Depart: Haneda International Airport (HND) 11:40
Arrive: London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 2 15:25
Duration: 12h45
Flight: NH211

Then I assume it will be on to planning our next Japanese adventure…