Posted by: jrhorse | September 13, 2012

Japan Itinerary: The Three Views

This blog post was updated in February 2017 to reflect new travel information and fares.

In what will hopefully be the first of a few blog posts, I will present suggested itineraries that will allow you to experience the best that Japan has to offer. These are, as per usual, offered pursuant to the blog DISCLAIMER and transit timings are valid and current as of the date of this post.

This itinerary is for lovers of landscapes and views. Indeed, this itinerary covers the three top views that Japan has to offer. The original list of the “Three Views” can be attributed to the Hayashi family of scholars that penned the list in the 1600’s.

One of Matsushima’s many islands. Photo by Jose Ramos, October 2008

MATSUSHIMA: This city is known for its hundreds of small islands in the bay dotted with pine trees, and a destination that I can personally vouch for. The city is near where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck, however Matsushima did not suffer significant damage and it is currently business as usual.

Matsushima can be accessed by the JR Senseki line operating out of Sendai station, which is a stop for the bullet train. The most convenient stop is Matsushima-Kaigan, from which a ferry can take you on a loop around the bay. Tours usually take 40-50 minutes, while a shortened 30 minute tour is sometimes available. Near the dock is a revered Zen buddhist temple, Zuiganji.

An alternate route (which I used) is to exit the train at Hon-Shiogama and walk a few minutes to the pier there. You can then take a one-way cruise to Matsushima which covers a different part of the bay; this is called the “Basho Cruise”.

Highway buses to the area are sparse, so I suggest taking a bus to Sendai and then taking the JR Senseki Line from there.

Ferry information: http://marubun-kisen.com/english/index.html
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsushima

The sand bar at Amanohashidate. Photo by kentin, released under CC-by-SA 3.0 unported

AMANOHASHIDATE: Located in northern Kyoto prefecture, Amanohashidate is a long sand bar topped with pine trees. There are several viewing points from which to view the “bridge in heaven,” as it is translated. The common ritual for visitors is to stand with your back to the sand bar, then bend forward and view it from between your legs, to make it appear as it is indeed “floating”.

There are direct limited express trains to Amanohashidate from Kyoto station on the JR, with connections also available from Osaka. Tankai Bus and Hankyu Bus operates highway bus services from Kyoto Station (2h 20m), Shin-Osaka Station (3h) and the Hankyu Umeda Bus Terminal (3h 15m).

Amanohashidate Tourism Website with descriptions of major destinations: http://www.amanohashidate.jp/lang/en/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanohashidate

Itsukushima Shrine Torii Gate. Photo by Rdsmith4, released under CC-by-SA 2.5 generic

MIYAJIMA: Also known as the island with the floating red torii gate in front of it, Miyajima (also known by its official name ITSUKUSHIMA) is located in the Chugoku region just off the coast of Hiroshima. It is known for Itsukushima shrine, a world heritage site with one of Japan’s most famous icons, the red torii gate in the bay. It appears to “float” in the water during times of high tide. Several popular ryokans are also available to make your stay more memorable.

Miyajima is best accessed by taking the local JR Sanyo line from the Hiroshima train station to Miyajima-guchi station, then taking a ferry across to Miyajima. There are a few ferry companies that do the trip, but one company – JR Ferry – offers free travel if you have a Japan Rail Pass. A cheaper and longer transit route is to take the Hiroshima Tramway, aka Hiroden, Line #2 from Hiroshima Station to Miyajima-guchi. (Approx. 70 minutes and 270 yen, compared to about 30 minutes and 400 yen by JR)

Bus travelers are best taking a bus into Hiroshima and then continuing to Miyajima-guchi by train or tram.

Miyajima Tourist Association: http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/
Miyajima Hotels Association: http://www.miyajima-yado.com/english.html
Wikipedia (Itsukushima/Miyajima): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itsukushima

Here are some suggested itineraries that will allow you to enjoy these wonderful views.

FROM TOKYO – By Rail/Japan Rail Pass – 4 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Travel from Tokyo to Sendai by Shinkansen, then travel by JR Senseki Line to Hon-Shiogama (Approx 2 1/4 hours, 11,520 yen) or Matsushima-Kaigan (Approx 2 1/2 hours, 11,520 yen)
VISIT MATSUSHIMA
In afternoon, Travel to Sendai by JR Senseki Line, to Tokyo by Shinkansen, then to Kyoto by Shinkansen. (Approx 4 1/2 hours, 22,620 yen using the Nozomi Tokyo-Kyoto; Japan Rail Pass approx 5 1/2 hours using the Hikari Tokyo-Kyoto)
Japan Rail Pass holders should depart Matsushima by 4 PM, others should leave by 5 PM

Day 2: Travel from Kyoto to Amanohashidate by the “Hashidate” limited express. (2 hours, 4,500 yen; Japan Rail Pass holders must pay 1,480 yen supplement)
VISIT AMANOHASHIDATE
In the afternoon, return to Kyoto by “Hashidate” Limited Express.

If you cannot take the “Hashidate” then you can alternatively take two trains, changing at Fukuchiyama station. The fare is the same, including the JR Pass supplement.

Day 3: Travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima on one of the morning shinkansen services (100 minutes, 11,410 using the Nozomi; Japan Rail Pass holders should take one of the direct Hikari services to Hiroshima that run in the morning, taking approximately 2 hours)
From Hiroshima, travel to Miyajima-guchi station and take the ferry across to Miyajima. Japan Rail Pass holders should use the JR Ferry, as it is free with the pass. Note that the Hiroshima Tram (Hiroden) sells a one day unlimited tram and ferry pass for 840 yen, in which case you must use the other ferry service, Matsuden Ferry.
VISIT MIYAJIMA
Spend the rest of your day and night in Hiroshima, or if you’re lucky try spending the night at a Ryokan on Miyajima itself!

Day 4: If you stayed in Miyajima during the last evening, spend the day in Hiroshima, notably at the Hiroshima Peace Park, before returning to Tokyo. Head back using the Nozomi (4 hours, 19,080 yen) or if you have a Japan Rail Pass you’ll have to take a Sakura or Hikari service and change en-route to another Tokyo-bound Hikari service (5-5 1/2 hours). The final Nozomi departure from Hiroshima to Tokyo leaves at around 8 PM, and the last trip valid with the Rail Pass leaves at around 7 PM.

A 7 Day Japan Rail Pass is recommended for this course (29,100 yen).

FROM TOKYO – By Bus – 6 Day Itinerary
When published in 2012, this was originally a 5 day Itinerary. I have since increased it to a 6 day plan.

Day 1: Travel from Tokyo to Sendai by bus, then travel by rail from Sendai on the JR Senseki Line to Hon-Shiogama (30 minutes, 320 yen) or Matsushima Kaigan (35-40 minutes, 400 yen). Be sure to take an early bus.
Bus options include these morning departures from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal: JR Bus (Departs 8:30 AM, arrives 2:20 PM, fares start at 3,500 yen) and Willer Bus (Leaving 7:30 AM, arriving 1:25 PM, fare starts at ~3,700 yen)
VISIT MATSUSHIMA
In the evening return to Sendai and take a direct bus from Sendai to Osaka. The only bus that runs between the two cities is the Kintetsu Bus (Leaving Sendai 7:30 PM, arriving at Osaka’s Higashi-Umeda station 7:12 AM the next morning, fare 12,500 yen). The other alternative is to take a bus to Nagoya, which is offered by a few companies including Willer Express (Leave Sendai 9:30 PM, arrive Meitetsu Bus Center 6:50 AM the next morning, fare 9,500 yen).

Day 2: If you are on the Kintetsu Bus: arrive in Osaka in the morning.

If you are on the Willer Bus to Nagoya: 

Travel between Nagoya and Osaka during the day at your leisure. Willer Buses depart from Nagoya Station Taikodori Exit a few times a day towards Umeda (3 1/2 hours, 2,500 yen). These buses offer convenient drop-offs near Osaka along some commuter train routes: Kosoku Nagakyo is a short walk to the Hankyu Railway, and Momoyamadai conveniently links to the Midosuji Subway. Alternatively, JR Bus runs hourly trips from Nagoya to Osaka (3,000 yen but can sometimes be discounted to 1,500 yen).

Plan to spend two nights in Osaka.

Day 3: Depart for Amanohashidate on the Hankyu Bus (Leaving Hankyu Umeda Bus Terminal 9:50 AM, arriving Amanohashidate Station 12:30 PM).
VISIT AMANOHASHIDATE
Return from Amanohashidate to Osaka on the Hankyu Bus (Leaving Amanohashidate Station 4:45 PM, arrive Osaka/Hankyu Umeda Bus Terminal 7:25 PM).
The round-trip bus fare is 5,300 yen.
Spend the rest of your evening in Osaka.

Day 4: Depart from Osaka on a bus to Hiroshima, then travel to Miyajima using one of the methods described earlier. Options include JR Bus (Leaving Osaka Station JR Highway Bus Terminal 7:30 AM, arriving Hiroshima Station 12:32 PM, fares start from 4,600 yen) and Willer Express (Depart Willer Osaka Terminal 8:20 AM, arriving Hiroshima Station 1:55 PM, fares start from ~3,600 yen). NOTE that the JR Buses stop at the Hiroshima Bus Center first, where you can connect directly to the tram for Miyajima-guchi – it’s a shorter trip compared with a start from Hiroshima station.
VISIT MIYAJIMA
Spend the rest of your day and night in Hiroshima, or if you’re lucky try spending the night at a Ryokan on Miyajima itself!

Day 5: Spend your day in Hiroshima before returning to Tokyo via overnight bus. Options include the JR Bus (Depart Hiroshima Bus Center 8:20 PM and Hiroshima Station 8:35 PM, arrive Shinjuku 7:30 AM/Tokyo 8:05 AM, Regular fare 11,900 yen) and the Willer Express bus (Depart Hiroshima Station 7:35 PM, arrive Shinjuku Station 8:30 AM, fares starting at ~7,900 yen).

Day 6: Arrive in Tokyo to complete your trip.

For your trip I recommend a 3-day Willer Express Japan Bus Pass (Starting at 10,000 yen) to cover your trips from Tokyo to Sendai [Day 1], Sendai to Nagoya [Day 1], Osaka to Hiroshima [Day 4] and Hiroshima to Tokyo [Day 5]. Then purchase a regular bus ticket on either Willer or JR from Nagoya to Osaka [Day 2], and the bus tickets from Osaka to Amanohashidate and back [Day 3].

FROM OSAKA – By Rail/Japan Rail Pass – 4 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Travel to Amanohashidate by rail. Take the “Konotori” limited express from Osaka to Fukuchiyama in the morning. At Fukuchiyama station, change to the “Hashidate” limited express for the run to Amanohashidate. (2 1/4 hours, 5,380 yen – Japan Rail Pass holders must pay 1,480 yen supplement)
VISIT AMANOHASHIDATE
Return to Osaka in the evening in a similar fashion.

Day 2: Travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima on one of the morning shinkansen services (100 minutes, 11,410 using the Nozomi; Japan Rail Pass holders should take one of the direct Hikari services to Hiroshima that run in the morning, taking approximately 2 hours)
From Hiroshima, travel to Miyajima-guchi station and take the ferry across to Miyajima. Japan Rail Pass holders should use the JR Ferry, as it is free with the pass. Note that the Hiroshima Tram (Hiroden) sells a one day unlimited tram and ferry pass for 840 yen, in which case you must use the other ferry service, Matsuden Ferry.
VISIT MIYAJIMA
Spend the rest of your day and night in Hiroshima, or if you’re lucky try spending the night at a Ryokan on Miyajima itself!

Day 3: If you stayed in Miyajima during the last evening, spend the day in Hiroshima, notably at the Hiroshima Peace Park. In the afternoon head back to Tokyo using the shinkansen; either the Nozomi (4 hours, 19,080 yen) or if you have a Japan Rail Pass you’ll have to take a Sakura or Hikari service and change en-route to another Tokyo-bound Hikari service (5-5 1/2 hours).

Spend the night in Tokyo.

Day 4: Travel from Tokyo to Sendai by Shinkansen, then travel by JR Senseki Line to Hon-Shiogama (Approx 2 1/4 hours, 11,520 yen) or Matsushima-Kaigan (Approx 2 1/2 hours, 11,520 yen)
VISIT MATSUSHIMA
In the evening, travel to Sendai by JR Senseki Line, to Tokyo by Shinkansen, then to Osaka by Shinkansen to complete your journey. (Approx 5 1/2 hours, 22,950 yen using the Nozomi Tokyo-Osaka; Japan Rail Pass approx 6 1/2 hours using the Hikari Tokyo-Osaka).

A 7 Day Japan Rail Pass is recommended for this course (29,100 yen).

FROM OSAKA – By Bus – 6 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Depart for Amanohashidate on the Hankyu Bus (Leaving Hankyu Umeda Bus Terminal 9:50 AM, arriving Amanohashidate Station 12:30 PM).
VISIT AMANOHASHIDATE
Return from Amanohashidate to Osaka on the Hankyu Bus (Leaving Amanohashidate Station 4:45 PM, arrive Osaka/Hankyu Umeda Bus Terminal 7:25 PM).
The round-trip bus fare is 5,300 yen.

Day 2: Depart from Osaka on a bus to Hiroshima, then travel to Miyajima using one of the methods described earlier. Options include JR Bus (Leaving Osaka Station JR Highway Bus Terminal 7:30 AM, arriving Hiroshima Station 12:32 PM, fares start from 4,600 yen) and Willer Express (Depart Willer Osaka Terminal 8:20 AM, arriving Hiroshima Station 1:55 PM, fares start from ~3,600 yen). NOTE that the JR Buses stop at the Hiroshima Bus Center first, where you can connect directly to the tram for Miyajima-guchi – it’s a shorter trip compared with a start from Hiroshima station.
VISIT MIYAJIMA
Spend the rest of your day and night in Hiroshima, or if you’re lucky try spending the night at a Ryokan on Miyajima itself!

Day 3: Spend your day in Hiroshima before departing for Tokyo via overnight bus. Options include the JR Bus (Depart Hiroshima Bus Center 8:20 PM and Hiroshima Station 8:35 PM, arrive Shinjuku 7:30 AM/Tokyo 8:05 AM, Regular fare 11,900 yen) and the Willer Express bus (Depart Hiroshima Station 7:35 PM, arrive Shinjuku Station 8:30 AM, fares starting at ~7,900 yen).

Day 4: Arrive in Tokyo and spend your entire day in Tokyo.

Day 5: Travel from Tokyo to Sendai by bus, then travel by rail from Sendai on the JR Senseki Line to Hon-Shiogama (30 minutes, 320 yen) or Matsushima Kaigan (35-40 minutes, 400 yen). Be sure to take an early bus.
Bus options include these morning departures from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal: JR Bus (Departs 8:30 AM, arrives 2:20 PM, fares start at 3,500 yen) and Willer Bus (Leaving 7:30 AM, arriving 1:25 PM, fare starts at ~3,700 yen)
VISIT MATSUSHIMA
In the evening return to Sendai and take a direct bus from Sendai to Osaka. The only bus that runs between the two cities is the Kintetsu Bus (Leaving Sendai 7:30 PM, arriving at Osaka’s Higashi-Umeda station 7:12 AM the next morning, fare 12,500 yen). The other alternative is to take a bus to Nagoya, which is offered by a few companies including Willer Express (Leave Sendai 9:30 PM, arrive Meitetsu Bus Center 6:50 AM the next morning, fare 9,500 yen).

Day 6:If you are on the Kintetsu Bus: arrive in Osaka in the morning to complete your trip.

If you are on the Willer Bus to Nagoya: 

Travel between Nagoya and Osaka during the day at your leisure to complete your trip. Willer Buses depart from Nagoya Station Taikodori Exit a few times a day towards Umeda (3 1/2 hours, 2,500 yen). These buses offer convenient drop-offs near Osaka along some commuter train routes: Kosoku Nagakyo is a short walk to the Hankyu Railway, and Momoyamadai conveniently links to the Midosuji Subway. Alternatively, JR Bus runs hourly trips from Nagoya to Osaka (3,000 yen but can sometimes be discounted to 1,500 yen).

For your trip I recommend purchasing bus tickets for the trip from Osaka to Amanohashidate and back. Use a 3-day Willer Express Japan Bus Pass (Starting at 10,000 yen) to cover your trips from Osaka to Hiroshima [Day 2], Hiroshima to Tokyo [Day 3], Tokyo to Sendai [Day 5] and Sendai to Nagoya [Day 5]. Then purchase a regular bus ticket on either Willer or JR from Nagoya to Osaka [Day 6].

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] some itineraries on my blog to bring you to some of Japan’s best sights. The original set is Japan’s Three Views: Matsushima, Amanohashidate and Miyajima. This has spurred into a long list of official and […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: