October 13th 2008 Monday
Ok, the plan starts to shape. I've listed locations I will be visiting, and I've included aproximate time I will spend in each. Tokyo 10 nights, Kyoto 3 nights, Hiroshima 2 nights, Tadami 2 nights, Hakone 1 night, and Kasumi 1 night. That would cover the 19 nights I'm spending there. I've also listed locations I'd like to visit in each place, for example the peace memorial in Hiroshima. Especially for Tokyo I can list much more than I could cover in 10 days, and then just go by feel each day. Sounds like a plan to me.
Interesting thing I noticed about guided tours from Tokyo. If I want to go to Mt. Fuji or Nikko (with THE three monkeys), the guided tour price was about double at the English website, compared to Japanese website. Same tour, just the guide will speak in Japanese. Pretty steep premium for English speaking guide, some $60-$80 extra.
And just now, a rough travel plan is more or less finalized, as Miki called few ryokans, the Japanese inns, to make reservations. Tadami and Kasumi went ok, but the ryokan I chose for Hiroshima stay, had had bad experience with foreigners, and they declined to accept me as a guest there. Too bad. I guess I need to find another place in Hiroshima. With the reservations, the plan starts with few days in Tokyo, then heading out to Hakone for onsen, the hot spring bath, from there to Tadami, then Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kasumi and last back to Tokyo for one week. Sounds like a plan.
Few days ago I received the Lonely Planet guide to Japan from Amazon. So far I've been just browsing through it, but I already caught one more interesting place to visit. The Oku-No-In (奥の院) graveyard close to Kyoto. It is supposed to be beautiful place at sunset. I'm sure it'll make good contrast against all the temples and shrines I'll be visiting. Bet I'm bored to death about the temples and shrines by then, so anything out of ordinary sounds good to me.
So the planning continues. I'm supposed to receive the JR rail pass in next few days. That'll help me travel in all trains operated by JR for the whole duration of my trip. Well, all except the Nozomi-line from Tokyo to Kyoto direction. I have to do with the Hikari-line, which spends several minutes more on the Tokyo-Kyoto distance of 400km (~250 miles).