Everyday counts. The flights are 14 days apart. Those 14 days are now seeming nowhere near enough. Glad I purchased airline tickets before doing detailed trip planning. That way the 14 was based on budget, not on seeing everything I wanted.
Once in country there will be no ‘travel days’. Kyoto to Hiroshima, for example, is 260 miles. That’s 1hr40m – 2hr by a comfortable bullet train. What would be a fatiguing half a day of travel in Malaysia or Thailand before a take-it-easy afternoon is an hour or 2 at the beginning or end of a full day in Japan (I hope).
Fast trains combined with an all-you-can-seat rail pass could mean moving by whim. It won’t because I defined the trip around Kyoto and Tokyo as starting and ending points. Takayama is a must see. To do it anytime except as the last destination before Tokyo means backtracking and that means wasted time.
I could travel at the speed of whim between leaving Kyoto and arriving in Takayama. Except one of the destinations is only worth it at high tide on a weekday. One event happens only at 10am on weekdays. One place is closed on Monday. There’s a couple places I’d like to be with a camera around sunrise or sunset. Two of the places have significant climbing on trails or stairs.
Took me 2 hours studying opening and closing times, querying online schedules for trains and ferries to find a sequence that fits almost all of it while having an easy day between the two steep climb days and preserving the option to stay a second day at one of the overnight stops or turn an afternoon visit into an overnight stop. Why 2 hours? Because at the start I was trying to decide what to exclude because it hadn’t sunk in yet how far I will be able to go in an hour or two by rail.