Planning Japan, Take 2

The first idea for the second attempt at Japan was to implement last year’s plan on this year’s dates. That’s not going to fly. Literally. Parts of the plan must be new because this time the flights are round trip to Osaka (airport closest to Kyoto), whereas last year it was arrive Osaka and depart Tokyo.

Why the change? Kyoto and Tokyo were the focus of the first trip. That changed after learning of Naoshima Island*, which happened after buying airline tickets. Then I put Hiroshima in the ‘must’ column because of how close it is to the Naoshima route. Only way to do Naoshima, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo means too many trains and too little waking up in the same room twice. Tokyo and the east deserve their own trip.

Those fast, punctual trains were seductive. There was too little slack, maybe no slack, in last years plans so this year it’s the opposite. I’m doing base camps plus day trips via short train rides, spending 7 nights in Kyoto, 5 in Okayama. The latter is a 30 minute train ride from Hiroshima and is the train junction to Naosihma and the Inland Sea. One could spend a week in Kyoto and just scratch the surface, but I’d rather mix Kyoto and day trips. Both towns have budget lodging (that’s budget by Japanese standards) so changing some of the longer day trips into overnight trips won’t cost much.

I’ll have to leave base camp to experience shukubo (temple lodging). Best place is a night on Mt. Koya. Finally, the first and last night will be in Osaka for easy airport access.

*Naoshima. Remember the booming Japanese economy in the late ’80s and the accompanying foreign acquisitions of everything from American golf courses and movie studios to Monet and Van Gogh paintings? Some share their art collections with the public:
Article from a Japanese art magazine.
An art blog post.
Official website.

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