BumblebeeMum
Japan Winter Self Drive Trip with Kids (December 2015) – Itinerary Outline

15 Days Japan Road Trip - Bumble Bee Mum

I realise I never did a trip summary of our Japan road trip back in December 2015.  Since it’s time of the year to plan for year end trips again, maybe it’s a good time to revisit this particular trip!

When planning for a trip in mainland Japan at the end of the year, I had specific events that I wanted to visit, including:

  • Tokyo German Village Winter Illumination
  • Toki no Sumika Winter Illumination
  • Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination
  • Ashikaga Flower Park Illumination
  • Kiyomizudera Autumn Special Night Visit
  • Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival
  • Snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park

As you may have noticed, many of the events involved illuminations.  Illumination is a BIG THING in Japan, particularly in December.  So whenever I visit Japan at the end of the year, I would try to fit in as many illumination events as possible.

Read more: Our 7-Days Illumination Trip by Rail in December 2007

Read more: Japan’s Largets and Most Popular Illumination Events

It was a rather adventurous trip, I would say.  We drove more than 2000km, visited a Hello Kitty onsen, drove on a beach, stayed in a traditional Japanese farmhouse, discovered Japan’s only boathouses, came face-to-face with a Capybara and within arms length of a lion.

So here you go, our itinerary for our 15-Days self-drive trip around Japan in December.

 

Day 1: Narita - Chiba

Tokyo German Village

 

Day 2: Chiba -Tokyo

Mother Farm

> Read our review of Mother Farm

Shinjuku

 

Day 4: Tokyo - Yokohama - Gotemba
Day 5: Gotemba - Kyoto

Hamamatsu Fruits Park

Nabana no Sato

 

Day 6: Kyoto
Day 7: Kyoto - Osaka - Kyoto

Universal Studios Japan

> Pre-purchase your USJ admission tickets & express passes online

 

Day 8: Kyoto

Nishiki Market

Arashiyama Monkey Park

> Read more on visiting Arashiyama Monkey Park

Arashiyama bamboo grove

 

Day 9: Kyoto

Ine

Amanohashidate

Maizuru Tore Tore Seafood Market

Kyoto Illumiere

 

Day 10: Kyoto - Kanazawa

Kayabuki no Sato

Wakasa Fisherman Wharf

Kanazawa Higashichaya District

Day 11: Kanazawa - Noto Peninsular

Omicho Market

Chirihama Beach Drive

 

Day 12: Noto Peninsular - Toyama - Nagano

Himi Banya

Toyama Kitto Kitto Market

Kaiwomaru Park

Day 13: Nagano - Gunma

Ryuoo Ski Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Hello Kitty Onsen

> Read our review of Hello Kitty Onsen

 

Day 14: Gunma - Ashikaga

Cafe Floresta

> Read our review of Cafe Floresta

Gunma Safari Park

> Read our review of Gunma Safari Park

Ashikaga Flower Park

 

Day 15: Ashikaga - Tokyo - Narita

Asakusa

 

REFERENCES & MAP CODES

Below are links to reference sites and telephone number / map codes (for GPS) of destinations in this post:

  • Tokyo German Village [Tel: 0438-60-5511 / Map Code: 49 561 209]
  • Mother Farm [Tel: 0439-37-3211 / Map Code: 769 292 438]
  • Tokyo Fire Museum [Tel: 03-3353-9119 / Map Code: 671 2]
  • Shinjuku Gyoen [Tel: 03-3350-0151 / Map Code: 670 170]
  • Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival [Map Code: 611 591]
  • Lalaport Shinmisato [Tel:  048-950-1515 / Map Code: 3 389 757]
  • Zoorasia [Tel: 045-959-1000 / Map Code: 2 258 767]
  • Toki No Sumika [Tel:  0550-87-3700 / Map Code: 50 561 105]
  • Hamamatsu Fruit Park [Tel: 053-428-5211 / Map Code: 26 613 465]
  • Nabana No Sato [Tel: 0594-41-0787 / Map Code: 38 894 323]
  • Tofukuji [Tel: 075-561-0087 / Map Code: 248 395 037]
  • Gion Izuju Kyoto Sushi [Tel: 075-561-0019 / Map Code: 7 618 107]
  • Jouvencelle [Tel:  075-551-1511 / Map Code: 7 588 802]
  • Kinana Ice-cream [Tel: 075-525-8300 / Map Code: 7 588 817]
  • Kiyomizudera [Tel:  075-551-1234 / Map Code: 7 589 016]
  • Kodai-Ji [Tel:  075-561-9966 / Map Code: 7 589 752]
  • Universal Studios Japan [Tel:  0570-20-0606 / Map Code: 1 276 649]
  • Nishiki Market [Tel: 075-211-3882 / Map Code: 7 617 123]
  • Arashiyama Monkey Park [Tel:  075-872-0950 / Map Code: 7 606 729]
  • Kinkakuji [Tel:  075-461-0013 / Map Code: 7 732 325]
  • Ine [Tel: 0772-32-0277 / Map Code: 652 605 518]
  • Amanohashidate View Land [Tel:  0772-22-5304 / Map Code: 197 202 312]
  • Kyoto Illumiere [Tel:  0771-65-5001 / Map Code: 52 693 513]
  • Kayabuki No Sato [Tel:  0771-77-0587 / Map Code: 282 465 245]
  • Wakasa Fisherman’s Wharf [Tel: 0770-52-3111 / Map Code: 282 899 604]
  • Rainbow Line [Tel:  0770-45-2678 / Map Code: 380 644 774]
  • Omicho Market [Tel: 076-231-1462 / Map Code: 41 559 153]
  • Chirihama Beach Driveway [Map Code: 135 182 726]
  • Kinpaso Hotel (Wakura Onsen) [Tel:  0767-62-0201 / Map Code: 590 304 445]
  • Himi Banya [Tel: 0766-72-3400 / Map Code: 135 118 353]
  • Toyama Kitto Kitto Market [Tel: 0766-84-1233 / Map Code: 40 702 370]
  • Kaiwomaru Park [Tel: 0766-82-5181 / Map Code: 40 703 313]
  • Ryuoo Ski Park [Tel: 0269-33-7131 / Map Code: 579 129 181]
  • Jigokudani Monkey Park [Tel:  0269-33-4379 / Map Code: 341 820 625]
  • Shima Grand Hotel [Tel: 0279-64-2211 / Map Code: 554 033 850]
  • Gunma Safari Park [Tel: 0274-64-2111 / Map Code: 247 496 648]
  • Ashikaga Flower Park [Tel: 0284-91-4939 / Map Code: 64 512 387]
  • Railway Museum [Tel:  048-651-0088 / Map Code: 14 029 166]
  • DETAILED TRAVEL JOURNALS FOR THIS TRIP

    Guide

    Renting a car from Narita Airport

    Read More

    Part 1

    Narita Airport – Chiba – Tokyo

    Read More

    Part 2

    Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka

    Read More

    Part 3

    Kyoto & Osaka

    Read More

    Part 4

    Kyoto – Kanazawa – Nagano

    Read More

    Part 5

    Nagano – Gunma – Narita Airport

    Read More
    PIN THIS UP FOR LATER

    15 Days Japan Road Trip - Bumble Bee Mum

     

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    66 Comments

    • I didn’t know there was a German village in Japan! That sounds so interesting!

    • Wow, what an incredible trip! I love how much travelling you do with your children, it’s very inspiring 🙂 And that first photo of those gorgeous leaves took my breath away, stunning!

    • val says:

      Hi there!
      your itinerary really inspires!
      i m hoping to travel to Japan this december as well..and i m worried about whether it would be too cold for an 18 month old. How was the weather like when you were there? 🙂

      • bumblebeemum says:

        The temperature in mainland Japan, unless you go up to the mountains, is pretty mild. In the cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, I would say about 10 degrees celsius during the daytime on average. If you hit the rural regions, it may dip to 0 degrees. But it’s not the sub-zero freezing kind like in Hokkaido for sure. With proper winter wear, I think it is manageable for a first-time winter vacation with kids. 🙂

    • Ruth says:

      What an epic roadtrip! I know you have posted individual articles but putting everything together make you look at the trip from a different perspective. December looks like a great time to visit Japan.

      • bumblebeemum says:

        I know right.. Every time I put together a summary of my trips, I’m like wow.. I went to so many places! Hahaha.. But when I’m there, I don’t really feel like we went to a lot of places, because we only visit like one or two places a day?

    • Looks like quite the action packed trip! You all must have been exhausted after all of that fun! Your kids seems to be loving the travel and you give me hope that one day I can continue my travels with a family! Thanks for sharing and linking up for #wanderfulwednesday 😀

    • I love the look of the illuminations! It seems to be something that Japan does particularly well. I still want to stay in one of those mushroom houses with the light up blue domes!

    • Ahila says:

      The Ashinoko skyline and Arashiyama bamboo grove look amazing!

    • Beautiful photos. We hope to go next year #mondayescapes

    • This looks Amazing! so much information thank you! I love the photo of the Acer tree!

    • Wow what an amazing trip and such incredible photos, I have pinned this so much fabulous information in one, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

    • I would love to explore more of Japan! What a fantastic trip and pleased to see you managed to get around by road ok. After we finally managed to hire a car (language issues) we got totally confused by the whole toll things and it was all a bit of a disaster! #mondayescapes

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Haha.. I thought the toll system in Japan, even with language barrier and all, was a lot easier to figure out then the toll system in Australia. Ah well, hope it was not THAT disastrous to mar your trip. :p

    • Upeksha says:

      I’m thinking of a trip to Japan next year, so really glad to have come across your blog! It all looks amazing – I hardly know where to start! Any tips for a first time visitor? Thanks for sharing. #mondayescapes

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Most first timers go to Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka, that’s it. If you are taking return flight to Tokyo, you should look into using the Japan Rail Pass which is great value for money! 🙂

        Japan-Guide.com is a great website for first-timers:
        http://www.japan-guide.com/
        They have these red dots next to each attraction? For first-timers, go for those with two or three red dots. 🙂

    • Japan really seems to be a hot destination at the moment. This post is brilliant – a comprehensive round-up of all your others – so helpful for readers and future planners!
      #mondayescapes

      • bumblebeemum says:

        For a few years after the 2011 earthquake, people avoided Japan like a plague. But yes, the tourists are slowly returning now. It’s a really gorgeous country with a very intriguing culture. Most people who have been there want to go back again.

    • Cindy says:

      Oh wow, we’re hoping to make it to Japan next year so I’ve pinned this for inspiration, loads of great ideas and places I’d love to visit here. Thanks for sharing! #MondayEscapes

    • Serene toh says:

      Hi
      I am thinking of doing a self drive in December with my 2 boys ( 6 years and 2 years) from 15 dec 2016 – 4 Jan 2017.
      Am planning to use your road trip as a guide , skipping Kyoto and adding in Disneyland , Gifu region visiting the famous shirakawa village instead.
      Do you think it’s realistic ?
      Are there any tips / safety precautions advice for self drive ?
      Which car rental company would you recommend?
      Thanks to hear from you any useful advice.

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Do you have a rough itinerary? You have quite a lot of time, so I think a drive all the way to Shirakawago is definitely feasible. But not sure what other places you are planning to visit enroute?

        Driving in Japan is pretty easy. The drivers are generally courteous and rule-abiding. If you are from Singapore, they drive on the same side of the road as us so you will find little problem driving in Japan. I rented our car from TIMES car rental and they were pretty good.

    • weesan says:

      hello! can i ask, does it make sense to drive from Kyoto to Nabana No Sato?
      My family (me, hubby and my 72yo mum) will be travelling from SG in Dec 2016 to Osaka/Kyoto (staying Kyoto for a few days), then we plan to go to Nabana No Sato for a day, before heading up to Tokyo for another few days and departing to SG from TOkyo. I am thinking just for a change in the mode of transport, to self drive from Kyoto to Nabana No Sato and then returning the car at Nagoya before taking the JR train to Tokyo. Will this work? Do you know how much the toll fees are? I know the train fee is Y5,600/pax, and bus ticket Y1,700/pax from Kyoto to Nagoya/Nabana No Sato… also do you have a recommendation of a place to stay overnight near Nabana No Sato or Nagoya before we head to Tokoyo? Many thanks!

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Hmmm.. There will be a drop-off fee if you pick up a car from Kyoto and drop it off at Nagoya and drop-off fees can be extremely expensive. I would drive to Nabana No Sato if I was planning to do a day trip there from Kyoto. But for one-way, I would use the train / bus.

        I can’t remember what’s the toll fee between Kyoto and Nabana No Sato. The toll fee between Chubu Airport and Kyoto is 4860yen based on Nexco website:
        http://global.c-nexco.co.jp/en/toll/toll_nagoya.html#kyoto
        So I would think between Kyoto and Nabana No Sato would be about 3000-4000yen?

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Oh yes, regarding accommodation, I would just find a hotel near Nagoya station. Use a hotel comparison site like Agoda / Booking.com etc to find a hotel within your price range near Nagoya station.

    • Mandy says:

      Love, love, love those images! I thought I wanted to visit Japan during the spring to see cherry blossoms, but not you have visions of illuminations and gorgeous fall foliage dancing on my screen. <3. Thanks for sharing your itinerary in pictures. It was a lot of fun seeing and I imagine will be super helpful if ever do take a trip to Japan at this time of year! 🙂

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Everyone knows Japan for their cherry blossoms, but really Japan is a beautiful country to visit any time of the year. No doubt cherry blossoms are beautiful (believe it or not, I have never been to Japan during cherry blossom season before!), but cherry blossoms season is actually the most crowded and expensive time to visit Japan. When we visited in early December, it was relatively cheaper and the illuminations were really amazing. We thought we were too late for autumn foliage, but turned out we were still in time – lucky us!

    • Nie says:

      Hi there,

      I plan to drive to Fuji-Q Highlands from Tokyo (in particular, Ueno station) and then to Hakone to visit the Open-Air Museum and Yunessun, only head back to Shinjuku. Plan to visit the Mt Fuji region and Hakone for 4 days and only return to Tokyo.

      I had checked out Tocoo website for the car rental and I realized that the ETC card rental has to be collected and returned to the same location? I hope I don’t get the wrong information though.

      And, I read your post once about your self-drive to Mt Fuji region, did you rent the car with snow tires? Is that necessary to get those with snow tires?

      I checked out Times Car Rental and wish to give it a try but it could only allow pick up at the airport, I assume? Any other car rental company that you may have recommended other than Tocoo that I am currently looking at now?

      I will be travelling with a 5yo and 3yo, so I get one junior seat and one child seat, respectively? I saw yours are child seats for two boys, how old is your elder boy, by the way?

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Firstly, I suggest you pick up and return the car to the same location within Tokyo. Toyota and Nissan have rental offices near Ueno station.

        I have never rented an ETC card from Tocoo before. But if you rent the ETC card from the car rental company direct, it is possible that they would require you to return to the same outlet your pick the car up from.

        TIMES doesn’t have a lot of rental outlets within Central Tokyo, as compared to say Toyota or Nissan.

        My kids were 4 and 2 year old last year. Does your elder child use a booster seat (they call it junior seat in Japan) or child seat back home? It’s best to rent the type of child seat that they are used to sitting so that they are more comfortable during the long drive.

    • dinno says:

      hi,
      I was planning to drive from Nabana no Sato to Nagoya city in the night during last week of December ? I am not sure if it is safe to drive when snow. Can you advise ?

      • bumblebeemum says:

        It rarely snows in Nagoya in December. I probably wouldn’t worry so much about it. Of course weather is unpredictable, and if it does snow, just follow the cars in front of you to stay on the road and drive slow.

    • wardah says:

      hi there. would you recommend to drive for a first time tourist in japan from tokyo to hakuba? should we take the train instead? we have a 9 month old infant travelling with us and staying over for a day.

    • Hi, I’m planning to drive from Narita to Hakuba in winter and we intend to visit the Snow Monkeys there too.. We had experience driving in Japan but not in winter. Any advice for driving at Japan in the winter?

      Thanks for so much tips and links on your blog posts!

    • Stephy says:

      Hi , I’m planning a trip to Japan this year with my 2 kids aged 3 & 5. Would like to travel to Kyoto, Osaka, mt Fuji, hakone n Tokyo. Roughly how many days enough to cover these areas? Or is it better to split these areas into 2 trips? Advisable to self drive or train?

      • bumblebeemum says:

        Hmmm.. I would recommend splitting into 2 trips. Kyoto + Osaka in one trip, Tokyo + Hakone + Mount Fuji on one trip.

        You can use the train to get between cities. Within major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, it is usually advisable to use the train. But if you’re exploring areas outside of the major cities, such as when you’re in Hakone / Mount Fuji region, driving would be much more convenient.

    • cath chua says:

      hihi
      is it easier to drive around these areas you listed compared to Hokkiado in December?

    • winnie says:

      Hi Bumblebee mum,
      1) Can you advise me on car rental from NO BRAINER Travel and Budget Rent A Car. It seems these 2 options are cheapest car rental from Hokkaido New Chitose for month of August.
      2) My flight out is 9.20 am and the car rental company mostly open at 8.00 am for me to return. Most is kind of 10 min drive from car rental outlet to airport (which they will send) except for Toyota which is premium. Do you think I have enough time to clear security & immigration to boarding gate at New Chitose airport? I am kind of worried.
      Thank you.

    • Michelle says:

      Hello! Thank you for sharing your trip here, I’ve been having a hard time looking up road trips for Japan in December.

      I’d like to ask, did you have much difficulty with weather and driving? Particularly, im concerned about snow.
      Contrary to kids, I’ll be travelling with my parents who are in 60s-70s.
      I’m worried about extreme cold and snow driving. Any advice is appreciated.
      Thank you in advance 🙂

    • Mei Tay says:

      Hi BBM,

      We are a group of 4 adults + 2 toddlers and we are planning to visit Osaka, Kyoto and Hakone, mt fuji. We are planning for 8-9 days.

      Do you think i should just focus on Osaka and Kyoto area? I would really like to visit Hakone too.

      What would be your recommendation? Would renting a car make sense for such a big group?

      • bumblebeemum says:

        8-9 days seem a bit long for Osaka and Kyoto only. My kids were a bit bored of Kyoto after like 2 days. Lol… But Hakone / Mount Fuji is quite a distance from Kyoto and it will become too rushed if you try to squeeze that in. With the extra time you have after visiting Osaka and Kyoto, I would suggest going to Nagoya instead. There are a lot of nice attractions for kids at Nagoya, such as Legoland Japan and the SCMAGLEV & Railway Park. If you do Osaka + Kyoto + Nagoya, 8 – 9 days should be just right.

        If you’re visiting Osaka / Kyoto / Nagoya, there is no need to drive. You can just use the trains.

        • Mei Tay says:

          Thank you for your reply!

          1. Which area(near which station) would you recommend we stay in Osaka for easy travel to Kyoto and main Osaka spots? I am thinking to stay at Namba so we can have easy access for food and shopping but would it be troublesome for travelling to Kyoto?

          2. I would like to split kyoto visits into two days
          1 day to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple(is Nishiki Market walking distance for lunch?)and after noon at Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine.
          another day to visit Arashiyama.

          • bumblebeemum says:

            1. In terms of train transport, I would think Osaka station would be most convenient to get around Osaka and also to neighbouring cities like Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji. There are direct trains from Osaka station to these 3 stations.

            2. Nope, Nishiki Market is not within walking distance of Kiyomizudera. If you are headed to Kiyomizudera, you can wander around the Gion district. There are a lot of interesting restaurants and cafes in the area, and it’s a nice scenic area to just walk around. I personally prefer Gion to Nishiki Market.

    • Peter says:

      Hi bumblebeemum,

      I’m planning a christmas holiday in Japan from 23-31 December (9D8N) with my 2 toddlers and parents. Can you suggest an itinerary from tokyo? If possible we would like to spend a night or two in ski resort nearby and also Kyoto. Not sure if that’s possible. Also would u recommend we drive or travel by train? Many thanks!

      • Peter says:

        Just to add – we are flying in from Hong Kong so i have an option to fly to Osaka or Narita and then return to HK from Tokyo. Tia!

        • bumblebeemum says:

          Ah… Okay. If you can fly open-jaw, means you only need to do the shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Osaka once. If you are still going to Gala Yuzawa, I think the Japan Rail Pass will still save you some money, though not as significant.

          Let’s say you fly into Narita and out from Osaka, this is what I would do:

          Day 1: Narita – Tokyo
          Day 2: Tokyo
          Day 3: Tokyo
          Day 4: Tokyo – Gala Yuzawa
          Day 5: Gala Yuzawa
          Day 6: Gala Yuzawa – Tokyo – Osaka
          Day 7: Osaka (day trip to Kyoto)
          Day 8: Osaka – Flight back

          The more expensive train rides from Day 1 to 7 are:

          Narita Express (Narita – Tokyo) = 3020yen
          Tokyo – Gala Yuzawa = 7,090yen
          Gala Yuzawa – Tokyo = 7,090yen
          Tokyo – Osaka 14140yen

          Total = 31340yen

          The price of a 7-days Japan Rail Pass is 29110 yen. So like I said, the savings is not THAT significant. With the Klook sales at $35 off, it will save quite a bit. And not forgetting the pass will also cover your JR rides within Tokyo city centre. And the day trip to Kyoto. Since it’s 7-days, it won’t cover your ride back to Kansai airport on Day 8. Hence I would stay at Osaka rather than Kyoto so that it’s slightly faster and cheaper to get to Kansai Airport on Day 8 as compared to staying in Kyoto.

      • bumblebeemum says:

        I would suggest you use the train. The shinkansen is much faster than driving. I don’t think you can go both Gala Yuzawa and Kyoto in 9 days if you drive, but it’s doable if you use the shinkansen. You can use the shinkansen to get to Gala Yuzawa ski resort and also to Kyoto from Tokyo station.

        For e.g. you can try something like this:

        23 Dec: HND / NRT – Gala Yuzawa (via Tokyo station)
        24 Dec: Gala Yuzawa
        25 Dec: Gala Yuzawa – Kyoto (via Tokyo station)
        26 Dec: Kyoto
        27 Dec: Kyoto
        28 Dec: Kyoto – Tokyo
        29 Dec: Tokyo
        30 Dec: Tokyo
        31 Dec: Tokyo – home

        You can look into purchasing the 7-days Japan Rail Pass for the first 7 days to cover the shinkansen rides. Klook is having a great sale right now which can save you quite a lot of money if you purchase the Japan Rail Pass using their Summer Sale promo code:
        http://bumblebeemum.net/2017/05/21/klook-summer-sale/

        • Peter says:

          Thank you bumblebeemum! this is so helpful, will start my planning now. Hopefully the plane tickets are not too expensive yet.

    • Jem says:

      Hi,

      My hubby and I are thinking of bring my 2 year old daughter to the Chiba Mother’s Farm for her birthday in September.

      Is it confusing to drive to the farm? How long did the journey take? Are there rest stops for food and drinks and toilet breaks along the way?

      Also, was there parking for cars and was the parking fee expensive? We’re going on a Saturday and I’m worried about the logistics of getting there and getting parking vs just taking a train. But then the train journey also takes quite a bit of time and we still have to change trains and buses.

      Really appreciate your advise.

      • Queen Bee says:

        Neh, it’s not confusing to drive there. Just follow the GPS. :p

        It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from central Tokyo to Mother Farm. Along the expressway, there are regular rest points (indicated by P or SA) if you need a break. The smaller stops may not have cafes but there will usually be vending machines and toilets.

        There’s plenty of parking available at Chiba Farm, no need to worry about that. Parking fee was 900yen when we were there. Which is not considered expensive in Japan. The tolls were WAY more expensive. (Though I can’t remember how much exactly for this segment of the drive because we charged everything to our ETC card and paid one lump sum at the end of our trip.) But really, for the time we saved to drive versus using the train, I would just pay the money.

    • Beatrice says:

      Hi Bumblebeemum,

      Thanks for sharing the travel itinerary with kids in early Dec to mid Dec. I am planning to visit Nagano, however, I am not sure will there has snow for kids to play? As my kids like snow 🙂

      If just a 12days, is it enough to covers Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagano? or It is very tight itinerary? Please advise.

      Thank you very much.

      • Queen Bee says:

        It is a bit early for snow, unless you go up to the mountains. We did see snow during our trip by taking the ropeway up to Ryuoo Ski Park.
        http://www.ryuoo.com/

        If you are using the shinkansen, I think 12 days is enough to cover Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and Nagano. If you drive then it’ll be rather tight I feel.

    • Crystal says:

      Hi!
      I enjoy reading your travel blog a lot. It inspires me to travel with my toddler!
      I am planning my first 7D trip to Tokyo in Dec & hopes to visit a few theme Parks.
      – Thomas Land
      – Kidszania
      – Legoland Discovery Centre
      – Disneyland
      Am I too ambitious?
      Which hotel do you recommend which is convenient to travel?
      I am interested to stay at Highland Resort & Disneyland Resort. However I am sure if I need to spend time to travel from one theme park to another.
      Appreciate if you could advise on my coming trip.
      Thanks!

      • Queen Bee says:

        I think 7 days is enough to visit the 4 places you listed. You can try the following:

        Day 1: Tokyo
        Day 2: Tokyo (Legoland Discovery Centre)
        Day 3: Tokyo (Kidzania Tokyo)
        Day 4: Tokyo – bus to Fuji Q Highland, stay Highland Resort.
        Day 5: Visit Fuji Q Highland, bus back to Tokyo station and train to Maihama (Disney). Stay Disney resort.
        Day 6: Disney
        Day 7: Airport limousine bus to airport, flight back

        In Tokyo, I would stay at either Shinjuku or Tokyo station area where there is direct bus to Fuji Q Highland:
        https://www.fujiq.jp/en/access/

    • jean says:

      Hi bumblebeemum!

      thanks for your itinery. I am planning to drive for the first time in late december and am thinking of driving to the japanese alps. do I need snow chains on the car? how was the driving like in the mountainous areas?

      thanks!

      • Queen Bee says:

        I have never had to use snow chains in Japan, even in Hokkaido where there is heavy snow fall in winter. Their roads are generally well maintained and they have regular snow removal vehicles going around to clear the excess snow from the roads. But I always reserve snow tyres when driving in winter – just in case I run into any snow.

    • SL yeo says:

      Hi .. I m travelling to Tokyo- Kyoto osaka in mid Dec with 2 teenagers. But my hubby leg is not strong.. do u suggest by car? How would you plan for trip with teenagers. Need some tips. Thanks

    • YTCelia says:

      Hello! Wondering if you can comment on the planned itinerary during Hanami season. Very rough itinerary just cover the general area i’m staying over as i’m trying to firm up my air ticket booking first. We are planning to drive but i’m wondering if such a plan will be too expensive. We are not TOO sensitive to cost (convenience and flexibility is important), but i dont want to be too stupid about $ either. Background: my child is 2.5 years old and my husband LOVES road trips.

      Day 1 – Arrive at Tokyo
      Day 2 – Explore Tokyo
      DAy 3 – Explore Tokyo
      Day 4 – Collect car and drive to Hakone
      Day 5 – Explore Hakone
      Day 6 – Explore Hakone
      Day 7 – Drive to Kyoto
      Day 8 – Explore Kyoto
      Day 9 – Drive to Osaka
      Day 10 – Explore Osaka
      Day 11 – Explore Osaka
      Day 12 – Return car and take train back to Tokyo
      Day 13 – Chill in Tokyo
      Day 14 – Back to Singapore

      A few questions on the car:
      1) Is it super duper expensive on parking to keep the car for the full trip, including in Tokyo?
      2) Is it silly to keep the car in Osaka or should I return earlier? Is parking going to be difficult in Osaka?

      I am always quite daunted thinking about planning for road trips in Japan. I’ve given up many times and chose other countries but I really want to go for Hanami season. Thanks so much in advance!

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