Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Summary Itinerary

Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Summary Itinerary

We like to self drive within Japan outskirt cities, driving within major big cities is not recommended due to the heavy traffic and extremely narrow roads.  Most sign are posted in “Romaji”- in English which is readable for foreigner. If you read Kanji/Chinese Character, you have the advantage of reading both in the signboard.  I strongly recommend getting in a car and driving around the outskirt of Japan, this is the way to see the beautiful “inaka”/countryside of Japan.  It is also more economical than buying expensive “shinkasen”/bullet train tickets or normal train tickets if you have pax of 4.  Furthermore taxi cost a bomb in Japan.

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Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 8 – Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 8 – Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 

Hakone Hotel Kowakien

This hotel is well located in a beautiful garden.  It was very pleasant to walk around the huge garden and admire the beautiful scenery early morning after we woke up.

It was very nice to see the leaves changed it color and started to fall, getting into the real cold winter.  I still manage to see some little “koyo”/red leaves on top of these trees.

The weather was lovely, it was a sunny morning and a perfect place to stroll around in this beautiful garden. Below picture is entrance to a observatory tower, we did not get to go as we find the mountain track was a bit challenging for us. On our way to Nagoya, we stopped by at one of the photo spot overseeing Mt Fuji.  What a great feeling. Took one last snap of close up of magnificent Mt Fuji, Japan highest and most prominent mountain.  Japanese has a saying, “A person who climbs Mt Fuji once in his lifetime is a wise man”. Toyota Museum

We headed to Japan’s leading car manufacturer, Toyota and it headquarters is in a town called TOYOTA city in east of Nagoya.  However we wanted to visit the Toyota Automobile Museum which is located in Nagakute City, less than an hour drive to Nagoya city.  We were glad to find big parking space outside the museum.

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Japan self drive in Central Region – Day 7 – Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

Japan Self Drive in Central Region – Day 7 – Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture

Hotel Mt. Fuji The weather was really great when we woke up in the morning in Hotel Mt.Fuji, we took more pictures from the garden with Mt Fuji at our background.  It was a sunny day but with strong winds.  It was a cold morning. Hakone Picture taken in the car not far from Hotel Mt.Fuji, on our way to Hakone

We stopped by a photo spot on the highway to take some nice photos.  I could not smile properly because the wind was so strong.  The strong wind also caused me to have a very serious headache that day.

After taking some photos, we went in the souvenirs shop and found some delicate Japanese candy which was quite hard to resist.

Mt Fuji Station 5/Gotemba Trail

We arrived in Mt Fuji Station 5/Gotemba Trail at around 10am but it was already full with tourists and big tour buses.  This is a popular sightseeing spot and above 2300m high sea level.  We went up to the observatory point where we could see the unblock view of Mt Fuji.  I remembered an old man from mainland China fell down because the observatory point was so crowded and slippery due to some early rain, but he was fine.  I guess he must be too eager and excited to see the Mt Fuji View.  This is also the entrance to Yoshida Trail, the most popular route for climbing Mount Fuji but the trail was closed due to bad weather that day.

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Japan 8 days Self drive in Central Region – Day 6 – Mt Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture

Japan 8 days Self Drive in Central Region – Day 6 – Mt Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture 

Matsumoto Castle

This morning we checked out early from our hotel and went to visit the Matsumoto Castle. Matsumoto Castle is one of the oldest castle in Japan, it is also called “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior.  To a foreigner, all castle look pretty much the same in Japan.   However each castle has their own unique side.  When I was studying in Kumamoto, I was told by my lecturer, the Kumamoto Castle is famous for it high stone wall.  For unique feature of Mastumoto Castle, it was built on the plain rather than a hill and it is black color on it exterior.

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Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – day 5- Matsumoto city, Nagano Prefecture

Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – day 5  – Matsumoto city in Nagano Prefecture 

Early hot spring bath in Hotel Morinokaze Tateyama

Since the hotel provided the hot spring bath with very beautiful mountain view, I took the opportunity to rise early and soaked in the outdoor hot spring.  Outdoor hot spring has another name called Rotenburo “露天風呂“.

The hot springs were just terrific.  I went for the hot spring last night too but it was too dark, I could not see the mountain view at night. We went early in the morning and there was nobody so we managed to take some video of the beautiful mountain view.  It was very cold in the morning of the November winter in Tateyama mountain.  Normally hot spring in Japan is separated with male and female.  We washed our body before entering the hot spring indoor for few minutes before going out for the outdoor hot spring, that way we would not feel that cold.  However, we was freezing when we walked from the indoor to outdoor hot spring as there is a short distance.

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Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 4 – Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture

Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 4 – Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture 

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

We departed very early from Tonami Royal Hotel and arrived about 1 hour later in Tateyama.  There is a timetable for the train and we were rushing for the earliest departure at Tateyama station.  We parked our rental car near the Tateyama station.

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps which is traversed by various means of transportation including cable cars, trolley buses and a rope way.  3 kind of transportation.  All I could remembered was getting up and down many times for different kind of transport vehicles.

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Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 3 – Tonami, Toyama Prefecture

Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 3 – Tonami, Toyama Prefecture

Takayama old town – Nakabashi Bridge

We departed early to Takayama old town to check out the famous red bridge – Nakabashi Bridge.

Most shops were still not yet opened and there were not many people yet as it was still very early.  We were lucky to rise early as there were not many tourists flooded this beautiful bridge yet.  It was very nice to walk along the red bridge and admire the ancient building in the other end.  It is the entrance to the old town.

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Japan 8 days self drive in Central Region – Day 2 – Takayama, Gifu Prefecture

Japan 8 Days self Drive in Central Region – Day 2 – Takayama, Gifu Prefecture       ( 22 Nov 2015)

The distance from Nagatsugawa to Takayama was slightly more than 2 hours, 178km.  We stopped by a countryside park, slightly before Gero, we actually wanted to look for some hot coffee but the shop was not opened yet as it was still very early in the morning.

Our rental car Nissan Sylphy is in very good condition with English and Japanese GPS.  You can choose the languages in the GPS.  The easiest way for us to navigate using a GPS is to input the phone number of the place that we wanted to go.  We normally google the phone numbers in our hotel before hand.

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Japan 8 days Self Drive – Chubu/Central Region – Day 1- Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture

Japan 8 days Self Drive Chubu/Central Region – Day 1 – Gifu Prefecture                   ( 21 Nov 2015 )

I have been to Japan many times, and I also lived and studied in Kyushu for few years. However traveling to Chubu region was my first time.  Chubu mean Central, so we were about to explore 8 days self drive in Chubu Japan.  This region is the widest part of Honshu and has 9 prefectures in total.  Chubu is also famous for it high and rugged mountains.

Arrival at Nagoya Airport

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Taiwan 8 days self drive – Summary Itinerary

My Taiwan 8 days self drive – Summary Itinerary ( 16 Oct to 23 Oct 2016 )

We were glad to achieve the 3 Biggies in Taiwan during our 8 days round the island trip.

  1. Biggest Lake in Taiwan – Sun Moon Lake
  2. Biggest shopping premium outlets in Taiwan – E-DA world in Kaohsiung
  3. Biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan – Fo Guang Shan

Preparation before the trip :

  1. Plan your travel route and daily Itinerary
  2. Book air ticket in advance, preferably 3 to 6 months in order to secure a cheaper ticket through skyscanner.com.
  3. Book hotel through agoda.com.
  4. Car rental booking through rentalcars.com.
  5. Make sure you have your driving license and international driving permit for overseas driving.

Below map showing one round trip of our 8 days self drive in Taiwan Island.  Rough estimation – 1126km to complete one round trip of Taiwan. Of course we did more km than that.  It was an interesting experience, economical and fun to explore by your own.

Day 1 – Keelung

  • Arriving in Tao Yuan/桃園 Airport 3pm – pick up car rental
  • Tao Yuan Airport to Kee Lung/‎基隆  -1 hr drive, bypass Taipei city 
  • Kee Lung Night Market/Miaokou night market (廟口夜市)
  • Evergreen Laurel Hotel Keelung – 10 mins walk to night market

Day 2 – Hualien

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