I'll be leaving for Japan in two weeks. After all the planning in March-April focusing on Kansai region, my plan had a big change in July. We are joining a packaged tour instead of traveling independently. The reasons for this change are:
1) Two travel agents I contacted could not find an airline that will let passengers stop at Osaka Japan on the way to Taipei for a small fee. The airlines will let passengers stop at Japan on the way back from Asian cities to US for a small fee but not on the outbound. That, messed up my husband's and my schedule.
2) My younger son and his fiancée, who are traveling to Japan with us, wish to include Tokyo in our itinerary and wish to pack in as much as possible. They are the ones short on vacation days but have plenty of energy.
Thus we signed up for a tour to Japan that can solve both our problems (1) and (2).
Many friends on different occasions have recommended this tour operator's Japan tours, and I'll comment on it after I come back.
My itinerary now becomes: Tokyo -> Hakone -> Atami (a Hot Spring resort on Izu Peninsula)-> Bullet Train to Osaka -> Kobe -> Nara -> Kyoto -> fly off from Osaka.
Although I have been to several of these places except Atami, Osaka and Kobe, a stress-free vacation with loved ones is always a delight. Himeji Castle will have to wait till the next time.