This is a long trip with a little bit of walking and little or no train changing. Hikone is a castle town on Lake Biwa, there is a beach on the lake, mountains with a shrine and Zen temple above the town and a castle in the middle of the town. There is a lot to see in a small area.
Take the JR towards Kyoto. There is a train that goes to Maibara which is the stop after Hikone. If you don’t catch that one you will probably have to change in Kyoto, but stay on the same line (Tokaido main line). From the station if you walk straight ahead you will come to the castle. From the castle you can make your way to the beach or in the other direction to the mountains. It may be difficult to find a way to cross the railroad tracks – there are not many crossings. There is a good climb up the hills to the shrine and temple with great views of the city and castle below, and Lake Biwa.
This is a walk in the hills above Kobe. Not all that difficult but all uphill until you turn around. Your destination is the Foreigner’s Cemetery on the top of the mountain.
From Motomachi JR west exit walk uphill (towards the mountains). Any street will do. When you reach the last east-west street turn left until you come to a small park with a baseball field on the right a very short distance. Take a right there and you will come to a large girls’ school then you know you are on the right road. Just continue up following a stream on the left. After a series of stairs you will come to a road. If you take the road to the right, you can pick up a trail that ends up behind the Shin Kobe station; a good return route (long). To continue up the mountain, cross the road. There is a pond there and the trail goes to the left of the pond. About halfway up you will come to a temple; the path goes to the left. There are some places to stop along the way. At the top you will come to another road, this one traveled. In fact, there is a bus that comes back to Kobe but it doesn’t run everyday. Cross the road and there is a small lake with boats to rent, a coffee shop and a small beach. Beyond the beach you pick up the road again and to the right is the Foreigner’s Cemetery, which is the interesting thing to see. The Cemetery is locked but if you are a foreigner you can get in or you can get a view of the grounds from a walkway to the left of the gate.
There is no reason to go to Nii, unless you want a nice walk in mountains and countryside. There is also a very pretty lake up in the mountains. Not a tourist attraction.
Take the JR to Himeji and change to the Bantan Line. Nii is an express stop. From the train station turn right and cross the tracks when you can. That is probably the main road. Once you cross the tracks you will come to a river; cross that as well. Then walk uphill. There is a main road going that way but next to it is a country road going the same way. After about 30 minutes you will come to a park-like area and a dam. You can walk around the lake above the dam.
A castle town on the Japan Sea and next to a large lake. A short way out of town by bus is a river gorge with interesting rock formations and very interesting statues carved into the rocks. A long trip but worth it.
From Okayama take the San-in Line to Matsue (about 3 hours). There is plenty of accommodation available.
While you are at Nikko keep on going. A short bus ride up a very winding road is the town of Chuzenjiko Onsen. A real Japanese tourist spot in season. If you go there out of season it is empty, so stay away from Japanese holidays. This is a really beautiful spot for nature lovers. Lakes, riverse, waterfalls, lots of trails in the woods. Most hotels will have hot spring baths.
From Nikko, take a bus going to Chuzenji or to Yumoto Spa. Get off at Chuzenjiko Onsen. Right there will be Kegon Falls and a rope way to a good view of the mountains and lake. The falls are wonderful. From the bus stop you can go right or left around the lake. If you go left you will pass hotels and restaurants and eventually come to a shrine. Keep following the shore of the lake and pass summer houses of various countries. If you go to the right you will pass hotels and restaurants but once out of town you can walk forever. Pick up the “Salamander Trail” (I actually saw one!). This will take you right along the shore of the lake until you come to a ferry boat landing. From there follow the highway and on the right you will come to another waterfall. Follow the river upstream along a very delightful trail. You will come to an area that opens up into a mountain meadow. Beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Flowers everywhere, in season. Eventually there will be another waterfall with some shops at the base. Walk up the right side of the waterfall and you will come to another lake. Stay to the right and you will come to Yumoto, just a collection of hot spring hotels. Look for the temple and you will find a swamp with hot springs. This is a long walk but very easy going. Give yourself about five hours, including many stops to eat and take photos. Then take the bus back to Chuzenji or Nikko.
This is good for some serious hiking or beach sitting. Or spend two days and do both. It is very easy to get to. Take the JR to Omi-Miako. There is one train a day that leaves from Sannomiya and goes directly there about 9.30 am. That’s the quickest way. If you miss that, change at Kyoto for the train to Omi-Miako. At Omi-Miako the beach is one way the mountains are the other. The beach is very long and you can pick your spot depending on the amount of company you want. For the mountains just walk through the rice fields (there is a road) to a very busy highway. At the highway turn left and you will come to a river (there may not be any water). At the river turn right and walk uphill.
This can be a long walk and there is a bus that runs about every hour. It is about an hour’s walk with only one turn; when you come to a house with some vending machines, turn right. This will bring you to a ski-lift. The ski-lift takes you to a rope way, which takes you to the end of the the rope way. There you will find all kinds of trails leading in many different directions. This is not easy walking but it is deep woods, cold streams, a few monkeys and places to camp. At the top of the rope way there is a limited restaurant to the right. There is no map at the top, but trails are well marked in kanji. It would be best to have some kind of map before you start walking. There are probably other ways down but the rope way, ski-lift, and bus is probably the simplest and most relaxing. You can walk for as long as you like on top.