Hi there, My family ( 2 A + 2 C 11yrs & 9 yrs) would like to travel from Tokyo to Tohoku region and it will be our first time to this region. We are planning to visit from Dec 13 2018 to Dec 28 2018. Some of the cities/places we would like to visit are - Yamagata, Zao Fox Village, Ginza Onsen, Aomori, Hachinohe, Morioka, Sendai, Matsushima, Ouchijuku, Akita, Niigata, Sanriku Coast, Nagano and Nikko being our last stop (as the kids would like to visit Edo wonderland park close from 8 - 21 Dec) before heading back to Airport for our flight home.
1) Any recommendation on how should I start my travelling route to ensure best use the days we have during this period to avoid unnecessary travel time.
2) Is it safe to drive during this period? Any possible road closure during this time of year. (We have driven in Japan before).
3) We find it is cheaper to drive from Tokyo and return ( since we have 4 of us ) instead of buying the JR East Pass which only valid for 5 days ( likely have to buy 3 times throughout the trip? ) or how should I use the JR East Pass during my trip to maximise the best return and then for the longer stay in the same cities, renting a car is an option?
4) Any cities beside the above mention that is worth to visit during this time of the year?
5) We would also like to avoid changing too many hotels and which location should be use as a base to cover the most on travelling time.
5) Any recommendation of number of stay in each locations or a day trip is sufficient to some of these cities?
Thanks for any recommendation or help can be given as I have been struggling for the past months trying to come up with the itinerary after surfing too many website of Tohoku region.