This is the itinerary of the 10 days 9 nights Stella and I spent in Japan. This summary is broken into 4 parts following my travels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and finally back to Tokyo.
Japan has always been at top of my travel list but the high cost of travel in Japan made me postpone my plans year after year.
This itinerary is more for office workers like me who have only allowed a limited number of paid leave per year. I have no choice but to cram as much as I can into the 10 days and try to make this trip as fulfilling as possible. Some people may find my schedule a little too hectic for their liking. Feel free to add on or take out certain items according to your preference. This 10-day itinerary will only give you a glimpse into what each city has to offer. If you have the luxury of time, please spend more time in each of these cities to truly enjoy the people, food, scenery and culture.
The nationals and citizens of these 68 countries are not required to obtain visa to enter Japan when they are visiting for tourism, commerce, conferences and visiting family/friends.
For those of who need a visa to enter Japan, you can get it done at the Embassy of Japan in your country or any travel agency (travel agency will charge a service fee). These are the documents you will need to obtain a visa for Temporary Visit for Sight-Seeing up to 90 Days (Single or Double Entry).
Itinerary Part 1: Tokyo
Upon arrival at Narita International Airport, we took Keisei Skyliner to Nippori Station and transferred to the JR Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station. We collected the Hakone Freepass we purchased from Changi Recommends prior to the trip (Please read: Hakone Freepass – The Cheap Way of Touring Hakone).
We spent a day at the beautiful hakone. As we were both exhausted after a day of sightseeing, we forked out 80 Yen each for Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus that took us all the way back to Shinjuku Station. Hakone Freepass holders have to buy a separate ticket for the Shinjuku – Gotemba portion.
We had a cheap yet delicious dinner of curry rice at Curry House 11 Imasa in Shinjuku Station. It may be a small unassuming shop but it was established in 1964 with over 50 years of history. The dishes are priced between 420 – 800 Yen, and there is also chicken/beef/pork/Indian curry roux and salads. Breakfast menu is available from 7-10.30am. (Please read: Curry House 11 Imasa – Curry Rice Restaurant in Shinjuku Station with 50 Years History)
After dinner, we headed to our first Airbnb accommodation in Adachi, which is a little far away (Please read: Japan Airbnb – 4 Airbnb Experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka). [use this referral link to get S$45 travel credit when you book your first homestay with Airbnb, this travel credit can be used to offset part of future Airbnb bookings]
Our host Mami made us a delicious breakfast of tamagoyaki and yaki onogiri, accompanied by bean salad, miso soup and fresh cut fruits. The breakfast is served in a beautiful lacquer tray with handle, a feast for both the stomach and the eyes. Mami dropped us off at the nearest station and we made our way to Shinjuku Station. We had a delicious lunch of gyoza, bento and sandwiches which we bought at the basement of Odakyu Department Store.
Stella went to Bunka Fashion Graduate University and I went to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Sakura normally blooms during February – March, so I was a little worried that I will not get to see any sakura in mid-April, but my worry was unfound. The whole park was colored white and pink by the endless rows of sakura trees. It was such a beautiful sight! Did you know that there are more than 600 varieties of sakura?
In the afternoon, Stella and I met up back in Shinjuku Station and we took the train to The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace but it was unfortunately closed.
We met up with two of Stella’s friends who brought us to Hei Tian izakaya restaurant where I tried horse sashimi for the first time (horse sashimi is the speciality dish of this restaurant, it tastes very similar to beef).
Mami made us another beautifully delicious breakfast of French toasts topped with fresh cut fruits served in a small pan, accompanied by a bowl of salad and a cup of juice.
After breakfast, Mami dropped us off at the nearest station and we made our way to Tokyo Skytree. Tokyo Skytree is the tallest man-made tower in the world. The sky was too cloudy so we didn’t manage to see Mount Fuji from the observation deck.
Stella and I shared a plate of Neapolitan pasta for lunch. After that, we went to Senso-ji where we had a great time touring the majestic temple.
We lost our way on the way back to the station from Senso-ji. Two kind Japanese girls walked us all the way to the station.
We took the shinkansen to Kyoto to our second Airbnb accomodation in Joyo. This is my first time onboard the highly-acclaimed shinkansen and it is every bit as good as everyone makes it out to be. The ride from Tokyo to Kyoto took only 3 hours and the train ride is very smooth.
Our Airbnb accommodation is a little remote, the kind owner came all the way to the station to fetch us (Please read: Japan Airbnb – 4 Airbnb Experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka). [use this referral link to get S$45 travel credit when you book your first homestay with Airbnb, this travel credit can be used to offset part of future Airbnb bookings]
Itinerary Part 2: Kyoto
In the morning, we travelled to Kyoto Station where we got our K’Loop pass (K’Loop stands for Kyoto World Heritage Loop Bus). I will elaborate about this pass in another post.
We visited Nijo-jo Castle, ate lunch at Harakiku Shokudo (Please read: Harakiku Shokudo – Ginkakuji Restaurant with 90 Years of History) before continuing onto Ginkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
In the evening, we had dinner at the popular Musashi Sushi in Kyoto Station. I personally feel that it is very similar to Sushi Express. Although the ingredients are not top-notch, but the freshness of the ingredients and the great price makes this a great place for a good meal. (Please read: Sushi no Musashi (JR Kyoto Station) – Famous Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant in Kyoto Station)
We visited Fushimi Inari Taisha, but due to time constrain, we only managed to finish the first section of the climb. Do those who want to conquer the whole Inari mountain, it will take 2-3 hours. Please wear comfortable shoes and bring enough water. Kyoto is famous for unagi and we had it at Nezameya (Please read: Nezameya – Unagi Restaurant near Fushimi Inari Taisha with 500 Years of History).
After that, we took the train to Arashiyama Station where we visited Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Kimono Forest.
In the evening, one of Stella’s friend brought us to a quaint Japanese bar in Nakagyo where we each had a plate of Neapolitan pasta. It is refurbished from an old grand piano, complete with a white-haired bartender who looked like he stepped right out of a Japanese manga.
In the morning, we made our way to AOI Sudio where we had a fantastic maiko makeover experience thanks to the professionals at AOI Studio. (Please read: Maiko Makeover with Kyoto AOI – The Day I Became An Apprentice Geisha)
We ate a lot of tasty foods as we toured Nishiki Market.(Please read: Nishiki Market – 15 Street Food to Eat at Nishiki Market)
We took the shinkansen to Osaka where we met up with Stella’s friend who brought us to Torihime Oriential Re-mix Chayamachi for a wonderful chicken dinner.
After much confusion, we finally arrived at our third Airbnb accomodation in Sumiyoshi (Please read: Japan Airbnb – 4 Airbnb Experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka). [use this referral link to get S$45 travel credit when you book your first homestay with Airbnb, this travel credit can be used to offset part of future Airbnb bookings]
Itinerary Part 3: Osaka
We travelled to Nara where we fed the cute yet annoying sika deers in Nara Park. Please remember that although the sika deers are cute, they are still wild animals. They can bite, kick, butt and known down people.
Stella went to Osaka Aqarium Kaiyukan to feed penguins and other sea creatures. I went to Todai-ji, Kasuga-taisha, Gango-ji and Yakushi-ji (Yakushi-ji was closed by the time I reached so I only managed to take a few photographs from the outside).
Stella and I met up with another of Stella’s friend in Dotonburi who brought us to a popular roadside stall for takoyaki and Chibo Okonomiyaki for Osaka’s iconic okonomiyaki .
In the morning, we took the train to Shinsekai and took a few photographs of the Tsutenkaku before making our way to Shitenno-ji.
By the time we arrived at Osaka Castle, it was close to closing time. We bought the tickets and took a brief tour of Osaka Castle.
We took the shinkansen back to Tokyo. Our fourth and final Airbnb accomodation in Nishitokyo is a little far and we spent quite a bit of time getting to the place (Please read: Japan Airbnb – 4 Airbnb Experiences in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka). [use this referral link to get S$45 travel credit when you book your first homestay with Airbnb, this travel credit can be used to offset part of future Airbnb bookings]
Itinerary Part 4: Tokyo
There are several choices for breakfast and I opted for Ochazuke, where you pour hot tea over cooked rice and eaten together with pickles such as umeboshi, kimchi, seaweed and beans. It is so simple yet so utterly satisfying and delicious. There is additional charges for the breakfast but it is not expensive.
After taking a look at Akihabara Radio Kaikan, Stella went to experience the otaku culture at Home Cafe while I had a cheap yet satisfying lunch at Tenya Suehirocho.
We walked down Takeshita Street and continued on to the infamous Shibuya Crossing. We took many photographs of Hachiko Statue. A stray cat decided to make Hachiko Statue its home.
In the evening, Stella’s friend joines us at Odaiba Tokyo Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari and we spent a lovely evening together. The three of us had a delicious dinner at Katakuchiya in Odaiba Tokyo Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari. (Please read: Odaiba Tokyo Ooedo-Onsen Monogatari – Hot Spring Theme Park in Tokyo)
We missed the last train so we had to take a taxi. We passed by beautifully-lit Tokyo Tower and the kind taxi driver stopped the taxi to let us take photographs.
As we reached the accommodation very late last night, Stella decided not to go to Taukiji Market with me this morning. I went to Tsukiji Market (Pease read: Tsujiki Market – 15 Street Food to Eat at Tsukiji Outer Market) while Stella stayed behind for Japanese ichigenki lessons. I spent 3 hours touring Tsukiji Outer Market and eating freshly-cut sashimi, grilled crabs, mochi and many other delicious foods. Stella and I packed and bid goodbye to our lovely hosts Yuka and Masato.
We made our way to Tokyo Station and took many photographs of the grand old building before boarding the JR bus that took us to Narita International Airport.
We did some last minute shopping at the airport because the prices in Narita International Airport is surprisingly affordable.
I am sad to leave Japan, the country of beautiful people and scenery. Goodbye Japan, till we meet again!