Our trip started in Osaka, we then headed West towards the island of Kyushu including a number of places along the way, with Fukuoka as our final destination.
If you're looking for a full itinerary in Japan including Osaka, Kyoto and some other epic cities then you have absolutely come to the right place! We spent 10 days in Japan, exploring some of the cities and regional areas and have put together a FULL ITINERARY of everything you need to know, places of interest to visit, where to eat in Japan and how to get around in this beautiful Country.
HOW TO GET THERE?
We flew with Singapore Airlines to Japan with a transit via Singapore.
Here are some indication on flight times from departing around the world:
Flying from Sydney Australia to Tokyo Japan takes just 10 hours on a direct flight, with more than 5 flights leaving per day.
Flying from London England to Tokyo Japan takes 13 hours on a direct flight with more than 5 flights leaving per day.
Flying from Los Angeles California to Tokyo Japan takes 12 hours on a direct flight 12 hours with more than 5 flights leaving per day.
There are a number of ways to get between the cities of Japan with the main modes of transport being the following:
1.) JR Pass – This is a very cost effective way of traveling long distance in Japan. The pass can only be used by foreign tourists and can be used on bullet trains. Click here you purchase through the official JR website.
2.) ICOCA card - a rechargeable contactless smart card used on JR West rail network in Japan
This is a full 10 day itinerary through Japan starting in Osaka and travelling towards west Japan, including a trip to Kyoto. The trip will end in foodie heaven, the city of Fukuoka with a number of stops along the way.
Day 1-2 Osaka
Landing into the Osaka International airport, we used our JR passes to travel from Kansai airport into Tennoji station (30 minutes)
To make the most of the nightlife check out Dotonbori Canal area, a 10 min walk from where we were staying.
Finding the main food street in Dotonbori is easy, it pretty much starts as soon as you can see the big giant hanging crab, running parallel to the canal. Our top pick to try is the gyoza at Ohsho, you can find this restaurant by the big gyozas hanging outside! Gyoza is crispy meat dumplings, 250 yen for 6 pieces.
Takoyaki is another popular try which are the balls made up of flour and butter filled with octopus, ginger and green onion.
Spend the entire next day at Universal Studios Japan! We had so much fun wandering around the theme park. The park is made up of movie themed areas for some of the best blockbuster hollywood hits. Each area has endless fun, rides, eats and fun souvenir stalls.
The other attractions included Spiderman, Harry Potter world, Jurassic park and other movie themed areas, each having their own rides at the Universal Studios Japan. The best ride in our opinion, which also surprised us was was attack on Titan XR where you’re immersed into virtual reality, wearing goggles, whilst on a crazy rollercoaster – Insane but AMAZING! For safety (obvious) reasons we were not allowed cameras on the rides, and so you will just need to experience these for yourselves!
Entry fee: 9,000 JPY per adult (60 USD)
HOT TIP: We would highly recommend getting the express pass which allows bypassing all queues, we saved a ton of time using this!
Accommodation: Hotel The Grandee Shinsaibashi Click here for accommodation info
Day 3 Kyoto
Make your way from Osaka by using your JR pass to take the Limited express super Hakuto to Kyoto. (30 mins)
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
Arashiyama bamboo forest is one of Kyotos top visited sights, but it's for good reason. The best way to explore the bamboo forest in Kyoto is by taking the walking path through the forest and explore the magical feeling there. It is open 24 hours a day and only a 10 minute walk from the train station.
The best thing about this place is it is absolutely FREE to visit. We all love free things to do, don't we!
Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine
Soak up the beautiful red torii gates, the two dense rows of torii gates of Senbon Torii. It is highly likely you have seen this stunning location before being one of Kyoto's most visited sites, but to give you some history of this unique place it is the most important of several thousand shrines that have been dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
Similar to the Arashiyama bamboo forest, it is FREE to enter and also open 24/7. The museum part is staffed between 9-5pm if you wish to visit here and there is a small entrance fee of 300 yen for this part only.
Highlight: Stop for lunch at Menbaka for fire ramen, the best ramen we had in all of Japan (and EVER)!
Arguably, the most famous shrine with a 1,350 year history. It is quite often visited as it sits between the Gion district and the Higashiyama district, and so easily accessed when walking between the two places.
Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Tourists visit here hoping to catch a rare sighting of a geiko or a maiko, however it is likely that if you think you saw one, it is actually just a sighting of a tourist dressed up in the traditional clothing of a geisha. It's wonderful to take a walk through the charming streets that are filled with teahouses and traditional wooden buildings, it really feels like the true heart of Imperial Kyoto.
A famous photo spot in the Higashiyama District
Accommodation: Sakura Terrace– the Gallery Click here for accommodation info
Day 4 Himeji
Use the JR pass to take the Shinkansen Hikari from Kyoto to Himeji station. (1 hour journey time)
Himeji has very wide pavements with many cafes and restaurants around the station area.
Himeji castle is in sight as soon as you leave Himeji train station, it is around a 20-25 min walk to the castle grounds, there are also buses and taxis available from the station.
Himeji castle grounds are free to enter up until a point. If you wish to go inside the Himeji castle grounds the entry fee is 1000 JPY per person to enter the castle or 1,050 JPY per person including entry to Kokoen Garden
For next time: We were sad to miss out on visiting the Engyoji Temple (entry 500 yen, 8:30am-6pm) which was unfortunately closed during our visit. This is temple that has been made famous in the film ‘The Last Samurai’ which was partly shot here.
Have dinner at Rikimaru, a fun and very fresh sushi train restaurant that is very affordable.
4,000 JPY for two people (less than $30 USD). Order by ipad, and watch it get delivered from kitchen to table via the sushi train!
Accommodation: Hotel Nikko (next to Himeji station) Click here for accommodation info
Day 5 Okunoshima Island (Bunny Island)
We recommend booking a hotel in Onomichi for day 5 & day 6, which means you will need to drop off your bags first at your hotel, prior to heading to bunny island. Take the bullet train using the JR pass from Himeji to Mihara station, change there for Onomichi station. After dropping off bags at your hotel in Onomochi, jump back on the bullet train and head to Tadanoumi station. From here it’s a short walk to catch a 15 minutes ferry ride to Okunoshima island which costs 310 JPY pp one way ($2usd)
The island is full of very cute and fluffy bunnys, and they are very friendly! They are happy enough to eat out of your hands, be sure to pick up the food available at the shop at Tadanoumi pier before getting the ferry across, or take some fresh veggies along with you. Do not feed them any human food.
The island itself is relatively small, it is possible to take a walk round in 45 minutes. There is a café which sells some lunch options and snacks 10 mins walk from the jetty.
After enjoying time with the furry friends, head back to mainland and have dinner at Tranquillo. This restaurant came recommended from the hotel, an Italian restaurant where the local head chef had spent 3 months in Napoli, Italy perfecting his pizza making skills.
Accommodation: Hotel Cycle Onomichi Click here for accommodation info
Day 6 Onomichi
Explore the Shimanami Kaido by bike. Hotel Cycle is full of bicycles for rent, there are also many bicycle hire stations along the route. Hire cost is from 5,400 JPY pp for the day at Hotel Cycle.
The Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60KM road-and-bridge network connecting Japan's main island of Honshu with Shikoku (the nation's fourth largest island)
We cycled for 4 hours and managed to cover 2 of the islands stopping for lunch at a great service station linked here. Cheap and great food.
We are (definitely!) amateur cyclists which may help give an indication as you what you could achieve if you cycle more often, it would be possible to continue the journey and complete more of the cycle route.
There are bike and pedestrian lanes for the entire length, and the beautiful Seto inland sea is an incredible sight as it runs alongside much of the cycle journey. There are plenty of rest stations along the way for breaks and refreshments and extra special views to grab some great photos.
Accommodation: Hotel Cycle Onomichi Click here for accommodation info
Day 7 Miyajima Island
Jump on the train at Onomichi station to Fukuyama (use JR pass), change here for the bullet train to Hiroshima. (Total journey time is 2.5 hours)
Miyajima island is magical, like stepping back in time to old world Japan. Beautiful nature, wild deer roaming the streets and gorgeous laneways lined with cafes and restaurants serving delicious local dishes.
One of the main attractions here is the great torii gate that can be found floating in the ocean, the Itsukushima Shrine.
Stop to try okonomiyaki, a Japanese cabbage-based pancake. There are two styles, Osaka style and Hiroshima style. In Miyajima you can try Hiroshima style which is plain pancake grilled, topped with chose ingredients such as pork strips, or shrimp and octopus, noodles and sauce, there are vegetarian options too.
STAY at a Ryokan for the evening, an experience for travellers to immerse themselves into Japanese culture. Iwaso Ryokan was founded in 1893 located in the serene Momijidani Park, the original owner of also built a tea shop and planted maple trees, a stunning sight during the autumn months.
The stay usually includes a kaiseki dinner (a multi-course dinner) and traditional breakfast. There is an Onsen pool (traditional Japanese hot baths) The tatami floored room is transformed from a banquet dining space in to a bedroom, we had a very comfortable nights sleep and enjoyed a traditional breakfast the following morning that included rice, pickles, miso soup, fish, tofu, seaweed. It is a truly unique and once in a lifetime experience.
Accommodation: Iwaso Ryokan Click here for accommodation info
Day 8 – 10 Fukuoka
Catch the ferry back to Miyajimaguchi station and get the train to Hiroshima Station (30 mins). Then take the bullet train 'Sakura' from Hiroshima to Hakata station (use JR pass). This trip will take around 3 hours total.
Tenjin is a great shopping and dining district, there are many shopping centres to explore including Canal city, head to Raumen Stadium (Spelt raumen not ramen) for your pick of tonkotsu broth which is made by boiling pork bone and originated in Fukuoka.
Try eating at one of the Yatai food stalls for a truly unique food experience, locals will come here and queue for hours to taste these dishes! Prepare to queue for the food stalls, although they move quickly they are clearly extremely popular with both locals and travellers. We queued for an hour, but it was 100% worth the wait.
Accommodation: Hotel Monte Hermana Fukuoka Click here for accommodation info
Yanagawa day trip
Jump on the train at Nishitetsufukuoka Station to Nishitetsuyanagawa (50 mins, 860 yen, use ICOCA card)
Enjoy a river cruise down the canals of Yanagawa. Our Sendo, (boatman) used a pole to guide the gondola like boat down the Yanagawa River as we watched the beautiful riverside scenery pass-by. We even got serenaded by our lovely guide as we passed through bridges!
Most European Countries, United Kingdom, United States and Australia do not need to get a Japan Tourist Visa since they are considered visa-exempt Countries for tourism purposes, and can stay for a max of 90 days visa-free.
WHEN TO VISIT JAPAN
Peak season in Japan is when the cherry blossoms are in bloom (end of March – mid April) the driest months in Japan are Dec-Feb. Winter in Japan is perfect for skiing and snowboarding and Autumn have beautiful colours and lovely temperature. There isn’t a bad time to visit Japan, it just depends your preference.
Disclosure: As with all our blogs, all opinions are our own! We were invited to explore Japan as part of a trip with JNTO Tourism and Singapore Airlines.
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All photography is copyrighted ©TwosomeTravellers
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