The itinerary is there to help and to make things easier when traveling for you.
If you want to do it, do it. If not, that’s okay, don’t.
Have fun and make the most of your time in Japan. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Take the opportunity to discover.
I hope this Rough Draft/ Itinerary will help and also give you some ideas as you plan the trip.
Happy reading 🙂
- Navigating your way in Japan for the first time can be a bit confusing and challenging. Google Map (the app) was very helpful. A lot of the signs included English. People were very kind to help with directions. Some actually will walk you to your destination. And if they don’t know, they will kindly direct you to an information desk.
- Try to study few Japanese phrases prior to your trip. In examples: Hi. How are you? Goodbye. Thank you. How much? It is delicious! Where? Etc…
Learning them was very helpful for me. And from my experience, Japanese people like it more when they see you try to speak their language.
Consider getting for Transportation:
- JR PASS aka Japan Rail Pass:
This is a transportation pass; a very cost effective rail pass for long distance train travel in Japan. It offers unlimited use of JR trains for one, two or three weeks. Please check out this link for more information.
This is a great purchase if traveling a lot via the Shinkansen (the Japanese Bullet Train), railways, buses, and/or ferry boats.
I got mine via IACE Travel (the 7-day pass). This site was recommended by my Japanese professor. The agent was very professional, polite, and providing tons of great information. I really enjoyed the pass as it saved me tons of money traveling from city to city. Please visit their site for more information.
- PASMO CARD:
This is a transportation card that is similar to the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, or the Oyster Card in London. Since the JR PASS does not cover everywhere in Japan. It is nice to have a backup plan. Or you can pay per ticket, instead, if using the metro.
Options for going from Narita airport to Tokyo:
- Tokyo Shuttle Bus:
Most affordable option with a view.
For example, to Ichinoe Station in Tokyo, it took about an hour and 30 minutes.
Prices ranged from 1,500 Yen+ (about $12.82+ USD) **2016 price**
The ticket booth is inside, right before you exit the airport.
- International Airport Access / Narita Express / N’EX:
Next affordable option with a view. Please check the two links below for more information and prices.
Link: What is it? and
Link: Tickets & Prices
Definitely not an affordable option, but just in case of emergency or running short on time.
Prices ranged from 20,000 Yen to as high as 30,000 Yen (about $180 – 280 USD). **
For example: to Shibuya, it will cost about $200 USD and about an hour ride. **
** = this is the price of year 2016!
I have family and friends in Japan, therefore, I stayed with them most of the time.
Only in Osaka and Kyoto that cousin and I stayed at hotels.
Osaka and Kyoto were last minute’s decision where I didn’t have enough time to do a lot of research on accommodations. However, I decided on these options below. We liked them and would return in future.
- Hotel Sun White (Osaka, Japan)
Address: 3-7-6, Tani-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan 540-0012.
This hotel was clean, safe, great service, very close and easy walk to the subway, not too loud for the location, and an easy walk to the Osaka Castle.
- APA Hotel Kyoto-Eki-Horikawadori (Kyoto, Japan)
Address: 1 Aburanokoji-cho, Shiokoji-nishi, Aburanokoji-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto Station, Kyoto, Japan 600-8236〒600-8236.
APA Hotel is popular and available in many locations throughout Japan.
Food to try:
Honestly, if you have room, try everything! The foods in Japan were so delicious and well taken care of. And sushi, it was so fresh.
Here is a list of the foods I’ve tried, really enjoyed, and thought you might too.
- Ramen bowl – one of the ultimate Japanese foods. Literally, at every corner that I turned, there was a restaurant. For a chilly night in Tokyo, the ramen bowl was amazing.
- Udon – There were curry udon, pork udon; but the one with soft-shell crab was the best, in my opinion.
- Gyoza – right when it was done: hot and crunchy, and not too watery inside.
- Yakitori – skewered meat on a bamboo stick, seasoned with sauce or salt. I liked the sauce more.
- Japanese ice cream crepe – in Shibuya and other districts. The one I had was with vanilla ice cream, topped with varieties of fruit.
- Green Tea – anything green tea, bring some home if you can, and you can thank me later.
- Kobe beef – It was good, but I didn’t remember loving it, maybe because of the restaurant we tried.
This other restaurant below was recommended by a friend (sadly, I was on my way to another city). Please go and try it for me, and let me know what you think 🙂
La Shomon (Kobe, Japan)
Address: 垂水区神田町4-10 2F, Kobe-shi, Hyogo, Japan 655-0027.
- Japanese Curry – some served with Udon noodles, some served with steam rice.
- Takoyaki – very cute batter balls stuffed with a piece of octopus. The ones we had served with mayonnaise sauce, takoyaki sauce, and seaweed flakes.
- Okonomiyaki – I will describe this as: ‘Here in the US, we have omelets; there in Japan, they got Okonomiyaki.’
The one we ordered, if I remember correctly, included: flour, eggs, dry fish stock, sweet onion, carrot and some shaved cabbage.
- Grilled Squid – very delicious, especially eating it along the river in Kyoto.
- Sake – hot or cold, it’s up to you. & Japanese beer.
- last but not least: SUSHI, even at 7-eleven store or a local market, they were so delicious. I can live on sushi for days~
I had about 7 days to explore Japan. In fact, I did more search on Tokyo (I thought most of my times will be spent there).
One of the lessons that I learned from this trip was: Don’t expect anything! Just go with the flow! Tokyo was fun, so were other places in Japan.
Day 1: Tokyo
Check out this list of things to do in the Edogawa. I passed by many of these places while taking the bus. However, I was being lazy to not stop in and check them out. If you have the time, do check them out.
- SHIBUYA Crossing at night & Harajuku.
I love Shibuya crossing. It was such an amazing place to see and experience.
P.S.: Here is a list of the things I planned to do in Tokyo, but only done some. If you can finish the list for me, that’d be awesome 🙂
- Ginza – Ginza was definitely one of many places that I like to go shopping in Tokyo.
- Nakamise – another shopping street.
- Ramen Street – come hungry
- Kit-kat store – try all the flavors. Green Tea and Sake were my favorites.
- Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku.
- Rainbow Bridge in Odaiba
- Ooedo Onsen Monogatari.
- Ghibli Studio – need a reservation
- Roppongi Hills / Roppongi – my friend recommended me to go here if I’d like to have a better view of the Tokyo Tower. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time. If you go, again, please let me know what you think 🙂
- Yoyogi Park – a good place to hang out, have a picnic and to enjoy Hanami (cherry blossom festival).
Additionally, Cherry Blossom watching is best in late March or early April.
- Akihabara – electronic/ video games district.
- Sky Tree Tower
- Tsukiji fish market – go early to see the Fish Auction.
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
- Meiji Shrine
- Sensoji Buddhist Temple – an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is also Tokyo’s oldest temple.
- Edo-Tokyo Museum
- Shibuya/ Shibuya crossing
- Harajuku district & Takeshita Dori street – Lots of people, cool shops, and tasty snacks.
- Shinjuku – the downtown of Tokyo. Also for Robot Restaurant experience.
Day 2: Tokyo & Osaka
Day 3: Osaka, Kobe, & Kyoto
- OSAKA CASTLE – go inside and all the way to the top, you will love the view from there.
- NAMBA (a district of Osaka, Japan) – a fun and touristy area to walk around, shop and eat.
- traveled to KOBE
- experienced KOBE BEEF
- traveled to KYOTO – walked around Kyoto at night. It was a very lovely city and I enjoyed this city very much. Visit this link for more information.
Day 4: Kyoto & Tokyo
- KINKAKU-JI (the gold temple in Kyoto)
- ARASHIYAMA & Bamboo Forest
- back to Tokyo
Day 5: Tokyo & Ichihara
- Ichihara (a city in Chiba prefecture) – a very relaxed city that was not too far from the mountain and the ocean; provided with tons of delicious sushi and ramen restaurants.
Day 6: Tokyo
- Akihabara district – if you like video games, this is your home.
- Sensoji Buddhist Temple in Asakusa.
- sightseeing & night shopping in GINZA.
Last day, I mostly packed and get ready to go to the airport.
Honestly, Japan was incredibly so wonderful~ One week was not enough!!
I’d wish to have more days to explore places like Himeji Castle, Nara Park, Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Kiyomizu-dera and Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto, Nagoya, Hiroshima especially Itsukushima, Okinawa and many more.
dear Readers, if you have the opportunity to travel, make it 2 to 3 weeks or a month in Japan! I believe you will have a great time!
dear Japan, Arigatou Gozaimasu, and see you again~~