Japan Travel Guide

Updated: May 6, 2019

Japan was my number one destination this year. I have heard many great things about this country, and off my feet I go...

I went to Japan during my Christmas break, hence the flight ticket was quite expensive. I spent 11 nights in Japan, and went to a total of 8 cities: Hiroshima, Okayama, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yamagata, Sendai, and Tokyo. You might think it's quite a rush trip, but I wanted to make the most out of my 2 weeks.

Getting around Japan

I strongly recommend purchasing a JR pass if you are planning to visit more than 1 city in Japan. They have plans for 7 days, 14 days, 21 days, etc., and I purchased the 7 days ticket as I thought it would make sense for my trip. The 7 days ticket was around 350 USD. At first I thought this was quite expensive, but considering that a round trip ticket from Tokyo to Osaka was about the same price. This was a no brainer for me!

However this JR pass required more work than I could imagine. First you buy the ticket, then the company ship it to your country, then you bring the ticket back to Japan to exchange the real JR pass. Apparently everyone always go to the biggest office (which the map at the airport also pointed you to go there), and the line was huge!!! The wait time is usually at least one hour according to the lady who works there, but from what I saw, it looked like I would have to wait for at least 2-3 hours. I suggest to find a less busy office at the airport. There are many JR exchange offices around the airport, and I found one that was not so far from the main JR exchange offices. This saved me so much time! If you are unsure of where these offices are, just ask the people who work at the airport to see all the JR offices. Everyone in Japan is very nice and extremely helpful!

First day: Tokyo

I arrived at around 3:00pm and Narita airport was so crowded! It literally took me 2 hours or more to just get out of the custom area, and another 2 hours to run around and pick up my pocket wifi, and exchange my JR pass. NRT airport was quite far from the centre of Tokyo, so it took me another 2 hours to get back to my hotel. It was late so I just ate at the restaurant beside the train station and slept through the night.

Hotel: I stayed at Airbnnb for the first night. I found that hotels in Tokyo are so expensive, and using Airbnb could save you a lot of money. I stayed at Sky hostels which was around 30 USD per private room. I thought this was an awesome deal!!! If you are a first timer using this app, click the link below for 45$ off your first trip! I used this coupon and it evenly saved me more on my stay.

Second day: Hiroshima

Places to visit:

  • Hiroshima Castle

  • The Great Torii and Momijidani park

I took the Shinkansen train from Tokyo to Hiroshima, and it took around 4.5 hours to get to Hiroshima Castle. Around this castle was a very nice, calming park with gardens and temples. It was a win-win for me as I got to see so many things at the same location. I didn't see a single tourist at this place, probably because it's so far away from Tokyo and also because winter is a less busy time for Japan.

I then took a ferry to the Miyajima island and it was beautiful!!! This island has amazing street food, souvenir stores, temples, the Great Torii and deers! Everywhere I go there were deers and they were very friendly! I strongly recommend visiting this island, and Hiroshima in general.

Third day: Okayama

Places to vist:

  • Kurashiki

  • Washuzan Highland

Google led me to a random place and it wasn't what I was looking for. I had to ask a local there by giving him a picture of the Kurashiki. He was nice enough to even offer me a ride there. Japanese people are the nicest people in the world!! Just be prepared to use Google translate all the time, as not many Japanese can speak English!

I took taxi to Washuzan Highland park, where you can try the famous sky-cycle, and the 20 min ride cost me around 75$. One big lesson learned from this is not to take taxi at all in Japan as their transport system is much more efficient and is a lot cheaper.

Fourth day: Osaka

Places to visit:

  • Koya-san

  • Dontobori

  • Tsutenkaku

  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Osaka and Kyoto are probably my most favourite cities!! I love all the attractions mentioned above so I will just leave all the attractions names and the pictures here :D

Fifth day: Kyoto

Places to visit:

  • Kiyomizu-dera

  • Saiho-ji

  • Arashiyama

  • Bamboo forest

Sixth day: Nagoya

Places to visit:

  • Tokugawaen Garden

  • Sakae

  • Tsumago Azuma

  • OSU301

I adore Tokugawaen Garden in Nagoya! What a hidden gem! It was so quiet during the time I went and left me great beauty vibes.

OSU301 was also great with many small shops and good restaurants. 

Seventh day: Yamagata and Sendai

It was snowing quite heavily during the time I visited Yamagata and Sendai. But these two places were definitely a must visit!! 

8-11th day: Tokyo

I went to too many places in Tokyo and got too excited with everything. Hence, I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. However, here are the attractions that I found to be wayyyy less touristy and you can capture the best view of Tokyo Tower and Sky-tree there. 

Places to visit:

  • Shibuya

  • Harajuku

  • Ginza

  • Shimo-Kitazawa

  • Ayoyama

At last, would I visit Japan again? Yes!! Real soon!

Annie Pham

About Me

A professional photographer, music examiner and teacher who is passionate about exploring the world and inspire others to do the same. 

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