Hey guys! I’ve got some exciting news, we are only 41 days away from heading to Japan! And I’m starting to get REALLY excited.
What’s crazy is that a year ago, we had zero plans of heading to Japan.
In fact, the first time Japan came up was during a conversation last summer. Matt and I were talking about where else we’d want to go before we “settle down” and he mentioned that Japan was one country he’d always wanted to check out.
I’ll be honest guys, my heart sank a little. The idea of trying to plan a trip there felt really overwhelming to me. So you can imagine how relieved I was when [literally the next day] my aunt/cousin/sister [aka. Allison] reached out to tell me her and her husband were going to Japan in April, they’ve already booked their flights and hotels, did we want to join them?
Umm, yes please!
The best part? Allison did a wonderful job of planning the entire trip for us! All we have to do is pack our bags and tag along.
So today I thought I would share our jam-packed itinerary. Allison really did cover everything, and I’m confident we’ll leave there feeling like we’ve truly experienced Japan 🙂
Day One [Tokyo]
- Explore Nakamise, Tokyo’s most visited tourist destination. Nakamise is home to the Sensoji Temple and is a great spot to try traditional Tokyo street food.
- Visit Sensoji Temple, the most colourful temple in Japan.
- Check out the Tsukiji Market Area, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world.
- Grab lunch at Chuka Soba Inoue, Toyko’s legendary ramen food stall.
- Wander through the Hamarikyu Gardens.
- Take a go-kart tour through the streets of Tokyo.
- Check out the Akihabara District, a shopping street famous for its many electronic shops.
- Go to the top of the Tokyo SkyTree, the world’s tallest free-standing broadcasting tower.
Day Two [Tokyo]
- Visit the Meiji Shrine, Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine.
- Explore Takeshita Dori, a pedestrian friendly shopping street lined with fashion boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
- Wander through Shinjuku Goyen, the largest and most popular park in Tokyo featuring one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in Tokyo.
- Visit the observation deck at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for some amazing views of the city.
- Explore Shinjuku, a popular entertainment, business, and shopping area. West of the area lies the skyscraper district, and northeast of the area is Japan’s largest and wildest red light district.
- Visit Omoide Yokocho (Memory Lane), a popular place for nightlife featuring around 60 old school bars and restaurants.
Day Three [Tokyo]
- Go watch a Sumo practice.
- Tour the Imperial Palace & the Outer Park.
- Visit the Ginza District, Tokyo’s most famous upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment district.
- Check out Yurakucho Gado-shita. Known in Japanese as Gado-shita, from “below the girder”, this district occupies virtually all of the free space under nearly 700 meters of the JR Yamanote Line.
Day Four [Day Trip to Enoshima]
- Take the train to Enoshima, a touristy island just off the coast offering a variety of attractions, including a shrine, park, observation tower, and caves.
Day Five [Travel to Nagoya]
- Take a morning train from Tokyo to Nagoya.
- Explore Nabana no Sato, a ‘flower theme park’ featuring beautiful gardens year round.
Day Six [Nagoya + Travel to Hiroshima]
- Spend the morning in Nagoya exploring the Sakae District, Nagoya’s vibrant downtown shopping district.
- Check out the Nagoya TV Tower, the first TV tower in Japan, which boasts enchanting views of the city.
- Wander through the Osu Shopping Arcade, a shopping center that features over 400 shops and restaurants.
- Hop over to the Osu Kannon Temple, a popular Buddhist temple just off the Osu Shopping District.
- Take an afternoon train to Hiroshima.
Day Seven [Day Trip to Miyajima]
- Take a boat ride out to Miyajima, a small, romantic island about an hour outside of Hiroshima.
- Miyajima most famous for its giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water.
Day Eight [Hiroshima + Travel to Osaka]
- Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome.
- Check out the Peace Memorial Park and the Children’s Peace Memorial.
- Wander through the Shukkei-en Garden. This 400 year old garden’s landscape has been carefully designed to mimic a variety of natural formations and scenic views.
- Take a late afternoon train to Osaka
- Spend the evening exploring the Shinsaibashi Shopping District and Dotonbori Bridge.
Day Nine [Day Trip to Nara]
- Nara is home to some of the country’s best temples, shrines, and gardens.
- Make sure to stop by and visit the semi-wild deer that roam Nara-koen Park!
Day Ten [Himeji – Morning]
- Take a morning train out to Himeji.
- Tour the Himeji Castle, one of Japan’s most spectacular castles. It is best known for it’s imposing size and beauty and it’s well preserved castle grounds.
- Wander through Koko-en Garden, located next to the Himeji Castle.
- Visit Mount Shosha, the site of a 1000 year old Buddhist temple.
Day Ten [Osaka – Afternoon]
- Take an afternoon train back to Osaka.
- Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening checking out the Shinsekai District and the Tsutenkaku Tower.
- Don’t forget to sample some Kushikatsu (a dish composed of various skewered, battered and deep fried foods), one of Osaka’s best known specialties.
Day Eleven [Kyoto]
- Take a morning train to Kyoto.
- Wander through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, one of the most photographed sights in the city.
- Explore Tenryu-ji Temple.
- Visit Okochi-Sanso Villa. The main house is one of the finest examples of traditional Japanese residential architecture, and the gardens are absolutely stunning.
- Check out Nison-in Temple, a lovely Buddhist temple and a great place to escape the crowds.
- Relax at Tenzan-no-yu- Onsen, a modern-style bath and spa fed by the natural hot springs that run below the city’s surface.
- Visit Kinkaku-ji Temple. Located in the northern part of the city, this temple’s top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf.
- Check out a Geisha Show & Tea Ceremony.
- Visit Nishiki Market (Kyoto’s Kitchen). Nishiki Market is a five block long retail market specializing in all things food related.
- Explore Maruyama-koen Park and Philosopher’s Path, two of the best places in Kyoto to view the cherry blossoms.
Day Twelve [Kyoto]
- Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple, one of Japan’s most celebrated temples.
- Wander down Sannenzaka & Ninnenzaka. Lined with beautifully restored traditional shop houses and blissfully free of overhead power lines, Sannenzaka & Ninnenzaka are two of Kyoto’s most attractive streets.
- Tour Chion-in Temple & Shorenin Temple.
- Visit the Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates.
- Spend the evening walking down Gion Shimbashi in the Gisha District. Gion Shimbashi is the single most attractive street in all of Asia.
Day Thirteen [Travel to Koyasan]
- Spend the day exploring Mount Koya, a huge temple settlement south of Osaka.
Day Fourteen [Travel back to Tokyo]
- Goodbye Japan! Time to head back to Tokyo to catch our flights back home.