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A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Saturday 23 July 2016

What to do with two weeks in Japan: My itinerary and Japan travel tips

What to do with two weeks in Japan

Today I thought I'd do a quick summary of what my family did in Japan, plus some tips on how to make the most of your time in Japan. Of course, it's totally subjective, but it might be helpful anyway. I've been living in Osaka, and I love the Kansai area in general so we decided to stay there and were based in Kyoto. So, most of the places we went to were in the Kansai area, but we also managed to get to Tokyo and Hiroshima too! So here's where we went, and my tips on how to make the most of your travels in Japan.

Where we went 

Day 1// Arrival at Kansai International airport, rest in hotel and go out for dinner in Kyoto

Day 2// Fushimi Inari Taisha

Day 3// Himeji Castle (and the Hello Kitty Cafe)

Day 4// Hikone Castle

Day 5// Kinkakuji and Nijo Castle/ Karaoke and shopping

Day 6// Nara- Kofukuji, Todaiji

Day 7// Tokyo day trip

Day 8// Osaka and Hep 5

Day 9// Higashiyama and Hanami in Kyoto

Day 10// My family went to Hiroshima

Day 11// Sakura at Toji, Imperial Palace park, Fushimi Inari Taisha at night

Day 12// Kitano Tenmangu+ Kitano OdoriKiyomizudera

Day 13// Ginkakuji, Sakura at the Philosopher's path, Nanzenji

Day 14// Meeting Samurai and Chilling in Hiroshima/ My parents went to Miyajima

Day 15// My birthday in Osaka

Day 16// Goodbyes at Kansai International airport
Japan travel tips

My Tips for getting the most out of Japan

Have a base in Kansai// Kansai is the best in my humble opinion- You've got amazing historical sights in the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, I think Osaka is the best city in the world and Kobe is well worth a visit. They are all big cities, all really interesting in different ways and also Kansai is pretty much in the centre of Honshu and well connected so if you want to go further afield, it makes an easy base.

Think about whether or not you need a JR Pass// buying a JR pass is pretty expensive, and if you plan on going anywhere via shinkansen it could definitely be worth it. But work out the price of the shinkansen tickets (and remember you have to go on the slightly slower and more crowded hikari) and if the JR pass is less than that, buy it. Just remember that not every train you go on will be a JR one, so you'll still need to spend more money on transport.

Get an IC card// ICOCA if you're in Osaka, Passmo or Suica in Tokyo- these IC cards top up with money and you can touch in and out of the train (like the Oyster card for any UK people). Basically, still get one even if you have a JR pass, because they save so much hassle. You buy them for 2000 yen, 1500 of which you can use as credit and then top it up. You can even return it at the end of your trip to get the other 500 yen back.

Book hotels early if you're going in Sakura season// ditto the hikari shinkansen while you're there- get reserved seats a few days before to save potential hassle of sitting apart or having to change days- the Hikari got pretty full when I was there.

Long day trips are tiring// If you wanna go to Tokyo or somewhere, maybe book an airbnb for a night! A Tokyo day trip is possible, we did it, but it's really tiring and you can't see everything in a day. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have no other choice honestly. Also, try and space out any big day trips you are doing.

Don't succumb to guidebook fever// and get sucked into thinking that you have to tick everywhere off. Only look at them to a certain extent, and don't get hung up on them, because trying to get everywhere ticked off makes everything pretty stressful.

Don't have too rigid an agenda// sometimes spontaneous wandering days are the best, and also sometimes people can get tired, or 'templed out' and need a break.

Research before// To avoid this all together: make a list of places to go and research where to go before you come

Ask what people's top priorities are// you can get such a different experience of Japan depending on where you go: the pop culture, big city vibes of Tokyo, or the gorgeous countryside and history of somewhere like Miyajima. Don't assume you know what people want to do, and try and get people to actually state their needs.

Maybe try and split up// so everyone can get to see what they want

Try and include some places that are new to you too// so it isn't boring for you either!

Make sure to give yourself some breaks// don't do long day trips day after day, make sure you're getting enough sleep, and don't try to pack too much in every day. City breaks or longer holidays can sometimes get really tiring, and you wanna be left with only the best videos

Maps// Bring a good map or even better, get mobile internet

Japanese culture and customs// research a teeny bit about Japanese customs, learn how to eat with chopsticks and maybe 3 phrases of Japanese: Sumimasen, Kore Kudasai and Konnichiwa. I'm probably going to make a separate post on this one time, but things that you might not consider like not taking your shoes off, can be rude.

Hope this was helpful, thanks for reading! Do you guys have any useful travel tips? I'd love to know!
-Amy xoxo


  1. Ooh this is so handy! Will be definitely saving for the near future~ I really can't wait to go to Kyoto & Osaka now!

    Lizzie Bee //

    1. I'm excited to read your posts when you go <3 how long are you going for? (^O^)/


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