The Ultimate Travel Guide To Japan, Do It Yourself !
Japan: the land of Rising Sun
If you want to go to Japan, wait till the time is right. Even if you have to wait for a long time, the reason being, Japan isn’t like any other country in the world. You need to have enough time to actually be a little satisfied with your experience. Japan is another planet in a planet. It is like a big joint family living in peace together and having tea; from the traditional grandpa, to highly futuristic tech expert kid. Japan is quirky and offbeat, swaying on its own composed rhythm. Having a reputation for having one of the most distinctive cultures with sui generis traditions, Japan attracts millions of travellers every year. Shinto is the religion of Japan and while no Japanese throw bricks in the name of it, the people of Japan weave many peculiar traditions around it. The Japanese are also known to be one of the most kind and helpful people in the world. Really humble and down-to-earth, the Japanese are known to have one of the most excellent customer services. The Japanese pay respect to each other by bowing, as a way to show their gratitude and delight. Make sure to try everything Japan offers, from its traditional food (edamme, sushi, miso ) to its lifestyle and clothing (Kimono). The country also has a unique eye with which it constructs stories and movies. All the anime and Manga fans would agree to that. There are Manga fans all over the world with Japan in their top five countries to visit. I hope you get to have the proper Japanese experience, wearing a Kimono, and sitting on the Tatami at a traditional restaurant, drinking tea, else being able to witness a sumo wrestling match and other authentic things which I will mention below…
Delhi- Narita International Airport Tokyo (Round trip)
1:10 am – 12:35 pm
17:30 pm – 23:45 pm
Travel Guide To Japan
Here are the things you should know before you step in the land of Rising Sun.
Japan is known to have one of the most sophisticated and comfortable transportation system. All the train lovers, attention attention!!! We can finally satisfy Sheldon Cooper I guess.
Trains are the best way but an expensive way to travel in Japan. Buy a JR pass depending on the no. Of days you are visiting Japan. The pass comes for, 7 days, 14 days and 21 days. The pass gives access to all of the trains including limited express, express, rapid, local, most shikansen (bullet train) lines, the ferry to Miyajima island, monorail to and from Haneda Airport and some local buses. The Green Car option, while a bit more expensive is JR’s version of first class. You HAVE to purchase the pass before entering the country because once you arrive; there is no option at all. Once you purchase the pass, you will receive a voucher via your mail which you would have to exchange upon your arrival at Japan at a JR ticket booth at the station.
Japan Rail Pass
7 consecutive days
14 consecutive days
21 consecutive days
Reduced rates (50% off) apply to children aged 6-11.
To save more money you can even get a Japan Bus pass, if you don’t mind sleeping in bus overnight. You can get a 3-day, 5-day and 7-day pass.
Best time to visit Japan is Spring (March-May)
Cherry Blossoms and lots of festivals
Another best time is autumn (September- November)
Colourful environment and fewer crowds.
You should be aware of the GOLDEN WEEK, during spring season in Japan, made up of four national Holidays and which falls in 7 days span. It would be extremely crowded so bookings should be done in advance.
1 rs= 1.55 yen
Getting in or around Tokyo, either you can walk, bicycle or you should buy a prepaid IC card available in subway stations. There are two types, Suica and Pasmo that you can charge up with credit. You can even get the IC cards at Airports and after you have used up the initial credit, you can top them up using any of the machines at any station.
A note about Kyoto’s public transportation: Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto relies on large public buses.
If you decide to travel by public transport, first you should carry an unlimited capacity Wifi transmitter to look up information and find the way
Passes: Fuji Hakone Paas
The Fuji Hakone Pass is a discount pass for exclusive use by non-Japanese passport holders. It provides unlimited use of designated buses, trains, boats, cablecars and ropeways in the Hakoneand the Fuji Five Lake areas and discounted admission to selected tourist attractions on three consecutive days. It optionally also includes a one-way ticket for Odakyu Railway trains between Tokyo and Hakone and a one-way ticket for a highway bus between Tokyo and the Fuji Five Lakes.
Fuji Hakone Pass
From Shinjuku (including round trip)
From Odawara (without round trip)
Reduced rates (50% off) apply for children aged 6-11.
The map below shows the train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and major bus lines to be used for the round trip and within the free area of the Hakone Free Pass:
The round trip is to be done by Odakyu Railways between Shinjuku and Odawara and by Fujikyu/Keio highway bus between Kawaguchiko Station and Shinjuku. You have to use the train for one of the two journeys and the bus for the other.
Between Shinjuku and Odawara, you may use local or express trains; however, if using a Romance Car train, a supplement fee of 1090 yen has to be paid.
Between Shinjuku and Lake Kawaguchiko, free seat reservations have to be made in advance of boarding for the highway bus.
It is not possible to get off at stations between your departure station and the free area.
Passes purchased at Odawara Station do not cover the train trip between Tokyo and Hakone and the highway bus ride between Tokyo and the Fuji Five Lakes.
Unlimited use of the Hakone Tozan Railway(Odawara-Gora), the cablecar and ropeway from Gora to Lake Ashinoko, sightseeing ships on Lake Ashinoko and many buses in the Hakone area, including Hakone Tozan buses and the Odakyu bus between Togendai and Gotemba.
Unlimited use of the Fujikyuko Railway Line between Kawaguchiko Station and Shimoyoshida Station and of regular Fujikyu buses in the Fuji Five Lake region, including the retro buses around Lake Kawaguchikoand Lake Saiko (but not including the bus to the 5th Station).
You can get the paas at Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo and Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Odawara Station.
Make sure that your accommodation is near centrally located train stations, since you will be travelling a lot and it gets easier for the day trips.
You will be living in
Tokyo, Kawaguchiko and Kyoto.
– Luxury- Grand Hyatt Hotel, Shangri-la Hotel, The Peninsula
Mid Price- Hotel Century Southern Tower, Shibuya excel Hotel, Prince Park
Budget: Shibuya Tokyo Rei Hotel, Cerulean Tower Tokyo
– Luxury: Ritz Carlton, Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Mid Price: Citadines Karasuma, Kyoto Century Hotel
Budget: Guest house Soi, Hotel Gran MS, Kyoto Hana Hotel
Budget: Maruei, Kawaguchiko Lake side hotel, Hotel new century
Travel Guide To Japan Itinerary
Travel Guide To Japan Day 1 to 3
Tokyo: Tokyo is the kind of place that one would need a lifetime to unravel. And since you have a very limited time, you have a lot to look out for. Tokyo appears like a family where the old traditional grandpa and the futuristic tech expert kid have the morning tea together. From Temples and palaces to hip clubs, bars restaurants, shopping complexes, everything is there in Tokyo, enough that when you come back from your day’s sightseeing, your eyes would be so tired and you would directly head for your bed.
Amazing things to look out for in Tokyo
West Tokyo (Day 2) Shibuya-ku: Shibuya is the shopping and entertainment district and exactly like what you saw in Lost in Translation. Hullabaloos of people going here and there and mesmerising neon signs will leave you astound. The vibe around will be so lit, considering the energy around, Shibuya has to be on the list when you visit Tokyo.
Hanamaru : a fast casual udon chain, quite budget friendly and delicious.
Hachiko Memorial statue: The world’s most loyal dog
Shibuya scramble: world’s busiest pedestrian intersection. Thousands of people scramble at a crossing from all the directions at once.
100 yen shops
Harajuku : A popular shopping neighbourhood, a hub of Japanese pop culture.
Kiddy land and line
Shinjuku: The largest neighbourhood in Japan, it captures the modern essence of Tokyo
Japanese street food
Shinjuku Golden Gai
Tokyo Metropolitan Building: just to look at the Tokyo city, best do it at evening or night.
Red District: Kabukicho, Asia’s largest entertainment District
East Tokyo (Day 3): (If you’re staying in Shibuya, you’ll need to take the train from Shibuya Station to Asakusa Station (35-45 min on train) via the JR Yamanote Line to Ginza or Asakusa Line. Make sure to purchase single tickets – do NOT activate your JR pass yet!)
Asakusa: Spiritual heart of Tokyo
Ueno park: A large Park, in central Tokyo and another amazing spot for Cherry blossom spot
Here are a lot of museums and temples to visit.
Museums: Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo Metropolitan art museum, National Science Museum, Shitamachi Museum
Kamakura: Time to get out of the city and enjoy a little country while you are in it. With the perfect blend of spirituality and the seaside air, the view in Kamakura is extremely stunning and picturesque. Here you can enjoy many temples and shrines and try the mouth-tasting street food while you don’t forget to relax in the traditional Japanese tea house and take a Zen- break.
Once a great fortress town and a capital and significant political centre, it is now full of the shadows of past seen in the quaint shopping streets, shrines and temples. Here a peaceful stroll at beach, after a full day sightseeing can relax your whole body and mind.
You can reach Kamakura by train using the JR Yokosuka line from Tokyo station
and back to Tokyo via same.
Things to do in Kamakura
Daibutsu Great Buddha
Tsurugaoka- Hachiman-gu shrine
Relax at the beach
Tenen Hiking Trail
Travel Guide To Japan Day 5 and 6 Day Trip from Tokyo
*(You can also take the Fuji Hakone Pass)
Stay around Lake kawaguchiko station, to leave in the morning for Hakone.
Mt Fuji is one of the most popular spot of course because Mt fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. The 3776m high icon of Japan attracts millions of people from different countries every year. Lake Kawaguchiko is the gateway to Mount Fuji. It’s not a surprise that it’s also a Cultural Site on the UNESCO’S World Heritage List. In Japanese the mountain is called Fuji-san.
There are five lakes around Fuji-san, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Saiko, Lake Motosu and Lake Shoji.
Travelling from Tokyo to Lake Kawaguchi there are many ways.
Travel through a highway bus from Shinjuku station to Kawaguchi lake
Fujikyu and Keio Bus operate one to two direct buses per hour between the Shinjuku Bus Terminal in Tokyoand Kawaguchiko Station in the Fuji Five Lakes region.The one way journey takes just under two hours and costs 1750 yen. Then take a 50-minute bus trip to the Station No.5-Muji Subaru Line costing ¥1,540. Most buses stop at Fujisan Station and Fuji Q Highlandbefore arriving at Kawaguchiko Station and many of them continue on to Lake Yamanakako (just over two hours, 2050 yen one way from Shinjuku). TheJapan Rail Pass is not valid on these buses.
By bus from Shibuya Station
Fujikyu operates approximately one bus every two hours between Shibuya (Mark City), Fuji Q Highland, Kawaguchiko Station and Fujisan Station. The one way journey takes 2 to 2.5 hours and costs 1800 yen. The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these buses.
Take the JR Chuo Line from Tokyo‘s Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station (70 minutes, about 2500 yen by direct limited express train or 100 minutes, 1320 yen by local trains with usually one transfer along the way). From Otsuki, take the Fujikyu Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station (55 minutes, 1140 yen one way). The JR Tokyo Wide Pass covers the entire journey (except panorama seats on limited express trains); however, the Japan Rail Pass and other JR passes are not valid between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko.
You can also book a guided day trip by bus. Also You should note that at Kawaguchiko station there is only 1 bus after every hour.
How to get around Mount Fuji
Now, to do all the five lakes in one day isn’t possible, because you wont be able to enjoy even one properly and it will be all too cramped.
This itinerary will include
Station no. 5: (Fuji Subaru Line) Station no.5 is the highest station the bus can reach, and though you may not get a complete view of the mountain from this close, you will feel like a new day, refreshed and awake. This station is for those who do not want to climb the mountain. Also before the tourists go o the 5th station, they usually and are expected to visit the Murayama Sengen Jinja temple because Japanese people believe that Mt Fuji is a sacred mountain firmly connected to God. It is believed that those who visit the temple will get good things in life.
Lake Kawaguchiko: Most easily accessible of the five lakes, Lake Kawaguchiko provides for an excellent view for the great mountain. The view is especially breathtaking during Cherry blossom season and when leaves turn in colours of red. One of the nicest spots for cherry blossoms is the seaside promenade near theKawaguchiko Music Forest.
Apart from the stupendous view of Mount Fuji, there are various museums and park which stands up their own uniqueness. A stroll around the town would be another new experience for you.
Chureito Pagoda: Chureito Pagoda is part of the Arakurayama Sengen Shrine. To get to Cheureito Pagoda, from Lake Kawaguchiko, take a train from Kawaguchiko station to Shimoyoshida Station which takes approx 10 minutes and costs 3 euros per ticket. From there you can easily walk to Cheurito Pagoda. People here especially go for the picture perfect scene of the pagoda, the city behind and standing tall behind it, Mount Fuji.
Fuji Shibazakura Festival: About 800,000 Shibazakura, bloom in an expansive site at the base of the Mount Fuji. A festival of flowers, Pink never looked so best before.
Entrance fees: Individuals, adults- 600 yen; Group, adults- 500 yen
Individuals, Children- 250 yen, Group, Children- 200 yen
Shibazakura Liner shuttle bus
A shuttle bus, called the Shibazakura Liner, connects Kawaguchiko Station and the Fuji Shibazakura Festival’s venue (30 minutes, 1-2 departures per hour) during the festival period. A 2000 yen ticket includes the round trip and the admission fee.
By regular bus
There is one regular bus every 1-2 hours between Fujisan Station, Kawaguchiko Station, Lake Motosuko and Shin-Fuji Station. During the festival period, some of these buses make a stop outside the festival venue at the Fuji Shibazakura Iriguchi bus stop. The ride takes 50 minutes and costs 1230 yen from Kawaguchiko Station, or 75 minutes and 1710 yen from Shin-Fuji Station.
Lake Motosu: Western most lake of Mount Fuji, Lake motosu, the most natural and underdeveloped provides another excellent view of Mount fuji. It is just 3 kms from Shibazakura Festival, so you can also walk till there. Take the bus back to Kawaguchiko Station to From Shibazakua.
Fuji q Highland Amusement Park (Fujiyoshida): There is nothing as much fun as a Japanese amusement park, with exotic rides and thrill. Fuji q Highland Amusement is a classic thrilling experience and should not be missed at all.
Day 7- Hakone
I recommend taking a bus from Kawaguchiko to the Gotemba Outlet and then a bus from the outlet to Gora (hourly departures). There are coin lockers at Gora station where you can keep your luggage. Depart for Kyoto at night itself.
Hakone is a mountainous town famous for serene onsens (hot springs), a time of their live for art- lovers at world class art museums and how can I forget, Mount Fuji!! Though you need to lucky to be able to see it as it is almost always covered in clouds but It is always worth the shot. Crystal clear rivers running down the mountain, through the town, traditional Japanese houses situated in the hills and cobblestoned path would make you feel at home and to this extent that you would never want to leave the place.
Hike to owakudini
Old tokaido road
Open air museum
Day 7(Reach at day 7 around night), 8 and 9: Kyoto
Take a train from Gora Station to Odawara from where you can take the Shikansen (Bullet train) to Kyoto.
Once in Kyoto, the JR passworks on some trains, but for the two subway lines – Tozai and Karasuma – you need a different ticket. If you buy a ticket for one, it can’t be used on the other, unless you buy a day pass. The bus network is also good and useful forgetting to places such as the Kinkaku-ji Temple.
Passes for both the bus and subway cost ¥1,200 for one day and ¥2,00 for two days.
Kyoto is the cultural Capital of Japan; make sure you have enough memory in your camera because Kyoto is so photogenic that you might need one or two extra memory cards. One can spend many -many days without getting bored. Kyoto has over 2000 temples and so many gardens that it would take years to see them all. Tokyo is the future mind and Kyoto is the ancient heart that keeps the tradition alive. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some geisha walking to their secret rendezvous.
(Famous temples, shrines and wandering)
Travel Guide To Japan Day 10
Day trip to Nara and back to Kyoto:
Head to Nara from Kyoto Station (via JR Nara Line – roughly 1 hour on the express train).
Nara is an ex-Capital of Japan, well way ancient ex and here you will get to dwell in the unique past of Japan. Here, colossal Buddhist temples and intricate Shinto shrines survived the ages as a testament to its former glory. Hence the UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. It is a peaceful and relaxing place and no person in his right mind would skip Nara. Again here are a lot of temples and shrines.
The main attractions are
Todai ji temple
The sacred deer of Nara park
Nara National Museum
Travel Guide To Japan Day 11
Day trip to Himeji and back to Kyoto:
Shinkansen: Kyoto and Himeji are connected via the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. With the Hikari shinkansen, the journey takes 55 minutes (you can use your Japan Rail Pass if you have one). Nozomi trains take 45 minutes (but you cannot use the Japan Rail Pass).
JR Special Rapid Train: Local trains take 90 minutes on JR Special Rapid Trains (Shin-kaisoku).
Once in Himeji, exit the north side of the Himeji Station. Walk approximately 1 km on Otemae-dori Street to the castle. If you are not up for walking, hire a taxi or take the local bus from the train station.
The Himeji Castle is the most popular attraction in this area, and if you have seen The last Samurai, well I need not say the rest. Himeji Castle is the largest, most visited castle in Japan. It started off as a fort in 1333, and has proven to be a survivor after world war 2. The castle is really beautiful and worth visiting.
9 am to 5 pm; last entry at 4 pm
During the summer (April 27 – August 31): 9 am to 6 pm; last entry at 5 pm
Travel Guide To Japan Day 12
Hiroshima and Miyajima and back to Kyoto
Take a Bullet train, out of Kyoto station and you will reach Miyajima, in 3 hours. From Miyajima station, hop on the ferry, that will take you to Miyajima Island. All included in your JR pass.
Miyajima or Itsukushima is an island where it is believed God dwells and the whole place is spiritualised. At night the whole shrine lights up and it feels like heaven. And also since it is the “city of god” there would be of course temples and shrines( LOL).
Head straight to Tori Gate, also the floating shrine. Take the Miyajima Ropeway (15 minutes, $17 roundtrip) for better-than-great views of the whole area from the top of Mt. Misen. There’s a bus at the base of Miyajima Island which will take you to the ropeway station fo’ free as well
Take the ferry back to Miyajimaguchi Station, then the JR train to Hiroshima. Note that you’ll need to either take a tram or buy a Hiroshima Sightseeing Hop-On, Hop-Off Loop Bus “Meipuru-pu” to get around in Hiroshima super easily – which is free of cost for JR pass users.
An important Historic site, because of the World War 2 obviously, Hiroshima is another city worth visiting, either to pay respects to the past or witness the rebirth of the city which was once considered impossible, either ways this city has a lot to offer.
Take a sightseeing bus to Hiroshima Castle, and then to the area with the A-Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument, and Peace Memorial Museum and Park.
Take a bullet train, to get back to Kyoto.
Travel Guide To Japan Day 13
Take the shikansen from Kyoto, back to Tokyo to catch your flight.