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Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps

It’s not easy at all to plan a good budget trip in one of the most expensive country like Japan, especially when you do not know clearly about this destination. However, if you take advantages of useful information from travel website following these below steps, planning might be easier and more effective than you though it would be. This is how I planned my very first trip to Japan last year.

1. Deciding which season to go

Japan is a year-round destination. In japan,March to May is considered Spring. Summer is from June to August.Autumn is from September to November. And December to February is considered Winter.Every season is celebrated with seasonal foods and special festivals.
Spring

If you wish to experience pleasure climate and admire awesome Sakura season, then it’s advisable to visit Japan between late March to 1st week of April for major cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.In other part of japan, cherry blossom season may takes place sooner in January or later in April.


Ueno Park

Ueno Park Japan 〒110-0007 東京都台東区 上野公園・池之端三丁目
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Ueno Park (上野公園 Ueno Kōen?) is a spacious public park in the Ueno district of Taitō, Tokyo, Japan. The park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan'ei-ji.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by Alberto Gragera

Also read:

Where to see Cherry Blossoms In Kyoto

Summer

Summer time in Japan is when festivals take place. It’s a good time to catch the popular Lavender blooms at Furano in Hokkaido.

Some of the most noteworthy summer festivals include Kyoto’s GionMatsuri, Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri, Aomori’s NebutaMatsuri, and the Awa Odori festival in Tokushima, on the island of Shikoku.The Sumida River Fireworks, in Tokyo, are especially famous for fireworks display festival. Please note that the weather then is really hot and humid.

Autumn

After Spring, Autumn is another prime time to travel to Japan. You can catch beautiful reds and yellow colors of autumn leaves and capture the most wonderful pictures, especially if you are into photography.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by Sarah-Rose

However, bear in mind that this is also typhoon season.Therefore, if you are going to Japan from August to November, you should check the weather and typhoon information clearly.

This is an incomplete list of some of the best autumn color spots across Japan:

Hokkaido - Tohoku - Tokyo - Around Tokyo - Kyoto - Central Japan - Western Japan. Especially, Kyoto is an extremely popular destination in November so expect the high rate of accommodation and try to book as soon as possible.

Winter

Winter is also a favorite season of many tourists, especially those who love playing with snow and snow sport activities.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by joopy

If you really want to see snow, it’s best to go to Hokkaido, Tohoku, and some parts of Niigata, Nagano and Gifu (Takayama/Shirakawago) during late December to the end of February. However, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto experience snow rarely.

2 . Looking for good cheap airline

The sooner you book, the better rate you get. Save some money, why not? You should check out these websites gradually such as, Singapore Air, ANA, JAL, Delta, Scoot, and Jetstar to hunt for good promotion and discount rate.

3 . Booking of accommodations

In general, accommodation in Japan is not cheap. However, there are various types of accommodations which can be catered to different levels of budgets.

If you are on a tight budget, I would recommend to you these hotel chains: Toyoko-Inn, Super Hotel, Chisun Inn and Smile Hotels. For more budget hotels less than 50 usd in Tokyo, check out this link.

Top 4 Hotels Less Than 50 USD In Tokyo

If you don’t mind spending more for better room condition, you can choose Washington Hotels, Sunroute Hotels or other international hotel brands like Hilton, Hyatt, and etc...
Websites like Booking.com, Japanican, Rakuten, and Jalan.net is very useful for you to search for good hotels at cheap rate.

4. Making your wishlist of places to go.

These are recommended attractions in main cities of Japan that you have to visit in your first time and many suggested day trip itineraries of foregone travelers.

Tokyo

Recommended attractions


Meiji Shrine

1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan
Opening time: 06:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is called Japan's ancient original religion, and it is deeply rooted in the way of Japanese life. This shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken



Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple)

2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo Prefecture 111-0032, Japan
Opening time: 06:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Sensoji (浅草寺, Sensōji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples.



Ueno Park

Ueno Park Japan 〒110-0007 東京都台東区 上野公園・池之端三丁目
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Ueno Park (上野公園 Ueno Kōen?) is a spacious public park in the Ueno district of Taitō, Tokyo, Japan. The park was established in 1873 on lands formerly belonging to the temple of Kan'ei-ji.



Imperial Palace (East Gardens)

1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan ‎
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

The Tokyo Imperial Palace is home to the head of state, and is where the Imperial Family lives. It is also the former site of the Edo Castle.



Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

11 Naitocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture 160-0014, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑) is one of Tokyo's largest and most popular parks. Located just a short walk from Shinjuku Station, the paid park's spacious lawns, meandering walking paths and tranquil scenery provide a relaxing escape from the busy urban center around it.



Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo National Museum 13-9 Uenokoen Taito, Tokyo 110-8712
Opening time: 09:30 AM - 17:00 PM

The Tokyo National Museum collects, houses, and displays a comprehensive collection of art works and antiquities from Japan as well as other Asian countries.



Hama Rikyu Gardens

Hamarikyu Gardens, 1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0046, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Hamarikyu Gardens (浜離宮恩賜庭園 Hama-rikyū Onshi Teien?) is a public park in Chūō, Tokyo, Japan. Located at the mouth of the Sumida River, it was opened April 1, 1946.



Shibuya

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:00 PM

Shibuya (渋谷; [1]) is a shopping and eating district popular with a lot of young Tokyoites. It's within walking distance from two other large shopping districts - Omotesando and Harajuku.



Shinjuku

Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Shinjuku (新宿) is a central ward of Tokyo, known as the metropolis' second center (副都心, fukutoshin). The area surrounding Shinjuku Station is a huge business, commercial, and entertainment center located atop the world's busiest railway station complex.



Lake Kawaguchiko (Fuji Five Lakes)

Lake Kawaguchi Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:00 PM

Kawaguchiko Lake is known as the starting point for climbing Mt. Fuji, as well as a mecca for sports fishing.



Ginza

Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Ginza is the birthplace for Tokyo's department stores, and it's still the center for high-end shopping. Whether you are actually shopping or just browsing, with all the stores.

Recommended day trip plans

1 day: Tokyo for Free in One Day
2 day: 2 days in Tokyo and Hakone
3 days: To have the 3 day trip in Tokyo
4 days: 4 days Backpack Trip to Tokyo
5 days: 5 Days In Tokyo In April For Cherry blossom, Shopping And Temples.
6 days: Travel to tokyo during winter 6 days
7 days: Tokyo Itinerary 7 Days: Hakone and Tokyo
8 days: 8 Days Gourmet Trip to Tokyo & Hakone
9 days: 9 day self-drive trip in Tokyo for family with kids

Kyoto

Recommended attractions


Kinkaku-ji Temple

Kinkaku-ji, 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8361, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Kinkaku-ji Temple, officially named Rokuon-ji , is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The garden complex is an excellent example of Muromachi period garden design.


Fushimi Inari Shrine

68 FukakusaYabunouchicho Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882 Japan
Opening time: 06:00 AM - 18:00 PM

Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands (over 10,000) of closely-spaced orange torii gates that wind over the hills of Inariyama beyond the entrance to the shrine.


Sanjusangendo Temple

Rengeoin Sanjusangendo Japan 〒605-0941 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 三十三間堂廻り−657
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:00 PM

Sanjusangendo Temple (三十三間堂, Sanjūsangendō) is the popular name for Rengeo-in, a temple in eastern Kyoto which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.


Nanzen-ji Temple

Nanzen-ji, Japan 〒606-8435 京都府京都市 左京区南禅寺福地町86
Opening time: 08:45 AM - 17:00 PM

Nanzen-ji Temple is a former aristocratic retirement villa that was turned into a temple on the death of its owner.


Chion-in

400 Rinkacho Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-8686 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Chionin is the headquarters of the Jodo sect of Buddhism and built in 1294 by the Priest Genchi on the site where the founder Honen (1133-1212) first preached and later fasted to death.


Philosopher's Walk

Philosopher's Walk Japan 〒606-8402 京都府京都市 左京区
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

The Philosopher's Path (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district.


Yasaka Shrine

625 Gionmachi Kitagawa Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0073 Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社, YasakaJinja), also known as Gion Shrine, is one of the most famous shrines in Kyoto. Founded over 1350 years ago, the shrine is located between the popular Gion District and Higashiyama District, and is often visited by tourists walking between the two districts.


Nijo Castle

541 Nijojocho Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8301 Japan
Opening time: 08:45 AM - 17:00 PM

Nijo-jo Castle is one of Kyoto’s most popular and impressive sights. It shows the power that the Shoguns wielded over the emperors throughout the Edo Period

Recommended day trip plans

1 day: Must See Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary
2 days:Kyoto For Just 2 Days
3 days:Kyoto - What To Do With Three Days
5 days: How I spend 5 awesome days in Kyoto

Osaka

Recommended attractions


Osaka Castle Park

Osakajo, Chuoku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Osaka Castle Park is a public urban park and historical site situated at Osaka-Jō in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan.


Universal Studios Japan

2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 21:00 PM

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was opened in March 2001 in the Osaka Bay Area, the theme park occupies an area of 39 hectares.


Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

1-1-10 Kaigan-dori, Minato-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Japan
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 20:00 PM

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Its theme is the Pacific Ring of Fire. Large fish are on display including a whale shark.


Dotonbori at Night

Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Opening time: 17:00 PM - 23:55 PM

Dotonbori is one of Osaka's two major city centers. It is the city's most famous entertainment district and offers abundant dining and shopping choices.


Tsutenkaku

1-18-6 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 556-0002, Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 21:00 PM

Shinsekai is Osaka's "new world," a district that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards. At the district's center stands Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia evoking symbol of Shinsekai.


Shitennoji Temple

〒543-0051 1-11-18 Shitennoji,Tennoji-ku,OsakaCity
Opening time: 08:30 AM - 16:00 PM

Shitennoji is one of Japan's oldest temples and the first ever to be built by the state.Founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan.


Umeda Sky Building - Floating Garden Observatory

1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 531-0076, Japan
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 22:30 PM

The Umeda Sky Building is a spectacular high rise building in the Kita district of Osaka, near Osaka and Umeda Stations. It is also known as the "New Umeda City".


Shinsekai

〒556-0002 大阪府大阪市 浪速区恵美須東1丁目18−8
Opening time: 11:15 AM - 22:00 PM

Shinsekai (新世界) is Osaka's "new world," a district that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards. At the district's center stands Tsutenkaku.


The National Museum of Art

4-2-55, Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 17:00 PM

National Museum of Art is a subterranean Japanese art museum located on the island of Nakanoshima, located between the Dōjima River and the Tosabori River.


Osaka Science Museum

4-2-1 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0005, Japan
Opening time: 09:30 AM - 17:00 PM

The Osaka Science Museum ( Ōsaka Shiritsu Kagakukan) on Nakanoshima Island has four floors of interactive exhibits and displays. The museum was designed with children in mind and takes visitors through displays on the universe, chemistry, electricity and energy.

Recommended day trip plans

2 days: 2 memorable days in Osaka
3 days: An Amazing trip to Osaka for 3 days
4 days: 4 days in Osaka with a budget under 190 usd
6 days: What's your plan 6 days in Osaka?

Hiroshima

Recommended attractions


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Japan 〒730-0811 広島県広島市 中区中島町1
Opening time: 08:30 AM - 18:00 PM

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a park in the middle of Hiroshima city that contains several memorials to the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima.


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

1-2 Nakajimacho Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0811 Japan
Opening time: 08:30 AM - 17:00 PM

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is museum located in Peace Memorial Park, in central Hiroshima, Japan dedicated to documenting the atomic bombing that occurred with the additional aim of world peace.


Shukkei-en Garden

2-11 Kaminoboricho Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0014 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 18:00 PM

Shukkei-en is a historic Japanese garden in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum is located adjacent to the garden.


Hiroshima Castle

21-1 Motomachi Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Hiroshima castle is a typical flat castle that was constructed by Mori Terumoto, who was one of the most significant servants ("Godairo") of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.


Hiroshima Museum of Art

Japan 〒730-0011 Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Motomachi, 3−2
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

The Hiroshima Museum of Art is an art museum founded in 1978. It is located in the Hiroshima Central Park in Hiroshima City, Japan.



Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum

Japan 〒730-0014 Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima 中区上幟町2−22
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum is an art museum founded in 1968. It was reconstructed in 1996. It is located near Shukkei-en in the Hiroshima City, Japan.



Children's Peace Monument

1 Nakajimacho Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0811 Japan
Opening time: 00:30 AM - 23:55 PM

The Children's Peace Monument is a monument for peace to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.



Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art

〒732-0815 Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, Minami-ku, Hijiyamakōen, 1−1
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 17:00 PM

The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art is an art museum founded in 1989. It is in Hijiyama Park in the Hiroshima City. It was designed by architect Kisho Kurokawa.



Asa Zoological Park

Asacho Oaza Dobutsuen Asakita Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 731-3355 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Hiroshima’s Asa Zoological Park is one of Japan’s better zoo’s and is really worth a visit. Opened in 1971 the Asa Zoo houses thousands of animals across over 25 hectares.



Mitaki Temple

411 Mitakiyama Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 733-0805 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Mitaki Temple is located in a steep, heavily forested valley on the side of Mt Mitaki-yama and takes its name from the three waterfalls within its grounds.

Recommended day trip plans

3 days:

A wonderful trip to Hiroshima with kids

A trip to Hiroshima for backpackers

Yokohama

Recommended attractions


Sankeien Gardens

Japan 〒231-0824 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama, Naka Ward, Honmokusannotani, 58−1
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Sankeien is a spacious Japanese style garden in southern Yokohama which exhibits a number of historic buildings from across Japan.


Yokohama Chinatown

Japan 〒231-0023 神奈川県横浜市 中区山下町118−2
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Yokohama Chinatown (Yokohama Chukagai) is Japan's largest chinatown, located in central Yokohama.It quickly developed, after the port of Yokohama had been one of the first Japanese ports.


Shinyokohama Raumen Museum

Japan 〒222-0033 神奈川県横浜市 港北区新横浜2丁目14−21
Opening time: 11:00 AM - 23:00 PM

The "Shinyokohama Raumen Museum" is a unique museum about ramen, a very popular Japanese noodle dish which was originally introduced from China.


Big Wharf (Osanbashi Pier )

1 Chome Kaigandori Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0002 Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Ōsanbashi Pier (大さん橋 ōsanbashi?, pronounced [oːsambaɕi]) is the main international passenger pier at the Port of Yokohama, located in Naka Ward, Yokohama, Japan.


Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse

Japan 〒231-0001 神奈川県横浜市 中区新港1ー1ー2
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 20:00 PM

The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is a historical building that is used as a complex that includes a shopping mall, banquet hall, and event venues.


Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise

Japan 〒236-0006 神奈川県横浜市金沢区 八景島
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 18:00 PM

The Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (八景島シーパラダイス) is an amusement park located on a small island just off shore, about 30 minutes by train south of downtown Yokohama.


Yokohama Landmark Tower Sky Garden

Japan 〒220-0012 Kanagawa Prefecture, Yokohama Yokohama Landmark Tower 西区みなとみらい2−2−1
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 21:00 PM

The Sky Garden on the 69th floor of the Landmark Tower Yokohama is an observation deck where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Yokohama.


Yokohama Bay Bridge

Daikokufuto Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 230-0054 Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

The Yokohama Bay Bridge in Japan, a steel cable-stayed bridge 2,820 feet (860 meters) long, was completed in 1985. Both levels carry six-lane highways.


Marine Tower

15 Yamashitacho Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture 231-0023 Japan
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 22:30 PM

Yokohama Marine Tower is a 106 metre high (348 ft) lattice tower with an observation deck at a height of 100 metres in Naka Ward, Yokohama, Japan.


Yokohama Museum of Art

Japan 〒220-0012 Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Nishi-ku, Minatomirai, 3 Chome−4−1
Opening time: 10:00 AM - 18:00 PM

Yokohama Museum Of Art features the work of artists which is associated with Yokohama, surrealist works, and a vast photography collection.


Nogeyama Zoo

Japan 〒220-0032 神奈川県横浜市 西区老松町63−10
Opening time: 09:30 AM - 16:30 PM

Nogeyama Zoological Gardens is a free zoo opened in April 1951 and located in Nogeyama Park, in Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Japan.

Recommended day trip plans

1 day: A Solo One-day trip to Yokohama

2 days: 2D1N Yokohama Sightseeing Itinerary

Hakone

Recommended attractions


Lake Ashi (Ashinoko)

Lake Ashi, Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Lake Ashi, also referred to as Hakone Lake or Ashinoko Lake, is a scenic lake in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, Japan.


Owakudani Valley

Owakudani Station, Sengokuhara,Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0631, Japan
Opening time: 08:30 AM - 17:00 PM

Ōwakudani is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity.


Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway, Japan, 〒250-0631 神奈川県足柄下郡箱根町仙石原1251
Opening time: 08:45 AM - 17:15 PM

The Hakone Ropeway is the name of an aerial lift, as well as its operator. The funitel line links between Sōunzan and Tōgendai via Ōwakudani, all within Hakone, Kanagawa, Japan.


Pola Museum of Art

Pola Museum of Art, Japan, 〒250-0631 神奈川県足柄下郡 箱根町仙石原小塚山1285
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

POLA Museum of Art was opened in 2002 in order to display the extensive private art collection of the company's late owner, Suzuki Tsuneishi.


Hakone Shrine / Kuzuryu Shrine Singu

Hakone Shrine, 80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0522, Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Hakone Shrine (箱根神社, Hakone Jinja) stands at the foot of Mount Hakone along the shores of Lake Ashi. The shrine buildings are hidden in the dense forest.


Hakone Komagatake Ropeway

Japan, 〒250-0522 Kanagawa Prefecture, Ashigarashimo District, 箱根町元箱根138
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

The Hakone Komagatake Ropeway, officially the Komagatake Ropeway Line, is Japanese aerial lift line in Hakone, Kanagawa, operated by Izu Hakone Railway.

Recommended day trip plans

3 days

A trip to Hakone with kids

A trip to Hakone for backpackers

Nikko

Recommended attractions


Lake Chuzenji

Lake Chūzenji Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture Japan
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Lake Chuzenji is the largest lake in Tochigi, framed by 25 kilometres of incredible nature. The area used to be a popular summer resort for foreigners.


Nikko National Park

Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

The Nikko National Park is known as one of the most beautiful national parks in Japan, and is a beautiful mix of man made and natural beauty.


Kegon Falls

2479-2 Chugushi Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661 Japan
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Kegon Falls in Nikko National Park, are famous their near 100m height and the surrounding picturesque autumn tree colors. Kegon Falls are fed from Lake Chuzenji. Also Kegon Falls Tours.


Nikko Futarasan Jinja Shrine

2307 Sannai Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1431 Japan
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Futaarayama Jinja Shrine is registered as a world heritage site together with Toshogu and is visited by worshippers from all over the country.


Ryuzu Waterfall

竜頭の滝, Chugushi Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661 Japan
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 16:00 PM

Ryuzu Waterfall (竜頭ノ滝, Ryūzu no Taki) means "dragon head waterfall" in Japanese. The name comes from the shape of the falls, which resembles the head of a dragon.n


Tobu World Square

Japan 〒321-2593 栃木県日光市 鬼怒川温泉大原209-1
Opening time: 09:30 AM - 16:00 PM

Tobu World Square is a theme park with 1/25th scale miniature reproductions of the historic relics and buildings around the world.


Rinnoji Temple

Japan 〒321-1431 栃木県日光市山内2300
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Rinnoji (輪王寺, Rinnōji) is Nikko's most important temple. It was founded by Shodo Shonin, the Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhism to Nikko in the 8th century.


Recommended day trip plans

1 day: Nikko Day Trip from Tokyo
2 days: 2 Days 1 Night in Nikko for a Weekend Getaway

Nara

Recommended attractions


Todaiji Temple

406-1 Zoshicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8211 Japan
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Todaiji Temple is a World Heritage Site that houses Japan's largest statue of Buddha. Todaiji Temple (Nara) is largest wooden building in the world.


Nara Park

469 Zoshicho, Nara 630-8211, Nara Prefecture
Opening time: 00:00 AM - 23:55 PM

Nara Park is a public park located in the city of Nara, at the foot of Mount Wakakusa, established in 1880. Administratively, it is under the control of Nara Prefecture.




Kasuga Grand Shrine

160 Kasuganocho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8212 Japan
Opening time: 06:30 AM - 17:30 PM

Kasuga Grand Shrine is the head shrine for around 3,000 Kasuga Shrines throughout Japan. Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Nara) is a World Heritage Site.



Kofukuji Temple

48 Noboriojicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8213 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Kofukuji Temple complex is a World Heritage Listed Buddhist temple in Nara and an excellent example of a Japanese Temple.



Isuien Garden

Japan 〒630-8208 Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Suimonchō, 74
Opening time: 09:30 AM - 16:30 PM

Isuien Garden is the only walking style garden in Nara, and is a designated "Special Places of Scenic Beauty". Isuien Garden dates back to the Meiji era.



Heijokyu Ruins

Sakicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8577 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Heijokyu Ruins is a spectacular step back into history. This site is an excavation of the Japanese capital which was located in Nara, Japan in 710.



Gangoji Temple

11 Chuincho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8392 Japan
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 16:30 PM

Gangoji Temple is a World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara. Gangoji Temple was established in 588 as part of Asuka-dera.



Shinyakushiji Temple

Japan 〒630-8301 奈良県奈良市 高畑町1352
Opening time: 09:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Shin-Yakushi-ji is a Buddhist temple of the Kegon sect in Nara, Japan. It was founded in 747 by Empress Kōmyō.



Nigatsu-do Temple

406-1 Zoshicho Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8211 Japan
Opening time: 08:00 AM - 17:00 PM

Nigatsu-do is one of the halls of Todaiji Temple, which was designated a World Cultural Heritage site. It is also the building in the center with the triangular roof.



Saidaiji Temple

1 Chome-1-5 Saidaiji Shibacho Nara, Nara Prefecture 631-0825 Japan
Opening time: 08:30 AM - 16:30 PM

Saidai-ji or the "Great Western Temple" is a Buddhist temple that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, in the city of Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan.

Recommended day trip plans

2 days: Two-day trip around Nara with kid

4. Deciding your wishlist of places to go

The first step on making your plan is to know clearly how many days you will spend on each city. Japan has countless things to do and what to see, so if are consider how many days in Japan is enough, this depends mostly on your personal condition.

If you are on a tight itinerary, I suggest having at least 4 days in Tokyo, at least 3 days in Kyoto, 2 days in Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima and 1 day in Hakone, Nikko and Nara. Remember that this suggestion is for a tight plan, so you can combine more cities at once or you can lengthen your time to fully explore them.

However, for the first time visitor, it’s best to spend a full week or at least 4 days on exploring Tokyo. You should NOT combineTokyo with Osaka, Kyoto & Nara if you have only 1 week like travel agents always offer. You will end up wasting time on the road without having time to really explore while Tokyo has so much more to offers.

Another problem is that first time travelers often overpack their plan with too many places within 1 day. You have to be in rush to explore places instead of enjoying your travel time. In fact, each attraction may be much further than you see on your map.

You might come across and be attracted by interesting shops/cafes and attractions along the way although they are not city’s highlights. Therefore, you have plan carefully and follow your itinerary, if not, you have to come back to this expensive country the second time.

These are recommended itineraries based on your days of visit, you should check them out:

How Many Days In Tokyo

5 . Planning transportation for travel throughout Japan.

If you plan to travel long distance between 2 cities (eg. between Tokyo and Osaka), then you can choose one among 3 popular options: planes, trains and buses.

Flights:

The more common domestic flights are operated by ANA and JAL. Apart from the 2 airlines, you can try Skymark, Peach, Airdo orJetstar.

Bullet trains (Shinkansen)

Trains is the most popular, convenient and comfortable, also the cheapest transport in Japan. They are very punctual. You only need to buy a JR pass and take Shinkansen around Japan or local trains within each city. Or you can choose some cheaper versions that cover fewer than nationwide version. Here is a list of the various railpasses.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by Caribb

JR Pass

Not all of Railpasses can be purchased when you are in Japan. Nationwide JR pass have to be purchased from OUTSIDE of Japan.

There are some websites selling this railpass online.

You can head to JTB or Pricebreakers or Prime Follow Me Japan offices in you city to get one.

In major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Sapporo, train departure frequentlyevery 5 to 15 minutes. However, in other parts there is only 1 train departing every hour or even few hours. For that reason, you should use the hyperdia website for checking train schedules and durations

Regular train cards

  • SuicaCard

These prepaid IC cards are convenient for use on any railway networks, subways and buses in Tokyo and other cities in Japan.

You can find them in many JR EAST stations at Multifunction Ticket Vending Machines, JR Ticket Offices (Midori-no-madoguchi).

  • PASMO

You can buy a PASMO at many private railway and subway stations.

Travel easily by train without buying a ticket

The ticket price is a little bit cheaper than using cash

The balance on the PASMO card can be used to buy goods at street shops, shops in stations, and vending machines.

  • Tokyo Subway Pass

This pass allows unlimited travel on the Tokyo Metro and Toei lines, in short the whole Tokyo subway network!The valid days are between 1 to 3 days (consecutively).

It is a cheaper and simpler alternative if your trip is within Tokyo. If you need to take a JR train, buy should a separate ticket.

  • Train schedules:

You can save lots of time staring at your maps to find the best way to your destination by using Hyperdia. Hyperdia is a timetable and route searching site that allows you to check Japanese train (and flight) schedules and compare routes and prices.

  • Buses

Buses through cities are good choice for budget travelers. The Willer Express is a popular bus service of foreign tourists.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by Isriya Paireepairit

6. Data usage on your mobile phone

Wifi

You should get a pocket wifi at 55 USD for a week. It is shareable up to 10 users in your traveling group. You can get it at the airport or ask the company deliver it to your hotel. Check Global Advanced Communications or pupuruwifi.com

Here are some useful websites where you can get data-only SIM cards and/or rent portable wifi routers or rental phones:

  • Bmobile
  • eConnect
  • PuPuRu
  • So-net

Useful apps for your Japan trip:

1. Justgola

Justgola helps you plan your itinerary within seconds. I usually use website and app to explore attractions, add them to my wishlist and then plan my trip. Their map of attraction offers thousands of place and their nearby attractions. Therefore you can design the most convenient and saving trip in terms of transport cost and time. The app is very useful.

It’s FREE. Don’t forget to download Free Justgola apps to enjoy FREE offline map in Tokyo

2.Maps With Me

Maps With Me is a kind of offline Google maps. It’s perfect for finding direction when you have no internet connection.

Available for: everything

Price: 4,99$ (Lite version for free)

3. Navi time

Navi time is a comprehensive train route app and one of the few one that works in English.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Price: 19,99$ per month (Lite version for free)

4. Imiwa

Imiwa is an offline Japanese dictionary app and works in many languages.

Available for: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Price: 0$

Available for: Android and Blackberry

Price: 0$ or 5$

5. Line

Line is a Japanese app that offers messaging and free calls (internet required).

Available for: Everything (even computers).

Price: 0$

6. Guru Navi

The best app for searching for a restaurant is the Japanese gourmet website Guru Navi

Available for: iPhone & Android.

Price: 0$

7.Planetyze.

A great app to help you find your orientation is Planetyze.

Available for: iPhone, iPad.
Price: 0$

Useful websites for your Japan trip

For first time visitor, japan-guide's website is a good one to seek information or advice from. You can find tons of information about various places in Japan with detail guide on how to get there and open hours.

There are very many travel websites of each area in Japan. They provide information of their respective prefectures. You should check them out here Hokkaido, Sapporo, Tohoku, Sendai, Nagano, Tokyo, Yokohama, Fuji Five Lakes, Hakone,Kanazawa, Gifu, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa...

For more useful travel websites, you should explore this link

Tips on travel to Japan:

If you’re going on a cherry blossom trip to Japan, there are some useful tips for you.
You should go early as during the peak season, it’s very crowded at most cherry blossom spots and it’s not usually for people to arrive very early in the morning to claim their place in advance.

Don’t forget to bring a mat or a carpet to sit on. Having some talk while eating good food and admiring Sakura is a wonderful experience to remember.

You should prepare some snack or simple food that is easy to share. Finger food and potato chips are very common. You can also buy some Japan package foods which are very tasty and convenient. Some spots offer many where food stands but it’s better to prepare yourself. There are also some shops provide picnic supplies such as, paper plates, cups, and chopsticks during this season.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by japanican

For drinks, beer and cocktails are mostly common. However, you should make sure that the park you’re going to allows alcohol as a few private places ban alcohol to keep the family-friendly atmosphere

You should be prepared for bad weather by bringing jackets and raincoats. The weather may sometime suddenly turn windy, or rainy in spring. If the weather gets too bad, it’s best to head to the nearest karaoke box instead.

It’s advisable to bring plenty of hand wipes and hand sanitizer because it can be difficult to find a place to wash your hands. Even Japanese public restrooms don’t provide hot water or even hand soap.

Don’t forget to collect and sort your garbage!

Common hanami spots include parks, gardens, castle grounds and riverbanks.
The blossom usually only hangs around for a couple of weeks - sometimes it’s lesser if there is heavy rain and strong wind.

Plan Your Very First Trip To Japan In 5 Steps
Photo by japanican

Hanami can be admired in daytime or in the evening. At dusk, it’s also very great when lanterns hang in the trees turned on, turning a sparkling pink.

There are many Sakura product than you may know. These include sakurachu-hai (sweet alcoholic canned drinks), sakura dumplings, sakura KitKats, sakurabeer ,sakura crisps - there's even a sakura-flavoured Starbucks latte!

Kyoto can be extremely busy during the cherry blossom season, so it’s advisable to book your accommodations few months in advance.

Be prepared to spend more on accommodations in Kyoto compared to other cities in Japan during cherry blossom season.

For more tips about places to go, food to eat, accommodation to stay, you should check out this guide:

Plan your trip with justgola.com

Also read:

5 Must Try Food in Tokyo

Top Things To Do With Kids In Tokyo

Missed The Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto?

Sample Itineraries:

4 days in Osaka with a budget under 190 usd

2D1N Yokohama Sightseeing Itinerary

8 Days Gourmet Trip to Tokyo & Hakone

5 Days Garden, History and Shopping in Tokyo

5 Days In Tokyo In April For Cherry blossom, Shopping And Temples.

Travel to Tokyo during winter 6 days

5 Days In Tokyo For First Time Solo

Catherine

My name’s Catherine, you can call me Kate. I love animals, writing and travelling.I started my Asian journey since 2003; and I have been nearly 20 countries so far. The more I go, the more I fall in love with this incredible continent. It has a unique beauty and distinctive culture that never fully explored. This’s why there are many countries I still keep coming back over and over again. I’m here to share with you my fun, sad or even scared memory on my backpacking trails. Hope it works on you!

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