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Two Weeks in Japan: A Detailed Itinerary

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Takayama, one of the best stops on our Japan 2 week itinerary

Throughout our two weeks in Japan we skilled as a lot as doable of what the nation has to supply. From the neon lights of Tokyo to the picket teahouses of Kanazawa; from driving go-karts dressed as Mario characters to the solemn and tranquil tea ceremony; from steaming bowls of low cost ramen to beautiful kaiseki delicacies; from temples, mountains and rice paddies to bullet trains, skyscrapers and arcades. We fell in love with the nation much more than on our first go to.

Our Japan Itinerary

  • Tokyo – 5 nights
  • Nikko – 1 evening
  • Hakone – 1 evening
  • Takayama – 2 nights
  • Kanazawa – 2 nights
  • Tokyo – 5 nights

Our Japan journey was on the finish of September till mid-October and was really for 16 nights, however you would simply minimize this all the way down to 14 by spending much less time in Tokyo.

Our Japan itinerary included 5 nights in Tokyo, six nights travelling with a 7 Day Japan Rail Pass, and ended with 5 extra nights in Tokyo. We spent over three weeks in Kyoto on our final journey so we didn’t go to this time, however if you’re travelling to Japan for the primary time, I extremely advocate substituting the second Tokyo stick with Kyoto because it actually is a must-see.

On the finish of this put up I’ve included different instructed locations for those who resolve to get a 14 Day Rail Cross on your two weeks in Japan and add extra locations to your itinerary and scale back the time spent in Tokyo or Kyoto.

As Japan is pricey and there’s a lot to do, we moved at a a lot faster tempo than regular. The week travelling with a rail go was particularly exhausting and we might simply have added an additional evening (or two) to all over the place we visited. That stated, we don’t remorse our itinerary as we had a tremendous time and liked all over the place we visited.

Japan Two Week Itinerary Map

This map exhibits our Japan two week itinerary with blue markers and different potential locations to think about with crimson markers.

Getting Round Japan

Trains are one of the best ways to get round Japan and we travelled with a 7 day Japan Rail Pass. Though the passes appear costly (a 7 day go is $250) they are going to normally prevent cash if you’re travelling to many locations, particularly for those who take the quick bullet trains (which you wish to!). We saved $150 per individual for this itinerary!

You need to use the Hyperdia web site to seek out prepare occasions and prices and examine these to the price of a go. If the fee is shut then get the go because it’s a lot simpler having the ability to hop on and off trains if you like and never fear about buying tickets.

You might want to e book Japan Rail Passes prematurely earlier than you arrive in Japan. You’ll obtain an alternate order within the mail that you just then alternate for the go in Japan. We booked ours with JRailPass.com who ship wherever on this planet, together with to your Japan resort for those who’ve left it to the final minute. We obtained ours delivered to a resort in Bali.

See my detailed information on tips on how to calculate whether a Japan Rail Pass is worth it together with every thing it is advisable know to make use of the go. 

Days 1 – 5 Tokyo

Memory Lane in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Reminiscence Lane, an atmospheric road of tiny eating places in Shinjuku

It’s simple to spend 5 days in Tokyo, but when time is proscribed you would scale back your keep to a few. It’s an enormous sprawling metropolis so it’s greatest to focus your explorations on neighbourhoods. Listed below are a few of my suggestions and you may see my information to the coolest things to do in Tokyo for extra particulars.

Shinjuku Day: Store in big electronics shops like BIC Digicam and the meals basements of malls like Takashimaya. Stroll across the lovely Shinjuku Gyoen Nationwide Backyard.

Shinjuku Evening: See the insane Robot Restaurant show. Eat in a tiny restaurant on atmospheric Reminiscence Lane. See the skyline view from the free Tokyo Metropolitan Authorities Constructing. Bar hop on the Golden Gai.

Shibuya and Harajuku: Stroll throughout the well-known Shibuya Crossing. Gawp on the loopy fashions of Takeshita Road. Take pleasure in gorgeous ukiyo-e woodblock prints on the Ota Memorial Museum of Artwork. Go to the Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi Park.

Asakusa: Step again into outdated Japan and get your fortune advised at Sensoji Temple adopted by a meal in a conventional restaurant (we had a 12-course vegetarian feast at Bon).

I additionally advocate:

  • Spending a day on the magical DisneySea.
  • Visiting the Ghibli Museum if you’re a Studio Ghibli fan (e book far prematurely).
  • Taking a two-hour Maricar tour in Roppongi driving the Tokyo streets in a go-kart dressed as Mario characters!
Dressing up as Mario characters and driving a Maricar go-kart is one of the many fun things to do in Tokyo

Dressing up as Mario characters and driving a Maricar go-kart!

Tokyo Transport

The Narita Express train is the best method to get from Narita airport to Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo stations. It prices 2990 yen ($26) and takes 87 minutes to Shinjuku. You need to have a seat reservation however you will get this if you purchase the ticket from the machine or counter within the airport station.

The Japan Rail Cross is legitimate on this line however if you’re following this itinerary with a 7 day go you received’t wish to activate it till the day you allow Tokyo.

Purchase a Suica card to make use of as a ticket on all trains and metro traces in Tokyo. It’s also possible to use it for lockers, merchandising machines, and even in lots of retailers. If you happen to return it on the finish of your keep you’ll get the 500 yen deposit again.

If you’ll be utilizing a Japan Rail Pass throughout your keep ensure you swap your alternate order for a go and activate it at one of many JR places of work in prepare stations. You may’t change the beginning date upon getting accomplished this.

The place to Keep in Tokyo

Shinjuku is our favourite area to stay in Tokyo because it has glorious transport hyperlinks, good meals, and most of the sights above are in strolling distance. Shibuya is one other handy base however we discovered it too crowded.

We stayed in an Airbnb studio apartment a 10-minute stroll from Shinjuku Station. It was small (all over the place is in Tokyo) however snug and well-equipped with quick WiFi and a washer. Our host despatched us glorious instructions and we have been capable of self-check-in by choosing up the important thing from the mailbox. We discovered Airbnb higher worth than motels in Tokyo and there’s a lot of selection.

If you’re on the lookout for luxurious, the Park Hyatt has an awesome location in Shinjuku and implausible views. It’s the place the movie Misplaced in Translation was filmed.

The place to Eat in Tokyo

Vegetarian ramen at Afuri, Tokyo

Vegan ramen at Afuri

There may be a lot wonderful meals in Tokyo from low cost eats to fantastic eating. Whilst vegetarians we ate very well with some planning. See my put up on our favourite Tokyo vegetarian restaurants. The spotlight was Bon which serves beautiful multi-course Zen Buddhist delicacies in non-public tatami rooms—it’s an expertise greater than only a meal.

Day 6 Nikko

Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, the first stop after Tokyo on our two week trip in Japan

Toshogu Shrine in Nikko

On Day 6 we activated our Japan Rail Pass and headed off early to Nikko, a temple city within the mountains just a few hours north of Tokyo. Many individuals go to on a day journey from Tokyo however because it’s a reasonably lengthy journey we determined to remain the evening.

The air felt cool and contemporary and it was pretty to see mountains after Tokyo’s concrete jungle. From the prepare stations it’s a 30-minute stroll alongside the principle highway to the brilliant crimson Shinkyo bridge and the temples begin up the forest coated hill simply past. Nikko’s shrines and temples are a UNESCO world heritage website.

Toshogu Shrine is essentially the most well-known Nikko attraction and is the ultimate resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founding father of the Tokugawa Shogunate that dominated Japan for over 250 years till 1868. It’s one of the vital gorgeous temples I’ve ever visited with greater than a dozen intricately adorned crimson and gold buildings amongst big cedar bushes (some over one thousand years outdated). However on a Sunday it was overwhelmingly busy and we didn’t keep lengthy.

Fortunately Nikko has many different shrines to discover which are a lot quieter than Toshogu. Though they’re much less spectacular we had a extra fulfilling expertise at Futarasan-jinja shrine, Taiyuinbyo temple, and up the mountain at Takino shrine.

The quiet Takino shrine in Nikko on our two week trip to Japan

The quiet Takino shrine in Nikko

Though half a day on the temples was sufficient for us, it will have been higher to go to Toshogu very first thing within the morning earlier than the day trippers arrived. With extra time we might even have accomplished some close by hikes.

Nikko Transport

Nikko has two prepare stations which are a couple of minutes stroll from one another. Tobu Nikko Station is served by Tobu Railway trains and Japan Rail Passes can’t be used on this line, so with a rail go you’ll arrive on the JR Nikko station. There are lockers at each stations the place you may go away baggage.

From Tokyo I like to recommend getting the bullet prepare from Tokyo Station to Utsunomiya then altering for the native prepare to Nikko—there have been even pleasant workers at Utsunomiya exhibiting us the place to go. The entire journey takes about two hours.

Don’t make the error we did on the best way there and take the JR Shonan-Shinjuku line from Shinjuku to Utsunomiya. It is a native line so is busy and never very snug for the lengthy journey. It took us three hours to get to Nikko.

The Nikko prepare stations are a few 30-minute stroll from the temple space or you may take the bus. We walked all over the place. I like to recommend choosing up a vacationer map from the prepare station as not all of the temple indicators are in English.

The place to Keep in Nikko

We stayed at Nikko Park Lodge Tobu Station which has a handy location near the prepare stations. We selected the costliest triple room with non-public toilet, however there are cheaper rooms with shared toilet. The decor was reasonably dated, however the mattress was snug and it was spacious by Japanese requirements with a double mattress, single mattress, armchair, and kitchenette (though no plates or pans have been supplied). Breakfast prices further however there’s a giant grocery store shut by.

The place to Eat in Nikko

Yuba (tofu skin) set lunch at vegan cafe Yasai Cafe Meguri in Nikko

Yuba (tofu pores and skin) set lunch at Yasai Cafe Meguri

We had lunch at Yasai Cafe Meguri, a vegan cafe in an outdated artwork gallery with an attractive painted ceiling. It’s on the principle highway not removed from the temples—search for the signal that claims “Oriental Nice Arts & Curios”. It will get rave evaluations and is usually absolutely booked, though at 11.30 am we had no issues getting in. We every had one of many two lunch units that include miso soup, salad, and some greens—Simon had avocado, tomato and seaweed on rice and I had the native speciality yuba (tofu pores and skin) filled with rice. It was good and wholesome however not excellent and somewhat costly at 1600 yen ($14).

Many eating places in Nikko shut within the night so Komekichi Kozushi was an awesome discover only a few minutes stroll from our resort (and the prepare stations). This small family-run sushi place has two tables, counter seating and a tatami room the place we ate. It was the primary sushi place we present in Japan that had loads of vegetarian choices on the English menu together with pickled plum, pickled greens, natto, cucumber, and egg.

They even have an English information to sushi etiquette, so that you don’t make a pretend pas like dipping the rice finish of your sushi in soy sauce. We liked the pickled vegetable sushi and particularly the inari zushi—tofu filled with rice. At 700 yen ($6) a plate it was glorious worth.

For a snack, strive dango, grilled rice balls on a stick brushed with miso or soy and offered at just a few stands on the principle highway.

Day 7 Hakone

Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi in Hakone, one of the stops on our two week Japan itinerary

Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi in Hakone

Hakone is an space encompassing Lake Ashi and the mountains round Gora. It’s identified for its views of Mount Fuji, sizzling springs, and the distinctive loop that takes you to all of the sights on totally different types of transport.

We started at noon by Lake Ashi in Moto Hakone the place we have been staying. It was a cloudy day so our hopes of seeing the reclusive Mount Fuji have been dashed, however as we walked alongside the lake the enduring mountain appeared via the clouds. It lived as much as our expectations and the truth that it saved disappearing and reappearing via the day solely made the sight extra particular.

We hopped on the pirate ship (sure, actually!) to move throughout the lake for extra views of Mount Fuji and the encompassing mountains. At Togendai we switched to the ropeway (cable automobile) which took us up the mountain to Owakudani. We have been delighted to see Mount Fuji on the best way up and from the highest.

Owakudani is an energetic volcanic valley so steam and a foul odor rise from the yellow earth. The Japanese go loopy for black eggs which are cooked within the sizzling sulphur springs, however we handed.

The volcanic site Owakudani that's reached by the Hakone ropeway

The volcanic website Owakudani

From Owakudani you may proceed on the cable automobile to Sounzan then all the way down to Gora, however from there we might have needed to take the bus again to Moto Hakone, so it made extra sense for us to return the best way we got here and preserve having fun with the Fuji views.

We obtained off the boat a cease early at Hakone Machi and walked the two km again to our resort which took us via the historic Cedar Avenue. We spent the remainder of the afternoon soaking in an onsen and having fun with our fantastic ryokan room at Hotel Musashiya.

Within the morning we walked via the mist and drizzle to the close by Hakone-jinja shrine with its massive crimson torii gate overlooking the lake.

Hakone jinja shrine in Japan

Hakone jinja shrine

On our method again to Odawara station we continued with the loop by taking the bus to the Ninotaira Iriguchi cease and strolling to the Hakone Open Air Museum, which is a spotlight of the realm with out of doors sculptures, uncommon artwork installations, a Picasso gallery, and even a free sizzling spring foot tub. There are lockers for baggage.

From the close by Chokokuno-Mori station we took the Tozan mountain railway on a winding observe via the forest to Hakone Yumoto the place we switched trains to Odawara.

Though we managed to finish a lot of the Hakone loop in 24 hours we might have liked to remain an additional evening and have extra time to get pleasure from our lovely ryokan.

Hakone Transport

To get to Hakone from Nikko we needed to backtrack via Tokyo so it was an exhausting morning of journey. We left at 7.30 am and took the native prepare to Utsunomiya, the bullet prepare from there to Tokyo, and one other bullet prepare to Odawara.

In Odawara prepare station we purchased a Hakone Free Pass on the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centre. The go prices 4000 yen ($35), is legitimate for 2 days, and can be utilized on the buses, pirate ship, cable automobile, and mountain railway.

As we have been staying in Moto Hakone we took the H bus there from Odawara which took about an hour on a windy mountain highway and arrived round 11 am.

The place to Keep in Hakone

Hotel Mushashiya ryokan in Hakone

Our room at Lodge Mushashiya ryokan overlooking Lake Ashi in Hakone

As Hakone is a big space it may be complicated deciding which city to remain in. A very powerful factor is to remain someplace with good transport hyperlinks. We determined to remain by Lake Ashi to have a second likelihood of seeing Mount Fuji within the morning.

We stayed in a ryokan (conventional inn) referred to as Hotel Musashiya on the shores of Lake Ashi in Moto Hakone. Though it appears like a contemporary resort from the skin, the minimalist tatami rooms are conventional with futon beds (which are cleared away throughout the day), a low desk and chairs, and unusually a small ensuite toilet. We had a stunning view of Lake Ashi from our room and there are additionally lake views from the onsens (sizzling spring baths) and lounge (the place there’s WiFi).

In typical Japanese fashion the onsens are public with out of doors and indoor baths for women and men. As soon as I obtained over my worry of public nudity it was a splendidly enjoyable expertise to soak within the sizzling water and I felt blissed out our complete keep.

Hotel Musashiya was by far our favorite place we stayed in Japan and I extremely advocate it.

The place to Eat in Hakone

Vegetarian choices are restricted in Hakone. After we arrived in Moto Hakone we had a fast lunch at Bakery and Table—you may select from various rolls (filled with cheese, potato, and so on) and pastries and take them upstairs to eat overlooking Lake Ashi.

Dinner and breakfast have been included at Lodge Musashiya they usually have been completely happy to cater for vegetarians. Dinner was served in our room and was an actual feast—tempura, rice, miso soup, yuba, pickles, vegetable and tofu hotpot, eggplant and mushrooms in a scrumptious sauce, Caprese salad, matcha pudding, and plum wine.

Days eight – 9 Takayama

Takayama street leading to the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

Takayama road resulting in the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

Takayama is considered one of my favorite locations in Japan. It’s a small city on the sting of the Japan Alps with a superbly preserved historic centre of picket homes, temples, neatly formed bushes, and vibrant crimson bridges over the river. There’s a lot to do within the space we might simply have spent longer than two nights right here (a theme of our journey!).

Our highlights included wandering the outdated city within the early morning earlier than the crowds arrived, shopping for scrumptious apples and pears from the morning markets, seeing the extravagant, vibrant floats on the Competition Floats Exhibition Corridor, and visiting the Hida People Village, a show of conventional thatched homes from the realm.

Traditional grass roof houses at the Hida Folk Village in Takayama with autumn colours

Conventional grass roof homes on the Hida People Village

We additionally spent a day in close by Hida Furukawa, an lovable city that’s effectively value a go to. We did a superb (and straightforward) biking tour with Satoyama Experience the place we biked via the gorgeous countryside previous rice fields and idyllic villages and learnt concerning the traditions of the realm.

Cycling past golden rice fields with Satoyama Experience in Hida Furukawa

Biking previous golden rice fields with Satoyama Expertise

Takayama Transport

From Hakone to Takayama we took the two.08 pm bullet prepare from Odawara to Nagoya then modified to the Restricted Categorical Large View Hida prepare to Takayama which has massive home windows to reap the benefits of the gorgeous river and mountain views. We arrived in Takayama simply after 6 pm.

Takayama is a small city so we walked all over the place besides after we took the 15-minute prepare experience to Cover Furukawa for our biking journey.

The place to Keep in Takayama

We stayed at Super Hotel Hida Takayama, a enterprise resort near the station and a 10-minute stroll from the outdated city. Our room was tiny however had every thing we would have liked—ensuite, desk, fridge, kettle, WiFi, and free breakfast buffet. There’s even an onsen however we didn’t have time to make use of it. 

Takayama is good for experiencing a conventional inn or ryokan. If we had the funds we might have stayed someplace extra atmospheric just like the extremely rated Oyado Koto No Yume

The place to Eat in Takayama

Vegetarian hoba miso at Suzuya, Takayama

Vegetarian hoba miso at Suzuya

Our favorite place to eat in Takayama was Heinraku, a tiny restaurant run by the friendliest woman we’ve ever met! There’s a a number of web page vegetarian part on the menu with a mixture of Chinese language and Japanese dishes together with native specialities just like the scrumptious Hida miso ramen. The chile tofu and vegetable gyoza have been additionally glorious and don’t miss their home made plum wine.

Suzuya is an effective place to strive native specialities. They do a tasty vegetarian model of hoba miso the place greens and tofu are cooked at your desk on a big magnolia leaf unfold with miso paste.

Fukutaro is a cute cafe that makes glorious gohei mochi, mashed rice grilled on a skewer with sesame sauce.

Mitarashi-dango is one other native dish to strive—small, virtually creamy rice balls grilled with soy. The Jinya Dango stand close to Jinya Mae market makes one of the best on the town.

Days 10 – 11 Kanazawa

Kazuemachi geisha area in Kanazawa, Japan

Kazuemachi geisha space in Kanazawa

At first glimpse Kanazawa looks like one other Japanese concrete metropolis however if you start to discover you’ll uncover a number of the most lovely gardens within the nation in addition to three geisha districts with preserved picket buildings.

Higashi Chaya is the most important geisha space the place geisha used to carry out and entertain visitors within the picket teahouses courting again to 1820. It’s lovely however crowded with vacationers and memento retailers. We most well-liked the quieter geisha areas of Kazuemachi and Nishi Chaya.

Kenroku-en Backyard is likely one of the high three gardens in Japan. It’s identified to get crowded however we had it virtually to ourselves at 7.30 am. The gardens are pretty however they might be higher within the spring or autumn.

I really most well-liked the tiny however beautiful Gyokusen-en Gardens which has all of the basic Japanese backyard components in a small package deal—moss coated rocks, stone lanterns, carp-filled ponds, a picket teahouse, and maple bushes starting to show crimson.

 Gyokusen-en gardens in Kanazawa

Gyokusen-en gardens in Kanazawa

One of many highlights of our journey was the tea ceremony with did with Ms Nishida who’s from the fifth era of the household who owns the gardens. Carrying a chic kimono she took us via the rituals of the ceremony, beginning with washing our arms and mouths to purify ourselves.

Within the tatami room we have been served a candy mochi (rice cake) whereas she fastidiously ready the brilliant inexperienced matcha tea by whisking the powder with sizzling water in a small bowl. We learnt the phrases to say to our host and different visitors earlier than ingesting the tea and tips on how to study the tea bowl afterwards to understand each element. We then made our personal tea for one another. It was a relaxing expertise and engaging perception into Japanese tradition.

Tea ceremony at Gyokusen-en gardens in Kanazawa

Tea ceremony at Gyokusen-en gardens

To e book the tea ceremony call the gardens or e mail [email protected] a minimum of three days prematurely (response by e mail is sluggish). It prices 3000 yen ($26) together with entrance to the gardens.

Kanazawa Transport

After spending the morning in Takayama we took the 1.15 pm prepare to Toyama—one other lovely journey previous mountains, rivers, and rice fields—the place we switched to the bullet prepare to Kanazawa. The journey took two hours.

Kanazawa is a big metropolis so we needed to take a 10-minute bus experience from the prepare station to the Katamachi space the place we have been staying. From there we might stroll to all the principle sights.

The place to Keep in Kanazawa

Smile Hotel Kanazawa was the most cost effective ensuite room I discovered within the centre of Kanazawa. It’s a normal enterprise resort with all the standard services however our room was bigger than in Takayama (with entry to the mattress on either side!). The situation was handy because it was a 15 to 30 minute stroll to all of the sights.

The place to Eat in Kanazawa

We struggled to seek out Japanese vegetarian meals in Kanazawa so ended up consuming Western meals.

Taste and Scent is a principally vegetarian cafe close to the Ninja Temple. The 800 yen ($7) set lunch with rice and a wide range of salads and vegetable dishes was excellent.

Slow Luck is a tiny place with 4 tables run by two younger Japanese guys. They make inventive Italian-influenced dishes utilizing natural farm greens. There’s a vegetarian part of the menu they usually provide you with a survey to fill in with what you may’t eat. The meals was wonderful together with grilled greens with a beautiful basil dip and a skinny, crispy pizza topped with pesto, potato, and mascarpone cheese that was so good we ordered one other one.

Oriental Brewery within the Higashi Chaya space serves craft beer brewed in-house and glorious beer yeast french fries. The pizzas appeared good too.

Days 12 – 16 Tokyo (or Kyoto)

On the final day of our rail go we took the bullet prepare from Kanazawa to Tokyo (2.5 hours direct) the place we stayed in an Airbnb in Shibuya for the final 5 nights of our journey.

If it’s your first journey to Japan I like to recommend travelling from Kanazawa to Kyoto (2.5 hours direct) as an alternative and spending a minimum of three nights there. You might then fly out from close by Osaka airport or take the bullet prepare again to Tokyo.

Different Japan Locations

Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto

Don’t miss the temples and shrines of Kyoto like Fushimi Inari

When you have extra time or resolve to get a 14 Day Japan Rail Cross and spend extra time travelling and fewer in Tokyo, you would contemplate these locations that we loved on our final journey:

  • Kyoto – A must-see with many gorgeous temples and other attractions to discover.
  • Nara – Lovely temples which are a simple day journey from Kyoto.
  • Koya-san – A temple city within the mountains just a few hours from Osaka the place you may stay the night in a Zen Buddhist temple.
  • Tsumago – An image-perfect conventional village of picket homes within the Kiso Valley.
  • Hiroshima – To see the shifting Peace Memorial Park.

Two Weeks in Japan Finances

Simon and I at a tea ceremony in Kanazawa

The tea ceremony in Kanazawa was dear however definitely worth the splurge

We spent £180 ($238) a day for 2 folks staying in mid-range lodging with non-public bogs and one splurge on a stunning ryokan in Hakone. Our common value of lodging was £65 ($87) an evening.

We ate out for all our meals and spent £42 ($55) a day on meals. Most meals have been round $20 however we had just a few costly meals like Bon in Tokyo. We travelled with a rail pass for per week and by trains and metro in Tokyo and averaged £38 ($50) a day on transport. We did loads of actions and spent £24 ($32) a day on leisure.

You might actually journey in Japan for much less by staying in rooms with shared bogs (or in hostel dorm rooms), cooking for your self (or consuming within the low cost ramen joints), specializing in free actions, and travelling at a slower tempo to scale back transport prices.

It’s also possible to see our put up on how much it costs to travel in Japan from our final journey in 2011. We averaged £140 ($183) a day on a two week journey with one week in Tokyo and one week travelling round with a rail go. We have been extra funds acutely aware on that journey however nonetheless had splurges like ryokan and temple stays and two days at Tokyo Disney.

Costs haven’t really risen in Japan since then because the pound and particularly the greenback are stronger towards the yen now so that you get a greater alternate charge. 

Japan Journey Sources

  • Japan Rail Pass – Ensure you order your go on-line earlier than you go to Japan.
  • Journey Insurance coverage – Important in case something goes fallacious as Japanese healthcare is pricey. We used True Traveller as all the time—they’re one of the best deal we’ve discovered for UK/EU residents. World Nomads is one other well-respected firm we’ve used previously and is accessible worldwide.
  • Information E-book – We used the Lonely Planet Japan printed in August 2017.
  • Lodging – We used Airbnb for residences in Tokyo and Booking.com for motels all over the place else.
  • SIM card – We purchased a Umobile data SIM card from a merchandising machine at Narita airport.
  • Voyagin – For reserving enjoyable actions in Tokyo and past. They provide reductions on sights just like the Robot Restaurant and Maricar.

Japan Journey Weblog Posts

This two week Japan itinerary is the proper introduction to the nation for first-timers, and it’s additionally very best for second-time guests like us who wish to revisit Tokyo and/or Kyoto in addition to discover some new locations. We hope you get pleasure from this bizarre nation as a lot as we did!

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How to see Japan in 2 weeks with this itinerary guide



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JapanTrain Travel

Is a Japan Rail Move Value It?

japan-rail-pass-worth-it.jpg


A guide to whether a Japan rail pass is worth it.

Travelling by practice is likely one of the issues we love most about Japan. There’s an intensive community, the trains are spacious and cozy, they usually at all times run on time (we even made a one-minute connection!).

The one draw back is the worth. Shopping for a Japan Rail Move upfront can probably prevent enormous quantities of cash, although. On this publish, I’ll discover whether or not a Japan Rail Move is price it and share helpful suggestions for utilizing the move and travelling by practice in Japan.

What’s a Japan Rail Move?

A Japan Rail Pass is a ticket that gives limitless journey on all Japan Rail nationwide trains for a sure interval. Passes can be found for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days and you may select between a typical and inexperienced (first-class) move.

Japan Rail Passes are solely out there to foreigners travelling on a vacationer visa and have to be purchased exterior Japan. You should buy your move on-line and get it delivered to your private home handle and even to your first Japan resort in case you’ve left it to the final minute.

Japan Rail Move Price

That is the price of every of the usual Japan Rail Passes in Japanese yen with the present approximate trade price in US and the price per day in .

Japan Rail Move Price in Yen Price in $ Price per Day in $
7 Day JR Rail Move ¥29,110 $251 $36
14 Day JR Rail Move ¥46,390 $403 $29
21 Day JR Rail Move ¥59,350 $515 $25

I don’t assume there’s any have to pay further for the Inexperienced Move to journey first-class as we discovered customary class comfy with loads of leg room, tables, and energy factors. The one time it is likely to be price contemplating is throughout vacation intervals equivalent to Golden Week in late April/early Might when customary class trains are busy (you can also make seat reservations although).

Which Trains Are The Japan Rail Move Legitimate On?

The Japan Rail Pass is legitimate on all Japan Rail trains however it might’t be used on trains operated by personal corporations.

This implies you possibly can’t take the quickest Nozomi or Mizuho shinkansen (bullet trains), however there are many different bullet trains and this by no means precipitated us an issue. For instance, when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto you possibly can take the Hikari shinkansen which is just 20 minutes slower at 158 minutes than the Nozomi shinkansen which takes 138 minutes.

A super fast shinkansen (bullet train) in Japan that can be used with a Japan Rail Pass

An excellent quick shinkansen (bullet practice) in Japan

On our first journey we visited two locations that we couldn’t entry with our rail move. For the mountain temple city Koya-san we used our move to journey from Kyoto to Osaka after which purchased a ticket for the personal Nankai Railways practice. For the tiny city of Tsumago within the Kiso Valley we used our move to get from Nagoya to Nagiso then paid for the bus to Tsumago. Even with these further bills the rail move nonetheless saved us cash as we travelled on quite a few bullet trains.

On our current journey (see our two week Japan itinerary) we used our rail move to get in every single place besides Hakone the place we purchased a Hakone Free Move from Odawara practice station to discover the world by bus, practice, ferry, and cable automotive.

The one different slight concern was having to take a slower practice with one switch to get to Nikko as you possibly can’t use a move for the direct practice from Shinjuku to the Tobu Nikko station.

Hida Furukawa near Takayama

We have been ready to make use of our rail move for day journeys to locations like lovely Hida Furukawa from Takayama.

Is a Japan Rail Move Value It?

Whether or not a Japan Rail Move is price it for you is determined by your route. In case you’ll be travelling at a quick tempo to a lot of locations, particularly on the costly bullet trains, then it’s possible a rail move will prevent cash.

Even if you’re solely travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto and again inside every week the move can work out cheaper. The return journey on the shinkansen prices ¥26,160 (extra for a reserved seat). Add in the price of the Narita Categorical airport practice to Tokyo (¥2820 a technique) and also you’ll be spending ¥28,980 already. It should solely price you ¥130 extra to purchase the 7-day rail move, which you’ll be able to then use for native trains in Tokyo and facet journeys to locations like Kamakura and Nara.

If you’re travelling lengthy distances equivalent to Tokyo to Sapporo, a 7-day rail move is cheaper than the one-way rail ticket which prices ¥29,410.

To work out whether or not a Japan Rail Move is price it for you, it’s essential give you a possible itinerary after which calculate how a lot it will price to pay on your tickets as you go.

To get a tough concept use Japan Guide’s Japan Rail Calculator. It’s not 100% correct, however it’s fast and simple to make use of. 

The Japan Guide Rail Pass Calculator can be used to work out if a Japan Rail Pass is worth it

My tough calculation for our journey utilizing the Japan Information Rail Move Calculator

For an correct calculation put every leg of your journey into Hyperdia to see the prices. Be sure to untick Nozomi and personal railways to get the prices of JR routes (extra on utilizing Hyperdia beneath).

Using Hyperdia to calculate if a Japan Rail Pass saves you money

Utilizing Hyperdia to calculate the fare from Tokyo to Kyoto. Be sure to use the whole fare on the high (subsequent to Route 1 and so forth).

If the price of the move is just a bit greater than particular person tickets I like to recommend shopping for the move. It makes journey a lot simpler not having to purchase tickets and with the ability to hop on and off trains as you want. You may also use the move for some native journey (particularly in Tokyo) and day journeys.

Our Financial savings with a Japan Rail Move

For our current two week journey to Japan we flew out and in of Tokyo and used a 7-day Japan Rail Move to journey to Nikko, Hakone, Takayama, and Kanazawa—see our detailed Japan itinerary.

Listed here are the financial savings we made through the use of a Japan Rail Move. This features a facet journey from Takayama and utilizing the move for native trains in Tokyo on our remaining day with the move.

From To Price in Yen
Tokyo Shinjuku Nikko 5,380
Nikko Odawara (for Hakone) eight,200
Odawara Takayama 12,000
Takayama Hida-Furukawa (facet journey) 240
Hida-Furukawa Takayama 240
Takayama Kanazawa 5,610
Kanazawa Tokyo Station 13,920
Tokyo Station Shibuya (inside Tokyo) 200
Shibuya Takadanobaba (inside Tokyo) 170
Takadanobaba Shibuya (inside Tokyo) 170
Complete Price of Particular person Tickets   JP¥46,130
Price of seven Day Japan Rail Move   JP¥29,110
Saving   JP¥17,020

We saved over ¥17,000 or $150 per individual with the Japan Rail Move!

When To not Use a Japan Rail Move

If you’re flying into Tokyo and out from Osaka (or vice versa) and solely travelling to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka a rail move might be dearer than the a technique shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto. 

If you’re on a very tight funds and are travelling at a sluggish tempo, it might work out cheaper to take the bus. Willer affords buses passes from ¥10,000 for 3 days of journey inside two months. 

We a lot desire practice journey because it’s quicker, extra comfy and spacious, we are able to work on the tables, and I don’t get journey sick (an issue on the bus on Japan’s winding mountain roads).

If you’re solely travelling in a single space of Japan, equivalent to Kansai the place Osaka and Kyoto are, you would possibly wish to look right into a regional rail move as an alternative.

The gorgeous view on the Hida wide view train from Takayama to Toyama.

The attractive view on the practice from Takayama to Toyama.

The place to Purchase a Japan Rail Move

Japan Rail Passes are bought by some journey brokers exterior Japan however the simplest way to purchase a move is on-line. We purchased our passes from JRailPass.com who’re an official JR Rail Move vendor. You’ll obtain an trade order that you just trade for the move in Japan.

The acquisition was very simple. For every passenger you want the total title precisely because it’s written on their passport and their nationality. You’re additionally requested for an approximate arrival date in Japan however that is simply to allow them to ensure your passes will arrive on time. You don’t have to resolve the precise begin date of the move till you get to Japan.

The process for buying a Japan Rail Pass online

The shape to fill in when shopping for a Japan Rail Move on-line

Japan Rail Pass can ship passes worldwide they usually often arrive inside two working days, though ours took three days to Indonesia. There are further bank card and transport charges until your order is over $600 when there’s free transport to many international locations together with the US, UK, Canada and far of Europe.

Within the US the passes are despatched by UPS and worldwide they use FedEx Worldwide Precedence. You’re given a monitoring quantity to trace the progress of the supply.

In case you’ve left shopping for your move to the final minute, you may get it despatched to your first resort in Japan, though I might examine with the resort first. We had no issues getting ours delivered to a resort in Bali.

The trade order have to be exchanged inside three months so don’t order too far upfront.

Methods to Alternate a Japan Rail Move

You don’t obtain the move at first however an trade order that you could then trade on your move once you arrive in Japan. A booklet with data on the place you are able to do this comes with the trade order.

We exchanged ours on the JR Rail workplace in Shinjuku Station and it was fast and simple. We needed to fill in a brief type and present our trade order and passports (don’t neglect to convey yours). You need to select the beginning date for the move throughout the subsequent month and this may’t be modified.

If doable it’s finest to do that a day or so earlier than your first journey day so that you don’t have to fret about it on the day. In any other case, be sure to permit loads of time earlier than your practice departs in case there are queues.

Discovering Prepare Instances

The perfect web site for locating practice instances in Japan is Hyperdia. When you’ve executed your search untick the containers on the backside of the search outcomes for “NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)” and “Personal Railway” as these trains aren’t legitimate with a JR Rail Move.

Using Hyperdia to find trains that can be used with a Japan Rail Pass. These are the boxes to untick.

Untick the containers circled in crimson to seek out trains that can be utilized with a Japan Rail Move. You could possibly additionally untick Airplane however these not often come up.

Hyperdia additionally has a mobile app with a button you possibly can tick to look just for trains which can be legitimate with the move, however I didn’t discover this dependable.

The default order for search outcomes is by Time, however on extra difficult routes I typically selected Switch as an alternative to seek out trains which can be a bit slower however with fewer transfers.

Making Seat Reservations

You don’t have to make seat reservations to journey with a move on most trains—you possibly can simply hop on any unreserved automotive. Probably the most generally used practice that does require a seat reservation is the Narita Categorical from Narita Airport into Tokyo. If you wish to use your move on the airport practice you possibly can swap your trade order for a move and get the seat reservation on the airport JR workplace.

You would possibly wish to make seat reservations when travelling at busy instances and particularly throughout Japanese nationwide holidays—see a list of holiday dates here.

Seat reservations are free for rail move holders and might be made at any JR station ticket workplace. It doesn’t need to be the station you might be travelling from so it can save you time by getting just a few seat reservations directly. Smaller stations can have shorter queues.

All you need to do is present your move and provides them the practice time you need the reservation for. Workers might communicate English however I discovered it useful to jot down down the date, practice time and route I wished reservations for.

Methods to Use a Japan Rail Move

To make use of the Japan Rail Move all it’s essential do is get on an unreserved automotive and discover an empty seat. You possibly can’t use the automated gates to entry the practice platforms, so simply stroll previous the workplace window and present your move. You might also be requested to point out the move on the practice.

We discovered the Hyperdia app helpful for wanting up practice instances and departure platforms whereas we have been out. The app is free for 30 days, so obtain it simply earlier than your journey. After that it prices $2.99 for one month or $25.99 for a yr.

When you’re travelling on a bullet practice you possibly can see which automobiles are unreserved on the screens, after which discover the corresponding quantity on the platform to see the place to attend. The panels on the facet of the carriage will even say whether or not it’s reserved or unreserved.

Trains are at all times on time so a 10 minute switch time is okay. Hyperdia tells you the departure platforms so that you might be ready and head straight to the platform on your connection.

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, Japan

The busy Shibuya Crossing exterior Shibuya practice station in Tokyo. There’s order within the chaos!

Japanese Prepare Etiquette

The Japanese are usually a quiet and respectful folks and it’s vital to comply with these guidelines when travelling by practice:

  • Be quiet – Preserve your quantity low when taking, don’t discuss in your cellphone and ensure it doesn’t beep or ring. We even noticed indicators warning you to not kind too loudly in your laptop computer!
  • No consuming – The exception is on bullet trains when shopping for a bento lunch field on the station is a giant a part of the expertise. On native trains we didn’t see anybody consuming or consuming something apart from water. 
  • Don’t smoke – Except there’s a chosen smoking automotive on the bullet trains.
  • Don’t sit within the precedence seating – On native trains these seats are designated for the aged, pregnant ladies, and other people with disabilities. If the practice is quiet you possibly can sit right here however be ready to surrender your seat if needed.
  • Queue – There are designated spots to attend for the practice marked on the platform, so be a part of the orderly queue.
  • Be affected person – Stand to the facet and look ahead to folks to get off the practice earlier than you get on.

Extra Studying to Plan Your Japan Journey

On each our journeys to Japan we discovered a JR Move saved us tons of of . Hopefully the information above will allow you to work out whether or not a Japan Rail Move is price it for you. Let me know you probably have any questions within the feedback beneath. 

Buy your Japan Rail Pass here.

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Is the Japan Rail Pass worth it for your trip? We break down our journey, how we reserved seats, and some general tips to make the most of your pass!



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