Japan – you have been awesome! Will share briefly how we covered Tokyo-Kyoto-Nara & Yokohama within a week in this post. Now, at least HJ is open to more trips when he previously stayed away after the 2011 nuclear plant incident. Osaka-Kobe-Hiroshima next time? We’ll see. I really don’t fancy Osaka that much but it’s an inroad to Kobe and Hiroshima, which I’m more interested in.
Day 1: 28/11 (Tue)
- Departed Singapore for Tokyo
- We chose a night flight so that we can snooze on board and start touring once we arrive
Day 2: 29/11 (Wed)
- Arrived in Tokyo early at 7am
- Visited the Yasukuni Shrine after we stored our bags at our hotel near Shinjuku station – I missed this in my previous trip so it was a must-go for me in view of its historical significance.
- We didn’t go to the Meiji Shrine – it was not on HJ’s must-see list and I had also visited the shrine in 2011 but if you stay near Shinjuku or Shibuya, the Meiji Shrine is quite nearby!
- After checking in, I bought HJ to see the main tourist spots in the city around Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku since it’s his first time in Toyko.
Day 3: 30/11 (Thurs)
- Left for Kyoto via Shinkansen, which was where I wanted to spent the bulk of our trip (3 days, 2 nights in total).
- Kyoto has A LOT of temples but we narrowed down to a few must-sees that was near our hotel – Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Kiyomizudera Temple (both of which can take up the whole afternoon and evening if you take your own sweet time).
- We also managed to visit a few malls i.e. Takashimaya in the evening. The big malls close daily at 8pm, which is quite early compared to Singapore standards so one way is to go shopping first and then have dinner after 8pm since most food places open until 10/11pm.
Day 4: 1/12 (Fri)
- We set off early to the Arashiyama bamboo forest and the Kinkaku-ji temple (golden pavilion), which is in the same area as the bamboo forest so these two sites should be done together.
- If we had more time, I would have visited the Tenryu-ji temple, another UNESCO heritage site that is located quite near the bamboo forest. You can visit the temple first, and then exit via the garden, turn left and enter the bamboo forest grove.
- After lunch and before the sun sets, we took a day trip to Nara (45 minutes away by train on the JR Nara line) to see wild deers roaming in Nara Park. The sun sets around 430pm during winter so we had to ensure that we reached Nara by 3pm so that we could spend some time in the park before it became dark.
- The famous Todai-ji temple (with the giant Buddha) is also located in the park and closes at 5pm.
- We spent the evening having dinner and souvenir shopping in Nara before heading back to Kyoto at night.
Day 5: 2/12 (Sat)
- For our last morning in Kyoto, we decided to go to the silver pavilion – Ginkaku-ji temple, having visited the golden one.
- Near the temple is also the Philosopher’s Path, which is famous for being lined with peach blossoms but as it was the tail-end of autumn, we got to see a myriad of orange and red leaves instead.
- In the afternoon, we headed back to Tokyo via Shinkansen and spent the rest of the evening shopping at Tokyo station, Ikebukuro and Sunshine City.
Day 6: 3/12 (Sun)
- On our second last day, we decided to go to Yokohama, specifically to visit the Ramen museum and Nissin cup noodles museum.
- If we had more time, maybe I would have visited the Kirin beer museum? However, between the 3, HJ preferred the food-related ones.
Day 7: 4/12 (Sun)
- Half a day in Tokyo and flight back to SG
In retrospect, if we had 1 more day, to really max out the 7 day rail pass, I might have included a trip to Mt. Fuji.
Between Mt. Fuji and Yokohama, we chose to do the latter instead because HJ did not really want to take a a 2.5 hr bus ride to Mt. Fuji to and fro Tokyo. After all, I had also been to Hakone and Mt. Fuji on my previous trip but Yokohama was the first for the both of us.
So visiting Tokyo & Kyoto 6-7 days is very doable. It just needs prior planning and scoping of the sites depending on what you want to really see and do.
Between the two, we definitely preferred the slower pace of Kyoto! Am so glad we spent almost half the time there.
Will surely be back to Japan in the near future! HJ says next year – that’s too soon for me but I definitely won’t wait 6 years to come back unlike my previous trip in 2011!