Japan Travel Guide (Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka) in 7 Days
I can conclude, Japan became one of the most popular tourist destinations among Indonesian tourists in 2016. This I observe from the many relatives and friends that make Japan as a vacation destination, including me. Even the charm of the country of sakura also inspired the making of the film Winter in Tokyo (2016) which was adapted from a novel by Ilana Tan.
Japan’s popularity can be triggered by many things, including the ease of visa (visa-free for e-passports) and the high interest of tourists to explore more distant destinations.
If you are one of the people who are planning a vacation to Japan, see my travel guide and notes below as a reference for your vacation.
The awaited day arrived, I flew using the airline LCC (low cost carrier) AirAsia with a total journey of about 14 hours including transit at KLIA2 airport, Kuala Lumpur for 5 hours. Although it was tiring, I chose to fly with LCC because it was relatively economical and allowed me to take a short walk around the KLIA2 airport.
I arrived at Haneda International Airport (HND) at 22:30 local time. After finishing immigration checks, I went straight to the train station to take the last train to downtown Tokyo in Shibuya.
Tips for using public transportation:
- Use the train to get to downtown Tokyo. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs 580 yen. You can check JR Pass prices here!
- Don’t forget to buy a PASMO or SUICA card to facilitate payment of train and bus fares while in Japan. The price of the card is 3,000 yen (gets a balance of 2,500 yen) and is available at the tourist information center at the airport
While in Tokyo, I stayed at the Fukudaya Hotel, a 15-minute walk from Shibuya Station. I chose to stay at this hotel because the Shibuya area is the most strategic location to reach various tourist attractions in Tokyo.
After breakfast I immediately rushed to explore some interesting attractions in the Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Akihabara areas.
The first location I visited was Shibuya. Here is the busiest and most popular intersection in the world, where hundreds of people cross every few minutes. Because of its popularity, this place was once a shooting location for several Hollywood films such as Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Lost in Translation, and Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Not only that, not far from Shibuya Station there is the Hachiko monument. Hachiko is a dog that faithfully waits for his employer even for years after his employer’s death. The story of Hachiko is immortalized in the form of a statue as a symbol of sincere loyalty, one of the values held by the Japanese. Now, this statue is an attraction for tourists who are amazed by the story of Hachiko.
From Shibuya, I continued my journey to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. The location of this building is in the Shinjuku area, close to Tochomae Station. This building has an observatory room located on the 45th floor and is open to the public alias free. Here you can see the beautiful view of Tokyo from a height. If the weather is clear, you can watch Mount Fuji from here.
After being satisfied seeing the beauty of Tokyo, the next destination is Meiji Jingu. Meiji Jingu is a temple complex surrounded by 70 hectares of forest. Walking down the street in the temple complex amazed me with the layout of this city, which still has a forest in the middle of a crowded building.
Not feel the night arrived. I continued my journey by exploring Shinjuku and Akihabara. At night, this area will actually be more alive than in the daytime. Along the way you will see flickering lights and large banners that adorn each building.
The train network in Tokyo is the most complicated train network in the world. However, you do not need to worry, by relying on smartphones and internet networks, you can easily search for information about an attraction or tourist attraction via Google Maps.
Specifically on the third day I allocate all day to visit Lake Kawaguchiko. This area is famous as a favorite place to observe Mount Fuji. At Kawaguchiko there are several spots that become popular places to observe Mount Fuji, one of which is the north side of Lake Kawaguchiko.
To reach this place, it takes about 2.5 hours by bus. The start of the journey starts from the Shibuya Mark City 5F shopping center with a fare of 1,800 yen.
Unfortunately, I failed to enjoy the view of Mount Fuji due to unfavorable weather factors.
Tips: So that you can enjoy the beauty of Mount Fuji, it is recommended to stay overnight at least one night. With an overnight, the opportunity to enjoy the view of Mount Fuji will be greater the next day.
The fourth day I focused on shopping for souvenirs and a leisurely walk in the park.
The first location I went to was Diver City Mall, located in the Odaiba area. To get here you can use the train to get off at Tokyo Teleport Station. Besides shopping for branded goods, you can take pictures with the 18-meter-high Gundam statue!
After shopping at the mall, I returned to satisfy my shopping desires at Ameya-Yokocho which is famous as a Japanese-style street market. The atmosphere here is more or less like the Chatuchak market in Bangkok, there are lots of cheap things you can buy.
Satisfied shopping, I enjoyed the afternoon with a leisurely walk in Ueno Park, located not far from Ameya-Yokocho. As a city park, Ueno Park offers many interesting attractions such as museums, temples and zoos.
At 20:00 I returned to Shibuya then prepared to continue the trip to Kyoto using the night bus. Bus tickets can be ordered online with prices starting at 4,000 yen. Bus departure locations are in several major stations in Tokyo, one of them Osaki Station.
Travel to Kyoto by bus takes about 8 hours. I arrived at Kyoto Station at 07:00 local time.
Because it’s still morning, I haven’t been able to check in directly at the hotel. I decided to keep my bags and luggage in the Kyoto Station locker to make it easier for me to explore some interesting attractions in Kyoto.
My first destination is the Fushimi Inari temple. This destination is the easiest to reach because it only takes 2 stops from Kyoto Station. This temple is very iconic for photography lovers where thousands of bright red gates are the main attraction in photo frames. The roads to Kyoto aren’t complete if you don’t visit this temple.
From Fushimi Inari, I continued on to Nijo Castle. This castle was built in 1603 as a shogun imperial palace which was the ruler of the country when the era of feudalism was still victorious. In 1994, UNESCO established this castle as a world cultural heritage.
The castle is well cared for so you can feel what the shogun’s life was like. In the castle area there are also local guides who can provide clearer information about the functions of each castle room.
After studying history, I continued on to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The location is quite far from the center of Kyoto, about 1 hour away by bus. The dense bamboo forest makes the lighting a bit dim so as to give a unique effect on the photo. Not surprisingly, this location is very instagramable.
Kiyomizu-dera can be reached by bus from Kyoto Station in about 30 minutes. Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple that was built in 778. Here there is the Otowa Waterfall which is located at the base of the temple which emits three springs. Every spring is believed to have the goodness of its drinkers, which they will get a long life, a successful life, and happiness in a loving relationship. However, if you drink everything you will be considered greedy.
The next temple I visited was Kinkaku-ji or The Golden Pavilion. As the name implies, this temple is coated in gold-colored paint that makes its structure feel majestic. To create a zen atmosphere, this temple was built in the middle of a pond. Because of this calm pool, you can even see the reflection of the temple on the water.
After checking out of the hotel, I went straight to Kyoto Station to go to Osaka using the Shinkansen. It only takes about 15 minutes to travel from Kyoto – Osaka, which is about 40 km.
Arriving at Shin-Osaka Station, I immediately put my bag and suitcase into a locker to make it easier for me to explore Osaka on this last day.
The first destination I visited was Minami-Temma Park which was located close to Temmabashi Station. If you come here in April which is the cherry blossom season, you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms along the river’s edge.
As a closing trip, Dotonbori became the last destination of my trip. There are many things you can do here, including shopping, riding a tour boat, or trying street food that is available along the road.
At 20:00 I went straight to Shin-Osaka Station to continue the trip to Osaka International Airport (KIX) by the Haruka fast train.