Japan. Shinto shrines and temples, skyscrapers and shinkansen bullet trains, sushi and ramen. Japan, the land of the rising sun, can hardly be described in words. Japan is different, mysterious, sometimes strange or even disturbing, often surprising and always fascinating.
In this blog article we present our travel route through Japan Before. It is perfect for those who are visiting Japan for the first time and want a glimpse of the country’s highlights. We deliberately say “insight” because Japan is so diverse that a lifetime would not be enough to get to know everything.
We took a good two weeks for our route. 21 In our opinion, it also takes days if you want to travel to the same stops. Our flight to Japan was at the invitation of All Nippon Airways. You can find our detailed field report further down in this blog article.
1. Japan Itinerary for Two Weeks: All Stops and Highlights Our Japan itinerary leads through the largest and main island of Japan: Honshū . The capital Tokyo and Mount Fuji are located on this island. You will notice: 06 Days on the road and we were just on one of the four main islands – not to mention the thousands of smaller islands.
To get from A to B, we used the excellently developed train network in Japan. We will tell you all the information about this further down in this blog article.
Tokyo Let’s go in the city of cities: Tokyo (often also spelled Tokyo). The bad news first: Tokyo has so much to offer that you will never, ever see everything. Not even remotely! The good news: there is nothing that does not exist. Tokyo has everything – and much more.
Tokyo was the perfect first stop for us to adjust to the time difference after the long flight and getting used to Japan. Because Tokyo is – we would never have expected that – in most quarters much more comfortable and quiet than you think.
Speaking of quarters: In Tokyo The highlights of the city are not so much the classic sights, but rather the countless districts. For example Akihabara, the crazy electronics district. Or Harajuku – the district where Japan’s cosplay scene is more present than anywhere else. Then, of course, there are also the classic tourist highlights: The Tokyo Skytree, the second tallest building in the world is one of them. Or the Sensō-ji Temple. Or Shibuya-Crossing, the world famous crossroads. As you can see, Tokyo can be overwhelming.
We decided to split our time in tokyo and stayed 2 nights at the beginning and another 4 nights at the end of our trip in tokyo. We would do it that way again at any time.
Our detailed blog article: Tokyo – highlights in the crazy metropolis Our accommodation in Tokyo: OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka Recommended stay: 5-6 nights in total (we stayed 2 at the beginning and 4 at the end of our Japan trip)
Hakone (Lake Ashi) Approximately 100 kilometers west of Tokyo is Hakone on the Ashi Lake. The region is particularly well-known for two things: Firstly, Hakone is one of the most famous places in all of Japan to bathe in hot springs (the so-called Onsen). On the other hand, you can have a look at Mount Fuji from Hakone when the weather is good.
You’ll notice: We say “when the weather is good “. Unfortunately, that is not always the case and so Mount Fuji was also covered in clouds during our visit. The chance of seeing Mount Fuji is less than you think. If you are “just” interested in seeing Mount Fuji, we would recommend a trip to Lake Kawaguchi. In general, visibility is better in winter than in summer.
But fortunately, Hakone has much more to offer than distant views of Mount Fuji. For example, there are the already mentioned onsen baths. The most well-known photo motif in Hakone is the famous red torii on the lake shore. It belongs to the Hakone shrine, the most important Shintō Region Shrine.
Our detailed blog article: Hakone – Highlights & Tips
Accommodation Tip: Ryokan Yoshimatsu Recommended stay: 1-2 nights (we stayed 1 night)
Osaka modern Osaka is the next stop on our itinerary through Japan. The third largest city in Japan is reminiscent of Tokyo with its skyline at first glance, but is somehow very different. Osaka is less orderly, the people are more relaxed and you won’t come across as many people wearing suits here as in the “business city” of Tokyo.
You should definitely see the lively district Dōtonbori. Especially at night With so many flashing neon signs and neon signs, you don’t know where to look first. The most important historical sight in Osaka is the photogenic Osaka Castle.
Our tip: We took a day trip from Osaka to Nara, because that is perfect. We’ll tell you in a moment which highlights await you in Nara.
Our detailed blog article: Osaka – Sights & Tips Our accommodation: Moxy Osaka Recommended stay: 3 nights (we stayed that long)
Nara Perhaps you’ve seen a photo of a deer lounging in front of a Japanese temple? This photo was almost certainly taken in Nara. Live in Nara over 1. Sika deer, roaming around completely free.
The deer are not the most important attraction in Nara. Rather, these are the countless temples and shrines of the city. Nara was the capital of Japan in the 8th century and is home to many cultural treasures. The highlight of Nara is the gigantic Tōdai-ji Temple, which is the largest wooden building in the world. Our personal favorite among all the sights in Nara is the Shinto shrine called Kasuga-Taisha.
Nara is perfect for a day trip. : It takes about an hour to reach Nara from Osaka and Kyoto. We ourselves visited Nara from Osaka and felt we got a good look at it in one day. Of course there is nothing wrong with spending a night or two in Nara.
Our detailed blog article: Day trip to Nara Recommended stay: Day trip from Osaka or Kyoto
Kyoto Kyoto, steeped in tradition, is for many the undisputed highlight of their trip to Japan. In Kyoto you will experience temple hopping in perfection: There are more temples here and shrines than you could ever visit.
Kyoto is incredibly photogenic and in many ways exactly how Japan has always been imagined. The neighborhood that comes closest to the ideal is Gion, also known as the “Geisha Quarter”. The name is no coincidence: here the chance of seeing a real geisha is not that small. (We lucky children can confirm that such an encounter is really unique!)
One of the absolute highlights and a place that probably nobody who comes to Kyoto should miss is the Fushimi Inari-Taisha: Through hundreds, no thousands of red torii you hike up a mountain. We’ve never seen anything like it before. Kyoto is also home to the famous Bamboo Forest, which is particularly popular on Instagram. Of course, that’s not all there is to discover in Kyoto.
Our detailed blog article: Kyoto – Highlights and Tips Our Accommodation: The General Takatsuji Tominokoji Recommended stay: 4-5 nights (we stayed 4 nights)
Tokyo At the end of our Japan tour we spent another 4 nights in crazy Tokyo. Altogether we came to 6 nights in Tokyo. As I said: We found this separation ideal.
If you want to make a day trip from Tokyo, the last days of your trip would be the right one When to do it: Kamakura, Nikkō or Yokohama are well-known and popular. We initially had a trip on our radar, but realized pretty quickly that we wanted to spend all our energy and time exclusively in Tokyo.
Our detailed blog article: Tokyo – highlights in the crazy metropolis Our accommodation: OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka
Recommended stay: 5-6 nights in total (we stayed 2 at the beginning and 4 at the end of our trip to Japan)
2. Map: Our Japan itinerary for 14 Days at a glance To give you a better idea of where the individual places on our Japan itinerary are, we have drawn the stops on a map for you. If you are now wondering how long the distances are: shorter than you think! Kyoto and Tokyo, for example, are just 2.5 hours away by train. Unbelievable, is not it?
3. Arrival to Japan: With ANA directly to Tokyo We laid the route from Vienna to Tokyo in the Dreamliner of the All Nippon Airways (ANA for short) back. Anyone who knows us knows: We love non-stop flights! There is nothing more pleasant on a long journey than boarding a plane in your hometown and disembarking at the holiday destination. Therefore, we were incredibly pleased that All Nippon Airways invited us to test the new direct connection Vienna-Tokyo.
All Nippon Airways has been flying non-stop daily since February in the Dreamliner (Boeing 787-9) from Vienna to Tokyo. One of the great advantages of All Nippon Airways: It will be the Driven to Haneda Airport. You have to know: There are two airports in Tokyo – Haneda and Narita. Haneda is much closer to Tokyo and is therefore clearly the more comfortable option.
By the way, the flight from Vienna to Tokyo takes about Hours. That sounds like a lot, but we can reassure you: Time flies much faster than you think. And for everyone coming from Germany: All Nippon Airways also flies to Japan from Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf.
Personal experience: Our flight with All Nippon Airways We lucky children were able to enjoy our very first upgrade on a long-haul flight on the outward flight. We can therefore report on our experiences for both Economy and Business Class.
Business Class at All Nippon Airways Let’s start with the Business Class: Of course, traveling there is exceptionally comfortable. The service is – as you are used to from Japan – amazing. We have never been treated so courteously on a flight.
The biggest advantage of Business Class is of course the amount of space: the chair can be completely flat bed repurpose. If, like us, you only fly Economy Class, that’s quite a highlight.
Speaking of the highlight: one of our personal highlights was the noise-cancelling headphones. It didn’t take long to persuade us to watch the film. All in all: We have seldom felt so wonderfully looked after as in these 10 Hours. The flight was an experience that we will not soon forget. The spectacular view of Mount Fuji on approach was the icing on the cake.
Economy Class with All Nippon Airways Let’s get to our Experiences in the Economy Class, which are probably even more interesting to read for most people. To be honest: Even though we savored the flight in Business Class up to the last second, we were even more excited about the standard in Economy Class.
First of all, that us noticed was the legroom. We did some research: 86 cm is the seat pitch in the ANA Dreamliner. That is significantly more than many other airlines. Usually Romeo pushes with his 1,47 m namely always on the front seat. That was not the case here.
Unexpectedly, we dozed or slept for almost the entire flight. If we had stayed awake, we would have been able to choose from many films dubbed in German, as we did in Business Class.
Our verdict on All Nippon Airways We felt very comfortable and safe on both flights and can warmly recommend All Nippon Airways. The outward flight was a wonderful start to our trip to Japan, because we were able to get an insight into Japanese culture on board and get in the mood for the trip even better.
4. Transportation within Japan: The Japan Rail Pass There are several ways to get from A to B in Japan Options. (We’ll tell you what these are in this article: Japan travel tips). We decided to take the train and used the Japan Rail Pass.
What is the Japan Rail Pass? The Japan Rail Pass is a train ticket that entitles you to unlimited national Japan trains for a set period of time Railways (JR) can use. With the pass you can travel all over the country without having to think about additional costs. The pass is for 7, 10 or 21 Days available.
May I use all trains? Unfortunately no, but the restrictions aren’t that bad. On the world-famous Shinkasen bullet trains, you have to do without the trains named “Nozomi” and “Mizuho”. For example, Nozomi trains run between Tokyo and Osaka. However, the routes from Nozomi and Mizuho are also served by other (“normal”) Shinkansen trains, which make a few more stops and therefore take slightly longer. Therefore, it can only happen that you have to wait a bit longer for the next train.
You also need to know that the Japan Rail Pass is offered by Japan Railways (JR). There are also private lines in Japan. The pass only entitles you to travel on trains operated by Japan Railways. But that’s a lot: In addition to the Shinkansen trains (the so-called “Bullet Trains”), you can also use the express and local trains from JR.
Can I also use the subways in the cities with the pass? No. The classic subways (“subways”) are excluded, since they are not operated by Japan Railways. But: There are also JR lines in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka within the city that you can use. In Tokyo, this includes the Yamanote Line, which runs in a circle and passes some important tourist highlights.
The whole thing is initially a A bit complicated, but don’t worry: once you’re there, you’ll find your way around relatively quickly.
How much does the Japan Rail Pass cost ? Currently (as of April ) Standard Japan Rail Pass prices are:
7 days: 47.512 Yen (approx. 250 Euro) 10 Days: 47.250 Yen (approx. 450 Euro) 21 Days: 47.480 Yen (approx. 512 Euro) Important to know: The actual price you pay depends on the current exchange rate. If prices are given in euros, these are only estimates.
The prices listed only apply if you apply for the pass at home. If you buy the pass on site, approximately 06 percent on top of that. We will tell you more about the purchase options in a moment.
Where can I buy the Japan Rail Pass? You have two options: 1. From home via one of the numerous websites. 2. Directly in Japan.
Note: Until recently, you could only purchase the Japan Rail Pass outside of Japan. Meanwhile (as of June 801) There is also an option to buy the pass directly in Japan at many airports and train stations. We took advantage of this option ourselves and bought the pass right after we arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.
The disadvantage of buying the Japan Rail Pass on the spot: it is expired about 10 percent more expensive. If possible, we strongly recommend that you apply for the pass at home. By the way, “at home” means that you will receive a voucher that you can then exchange for the Rail Pass on site in Japan.
You can buy the pass ( or more precisely the voucher): www.jrailpass.com
When is the Japan Rail Pass worth it? The Japan Rail Pass In terms of price, it is generally worthwhile if you want to see a relatively large amount of Japan in a relatively short time (ie a maximum of 3 weeks).
Our tip: You should calculate in advance whether the pass is worthwhile for your trip. It is best to use the Hyperdia website for this. There you can search for train connections.
You should also include in the calculation that you can often use JR trains within the cities, for example, and can therefore travel for free. You can also use the relatively expensive Narita Express, which runs between Narita Airport and Tokyo with the Japan Rail Pass.
Other the Japan Rail Pass was worth it for us? no If we had bought it in advance, then yes. But since we only bought the pass in Japan (and therefore more expensive), we paid a little more money than we would have paid without the pass. In general, of course, you have to say that traveling is more pleasant and comfortable if you don’t always have to think about the price and have to buy individual tickets.
How do I use the Japan Rail Pass? Nothing easier than that: At the entrance to the train tracks there are always a Counter, where an employee is sitting. You go there, show your passport and are allowed to go through. You also do the same when getting off at the destination.
Since the seat reservation is free with the Japan Rail Pass, we recommend you to make use of it . Traveling with a seat reservation is more comfortable, because you already know which of the many carriages you should get on before you get on.
Seat reservation is very simple: You go to a ticket counter and give your ticket know your destination. There the next connection will be selected and you will receive your reservation in the form of an additional ticket. We always made our seat reservations at very short notice (about half an hour before departure).
Transparency: Invitation & Affiliate Links We were invited to Japan by All Nippon Airways (ANA) – thank you very much for this great opportunity! So that you are familiar: The outward and return flights as well as the program for the first 5 days (Tokyo, Hakone, Osaka) were financially taken over by ANA. We were free to organize the program – we were on our own the whole time. We decided to extend our stay in Japan at our own expense.
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Japan? How was your itinerary? What were your highlights? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!