The perfect first-timer’s itinerary to Japan.

Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka Nara may be deemed touristy but there’s a good reason why they’re so popular.

Tokyo has an incredible mish-mash or weird and wonderful (read our Quirky Tokyo guide for all the fun stuff).

Then there’s Osaka — a foodie’s paradise, and the best part is, you need not splurge much for that belly of fortune (read our budget Osaka guide to spending $70/day incl. accomm).

And finally, Kyoto, need we say more?

Heading to Japan in winter? Check out our 10-day winter itinerary.

Budget Breakdown for 10D9N trip

Transport: S$449.75 (excld. flight)
Accommodation: S$261.21
Activities: $149
Food: $218.06
TOTAL: $1,078.03

Click here for the detailed breakdown of trip expenses.

Check Flight Prices to Tokyo

 

Can’t see the widget above? Check flight prices from Singapore to Tokyo here instead!

Pre-trip Essentials

1) JR Pass: Since we’re covering both the Kanto and Kansai prefectures, 7-day Whole Japan JR Pass will be well-worth your money. Order them at least a week before you arrive in Japan. If you’re getting your passes from Klook, an exchange voucher will be delivered to you within seven days. Use this voucher to exchange it for the JR Pass at any JR Service Centre (there’s one at all major airports).

Read also: The 9-Step JR Pass Guide to travelling Japan like a pro

2) Internet Connectivity: Preorder your SIM Card before arriving. Trust me, there’re a lot more expensive otherwise. We bought a 6GB SIM card for ~$20 from Klook. For more than 8 days or if you’re travelling in a group of 4, you could also order a portable WiFi device at S$3/day.

3) Travel Insurance: No matter how safe a country is, Travel Insurance is a huge essential to us. We get our annual Travel insurance from DirectAsia Insurance but if you travel less than three times a year,  DirectAsia also covers trip cancellations or amendments due to illness, naturals disasters and even terrorist attacks for single trip polices. Claims settlement is hassle-free and over 80% of their travel claims are settled within 24 hours.

Day 1: The First 24-Hours in Tokyo

From Narita Airport to Tokyo: The Tokyo Skyliner brings you to Ueno station in just 41minutes. Since we’ll be in Tokyo for a few days, it’s better to activate the JR Pass later and instead, use our pre-ordered Tokyo Skyliner tickets.
Getting Around in Tokyo: 
Tokyo Subway Ticket (24hr, 48hr, 72hr) — Purchase online and collect from Narita Airport.

Tokyo is bustling with things to do from as early as 5am till midnight. If we had the chance, we could easily spend an entire week in Tokyo itself. If time isn’t on your side, here are our top picks for 24 hours in the city.

Tsukiji

Fishermen gathered around tunas at the Osaka Central Market for Tuna Auctioning

*2019 Update: The inner Tsukiji market where the Tuna Auctions were held have now shifted to Toyosu Market but the outer market where all the restaurants with the freshest seafood can still be found at the Tsukiji outer market.

5am Tuna Auctioning — Extremely popular amongst travellers, get there as early 3am to reserve a spot. But since you’ll be visiting Osaka too, save your early mornings for the Osaka Fish Market instead. No reservations required there!

*2019: Update: Tuna viewing at Toyosu Market’s lower observation deck require advance reservations.

Tsukiji Sushi Dai Queue - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Tuna auctioning aside, another great reason to get up early is for Sushi Dai — a really famous Omakase place with queues starting as early as 3am. We haven’t tried so if you do, let us know how if it’s worth the hype!

tsukiji-nakaya-5-Tokyo-famous-Food

For us late risers, Tsukiji still has a lot to feast on! One of our favourite stores for a classic bowl of Kaisen Don is Nakaya 仲家. They’re especially known for having uni (sea urchin) on their menu at affordable prices.

Tsukiji Unagi Swekers - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

If there’s a queue at Nakaya, get a friend to save your spot in the queue (or vice versa) while you venture out to buy skewers around the outer market. Must-trys are the tamago on a stick (¥300) from Tsukiji Yamacho 築地山長 — served with a dash of radish on top — and the unagi skewers (¥200) from Nisshin Tasuke.

Asakusa

Sensoji Tokyo - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Sensoji Temple — built in the 7th century, this is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. Get your fortune reading (Omikuji おみくじ) for ¥100. Just drop your coin in and grab one of the metal containers containing wooden sticks with numbers on it. Shake until one of them falls out revealing a number which corresponds to a drawer containing your fortune reading. There are English versions available although quite poorly translated. If you receive a bad reading, tie it up on the metal stands to “leave the bad luck behind”.

Asakusa Suzukien Matcha Gelato - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Asakusa Suzukien — has one of the strongest matcha gelatos ever. The level 7 matcha (¥580 for a single scoop) is pretty intense and only recommended if you appreciate the bitterness of matcha. If not, the recommended levels are 5 & 6. My personal favourites were the Genmaicha and Hojicha ice cream (¥470 for double scoop).

Shinjuku

Photo credit: Manish Prabhune

Tokyo Metropolitan Government building — catch a birds-eye view of the city for free. On clearer days, you might even spot a silhouette of Mt. Fuji.

Unatoto affordable Unagi - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Unatoto — For lunch, grab a bowl of quality unagi on rice (from ¥500) at this small store tucked in the ground floor of the Shinjuku Centre Building. Unagi is usually quite expensive so this is quite value for money!

Harajuku

Meiji Jingumae - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Meiji Jingu Shrine — this 90 year old shinto shrine is one of the most famous in Tokyo. Find shade from the afternoon sun by taking a stroll through the lush forest that surrounds it.

Omotesando Pablo Four Cheese Tart - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Feeling a little peckish, grab a snack from Gindaco Takoyaki (¥650) or the Pablo Premium Cafe — cheese lovers should try the Omotesando exclusive 4 cheese tart (¥950).

Kurand Sake Market

Kurand Sake Market - quirky-tokyo-guide

Kurand Sake market  One of the best places to end the day is this “drink all you can” sake buffet bar. For S$40, you’ll have unlimited access to more than 100 over different types of sake flavours. Whether you love interesting flavours like milk, mango or yogurt or the clean crisp taste of draft sake, they probably have it. There are 4 outlets (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Ueno) but the one in Shinjuku has 3 levels — each one dedicated to a different type of liquor (Sake, Sochu and fruit wines).

*Pro-tip: Maximise your time at the sake bar (starts at 5pm) by bringing your takeaway dinner there — don’t worry, it’s allowed!

Robot Restaurant - quirky-tokyo-guide

If you have more days to spare, check out all the other quirky things to do in Tokyo! From Robots dancing to go-karting on the streets, our Tokyo guide will keep you busy for at least 3 days.

For foodies looking to tick off all the famous food and restaurants in Tokyo, we have you covered too!

Day 2: Tokyo Disneyland or Disneysea

Tokyo Disneysea Mermaid Lagoon
Disneysea Mysterious island - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

For the Disney fans, Tokyo’s Disneyland/sea is a must!

Though because of its popularity (even with the locals), it’s best to avoid going on weekends and Japanese public holidays. Even on weekdays, a queue of 2 – 3 hours isn’t uncommon so you can imagine what a nightmare it would be on the weekends.

Disneysea Tokyo Story Mania in the day - Tokyo Disneyland Guide

Arriving an hour before the park opens isn’t uncommon either and will give you a good headstart to your favourite Fast Passes. Find out more about Fast Passes, days to avoid, and other helpful tips from our Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea guide.

ichiran-ramen-3-Tokyo-famous-Food

Chances are, you’ll be staying there past the night parade (usually around 8:30pm). If you find yourself hungry after returning back to the city, have a nice, warm and savoury bowl of ramen at Ichiran 一蘭 (most outlets open 24 hours or at least past midnight).

Sukiya Cheese gyu don - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

We also love the cheese gyu-don from Sukiya すき家 — most outlets either open 24 hours or past midnight.

For adrenaline lovers, head to Fuji Q Highland instead! Check out our Fuji Q Highland guide for more info.

Day 3: Hakone via Odawara

From Tokyo to Hakone: From Shinjuku station, activate your Hakone Free Pass at the manned gantries. Take the train to Odawara before changing to another line (also covered by the pass) to Hakone Yumoto Station.
Getting Around in Hakone: Hakone Free Pass 2D/3D — unlimited rides on all the main transports in Hakone. Includes the ride from Shinjuku to Hakone Yumoto.

Hakone Torii Gate - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Hakone Torii Gate — There are lots of Torii gates around Hakone but the most famous is the one seen on the edge of Lake Ashinoko. You can view it from 2 vantage points, on land and from a boat on the lake itself.

Hakone Old Checkpoint - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Hakone Old Checkpoint — In the olden days, there was a popular route people would walk along the Old Tokaido from Kyoto to Tokyo and Hakone was the last checkpoint before people could reach their destination. This section has been entirely remodelled but does a pretty good job at setting the scene for the Edo period.

Hakone Cedar Avenue - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Cedar Avenue — One of the best preserved sections of the Old Tokaido route is this scenic path, neatly lined with Cedar trees.

Hakone Lake Ashinoko Ship - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Lake Ashinoko — known for its view of the red torii gate as well as Mount Fuji, this iconic lake is the heart alone. You can explore it on a rented kayak, a swan paddle boat or a ride on the double deck pirate-themed ship (free for Hakone Free Pass holders).

Hakone Owakudani - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Owakudani — A picturesque volcanic valley that’s famous for its tasty black eggs which were boiled in sulphurous water.

Tamago soft serve from Owakudani - Hakone Day Trip From Tokyo

Also try their tamago flavoured ice cream (¥350) which was absolutely delicious and Oden which is perfect on chilly days.

Odawara Kashiden Chirashi Don - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Odawara Kashiden 小田原鱼河岸でん — Before returning to Tokyo, have dinner at this Michelin Guide Chirashi place which serves very value for money bowls of Chirashi (~¥1200 – 1900). Turned out to be one of our favourite Chirashi bowls on the trip.

*Pro-tip: Ask for a bowl of Miso soup for ¥100 — comes in a medium sized bowl with a piece of fish in each and with a strong dashi taste. Great value for just ¥100!

Read more: Hakone Travel Guide — The Most Scenic Day Trip From Tokyo

Day 4: Kamakura and Yokohama

JR Pass: Get your JR Pass activated by walking through the manned counters at any JR station. You will receive a stamp that states the start and end dates of the JR Pass. For subsequent entries, just flash the back of the pass to a station staff when entering the gantries.

For more information on how to use and plan your trip with the JR Pass, check out our comprehensive JR Pass Guide.

At just an hour away from Tokyo, there are 2 ways to explore Kamakura and Yokohama:
1) Bring your bags along and leave them at the respective JR station lockers (¥300 – 500) while exploring the cities. Spend the night in Nagoya (mid way between Tokyo and Osaka)
2) Leave your bags in Tokyo and take a day trip out

Kamakura

From Tokyo to Kamakura: Use the JR pass to ride on the JR Yokosuka line to Kamakura (slightly under an hour)

Filled with lots of temple, shrines, and scenic trekking paths ranging from 2-6 hours, Kamakura is a nice relaxing contrast from Tokyo. You’ll find many locals from Tokyo taking a day trip here during the weekends so pick a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Kenchoji - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)
Photo credit: Ponte Ryuurui

Kencho-ji (¥300) — Japan’s oldest monastery that’s still active today. In fact if you’re around on a Friday or Saturday, you can even join the beginner friendly Zazen (meditation) sessions held from 5:30pm – 6:30pm.

Kamakura Daibutsu - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Great Buddha Statue (¥200 entrance fee) — The other icon of Kamakura is this 13.35m tall Buddha Statue. From Kamakura station, either take a 20 minute walk take the Enoden train (¥190 one way).

Photo credit: Jessica A Page

Hokokuji Temple (¥200) — Escape the summer heat at this temple, famous for its own bamboo groove with over 2000 stalks lining a narrow pathway to a tea house.

Bonzo Kamakura — For lunch, have handmade soba noodles at the Michelin Guide before leaving for Yokohama.

Yokohama

From Kamakura to Yokohama: Use the JR Pass an take the JR Yokosuka line to Yokohama (25 minutes).

Cup Noodle Museum (¥500) — pick your own ingredients and design your own cup noodle for ¥300. It’s quite similar to the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka but a lot bigger and has a slightly different video shown in their mini cinema explaining the history behind the creator, Momofukuando.

Yokohama World Porter’s mall — If you skipped on lunch at Kamakura, this is a great place for more budget friendly options — there’s a food court, a Gindaco Takoyaki store, and even melon pan (although I suspect the best is still found in Osaka’s Dotonbori).

Yokohama Chinatown - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Yokohama Chinatown — One of the largest Chinatown in the world with over 200 Chinese-themed restaurants and shops. If you understand Mandarin, you could also get a palm reading done here as most of them speak Chinese.

Day 5: Nagoya

From Toyko or Shin-Yokohama to Nagoya: Reserve seats for a Hikari train to Nagoya with your JR Pass (105mins)
Getting around Nagoya: Purchase a 1 Day Nagoya Subway (¥740) or the Donichi Eco Kippu (¥600 — discounted ticket which covers both trains and buses; available on Weekends, public holidays and the 8th of each month)

Tucked right between Tokyo and Osaka, this charming city is just as modern as it’s neighbours but takes on a more laid back pace of life. It’s home to the Shinkansen Museum (SCMaglev) and Toyota Factories and great as a base for day trips to Nagashima Resort which has a roller coaster park, and a famous outdoor onsen. With just a day to spare, here are the Nagoya essentials that can be found in the heart of Nagoya.

Hitsumabushi in Nagoya - Creative Commons

Hitsumabushi (Nagoya’s specialty) — Grilled eel on rice but eaten a little differently than the regular Unagi don. The dish is split into 4 portions: first section to be eaten on its own, 2nd to be mixed with wasabi and other condiments, 3rd with dashi broth or green tea and lastly, a repeat of your favourite style.

Eel isn’t cheap and being the city’s delicacy, you can expect a bowl of Hitsumbushi to cost at least ¥3000 except for a store we found located at the basement of the Shirakawa Sakae Gas Building which sells a bowl for ¥2450.

Nagoya Domatsuri - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Unfortunately we were there on a weekend and during the Nippon Domannaka Matsuri — one of Japan’s largest dance festival held annually at 20 different venues across Nagoya. By the time we arrived at 12pm, they were sold out for the day. Do come early to get your name on the list if you’re here during the weekends.

If you’re craving for something sweet, there’s also a famous soufflé pancake shop in the same building next to the Hitsumabushi restaurant. You’ll be able to see the chefs flipping the fluffy pancakes through the clear glass windows in front of the kitchen.

To be fair, the dance festival added a very cheerful vibe to the whole city where we could view the performances for free at the parks and the streets (which were closed for the weekend). Each dancer had so much enthusiasm in their eyes while performing, we couldn’t help but had our eyes peeled for at least 3 performances.

Nagoya Castle - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Nagoya jo (¥500) — one of the 3 most famous castles in Japan. Apart from accessing the main castle keep, the ¥500 entrance fee also includes access to the reconstructed palace which served as the residence to the royal family. It was entirely reconstructed with replicas of the intricate art work adorning each of the sliding doors.

Osu Kanon Temple - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Osu Kanon — an iconic Buddhist temple in Nagoya that dates back to the 14th century. Next to the temple is the Osu shopping district where you can find cafes, street snacks as well as vintage stores.

From Nagoya to Kyoto: Before night falls, take the JR Hikari train to Kyoto (52 minutes). Reservation needed.

If you’d like a little more time in the city, stay the night at Nagoya Hostel Nishiasahi and leave for Kyoto the next morning instead.


Day 6: Kyoto

Getting around in Kyoto: Hire a bicycle from J-Cycle (¥800 from 10 – 6pm)

Torii Gates lining pavement Fushimi Inari Shrine - Kyoto Budget

Fushimi Inari Shrine — One of the most photographed places in Kyoto is definitely this. Come early to enjoy the cool air and even take on one of the hikes to the top.

Temple hopping on a bicycle

K-Cycle Kyoto Bicycle Rental - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

J-Cycle — Rent a bicycle once the bike shop opens at 10am to explore the nearby shrines and temples around the Higayashi District. The law here for parking bicycles is pretty strict so make sure you park at the designated areas or risk having it taken away by the authorities. Some will require a bicycle day pass which allows you to park the bicycle at a couple of the other parking areas.

Recommended Cycling Route: J-Cycle – Imperial Palace – Philosopher’s Path – Nanzenji (Free Parking) – Gion Area – Kiyomizudera (Park at Kodaiji) – J Cycle (Approx. 1.5hrs cycling time)

Philosophers path Kyoto - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Philosopher’s Path — a pleasant stone path lined with sakura trees and roaming cats.

Nanzenji - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide ( Tokyo to Osaka)
Photo credit: Kosu

Nanzenji — One of the most important Zen temples in Japan containing multiple subtemples in the large complex.

Kiyomizu dera - Kyoto Budget

Kiyomizu-dera — on the list of UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for it’s 13m high wooden stage perched on the hillside.

Nishiki Market - Kyoto Budget

Nishiki Market — Nishiki market closes at 6pm so return your bicycles and have an early dinner here. Have your fill of matcha snacks, grilled skewers and large oysters.

Read more at 16 Foods you must not miss in Osaka and Kyoto.

Day 7:

Arashiyama

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest - Japan JR Pass Budget Guide

Start the day as early as first light! We’ve seen the place get crowded as early as 9am when the tour buses start arriving and the atmosphere is quite drastically different. Walk through the thick forest of bamboo stalks which and make a stop at the various gardens around the Arashiyama area. Each garden costs around ¥300 to enter.

Moss Garden at Gio-ji Temple - Kyoto Budget
Moss Garden at Gio-ji Temple

Day 8: Kyoto — Nara — Osaka

From Kyoto to Nara: Catch the JR Special Rapid Service which arrives in Nara in 45 minutes. No reservations needed for this train.

Getting around in Nara: Nara is pretty small and it’s attractions aren’t too far away to cover by foot although it’s also very bicycle friendly. Rent bicycles for ¥700 until sunset. You can leave your luggage at the JR Station lockers for ¥300-500 depending on the size of locker.

cherie surrounded by deers nara deer park - nara budget guide

Deer Park — To be honest, there’s no need to stop by the deer park as the deers can be found everywhere and are free to roam even on the temple grounds. Buy a stack of biscuits for ¥150 which the deers will bow to you just be fed which is absolutely adorable although, be careful of your JR Pass as they will happily gobble that up too.

todaiji temple - nara budget guide

Todai-ji (¥500) — Houses the a large Buddha statue and is possibly one of the largest wooden structures in the world. Though be warned, this is a famous sight for school excursions so Nara could in fact be better visited over the weekends.

Kasuga Taisha - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Kasuga Taisha (free) — Leading up to the shrine is a pathway lined with hundreds of lanterns where deers like to hide. They’ll happily trot out for a biscuit if you have one for them.

From Nara to Osaka: Once you’re done with Nara, collect your luggage from the lockers and take the JR Yamatoji Rapid Service to Osaka (Slightly under an hour). No reservations needed.

Day 9: Osaka

Getting around Osaka: If it’s your first time in Osaka, purchase an Osaka Amazing Pass which gives you free access to over 30 paid attractions and covers all your subway rides the day. Check out our previous Osaka itinerary which utilised the Osaka Amazing Pass over 2 days.

Minoo Park Waterfall - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Minoo Park — If you’re looking to escape the city life for a bit, take a quick train ride out to Minoo Park. It’s an easy 2.4km walk with a gorgeous waterfall to chill by.

Dotonbori - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Dotonbori — No matter how many times we’ve visited Osaka, I still find myself amazed at this street. Not just the food but the streets filled with neon lights, giant pufferfish and moving crabs kind of make you feel like you’re on an acid trip.

takoyaki covered in raw egg, bonito flakes and mayonaise

Our favourite food picks here are the Creo-ru takoyaki, the Kin-ryu ramen (chinese style ramen with free flow kimchi and leek), and to finish off with one of the best melon pans in Japan.

Day 10: Osaka — Tokyo — Catch Flight home

From Osaka to Tokyo: Take the Sunrise Izumo overnight train which leaves Osaka Station at 00:34 (Reserve tickets early!) and arrive in Tokyo at 07:08.

Sunrise Izumo train from Osaka to Tokyo - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide

Sunrise Izumo: The train has private bedrooms which you can pay a top up fee but the Nobi Nobi seats (below) are free for JR pass holders. These are a little more comfortable than coach seats as you get to lie down fully and there are partitions that give you enough privacy.

interior of the Sunrise Izumo train from Osaka to Tokyo - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide

We’re huge fans of taking overnight transport as it saves the time travelling (while you sleep). What’s more, you save a night of accommodation covered by the JR pass! Double-win.

Though, another highlight of this train is that it rides past Mount Fuji at sunrise around 5am so set your alarms if you want to catch this sight.

Narita Express to Narita Airport - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Back in Tokyo, if you have extra time to spare before catching your flight home, leave your luggage at Tokyo station so you can collect them before taking the Narita Express (JR train) to the airport.


Accommodation

Tokyo: Wise Owl Hostel

Even on our previous trip, Wise Owl hostel has been a favourite for it’s ultra comfortable beds (all Simmons btw!) and of excellent location! You can read our full review of Wise Owl Hostel here. But they also recently opened a new outlet near Shibuya in a quiet neighbourhood that’s also within walking distance to a street full of small cosy pubs and izakayas. A great option if you have more time to chill in Tokyo. If you’re headed to the airport the next day, the Tokyo outlet has the perfect location — right next to Hachabori station which is just 1 stop from Tokyo main station.

Wise Owl Hostel - quirky-tokyo-guide

Tokyo Outlet

Wise Owl Hostel - quirky-tokyo-guide

Address: 3 Chome-22-9 Hatchobori, 中央区 Tokyo 104-0032, Japan
Cost: 
¥2600 (Seasonal rates)

Wise Owl Hostel Shibuya - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

Shibuya Outlet

Wise Owl Hostel Shibuya Cafe - Tokyo to Oskaka
Wise Owl’s very own cafe at the Shibuya Outlet

Address: 4 Chome-9-10 Aobadai, Meguro, Tokyo 153-0042, Japan
Cost for dorm bed: ¥2500 – 3600 (Seasonal rates. Check the Wise Owl Hostel Website for the best rates)

Odawara (Hakone): Plum Hostel

Address: Japan, 〒2500011 神奈川県小田原市 栄町3-4-17 相湘11栄町ビル 2F-B
Cost:
¥2,125

Nagoya: Nagoya Hostel Nishiasahi

Nagoya Nishiasahi Restaurant and Guesthouse - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)
Capsule bed at Nagoya Nishiasahi Restaurant and Guesthouse - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

First started as a restaurant and bar, Nishiasashi extended its 2nd floor into cosy living space for its guests. The capsule style beds were super spacious (enough to fit your backpack), perfect for a stopover on the way from Tokyo to Osaka.

Address: 1 Chome-6-13 Nagono, Nishi Ward, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture 451-0042, Japan
Cost:
¥3,000 (Capsule style dorm beds)

Kyoto: Centurion Cabin & Spa

Kyoto Centurion Cabin & Spa - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)
beds at the Kyoto Centurion Cabin & Spa - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)
Jacuzzi at the Kyoto Centurion Cabin & Spa - JR Pass Japan Budget Guide (Tokyo to Osaka)

One of our favourite accommodations on this trip which matched just about everything a traveller could ask for. Centurion Cabin & Spa is located right outside the subway station (Shijo Station) with stylish rooms and even a jacuzzi in the bathroom — and is one of the cheaper accommodations on the trip to boot!

Address: Japan, 〒600-8441 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 四条通高倉西入立売西町68-2
Cost:
¥2,125 (Capsule beds)

Osaka: Ark Hostel

bunk beds at the ark hostel

Address: 1 Chome-15-11 Edobori, Nishi Ward, 大阪市西区 Osaka Prefecture 550-0002, Japan
Cost: ¥2,900/night for a dorm bed

For more budget accommodation options in Osaka check out 9 Budget Accommodations in Osaka Under $50

Extra Pro-tips

1) Book your JR Pass, Disneyland tickets and transport passes before arriving in Japan we got all these from Klook about a week before our trip!

Whole Japan JR Passes booked from Klook before 31st Dec 2019 now come with a S$30 Klook voucher which you can use on the other items above!

2) Start in Tokyo or Osaka?  the main deciding factor is, which theme park would you prefer? USJ in Osaka and Disneyland/Disneysea in Tokyo are both very famous attractions in Japan and chances are, you’d want to visit at least one of them. But since theme parks take up an entire day, it’s a day wasted on your JR pass. If you’re planning to cover USJ, plan to fly into Osaka so you can activate the JR Pass only when you decide to leave Osaka (same for Disneyland in Tokyo).

3) Visit Nagoya during the weekends — while we rarely recommend visiting places during the weekends, Nagoya is more alive over these days of the week. If you’re lucky you might even get to catch a festival like the Domatsuri we caught at the end of August. On top of that you’d also get to enjoy the discounted 1 day pass (Donichi Eco Kippu) which covers both bus and subway for ¥600 instead of the regular subway-only pass which costs ¥740.

4) Visit Nara during the weekends — surprise, surprise once again. Reason being, the Todai-ji is a common site for school excursions which typically happen on weekdays. You might be better off dealing with other travellers than an entire school of children.

5) JR Pass Train Reservations — The Whole Japan JR Pass includes seat reservations which are especially useful for long distance rides e.g. Tokyo to Nagoya/ Nagoya to Kyoto. Most train reservations can be made on the day itself except for the Sunrise Izumo (from Osaka back to Tokyo) — refer to next point. Breakdown of trains here (2nd tab below).

6) Make reservations for the Sunrise Izumo once you arrive in Japan — one way to maximise the value of the JR pass is to take a round trip from Tokyo to Osaka. On top of that, score a night of free accommodation on the Sunrise Izumo (a 7 hour ride from Osaka to Tokyo). Though, these run out pretty quickly so book them as soon as you can.

7) Book your flights six weeks in advance for the best prices — secure your flights while they’re still cheap! Check prices here:

 

If you can’t see the widget above, check prices out here instead.

Hope you found our Japan Budget Guide useful. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other recommendations!


This post was brought to you by Klook.

For more travel visuals, follow us on IG @TheTravelIntern

ENFP and Co-founder of The Travel Intern. Fuelled by yoga, the outdoors, and anything that spells adventure, she quit her 4 year marketing job to explore yoga for 3 months in India. Back with a little more flexibility, zest for adventures and stories to tell, follow her adventures on Instagram @cheriesyw :)

97 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. But the $1.1k does’t include flight (as per your breakdown) – still a good article! I spent under S$2k (ALL IN, including SHOPPING and food even) for 15D14N, from Tokyo to Osaka as well. If properly planned it will not break the bank. My budget also included michelin Bib place, kobe beef tasting, and oamakase.

    There is a ¥1560 kaisen don in a nice small Japanese speaking only shop around the corner (with the HUGE tuna statue) with overflowing amount of seafood (more than 8 types). Sushi Dai is about ¥4000 for 9+1 course and wait is 3-5 hours depending when you start queueing. I’d say skip the queue and go for other places. I went to Tokyo station for ManTen Oamakase lunch for 16 courses for only ¥3000 per person, and Manten is one of the most affordable omakase in the many articles that recommended places for omakase. The 16 courses included fatty tuna, abalone, uni, etc. The prices are accurate as of 1 Nov as I just returned from Tokyo. I also shared about it in my instagram @celineliew on some of the best finds with great affordability and with limited time there, on how to avoid the crazy queues!

    • Hi Celine! Thanks for your suggestions! Really quite good!

      P.S. the article was meant not to include flight prices. We included them previously, but people also complained that prices fluctuate. I guess it’s not possible to please everybody.

  2. hi, do i have to purchase tokyo skyliner when i alr purchased whole JR pass? i am staying in tokyo for about 3-4 days and return to sg from kansai airport. thanks

    • If you’ve already purchased the 7 day JR pass and only planning to use it within 7 days then you can just book the Narita Express (NEX) at no extra cost. Just remember to make reservations at the JR office.

  3. Hi Cherie,

    I need your advise on the pass I use, is it worth?

    Day 1 to 4
    Reach tokyo and travel to Osaka –> activate the JR Pass
    Purchase the 2 days Osaka Amazing Pass
    If I would like to go to Kyoto for day trip on the 3rd day, can i still use my JR full pass to go there?

    Day 4 to 6
    Go to Hakone in the afternoon via Odawara, use my JR full pass.
    Purchase hakone free pass (this can only travel around hakone right?)
    If I would like to travel to lake kawaguchiko, i have to purchase the Fiji Hakone Pass? http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/fujihakone/

    Day 6 to 9
    Go to Tokyo in the afternoon from Hakone, use JR full pass
    Travelling around Tokyo using the regular pass

    Day 9
    Go to Haneda Airport from Tokyo – I have to purchase normal pass?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Elvin, if you’re getting the Hakone Free Pass/Fuji Hakone Pass, I would recommend doing those before activating the JR Pass. Reason being, these passes cover the journey from Shinjuku to Odawara (Hakone)/Kawaguchiko and it’s a day wasted on the JR Pass.

      Here’s what I would do:
      – Explore Tokyo to your hearts content (this was useful for travelling within Tokyo: http://bit.ly/2opRHR5)
      – Use the Hakone Free Pass (http://bit.ly/2ETkGak) or Hakone Fuji Pass to explore Hakone and Kawaguchiko
      – When you’re done with Hakone, take the Hikari Shinkansen from Odawara (no need to return to Shinjuku) to Kyoto (it’s nearer than Osaka)
      – Use the JR pass to get to Osaka/Nara/Kobe (both are only ~30 minutes away)
      – Use the JR pass to travel from Osaka back to Tokyo (Since you’re pushing the last 7 days to the end, you’ll even be able to take the Narita Express to the airport with the JR Pass too)

      Hope this helps!

  4. Hi there, I will be taking the Sunrise Izumo overnight train from Osaka to Tokyo same as your itinerary but just wondering what did you guys do after you check out from the hotel/hostel/dorm? because checking out is usually at 11am, so what can you do for roughly 12 hours with you carrying your luggage around?

    • Hi Yan, you can usually leave your bags at the accommodation even after check out. Alternatively, you could bring your bags to the station and keep them in the lockers for ¥400 – ¥700 (depending on size of locker). We actually took the Sunrise Izumo on the night of day 9 so day 9 is what we did that day 🙂

  5. Hi,
    From your itinerary, you are staying in different places every night. So do you just travel with a backpack? If so what happen to the luggage then?

    Any other recommendation to stay other than hostel?

    • Hi Stephanie! It’s possible to travel with a luggage as well and we alternate depending on the activities we do. Unfortunately we travel budget so mainly look at hostels. They can be quite comfortable really!

  6. hi, we are staying on Yokohama and heading to Nagoya the next day instead of returning to Tokyo. What is the best way to get to Nagoya from Yokohama using the JR pass? Thank you!!

    • Unfortunately yes as you will need a valid JR Pass before making reservations. The Japanese system is a little strict.

  7. Hello i will visit japan for 8 nights and 9 days is it practical to buy JR Pass if i will stay 3 night in Tokyo ang 3 nights in Osaka and arriving in Narita departure in Osaka and plan to visit Mt. Fuji Hakone, Kyoto, Nara , Osaka and etc. I need Advice Thanks

  8. Hi! I’m planning to take the overnight train from Osaka to Tokyo! how do you make reservations for the Sunrise Izumo once you arrive in Japan? Do I need to activate my JR pass before I can book?
    Thanks

    • You can get it reserved at any JR Travel service centre at the stations. That’s also where you can get your JR passes validated. You can get the pass validated once you arrive and ask for it to begin at a later date if you wish so I suppose you should be able to make reservations when you’re at the counter!

  9. Hi Cherrie!
    This is my first time planning to Japan (on budget) and would need your advise!
    My plan is 11D10N to Tokyo (3 days) -Kyoto (4 days include 1 day in nara)-Osaka (3 days)-Tokyo.

    1. Which transport pass can i buy for all to go all these places? (There’s JR, Japan Rail pass etc)
    2. Can i use the suica pass for all these places? Or is it more advisable to buy some 3-day pass etc?

    Appreciate if you can drop me an email 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Hello! If you’re going from Tokyo to Osaka and back to Tokyo again, it definitely makes sense to purchase the 7 day Whole Japan Pass. You can activate it on the day you leave Tokyo and make sure you take the Osaka – Tokyo train on Day 7 of the pass. This will cover all your JR trains including the local ones when you’re in Kyoto, Nara and Osaka. Previously, I wrote a guide on the JR Pass you can check out here: https://thetravelintern.com/singapore-jr-pass-guide/

      For IC cards like Suica, you can use this for everything — on for the bus, subways and JR trains throughout Japan. It’s super convenient. While on the JR pass, you probably won’t need it unless you’re taking the non-JR trains like the subway. In Tokyo before your pass gets activated, I’d recommend the Tokyo 24, 48 or 72 hour subway ticket. If you preorder them, you can collect it from the airport when you arrive in Tokyo.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply.
        What about if i go from Tokyo to Kyoto to Osaka (not going back to Tokyo), do i still purchase the 7 day whole jap pass?

        What’s the diff between subway tix and JR pass?
        Thank you!

        • If it’s just one way and you’re not covering any other cities other than these 4, you can just get an IC card and top up accordingly. Are you planning for a winter trip? If so, you might want to consider exploring more cities which would make sense to get a JR pass. We have a Japan winter itinerary too: https://thetravelintern.com/japan-winter-itinerary/

          The JR trains and subway run under different companies so the subway ticket only allows you unlimited access on the subway trains. Each city has a different subway company so they run on different passes. The JR pass will only be valid at JR stations.

          • Nope, not winter trip (going on 8-17nov) 🙂
            So the better transportation way is just get the IC card to go from tokyo-kyoto-nara-osaka? Not to get any Rail passes/JR passes.

  10. Hi,

    I am going to Japan in Oct. I decided to purchase the 7 days JR pass to travel to Osaka and Kyoto..

    Day 1 to 3
    Will use JR pass to take train from Narita airport to Osaka. Travelling around Osaka with the JR pass. Do I still need to purchase anymore pass to travel around Osaka?

    Day 3 to 5
    Going down to Kyoto from Osaka. Same as what I’m doing in Osaka. Will travel around Kyoto with the JR pass.

    Day 5 to 9
    From Kyoto, travel down to Tokyo. Last 2 days will use normal card from Tokyo back to Narita airport.

  11. Hi! Thanks for the amazing itinerary! My friend and I will be following closely to this! 🙂

    i noticed your day 10 is actually day 8 of the JR pass. Can we still use the JR pass if we were to activate it on Day 3 like this itinerary?

  12. Hi, Me and my wife like your website so much ! After reading your Tokyo to Osaka’s experience, we decided to go there in mid November to End November. We plan 11 day trip from Hiroshima. And this is our first time going to Japan. Here is our plan :
    Day 1 -2 Singapore to Hiroshima and walk around Hiroshima
    Day 3 Hiroshima to Osaka (Start to use JR Pass – Day 1)
    Day 4. Osaka to Kyoto (JR Pass – Day 2)
    Day 5. Osaka to Nagoya (JR Pass – Day 3)
    Day 6. Nagoya (JR Pass – Day 4)
    Day 7. Nagoya – Tokyo (JR Pass – Day 5)
    Day 8 – Day 10. Tokyo (JR Pass – Day 6)
    Day 11. Tokyo back to Hiroshima and back to Singapore (JR Pass – Day 7)

    Question – questions :
    – Can you suggest if we can make good use of the time there ? We will go there with our boy 11 year old. Please kindly advise if you can suggest any other idea as this is our first time there. Is the agenda there too rush ?
    – Do you think we use the JR Pass correctly ? with 7 Day JR Pass
    – How to know which train / bus we can use with JR Pass ?
    – Can suggest what is the good place to visit on the cities I plan to visit there 🙂
    – Please kindly advise if you have any thoughts 🙂 …

    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Madrex! Happy that the articles have been useful 🙂

      Note on the 7-day Whole Japan JR Pass is that Day 1 begins on the first day you use it. The means on Day 11, your JR Pass will no longer be valid. Have you confirmed your flights? You might save more if you fly in from Hiroshima and fly out from Tokyo.

      For your itinerary, you might want to consider the 5-Day Kansai-Hiroshima Area Pass (http://bit.ly/2NCPJeY) instead. I previously wrote an 8-day Kansai itinerary you can check out: https://thetravelintern.com/japan-itinerary-kansai/ I think your son will love the Bunny island 🙂

      If you’d still like to cover Tokyo, I’d highly recommend booking your flight out from Tokyo and getting a one-way ticket from Osaka – Tokyo or Osaka – Nagoya – Tokyo. But if your flights have been confirmed, the round trip from Osaka – Nagoya – Tokyo – Hiroshima will be cheaper, although I would highly recommend more days for the trip. For more info about the JR Pass, I think you’ll find our JR Pass Guide useful!

        • If you need a return ticket, getting another 7 day Whole Japan JR Pass is cheaper, even if you’re only using it for 2 days.

          If it’s only one way, you can purchase single tickets from the JR Pass station — ideally the night before your train ride.

  13. Hi, I read many sites online that it is hard to book the Sunrise Izumo especially during the New Year holiday season (
    28Dec – 3rd Jan), they are available for reservation one month advance for local but as foreigner we can only buy it when arrived Japan.
    I really want to experience the overnight train experience, please advise is it high chance that I will not get a ticket for that ?

    • Unfortunately yes, I’d think there’s a high chance you might not get a seat during that period. When we travelled in August, we couldn’t get our original date either despite booking a whole week in advance. We ended up having to change a fair bit of plans to fit the ride in.

  14. Hello!

    Our stay in Japan would only be for 7 days but technically 5 as we will be arriving in Tokyo dinner time and leaving Japan around the same time.

    Based on your itinerary above, I wanted to skip Nagoya and head straight to Osaka for USJ. Would it still be worth it if we skip a few above?

  15. Hi! This site is amazing webssite.. I have read your 3 japan itinerary
    https://thetravelintern.com/japan-itinerary-kansai/
    https://thetravelintern.com/japan-winter-itinerary/
    https://thetravelintern.com/japan-itinerary-tokyo-to-osaka/

    I will travelling 14 days on February 2019 (winter) and will combine your 3 japan itinerary.
    This is Plan A:
    DAY 1-3 Tokyo
    DAY 4 Hakone . Hakone Free Pass .. (back to Tokyo)
    DAY 5 Kawaguchi (7 day JR pass)
    DAY 6 Nagano (snow monkey)
    DAY 7 Takayama
    DAY 8 Shirakawa-go
    DAY 9-10 Kyoto
    DAY 11-13 Osaka
    DAY 14 Tokyo

    question is: from Kawaguchi to Nagano have to back to Shinjuku according to hyperdia. There is also no bus according to willer bus.. The only way is back to shinjuku..

    or Plan B is :
    DAY 1-3 Tokyo
    DAY 4 Hakone . Hakone Free Pass .. (back to Tokyo)
    DAY 5 Kawaguchi
    DAY 6-8 Kyoto
    DAY 8-10 Osaka
    DAY 10 Nagoya
    DAY 11 Takayama
    DAY 12 Shirakawa-go and Nagano (snow monkey)
    DAY 13 Tokyo
    DAY 14 Tokyo

    It is ok?
    Please kindly advise if you have any thoughts
    Thank you very much..

    • Yup, the only way from the Fuji area to Nagano is via Tokyo. Both itineraries work well but since you need to return to Tokyo, how about starting the trip right away in Kawaguchi? There is an express bus you can take straight from Haneda airport: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/4/

      Around the fuji area, you can purchase the Fuji Pass, it works as an e-ticket you don’t need to collect the physical ticket. If you’re only visiting Kawaguchiko, you can just purchase single tickets for the day, I can’t rmb exactly but it wasn’t a lot.

      From there, you can continue on to Hakone before exploring Tokyo from day 3-5 (don’t forget to purchase the Tokyo subway pass!)

      Activate your 7-day JR Pass on Day 6 so that it covers the 2 most expensive train rides from Tokyo – Kyoto & Nagano – Tokyo.

      Hope that helps!

  16. Hi Cherie,

    Thanks for the useful article. I will be travelling to Japan on this November and have planned my itinerary.. however I have yet to purchase the train tickets to travel from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto. Hope you are able to advise which train passes to get.

    Here’s my plan:

    Day 1 – Tokyo (explore Shibuya, Shinjuku and Harajuku)
    Day 2 – Tokyo (explore Asakusa, Ueno and Akihabara)
    Day 3- Tokyo – Osaka
    Day 4- Day trip to Kyoto
    Day 5- Osaka
    Day 6- Osaka – Tokyo (Hakone / Kawaguchiko)
    Day 7- Tokyo (Ginza)
    Day 8- Tokyo (Leaving Tokyo in the morning)

    Would appreciate if you could advise on the rail passes to purchase. Do you think I should go for the 7 days JR pass?

    Thanks in advance!

  17. Hi Cherie,

    Based on your itinerary above, I wanted add on Mt fuji trip and head straight to Osaka for USJ. Would it possible to add on since me and partner is first time travel to japan. I will travelling to japan on 7 March 2019 (morning reach narita airport) to 18 March 2019(morning flight).

    What is your advise on the itinery?

    How about the JR Pass? Would appreciate if you could advise on the rail passes to purchase. Do you think I should go for the 7 days JR pass?

    Thanks in advance.

  18. HI Cherie,
    I would like to enquire is it better to fly out from KIx airport than Narita i had trouble planning for that kind of stuck .
    Well i am kind of worried that kix airport close again due to typhoon just like this yerar
    Regards
    Christopher

    • Hi Christopher, no one can predict the weather and the typhoon can always hit any other airport or city too. Typhoon season is generally from May to October, with the peak in August and September. Perhaps you can avoid travelling there during that period!

      • Thank you for your reply if there is the case please ignore my previous post is it better to fly out from Kix or narita . I will most likely be traveling during August for my anime event in Tokyo then i will travel down to Osaka but which choices will be my best choice fly out from kix or take shinkansen back to narita airport from there fly out .

        Regards
        Christopher

  19. Hi Cherie,
    I would like to enquire about the promo codes of the JR Pass.
    May I know what are the T&Cs for both codes? I can’t seem to find them.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Shalyn,

      Neither can we! But we were told you simply need to:
      – Book via the mobile app
      – Spend $500 for $55 off
      – Be a first time user

      If you are a repeat Klook user you can use for $50 off.

      The promo is valid till 31st of December 2018.

  20. Hi! How do I go to collect my Amazing Osaka Pass at Kuromon Ichiban Market once I reach Osaka? I’m only activate it the next day. Since I only has JR Pass, and looks like need to go there by subway. That’s mean I have to pay additional by going there, right?

    • Hi Joey,

      It seems that you can also collect it at the airport! But yes if you are only activating it the next day, you will still have to pay separately for the subway.

      Osaka Kansai International Airport Terminal 1
      Location: HIS counter 1F (next to the Northern Exit in the Arrival Hall)
      Opening hours: 8:30am-10:00pm

      Osaka City Air Terminal (JR Namba Station)
      Location: Japan Holiday Travel OCAT Tourist Information Center 1F
      Opening hours: 8:30am-8:30pm
      Please note: From 20 Dec 2018, opening hours will change to 8:30am-6:30pm, daily

  21. Hi. The train system is very overwhelming!
    If I am flying into Tokyo and fly out from Osaka and plans to visit only Kyoto in between, it is best to just take a one way Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto and then from Kyoto to get the ICOCA which will also get me to Osaka? The JR pass would not be worth the money in this case right?

  22. Hi! Firstly, this guide is really well done and helpful. Secondly, I am planning a trip to Japan as a first time traveler. There will be 2 of us and we are trying to travel economically for about 14 days.

    We would like to visit Osaka and Tokyo, with Kyoto and Nara in between. With the JR Pass and Osaka Amazing Pass, we are clueless as to what is the best place to hit first. We will be flying to Narita. Should we:

    1. Activate JRP on the first day and go to Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and make it back to Tokyo via the overnight train on the last day of JRP and spend the last 7 days in Tokyo, and need to purchase ticket to Narita from Tokyo.

    2. Spend about 3 days in Tokyo with the 72 Hour Subway Pass, activate JRP on day 4 and proceed to Kyoto/Osaka/Nara, Day 11 travel back to Tokyo via overnight train and spend last 3 days in Tokyo with another 72 Hour Subway Pass.

    3. Spend 6 days in Tokyo, activate JRP, go to Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Day 13 travel back to tokyo via overnight train and back to Narita Airport.

    Motive of Plans:
    1. No need to stay in Tokyo twice as in plan 2, but required to spend on tickets to Narita
    2. Least sian, because overnight to tokyo just to proceed back to airport and fly back doesn’t sound appealing. Required to purchase tickets to Narita
    3. Best use of JRP??? Save on ticket to Narita but as mentioned above, its the most sian and might be rushed.

    I would really appreciate your advice on which plan would be the best, and also am I missing out on passes to book? (2 Day Osaka Amazing pass, 7 Day Ordinary JRP, Tokyo Subway Pass)

    • 14 days in Japan sounds amazing! If you don’t already have concrete plans for Tokyo, how about checking out Zao Fox Village, Nagano or the Fuji area on a day trip? We covered some of these in this itinerary: https://thetravelintern.com/japan-winter-itinerary

      To answer your questions:
      – Regardless of the option, you’d still need to buy a 1 way ticket between Narita and Tokyo (from or towards the Airport). With the JR pass, you can take the NEX for free but if you’re not using the JR Pass, buy tickets for the Tokyo Skyliner (http://bit.ly/2nUYotB) instead. This runs from Ueno and is cheaper than the NEX.
      – If you’re planning to take the overnight train, prepare to shift your itinerary around because seats on this train usually run out quick. Even if you’re not activating your JR pass right away, you can bring your pass down to the JR East Office at Narita station (on the day you land) to book seats.
      – as for passes, you might want to get a Suica (tokyo) or Icoca (osaka) to complement your JR pass. The JR pass only covers trains run by JR so subways and buses are not covered. It’s a rechargeable card and can be used throughout Japan on all modes of public transport.
      – Lastly, if you’re visitng Hakone from Tokyo, you might want to get a Hakone Free Pass too. More in this post: https://thetravelintern.com/hakone-day-trip-from-tokyo-hakone-free-pass/

  23. Hi Cherie,
    Can i check with you why did you all choose to fly out from Tokyo again instead of KIX

    I suppose you all went during the summer and how much was the scoot ticket you all paid during that time ?
    Regards
    Christopher

    • This was quite some time back so I really can’t recall how much the tickets were back then. The prices would have changed quite a bit too depending on season. But in general, open jaw tickets are usually more expensive so we booked a round trip to Tokyo. That aside, taking the overnight train and seeing Mount Fuji at sunrise was also a key experience for us so no regrets!

  24. Hi. I read that u buy hakone free pass 2/3days, but u only used it for 1 day. If i just want to spend 1 day at hakone, is it cheaper using that free pass or no?

  25. Hi Cherie
    It was my 1st time to Tokyo, I was just visit Tokyo and Mt. Fuji at Yamanakako, and what of JR Pass That you recommend to buy? I was in Tokyo 8days

  26. Hi Cherie,

    I am in the midst of planning for an upcoming April 9D8N trip to Tokyo-Osaka. Really headache until thank goodness I landed on your site. It’s really a great relief as I found you guys are helpful and on spot informative.

    I have bought a round trip ticket to Tokyo (NRT). Everything else not fixed or booked yet. Appreciate if you could take a look on my rough itinerary and comment.

    12/4 – Shinjuku-Shibuya-Harajuku
    13/4 – Rent a car self drive to Hakone
    14/4 – Chureito Pagoda > Lake Kawaguchiko>back to Tokyo
    15/4 – Tokyo disneyland
    16/4 – Tokyo disneysea
    17/4 – Osaka
    18/4 – kyoto
    19/4 – Tokyo – Asakusa, Tokyo tower/skytree 20/4 – Tokyo >2045hr flight at NRT

    Here are few things that I hope to do but confused.
    – overnight in Hakone or Kawaguchiko? Hope to get a ryokan with onsen
    – Hakone Fuji pass or rent a car? I opt for car rental as able to explore the area more freely. Also can carry our luggage. Besides, I hope to see the amazing Mt fuji view with Pagoda and I think it’s easier to do by car. Problem is I heard picking up and returning car at Tokyo can be a problem.
    -the reason I arrange this way is that I heard cherry will full blossom around this date at kawaguchiko (Chureito Pagoda) and I wanna avoid disneyland/disneysea on a weekend
    – should I get JR 7 day pass and when should I use it?

    I really looking forward to your advise as it’s almost a month away and April means everything can be sold out fast. I wish to book whatever I can book in advance. Thanks again Cherie.

    • Hi Andy,

      Wow, that’s a really rushed itinerary! Here are some quick replies to your questions.

      (1) Hakone has a number of great Ryokans if they are still available. Definitely that if you can
      (2) It’s probably more fuss-free to use the Hakone Fuji Pass due to the lack of time. It can be quite troublesome to rent and drive in the cities. However you are also right in saying that the car gives you more flexibility. At the end of the day I think it depends on whether you want convenience or the potential of seeing more things.
      (3) Definitely avoid Disney during the weekends! We have a guide that might be useful too. 🙂
      https://thetravelintern.com/ultimate-tokyo-disneyland-and-disneysea-guide/
      (4) Because you are doing the return journey to Osaka and back, getting the JR Pass is definitely worth it. I would use it from Tokyo Disneyland day onwards to subsidise the JR train to Disneyland.

      To infinity and beyond,
      Buzz Lightyear

  27. Hi, I am following your itinerary. But, I would like to travel to Nikko too. My favourite place in Nikko are Edo wonderland, toshogu shrine, kegon fall and tobu world square. How would you suggest to squeezed the trip in if I am having an 11days trip in Japan? I have the Jr pass. Do I need to buy Nikko pass? When do you think i should use the Jr pass?

    • Ah I wanted to visit Nikko too but didn’t have a chance on this trip!! The Nikko area has limited JR lines so you’d need to get a separate Nikko Pass to get around on the local line (run by a different train company). Enjoy Nikko and let me know if it’s worth visiting!

  28. Hi buzz lightyear,

    Thanks for your reply! You have been great help!

    Just few more questions:

    1) since I’m traveling from tokyo to Mt fuji area and back on the next day, which route do you recommend more, assuming if I rent a car and using Hakone Free Pass for Hakone and only more interested in visiting Chureito Pagoda in Kawaguchiko area.
    a) Tokyo – Kawaguchiko (overnight) – Hakone day trip – Tokyo
    b) Tokyo – Hakone day trip (overnight) – Kawaguchiko – Tokyo

    2) if I were to rearrange my itinerary, will going to osaka/kyoto after Mt fuji area then only back to Tokyo be better and easier in terms of transportation?

    I really hope you can give me more of your opinion as which way is the better one to fulfil my itinerary. Thanks in advance!

  29. Hello! I am planning to go Japan this year. My plan is as follows:

    Day 1-4: Osaka
    Day 4-9: Kyoto
    Day 9-10: Hakone (Get the 2D1N Hakone Pass?)
    Day 10: Tokyo

    Is is advisable to get the JR Pass? Or are there other passes which can score a good deal?

    Also can I use the JR pass on normal subways/buses/ public transport at those cities?
    Or I can only use their ezlink equivalent (suica/pasmo/icoca)? As far as I know, these 3 can be used throughout Japan, which will you recommend?

  30. Hi Cherie ,
    Correct me if i am wrong when you all bought the scoot ticket the baggage add on is a must ?
    So from what i can see you all didnt manage to explore their local neigbourhood area in osaka like tsutenkaku or Shinsekai ?

    Regards
    Christopher

  31. hi
    i check the ticket to Hokaido is around SGD 1000/ PAX, transit in Tokyo and multi city ticket are 200+ extra with ANA.
    So i’m thinking go to Tokyo 5 days and 8 days at Hokaido. do you think this plan better?

  32. Hi cherie,
    I wanted to book the kyoto accommodation that you all chosen but unfortunately the price is no longer ¥2,125 did you all book from their direct website but it always bring me to the booking.com instead

    Sorry is my first time travelling on my own completely new to booking accommodation on my own .
    Regards
    Christopher

  33. Hi team,

    Similar to your guide, I will only be activating the JR pass on the 3rd day of my trip (7-day pass ).
    However, on Day 2, if I were to go to DisneySea/Land, won’t it require the JR pass to get to the DisneySea/Land Station (Maihama Station)?

    Otherwise, do you have any suggestion on how I should get to DisneySea from Shibuya, Ebisu stations?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Isabelle,

      You can pay for a single ticket as well!
      At the end of the day, you’d need to see if it’s more worth it to activate the pass on the 2nd or 3rd day. You can use Google Maps as a simple tool to get estimated costs. Alternatively, use hyperdia!

  34. Hello!
    I will be travelling to Japan in July / Aug for the first time for 10 days 9 night. Arriving and departing at Osaka Kansei Airport. Would like to travel to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo but not sure how should be my breakdown be. Would it be feasible to go Tokyo (2 nights), Kyoto (4 nights) then Osaka (3 nights) and depart from there? Should I get the 7 days JR pass for this and start on Day 1 and take normal transportation within Osaka for the last 3 days?
    Many thanks!

    • Yeah, sounds like a good plan! As long as you complete your Kyoto to Tokyo and a Tokyo to Osaka journey within the 7 days it’ll be worth it.

  35. Hi Cherie,
    Can I check is there other option for this accommodation Kyoto: Centurion Cabin & Spa ?
    Do you recommend travellors to stay in Internet café if there are not many hotels available located in gion area ?
    Or do you know of any internet café in Kyoto ?
    So I guess you all actually explored Teramachi,and Shinkyogoku as they are near to Nishiki market ?

    Regards
    Christopher

  36. Dear Cherie,

    This is Clare and happen to find your exciting Travel Intern website. We will be going to Osaka this early Oct and hope you can help us on the JR trains and our queries below. It will be great and might be helpful to others too if they have similar queries like us.

    Many thanks & warm regards,
    Clare

    1 If there is website or any materials that can list down the details of various JR trains, buses, trams, ferries across different region and different train service provider will be great. Example like 2 nights in Osaka we list down the various transport we will be taking but we are not sure whether they belong to JR or other train provider etc? We have seen the JR website but still in shock and confuse.

    2 We will be moving around Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kobe, Nara, Wakayama, Miyajima Island – would you suggest we get the JR pass looking at the list below?

    3 We also notice there are Amazing Osaka 2 days pass etc, even Mount Rokko Tourist discount pass etc. Should we get them all if we are going to purchase the JR Pass?

    4 During our research, we understand that we should get the JR pass in SG thru local agent – we did try, on the phone an agent said they can sell us JR Pass but when we went down to Chinatown to find out more the agent told us they do not sell JR Pass. Are you able to direct us to a reliable local agent that can sell us JR Pass, IC card etc only and no air ticket or local guided tour etc?

    5 We have done our homework for our coming trip to Osaka but very confuse about their transport system. Is there an organization/people in SG that we can meet them and guide us on the transport system?

    2 Nights in Osaka

    Transport Nankai Airport Exp\Nankai Ltd Exp Rapid
    OsakaMetro Nagahori Tsumiryokuchi
    OsakaMetro Tanimachi\Osaka Metro
    Hankyu Takarazuka Local
    OsakaMetro Chuo

    6 Nights in Kyoto

    OsakaMetro Midosuji\Umeda (Subway)\Hankyu Railways
    Raku Bus\Kyoto Subway Karasuma
    JR Nara Local\Kyoto Subway Karasuma
    Kyoto Subway Tozal
    Kyoto Subway Karsuma\Rabu Bus
    Randen Arashiyama
    Hankyu Arashiyama
    Hankyu Kyoto Ltd Exp
    Kyoto Subway Karasuma
    JR Sagano\JR Sagano Rapid Service
    JR Saga Arashiyama Station (free with JR West Pass for Romantic Train?)
    JR Nara Local\JR Nara Rapid Service\Nara Kotsu
    Nara Gurutoo Bus
    Kintetsu Ltd Exp\Kintetsu Kyoto Exp or JR Nara Local\JR Nara Rapid Service

    2 Nights Hiroshima

    Shinkansen Nozomi/Shinkansen Hikari
    Hirsohima Electric Railway No 6
    Ferry\JR Sanyo\Tsukin-Liner

    2 Nights Kobe

    Shinkansen Nozomi\Shinkansen Sakura\Kobe City Subway
    JR Special Rapid Service
    Hanshin Main Local
    West JR Bus\Rokko-Arima Ropeway
    Rokko Bus
    Rokko-Arima Ropeway West JR Bus

    3 Nights Osaka

    JR Gakkentoshi Local\Osaka Metro
    Ltd Exp Southern\Nanakai Main Sub Exp
    Ltd Exp Kuroshio\Wakayama Bus
    JR Hanwa Rapid Services\JR Wakayama
    Wakayama Bus
    OsakaMetro Sakaisuji\JR Railways from Osakatemmangu to Hoshida
    JR Gakentoshi Rapid Service\Hankai Tramway Hankai
    Uemachi Line
    Nankai Airport Exp\Nankai Ltd Exp Rapid

    • Hi Clare,

      I’ll try my best to answer them all!

      1 – Have you read this JR Pass guide? https://thetravelintern.com/singapore-jr-pass-guide/ Wrote it sometime back but I’m sure a lot of it is still relevant! For planning, I used hyperdia.com for longer routes (like Kyoto to Hiroshima) and Google Maps when moving around within the city. Just note that Nozomi trains are not covered by JR pass so look out for Hikari trains — they’re faster than the local train but make a few more stops than the Nozomi trains. On Google Maps, if the train is by JR, there’s a blue JR logo indicated so that means it’s covered by your JR pass. If it’s any other logo, you’ll need to use an IC card (like the ICOCA card) or a city pass (like the Osaka Amazing Pass).

      2 – Short answer is yes! But not the whole Japan pass. You can purchase the Kansai-Hiroshima Pass — it’s much cheaper than the Japan JR pass and covers the places you’re intending to go. Just note that this pass does not cover your trip to Tokyo (just in case)! I’ve also done a similar trip previously and wrote a post about it here: https://thetravelintern.com/japan-itinerary-kansai/

      3 – It looks like you’ll be spending quite a bit of time in Osaka so if you’re planning to explore extensively, yes it’s quite worth it! I covered some of the highlights in this post: https://thetravelintern.com/japan-itinerary-kansai/ — Osaka was covered on our last 2 days.

      4 – We got our passes through Klook There was no need to collect anything in Singapore. We arrived at KIX and collected our Kansai-Hiroshima pass with the QR code from the app.

      I hope this answers most of your queries! It might seem complicated while planning this out in Singapore you’ll realise it’s actually very orderly and easy to get around once you arrive! At major stations like Osaka, Kyoto and even Hiroshima, there will always be a dedicated station staff that speaks fluent english so you can always approach them and ask for help if needed.

      Enjoy your trip!!

      • Dear Cherie,

        Thanks for your great info. Now, we are more confident and have a understanding of their transport systems. Noted on your previous writeup which we will use as a guide in our planning too. With google map and other wonderful apps etc we will enjoy free n easy holiday. And definitely, with you and your wonderful team here providing assistance to holiday planners really have been a great help. We look forward to share our exciting 16 days in Japan soon.

        Many thanks & warm regards,
        Clare

LEAVE A REPLY