Trip Report

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Trip Report

Winter Japan by train

We spent about 2 weeks with a Japan Rail Pass exploring the highlights of Japan, from Tokyo to Hiroshima, Shibu Onsen to Disneysea.

by emma and david, teamthomastravelsAbout Me:We're a husband and wife travel blogging couple from the UK. Since we met in 2015, we have travelled as much as possible. Between us we have visited around 50 countries and 6 continents - just need to make it to Australia/New Zealand to hi... read more

Japan11 days / January 2020

Highs & Lows

Watching the sun go down over Mt Fuji in Kamakura

Credit cards aren't accepted as widely as possible, so we had to find ATMs very frequently

Itinerary Overview

Japan is the most astonishing country. 

We travelled all over Honshu (the main island) by bullet train from mega city Tokyo to ancient Kyoto, Neon food heaven Osaka to the coastal town of Kamakura, via bamboo forests, snowy mountains, beautiful temples and heartbreaking history. 

This itinerary includes famous landmarks such as the red gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, the Tokyo Skytree, the giant red lanterns of Senso-ji, trendy Harajuku, the old Geisha districts of Kyoto, the A-Bomb dome of Hiroshima and the giant Daibutsu Buddah of Nara.

We'll also recommend some places to eat where you can try iconic Japanese dishes, and give some top tips about how to get the most out of a day in Disneysea.

  • 1 Night: Tokyo
    One of the most famous cities in the world, you HAVE to begin your trip in Tokyo. It's mindblowing!
  • 4 Nights: Kyoto
    Kyoto is ancient, with beautiful Geisha, historic temples and amazing food!
  • Day trip: Nara
    Stunning temples and bowing deer
  • 1 Night: Hiroshima
    Emotionally hard but incredibly important to visit, this was where the first nuclear bomb fell in 1945.
  • Day trip: Himeji Castle
    A classic, original Japanese castle, and a must for 007 fans...
  • 1 Night: Osaka
    Neon lights and food heaven
  • 1 Night: Tokyo
    A world famous art installation and base camp before the train up north
  • 1 Night: Shibu Hotel
    Hot spring onsens and snow monkeys
  • Day trip: Shibu Hotel
    Snow Monkeys!
  • 2 Nights: Tokyo
    You're still not finsished here yet!
  • Day trip: Tokyo DisneySea
    A totally unique Disney park
  • Day trip: Kamakura
    A charming seaside town with stunning temples, a massive Buddha, unique food and Fuji views as you paddle in the Pacific

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    We'd have taken way more cash! Turns out cards aren't nearly as widely used as you'd expect in Japan, cash is still king!

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    We got on the wrong train to Fushimi Inari, make sure you take the slow train that stops everywhere, the Rapid skips Inari!

  • How was the food?

    Gion Yuki (Kyoto), Genki Sushi (Tokyo) and any street market!

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Buy a Japan Rail pass! It will literally save you a fortune. And reserve your bullet train seats the day before.

  • Packing tips?

    Japan in winter wasn't as cold as we'd expected, more like British weather.

  • Transportation Tips?

    Stick to JR line metro trains to save money as you can use your rail pass on them.

  • Any surprises?

    You will be sent an e ticket for Disneysea but you still have to physically print it off and take it to the park - you can't scan your phone at the barriers.

  • Booking details?

    We booked all our hotels with Booking.com and flew with Air France who were excellent. Book the Tokyo Skytree on Expedia to save a few pounds.

Lodging

  • Tokyo has many many hotels to choose from. We'd recommend somewhere central and near an underground station, like the Best Western, Akihabara.

  • We stayed in a real mix to explore the range of accomodations in Japan. We stayed our first night in a pod hotel and another night in a self catered apartment. We'd recommend 2 nights of luxury at Kyoto Yura MGallery.

  • There are plenty of budget friendly basic hotels in the centre.

  • Like any big city Osaka has a wide range of hotels to suit all budgets.

  • Back in our Best Western Akihabara

  • Stay in a traditional Ryokan like Senshinkan Matsuya which includes incredible dinner and breakfast and a transfer to see the snow monkeys.