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First time in Japan - can't wait!

London, United...
Level Contributor
49 posts
19 reviews
First time in Japan - can't wait!


I will be traveling to Tokyo for business in April/May. I plan on spending some time travelling Japan and see different parts of the country. I will spend 2 days in Tokyo and will have a further 3.5 days. I want to use the 3.5 days to see Osaka and Kyoto. I would use the bullet train and need to get back to Tokyo to get my flight. I know this is a short time. Do you think this would work and maximises my time in Japan? Any suggestions on what to see on this itinerary or alternative ways to spend my time in Japan would be warmly welcome. Thanks.

8 replies to this topic
Sendai, Japan
Level Contributor
9 posts
56 reviews
1. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

I hope you enjoy your time in Japan. It is a wonderful place to visit and you should have good timing for springtime, although the Cherry Blossoms may only be North of Tokyo by then. No matter where you go, you will experience excellent hospitality, food, and vibrant culture. I recommend visiting Kyoto as there are plenty of famous historic sites there. There is plenty to do it Tokyo and the best approach is to pick a few districts to explore and enjoy your time there rather than getting hung up on seeing everything. Of course, the metro network is very convenient so you can see several districts in a (busy) day.

The bullet trains are excellent I use them regularly to travel between Tohoku an Tokyo. However, they are quite expensive. Since time is limited I would look into domestic flights. You could take the train to Kyoto and fly directly back to your international departure for example. There are several airlines which serve Kobe, Kansai, and Itami airports which are all accessible from Kyoto and Osaka. If you book a reserved ticket on the bullet trains you can also get up to 30% discount. You register your credit card online and pay with this credit card at the station to get your ticket.

There's plenty to see in Kyoto and Osaka but we may be getting the Cherry Blossoms in Tohoku then and the region also has much to offer, such as onsen hot springs and local cuisine. Check out the "Abroad in Japan" Youtube channel if you are interested in what this region has to offer.

Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
57,817 posts
67 reviews
2. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

www.japan-guide.com has detailed information about each of your proposed destinations, including suggested itineraries.

Consider - https:/… - for the Tokyo-Kyoto round trip.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
28 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

Perfect time to go to Japan, just in time for the cherry blossoms. But since you're there for such a short period of time, it really depends on what you're trying to see especially if you're traveling between Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. Food? Shopping? Culture?

If you're the typical traveler, definitely check out the main areas of Tokyo including Shibuya/Harajuku, Shinjuku, and maybe even Roppongi. It's stereotypical "Tokyo" and has a lot of action compared to Kansai. You'll find lots of great gifts and trinkets here and there. Here's a breakdown of extremely popular areas in western Tokyo that have lots going on, it should help: https://www.emilialiu.me/blog/where-to-stay-…

When you're in Osaka/Kyoto, I'd go for food and culture. Osaka is known for its delicious food and signature takoyaki and okonomiyaki, while Kyoto is.. Kyoto. Infinite amount of beautiful temples and shrines that go way beyond a couple of days. The good thing is the two cities are so close it's only 35min~ on the train.

Shinkansen, while expensive, is much more comfortable and reliable than traveling by air. Sure flights are cheaper, but that doesn't include airport transportation or risk of delay. Not worth the stress for me!

New Zealand
Level Contributor
7,070 posts
387 reviews
4. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

You have enough time for a visit to Osaka/Kyoto. Choose one of the cities to stay in, and it's quick enough and cheap to visit the other city for a day trip if you want to.

The shinkansen deal in post 2 is good and is valid for the fast Nozomi shinkansen. Just exchange the voucher for tickets before your travel day to save time, and also if you want an early start. The exchange offices are open in the evening, but not early morning.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
600 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

In total it's a short amount of time but I think you can cover a few Tokyo neighborhoods in 2 days. Start by figuring out the sights you want to visit so that you can see them efficiently. I can't speak to Osaka but you need a few days to see Kyoto. If you need some suggestions, here's a trip report I wrote with our itinerary, photos, recs, and some costs:


Hope it helps with planning.

Tsukuba, Japan
Level Contributor
9,694 posts
317 reviews
6. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

You should book your hotel in Kyoto or Osaka ASAP, because it's the highest Cherry Blossom season. I'm afraid it's hard to book a hotel in Kyoto on April now, because most hotels in the hole Kansai Region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, etc.) are fully booked by the huge numbers of visitors to Kyoto. I visit Kyoto on April for 5 years in a row, and have to book my hotel 6 months before (on October). If you cannot find a hotel in Kyoto, you should look for in Osaka and cities in Shiga Prefecture, such as Otsu, Seto, Kusatsu, which are close to Kyoto.

Here are my articles for this season.



Here is my article for what to see in Kyoto.


San Francisco...
Level Contributor
5,306 posts
24 reviews
7. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

Glad to hear you're excited to visit Japan!

Check out this link for details about Golden Week: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2282.html

The Shinkansen is a great experience. You might save some time by flying home from Osaka (which is near Kyoto).

London, United...
Level Contributor
49 posts
19 reviews
8. Re: First time in Japan - can't wait!

Thank you everyone. Amazing help. I want food and culture, where should I base myself for 3.5 days, Osaka or Kyoto ?

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