While we were in South Korea, Japan finally re opened its gates after 3 years of Covid interdictions. It was a great occasion for us to visit this country. Our budget kept us from staying too long, so we only had 13 days to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo and the Mount Fuji.
CoVid restrictions for travellers in Japan
To enter in Japan since the 11th of october 2022, no need to have a guide (as it was during CoVid crisis), you can enter freely in the country if you are fully vaccinated. We had our 3rd dosis in Chile, so for us it was easy: only need to fill in a form on arrival with the staff helping you. The masks are still worn everywhere (people here are very respectful about rules).
– You can rent traditional kimonos everywhere (between 2000 and 3000¥). It’s very common in touristic places to see japanese with those nice costumes.
– Toilets are not a legend: the most clean and modern I have ever seen…
– 3 ways to say hello: “Good morning” = Ohayo Gozaimasu, “Good afternoon” = Konnichiwa, “Good evening” = Konbanwa. They say ”Hi” to say a little bit everything: thank you, ok, you’re welcome… But the real “Thanksl is Arigatô gozaimas.
Transportation in Japan:
– To take the metro you first need to check the fare of the station you want to go to. Then just select it from the screen of the machines (you can pay by cash or credit card). Note that you can buy 1 day tickets, could be useful if you intent to travel a lot and walk less!
– We booked our bus between Kyoto and Tokyo on Willer website, and the one from Tokyo to Mount Fuji on Highway buses website.
From Busan we arrived in Kansai international airport, on an island in south west of Osaka. It was easy to get to the center: direct train to Namba station (1h – 940¥), in the heart of the city nearby Dotonburi. We walked few hours in the area, passing through Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street, visiting the Tsutenkaku tower (900¥) and having lunch on the Tombori River walk.
Second day we visited the castle of Osaka (entrance 600¥) and walked all day long around Tenjinbashi, with an other huge shopping street, Nakanoshima park area, and went back to Dotonburi to enjoy the lights and nightlife!
To stay in Osaka: I recommend the Mystays Otemae hotel, nearby the castle, the subway, supermarkets, and not so expensive (we paid 4360¥ per night for a studio with kitchen)
Only 45min from Osaka Umeda train station (570¥), we left our bags in the hotel nearby Kyoto train station, and went directly to Fushimi Inari, a temple famous for its 1000 gates. As the borders recently opened, we were not 1000 of tourists, but still on a saturday there was a lot of people!
Second day we visited the Bambu Forest (metro to Uzumasa Tenjingawa and tram until Arashimaya). Very touristic area with a nice river, the pouss pouss and lot of restaurants (we recommend Akamanma and its nice terrasse – even if it’s italian cooking and they accept only cash). We took back the tram until Kitanohakubaicho station to visit the Golden Palace (400¥), really made in gold and shiny walls!
Third day was rainy, so we only visited Nishiki Market.
4th day we went to Kurama, a very nice mountain with temples lost in the nature (300¥). After coming back we wanted to visit the imperial palace but we discovered you need to book in advance… Still the garden around is huge to visit, and the river path nearby is a pretty place to eat and rest.
Last day we went to the Philosopher path, a nice walk by a river surrounded by cherry trees. It lead us to the Silver pavillon and its nice garden (500¥). Then we joined the most touristic but also most beautiful area of Kyoto: Gion. It’s a huge place, and the interesting part is a bit far from the metro station.
Best places to visit Gion: Yasaka pagoda, Kiyomizu temple, Yasaka jinja, Kodaiji, Ryozen Kannon temple, Chishaku-in temple and the southern parallel street of Shirakawa river.
If you have more time: Visit Nijo-Jo, and Sento imperial palace (do not forget to book in advance online as its only guided visits).
To stay in Kyoto:
– Pocket Hotel, maybe the most futurist hostel we’ve been (28€/night for a tiny double room).
– If you want to experience a traditional accommodation in a century house and sleep on a futon: Waraku An guesthouse (50€ a double room).
Transportation in Kyoto:
– Metro: between 200 and 260¥ depending where you go.
– Bus: 230¥ (you also can take day cards)
– Train to Kurama: 430¥ from Demachiyanagi.
Arrived at 6am in an uncomfortable night in the bus, we left our stuff in a locker and discovered the Hoppy street, the Kaminarimon gate and Asakusa sanctuary still asleep! It was kind of magic… After that we walked to Ueno park and visited the National museum (1000¥). We finished the day in Yanaka Ginza, a small and cute area, before ended in our hotel located in Oji.
Second day we wanted to visit the imperial palace garden but it was closed on Fridays (as well on Monday). So we walked through the financial district to Ginzu, famous commercial area.
The same day we visited Hama Rikyu garden (300¥) and Shinjuku, a very animated place where we visited an other garden (Sinjuku Gyoen park, 500¥) to wait for the sunset and the lights by night. Don’t forget in Shinjuku to pass through Omoide Yokocho where you can have a traditional dinner in mini restaurants!
3rd day we went to the Tokyo tower area in the morning, and Shibuya in the afternoon and evening. There you can find the largest crossing of the World (don’t miss it, it’s a living show nearby Shibuya station). You also have a park with a lot of animations and music: Yoyogi Koen.
Bus from Kyoto: 5500¥, 6h booked on Willer
To stay in Tokyo: Oji guesthouse music and lounge, 3726¥ per night a double room
Mount Fuji is visible from various towns around lakes. We chose Kawaguchiko: only 2h from Shinjuku with a direct bus.
Nearby the station you can rent bikes (1500¥ a day from 9am to 5pm) and make a nice loop around the lake to enjoy the beautiful view on this old volcano. We also went to Iriguchi ropeway with its cable car, walking down by ourselves. Tip: do this tour counter clock wise, as the Mount can be cloudy in the afternoon.
End of the day we climbed to Chureito Pagoda where you can enjoy an amazing sunset.