Short and Sweet 1-week Kansai Itinerary

Short and Sweet 1-week Kansai Itinerary

To travel or not to travel… I have been thinking and overthinking and not sleeping and worrying, all at once, and then some more. What does that have to do with a Kansai itinerary, you may wonder?

I am starting my three-week holiday that I planned about nine months ago, only to find it shot to pieces. Normally I would be in Nepal on a charity mission right now. Due to family illness, I had to cancel.

So when things get tough and I get some time to myself, researching potential future trips is my best way to relax and recharge a bit, and also, whatever I research, might come in useful – sooner or later!

Because if all goes well, I may be able to take a week to travel. After spending six weeks in Nagasaki last year, I have been dreaming to return to Japan. Reading how incredibly busy the famous destinations of Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka get nowadays, I am planning to mix a few highlights with lesser visited yet culturally rich destinations. I saw some of the “Must See” sights in the early 2000’s, so I have been dreaming up a trip of a week revisiting some of the grand sights but seeing mostly new places, with an emphasis on traditional culture, food, unique accommodation and a bit of craft and book shopping.

Oh, and it should not break the bank, either.

Vintage photo of me at Heian jingu, 2005 – not busy at all

Come with me on a short but sweet Japan dream trip! I used some older Kyoto picture from my first couple of trips… some were taken on a compact film camera, and then I moved on to a basic Canon Ixus in 2005 – so forgive the fuzz and noise!

Kansai Itinerary Practicalities

Here are some things I learned from previous trip, as well as some essential planning – and why I might be doing things slightly different.

Getting to Japan

I will have a week for this Kansai itinerary, and may need to work half the departure day, so there is no alternative to flying this time.

Tokyo and Osaka Airports are major international hubs, so most reasonably priced flights go there. Tokyo Narita is a bit further out, and Haneda, closer to the city, is being expanded as an international hub.

International flights to Osaka mostly land at Kansai International Airport, about an hour from the city. Osaka and Kyoto are very close together, and you can go to Kyoto from KAnsai INternational Airport by train (Japan Rail “Haruka” Express) without changing. Osaka Itami is a smaller city airport that serves domestic flights only

There are, however exceptions. Last year I flew from Germany to Fukuoka, with a nice Taipei layover, for 900 Euro.

Travel costs

In the past, a Japan Rail Pass was a no brainer to buy. It allows travel on all Japan Rail trains except the Nozomi Shinkansen. As prices went up substantially in 2023, the pass would now cost about 315 Euro for seven days. So, no.

Thankfully, there are many other passes and discounts for tourists available. For my Kansai itinerary, I have looked into the Japan Rail Kansai Area Pass, which, at 7000JPY (42 Euro) for four days, is a good deal. Meaning I could take the Nankai Line on the first day, then switch to the pass for the three travel days and a day trip, and pay extra for the airport train on my last day. It also includes free subway rides in Kyoto for one day.

Hankyu Railways also issues a two-day tourist pass for about 8 Euro – unbeatable value but needs to be pre-purchased by tourists.

However… there may not be such a huge difference as trains except the Shinkansen are very reasonably priced by distance. Also, I will be taking trains on the private Kintetsu Line between Kansai and Sakai/Osaka, and probably on the Hankyu Line between Osaka/Umeda and Kyoto and may be better off paying fares separately rather than a pass on four consecutive days as I will have six travel days. It’s also easy, ticket machines are bilingual and out of region IC cards can be used to purchase tickets but not as a direct ticket.

Visa, Money, Accommodation, Internet

As a EU citizen, a 90-day free visa is automatically stamped in my passport upon arrival after filling our a short form.

I have never brought Japanese Yen into the country, only some emergency cash in Euro and two credit cards. Basically, pretty much anything can be paid with a credit card, except some smaller restaurants. Last year, I found convenience stores the most reliable place to withdraw cash. I used 7-11 and Lawson.

In addition to this, I found an integrated chip card (IC) very useful. You can pay train fares, bus fares, food, larger items in shops… they are amazing and almost eliminate the need for cash. They come in many forms – Suica, PASMO are the most well-known ones. They can be bought in larger train stations and in the airport. On a Kansai itinerary, it’s most likely going to be the ICOCA card. Last year in Nagasaki I bought the SUGOCA at the train station and it can be used in all Japan to purchase things including train tickets, so I am hanging on to that one.

Kansai itinerary, Kyoto, Shoren-in Temple
Giant camphor tree at Shoren-in Temple, Kyoto

For accommodation, I use for all my Japan trips. I can only recommend to book all your accommodation well in advance, especially if you want special accommodation – business hotels in larger cities usually have last-minute availability but while it may be fun to stay in a capsule or the extremely practical business hotels, it’s like see one, see them all. I like my accommodation smaller, traditional, and value for money, and I am please to have found some real gems through

I haven’t bothered with a SIM card for Japan so far. WiFi internet is usually freely available and quite good in accommodations and often in public places – for example Nagasaki had internet near municipal buildings and at tram stops. I downloaded offline maps and Japanese vocabulary, and I don’t need the internet for a lot more when I am out and about. This may be different if there are some decent tourist SIM cards for sale in the airport – that wasn’t the case in Fukuoka and Nagasaki airports last year, and my phone is too old for a e-SIM.

Day light and opening hours

I checked sunrise and sunset for Osaka and found them to be very favourable in late May, when I am travelling. Sun rises around 5am, so I will have some very early mornings taking photos, especially in Kyoto, which can get quite crowded. Sun sets just before 19.00.

Many temples in Kyoto (and elsewhere) open between 8.00 and 9.00 and close between 17.00 and 18.00.

Generally, shops are open either through the week or, in the case of smaller shops, close for one day. In a touristy place like Kyoto, most shops are open on Saturday and Sunday. Generally speaking shop hours are between 10.00 and 18.00, with many more touristy shops open until 20.00. I use Google Maps to check store opening times, so far, they have been quite reliable in Japan.

Day 1: Departure

Actually I may need to work in the morning. Scheduling issues around national holidays… so I can leave in the early afternoon. Fly to Kansai. And that will be the first travel day done. Does this count as a holiday day?

Day 2: Arrive KIX, visit Sakai

If all goes well, my flight will land around lunchtime and knowing the efficiency in Japanese airports, I will be out within the half hour. I am a nervous flyer and don’t sleep that well on planes and am not keen to give myself the full Osaka treatment. I’ve been twice and found it a bit overwhelming.

Also, I will probably want to eat a lot of Japanese food, and have nice restaurants in walking distance to my hotel. So, what am I to do?

Well… I’ll stay near the airport and near Osaka. I looked at Wakayama and Sakai. Although Wakayama has the cute “Tama Densha” and a calico cat as a station master, I chose Sakai for various reasons.

Firstly, Sakai is closer to Osaka, making onward travel super easy. Sakai is also relatively small and totally not very touristy. It is the home of Japan’s most famous bladesmiths. Although I am well served by the Matsubara knives I bought last year, but I do love a good kitchen implement, and reading that many of the Sakai knife shops actually have workshops attached I thought I will go and take a look. Sakai has a Traditional Crafts Museum that is mostly about knives as well.

Also… Shimano is based in Sakai, and as a cyclist, that adds to the attraction – and there is a cycling museum as well.

Last not least… Sakai has the third-largest mausoleum in the world. It was built for Emperor Nintoku in the 5th Century CE. It is all underground and currently not open to visitors but can be admired from the observation platform of Sakai City Hall, where it looks like a giant keyhole when seen from above.

Stopover: If you are into Japanese cookware and are not going to visit Sakai, you might want to visit Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street in central Osaka, very close to Namba Station. All the Sakai brands are there, as well as tableware, pots, even the realistic food replicas. Basically, it’s the Kappabashi-dori of Osaka but less famous, and allegedly with better prices, too.

Travel: a short hop from KIX to Sakai on the private Nankai-Kuko Line. About 900-1400 JPY (5.50-8.50 Euro) depending on type of train.

Accommodation: 1 night in Sakai at Sakainoma Hotel. Why did I choose it? In an area that isn’t super touristy with a default option of mid-priced business hotels, this small traditional house with Japanese style rooms really stood out. It is basically a beautiful pared-down Japanese style cafe with tatami rooms. Right in Sakai’s main business street, a stone’s throw from the knife forges and the SAkai Knife museum. And a steal at about 40 Euro per night.

Day 3: Tambasasayama

This would be a travel day, but with just a week, I don’t want to cover huge distances. I will see what I was unable to see the previous day, then make my way to north to Sasayama.

Initially I started out planning a visit to the pottery village of Tamba, a destination on my Japanese Ceramics Dream Trip. It is one of Japan’s six ancient kilns, after all. But then I got sidetracked and found Sasayama, which is much more accessible, has an old castle and an 17th Century merchant housing district called Kawaramachi Tsumairi Merchant Housing District. It also has at least five museums, including a pottery museum, local history museum, Aoyama History Village and a Samurai Museum – plenty to see and do in a day.

If I can manage, I will visit Tamba village as well. It boasts the oldest intact climbing kiln, the Hyogo Museum of Ceramics and a handful ceramic ateliers. Despite being only 15km away, it’s a bit of a pain to get to, taking over an hour and a half by train and bus or by local bus.

Travel: This is a tad complicated as Sakai is on the Nankai Line. So it’s a local Nankai to Shin-Imamiya, a short hop on Osaka Loop Line then a local JR Train on the Fukuchiyama Line from Osaka JR Station to Sasayamaguchi, then bus for the last 5km. This will cost about 2000JPY (12 Euro)

Accommodation: 1 night in Sasayama at Oito Guesthouse. I chose it because… well, just look at it. Incredible aesthetic. This is an Edo era traditional machiya townhouse in a historical area of traders houses with handmade furniture and a cool cafe on site. It will be my splurge, aside from undoubtedly numerous nice meals and maybe a bit of shopping. I booked a room for 80 Euro per night.

Day 4: Kyoto

My plan would be to enjoy the incredible Oito Guesthouse a bit more, see what I didn’t see the day before in Sasayama, then make my way to Kyoto to arrive for my guesthouse check-in in the afternoon.

By the time I get to Kyoto, it may well be afternoon, so I will check in, visit a bookshop, maybe take a walk in the neighbourhood, especially if staying in Gion. Many temples close around 17.00-18.00, whereas many Shinto shrines are open around the clock.

And I am well aware that Kyoto will be far, far busier than in 2004 and 2005 – especially 2004, when I visited on my own in February and had most temples practically to myself. I might get quite a rude awakening.

Kansai Itinerary: girls praying at Kiyomizudera Temple
Praying at Kiyomizudera, Kyoto, 2004. Moderately busy

Transport: This takes about 2.5 hours when done without longer stops, and involves, firstly, a 5km wiggly bus ride to JR Sasayama Station, a rapid train on JR Fukuchiyama Line to JR Osaka then a Rapid train on the main JR Sanyo line to Kyoto. This will cost about 2400 JPY (14.50 Euro). If possible, I will try to take the fancy Kyo-Garaku train (Hankyu) from Osaka-Umeda to Kyoto, which runs just four times a day at 9.32, 11.32, 13.32 and 15.32 but only on weekends. It costs the normal fare and no reservation is necessary.

Accommodation: 3 nights in Kyoto at Nihonkan, which is very close to the JR Kyoto Station, or Kyoto Shirakawa Kiraku Inn in Gion.

Given my plan to do some day trips on the train I had initially booked the Nihonkan. It is a stone’s throw from Kyoto Station in a Showa era building, very retro in feel, with tatami rooms at an incredible price – about 35 Euro per night for a single room. However, I slightly got my dates wrong, then found no availability for my new dates, so I found Kiraku Inn, a proper old machiya house in Gion – for even less, about 30 Euro per room. Both options have small tatami rooms, with shared bathroom and look similar. Kiraku Inn, is in a more attractive area and has the added benefit of a small garden and a resident cat!

Day 5: Kyoto

This would be the 25th of the month and a Saturday, so I would head to Kitano tenman-gu shrine flea market in the early morning.

Depending how laden down I will be, I would then consider seeing some Western Kyoto temples and shrines. Of course, there is the beautiful Kinkaku-ji “Golden Temple”, which undoubtedly would be very busy any time, but I have been to Ryoan-ji with its beautiful Zen Garden and the huge Daitoku-ji with multiple gardens to choose from before, neither of which were very busy.

Kansai Itinerary> Kinkaku-ji Temple , with its beautiful reflection in the water, is a highlight but can get very busy
Kyoto Kinkaku-ji – arriving at opening time ensured a nice empty scene… back in 2004

Also in the area are loads more nice temples and shrines such as Ninna-ji and Imamiya-jinja, not terribly famous but in a super nice area, calling for exploration. It’s also quite spread out, so a bicycle will come in very useful.

Depending on how busy it is, I would try to see some of Kyoto’s famous temples such as Ginkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera, in a hilly area in Eastern Kyoto called Higashiyama. Back in 2004, I walked this area, fro Kiyomizu-dera via Kodai-ji, Chion-in and Shoren-in to Heian-jingu. Even then, with much better legs than now, I found it fairly challenging.

Ihoan Tea house at Kodai-ji Temple, practically deserted back in 2004

So I feel this day definitely calls for a bicycle rental. I see how far I get and once I am tired, retired to the shops. There’s another advantage to staying in Gion, as it is really quite close to the cluster of shops in Gion or a 10-minute hop on a city bus from Chion-in-mae.

Day 6: Kyoto

Sunday, which may be quite busy in Kyoto. Given that I have three full days in Kyoto, I may go on a day trip – depending on how I feel.


On previous trips, I have been to Nara, of course. It takes about an hour from Kyoto on the Nara JR Line and can get very busy. It is full of magnificent temples. The easiest way to get there is to take the Kintetsu Line from Osaka, or, coming from Kyoto the JR Nara Line, from where it’s an extra kilometre walk.

The one I remember well is Todai-ji, a dark brooding temple and allegedly the largest wooden structure in the world. And what I really remember is people squeezing through some hole in a wooden pillar, which I filed under just some other weird thing people in Japan do.

The photogenic Kasuga-Taisha is short walk away and completely different style – bright red, filled with flowers and with gold lanterns. And very close to the Station is Kofukiji Temple with a distinctive five-storied pagoda and the National Treasure Hall.

Kasuga Taisha in Nara – incredibly picturesque

These are the three temples/shrines you can easily walk to from Kintetsu-Nara Train Station (for trains from Osaka), which leads you through Nara Park with the famous tame deer and past the Nara National Museum. There are some other visit-worthy temples in the area: Toshidaiji Temple, an elegant dark wood temple in central Nara, about 5km away from Nara Park, Yakushi-ji Temple, and impressive vermilion feast next door.


On the same train  line is Uji, an extremely pleasant small town that often gets overseen in favour of Nara. Superb temple viewing here in the form of Byodo-in and the Ujigami Shrine, much closer together and linked by pedestrian streets full of tea and sweets stalls. Uji is also famous for “Tales of Genji”, set in Uji, and its green tea.

Byodo-in in Uji seen through the maple, 2008 -I moved on to a Nikon D80 by then

And if you can fancy it, on the return, stop by Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Inari is a stop on the JR Nara line serving both Uji and Nara. Known for its lanes of torii gate, Fushimi Inari Shrine has become one of Kyoto’s most-visited sights and get crowded. However… the shrine is open round the clock, and its sanctuary and main entrance only a 2-minute walk from the train station, so if you have daylight left, start walking uphill.

Fushimi Inari Shrine, 2008… pretty empty. And some basic Orton effect experimentation

There are a few different torii-lined approaches to the hill the main shrine is on, dotted with smaller shrines, no need to walk up the entire hill. Having visited both in daylight and at night, before the days of Instagram, it was moderately busy in the daytime, but I encountered exactly no one at night.

Lake Biwa and Harie

This time, however, my choice would be Harie on the banks of Lake Biwa. This traditional village has a traditional “kabata” water supply system, fed by underground springs and small streams and is caught in several types of basins. Some are filled with carp, which help to maintain water quality – and eat food remnants from dishes left in those basins. I watched a TV programme about this a couple of years ago and was fascinated by this. I saw a water system resembling kabata in Okawachiyama and I love rural Japan, so if I have the time, I will visit. I just haven’t found a lot of practical information on this – allegedly, there are tours run by volunteers, as it’s not like cone can just freely wander into private homes looking for spring water and carp. Thankfully the Shiga Tourism Website has an article on Harie, saying there are daily tours between 10.00 and 16.00, and Harie Village website has some informationon the kabata but no details on the tours – so I plan to pitch up at 10.00 and see what I can see.

It takes just half hour by train from Kyoto Station on the local Kosei Line to Shin-Asahi and costs 9900 JPY. Then, it’s a 1.5km walk to the village visitor centre.

Day 7: Kyoto and Departure

And now, the last time has come! But, given that many flights leave for Europe late at night, I will have an almost full day to spend in Kyoto! Also, being a weekday, it may be less busy. More temples, if I feel like it.

Perhaps lunch in Osaka and a smaller shopping excursion near Osaka Hankyu and JR Stations which both have malls attached. Or cookware shopping near Namba Station. The advantage of staying close to railway stations is that all have luggage lockers, so it’s easy to check out and store the luggage on the last day before leaving.

Or I stay in Kyoto, where I will undoubtedly have more shops and temples and museums to visit, or early morning photo walks to do…

Heian Jingu Kyoto, 2005… practically deserted

My flight leaves late at night from Kansai Airport. The Haruka Express from Maibara stops at JR Kyoto and takes just over an hour to the airport. Or, if I missed it on the way in , I will try fot the Kyo-Garaku Train to Umeda and then change. It leaves Kyoto Kawaramachi Train Station at 10.41, then two hourly, with the last train at 16.41.


Honestly, my requirements are simple. Rarely any must-see shops but that may change once I get to Japan. I like Japanese food, especially hard-to get rice crackers, Japanese fashion and interiors in general, and I haul home a good amount of cookware on each trip. I bookmarked a large number of shops but I will count myself lucky if I manage to go to a few.

Osaka/ Sakai

Sakai will be my first port of call, so not too much shopping there. I already have a few Japanese cooking knives from Shu Matsubara, but one could always have another one… right? I tend to use smaller knifes rather than the (very nice) chef knives I bought, so I will look out for a Petty (from “petit”) knife for comfort, and perhaps a stainless steel Santoku – because I am lazy. Or… to be honest, I am not so sure!

Notable knifemakers who have shops are Murata Hamono Cutlery, Jikko (web site comes with a pretty great knife guide, but knives aren’t cheap), Sakai Tohji (very broad price ranges), and Yamawaki Hamono – to name just a few easily accessible ones off Sakai’s main Kishu-Kaido.

Also, if you haven’t got them already, Japanese sharpening whetstones to go with the knife are a good idea. And I really would like a knife roll.

If I get the chance, I will make a short trip to Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street in central Osaka (Namba) to look for useful kitchen ware.

In terms of fabric shopping, I haven;t found much in Osaka. One of the larger fabric and crafting shops is Otsukaya – in particular, the Esaka branch, north of Shin-Osaka station. Yuzawaya is another chain, with a handy location in Osaka’s Umeda (Hankyu) Station.


My trip to Tambasasyama will be all about exploring off the tourist routes, and visit some cracking guest houses and cafes. I will take a look at Hakutoya, a cute “concept” craft store.


Here, I will head for some fabric and kimono shops and also see where they make the beautiful small hand towels called tenugui.

First port of call will probably Nomura Tailor, which is a famous fabric store – and has an English web site. I did not buy any Japan-exclusive Liberty fabric last time, so I will look for that and for some simple graphic prints.

Also, because I like their fabric, I will visit Sou Sou – a modern brand using both traditional patters and modernist ones. They are pretty much a lifestyle brand and have a number of shops, for tabi, clothes, accessories clustered together.

For tenugui, Eirakuya in Gion is the traditional, “famous” shop.

And then, the needle shop, called Misuyabari. Right now, the choice of needles just overwhelms me, I will, however, get some needles for thick/ wool fabric and quilting needles. Oh, and beading needles.

Also, after never having worn a kimono, I would like to try one. I heard vintage kimono are very reasonably priced in Japan, so I look at flea markets, and maybe go to a second hand kimono shop. I really would like to try the whole thing but feel too self-conscious to walk around in one all day… but I could always use them for the fabric. There are sewing books in Japan dedicated to “kimono recycling”. Again, the biggest cluster of secondhand kimono shops is around Teramachi-dori, like Harajuku Chicago (large chain of secondhand clothes stores), Nostalgic Toushinan, Antiques Kimono Lily, Wargo (no website, kimono sold by weight) and Ochikochiya.

Also, one cannot have enough incense sticks, right? Often, incense is sold together with paper and paper products. I have good memories of Kyukyodo – a venerable old Kyoto establishment for incense and some good paper. Also, there are Kamiji-Kakimoto (paper) and Fukui-Asahido (very traditional looking) and Suuzando Hashimoto (mostly lettering paper). Last not least, Loft (department store) is good for more modern paper products like Hobonichi planners and Midori notebooks.

The good news is, all these shops are clustered together in the Kawaramachi shopping district near a passage called Teramachi.

Further shops are in Gion, like Vintage Kimono AN Gion (2Q2H+22 Kyōto, Präfektur Kyōto, Japan, no website), and Eirakuya.

Tea and wagashi (traditional rice starch based sweet)

And how could I leave Japan without some tea? Honestly, a decent local green tea can be found in most supermarkets. My local supermarket in Nagasaki sold super local Goto Islands and Sonogi teas, including ceremonial matcha, and I actually visited a tea grower in Sonogi. Uji is the famous local tea region, so I would head to Ujicha Kigetsudo (Japan, 〒605-0088 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Nishinocho, 230-1 新門前通大和大路東入西之町230−1 宇治茶喜月堂, no website, somewhat restrictive opening hours) which is conveniently 100m from my guest house.


I will also visit book stores. In Japan, large train stations, often have malls attacked, and in those, there is usually at least one book store. Tsutaya and Kinokuniya are large chains. For example, JR Osaka Station has a large Tsutaya. In Kyoto, it appears more smaller stores, although there is a large Kyoto-based chain called Ogaki with a main store near Karasuma train/Shijo Metro station. My weakness: craft and sewing books, with a side of cookbooks.

To be honest, there is nothing I really “need” other than a refill of my favourite Japanese rice crackers, green tea, Calpis concentrate and favourite candy. I have pinned a few supermarkets in Kyoto where I hopefully find all that and load up before I leave. I try to take it easy and rather take tons of photographs rather than visit too many shops.

The Small Print

This is a Kansai itinerary “dream trip” or rather a short itinerary for visiting cultural highlights of Kyoto mixed with some off the beaten track Japan within easy access of Kansai Airport.

No money has exchanged hands yet, but if and when I go on this trip, I will pay my own way, as always, using my hospital job salary. I will always be open about what I paid for things, because I am on a regular salary, no sponsorship etc.

Accommodation links are affiliate links to, which means that if you make a booking using them, I may earn a small commission. All other links are non-affiliate.

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14 thoughts on “Short and Sweet 1-week Kansai Itinerary”

  • Your photos has inspired me to visit this region of Japan. I missed it the last time I visited. Have you visited since 2004? I know a lot of these places would be really busy since but I wonder if anything about it would’ve changed since your visit 🙂

    • Hi Caroline, yes, I was studying in Nagasaki last year which is moderately touristy and never felt crowded. I actually went to Japan two weeks ago on an itinerary similar to this (report in progress) and indeed I was a bit shocked when I arrived in Kansai Airport as immigration was super crowded. Then I went to smaller places with almost no foreign tourists, then upon my arrival in Kyoto I was quite shocked and found it super exhausting. Crowded buses, Downtown area super crowded. I then rented a bicycle and apart from two UNESCO Heritage sites, visited smaller temples, and I was off the beaten track again. So, yes, Kyoto was definitely more crowded with foreign tourists who, let’s face it, can behave a bit different than the usually reserved Japanese, but they were easy to get away from.

  • Your photos have a beautiful, nostalgic vibe, I love it! Can’t wait to use your tips next time I’m in Japan

    • It’s because they are (mostly) film shots from… 2004! Scanned film. DOn’t think I used a special camera, probably an Olympus Mju-1 or Leica Mini I had at the time. I just returned from a trip to Kansai, actually and while I would love to take a film camera, my ageing gear is so heavy that I left any extra equipment at home.

  • I like how you give shopping tips that are about useable yet specifically Japan crafted things. They’re interesting souvenir ideas.

    • Hi Teja, thank you! Well… I often cannot resist the lure of the 100 Yen shop, but my shopping has mostly been useful – food stuff, samue, knife, sewing needles. I am not interested in fast fashion or poorly made stuff. Japan is great for traditional crafts.

  • It’s been twenty years (maybe more??) since I visited Japan but I have never stopped thinking about going b ack. I hope it will happen in the next few years. It is magical. Thanks for the great itinerary suggestions.

    • Before my 2023 trip, it was nearly 20 years for me. Way too long, and now I am annoyed with myself I did not return earlier. Japan looked busier in major tourist sites but still beautiful. I really hope your Japan trip will happen soon!

  • My big trip to Japan keeps getting delayed but at least I can read articles about new places that I must see. Thanks for great info.

    • Hi Terri, you are welcome! I somehow seem to find perfect excuses to drop a grand on a Japan flight whereas I am umming and ahhhing over other destinations. At least thanks to a relatively good exchange rate, a holiday in Japan is well cheaper than one in Central/Western Europe once you are there, and culturally it’s super interesting.

  • This looks like a great itinerary away from the big named sites in Japan. Thanks for the advice on booking very early to find authentic places to stay. Business hotels work in a bind, but I much prefer smaller and local lodging.

    • Hi Sonia, I tried to mix a few less known places with the famous sites of Kyoto. Kyoto alone has nearly twenty UNESCO Heritage listed sites and it would be a shame not to see some of them, but visiting places with zero foreigners is fun and less stressful, at least for me. I stayed in some business hotels (SPeria chain) and they are comfy but I prefer the unique design of smaller Japanese guesthouses.

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