2 weeks in Japan with a Rail Pass – our itinerary

This itinerary for two weeks in Japan takes you from Tokyo through Matsumoto, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji to Hiroshima and all the way back to Tokyo.

We used the JR Pass starting from the airport on day 1 until the day we arrived back in Tokyo. At the end, we’ve spent extra 2 days in Tokyo and had to purchase additional tickets to travel around Tokyo and to get us to the airport – if you skip Tokyo or spend less time in one of the other cities we’ve visited and included in this itinerary, you can easily manage to avoid extra cost and make it to the airport before your JR Pass expires.

see how much it costs to travel in Japan

Day 1: Narita Airport – Tokyo Station – Nagano – Matsumoto

We landed at Narita airport after 8am, but it took us about 30 minutes to get through immigration and over an hour to exchange our rail pass orders for actual JR Passes. If you know your exact schedule, you can book your seats on Shinkansen trains at the same time, which I would recommend doing if you’re there during busy times of the year. Otherwise, you can book the seats on the day of travel, or stay in non-reserved cars. The only seat we booked while exchanging our rail pass orders was for the train we were about to catch to Tokyo Station. We also got our first onigiri (rice balls), drinks and data sim card at the airport.

After all the formalities were done we were ready to start the journey. From Narita airport, we caught the N’EX train to Tokyo Station. It takes about 50 minutes and is a very convenient way to get to Tokyo.

At Tokyo Station, we transferred to shinkansen part of the station and at that point, I was barely able to contain my excitement – I’m about to ride on a bullet train for the first time in my life!

There was enough time to grab a bento box before our train to Nagano departed. Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagano takes 1 hour and 53 minutes, so it’s good to have some food with you, otherwise, you can purchase some snacks on board. In Nagano, we transferred to a Shinano train towards Osaka and in 50 minutes we finally arrived in Matsumoto.

bento box on a shinkansen train Japan 2015

Our hotel – Hotel New Station Matsumoto –  was about 5 minutes walk from the train. We quickly checked in, showered (after all night flight and a long journey in the summer heat we really needed that), had a nap and met again for an early dinner. Our first choice was Sakura Ramen – small restaurant serving great ramen and cold beer. No one seemed to speak English, but you make your order in a machine with pictures, so communication shouldn’t be a problem. Beer didn’t have a picture on the machine, but that’s one of the words you need to learn before you come to Japan – bīru.

A walk to the Matsumoto Castle was in order after dinner and wow, Matsumoto did put a great show to welcome us. Gorgeous sunset was a perfect backdrop to the castle.

Matsumoto Castle sunset 2015

Matsumoto sunset 2015

Day 2: Matsumoto Castle & Kiso Valley walk

Day 2 started with a visit to Japan’s oldest castle – the Matsumoto Castle. The ticket costs ¥610 for adults and includes admission to the city museum. On hot days, like the one we were there, it’s quite a challenge to climb all the stairs inside the castle, but the view is very rewarding.

After lunch, we jumped on a train to Yabuhara, from where we walked to Narai via the Torii Pass route (which is a part of the Nakasendo Walk). Nakasendo Highway was completed in the Edo Period (1603–1867) as a road connecting Kyoto and Edo (present day Tokyo), now it’s a popular walking track.

kiso vellay torii pass walk

The part we chose was only about 5km long but due to the heat and us getting lost a few times it took longer than we expected. When we arrived in Narai, which has a beautiful street full of old houses leading to the station, we were quite hungry and all restaurants and shops were already closed after 5pm.

The thing I didn’t know before we left for the walk was that there are bears around. Few times we walked past signs saying “beware of bears” and most of the signs had bells attached to them. Later I read in a small guidebook that it is recommended to walk the Torii Pass route with a bell or something that makes noise. If you’re going for the walk, be more responsible than we were.

Dinner (this time we went for soba noodles) was at Kurekino restaurant, conveniently located at the Matsumoto Station.

soba dinner matsumoto

Day 3: Snow Monkeys and a short visit to Nagano

When we went outside the hotel to get some coffee and breakfast it was already over 30°C and we knew we had to cancel our hiking plans. It would be unbearable and dangerous to walk in such heat. That’s why we decided to visit the monkeys.

I already wrote about the Snow Monkeys. You won’t be able to do the whole trip on JR Pass and an extra cost of ¥2900 is involved.

After visiting the monkeys we were back in Nagano, so we’ve decided to have a look around. Unfortunately, we were defeated by the heat again and didn’t see much more than around the station and inside the shopping mall. From the air-conditioned bus, the area looked very pretty, so I’m sure it would be nice to visit in more bearable time.

Day 4: Matsumoto -> Nagoya -> Kyoto

I couldn’t wait to visit Kyoto, it was one of those places that I read about a lot and was kind of obsessing over it. So quite early we checked out from our hotel, bought onigiri and coffee for breakfast and jumped on a train to Nagoya (where we were stopping for a few hours to have a look around). It takes just over 2 hours to get from Matsumoto to Nagoya on a Shinano train.

Nagoya crossing

Quick research during the train ride told us we should have unagi (grilled eel) for lunch at Sawasho restaurant. Wherever I’ve found the tip about that place was right – it was excellent. They didn’t seem like they get a lot of tourists there and the waitress didn’t even know they have an English version of the menu. But the meal – unagi on rice, miso soup and some pickles – was one of the best meals on that trip. I highly recommend this one!

Nagoya is the home of the Science Museum with the world’s largest planetarium. Hubby and his brother came back a few days later just to visit the museum, while I was exploring food markets in Kyoto. They said it was quite interesting but unfortunately, the English descriptions of exhibits are very basic and the guide app doesn’t help much either. The app is free, admission to the museum + planetarium costs ¥800. If you’re not in rush to get to Kyoto you may want to visit the museum on this day.

We also went shopping, then for a walk to see the Nagoya Castle, visited a random green tea (mission “find ice cream”) shop run by some lovely people and back to the station. Kyoto was waiting!

the best green tea matcha ice cream in Nagoya

After we got situated in our apartment (Kyoto Apartment Emblem Kyomon) it started to rain heavily and was keeping us (especially me) inside. When we finally left, we went straight to the Gion district, as I read somewhere it’s best visited in the evening. Sadly, to say it was disappointing would be an understatement. Tons, TONS, of tourists on the street trying to take selfies, photos of people in front of buildings or group photos. Maybe the street was nice, but we couldn’t really see it in that crowd. Until on the way back to our apartment, we stumbled upon some smaller streets. Empty, quiet and charming. As I was on a verge of tears before, the smaller streets gave me my hope back – maybe this visit to “my Kyoto” won’t be so disappointing after all?

Gion Kyoto

Day 5: trip to Nara and Fushimi Inari Shrine

Coffee and onigiri in hand, we rushed to a train. As it turned out shortly, we took a wrong one – this one was indeed going to Nara, but was called “rapid” and therefore not covered by JR Pass. The mistake cost us ¥510 each and by going by the rapid train, we saved no more than 10 minutes of the 50-minute journey.

Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital. Today it’s full of historical places and building as well as it’s dotted with temples. As we have already planned to visit some temples in Kyoto, we didn’t want to overdo it with visiting too many of them, so we skipped the ones in Nara. Instead, we went to see the famous Nara deer and check if they’re really violent when you hold the crackers.

Observation 1: they don’t smell too good. Observation 2: they’re everywhere. Observation 3: they’re not the smartest (we’ve seen one eating a map and another one munching on a plastic bag). Observation 4: yes, they will kick you hard if you don’t give them their crackers fast enough.

On a train back to Kyoto, we came up with the idea of going to the Fushimi Inari Shrine – it was still early in the afternoon and we needed something to do, so it was the perfect solution.

Fushimi Inari is famous for thousands of torii gates, that lead the way to the top of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds. It took us about 1.5 hours to reach the top and almost the same time to come down.

As for crowds – it was quite busy around the first torii gates but after first steep ascend it was significantly less crowded. I’m guessing it must be the case during hot summer months, who in their right mind would climb up the hill in over 30°C?

I’m usually not interested in souvenirs but buying a miniature torii gate was on my to-do list for this trip. I got one for ¥1000 from a hidden shop (others were selling exactly the same ones for about ¥1200).

That day I also discovered my new favourite Japanese beer – Kirin Galaxy Hop Session IPA. I was able to find it only in some Circle K convenience stores and it cost ¥255.

Kirin IPA beer Kyoto

Day 6: Nishiki Market & the best coffee in Kyoto

It was my day of discovering Kyoto solo. There were only 2 things on the agenda: food & coffee. As only my husband had the data sim card in his phone, I was left without internet access, other than free wi-fi that I hoped to find somewhere in case I get lost. My solution? I memorised the map – main streets, directions and some recognisable places. To be safe, I also took a few screenshots of the maps and left ready for the adventure.

First stop: Nishiki Market. I didn’t have any trouble finding it. The market is a very long street with shops and restaurants on both sides. It is known as Kyoto Kitchen because the majority of products and services there are food related. I was in heaven. I also walked the length of the market 4 times, just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

There’s a lot of interesting food to try – like baby octopus filled with a hard-boiled egg, all kinds of pickles, sweets in all shapes and sizes and cold cucumbers on sticks, which are meant to cool you down during summer heat.

Nishiki food market Kyoto

Nishiki food market Kyoto

After all that eating it was time for a coffee. Not just any coffee – I was on a mission to find % Arabica. Their Higashiyama shop is about 2km away from the Nishiki market and it’s a pretty interesting walk, with shops & temples around for most of the way. Most – because the last stretch of the route I’ve chosen provided me with nowhere to hide when a very sudden summer storm started. All wet, but also all happy with my coffee, I was very pleased with the day.

Kyoto looking for the best coffee

Kyoto Arabica the best coffee Japan

Day 7: bamboo forest, temples, Kyoto Station & shopping

We waited for our morning coffee until we were in Arashiyama – that’s where the second % Arabica’s shop is located. With great coffee in hand, we were on our way to one of the most photographed places in Kyoto – the bamboo forest.

There is just one path through the forest and it makes for a short, but lovely, walk. It’s nicely shaded, so even on a sunny summer day didn’t feel too hot and exhausting.

Next stop for the day – Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavillion – another spot from the “most photographed” list. Despite the huge crowds, it somehow felt quiet and different. The temple is built by a pond and has two top floors covered with gold leaf – the whole setting makes for a stunning picture. Entrance fee: ¥400 (the ticket is one of the prettiest we’e seen in Japan).

Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavillion Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavillion Kyoto ticket

After a short lunch & nap break (that heat really made us sleepy), we were ready to go and explore the last temple on our list – Kiyomizu-dera. Located in the hills on the east side of Kyoto, provides excellent views of the city. It’s known for the waterfall which is believed to have special powers – depending on which one of the three stream you choose to drink from, it can help you with school, love life or life longevity. Entrance fee: ¥300.

Kiyomizu-dera kyoto temple

Kiyomizu-dera temple kyoto pagoda

If you’re planning to go between the temples by bus, it’s good to have some change to pay your fare quickly (you pay as you exit the bus – we paid ¥230/person each time).

I managed to convince Hubby and his bro that walking back to our apartment is a good idea. That gave us a chance to grab another % Arabica coffee – their Higashiyama shop is just 10 minutes away from Kiyomizu-dera. And the area between them, the historic Higashiyama district – with its narrow streets and wooden buildings, is very charming and worth a visit.

the best coffee ice latte in Kyoto

When it comes to shopping in Kyoto, the choices are endless. Shijo Street is lined with shops and there are quite a few malls (Yodobashi, AEON, Avanti, Isetan) in and around the Kyoto Station.

Before the trip, I read that the Kyoto Station building is not only one of the most prominent stations in Japan but also a visually striking one. I remembered that when we were walking home that evening. – It’s our last evening in Kyoto, I’ve seen only one of the underground passes, which we use daily and a few platforms. Let’s go to find the stairs and see, really see the station.

The stairs” meant the multimedia stairs with spectacular animated light shows. I found the design very interesting and was excited to explore – my companions not so much “yes it’s nice, can we go now?“. If you’re interested in architecture and design I would say the station building is a must-see in Kyoto.

kyoto station

kyoto station

Day 8: Kyoto -> Osaka

After breakfast, we jumped on a shinkansen to Osaka. Late planning left us with a weird configuration of accommodation – 1 night in an Airbnb apartment and then 2 nights in a hotel.

osaka summer 2015 street

Most of the day was spent on waiting-for-our-airbnb-host drama, doing laundry and relaxing. In the late afternoon, we left our apartment to check out Dōtonbori, eat takoyaki and see the famous illuminated billboards.

By chance, we stumbled upon an opening night of a dragon water show – lots of people, cameras and tv crews watched the performance. Our vantage point wasn’t the best, that’s probably why we left underwhelmed.

Osaka billboards by night

Osaka dragon water show by night summer 2015

Day 9: Street racers, aquarium & castle

– How was your night? Did you hear the noise? – our morning conversation started differently that day. – I’m pretty sure someone was racing right next to our windows.

Quick google search confirmed my suspicions. Kanjozoku are Osaka’s street racers. The name comes from Kanjo Loop –  an elevated section of the Hanshin Expressway that circles the centre of Osaka. Interesting, but the noise was too much for me to sleep comfortably.

For Osaka Aquarium and transport for the day I’ve found Osaka Kaiyu Ticket (one day pass) to offer the best value. It costs ¥2550 (aquarium admission fee itself is ¥2300) and includes: entry to the aquarium, unlimited rides on Osaka municipal transportation network (metro/trams/buses in Osaka City) and unlimited train rides. Plus it gives a discount on other attractions. Our tickets, bought from a station master at a random metro station, came only with a flyer in Japanese, so it’s better to do research before you buy it.

The Aquarium is big and well organised. It shows various forms of life (not only fish but also reptiles, birds and mammals) inhabiting the Pacific Rim. As we were there on Sunday, it was extremely crowded, especially around otters, seals and other cute animals. The line to buy tickets was also huge – another plus of buying the day pass at a metro station.

In the late afternoon, we went for a walk around Osaka Castle. It is surrounded by a beautiful garden and provides great city views. The castle is illuminated by giant lights at night and looks really spectacular. I highly recommend a stroll around the gardens – especially in the early evening, if you’re there in summer, as the temperature will be more bearable.

Osaka castle by night

Day 10: Minoo Park, yuzu ice cream and museum

Minoo Park is a forested valley with a beautiful waterfall only half an hour away from Osaka. We wanted to escape the city for a while, so a stroll in a green area sounded like a great idea.

To go there faster and without transferring between buses, we jumped on a private rail. We couldn’t use our JR Pass there but the ticket to Mino-O Station was only ¥270.

The trail from the station to the waterfall is very easy and mostly flat. There are many shops and cafes near the beginning of the trail and most of them specialise in selling yuzu goods. I opted for yuzu ice cream – it was a vanilla soft serve with yuzu sauce. Oh my, I still have trouble deciding the winner between this one and matcha ice cream! Get on it if you have a chance.

Another local speciality – maple leaf cookies (momiji tempura). Have you ever tried deep fried leaves? It was my first time and it was quite interesting.

On the way back to the station we stopped for a light lunch, beers and coffees at a lovely cafe Hashimototey. Great coffee and very friendly service.

Back in Osaka, we had one more place we wanted to visit – Museum of Housing and Living. It’s a life-size model of a city (buildings and streets) from Edo Period. For a small fee you can rent a kimono and walk around in it feeling awesome 🙂 But to do so, you need to be there early as the number of daily kimonos is limited, and they usually run out of them by lunch time. Every 20 minutes the “sky” (the city is in a big warehouse-like space) turns dark, street lights turn on and first you experience the sunset, then fireworks, storm and night. A very, very cool experience for ¥600.

Osaka museum of housing and living

Osaka museum of housing and living

Day 11: Osaka -> Himeji (via Nagoya, what?!)

When you love something, you make an extra effort to get it… – Let’s go to Nagoya for breakfast today. – Hubby came up with this great idea. – Since we have the JR Passes, we should use them more. 

Nagoya is 50 minutes (by shinkansen) away from Osaka. We went there that morning just to buy Gontran Cherrier’s croissants & pastries and to do the whole trip again plus more. We were heading to Himeji. The ride instead of being roughly 30 minutes took us extra 2 hours. For the love of great French pastries – yes, you can call us crazy.

We left our bags at the hotel and went straight to the Himeji Castle. It is SPECTACULAR. Recently re-opened after 6 years of extensive restoration works.

The castle is very impressive and with its bright white exterior visible from afar. We stared at it while walking all the way from the station (about 15 minutes walk) and the closer we were, the more excited we were getting. We all agreed the castle should be on everyone’s must-see in Japan list.

Inside, the steep stairs to the 6th floor may be too much for some people, especially on a hot summer day. Entrance fee is ¥1000.

After visiting the castle, we wandered around the lovely Himeji city (most tourists come and go on the same day, we stayed for the night). Everyone there seemed very friendly. We even became Himeji-famous when a local musician spotted us in the crowd during his performance and had a little chat with us in between the songs.

I had my afternoon coffee at Hello Kitty Cafe. I just had to. Other than the cafe and being kawaii, the coffee was unfortunately very average.

hello kitty cafe himeji Japan coffee

Day 12: Himeji -> Hiroshima

It was sad to leave Himeji, the city with the cutest mascot in Japan and the place where I quickly felt at home, but there was more waiting for us on this trip.

Hiroshima is only 1 hour away by shinkansen from Himeji. Not every shinkansen stops in Himeji, so I would recommend checking the schedule before you rush to the station.

Depending on the location of your accommodation in Hiroshima, you may want to buy a Streetcar Pass (one day pass ¥600) or if it’s near any of the major tourist spots you can use your JR Pass on the Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus.

We were greeted at the station by one of the volunteers. Very kind lady – Rei, spotted us right away and guided us through the crowd to the right streetcar stop, gave us maps & advice and helped to buy our tickets. If you want to save time at the station, this is definitely a great way to do so.

70 years have passed since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. As we arrived there one day before the big official ceremony, the city, especially in the Peace Memorial area, was extremally crowded.

Hiroshima Peace memorial park 70th anniversary 2015

After checking in at our Airbnb apartment, we went to the Peace Memorial Museum. To say it was jam-packed would be an understatement. It wasn’t easy to go around but at least, we’ve had a lot of time to read all the descriptions. Some of the displayed items are quite upsetting or at least, they were so to me. Being in the crowd didn’t allow me to escape them – another reason not to visit the museum near the anniversary date.

Early dinner that day happened at OkonomimuraHiroshima style okonomiyaki from Humichan (2F) hit the spot and we all agreed it was much better than Osaka style.

Day 13: Miyajima Island

Right after breakfast, we jumped on a streetcar towards Miyajima-guchi. From there, using our JR Passes, we took a JR ferry to Miyajima Island.

Miyajima JR ferry

Miyajima is a small island close to Hiroshima city. It’s most famous for its big torii gate standing in the water. If you missed the deer in Nara, you can meet some at Miyajima too.

The main thing we had planned for that day was hiking Mt. Misen – the highest mountain on Miyajima (535m). It was a huge mistake to go there on a humid day, with a temperature over 30°C and just one big bottle of water for 3 people. We were sweaty, wet, tired and well, we cursed a lot. But we kept going. At the top, the view was incredible. It was worth every single drop of sweat and the reward beer (which we bought after almost running down the mountain) never tasted better.

We didn’t stay long on the island, we had dinner plans with our Airbnb host, and we all needed a solid shower after that hiking workout. I definitely want to go there again next time and explore the area more.

In the evening, we’ve had a very Japanese experience of dining with locals at Riva. Our host and his friends showed us this lovely restaurant, which I would highly recommend to everyone visiting Hiroshima. Their menu is based on local & seasonal ingredients, which is a great way to discover a different side to Japanese cuisine.

Riva restaurant Hiroshima local dining

Riva restaurant Hiroshima local dining

After dinner, we went to see the Lantern Floating Ceremony. Anyone is welcome to write messages of peace & love on the lanterns, which are then set afloat down the river. The experience of watching in almost perfect silence the lights of thousands of lanterns as they float in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome is one of a kind and hard to describe.

lantern floating ceremony hiroshima 70th anniversary

lantern floating ceremony hiroshima 70th anniversary-2

Day 14: Hiroshima -> Tokyo

Breakfast in Hiroshima, lunch in Tokyo. It takes just 4h to travel from Hiroshima to Tokyo on shinkansen. If you’re lucky, you can have great views of Mt Fuji from the train (we didn’t see it, there was a huge cloud).

Depending on when you’ll be departing from Japan, you have a few options. Stop for a few hours in Tokyo and then travel to the airport on your JR Pass. If you have an early flight, change trains at Tokyo Station and head straight for the airport. Or option 3, the one we chose, stay in Tokyo for a few days (this one requires an additional ticket to get to the airport if you’re on a 14 day JR Pass).

Tokyo street people

Tokyo street people shinjuku

Questions & itinerary help

If you have any questions about travelling to & around Japan post them in the comments section below. If you’d like to hire me to create your itinerary please email me at [email protected].

This article includes affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you when you purchase through affiliate links but it helps creators like myself to reach our goals.

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  • Reply
    Dream Matcha
    January 28, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I wish my Matcha Ice Cream came out this consistency. It looks lovely! Nice post.

  • Reply
    Hung Thai
    February 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Oh my goodness this brings back so much memory. It looks like you did way more than me when I was in Japan November last year. I have that exact picture of Osaka Castle! I have to say that the Japan Rail Pass is the best thing ever! I wish the US would adopt something similar – it’s so frustrating sitting in traffic. Very nice post – thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Travel Lexx
    May 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Your itinerary looks incredible – I am currently planning a trip to Japan and will definitely look at it again when I’ve confirmed everything! Great photos too!

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      May 16, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you Lexx Let me know if you need any help with your itinerary. Have a great time in Japan!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I am planing on traveling to Japan next year, possibly in the fall when it’s a little bit cooler and less humid. Hopefully a little less crowded as well, from what I’ve read. But I want to say thank you for sharing your adventures with us. It has given me a lot of good ideas of what to see and where to go.

    Just wondering, do you have a list of things that you probably would skip or pass on if you were to do this trip over? How did you go about setting your accommodations during your trip? This seems to be my most worrisome issue when planning so far, since I am doing so in advance.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2016 at 1:04 am

    This was such an awesome read! I’m heading to Japan with three friends next year for just over 2 weeks and reading your itinerary has inspired me. Thank you for writing it up with some much detail 🙂

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      August 5, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Thank you Lisa. Have fun in Japan!

  • Reply
    Wataru Hoeltermann
    August 12, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Hey Aga, just wanted to say you have great taste for your itinerary. My mother has taken me on these similar trips through the year, and now I was thinking what to show my girlfriend from America, and you have the PERFECT template.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    I love your itinerary! And the photos are fab. Can I ask – did you use any particular resources to plan your trip (e.g. blogs/books), in particular how did you find your accommodation?

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      October 3, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Thank you! I used a couple of guidebooks and official tourism websites of the areas I wanted to visit. The accommodation was a mix of airbnb and hotels – all found through booking.com and airbnb website.

  • Reply
    14 Unique Things you can do in Tokyo - Contented Traveller
    October 13, 2016 at 6:49 am

    […] A Matter of Taste  I highly recommend visiting Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum – Nihon Minkaen. It’s […]

  • Reply
    November 8, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Hey Aga!
    Thank you for such a great itinerary! I’ve been wanting to go on this trip for so long, now that I’ve finished my work. i booked 2 weeks for this, but i have so little time to plan due to being in a very time consuming and hectic job! this really helps, and looks just like something I could just follow, even if it’s in November! 🙂
    I do wonder, how big was your budget for this, or overall how much did you spend?
    Might have some other things I have been wondering, if you don’t mind giving me some of your insight, please exchange email?

    again thank you for this helpful blog!!

  • Reply
    March 7, 2017 at 1:57 am

    amazing… how much did the whole travel cost in japan? not including food and attractions 🙂 thinking of going next year and would like to know how much will the travel part cost

  • Reply
    March 13, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Hi! awesome blog post! Just wondering what month this 2 week trip was? We’re looking at travelling Japan for all of August this year and are a little concerned about the heat/humidity (although coming from queensland are hopeful it won’t be as bad as our summer…)

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      March 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

      thanks Claire 🙂 This trip was last week of July & first week of August.

  • Reply
    Rory O'Gorman
    March 20, 2017 at 6:01 am

    Thank you Aga for your wonderful articles. I visited Japan last November, having taken some ideas from your routes. Your articles are accurate, fun and honest! Brilliant. Thank you so much for writing such illuminating articles with great photos too!

  • Reply
    14 day Japan Itinerary - The Painted Globe
    April 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

    […] Matter of Taste’s 14 day JR Pass itinerary assumes you’ve already visited Tokyo, and instead takes you off exploring Matsumoto, Nagano […]

  • Reply
    June 12, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Wow, so much detail. Thankyou. my husband and I are looking at Japan. We would be first timers and add a few extra nights in Tokyo. Can I ask your approximate budget for two adults travelling?

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    September 17, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Great post – thanks so much for this, looks like you had a great trip. I am looking to go back to Japan for 2 weeks in May 2018 so I will definitely be pinching some ideas from this blog 🙂

    It’s a shame though that you couldn’t list costs (as others have also asked) – Japan is expensive so it would be nice to know how much it cost you guys without having to spend days on websites.

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      October 2, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you Mike. A post about costs is coming soon 🙂

  • Reply
    October 18, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    This was so helpful in trying to organise my trip next year (April/May)!

    My question is that do you have any recommendations for toddler friendly activity in these areas? My daughter will be 2.5years old by the time we go next year.

    Also any recommendations on which areas in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto to stay which is kid friendly?


  • Reply
    A guide to accommodation options in Japan – a matter of taste
    October 18, 2017 at 4:06 pm

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  • Reply
    November 2, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Hi Aga
    Thanks for your great blog! Were visiting Japan (arriving Tokyo 1st April 2018 and leaving Tokyo 16th)
    I have spent hours trying to devise a two week trip using JR pass and could have saved all that time if I had read this first! I notice you didn’t include My Fuji on your itinerary (Hakone?). Did you skip this because of time?
    Thanks again, really great and fantastic pics! What camera were you using?
    Michael, UK

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      November 3, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Hi Michael, thank you for your kind words 🙂 This itinerary was already packed and we didn’t want to complicate it by adding more places to it, so we chose to leave out Hakone and visit it next time. (which we did with Hakone Free Pass and I’ll be writing about that soon)
      Regarding the camera – it’s mostly Canon 5d mkIII with 70-200 & 16-35 lenses.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Hi Aga,

    Great blog! It has given us a lot of inspiration and ideas for our 2-week trip to Japan. We’re also using a JR pass and were planning to travel from Hiroshima to Hakone, but were worried that it was too long of a trip for one day. You mention that your trip from Hiroshima to Tokyo took 4 hours with the Shinkansen. So is that possible with the JR pass? And do you know if it would take about the same time? Thanks for your help! Jennifer

    • Reply
      Aga Kozmic
      January 22, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Thanks Jennifer. It will be quite a long trip from Hiroshima to Hakone, you will have to change trains couple of times. You can’t use JR Pass on the Nozomi trains (unfortunately, because that would make the trip faster) and I’m pretty sure you will have to stop in Osaka to change trains there and then go to Odawara station from there. Then it’s another local train to Hakone – on Hakone Tozan line which isn’t covered by JR Pass. JR Pass will be useful only up to Odawara Station, from there you can either purchase single tickets or buy a Hakone Free Pass for 2 or 3 days (4000 & 4500 yen).

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 5:48 am

    This is by far the most helpful 2-week itinerary I’ve come across yet. You’re awesome.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    Hi Aga,
    I’m plannig to travel around in Japan alone for 17 days this June/July.
    So far my 2-week itinerary looks like the following:
    Tokyo (4 nights) (daytrip to Kamakura) -> Fuji (2 nights) -> Kyoto (5 nights) (daytrip to Nara) -> Osaka (2 nights) -> Hiroshima (1 night) -> back to Tokyo
    Do you think this trip is doable in two weeks?
    And do you maybe have some tips for me what would be the best way to use the Rail Pass (actually I would prefer to buy only an one week pass).

    I really hope you have some great tips and suggestions for me.
    Thank you!

  • Reply
    How much does it cost to travel in Japan? | a matter of taste
    July 3, 2019 at 12:43 am

    […] metro and regional trains for our day trips. It gets closer to 20% of the budget when we’re travelling around Japan with a JR Pass, which costs around $500 for 14 […]

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