Japan in 14 Days, the Unpopular Itinerary

I have this long love for Japan due to many things. Its natural beauty, the food, the courtesy, and the uniqueness. It may be because I grew up closely with Japan manga, anime and dorama. Therefore,  Japan is like the second country home- in terms of knowing their customs and habit (even festivals).

When there is a tension between South Korea and Japan recently that made flight fare between two countries drops significantly, I have become an opportunist :)

During the last couple of months, I've been to Japan 3 times, two short visits (during the weekend) and one full week.  Flight fare from Seoul to any big cities in Japan is very competitive, started from USD 100- USD300 depend on the schedule and airlines. 

Since my visit is quite scattered, I will compact it and write the itinerary here based on easier access and time considerations. I went to 'classic itinerary' since it is a big family trip, also unpopular places like Nagoya and Kobe.

This is the full list of the itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive at Tokyo, settle into the hotel
Day 2: Disney land or Disney Sea
Day 3: Tokyo Shopping Paradise: Nakano Broadway, Harajuku, Shinjuku
Day 4 : Ibaraki, Hitachi Seaside Park
Day 5 : Gotenba Premium Outlet
      + options: If you are at Japan at the season of MotoGp, dan you can visit Motegi
Day 6 : Arrive at Nagoya, settle in
Day 7 : Museum Day at Nagoya
Day 8 : Castle and Shopping day at Nagoya
Day 9 : Arrive at Osaka, settle in
Day 10 : Day trip to Kyoto
Day 11 : Universal Studio Osaka
Day 12 : Explore Osaka, shopping again
Day 13 : Tongue Trip to Kobe
Day 14 : Depart from Osaka-(either back to Tokyo or directly go to your Country

1. Day 2-3 Tokyo Central Area 

Tokyo is giga-city, what I mean, whenever I came there, I always find new amusing spots to visit.  I checked all the mandatory list to visit for Tokyo previously (you can see here and here also here), for example, Hachiko statue at Shinjuku, Rainbow bridge at Odaiba,  or just get lost at Akihabara.

Day 2, Arrived previous day, and after settling in at the Hotel and explore the neighbourhood, I spent the next day to visiting theme park.

If you into a theme park, then please visit Disney Sea or Disney Land. It will take the whole day to explore the area. 

The main reason I visited Tokyo this time is to visit Disneyland. After visited Disneysea early this year, I went to Disneyland because of my niece's request.

At Disneysea, what I remember the most is how difficult to find non-pork food, but at Disneyland, there is a lot of beef or chicken meal, but I haven't spotted any halal food yet.

In terms of the attractions, I felt that Disney sea built for teenagers or older rather than Disneyland that child-friendly. And Disney land Tokyo more similar to Disneyland Hong Kong, but more crowded.

Disneyland is older than Disneysea, that's why a lot of building attraction looks just old...not sophisticated and beautiful compare to Disneysea.

The Girl adore the castle in front of Her

Strangely my favorite attraction is Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. It is a 4dx ride that feels quite real, even I am not the die-hard-fans of Star Wars. But My relatives said otherwise,  it made them dizzy. 

My visit to Disneyland takes up almost a whole day to finish (not exactly finish but until I was unable to walk because so tired due to the queue). I managed to ride Space Mountains (high-speed ride into the darkness and starry lighting),  Haunted Mansion (loved the shadow animation!), Monster. Inc Ride & Go Seek (shooting a laser to Monster Inc. creature). Well, I just realized, I didn't ride many even I spent 8 hours in there but wasted at queue time T_T.

In my honest opinion, if you are quite ambitious trying the rides, please buy the Fast Pass. The Queue is crazy since Disney Land Tokyo is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. Rather than finish it in 2 days, it will be better to get the Fast Pass. During my queue before Monster Inc, I quite pissed off with the officer because he only allows 5 persons from the regular pass to enter after he finish the Fast pass queue-that it is not short.

How to get Disney Sea & Disney Land: Take the JR Train for Keiyo Line or Musashino Line, and get off at Miahama Station. Disney land is on the right side meanwhile Disney Sea is left side. Bringing baggage to Disneyland? Don't Worry! there are a lot of coin lockers at the Miahama Station Basement area or the sidewalk from Station to Disneyland!

Day 3, If you are into shopping, then welcome to paradise.

Why paradise? Because you can get anything in Tokyo. From second-hand electronics, comic book, kawaii accessories to Patek Phillipe.

The must-visit shopping area is Shinjuku. Start from Shinjuku station, you can walk in the underground area and find a lot of malls at each exit. From Kinokuniya, BIC Camera, Yodobashi, Uniqlo, and if you look for No Pork-Ramen, the famous Ichiran -you can exit at D4 or D5, the Ichiran is just across the street.
Ichiran Ramen No-Pork
Halal Yakiniku Panga
The next stop is Ginza Street (simply because of my hotel near to the area). Because I wear hijab recently, I shop a lot for new clothes and skirts, that's why I need to go to Uniqlo (because it's cheaper there with tax-free). Uniqlo Ginza is the biggest in Tokyo and should be the most complete. Beside Uniqlo, there is Gu, a competitor of Uniqlo with lower prices (even not that much). Uniqlo or Gu can be categorized as high-street fashion. Gu is my new favorite, the style is almost the same as Uniqlo!

And my next shopping destination Harajuku Area. Frankly, this is my first time went to Harajuku!! I visited Sailor Moon store-that I'm dying to see and accidentally found PowerPuffGirls stuff. OMG! My credit card limit suddenly burn out! Bought every unnecessary thing in that shop~

At Sailormoon Store
Then for the watch lover, you can be going ecstatic when visiting Broadway Nakano. A shopping district just across JR Nakano Station, which full of used and new branded watch shops. You name it, from Patek Phillipe until Casio, its all in there. Each store has its distinguish collections and comparative pricing. You can find JPY 1,000 - JPY 5,000,000. The most famous stores are Jackroad and Betty Road because they have wide and various collections. But if you have specific models to search, it won't hurt to stop by at every store at the building just to compare which you like the most. On the plus side, if you also love kawaii things such as anime or manga, this building full of that!
One alley At Nakano 


2. Day 4 Ibaraki, Hitachi Seaside Park

Crimson Red Kochia
This destination has been under my wishlist since forever. The Red sparking plant is really inviting my curiosity. Last year, I tried to find it in Korea and found it at Yangju Nari Park. I tried to visit Kochia Park at Yangju Nari Park, Korea but not as big as the one at Ibaraki. That's why I really need to visit it when it is peak time.

Have JR Pass already? Then it is time to activate it! Return way from Tokyo to Ibaraki would cost approx. JPY 5,000.

Since I didn't use JR Pass and traveling in Japan is bloody expensive, I chose the cheapest option to go there. I  rode JR Joban Line from Shimbasi Station (nearest to my hotel) directions to Katsuta Stations (cost JPY 2,350). It took 2.5 hours sitting at the local rapid train (equipped with lavatory also). From Katsuta Station, I purchased a one-day bus pass and entry pass to the Park costs JPY 1,050. Then, the bus took 15 minutes to arrive at Hitachi Seaside Park.

There is an option to go there, either by Bus but it departs quite late from Tokyo Station or Ltd Express but more expensive.

Hitachi Seaside Park is a vast park with classical Japanese Park which becomes very famous during late spring or early autumn. I specifically visit the Park on October18,2019, Day One of the famous Kochia at peak red.

Usually Kochia 'burning' in the second week of October, but this time it is a bit late. When I visited on Oct 18,2019, some areas were still orange and green.

Kochia is a bush that 'burned' when the temperature cools down. What makes Hitachi Seaside Park very beautiful when the hill is fully colored with red glowing.

But Hitachi Seaside Park is not only featuring Kochia. There are lots of other flowers, forests, and other beautiful park sides.

Autumn Flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park

The vast areas of Hitachi Seaside Park

Finishing strolling along Mirashi Hills, you can enjoy the food trucks that line up along the welcome/exit area. Don't forget to bring your cash because I cannot find any ATM in the Park.

Exiting, you can just walk to the huge Factory Outlet areas. It is maybe just 300 meters from the Park.

3. Day 5: Shopping at Gotenba Premium Outlet

Still about Shopping, Gotenba Premium Outlet is a vast shopping mall located in the area of Hakone. Just two hours away from Tokyo, we can go there either by Shinkansen or Rapid Train, also Bus from Tokyo Station.

This  Premium Outlet has been a very popular destination among shopping lovers due to the variety of brands, says: Prada, Balenciaga, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent that rarely available in any ordinary premium outlets.

Didn't look for those brands? Visiting Nike or Adidas Store also won't hurt. Have I told you that shoes are very cheap in Korea, especially sneakers? At Gotenba, the price is slightly a bit expensive but the variety of models is almost complete. For Ultraboost (one of Adidas shoe line) lovers like me, Japan is like heaven because there are a lot of special editions that didn't sell at other countries. But in Gotenba, if you are lucky you might find it. This also applies to Nike React lovers!

How to go there :
If you have a plan to stay Hakone, then visiting Gotenba is a big bonus because it is in the area. But if you come from Tokyo, it is not difficult also.

The expensive choice is to take Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station and then change to Tokaido Line for Takasaki, get off at Kozu and take JR Gotemba Line for Numazu and get off at Gotemba Station. From Gotemba Station, take the bus to the Premium Outlet. It will cost 4600 Yen

The cheaper choice is to take JR Tokaido Line for Odawara, transit at Kozu (Kanagawa) and take the JR Gotemba Line and then get off at Gotemba Station. This will only cost 1980 Yen.

+++ additional Itinerary:

I spent one additional day to watch MotoGp Race at Mottegi. The twin ring is located about 2 hours from Japan and a secluded area. I went there by rent car and arrive at 2 o'clock and the race starts at 3 o'clock. It is super fun activities, even I watched Rossi fall from his motorbike.

Podium, Marquez on the top

Walking down to the street at Podium Stand

4. Day 6-8 Nagoya

To reach Nagoya from Tokyo, you will need to take Shinkansen. But if you don't have JR Pass, you can buy Nagoya Pass only for JPY 500, only for trips at the city either bus or train that owned by JR.

Have you heard about Nagoya? The 4th biggest city in Japan is the home of the Toyota factory.  Didn't interested enough? How if I told you that Nagoya has a lot to offers, from Museum, Legoland, delicious and authentic Kishimen Noodles, the famous Nagoya castle, and if you don't want to go farther to try Hida Beef at Takayama, then Nagoya is yours to choose.

Did Museum bored you? But I swear Museums in Nagoya is different like no other city.

I started the day by visiting the SCAMAGLEV museum. MAGLEV is an abbreviation of Magnetic Levitation Train or the one of technology used by JR to develop fast-track train like shinkansen. The museum built by Japan Railways (JR) to showcase Japan’s plans for a magnetic levitation (maglev) train line. The main story to tell in this museum is Japan’s trains through the years, starting with steam locomotives and going through to the most modern shinkansen (bullet trains).

Early Shinkansen
Inside, you can try to enter the train, check out the compartment train and try the 4D of Nozomi Train (latest technology of MAGLEV). As a train addict like me, this museum is like a vast playground that pumps up my endorphin to the optimum level.

Inside the train
How to go there : 
Take Aonami Line from Nagoya Station to the last stop: Kinjo Futo, get off and take the right turn. The left turn is Legoland!

Not enough, my next visit is the Toyota Museum. It is like a sin visiting Nagoya without knocking the 'home industry'. There are several museums owned by Toyota, for example, Toyota Kaitan Museum- it is a plant tour that a little bit far from Nagoya central city, then Toyota Techno Museum or know as Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology. I visited the Toyota Techno Museum based on the recommendations of many online users.

Toyota Techno Museum is narrating about the history of Toyota corporation. Did you know that Toyota used to be a sewing machine factory? Then the son of the owner is mesmerized by the automobile industry in Europe and really wants to make the automobile industry in Japan?  

The latest technology used, robots 
The museum told me about how they built Toyota from scratch. There is also the prototype of the first car built by Toyota- a wooden truck, and the technology they developed until now. You can register for the English tour that will take up almost 50 minutes to really understand the history of Toyota.

Our English Tour Leader

How to go there: The museum is a short walk from Sako Station which is one station away from Nagoya Station along the Meitensu Railway. It is also the first stop after Nagoya Station along the Meguru Loop bus line (including in Nagoya Pass)

Later, I went to Nagoya Tower and Sakae 21, a popular place among youngsters in Nagoya to spend the night while chilling or just having dinner.

Sakae 21
Sakae 21 is so lit at night and photogenic. On the ground floor, there are a lot of restaurants to enjoy. Additionally, just across the Sakae 21, there is Nagoya TV Tower. Unfortunately, when I was there, it is not opened.
Sakae 21
The Next day, I spent the day visiting Nagoya Castle. The Castle itself is under construction so I don't have a chance to peek inside. The Castle is not as big as Osaka Castle, but still beautiful.

Nagoya Castle
What you cannot miss from Nagoya is Kishimen- the hybrid of pasta and udon noodles that origins from Nagoya. There are a lot of Kishimen restaurants, and I chose a random restaurant near to the Nagoya station, and it was bloody delicious. My next favorite type of Noodle!

Aside from those destinations, I visited a lot of shopping districts like the Osu Shopping District or just get lost in massive shopping areas at Nagoya station. The reason why I keep visiting the same stores at different locations is that I am a collector of Manga stuff, so I need to check every store in every city I visited whether I will find any unique collections.

Day 9-13 Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe 

Okay, Osaka and Kyoto might be the popular routes, but the reason why I chose Kyoto is because we cannot simply ignore this view :


or this

Arashiyama Area

Crowned as most beautiful old city in Japan, Kyoto transform into very beautiful city especially in Autumn. The Arashiyama area, a mountain with a lake and famous bamboo forest, i think the most melancholic city I ever experienced in Japan.

Fushimi Inari Taisha
Don't miss to visit Kinkakuji the golden pavilion, Gion area, Fushimi Inari Taisha and of course the famous bamboo forest. For this trip, I'd prefer to stay at Osaka and doing a day trip to Kyoto. Kyoto can be accessed a half-hour from Osaka by train or car.

Since Kyoto is the most destination in Japan aside from Tokyo, be prepared to meet a good amount of tourists and it reflected your photoshoots. It is hard to find any decent photo without strangers inside our frame. The choice is you go during an unpopular time like the end of Aug ( mostly rainy) or early morning or almost sunset.
Bamboo Forest Arashiyama, so Crowded!

The Next day, I spent my day at Osaka. I revisit Universal Studio of Osaka and really-really hooked by the Amazing Spider-man attractions. I skipped the Harry Potter ride because I only have one day and I ever experienced it. If this is your first-time visit USO, then it is mandatory to ride Harry Potter. I spent all day at Universal Studio and going back to the hotel, beat up.
Hogwarts at USO
Famous Pancake at Shinhsaibashi
The day after, I am doing some shopping at the Shinsaibashi Area with also adjacent to Ebisubashi, that also famous for Glico Man Billboard. This shopping area spans almost 2 kilometers long and several blocks, that we can found the famous japan brands, many sushi restaurants, desserts and of course the original of Osaka Takoyaki.


Since my JR Pass is expired the next day, we feel obliged to visit one more city before coming back to Tokyo and back to Seoul. Therefore, we decided to visit Kobe that famous with Kobe Beef. I've been tried Hida Beef and got blown away with the delicacy, that's why we are so curious about Kobe Beef which slightly more expensive than Hida Beef.

Kobe Harbor

Arrive at Kobe, this city reminds me of the layback feeling of Hiroshima. And the first thing I do is having lunch at Steak & Grill Kobe Meriken Hatoba, which one of the famous restaurant at Kobe.
It is important to book the restaurant prior to your departure since the restaurant is sizeable and mostly fully booked during lunch or dinner time. Initially, I tried to book the most famous one : Steak Aoyama, but it is fully booked for whole month and I managed to book the second famous one : La Shomon, but it is quite far from the central area.

Kobe Beef

So how is it Kobe Beef? It is very tasty, moist-like you don't need an effort to chew it and mind blowing, only if you never taste Hida Beef. Personally, I'd prefer Hida Beef that insanely delicious, I don't know may be the chef at the Hidayama Kyoya is genius to cook the Hida Beef. 

Belly fulled, I continue my exploration of Kobe Harbour. The Harbour area is quite nice with shopping complex, sea and seaside area with full of entertainment. There are ferris wheel, dance performance, food stalls or just seats to chilling.

FInished, I continue my journey to the near of Kobe Station, to go to Kobe Nunobiki Herb Gardens. The Garden is located to the Mount Rokko. To garden is 5 minutes walking from Jr Shin Kobe and to reach the welcome plaza, we need to ride the cable car.

The view from cable car is stunning. At the front, we can see Kobe's skyscraper facing the beach and at the back side, the gardens lining up at Mount Rokko, also the waterfall. If you have enough time, do take the cable car to ascend and then walking following the path when descending.

We arrive there almost before closing time of the garden, that's why we prefer to ride a return cable car.   

The Welcome Plaza

View of Kobe

So, that's basically 14 days itinerary in Japan that maybe you can consider!


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