Japan Travel Advice – How to Tackle A Cultural and Busy Country Like Japan

Japan Travel Advice – How to Tackle A Cultural and Busy Country Like Japan


Heading to Japan is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do because it gives you the chance to see a part of the world that’s probably very unfamiliar to you.

Even if you’ve travelled a lot in other parts of the world, you’ve almost certainly never seen anywhere like Japan because there is nowhere else like this stunning country. 

The one thing you may need to decide while preparing the plans for your trip, when is the best time to visit Japan? 

Therefore, how do you tackle it when you head there for the first time? Read on to learn about some tips that’ll help you to do just that when you are travelling the fascinating country of Japan.


like Japan

How to tackle a country like Japan – Image Source. 


How to Tackle The Cultural and Busy Country Like Japan


Decide on Your Own Priorities

Everyone has their own priorities and things they want to do most when they head to Japan, and that’s actually a good thing.

You need to make sure that your priorities are sorted so that you know what you want to do first. One thing’s for sure; you won’t have time to do everything you want to do and that’s why it’s so important to do the most important stuff first.


Don’t Confine Yourself to Tokyo, as Tempting as it Might Be

There’s always that temptation to fly to Tokyo and then to stay there for the entirety of your trip.

That’s certainly an understandable way of thinking because Tokyo is one of the biggest and most impressive cities on the face of the earth, but there is so much more out there.

Places like Kyoto and Osaka deserve to be explored, so don’t be scared to branch out a little further and see other sides of Japan.


Explore the Back Alleys of Japanese Cities

One of the great things about exploring Japan is the things you find when you go down the side streets and the back alleys.

This is where you find the tiny bars and restaurants where the local people relax at the end of the day.

That’s the real face of Japan, and it’s where you should spend a lot of your time when you’re there.



A traditional carriage is on one way to view the back streets of Arashiyama.


Invest in a Japan Rail Pass

Japan Rail passes are fantastic for tourists, and if you want to get around easily, you will definitely want to use these for the duration of your stay.

The best thing about them is that you will get discounts on trains, making the whole trip a lot more affordable than it might otherwise be and you can’t go wrong with that.


Make the Most of Convenience Stores

Convenience stores are Japanese staples, and they sell all the little things that you might want and need while you’re over there.

You should make the most of them because they can really save you when you need something quick and cheap to eat when you’re travelling on the go.

Japan is a vast country, and if you’ve never been there before, it can be overwhelming when you first visit it.

Don’t try to pack every little activity into your stay because that’s simply not going to happen. Focus on doing the things hat you really want to do and then worry about the other stuff on your second trip.


Kyoto City

Beautiful Kyoto in Japan.

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Osaka-Kyoto Diaries – Days 1-2 – Visiting Japan for the Very First Time

Osaka-Kyoto Diaries – Days 1-2 – Visiting Japan for the Very First Time

Visiting Japan has always been a lifelong ambition of mine and one that needed to be crossed off the bucket list long ago. I’m not sure what it is that has given me the tingles when it comes to this amazing country with proud tradition and culture, whether it has been watching a few movies based in Japan, admiring the beautiful pictures on a website or studying about ancient Japan in school. Whatever the fascination I have finally made it.

As soon as I stepped foot off the Singapore Airline aeroplane, I can add to ever increasing the list of countries that I have been to, when in June 2018, I had my first chance of visiting Japan for the very first time. I did take full advantage to make the trip, and even in these early days, with weary eyes from a long flight, I was not going to waste a minute.

As tempting as I was to see Tokyo, on this occasion I couldn’t fit the capital city on the itinerary. Instead, I had to settle for the former capital city in Kyoto and Osaka as the chosen destinations and explore as much as possible two vastly different cities on the Japanese island of Honshu in the Kansai Region.

Let’s get stuck into it, the first edition of Osaka – Kyoto Diaries, days one and two and it was straight to Kyoto, a region of great beauty and culture. I couldn’t have imagined a better location to kick off my debut trip to Japan in the next edition of travel diaries. 


Are you Travelling to Kyoto for a cultural experience? Check for hotels on TripAdvisor.


Visiting Japan

Visiting Japan and exploring Kyoto straight off the plane.


Highlights of Osaka-Kyoto Diaries – Days 1-2  – Visiting Japan for the very first time



Getting to Osaka and Onwards to Kyoto

I flew into Osaka’s Kansai International Airport flying Singapore Airlines for the first time and I must admit in the build-up to the flight, I was excited to be flying with a significant airline over the budget airlines I usually travel with, where on this occasion I didn’t have to worry about luggage, seats and in-flight meals.

The eagerly awaited flight lived up to Singapore Airlines proud standards and while it was a long journey travelling from Perth, Australia, to Singapore for a five-hour transit and followed by a six-hour overnight flight to Osaka, Japan, the long hours were worth it as I took my first steps in Japan.

I didn’t have time to check out Osaka, with my prepared itinerary, I headed straight to Kyoto by train, which in total, including any wait times, took around 90-minutes from the Kansai International Airport. The trip to Japan had well and truly begun.

Let’s get the adventure started. I’m excited.


visiting japan

On the train bypassing Osaka onwards to Kyoto.


Accommodation in Kyoto – Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo

I found this boutique accommodation through the Booking.com website with mostly positive reviews coming from the previous guests.

The Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo is a boutique hotel situated in a central location and is close by to a handful of attractions in Kyoto such as Nijo Castle and Nishiki Markets. Mitsui was the perfect stay for a solo traveller in a single room; it’s clean, affordable enough for a 3-star hotel in Japan and a comfortable bed with a warm shower. It’s all I needed for time in Kyoto and good night sleep. Let’s face it; I won’t spend too much time in my small room during the day.


Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo,

A miniature garden set up at the Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Shijo.


It Begins at Nishiki Market

The Nishiki Market is the only major attraction I saw on my first evening in Kyoto, besides taking a stroll around parts of the city. Although I was eager to get out further in Kyoto, I am only human, and I needed a good night’s rest ahead of a busy few days. Spoiler alert, I walk many kilometres in the three days full days I spend in Kyoto.

Nishiki Market has a friendly upbeat vibe about it, in areas of the markets, many people are moving in all directions who are out in the unique street market and having a good time. Inside Nishiki Markets is a range of Japanese food of either grilled meats, sushi, crepes, ramen and plenty of other tasty eats with lots of green tea ice-cream in many locations.

As well as great food available at a reasonable price, Japan is not cheap; there are many Japanese style souvenirs shops that sell stylish chopsticks, Japanese style arts and many other goods that you may be tempted to take home with you for the memory of your holiday in Kyoto. For the first night in Kyoto, I was impressed with the atmosphere in a small part of Kyoto that I saw.


Nishiki Market

Great food in Nishiki Market.

The Delightful Heian Shrine

Up and out of bed early on day-two visiting Japan, on this day and in the next few days I had a lot of sightseeing to do and places to go in Kyoto.  The first whole day in Kyoto was on the eastern side of the city where many gorgeous temples and shrines awaited, as well as the mountains that overlooked the surrounding area; it’s all very picturesque.

A solid thirty-minute walk away from the hotel, maybe more, I started with the Heian Jingu Shrine, breathtaking can’t even begin to explain how gorgeous this shrine looked and getting there beautiful and early meant the crowds hadn’t gathered in too much. That’s the key to most attractions in Kyoto, get in soon if you can get out of bed early enough because the crowds do come.

The primary shrine area is a decorated Japanese building that is great in its texture and colour, was built a relatively short time ago, regarding history, in 1895. The Shrine had been built in dedication to the emperor’s who reined in Kyoto, and there are four main buildings which are separated and sit horizontally to each other, with white limestone type flooring outside the grounds of the shrine.

For me, the best part is the gardens around the back and sides, while entering the shrine is free of charge. The gardens have a small entrance fee of 600 yen, and it’s certainly worth the admission fee to view the stunning gardens and wander through beautifully landscaped gardens, lakes and well-designed Japanese structures that are worth the admission price alone.


the Heian Jingu Shrine

The Heian Jingu Shrine in Kyoto

Visiting the Yasaka Shrine

The crowds had indeed gone up a notch by the time I had reached The Yasaka Shrine, and it was undoubtedly a more buoyant atmosphere by the time I reached this particular shrine with many tourists, locals and quite a few Japanese women dressed very nicely and appropriately in the Geisha dress.

The Yasaka shrine, which is free to enter, is undoubtedly another fabulous Japanese building that is worth the time in Kyoto, it’s a shrine full of colour, unusual structures and plenty of Japanese culture on display. In my own opinion, it didn’t quite reach the heights of the Heian Shrine. However, it’s still worth the visit as is most attractions in Kyoto.

Also to note, in the same vicinity of the ofthe Yasaka Shrine, is the Maruyama Park and Chion-in Temple which will undoubtedly help occupy a few hours of your time for a pleasant stroll in the outdoors, before heading to the next attraction only a little down the road, and it is breathtaking.


The Yasaka Shrine.

The Picturesque Kodaiji Temple

More tradition, more history, I felt spoilt on day two in Japan with another fabulous historical attraction to feast my eyes on in Kyoto. This time I entered was the Kodai-Ji Temple. The temple is a mesmerising Japanese building with many different beautiful and unique structures; it’s blended in beautifully with the mountains in the backdrop and naturally very well landscaped gardens, the admission price is undoubtedly worth the fee for the picturesque temple and its surroundings.

Established in 1606, in memory of a man named Toyotomi Hideyoshi, there is a lot of history inside Kodai-Ji, and it’s a pleasure and privilege to be in the grounds of something so beautiful and ancient. I know I will treasure this place for a long time to come with many of my photos taken to be stored away for future memories.

Of all the temples that I have seen in Kyoto during my brief stay, Kodai-Ji was my favourite, make sure you put it on your list whenever visiting the region.


The Kodai-Ji Temple

The Kodai-Ji Temple.

The traditional Ninenzaka

Another busy tourist attraction and this time it’s in the form of a street market set-up that is buzzing with tourist, geishas and other locals that make moving down the street near on impossible.

Ninenzaka is a long stretch of road with many shops and food outlets that are surrounded by amazing Japanese style housing which in term leads to the next major tourist attraction in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-Dera.


Enjoy a vibrant Kyoto City tour with Klook
and explore the region in style!




Ninenzaka Street.

Ninenzaka Street. 


The Stunning Kiyomizu-Dera

The crowds went to another level at Kiyomizu-Dera and a lot of that had to do with the school students who were out and about on a field trip and the students even enjoyed approaching me to be included in a photo or two. My humble self certainly felt like a celebrity for all but a minute, I was certainly flattered.

Kiyomizu-Dera temple which means “pure water” is said to be the most attended temple in Kyoto and judging by the crowds in presence, I would say that’s the truth. The most popular thing to do at Kiyomizu-Dera is to go to one of the three waterfalls and touch the special water. It’s believed to give you magical powers upon touching the pure water and waiting line suggest that the belief in that theory is strong.

The Kiyomizu-Dera temple is a popular choice for all visitors, the temple is situated in the mountains, with lovely designed infrastructures and an electric atmosphere that seemed to have been brought over from the streets of Ninenzaka. One thing to know when standing inside the Kiyomizu-Dera temple, that it was founded in the year 778, that was over 1200-years ago. To be in a country with such rich history is phenomenal.


Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple.

A Walk through Gion  

Gion is known as the motherland of Geishas, although on this occasion I saw no more or less in other attractions throughout the day in Kyoto. The Gion set-up is like Ninenzaka, which is another street style set up with plenty of souvenir shopping and Japanese food outlets.

A lot of these street markets generally do lead to a major attraction. So, follow the road of culture and Japanese style housing, and you’re bound to be on track to another fantastic attraction, case in point, Kennin-Ji Temple is next.



The streets of Gion.


Kenninji Temple

On day two it had come to this, two shrines, three temples and a couple of street markets. Kennin-Ji temple was probably the least profile of the temples I visited on day-two, but when you compare it to the Kiyomizu-Dera and the Kodai-Ji Temple, you could be judging it harshly.

I had no plans of stopping by, but walking the streets of Kyoto back to the hotel, I stumbled across it by accident and said, “why not,” what’s another temple to the list.

Kennin-Ji Temple certainly has a lot of history associated with it, being founded in 1202 and once again like most temples in the area, it’s a mixture of beautiful traditional buildings, mixed in with a short garden walk, that’s without the close by surrounding mountains as the temple is situated close to the city centre.  

It was an action-packed day one and in particular, day two in Kyoto and it only has me chomping at the bit for what’s install for days three and four before I head off to my next destination in Osaka. Until then, stay tuned for the next edition of travel diaries in Japan.


Kennin-Ji Temple

Outside the Kennin-Ji Temple.


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