Planning for a Week in Japan


Surprise – I’m going to Japan! Well, actually, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve already gone to Japan… I’m a little late on the train with this update. I still wanted to use my thrilling little intro, though, hope that’s okay with you (*attempted wink).

With my teaching contract through EPIK (English Program in Korea) I get an eight day vacation in the summer, not counting weekends and holidays. I stayed put in Korea for my winter break, so I decided it was all or nothing for this one. Everyone keeps telling me how expensive Japan is, but I feel like there’s no way I could live in Korea for a whole year and not see Japan. That’s just crazy, right?

So, here I am. Planning for this eight day Japanese vacation… on a budget. Is it doable? We shall see! And I plan on filling you in on all the things I did right, as well as all the things I did wrong.Japan1


I have to confess that I’m new to this whole pre-planning thing. I haven’t always been a great traveler. Alright, let’s be real… I’m still nowhere near great. However, my ‘just wing it’ mantra has started to fizzle over the years. I realize now that I’m not invincible. I also know that I shouldn’t carry a huge suitcase through foreign, cobblestone streets, like that one time in Greece (oops), and that I will be disappointed if I miss the highlights of Japan if I don’t do my research.

I found a lot of resources on planning for Japan for a budget. Here are my five favorite:

I’m also using my handy dandy Lonely Planet Japan Travel Guide. Thrifty Tip: The new Amazon Unlimited program is amazing. Every Lonely Planet book I’ve looked for so far has been free to download to my iPad through my Kindle app (which is a HUGE savings. Nearly $20 a pop).


My Wish List

I took this idea from the ‘How I Planned my Trip to Japan’ post I linked above, knowing that I really want to experience Japan… not just see… it for myself. My mini bucket list for Kyoto and Osaka looks a little something like this:

[twocol_one]Visit at least three temples in Kyoto

See at least one world heritage sight in each city

See a geisha

Sing karaoke (Japanese style)

Try all the sake

Eat at a sushi belt restaurant [/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]Try Kobe beef in Kobe, Japan

Play with deer in Nara

Stay at a capsule hotel

See the bamboo fields in Kyoto

Take a little time to shop

Drink beer at a Japanese Rakuten[/twocol_one_last]Japan5


This is where I’m a little bit stumped, and I’m hoping I can go with the flow once I’m actually in Japan without spreading my budget too thin. To be honest, there’s a lot of information out there, but I don’t understand half of it.

So, there’s a bullet train (also known as Shinkansen), but then there’s alsothe JR line (which I assume is Japan Rail). You can purchase a Japan Rail Pass for a decent price if you’re traveling long distances, but seeing as I’ll be staying in one area I don’t see a need for this.

The best guide I’ve found to break it all down is on Japan-Guide.


My Itinerary

I’ll be in Japan for exactly 8 days, including the day I arrive and the day I depart. A friend from Texas is coming to meet me in Seoul, at which point we’ll sight see a bit and then head south to catch our flight in Busan. Since she’s coming early, she’ll be leaving Japan before me to head back home, which leaves me with a full two days to explore all alone. Here’s what my tentative itinerary looks like:

Day 1: Arrive at Osaka-Kansai International Airport and depart for Kyoto.

Day 2: Explore South Eastern Kyoto (Fushimi Inari, Sunjusangerido, Kyomizu-dera).

Day 3: Explore Western Kyoto (Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji Temple).

Day 4: Head to Kobe and spend the day exploring Suma beach and eat a delicious Kobe beef dinner. Stay in Osaka for the night.

Day 5: Universal Studios Japan!

Day 6: Go to Nara, sight see, and stay the night.

Day 7: Return to Osaka, see Osaka Castle and the Aquarius.

Day 8: Depart Osaka for Korea.

I think it’s going to be a pretty memorable week in Japan and I’m so stoked to take a vacation after 11 months of living in Korea. Check back for an update on whether or not I was able to stick to my budget.

Have you ever been to Japan? What did/would you want to see or do most? Do you have any tips for me, the newbie?

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  1. October 18, 2015

    Sounds like fun! I spent two and a half years living in Tokyo, it was a blast. I hit a lot of the spots you visited, so I’m curious to see how your trip goes! ^_^

    • October 26, 2015

      Hi Nau! I really, really loved Japan! I bet living there was an amazing experience. I had so much fun, but there’s SO much to see, so I can’t wait to go back.

    • January 31, 2016

      It was SO much fun! I really enjoyed it ^_^

  2. my
    December 10, 2015

    Hi Neysha Bauer
    Next year in November, I’m going to Japan and have 8 days too. I wonder I can visit Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo in 8 days or not?
    If I can, can you recommend me the order of 3 citys. I will arrive and come back my country from Kansai airport?
    Thank you in advance

  3. Mindy
    January 5, 2016

    We live in Japan and love it!

  4. January 27, 2016

    Been there. Experience there. Will not forget there. Your lists were similar to mine when I was there last November. Thanks for sharing. I will be sharing my trip soon in my blog 🙂

  5. Kristen
    March 15, 2016

    Great blog, we’re headed to Japan next week, thanks for the info!

  6. Nani
    April 16, 2017

    Nice sharing your itinerary. I am planning to go to Kyoto as wellby my own busget, been to Tokyo and Osaka by company trip.
    Since then, I fallen in love with Japan.

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