As a family who loves travelling and soaking in the culture and the character of the place, it was just a matter of time before we step foot into Japan. But never in our wildest dreams did we ever expect to get such an in-depth taste of local life on our first trip there, all thanks to the meticulous planning of my wife and the impassioned volunteer goodwill local guides who showed us their Japan. Finally, never did we expect ourselves to ‘conquer’ and cover so much of the trilogy of theme parks but we did…These are all too good not to share.
So, come one, come all. Let’s revisit the culture, the colour and the character of Japan with us.
Do turn up the volume to enjoy this video with photos of our Japan tour, handpicked by Dana.
Our 13D DIY Japan Itinerary (Tokyo – Hakone – Kyoto – Osaka):
Day 1 – Singapore to Tokyo Narita International Airport.
Day 2 – Narita Airport to Keio Plaza Hotel (in Shinjuku) via Aiport Limousine Bus. Alight at hotel doorstep. After check-in, tour Tsukiji Market and Cup Noodle Museum at Yokohama.
Day 3 – Tokyo Tour with Goodwill Guide. Visit Asakusa Sensoji Temple, Nakamise Shopping Arcade and go on the Sumida River Cruise.
Day 4 – Catch the earliest Good Neighbour Shuttle Bus from Keio Plaza Hotel to Disneyland. Deposit luggage at the Tokyo Disney Resort Welcome Centre. Spend full day at Disneyland. Check into Tokyo Hilton Bay Hotel at night.
Day 5 – After breakfast, spend full day at DisneySea.
Day 7 and 8 – Check out of Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel. Forward our big luggage to Kyoto. Bring only hand luggage for our 2N’s stay at Green Plaza Hakone Ryokan. Meet Goodwill Guide to tour Hakone.
Day 9 – Check out of Green Plaza Hakone Ryokan and make our way to Kyoto via Shinkansen. Check in at Gion Maifukan Ryokan. Walk around Gion in the evening after dinner.
Day 10 – Meet Goodwill Guide at lobby. Tour Kyoto Sights: Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Nishiki Market and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Arashiyama Sights: Sagano Scenic Railway, Sagana Bamboo Grove and Tenryuji Temple.
Day 11 – Check out of Kyoto Ryokan and make our way to Osaka via Shinkansen. Check into Swissotel Nankai Osaka Hotel. Meet Goodwill Guide to bring us around Osaka.
Day 12 – Spend full Day at Universal Studios.
Day 13 – Check out of Hotel, make a quick morning trip to Nara, back to Osaka for dinner before making our way to Osaka International Airport for our flight home.
We’ve documented each leg’s highlights in these blog posts. Do take time to read them and share them with those who are planning a vacation to Japan.
Tokyo in a Heartbeat:
Highlight: Tsukiji Fish Market and Yokohama Cup Noodle Museum.
Our very first stop in our inaugural family trip to Japan and we chose Tsukiji as our first stop. They are quite right when they say once you’ve tasted sashimi in Tsukiji…nothing else compares. From sashimi, we tasted another iconic Japanese food – instant noodles and got hands on experience in ‘making’ it.
From Medieval to Manga:
Highlights: Asakusa, Sumida and Obaida.
We travel back in time yet we can still travel into the future! That’s how unique a trip to Japan is. Here we share about doing Sakura dances as well as riding futuristic vehicles…all in a day!
Maximising Tokyo Disneyland:
Highlights: We share how we did 16 popular rides in one day…. We share our strategy and even rate the rides for you, complete with videos.
Maximising Tokyo DisneySea:
Highlights: In one day, we conquered 7 of the 9 super popular Fast Pass rides (and rode some twice!) plus watched 3 out of 5 of the super popular DisneySea shows. We share our strategies and even rate the rides and shows for you, complete with videos:
Hakone, Part 1: Naked truths from the Onsen:
Highlights: We come clean in Hakone and share our virgin onsen experience – a cultural awakening that is more than skin deep. If you have not been to an onsen, read this before you go.
Hakone, Part 2: Enchanting Botanical Gardens of the Wetlands and the Little Prince Museum:
Highlights: We toured Hakone and was happy to be greeted by the Grand Dame and paid a surprise visit to a Little Prince among the flora and fauna of Hakone.
Osaka: Of Deers, Whales and Seriously Stunning Temples:
Highlights: Oh deer! Yes, we came very close to some mystical creatures and wandered around majestic temples while dropped our jaws looking at the great whale-shark.
Maximising Universal Studios Japan – Osaka:
Highlights: We complete our trilogy of the 3 big theme parks in Japan and share how we did 8 of its super popular rides all in one day (some twice), including the unforgettable Harry Potter ride. We also give our verdict how our Universal Studios Singapore stands in contrast to USJ.
Osaka – Swisshotel Nankai:
Highlights: Accommodation plays a big part in any travels. Here, we share about an excellent accommodation in Osaka, where everything…literally, is conveniently right below us. You can never go wrong with the Swisshotel, Nankai when in Osaka.
Kyoto:…and a fond Sayonara:
Highlights: All good things (and journeys) must come to an end before another memorable one begins. Here, we bid a reluctant fond farewell to our inaugural family trip to Japan in the Summer of 2015 with our last post on Kyoto – a charming historic city that just simply win hearts effortlessly.
A tribute: We like to dedicate our Japan posts to all our local goodwill guides who invested their own time in bringing us around so that we can go beyond the tried and tested Japan for what it is. We admire their humility and pride in sharing about their country with us so unreservedly. It is exactly for these experiences that we travel. We shall return!
Trip enriched with the friendships of these volunteer goodwill guides. To engage one for your trip, visit this page.