Japan: Our Tour

When Bianca and me decided to go to Japan for 3 weeks vacation, we were quite unsure what places we would like to visit. In the web you can find tons of ideas of routes for traveling across Japan but we didn’t use any of them (mainly because we found them once we started to write our blog when reading a lot about Japan vacation experiences of others). Our planning was more a flow of ideas and impressions, e.g. when we visited Japan Festival in Berlin and listened to a talk about nice places such as Miyajima and Nara. Due to her interest in Manga and Anime, Bianca knew already some places that she definitively wanted to visit like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. And I gathered some information from colleagues at work that have been in Japan a couple of times. From these talks we got the idea of visiting Fukuoka.

After we had all the information required we decided to move across Japan with a backpack. To get the most out of it we followed the suggestion of friends to start in Fukuoka and finish in Tokyo. Fortunately you book a flight from Europe to Fukuoka. We started in Berlin Tegel (TXL), had a stopover in Helsinki (HEL) and arrived in Fukuoka (FUK). For the flight back from Tokyo (NRT) we again stopped in Helsinki to our final destination Berlin Tegel.

This setup of moving from one city to another gave us a frame to look for places along side the Shinkansen line. So we decided to visit the following cities in order:

  • Fukuoka (Start, 4 nights)
  • Hiroshima (1 night)
  • Okayama (1 night)
  • Himeji (1 night)
  • Kobe (1 night)
  • Osaka (2 nights)
  • Kyoto (2 nights)
  • Nara (1 night)
  • LEFT OPEN (2 nights)
  • Tokyo (End) (5 nights)

If you travel to Japan for the first time we can really recommend to start in Fukuoka. It is one of the 10 largest cities in Japan and gives the chance to arrive in this foreign culture in a nice way. It is not too big but big enough to give you an impression on how it will look like in other cities.

The plan above was our initial plan for our tour but in Okayama we decided to change due to the high frequency of moving on. Staying only one night at a place removes the chance to really enjoy the city. After we had to hurry through Hiroshima and Miyajima as well as through Okayama we decided to rearrange the plan to the following:

  • Fukuoka (Start, 4 nights)
  • Hiroshima (1 night)
  • Okayama (1 night)
  • Osaka (3 nights)
  • Kyoto (4 nights)
  • LEFT OPEN (2 nights)
  • Tokyo (End) (5 nights)

We basically removed our overnight stay in Himeji, Kobe and Nara, and added them to Osaka (1 more night) and Kyoto (2 more nights). We decided to keep the 2 nights that we left open for a spontaneous trip. During our stay in Kyoto we decided to stay in a Ryokan in Nozawa-Onsen before we continued to Tokyo.

On the following map you can see roughly the tour (incl. Ainoshima, Miyajima and Nara) we took. Excluding the routes we took within each city we traveled about 1800km across Japan.

Hopefully this post shows how you can make yourself a plan for visiting Japan and change it on the fly if you notice some difficulties down the road. AirBnb makes it really easy for finding a stay for a single night (or more). So, do not hesitate to start your planning!

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