Still haven’t gotten enough of Japan? Pfft, how could we ever! You wanted more itineraries for Japan, and we totally hear you. This time? Let’s sample MORE parts of Japan in one trip!
Whether you're a first-timer to Japan, or eager to return for Round 2 (or 3 or 4…), our suggested itinerary starts in the vibrant Tokyo metropolis, through the gorgeous peaceful mountains of Gifu, and easing back into the city with Kyoto and Osaka! It does go a little off the beaten path… and guess what? It's totally worth it.
This itinerary is feasible for a 9-10 days trip, but we highly recommend a slightly longer time so you could relax and enjoy the journey!
Credit: giphyP.S. Looking for the yummiest eateries in Japan? With the HHWT Travel Planner, you’ll find the best halal eateries, nearby attractions and prayer spaces at your fingertips! The best part is, you’ll get to enjoy special offers at selected eateries ? Sign up for our platform now!
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Tokyo truly is a gem of a place, where Muslims can easily fulfil their obligations while satisfying their wanderlust. We have some Tokyo guides up already for your planning pleasure, and we will offer brand new spankin’ ideas here as well!
Feel free to pick and choose what YOU want to do. Remember, the aim is to have the best time ever!
For the first day, we will be gallivanting around Tokyo, with the next two days in a little town out of Tokyo.
Day 1 - Explore Tokyo!
Start your day in Shimokitazawa (2-3 hours)
Credit: Sae Fujimura on Flickr
If you’re a lover of charming places, look no further. Touted as one of the ‘hipster’ capitals of Tokyo, it is home to artsy stores, secondhand clothes, retro wares, and cosy cafes. The atmosphere in Shimokitazawa is lively yet exudes a casual laid-back persona, with fewer crowds than Shinjuku and Shibuya.
- Get lost in its narrow winding alleys
- Hunt for fashion bargains, whether it be clothes, shoes or accessories
- Fill your tummy at Nou-min Cafe, a healthy vegan cafe
Credit: Chelsea Marie Hicks on Flickr
- The area has many nooks for coffee, but if you’re a serious coffee enthusiast, give Bear Pond Espresso a try. Know your order before heading there, and be there at 11am if you want pure espresso shots. The owner is very particular with high-quality control, and if the shots aren’t good that day, he won't sell it. Otherwise, they would still serve Americanos, lattes and macchiatos. Be prepared for a strict, no-nonsense service – they expect everyone in the party to order at least one drink each!
Head on over to Akihabara (2-3 hours)
A trip to Tokyo is almost incomplete without a stopover at the centre of otaku culture.
Credit: Judith Scharnowski on Pixabay
- Get in touch with your inner geek and be dazzled with the selection of anime, manga, and electronics!
- Check out Don Quixote, a huge discount store for normal and odd things!
Shinjuku (2-3 hours)
- Prepare your wallet and visit the departmental stores!
- Slurp some ramen for dinner atShinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
- End your day by admiring the city of Tokyo at night, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (It’s free!)
#HHWT Tip: Get a 24-hour Tokyo Subway Ticket to enjoy unlimited rides when you travel on the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines!
Day 2 & 3: Trip to Kamakura (Overnight)[caption id="attachment_9960" align="alignnone" width="900"]
An hour or so away from Tokyo, Kamakura is a chiisana machi (small town) with some political (former) bragging rights and many temples. It is utterly beautiful in its small-town aesthetics; at times you may wonder if it’s real life or if you’ve walked into a manga/anime scene.
Day 2 - Journey onwards from Tokyo
Start your journey from Tokyo with a scenic ride on the Enoden Train. (1.5 – 2 hours)
- If you’re pressed for time, take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station, which would take less than an hour.
- Go temple and shrine hopping (2-4 hours depending on how many you’d like to go) -Explore the interesting little alleys that you may cross! ?
- Fill up your tummy at Beach Muffin, a vegan cafe or Shojin Ryori, that serves authentic vegetarian cuisine
Credit: Ryan McBride on Flickr
- Chill and people watch over at the beachin Enoshima (1-3 hours)
- If you are on a budget and don’t mind gender-separated dormitories, stay a night in the very homey Kamakura Guesthouse; a traditional Japanese house with an authentic cooking hearth in the common room.
Day 3 - Back to nature
- Get in touch with nature and go hiking! (1-3 hours for each trail)
- There are a couple of attractive trails, which connects to different temples. Plus, you’d get to check out Kamakura from a higher vantage point!
- Take a refreshing shower back at your hotel/hostel before heading out again
- Replenish at Arkadas, a Turkish restaurant serving Halal meat (FYI, alcoholic beverages are served here)
- Walk around their Komachi-dori (Small Town Street) (1-2 hours)
- Lined with plenty of shops with cafes and souvenir shopping opportunities, you may also be delighted to come across hidden places in alleys. (Shops in Japan closes early, so try to do this before 5pm!)
- Head back to Tokyo
Credit: Ankur P on Flickr
And now we head down south to the Japan Alps! Passing by rural parts of Japan, we make a beeline towards Takayama, which is a great base to go to other areas!
Getting to Takayama from Tokyo
Nouhi Bus offers a direct Shinjuku to Takayama route, which would roughly take 5.5 hours (6690 yen for a 1-way trip, as of Sept 2018). The bus is highly recommended as the seats are comfortable with ample leg space, and you will also be rewarded with great views along the way!#HHTW Tip: Another reason for Muslims to go to Takayama is that there are amazing people there running a ‘Muslim Friendly Project in Hida Takayama’!
Day 4 – Arriving in Takayama
Assuming that you have 3-5 hours left until 5pm after arriving, here’s what you could do!
Credit: Rumpleteaser on Flickr
- Travel back into time by going to Hida no Sato/Hida Folk Village!
- Check the main website for monthly events that coincide with your visit!
- Get your ramen fix over at Ekimaeken. A prayer space is available on the 2nd floor!
Day 5 - Morning Markets, Takayama and Shirakawa-go[caption id="attachment_9965" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Experience the Morning Markets (1-2 hours)
- Wake up early and browse the local goods, opens from 6.30am to noon
- There are two markets there; Jinya-Mae Market and Miyagawa Market
- If you have feline friends, ask around for Matatabi ? Your cat(s) will thank you for it!
Explore Takayama (2-3 hours)[caption id="attachment_9966" align="alignnone" width="900"]
Credit: Yusuke Kawasaki on Flickr
- Walk around the rows of merchant houses, Sanmachi in the old city
- Go to Takayama Jinya, a beautifully preserved (former) government building. Do take advantage of the free English tour!
- Have your lunch atThanyaporn restaurant, that serves Thai cuisines with halal beef/chicken. Veggie dishes are available as well!
- Walk a few metres to Takayama Station to wait for your bus to Shirakawa-go
Fill your afternoon with a day trip to Shirakawa-go!(4 hours)
Shirakawa-go is a gorgeous World Heritage Site, with houses over 300 years of age. They are known for their thick, steep thatched roofs called gassho-zukuri, which are all very well-preserved. Coming during different seasons would show a different side of it; winter wonderland during winter and beautiful, vibrant colours during the other three seasons!
- Take a day trip to Shirakawa-go, a gorgeous World Heritage Site (4400 yen, as of May 2016). If you could, try a farmhouse stay!
#HHTW Tip: Align your trips with the Takayama Festival! Considered one of Japan’s best festivals, it is held in spring and autumn.
Day 6 – Kamikochi
Credit: @Yoshi_.w on Instagram
Fresh air, lush mountains, running clear waters… Particularly beautiful draped in autumn foliage, Kamikochi is still amazing during other seasons. You don’t need to be an experienced hiker to go here; in fact, unless you plan to head up to the peaks, the path is quite flat, and the routes are pretty picturesque! A great place for nature lovers.
Getting to Kamikochi from Takayama
Take a Nouhi bus from Takayama to Hirayu Onsen (Takayama-Tokyo route; 60 minutes) and from Hirayu Onsen, take another bus to Kamikochi (Kamikochi Line; 25 minutes). As of May 2016, you could get a bundle round-trip ticket for 5040 yen. Remember to check the bus schedules so you get back to Takayama safely!
(Alternatively, when you reach Hirayu Onsen, 5 minutes away from the station is Hirayu no Mori, which is a spa resort with 16 open-air hot springs. You could opt to stay the night here instead of traveling back to Takayama. Plus, it will only be 30 minutes away from Kamikochi...and hot springs after a hike? Perfect.)#HHWT Tip: Kamikochi is closed during winter, and usually opened between mid/late April to mid November, so do check before going!
Credit: @3yuki_1222 on Instagram
- Take a pick of your hiking trails! Most hikes start from the Kappabashi bridge, which is nearby (and walkable!) from the Kamikochi bus terminal.
- Round trip to Myojin Lake (6.5km, 2-3 hours)
- Round trip to Taisho pond (8km, ~2-3hours)
- These are the easy hikes. There are harder hikes, such as to Mount Yake and Mount Oku-hotaka (3rd highest mountain in Japan!), however it can get very steep and dangerous (think snow covered steps and steel ladders!). It’s best for those with decent hiking experience!
- Pack some food before heading here!There are some restaurants and a mountain hut serving food, but buy with your own discretion..
- You should be back at the Kamikochi bus terminal at 5pm latest to catch the last bus to Hirayu Onsen, and then to Takayama.
- Take a relaxing sunset walk around the river in Takayama.
Day 7-9 - Experience beautiful Kyoto
Getting to Kyoto from Takayama
Again, Nouhi Bus offers a direct route, which would roughly take 4 hours (4200 yen for a 1-way trip, as of Sept 2018).
Credit: Hermenegildo Santamaria on Flickr
Day 7 – Downtown Kyoto Leisure
After emerging from a short foray into the Alps and its historical charms, we ease into another city known for its serene temples and graceful geishas; Kyoto.
You would have just arrived from Takayama, so the itinerary for today will be more relaxing.
#HHWT Tip: Get the ICOCA IC Card, which allows you to get discounted fares on public transport and shopping in the Kansai region (which includes Kyoto and Osaka!)
Credit: @terka.pok on Instagram
- Visit Nijo castle. A voice guidance system is available. (1-2 hours)
- Have a meal at Biotei - it’s not a halal establishment, but it serves vegetarian food, with vegan options on request. Or another option is Ganko Kyoto Sanjo Honten, with Muslim friendly menus ?
- Check out Nishiki Market before it closes at 5.30pm (1 hour)
- Make your way to the little alleyways of Gion, and keep an eye out for the lovely maikos and geishas. If there are out and about, they are usually on an assignment and would not have time to stop and pose for photos. So make sure your camera trigger finger is fast, and remember to be respectful. (2-3 hours)
- A great way to understand their customs more is to go on a Gion night walking tour!
- Slurp on some delicious miso ramen in Naritaya, Gion. Prayer space available.
Day 8 – Exploring Eastern Kyoto
- Arrive early in Kiyomizu-dera Temple to avoid the crowd
- Feed your tummy with Kyoto’s famous yodofu (simmered tofu in water) at Kiyomizu Junsei Okabeya.
- Stroll down to the shopping streets of Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka, where Kyoto style houses are in abundance
- Pay a visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine.
- Drop by Maruyama Park during cherry blossom season!
- Head towards the other side of the city for Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji.
- Reminisce your travel in Japan so far on the Path of the Philosopher
Day 9 – The Last Day in Kyoto
- Start early in Arashiyama, in Tenryu-ji Temple
- Take your mindful moments in its famous Bamboo Grove
- Take a short trip south to see snow monkeys at the Monkey Park Iwatayama
- Go over to Kyoto Station for some retail therapy
- Refuel with amazing chicken-broth ramen at Ayam-ya, near Kyoto Station
Day 10 – Osaka adventure
Credit: Reginald Pentinio
- JR Kyoto line's Special Rapid Service will get you to Osaka Station in 30 mins
- You can pay the 560 yen fare using your ICOCA card
- Pay the Osaka Mosque a visit, and fulfill your prayers too!
- Do last minute shopping over at Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi and Den Den Town. Even if not for shopping, it is great for exploring!
- Have your meal at Muqam (Nanba, and nearby Dotonbori), or better yet, check out one of these 13 halal Japanese eateries in Osaka!
- If shopping isn’t your thing, you could head to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan(great for kids!), Osaka Castle Park (for history), or the top of the Umeda Sky Building for a bird’s eye view of the city.
- Wind down before catching your flight back!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re hungry while in the Kansai airport, good news! Halal food can be found here, as well as prayer facilities ?
P.S. You can find the best Muslim-friendly/halal eateries and prayer spaces near the attractions you’re visiting with our HHWT Travel Planner! Fuss-free travel planning right at your fingertips ? Sign up NOW!