Conquer West Japan With This 7D6N Muslim-Friendly Itinerary To Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima (& More!)


Faruq Senin •  Aug 22, 2019

Updated 13 Dec. 2019

Japan has always fascinated us and it doesn’t matter if we’ve visited it countless times because every visit promises something new! The amazing thing about Japan is that every region and city has its own specialty which makes uncovering it even more exciting. 

Credit: GIPHY

That’s why Elaine, Amir and I were super stoked when we found out that we were going to be exploring the westernmost region of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, with JR-WEST. Most travellers, like ourselves, are only familiar with Osaka and the Kansai area but trust us, this trip showed us that there’s so much more to discover in the region. And thanks to the7-day JR-WEST Sanyo-San’in All Area Pass, we got to explore Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi. With the pass, we also managed to save massively on transport as compared to paying separate fares for each trip. So without further ado, here’s our 7D6N Muslim-friendly itinerary to get you started on planning your trip!

Note: This itinerary starts from Osaka and ends at Fukuoka. The JR-WEST pass will be used for travelling in between Osaka and Fukuoka. It’s totally up to you if you want to reverse the order for the itinerary or start and end from the same city but do note that the pass is only valid for 7 days.

Pre-trip essentials 

  • We flew from Singapore to Osaka but before our flight, we had to first collect our pre-trip essentials!

  • No trip is complete without WiFi and we got our ChangiWiFi device from Changi Recommends.
  • #HHWTTip: Travelling by 30 Apr 2020? Use promo code 10OFFHALAL to enjoy $10 off your purchase and enjoy unlimited data! Do note that you have to book by 29 Feb 2020 with a minimum of 4 rentals days in Japan.  

*Disclaimer: While Changi Recommends is offering SGD200 instant claim from their counters, you might need to provide official documentation for specific travel-related incidents. For instance, if you're claiming for the loss of identification card, you must make a police report first before submitting your claim. 

Day 1: Osaka

Have your first taste of Japan in Kansai Airport (1h)

  • Should you need to do your prayers, the prayer room at Terminal 1 is located at 3F beside the Korean Air Lounge. 
  • It’s gender-segregated and a wudhu area is provided. It’s also equipped with prayer mats and garments. 
  • There are 2 other prayer rooms located at International Departure Gate Area North and South Wing Gate. 

Exchange your voucher for the JR-WEST Pass (30 min)

  • Time to collect your JR-WEST passes! Head over to the Kansai Airport train station (exit from 2F) and you’ll see a large sign that reads “JR Ticket Office”. You can’t miss it!

  • The staff will ask you for your passport and you’d have to write and sign your name on the pass. Once you have your pass with you, do not lose it because if that happens, you’d have to get another one!
  • In case you’re wondering, the pass is valid on all Sanyo Shinkansen trains from Shin-Osaka to Hakata (including the fastest trains of Nozomi and Mizuho, JR Nation Wide Pass cannot be used for the fastest type of Shinkansen), all local JR-WEST train lines, limited express trains, rapid/special rapid services and JR-WEST Miyajima Ferry. There’s a map printed on the pass so you can just refer to it too.

  • The pass can’t be used on the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Kyoto and Tokyo. 
  • As the trains have both reserved and non-reserved seating, you can choose to reserve your seat for trains at no additional cost. Just ask the staff to help you! We recommend reserving seats if you’re travelling during peak hours.  

  • P.S. There are self-service counters (in green) outside the office if you wish to exchange the pass yourself but we recommend heading to the office if you’re not quite sure what to select. 

Take the Kansai-Express Haruka to downtown Osaka (50min)

  • With the pass, there are 2 trains you can take to downtown Osaka: Kansai-Airport Express Haruka and Kansai-Airport Rapid Service. We took the Haruka as it brings you to Shin-Osaka in just 50 minutes. Check out the timetable for the trains here.
  • If you’re lucky enough like we were, you’ll get to ride on a random Hello Kitty-themed Haruka train. Don’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo with the exterior of the train! 

  • Even the interior was adorned with Hello Kitty decorations. It definitely made our 50-minute ride more enjoyable! 

Check in to Hotel Vischio Osaka (30 min) 

  • Once you’ve reached Shin-Osaka, take the JR Kyoto Line to Osaka Station, where you can check in at Hotel Vischio Osaka. Exit the station via the North Central Gate and walk through Grand Front Osaka before reaching the hotel. Check out the directions here.

  • The hotel is located just a 5-10 minute walk from Osaka Station and we really love the modern interior of the hotel! 
  • We stayed in the Deluxe Twin room and Single room and it was really spacious

  • Opened in June 2018, the hotel’s lobby looks as good as new and the décor is really Instagrammable. 
  • Not to mention that there’s free high-speed Wi-Fi in all rooms, extra amenities like green tea packs, coffee pack and powdered milk which you can take from the lobby, automatic check-out machines, air purifier and more!
  • #HHWTTip: Get an additional* 20% discount off your hotel booking when you use promo code HOTELHHWT10 on Changi Recommends! Book by 31 Jan 2020 for check-in by 31 May 2020. Do note this is only for new customers with minimum spending of SGD500.

*Members can get up to 60% off selected hotels, find out more here

Be amazed by the water clock at Osaka Station (30 min)

  • Before you start your exploration of Osaka, check out one of the world’s 12 most beautiful clocks named by CNN Travel - the water clock at Osaka Station!

  • We were amazed at how the clock doesn’t use any dials or hands to show time but instead it uses a technology called the ‘space printer’ where every line of water shoots out of a nozzle controlled by a computer. 

  • P.S. You can also do your prayers at Osaka Station! There is a multi-faith prayer room located near the water fountain clock at the South Gate Plaza. Prayer mats are provided but do remember to bring your own prayer garments.
  • Do note that you’d need to head to the information counter on the third floor of Osaka Station City before using the prayer room. 

  • The prayer room is carpeted, with ablution facilities also available so it’ll be a comfortable space to perform your prayers.
  • Opening hours: 11am-7pm (May-Aug: 11am-8pm)     

Get a sweeping skyline view of Osaka (1.5h)

  • Just a short walk away is the magnificent Umeda Sky Building. Head up to the floating garden observatory and you’ll be greeted with an open-air observatory, and an incredible 360-degree view of Osaka. 
  • The building is a 9-minute walk from Osaka Station via the North Gate entrance. 

Credit: @nickstagram671 on Instagram

  • Conquer your fear of heights and take the see-through escalator that’s suspended 40 floors above ground!
  • Admission fee: JPY1500, JPY700 (4-12 years old)

Spend the afternoon at one of Japan’s oldest temples (1h)

  • Known as one of the oldest temples in Japan, Shitennoji is also known as the first temple to be built by the state. It’s located only about a 9-minute walk from JR Tennoji Station. 
  • Prince Shotoku founded the temple in 593 as an introduction to Buddhism in Japan. 

Credit: @yohsandy on Instagram

  • Although the temple has been burned down numerous times, it’s been reconstructed to reflect its original 6th-century design.
  • It’s free to enter the outer grounds of the temple but you’d need to pay a small fee to enter the inner temple complex, the treasure house and the Gokurakujodo Garden.

Credit: @y62b12n on Instagram

  • #HHWTTip: If you’re at Tennoji Station and have some time to spare, we recommend heading to Abeno Harukas, located across the station. It’s the tallest skyscraper in Japan at 300 metres tall!
  • With ceiling-to-floor glass panels at its observation deck called Harukas 300, you’re in for a gorgeous view of Osaka. Besides that, Abeno Harukas is also home to an art museum and Japan’s largest department store. 
  • Book your tickets for the Harukas 300 Observatory and other attractions on Changi Recommends and enjoy more savings when you use these promo codes: GTREAT40 ($40 off, min. spend $280), GTREAT80 ($80 off, min. spend $500)

Savour fresh seafood at Kuromon Ichiba Market (2h)

  • Time to check out one of Osaka’s liveliest market, Kuromon Ichiba! It’s been nicknamed “Osaka’s Kitchen” as locals and restaurant chefs get their supply here. It’s also well-known for its fresh seafood, so you’ll find a variety of stores specialising in various types of seafood! The market is a 15-minute walk from JR Namba Station. 
  • Do note that none of the stores here are halal-certified but there are Muslim-friendly options.

  • If you’re a fan of crabs, head over to Yasojima to savour the sweetest and juiciest grilled King crabs! 
  • Prices start from JPY4000, but it’s worth every bite! 
  • Halal status: Only seafood served (for Yasojima)

  • Craving for tempura? Then make a stop at Nisshindo for their appetising tempura options. They have a wide variety from squid to pumpkin tempura! 
  • Halal status: Muslim-friendly verified by local authorities 
  • Address: 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073, Japan, Opening hours: 9am-6pm

Slurp up scrumptious ramen for dinner (1h)

  • For dinner, head over to the massively popular Ayam-ya at Namba! 

Credit: @food_meet_city on Instagram

  • With power-packed ramen in rich salt or soy-based broth, you know you’re in for a truly unforgettable meal here. The spicy chicken ramen is a hot favourite! 
  • If you don’t fancy ramen, don’t worry, they have yummy rice bowls too. 
  • Halal status: Halal-certified, prayer room in the establishment
  • Check out our Osaka halal food guide for more details and options!

Soak in the atmosphere of Dotonbori (1.5h)

  • A visit to Osaka isn’t complete if you don’t embrace the atmosphere at Dotonbori! 

  • This popular tourist spot is bustling with people and colourful signboards. It’s nice to just walk along the street and people-watch. 

  • Don’t forget to say hi to the famous Glico Running man too, which has been the landmark of Dotonbori since 1935! Did you know the sign has transformed 6 times over the past 8 decades?
  • There are many shops here where you can stock up on souvenirs to bring back for your loved ones!

Normal price of transportation Day 1: JPY3,750

Day 2: Kyoto

Have a halal bento breakfast (1h)

  • Start your morning right with a halal bento breakfast at Hotel Vischio Osaka
  • It costs JPY2800 and you’ll need to request for your meal at least 2 days in advance. Please note that the breakfast buffet is also included in the JPY2,800.

  • We tried both the options - halal yakiniku and Japanese-style grilled fish. The yakiniku was really juicy and we loved that the set came with a number of sides like sushi rice balls, vegetables and even warabimochi as dessert.
  • Halal status: The bento breakfast is halal-certified by Japan Islamic Trust. It’s prepared in a separate kitchen and separate kitchen utensils and tableware are used. But do note that you’d still be eating your meal at the hotel’s restaurant where other customers will be eating the buffet breakfast. 

Travel to Kyoto (30 min)

  • The JR-WEST pass doesn’t include the shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto but you can take the JR Kyoto Line. We recommend taking the Special Rapid Service as it has only 3 stops and takes only 30 minutes. 
  • No need to use the Shinkansen from Osaka to Kyoto! It takes 25 minutes and you’d have to change trains at Shin-Osaka Station. 

Marvel at trains at Kyoto Railway Museum (2h)

  • First stop of the day - Kyoto Railway Museum! From Kyoto Station, take the JR San-in Line to the newly built Umekoji-Kyotonishi station. The museum is just a short walk from the station and you can spot it from its entrance. 

  • There are 53 train exhibits on display here including the very first 0 series Shinkansen ever built and the first Shinkansen to reach 300km/h and recognised by the Guinness World Records. 
  • Even though we’re weren’t train enthusiasts, it was still fascinating for us to marvel at vintage trains, steam locomotives and find out more about the history of trains in Japan. We were really impressed with some of the exhibits, especially the interactive activities!

  • We pretended to be a train driver for the day or a station master and learnt about a day in the life of a train conductor. This was a really fun experience, especially for those travelling with kids!
  • You can also try an operating simulator which is the real simulator used by train conductors during their training!

  • One highlight that you shouldn’t miss is a 10-minute ride on the steam locomotive (additional fee of JPY300) This was the main train used before the age of bullet trains and we were really thrilled by the smoke and the chugging sound of the train. Check the schedule here.
  • Overall, the museum was a really interesting experience for us as we felt like we were kids all over again!
  • Admission fee: JPY1200 (JPY1080 with the JR-WEST Pass)

Lunch at Hotel Granvia Kyoto (1h)

  • After a fruitful morning learning about trains, it’s time to refuel! If you’re looking for somewhere around Kyoto Station, head over to Le Temps at Hotel Granvia Kyoto. It’s directly connected to the station via level 2. 

  • They have a total of 4 halal options and we tried the Halal Bento Box (JPY3600) - the teriyaki beef had just the right texture and the sauce was so yummy! The breaded golden fried prawn was so huge and it was fresh and crispy ?

  • For those of you who want a change from Japanese food can also order their steak (JPY3500) or grilled chicken (JPY2600). Our favourite was the grilled chicken - it had just the right amount of charred taste and paired well with the teriyaki sauce. 
  • Halal status: Halal-certified by Malaysia Halal Corporation. Tableware and utensils are separated from non-halal ones. 
  • Note: You don’t have to reserve your meal in advance but as there are limited servings per day, we recommend you to do so. Plus, when reserving, you can request for a prayer space too. Book here
  • Address: 2F, Hotel Granvia Kyoto (directly connected to Kyoto Station), Opening hours: 6.30am-11pm (last order: 10.30pm)

Enjoy traditional Japanese desserts at Gion (1h)

  • After that delicious lunch, time to indulge in some traditional Japanese desserts at Gion Tokuya, known for warabimochi (bracken starch confection). Their warabi mochi is made using high-grade sugar called wasanbon. 

  • We had the warabi and kuzu mochi combo and it was served on ice, complete with 4 different dips - brown sugar syrup, azuki (red bean), soybean kinako powder and matcha kinako powder. 
  • The warabi mochi was so smooth and silky and our favourite dips were the brown sugar syrup and azuki. It didn’t take long before we finished the whole plate! 

  • We also couldn’t resist getting some Bancha Green Tea kakigori (shaved ice) as it was really warm and humid that day. It was served with a tea-infused syrup and rock candy and you’re supposed to pour both onto the ice before you dig in. This treat is only available in summer so make sure you try it to beat the heat! 
  • Halal status: We checked with Gion Tokuya and they don’t use any alcohol or animal derivatives in their desserts. 
  • Address: 570-127 Gionmachi Minamigawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0074, Opening hours: 12pm-6pm

Stroll around Gion (1-1.5h)

  • Gion Tokuya is located along Hanamikoji Dori,the main street in the traditional district of Gion, where you can find dessert shops, teahouses and more. You might even spot a geisha in early evenings, if you’re lucky enough! 

  • Another picturesque spot in Gion is the Gion Tatsumi Bridge - the filming location for many movies and the scenery is even more breathtaking if you visit Kyoto during cherry blossom season or autumn! 

Experience old Kyoto at Higashiyama (1-1.5h)

  • Another area that’s a must-go in Kyoto is Higashiyama, one of the most well-preserved districts in Kyoto. 
  • Walking here will take you back in time with narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional shops. 

Credit: @louiehanson66 on Instagram

  • Here’s where you’d also find that familiar postcard-perfect shot of a street with the Yasaka Pagoda in the background, one of the most prominent structures in the district. 
  • Besides taking in the atmosphere, you can also do some shopping at the many souvenirs, sweets and craft shops. 

Enjoy halal Japanese curry at Ninenzaka (1h)

Credit: @dimasfirmanda on Instagram

  • Rejoice because they specialise in Japanese curry! There’s a variety of curry dishes but the most popular is their Chicken Nanban - marinated deep-fried chicken is topped with tartar sauce and served with curry and rice ?
  • The best part is, you can do your prayers here too with prayer mats and an area for wudhu. 
  • Halal status: Halal-certified (by Nippon Asia Halal Association)
  • Check out our article for more info!

Travel back to Osaka (30min)

  • From the Higashiyama/Gion district, take bus 100, 110 or 206 back to Kyoto Station before hopping on the JR Special Rapid line to Osaka to rest for the night. The standard bus fare in Kyoto is JPY230. 

Amenities at Kyoto Station 

1) Luggage delivery service 

  • If Kyoto is the last stop of your trip and you don’t want to drag your luggage around while sightseeing, we recommend the Crosta Baggage Service (B1F, next to JR Kyoto underground central gate exit)
  • What’s great is they have same-day luggage delivery service to Kansai Airport so you can leave your bags with them and head to the airport hands-free. 

  • Each item costs JPY2000. The drop-off time is 8am-12pm and you can collect your baggage at the airport from 4pm-8pm. 
  • They also have temporary luggage service if you just wish to keep your bags at Kyoto Station.

2) English-speaking guide

  • As Kyoto Station is really huge with 15 platforms, you might have a tough time finding your way. If you encounter any problems, just look for this JR Information counter (outside the 1F Central Gate) and an English-speaking guide will help you out. 

Normal price of transportation Day 2: JPY1,460

Day 3: Kobe

Take the Hello Kitty Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Shin-Kobe (13min)

  • Hello Kitty fans, this one’s for you! It’s your chance to hop on the Hello Kitty shinkansen. This train only operates twice daily (6.40am from Hakata to Shin-Osaka and 11.29am from Shin-Osaka to Hakata) so you have to plan it into your itinerary! 

  • Don’t reserve a seat if you want to catch the Hello Kitty cabins. Head over to Car No.2 (called the Kawaii room) which is completely decorated in Hello Kitty prints, from the seats to the floor.

  • But that’s not all! In the same cabin, you’ll also find a huge statue of Hello Kitty dressed in a train master uniform. Strike a pose with it as it’s too cute to resist ?

  • After you’re done snapping lots of photos with Hello Kitty, head over to Car No. 1 where you can get exclusive Hello Kitty merchandise and memorabilia, including a model of the shinkansen. 

Visit Japan’s first mosque (30min) 

  • Take the Kobe subway to Sannomiya station (JPY210) and walk for around 10 minutes to Kobe Mosque.

  • Built in 1935, Kobe Mosque is Japan’s first mosque and was built through donations from the Indian, Tatar and Turk Muslim communities.
  • It’s amazing how the mosque survived bombings during World War II and the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake even when the surrounding buildings were badly destroyed. 

Have lunch at Naan Inn (1h)

Credit: @tedd_ezzran on Instagram

  • For lunch, head over to Naan Inn just opposite the mosque for a quick lunch. 
  • This cosy eatery serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine. If you happen to be there on Fridays, join the locals for a lunch buffet!
  • Halal status: Halal menu, as verified with Kobe Mosque.
  • Address: 3 Chome-1-2 Yamamotodori, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0003, Opening hours: 11am-10pm

Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway (3h)

  • Next, time for some sightseeing at the Nunobiki Herb Gardens and Ropeway. It’s just a 5-minute walk from JR Shin-Kobe station. 

  • Here’s where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Kobe as the cable car brings you up Mount Rokko. Try to spot the Nunobiki Waterfall and herb garden along the way! 
  • There’s an observation deck at the top station of the ropeway where you’ll get gorgeous views of the city, both in the day and at night ?

  • The herb garden has 200 different types of herbs and flowers. What’s interesting is that the herbs differ by season. If you’re here in summer, expect to see sunflowers, lilies, lemongrass, mint, turmeric and more! 

  • To soothe your aching muscles, you can also dip your feet in the foot bath with freshly picked herbs from the garden. The foot bath is free but you’ll have to pay JPY100 for a towel.

  • Instead of taking the ropeway back down the mountain, we recommend taking a 20-minute downward hike as you’ll be able to see the Nunobiki Waterfall up close. It’s one of Japan’s famous waterfalls, with a significance in Japanese literature and art. 
  • P.S. If you decide to hike, don’t get a return trip on the ropeway and remember to wear comfortable shoes and attire. 

Savour halal Kobe beef (2h) 

  • End your time in Kobe by trying out the city’s specialty, Kobe Beef!
  • Misono Kobe only started serving a halal Kobe beef menu last year but it has long been known for its Teppanyaki Steak. 
  • The set meal at Misono is a little pricier (from JPY27000 without tax) but it’s the only store serving sirloin and tenderloin, which are better cuts as compared to other stores. Do note that you’d have to make a reservation via email ([email protected]) at least 1 day in advance. 

  • Watch the chef skillfully prepare your meal on an iron plate in front of you. It’ll feel like a performance while you’re anticipating to taste the meat. 

  • The set includes salad, grilled vegetables, Kobe beef (sirloin), garlic fried rice (cooked with beef fat) and the sweetest Japanese melon.
  • Halal status: Halal-certified Kobe beef (you may request to see the certificate) and Muslim-friendly ingredients. Do note that alcohol is served.

Travel to Okayama (30min)

  • After a fulfilling day in Kobe, it’s time to move on to your next city to rest for the night, Okayama! With your JR-WEST Pass, you can hop aboard the Nozomi, the fastest shinkansen.
  • The journey takes roughly about 30 minutes as it depends on the schedule and the time which you depart from Kobe to Okayama. 

Check in to Hotel Granvia Okayama

  • As it’s already quite late by the time you reach Okayama, we recommend staying at Hotel Granvia Okayama, just a 5-minute walk from Okayama Station. 
  • It was so convenient as we didn’t need to drag our luggage that far before reaching the hotel. Note: There’s a walkway that directly connects the station to the hotel (at Level 2) but it’s currently under construction.

  • We stayed at the Standard Twin and Standard Single room and we really had a restful night! 
  • Besides your standard rooms, what’s great about Hotel Granvia is that they have Family Deluxe Rooms which can fit up to 7 people. Perfect if you’re travelling with the whole family ? 
  • #HHWTTip: If you're travelling by 31 May 2020, good news! Enjoy 20% discount off your hotel booking when you use promo code HOTELHHWT10 on Changi Recommends. Do book your hotel by 31 Jan 2020 (min. spending of SGD500 for new customers)

  • Hotel Granvia Okayama also provides a prayer mat and compass upon request. They’ll pass it to you during check-in, and you just have to return it when you check out. How thoughtful!  

  • #HHWTTip: There’s also a prayer room on level 2 and this is open to everyone, even if you’re not a guest at the hotel. All you need to do is head to the lobby and let the staff know that you’d like to use the prayer room. We thought this was a really nice gesture from the hotel! Do note that you’d have to bring your own prayer garments and take wudhu at the toilet nearby. 

Normal price of transportation Day 3: JPY9,460

Day 4: Okayama

Breakfast at Hotel Granvia Okayama (30min-1h)

  • Before we started our day in Okayama, we stopped by the hotel’s Olivier Restaurant for breakfast. 

  • One thing to note about Okayama is that they use a pictogram called Peach Mark to classify eateries with Muslim-friendly options and the breakfast buffet at Hotel Granvia Okayama has items labelled with the Peach Mark. Find more about the Peach Mark here.
  • Fun Fact: The prefecture uses peaches as symbol, because Okayama is known for their juicy and yummy peaches! (more on that later ?)
  • Do note that the breakfast buffet is not halal-certified so do dine at your own discretion. 

Explore Okayama Castle (2-3h) 

  • We met Ms Otsuki from the Okayama City Government and she brought us around for our day in Okayama. It was so nice to explore the city with a local! 

  • Our first stop was Okayama Castle - it was built in 1597 by the area’s lord, Hideie Ukita. 
  • Thanks to his foresight, it redirected enemy attacks, and brought more merchants and craftsmen to the city and made it what it is today.
  • Admission fee: JPY300, JPY560 (with Korakuen Garden) (From October 2019 onwards, the prices will be JPY320 and JPY580 due to an increase in tax)

Try on a kimono

  • Unlike other castles in Japan where you’d only be able to look at exhibits and replicas, there are a few activities which you can do at Okayama Castle. One of them is trying on the kimono! The best part is that you don’t have to pay any additional costs. 

  • There was a wide selection of kimonos for ladies and Elaine wore a ceremonial kimono - it’s usually only worn during more formal occasions like weddings. Just take a look at the elaborate robe and how intricate the designs are. It was actually Elaine’s first time trying on a kimono! 

  • There was only 1 kimono set for men but I tried it on too. I’ve tried wearing the daily kimono before but this was my first time wearing the ceremonial one. This was definitely heavier and had more layers. And it was really fun as you can’t easily get this experience anywhere else!
  • If you’d like to try on the kimono with the whole family, you can do it here too as they have kimonos for kids. 
  • Here are the timings for the kimono session: 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm. There are only 5 slots each hour and it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis.  

Make a wind chime 

  • Next, we headed to the studio on the first floor and learnt how to make a wind chime (called fuurin in Japanese). You’d have to pay JPY1000 for this class. 

  • Fuurin is usually hung outside houses or shops in summer as the Japanese believe that the chiming sound it makes is soothing and relaxing. 
  • Part of the fuurin is actually made up of bizenware, one of Japan’s famous types of pottery which originated from Bizen City in Okayama. 
  • The bizenware was already made for us so what we did in the class was to tie a string to connect 2 pieces of the bizenware. 

  • It might look easy to tie the strings but it’s actually a pretty difficult task as you’d have to make sure that the length is correctly adjusted so that the fuurin will make a sound.
  • The class was conducted in Japanese and we had the help of Ms Otsuki to translate for us. But if you’re here alone, don’t worry as the instructor is really helpful. 
  • P.S. Besides fuurin-making, you can also try your hand at making bizenware, priced from JPY1230. (JPY1250 October 2019 onwards)

Take a refreshing walk at Korakuen (1h)

  • Just a stone’s throw away from the Okayama Castle is Korakuen, known as one of the three great gardens of Japan.
  • #HHWTTip: Admission for the garden alone is JPY400 (JPY410 October 2019 onward) but you’ll save more if you get a combo ticket (JPY560) with the Okayama Castle. 

  • Unlike many other gardens in Japan, Korakuen is very spacious. This was where the lords (daimyo) would come to take a refreshing breather in the summer heat. 
  • Can you believe that the layout of the garden looks almost the same as when it was first built more than 300 years ago?

  • Did you know that there are tea plantations and rice fields in Korakuen too? The garden also has a souvenir shop where you can buy all sorts of tea from their very own plantation!

Indulge in halal sukiyaki/shabu-shabu at Megu (1-1.5h)

  • Bet you never thought you could find halal sukiyaki and shabu-shabu in Okayama! 
  • Megu (ひとり鍋 恵) is just a 10-minute walk from Korakuen and they serve halal meat, including halal Kobe Beef (upon request). 

  • The restaurant received the halal slaughter certificate from the Islamic Center of Japan and their halal meat is sourced from JBS, a halal slaughterhouse in Australia. 

  • Their Muslim-friendly menu only consists of sukiyaki (sweet soy sauce broth) or shabu-shabu set and it costs just JPY1200 for lunch. As with many Japanese restaurants, prices for dinner are more expensive (starting from JPY2500). 
  • Ms Otsuki recommended us to take the sukiyaki as it has more flavour compared to shabu-shabu, and boy was she right! 

  • We simmered the mushrooms, tofu and vegetables into the sukiyaki broth first and waited for it to boil, before dipping the beef slices in to cook for about 30 seconds. The longer we left the beef in, the more flavour it soaked up! 
  • After the beef was cooked, we dipped it in raw egg - the egg enhanced the flavours of the beef and sukiyaki. 

  • You can request to do your prayers here too, but rooms are subject to availability. Alternatively, you can pray in your own room after you’re done with your meal. Do bring your own prayer mat and garments!
  • Halal status: Halal-certified meat available. Do note that pork is sold in the establishment but we’ve checked that the kitchenware and utensils for halal meat are clearly labelled and halal meat is strictly stored separately from non-halal meat. Do note that alcohol is served to other customers in the restaurant but the eating area is separated. We advise you to dine at your own discretion. 
  • Address: Tenjin Cho Building, 1F, 2-1 Tenjin cho, Kita ku, Okayama City, Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 5.30pm-10pm, closed on Tue

Go peach-picking at Tomomien Farm (1.5h)

  • We’ve finally come to the highlight of Okayama - peach-picking! Okayama is famous for their white peaches which are sweet and juicy and summer’s (Jul-Aug) the season for picking peaches.
  • Tomomien Fruit Farm is one of the places where you can pick and taste peaches. There are various packages but we took the “Pick 2 peaches + Taste 2 peaches” package which cost JPY2000 (JPY1800 if you book online).

  • We were brought around by a Japanese lady who’s been in the business for 35 years! 
  • There are 30 types of white peaches that grow in summer and we picked the shimizu, the most famous one which can only be found in Okayama. The reason why the peaches are covered is to protect them from insects. 

  • To know if the peaches were ready to be picked, we had to open the cover and if there was a slight tinge of pink, it meant that we could pick it. Once picked, we put it in the box and it’ll be ready to eat after 2-3 days when there’s a fragrant smell. 

  • Then, we went to the tasting corner to try another kind of peach called the Hakuho which is bigger than the shimizu. When we were there, the Hakuho just ended its season. 

  • The peaches were everything we imagined it to be and more - soft, super juicy and sweet. We just couldn’t get enough of it ? 
  • P.S. If you’re interested in picking grapes, the season starts in September. 

  • After the session, we headed to the store where you can buy peaches home and it’s definitely more expensive than signing up for a peach-picking session. 
  • The store also sold ice-cream and we couldn’t resist getting the peach ice-cream which was so tasty and refreshing! 
  • Halal status: We’ve checked that the ice cream only contains egg, milk, soy and peach. 
  • Getting to Tomomien Farm: Take the Uno Bus from the No. 12 bus stop at the east gate of Okayama Station. Take the bus bound for Neopolis Higashi 6 or Neopolis Nishi 9 and alight at Shimoichijo bus stop. The journey is around 40 minutes. 

Be your own ramen chef for dinner (1h)

  • For dinner, we tried whipping up our own ramen at Ramen Okinoshima. The eatery specialises in flying fish ramen - a species of fish that’s common in Okinoshima Island in Shimane prefecture. 
  • The price of the ramen-making session is JPY2500 and it includes onigiri-making too. 

  • The friendly ramen chef showed us the ropes first before it was our turn to prepare the ramen. The steps seemed quite easy to follow at first but doing it with the same precision as the Chef was tough! 
  • The key to the perfect ramen is its texture - the Chef taught us to boil the ramen noodles for exactly 1 minute to achieve a “futsu” texture which is standard firmness. We also had to ensure that noodles mixed well with the broth. 

  • After that, the ramen is topped with flying fish, onsen egg and some garnishes and voilà, dinner is served! 

  • We really enjoyed the fish broth of the ramen - it was slightly salty but not too overwhelming and the texture of the ramen was on point. The portion was also huge and definitely filling enough for your meal.
  • Halal status: Muslim-friendly option (seafood) available. Do request for the staff not to add chicken to the ramen as the restaurant currently serves non-halal chicken with the ramen. The restaurant also serves pork but all utensils and kitchenware are separated for the Muslim-friendly menu. We advise you to dine at your own discretion. 
  • Address: 2-23 Honmachi, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0901, Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 5am-12am

Alternative dinner option: Milenga 

  • Wanting to have something different? Head over to Milenga for Indian cuisine where you can find a variety of briyani, chapati, dosa, tandoori and more. 

  • We recommend getting the Thali set as it lets you sample all the different curries with briyani. There’s free refills of rice too!
  • Halal status: Halal-certified (by Japan Islamic Trust), prayer facilities in establishment. 
  • Address: 1-3-3 Nodayacho, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0815, Opening hours: 11am-9pm

Travel to Hiroshima (40min)

  • With a heavy heart, it’s time to leave Okayama for Hiroshima, just 40 minutes away via the shinkansen. We recommend taking the Mizhuho or Nozomi to get to Hiroshima in the fastest time. Don’t worry the JR-WEST Pass covers all shinkansen trains, including the fastest ones!

Check in to Hotel Granvia Hiroshima 

  • From Hiroshima station, it’s super easy to get to Hotel Granvia Hiroshima. Exit from the shinkansen ticket gate, turn left and walk past the Information Centre then turn left again and you can already spot the hotel! Then walk towards it via the covered walkway.

  • We stayed in the Twin and Single Room. The twin room was super cozy and the beds were really comfy too. If you’re travelling in a group, you can also opt for the 4Beds Room! 
  • What we loved about Hotel Granvia Hiroshima is the Information Centre at the hotel lobby where you can find out more about things to do in Hiroshima and ask for help from the staff. It’s useful especially if you need to check something in Japanese (eg. Muslim-friendly status of an eatery), or need to make a reservation.
  • #HHWTTip: While current members can enjoy 60% off selected hotels, use promo code HOTELHHWT10 for an additional 20% discount when booking accommodations on Changi Recommends! Make your reservations by 31 Jan 2020 for check-in by 31 May 2020. (min. spending of SGD500 for new customers)

Normal price of transportation Day 4: JPY7,070

Day 5: Hiroshima-Miyajima

Travel to Miyajima Island (45 min)

  • It’s Day 5 of our trip and we started the morning by heading to a famous Japanese island, Miyajima which is best known for the “floating” torii gates. 

  • We took the JR San-yo Line and alighted at Miyajimaguchi Station (28 min) before transferring to the JR-WEST Miyajima Ferry to Miyajima Island (10 min). Check out the ferry schedule here.
  • There are two ferries heading to Miyajima from the port so make sure you turn right for the JR ferry. The ferry makes a turn so you’ll get a view of the floating torii gates. 
  • The best part? The whole journey is covered by our JR-WEST Pass

Learn more about Japanese culture at Itsukushima Shrine (2-3h)

  • Known as the jewel of Miyajima, Itsukushima literally means “island of worship”. Built more than 1400 years ago, the shrine is now a World Heritage Site. 
  • Admission fee: JPY300

  • Itsukushima was built offshore as the whole shrine is regarded as a God or Kami in Shinto so this meant that when the tides rise, it won’t be damaged. 

  • More than just an iconic symbol of Miyajima, worshippers have been coming to Itsukushima for ages to pray for the safety of the Seto Inland Sea. 
  • Since the Edo period, the shrine has become the site of pilgrimage for people living in West Japan. Observing the locals immersed in prayer is a truly fascinating sight. 

  • The O-Torii gate is undoubtedly the star of Itsukushima and it’s amazing that it’s been rebuilt and reconstructed many times since the 8th century. It’s also never been damaged by storms or typhoons. 
  • We managed to catch the O-Torii gate during high tide and the sight of it floating on water was really magical ? When it’s low tide, you can experience a different view by walking up to the gate! Do check the tide timings here.
  • Note: The O-Torii gate was supposed to be under renovation since June 2019 but when we were there, there wasn’t any scaffolding. Do check the website for updates if you’re visiting!

Catch a glimpse of the sika deers 

  • Did you know that Miyajima is also home to more than a thousand sika deers? They are considered sacred messengers to the Gods and they often hang out around Itsukushima.
  • Though the deers in Miyajima are really friendly, there are signs telling visitors not to pet or feed them so it’s best to adhere to the instructions.

Stop by Yamadaya for a quick snack (30 min)

  • There were many souvenir shops and cafes located along the street just outside Itsukushima. It was nice to just take a stroll and soak in the atmosphere. 

  • We made a stop at Yamadaya, a local snack shop that’s been around for 70 years! They sell a halal version of momiji manju, a maple leaf-shaped cake filled with red bean. It’s a speciality of Miyajima so make sure you bring some of it back home. 

  • The shop staff gave us a sample to try and the red bean filling was really sweet and smooth. 
  • #HHWTTip: As there are lots of snacks sold in the shop, do ask the staff for help on the halal snacks. We were told that only the 10-piece momiji manju box is halal. 
  • Besides that, we also got some shakushi senbei (ladle-shaped rice crackers). It’s known as a good luck snack in Japan. 
  • Halal status: Both items halal-certified (by Japan Islamic Trust)
  • Address: 835-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588, Opening hours: 8am-8pm

Lunch at Yamaichi Bekkan (1h)

  • It was time to fuel up at the only Muslim-friendly restaurant in Miyajima, Yamaichi Bekkan.
  • The restaurant is part of a small inn and it’s located right opposite the Miyajima Ferry Terminal - super accessible!

  • One of the must-try dishes here is anago don (conger eel rice bowl, JPY2900). The eel is known as a locals’ favourite and is usually caught in the Inland Sea near Miyajima. 
  • We were also pleasantly surprised to find halal fried chicken (JPY1600) here, so we knew we had to order it! It’s also great in case you’re looking for something cheaper. Other items on the menu include sashimi (JPY2500) and tempura (from JPY1800).

  • #HHWTTip: You can also do your prayers here. Just let the staff know and they will prepare the room and amenities for you, complete with prayer mat and compass. 
  • Halal status: Muslim-friendly menu and halal meat available. No pork is served in the restaurant and separate kitchenware is used to prepare halal and non-halal dishes. Utensils aren’t separated but you can request for disposables. Do note that alcohol is served in the restaurant so do dine at your own discretion. 
  • Address: Minatomachi-1162-4 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0504, Opening hours: 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm

Travel to Iwakuni (25 min)

  • After that hearty lunch, we took the JR ferry and headed back to Miyajimaguchi. Then, we hopped on the JR San-yo Line again to Iwakuni, a small city known for the picturesque Kintai-kyo Bridge!
  • From Iwakuni Station, follow the signs to the bus stop (no.2) where there are frequent buses to take you to Kintai-kyo. The fare is JPY300. 

Chill out at Kintai-kyo Bridge (1h)

  • Built in 1673, Kintai-kyo has been a landmark and pride of Iwakuni for years and it’s also known as one of the most beautiful wooden arch bridges in Japan.

  • If you’re in Japan in spring or autumn, a visit here is a must as the bridge will look even more stunning against the backdrop of cherry blossoms and autumn foliage! But we still found the bridge pretty romantic in summer ?

  • There’s a fee of JPY300 to walk on the bridge which is rare but we recommend that you do so as you’ll get a breathtaking view of the river and traditional houses around the bridge. Don’t forget to snap lots of photos too! 

Head back to Hiroshima (30min)

  • From the same bus stop which you alighted at (no. 3), take a bus to Shin-Iwakuni Station, where you can take the shinkansen back to Hiroshima. The bus timetable is printed on the bus stop and it comes frequently too. The bus fare is JPY350. 

Savour Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki at Meimei (1.5h)

Note: Unfortunately, MeiMei is currently closed till further notice. Do check their Facebook page for updates before you plan to visit!

  • No visit to Hiroshima is complete without trying Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) and MeiMei serves halal okonomiyaki! 
  • It’s located on the 6th floor of the Full Focus Building near Hiroshima Station. Once you exit the lift on the 6th floor, you’ll find many other small stalls. Walk all the way straight, turn left to the end and then make a right and you’ll reach MeiMei. 

  • The typical okonomiyaki in the Kansai region is cooked with the ingredients all mixed in but in Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, the ingredients are layered with yakisoba noodles in the mix. Watching the chef skillfully whip up the okonomiyaki was a feast for our eyes ?
  • We had the traditional Okonomiyaki (JPY950) and added cheese (JPY300) for the oomph factor. It certainly didn’t disappoint! 

  • We also tried other teppanyaki items like grilled oysters with butter (JPY1200) and grilled beef tongue (JPY1500). Hiroshima is one of the 4 regions in Japan known for growing meaty and yummy oysters so we highly recommend that you try it!
  • Halal status: Only Halal-certified meat and sauces are used in the establishment. Do note that alcohol is served but in disposable cups. Do dine at your own discretion.
  • Address:Hiroshima Full Focus Building 6F, Eki-mae Hiroba, 10-1 Matsubara-cho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima-shi 〒732-0822, Opening hours: 10am-3pm, 5pm-11pm

Normal price of transportation Day 5: JPY4,300

Day 6: Hiroshima-Okunoshima

Meet the adorable bunnies of Okunoshima (3-4h)

  • We started off day 6 by visiting some furry friends in Okunoshima - rabbits! We’ve only seen and heard so much about the rabbit island and we were excited to finally meet them ☺️

  • #HHWTTip: If you’re heading to Okunoshima from Hiroshima, we recommend taking the Hello Kitty shinkansen from Hiroshima to Mihara (where you’ll transfer to a ferry as mentioned below) as it arrives at Hiroshima station at 8.13am, just the perfect timing to start your day! Check the Hello Kitty schedule here

  • It’s just about an hour away from Hiroshima! There are 2 ways to get to Okunoshima (via Mihara or Tadanoumi Port) but we took the shinkansen to Mihara Station (only the Sakura and Kodama stops there) and transferred to a ferry at Mihara Port. Click here for the ferry timings
  • Ferry fare: JPY1500 (one-way), JPY2400 (round trip), JPY2000 (round trip with JR-WEST Pass)  
  • Another way is to change to the JR Kure Line and alight at Tadano-Umi Station where you’ll find the Tadanoumi Port. From there, it’s a 15-minute ride to Okunoshima and the fare is JPY310. Click here for ferry timings.  

  • Once we arrived at Okunoshima, look who greeted us! There are hundreds of these adorable bunnies on the island today, but it once had a dark past. 
  • The rabbits are believed to have been brought to the island during World War II for chemical testing ?  

  • As resources on the island are scarce, these bunnies rely on visitors for food so do bring along proper rabbit food (pallets), hay or leafy greens as these are the best for their diet. 
  • One common misconception is that rabbits eat carrots (thanks to Bugs Bunny?) but it’s actually not good for them as carrots are high in sugar! 
  • Do refill the water pans around the island when you see them too to ensure the rabbits’ survival.  

  • Besides feeding and playing with the rabbits, Okunoshima also makes for a good half-day recreation spot. You can go camping or rent a bicycle for JPY600 at the Kyukamura Hotel. 
  • #HHWTTip: As there are no halal eateries in Okunoshima, we suggest bringing your own snacks to the island.

Buy some jams at Japan’s biggest jam maker (30min-1h)

  • For our return route to Hiroshima, we decided to go via Tadanoumi Port and stopped by the Aohata Jam Deck, one of Japan’s biggest jam makers!  

  • Aohata is known for creating the first low sugar content jams in Japan, but don’t worry, we’ve tasted it and trust us, the taste isn’t compromised ? 
  • Some of their well-known flavours are White Peach, Orange Marmalade and Strawberry. The jams are affordable too (from JPY360) and they make unique gifts to bring back home.
  • Halal status: We’ve checked that their jams don’t contain any alcohol, gelatine or other animal derivatives but as it’s not halal-certified, do buy at your own discretion. 

  • Besides buying jams, we also hung out at a cafe area to chill out at and we had some refreshing grape and orange juice (JPY200 each). There’s also a rooftop deck but it wasn’t open while we were there ?
  • P.S. Aohata also holds jam-making classes but it’s only available in Japanese

Hop aboard the Meipurupu Sightseeing Bus 

  • We took the JR Kure Line from Tadanoumi Station to Mihara Station and transferred to the shinkansen to head back to Hiroshima. 

  • Then it was time for sightseeing in Hiroshima City and what better way than to hop aboard the Meipurupu hop-on hop-off bus. It’s free with the JR-WEST Pass! (U.P. is 400JPY)
  • Take the bus from the bus terminal at Hiroshima Station (berth no. 2). There are 3 routes and you can check out the routes and timetables here.

Lunch at Karsiyaka (1h)

  • But before that, a quick stop at Karsiyaka for authentic Turkish food! Take the Meipurupu Bus and alight at the Atomic Bomb Dome bus stop and walk for 7 minutes to Karsiyaka. 

Credit: @ikumiuno on Instagram

  • Some of their specialties are their Karsik Kebab (mixed meat combo, JPY2800), Doner Pide (Turkish pizza, JPY1100) and Pirzola (lamb chops, JPY1900). Do check out their value-for-money lunch sets if you’re there for lunch too! 
  • Halal status: Halal-certified meat and ingredients used. Do note that alcohol is served so do dine at your own discretion. Prayer space is available. 
  • Address: 2 Chome-6-20 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0051, Opening hours: 11am-2.30pm (last order: 2pm), 5.30pm-11.30pm

Atomic Bomb Dome & Peace Memorial Park (1.5h)

  • Just a short walk from Karsiyaka is the Atomic Bomb Dome which is about 100 metres from where the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. 

  • It was the only building to avoid complete destruction and its main structure is still intact today. 
  • The dome is a significant part of Hiroshima’s history but more than that, it’s also a reminder of the brutality of war.   

  • We also walked over to the cenotaph for the atomic bomb victims and it was a really solemn experience as we saw locals and visitors paying their respects. 

  • One of the things that struck a chord in our hearts was the Flame of Peace which was lit in 1964 and it will continue to burn until nuclear weapons are completely abolished in the world. 
  • We can only hope and pray that the time will come soon! 

Admire Hiroshima’s skyline at Orizuru Tower (1h)

  • Just a short walk away is one of Hiroshima’s newest attractions, Orizuru Tower. 

  • We absolutely loved the observation deck at the top floor of the tower, with wooden panels and pillars, as it provided a calm respite. It was a perfect spot to sit back and admire the view of Hiroshima’s skyline against the backdrop of mountains.
  • We could also see the Atomic Bomb Dome from a new perspective and spot other sights like the Hiroshima Castle!  

  • Do note that the observatory is turned into a bar from 7pm onwards. 
  • Admission fee: JPY1700 (JPY1000 with JR-WEST Pass)

Have the best tempura experience at Tempura Tenkou (2h)

  • For dinner, we were treated to the best tempura experience ever at Tempura Tenkou. 
  • They have Muslim-friendly course sets for dinner (from JPY3500) and we opted for the Ume Course which consists of fresh prawns, fish, vegetables, mixed fried shrimps and a rice set.
  • #HHWTTip: Visit for lunch if you want a cheaper option, with tempura rice bowls starting from JPY890.  

  • It was fascinating to look at how delicately our tempura was being prepared - the chef coated the item in batter first then lightly fried it before carefully plating it and serving it to us, course by course.

  • We were given three dips - tempura sauce, curry salt and pink salt. With each tempura, the chef would tell us which dip we should go for. Of course, we followed their recommendations ?
  • Each tempura was light and crispy and we took our time to properly savour each bite. It was so well-thought out that the rice set was served last and we ended our meal with the tastiest miso soup we’ve ever tasted. Tempura Tenkou is definitely a must-try when in Hiroshima!

  • Halal status: Only seafood sold. No alcohol or animal derivatives used in the preparation of food. Do note that alcohol is served to other customers so do dine at your own discretion. 
  • Address: 5-1 Nakamachi, Hiroshima 730-0037, Hiroshima Prefecture, Opening hours: 11.30am-2pm, 5pm-10pm

Normal price of transportation Day 6: JPY8,260

Day 7: Yamaguchi-Shimonoseki

  • It’s the last day of our trip ? We started off by leaving Hiroshima for Shimonoseki, the biggest city in Yamaguchi prefecture. It’s nicknamed “Fugu Capital” as it’s the largest harvester of pufferfish in Japan! (fugu is pufferfish in Japanese). 

Travel to Shimonoseki (1h 30min)

  • We checked out of Hotel Granvia Hiroshima and with our luggage, we travelled on the shinkansen to Shin-Shimonoseki Station and transferred to the JR San-yo Line to Shimonoseki Station.
  • Do note that while most of the shinkansen trains from Hiroshima will pass by Shin-Shimonoseki, there are some which will make more stops along the way. Do check out the JR-WEST Timetable or use Hyperdia/Google Maps to help you find the best timings. 

Store your luggage at Shin-Shimonoseki or Shimonoseki Station

  • If you’re travelling with your luggage like we were, the good news is that you don’t have to drag your luggage along as you go sightseeing! 
  • There are lockers at every station and for JPY700, you can fit a medium-sized luggage. It’s really easy to use too! 

Go on the Clover Ticket Route (3-4h)

  • One highlight of Shimonoseki is the attractions surrounding the Kanmon Strait which separates Japan’s two islands of Honshu and Kyushu. The best way to explore this region is by using the Clover Ticket! 
  • We started off at the Karato Pier. To get here, we took a cab from Shimonoseki Station. The fare was around JPY1100 for a 10-minute ride.  
  • #HHWTTip: There might be a language barrier but don’t worry! Just tell the driver “Karato Sanbashi” or show it to him in Japanese - 唐戸桟橋. 

  • The fare for the Clover Ticket is JPY800. There’s a vending machine to get tickets but we told the staff that we wanted to go on the Clover route and we just paid at the counter. 

First stop: Ferry from Karato to Moji Port

  • Moji Port has been an international trading port since the late-19th century and you can see remnants of its grandeur today from the well-preserved Western-style buildings, like its main train station, Mojiko (pictured above). 

  • The area was really nice to walk around and for a moment, we thought we were in Europe ? There are many cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops around here - perfect for a relaxing day out. 

Second stop: Take the Shiokaze-go Retro Train 

Credit: Kit Issara on Facebook

  • The train runs on a diesel locomotive and the 10-minute ride brings you back in time to the Taisho Era Japan (1912-1926). It’ll also move along the coast so you’ll be able to get a view of Moji Port and the Kanmon Straits. 

Third stop: Walk through an undersea tunnel

  • After that scenic train ride, it’s time for a walk through the Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel. We’re crossing from Kyushu back to Honshu! In case you’re wondering, the tunnel goes under the seabed, as far as 60-metres.

  • The tunnel itself is 780-metres long and it felt surreal to be walking under the seabed. But it was also interesting to see locals going about their day. Many of them were jogging while some were pushing their bicycles across the tunnel. 

  • When we reached the halfway mark, we were greeted with this sign. Elaine was on the Kyushu side while I was already in Honshu ? 

  • Hello from the other side! Once back in Shimonoseki, we made our way back to Karato for a very exciting lunch ? We took the Sanden blue bus from a bus stop near the bridge. 

Lunch at Karato Fish Market (1h)

  • On to the final stop of the Clover Ticket Course - Karato Market!The market is known to have the largest haul of pufferfish in Japan and it’s been supplying fish to all parts of the country too. 

  • We were here on a Friday and we got to witness “Iki Iki Bakangai” - an event held every Friday to Sunday (11am-3pm) where around 20 stalls would sell all sorts of sushi, sashimi, grilled and fried seafood at competitive prices.
  • All you have to do is to pick and choose what you want and let the stall vendors know if you want to eat it then or pack it home. There are seating areas on the second floor of the market.

  • We loved the lively atmosphere of the market as stall vendors hollered to get customers!
  • Note: Most of the stalls here put vinegar in their sushi rice and other rice dishes and Japanese vinegar might have some alcohol content. 
  • But we did manage to find some Muslim-friendly items from this stall (pictured above). You can spot it by the big fish on its signboard! 

  • We got this breaded prawn (JPY300 for 1 piece) and fried octopus (JPY500 per packet). The prawn was really crispy and fresh!  

  • We also got tuna and salmon sashimi which was really affordable - the tuna was priced from around JPY200-500 (depending on the cut) while the salmon was only priced from JPY80! You’d have to request for the stall vendors to prepare the sashimi separately for you. 
  • Do note that the sauce for sashimi might also contain alcohol content. 
  • Halal status: Seafood options available and no meat is sold in the stall. We checked with the stall vendors that they don’t use alcohol or animal derivatives in their batter for fried items and that they use vegetable oil. 

See the marine life at Aquarium Kaikyokan (1.5h)

  • After lunch, we visited the Aquarium Kaikyokan, which is about 10 minutes’ walk from Karato Market to see the marine life. There are around 550 sea creatures here! 
  • The aquarium is popular with many local families. 

  • One of the main highlights of the aquarium is the pufferfish exhibit. The aquarium is home to 100 species of pufferfish from all over the world. 

  • We got to see these Humboldt penguins at the Penguin Village too. The village has been designated as a Special Protection Area which means that it’s an important breeding ground for Humboldt penguins outside their natural habitat which is mostly in coastal Chile and Peru.

#HHWTTip: If you’re here with kids, make sure you head down to level B1 to the activity area where there are lots of interactive games. Your kids can even try on a penguin suit! 

Hang out at Kamon Wharf (30min - 1h)

  • Before we left Shimonoseki, we took a stroll along Kamon Wharf and snapped a photo with these huge fugu statues ? They were super adorable! 

  • There were many cafes here and souvenir shops where you can snag some fugu-themed keychains, pouches and magnets to bring back home. 

Travel to Hakata (Fukuoka) (50min)

  • The trip is ending and Hakata Station is our last stop! Take a taxi back to Shimonoseki Station (10min), then hop on the JR San-yo Line to Shin-Shimonoseki (8min) before transferring to the shinkansen to Hakata (27min).
  • Don’t forget to pick up your luggage if you’ve stored it in the station lockers!
  • With the JR-WEST Sanyo-San’in All Area Pass, we’ve managed to travel from Osaka to Hakata using the shinkansen and local lines ? 

Make a final stop at the Hello Kitty shinkansen cafe before heading home (15min)

  • At Hakata Station, we made a quick stop at the Hello Kitty Shinkansen Cafe and snapped some pictures with the lovely Hello Kitty train master and the Hakata signboard. Look out for the fully assembled replica of the Hello Kitty Shinkansen beside it!
  • The cafe is located on the second floor of the Hakata shinkansen station inside the transit area. 

  • It was really cute to see Hello Kitty decked out in different colours to represent the different prefectures that the Hello Kitty shinkansen travels to.
  • Do note that the cafe doesn’t provide Muslim-friendly food options.

Normal price of transportation Day 7: JPY11,010

Fly home from Fukuoka or continue your trip 

Total Cost Breakdown with JR-WEST Pass

Total price of transportation without JR-WEST Pass: JPY45,310

Cost of JR-WEST Pass: JPY19,000

Total amount saved: JPY26,310!

Yay, thanks to the JR-WEST Pass, we managed to conquer 7 days in West Japan and saved so much. We never thought that we could uncover so many hidden gems but we did! This region really exceeded our expectations and we only wished we had more time ? But we know we’d always come back to Japan. Now that we’ve explored this region of Japan, it’s time for you to do so and share your experiences with us ?

All the prices shown in this article is current as of Aug 21 2019, and is subject to change. Please visit JR-WEST's official webpage for more information.

This article is brought to you by West Japan Railway Company and Changi Recommends.