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  • Lauren Wood

12 Day Japan Itinerary

Updated: 3 days ago

Here's the exact itinerary for the 12 day trip I took to Japan in March of 2023. This includes travel days, so it's really more of a 10 day itinerary for Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

My cousin Carson and I traveled to Japan in March and spent 10 days visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We chose this time of year for the cherry blossoms, which were just starting to bloom by the tail end of our trip. Carson stayed longer and was able to view them in full bloom, which was toward the end of March in 2023. It's a short window, so if you are only traveling to Japan for the blossoms, make sure to give yourself plenty of time, as the cherry blossoms bloom at different times throughout the country and can be a little unpredictable.


Depart Los Angeles

Thursday, March 9
  • LAX to SFO 8 am to 9:30 am

  • SFO to NRT 12:25 pm to 4:45 pm +1 (arrives Friday)


I used Alaska Airlines points to fly in business class on Japan Airways. This took me on a sort of roundabout trip (traveling through SFO and then from Osaka back to SFO, rather than taking the direct flight from LAX to Tokyo), but it was worth it to fly business on points.


How to Get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Center


There are several options to get from Haneda Airport to Tokyo center:

  • Tokyo Monorail: This is the quickest and most convenient option, and is the option I chose for my trip to Japan. The monorail connects Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station in about 13 minutes. From there, you can transfer to other trains or use taxis to reach your destination. I took a taxi.

  • Keikyu Line: The Keikyu Line also connects Haneda Airport to Tokyo center. You can take the Keikyu Airport Line to Shinagawa Station in about 11 minutes, and then transfer to other trains or use taxis to reach your destination.

  • Limousine Bus: Limousine buses run regularly between Haneda Airport and various locations in Tokyo, including major hotels and train stations. The journey takes about 30-60 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

  • Taxi: Taxis are readily available at Haneda Airport, and the journey to Tokyo center can take between 30-60 minutes depending on traffic conditions.


Note: It's important to note that Haneda Airport has two terminals, so be sure to confirm which terminal you will arrive at and which transportation option is best for your destination.


Arrive in Tokyo

Friday, March 10
  • Arrive at NRT at 4:45 pm

  • I stayed at the Conrad Tokyo. Below is a review of the hotel, as well as some other options:


Where to stay in Tokyo:


Here are some 4 and 5 star hotel recommendations for Tokyo to add to any itinerary:


The Conrad Tokyo is a luxurious and impressive hotel that offers guests an exceptional experience in the heart of Tokyo. From the moment you step into the hotel's grand entrance, you're greeted with a stunning view of Tokyo Bay and the city skyline, which sets the tone for your entire stay.


The rooms at the Conrad are spacious and elegantly decorated, featuring modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi, and luxurious bathrooms. The beds are incredibly comfortable, and you can choose from a range of pillows to ensure a good night's sleep.


One of the highlights of the Conrad Tokyo is its exceptional service. The staff is friendly, helpful, and always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that guests have a memorable stay. Whether it's recommending local restaurants or arranging transportation, the staff is always ready to assist with any request. We had several requests while we were there and the staff was always able to accommodate our requests.


The hotel's dining options are also impressive, with a range of restaurants and bars offering delicious cuisine and stunning views of the city. The breakfast buffet at the hotel's Collage restaurant is particularly noteworthy, with a wide variety of options to choose from, including Japanese and Western dishes.

The Conrad Tokyo also boasts an excellent fitness center and spa, with state-of-the-art equipment and a range of treatments to help guests relax and unwind.


Overall, the Conrad is an exceptional hotel that offers guests a luxurious and memorable stay in the heart of Tokyo. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, the hotel's elegant rooms, exceptional service, and stunning views make it a top choice for discerning travelers.


The Peninsula Tokyo: This 5-star hotel is located in the heart of Tokyo and offers luxurious accommodations and amenities, including a rooftop bar and an indoor pool.


Park Hyatt Tokyo: Made famous by the movie Lost in Translation, this 5-star hotel offers stunning views of the city, along with luxurious accommodations and a rooftop bar.


Mandarin Oriental Tokyo: This 5-star hotel offers unparalleled views of the city and offers luxurious accommodations, including a spa and several restaurants with Michelin stars.


The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo: This 5-star hotel is located in the heart of Roppongi and offers luxurious accommodations, including a beautiful spa and several fine dining restaurants. This is actually the second place we stayed. We spent 3 nights at the Conrad and then 2 at the Ritz. They upgraded us to a STUNNING corner suite with the most beautiful city skyline views at night. Carson loved the view so much that he opted to sleep in the living room with the city lights behind him, curtains wide open. They also have a really nice bar with super fun cocktails.


These are just a few recommendations, but Tokyo has countless amazing hotels to choose from, so you can tailor your accommodations based on your preferences and budget. I actually loved the Conrad for its newness, location and price (free-fifty-free, since I used Hilton points).



Tokyo Restaurants:

  • Den

    • No. 20 in the world

  • Florilège

    • No. 30 in the world

  • SUSHI:

    • Hakkoku

    • Udatsu

    • Sukiyabashi Jiro

    • Sushi Saito

    • Sushi Arai

    • Sushisho Masaii


Things to see in Tokyo:

  • Tsukiji Fish Market (go early)

  • Visit an animal cafe

  • Shibuya Sky at sunset. Need a res.

  • KANTARO sweets

  • Shirohige Puff (cream pastries)

  • Golden Gia (street with lots of tiny bars)

  • Udon shin

  • Omoide Yokocho (small alleyway with lots of bars and restaurants)

  • Memory Lane - this was one of my favorites in Tokyo. We just posted up at one of the little restaurants and grubbed on meat on a stick. It sounds boring but it's not!

  • Studio Ghibli - Aichi?

  • Hobo Shinjuku

  • Bar in Shibuya that’s a church

  • Mipig cafe (mini pigs)

  • Team Lab



Saturday, March 11
  • Stay: Conrad Tokyo

  • The Imperial Palace

  • Tokyo Tower

  • DINNER: 6 pm Den Kushi Flori - B1 GEMS AOYAMA CROSS, 5-46-7, Jingumae, Shibuya ward, Tokyo city


Sunday, March 12
  • Stay: Conrad Tokyo

  • Breakfast at Micasadeco Cafe - the pancake place in Shibuya - quite literally the best pancakes I've ever eaten IN MY LIFE. Do not skip this place!

  • High tea at the Peninsula for my birthday

  • DINNER: 6 pm Sushisho Masa - Seven Nishiazabu B1F, 4-1-15 Nishiazabu Minatoku Tokyo


Note: I DO NOT recommend combining all of the above dining experiences together in one day. We definitely went big because it was my birthday, but starting off with pancakes, then doing high tea, then 52 courses of sushi all in one day was NOT very smart.


Sushisho Masa was a 52 course omakase menu at a small 9 counter sushi bar. One of the best meals of my life. Definitely get a reservation early to enjoy this experience.


 

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Monday, March 13
  • Check out of Conrad

  • Shibuya Crossing

  • Harajuku / Takeshita Street

  • Cat/animal cafe

  • Meiji Jingu - the temple next to Harajuku

  • Check into Ritz Carlton Tokyo


Tuesday, March 14
  • Banksy exhibition

  • TeamLabs

  • Stay at Ritz Tokyo


Fukuoka

Wednesday, March 15
  • Travel to Fukuoka for baseball game

  • Shin Shin ramen

  • Stay at Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk

  • Baseball game at 6:00 pm


We strolled along the river after the game and ate at one of the hawker stands. I can't recall the name, but if you choose one that's busy, you can't go wrong. They often have a line but are worth the wait.


Kyoto

Thursday, March 16
  • Travel to Kyoto by Shinkansen train

  • The Hideaway Bar - a MUST go for cocktails. Get there as soon as they open if you want a seat. They don't take reservations.

  • Stay at The Hotel Mitsui Kyoto - 284 Nijoaburanokoji-cho, Aburano-koji St. Nijo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan 604-0051



Hotel Mutsui is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Kyoto, Japan. From the moment you enter the lobby, you are transported into a serene world of elegance and beauty. The staff at the hotel are attentive, friendly, and incredibly helpful, making you feel right at home from the moment you arrive.


The rooms at Hotel Mutsui are spacious and well-appointed with traditional Japanese decor, giving you a true sense of the local culture. The beds are comfortable, and the amenities are top-notch, ensuring that you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay.


One of the highlights of the hotel is the incredible dining experience. The hotel's restaurant serves up traditional Japanese cuisine that is both delicious and visually stunning. From the presentation of the food to the quality of the ingredients, every detail is meticulously crafted to provide an unforgettable culinary experience.


In terms of location, Hotel Mutsui is situated in the heart of Kyoto, making it an ideal base for exploring the city's many attractions. Whether you want to visit ancient temples, stroll through beautiful gardens, or explore the bustling city streets, everything is easily accessible from the hotel.


Overall, Hotel Mutsui is a truly exceptional hotel that provides an unforgettable experience for its guests. If you're looking for a luxury hotel in Kyoto, this is definitely the place to stay.


Friday, March 17
  • Sake tasting - booked through AirBnB experiences

  • Fushumi shrine (one of my favorites - the photos above in orange)

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple

  • Stay at The Hotel Mitsui Kyoto



Saturday, March 18
  • Bamboo forest

  • Silver Temple - Teneryu-ji Temple

  • The CommonOne Bar

  • Gion District

  • Stay at The Hotel Mitsui Kyoto

  • Dinner at Noguchi Tsunagu - a traditional "kaiseki" Japanese meal of many courses. Sort of what you would expect from most restaurants that offer prix fixe menus. This restaurant has a Michelin star and was worth the hype.



Osaka

Sunday, March 19
  • Head to Osaka

  • LV cafe

  • Dotonbori - this was one of my favorite things in Japan. I loved the bright neon lights and food stands. Don't miss out on the Takoyaki (octopus balls that Osaka is well-known for).

  • Stay at St. Regis - this was a beautiful hotel but the absurdly priced massage was one of the worse I've had in my life. Skip the massage, but definitely still stay at the St. Regis.


I did a little shopping on my trip to Japan (some birthday gifts to myself) so I stopped by the Rimowa store on my last day and picked up a new Rimowa carry-on to match the existing checked back I was traveling with. Rimowa is Japanese, so I am guessing you might get a little bit of a deal but TBH I didn't even check if it ended up saving me money or not. Use the link below to shop my favorite luggage.



Monday, March 20
  • KIX to LAX - 5:50 pm to 12:00 pm

  • Arrive at noon Monday


I flew direct from Osaka to LAX on my way home. My original flight itinerary had a flight from Tokyo to Osaka, then a flight from Osaka to LAX and since I was already planning to travel to Osaka, I just called the airline and cancelled the NRT to KIX leg, which worked out perfectly.


Have questions? Feel free to email me: info@travelisthecure.com

 
A 10 day itinerary for travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Japan
Japan 10 Day Itinerary

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Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions. Email me directly at info@travelisthecure.com


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For more destination guides, browse a list of Destinations A to Z. Head over to my Tips page for everything from packing guides to travel products and camera gear. To shop the items I love most when I travel, shop my Amazon Storefront.

Happy Travels!

xoxo

Lauren

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