10 Days Japan Travel Guide: Tokyo-Hakone-Kyoto

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If you’re dreaming of exploring the Land of the Rising Sun, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve crafted this Japan travel guide based on my own unforgettable 10-day journey. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, this guide will help you experience the best of Japan in 10 days. So, let’s dive into our Japan trip!


If you’re planning to travel to Japan for a week or more, I recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass. This pass allows tourists unlimited use of JR trains, including the Shinkansen (high-speed bullet trains) for long-distance travel within Japan. However, do note that some train companies are not included in this pass, so check the details before purchasing one.

Route: Tokyo – Kyoto – Hakone – Tokyo

I found this route manageable and not too tiring for four adults and a 4-year-old boy. It provides enough time for sightseeing, a bit of shopping, and enjoying parks, lakes, and onsens (hot springs). If you’re not traveling with kids, you could even fit in a day trip to Osaka without overpacking your schedule.

Tokyo in 1 day

I embarked on my journey from Singapore and rendezvoused with my travel companions at Tokyo Narita airport. Given the late hour, the chilly weather (around 0 degrees Celsius), and the rain, we opted for a taxi ride to our accommodation in Shibuya. The fare came to about 100 Singapore dollars from the airport to our Airbnb, a cost that was well worth it considering our fatigue.

Our chosen abode in Shibuya, Tokyo, was the Shibuya Cozy Apartment. The location was fantastic, nestled near a quaint local shrine and within walking distance of a supermarket and train station.

If you, like us, only have a day and a half in Tokyo, here’s a quick guide to help you make the most of it:

Tsukiji Fish Market

Kickstart your Tokyo adventure with an early morning visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market, which typically opens around 5 AM. As one of the world’s largest seafood markets, Tsukiji is a bustling hub of activity even in the wee hours. It’s a paradise for seafood lovers, offering a wide array of fresh catches. Be sure to try some of the local delicacies, like sushi, sashimi, and seafood bowls. The food here is as fresh as it gets!

Shibuya and Harajuku

Once you’ve had your fill of the market’s delights, make your way to Shibuya. Known for its iconic scramble crossing and the heartwarming Hachiko statue, Shibuya is a must-visit, especially if you’re a fan of the loyal dog’s story. Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of the local shops, where enthusiastic shopkeepers promote their goods to the rhythm of lively music. It’s a sensory experience you won’t forget!

Next on the itinerary is Harajuku, the epicenter of Japan’s cosplay culture. This district is a treasure trove of vintage clothing shops and a hub for underground sub-cultures. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or a curious observer, Harajuku’s unique charm is sure to captivate you.


After the eclectic buzz of Harajuku, head over to Omotesando for a more refined experience. This avenue is lined with chic boutiques, trendy cafes, and strikingly modern architecture. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a cup of artisanal coffee and admire the minimalistic beauty of your surroundings.

Exploring Kyoto in 5 Days

A handy tip for those planning to explore Kyoto: consider getting the Kyoto One Day Bus Pass. It covers all the major sightseeing spots and is a cost-effective way to get around the city. If you’re planning to explore the wider Kansai region, including cities like Osaka and Kobe, the Kansai One Pass might be a better option. You can find more information about these passes here.

We spent 5 nights in Kyoto, so we had the chance to see all the major sight seeing spots in a leisurely manner. Here are some of Kyoto’s must see spots:

Cherry blossom viewing (Hanami), Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park is a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing. The park is most famous for its large weeping cherry tree, which is lit up at night during the sakura season. It’s a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, especially if you have planned your trip around the sakura season.

  • Hanami at Maruyama Park. People enjoying the sakura bloom
  • Japan Travel Guide: The oldest sakura tree in bloom at Maruyama Park, Kyoto
  • Sakura flower selective focus

Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, and Kiyomizu-dera

They are all stunning temples with beautiful surroundings. Kinkakuji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, is a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern mountains. Kiyomizudera, which translates to “Pure Water Temple”, is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It’s best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, offering visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below.
On they day that you plan to visit temples, do remember to dress modestly!

  • Kiyomizu Temple Gate. Image via Agoda
  • Ginkakuji, the silver temple, Kyoto. By Oilstreet - Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23497582
  • Kinkakuji, the golden temple overlooking lake. By Jaycangel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33554210
  • Ginkakuji temple garden view, Kyoto


We also explored Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district. It was quite a thrill when we spotted a geisha rushing back to her house after what we thought was a grocery shopping trip. The district is filled with shops, restaurants, and teahouses, where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.

A geisha walking in the alley of Gion district, Kyoto. Image via Japan Travel
A geisha walking in the alley of Gion district, Kyoto. Image via Japan Travel

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Our journey continued to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a natural forest of bamboo in western Kyoto. The sight of the towering bamboo stalks is quite mesmerizing, and the sound of the wind rustling through them is a soothing experience.

Fushimi Inari Temple

Last but not least, you have to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. We didn’t manage to hike to the top this time, but I’ve done it before and highly recommend it. It’s best to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

3 Days, 2 Nights Relaxing in Hakone

Our journey from Kyoto Station to Hakone was quite the adventure! We hopped on a bullet train to Odawara Station, the nearest Shinkansen station to Hakone. From there, we took another train and a bus ride to reach our accommodation, a historic, secluded 300-year-old inn called Kinokuniya. Nestled amidst nature, this place was a haven of tranquility with its hot springs and spas.

Given its remote location, we decided to opt for a traditional Japanese dinner at the inn for both nights of our stay. And let me tell you, it was a gastronomic delight! I could happily feast on their meals seven nights in a row without a second thought.

Our days in Hakone were all about relaxation and exploration. We spent our time luxuriating in the hot springs, indulging in delicious food, and taking leisurely strolls around the area. It was a cycle of eat, walk, relax, and repeat – a perfect way to unwind.

Lake Ashi

Hakone’s star attraction, Lake Ashi, was a mere 20-minute bus ride from our inn. If you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend getting the Hakone Freepass. It’s a lifesaver, covering everything from trains and buses to cable car rides and the sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi. It’s absolutely worth the price, especially if you’re staying for a couple of days.

We spent a good amount of time around Lake Ashi, hopping on the cruise and taking the cable car to soak in the stunning views. The serene beauty of the lake was a sight to behold.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was our walk around the Hakone Shrine and the woods surrounding Lake Ashi. The tranquility of the place, coupled with its natural beauty, made for a truly memorable experience.

Sayonara, Japan!

We hopped on the bullet train from Odawara to Tokyo, then caught another train to continue our journey to Narita. We chose to stay at the Narita Tobu Airport Hotel to rest up after our travels.

The hotel offered a free shuttle bus service to a duty-free shopping mall, which is where we spent our evening. After a delightful dinner and some last-minute shopping, the guys headed straight back to the hotel. Us ladies, however, decided to shop a little longer. Naturally, we missed the last shuttle bus back to our hotel and had to hail a taxi instead. The next day, we flew back to Singapore.

And there you have it, folks! That’s the entire Japan trip in 10 days. I hope you enjoyed reading about it and found it useful. If there’s a specific type of post you’d like to see next, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Japan Trip FAQs

When’s the best time to visit Japan?

Well, that really depends on what you want to see. If you’re hoping to catch the cherry blossoms, late March to early April is usually the best time. For autumn leaves, aim for November. But honestly, Japan is beautiful all year round!

Is it expensive to travel in Japan?

It can be, but it doesn’t have to be! Japan has a reputation for being pricey, but there are plenty of ways to keep costs down. Eating at local markets, staying in hostels or capsule hotels, and using public transportation can all help you save.

Do I need to speak Japanese to travel in Japan?

Not at all! While knowing some basic phrases can certainly help, many people in Japan, especially in larger cities and tourist areas, speak some English. Plus, there are plenty of translation apps to help you out. The locals are super friendly and helpful towards tourists as well.

What local food should I try in Japan?

Oh, where do I start? Sushi, ramen, tempura, okonomiyaki, tonkotsu, nabeyaki – the list goes on! Japanese cuisine is incredibly diverse, so try as much as you can. Don’t forget to check out the street food like yakisoba or yakitori!

What are some must-see spots in Japan?

Some of my personal favorites are Tokyo for its bustling city life, Kyoto for its historic temples and shrines, Osaka for its vibrant food scene, and Hokkaido for its stunning natural beauty.

Is it easy to get around in Japan?

Absolutely yes. Their public transportation is so well organised, you’ll have no problem going from one place to another. Japan railway system is something else though, especially in Tokyo. There’s so many lines. Be prepared to look at the train map!


  1. Oh wow, such descriptive and complete writeup on Japan. I have read a lot travel blogs on different countries but never read about Japan. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My nephew is currently living is Japan on work Visa teaching, since he is half Japanese he also has a ton of extended family still living there as well. I am looking forward to be able to visit him and see some of these very sites while we are there.

    • What a coincidence, my brother lives in Kyoto, that’s why I get to visit Japan from time to time. I hope you will enjoy many beautiful sites there and of course, spend some time with your nephew 🙂

    • Cherry blossoms are so nice! During the season they also made all sorts of things from it, like cherry blossom drinks, sake, jam, cake, you name it.

    • Hi Kelly,
      Yes, it was a nice trip indeed. The best time to go is during early April for the cherry blossom or autumn (sept – late October, because it’s off-peak and autumn is beautiful!) My tip if you want to go for the cherry blossom season is to book way in advance. Prices go up at an insane rate nearing that season, and if you follow some site to track the date of the cherry blossom in areas in Japan, you can go between late march and early April which I did before that’s why the budget for me is still doable. If you go during the peak of the cherry blossom season, accommodations are very expensive and it will be super crowded too. Now it may change because of the pandemic though, prices might go down or at least unpredictable.

  3. Clear picture for traveling to Japan, also can use for guide to visit.
    Japan is good place for holiday.

    • Originally, my husband and I selected Toyko as our honeymoon destination, but we chose Amsterdam instead. However, the city is still on our list of places to visit. Thanks for this helpful guide.

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