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2 WEEKS in Japan

A land of dramatic contrasts, Japan rewards visitors who have the luxury of time. This itinerary is the perfect introduction to the country

Day 1

Start in Tokyo, getting your bearings by jumping aboard the Nihonbashi loop of the free Hinomaru Limousine sightseeing bus . Get off at Showa Dori Street for a spot of Japanese papermaking at Ozu Washi , followed by lunch at Mitsukoshi’s huge food hall . Next, walk to the Imperial Palace . If the weather is good, check out the gardens; otherwise, the free Intermediatheque museum will keep you entertained  For dinner, try Edomae – the original Tokyo-style sushi – at Yoshino Sushi Honten (3-8-11 Nihonbashi), followed by a nightcap at the bar at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, overlooking the neon-lit city

Day 2

 Once dismissed as a clubbing hotspot, Roppongi has fast developed a reputation as a cultural hub. Purchase the ATRo Saving ticket and spend the day exploring the Roppongi Art Triangle; the Mori Art Museum, which specializes in contemporary art, is up first. Pause for lunch at Afuri (, famed for its delicately scented ramen, before continuing your whistle-stop art tour at the National Art Center and the Suntory Museum of Art. Stick around Roppongi as the evening draws in; there’s no place better for a night on the town.

Day 3

Today you’ll meet Tokyo’s quirky side. Start on the brash and bustling Takeshita-dori in the Harajuku District ; packed with trendy boutiques and vintage stores, it’ll easily absorb your morning. Indulge your sweet tooth at Marion Crepes for lunch , then take the metro to Ikebukuro for more pop culture madness on Otome Road. Be sure to call into K-Books  and take tea at Swallowtail, the butler café . Round off your dive into Tokyo’s subcultures at the Robot Restaurant 

Day 4

Rise and shine before the dawn for an early morning visit to the Toyosu Fish Market . Copy the locals and power up on some early morning ramen, before hitting the shopping mecca of Ginza . Ginza Six is the district’s largest shopping complex, which even has a Noh theatre in its basement – buy a happy hour ticket before 2:30pm to see part of one of the plays staged here ( After browsing the shops for the rest of the afternoon, arrive early (no reservations) at Umegaoka Sushi no Midori Sohonten  for a sushi dinner.

Day 5

Board the shinkansen to Kyoto. After arriving in under 2.5 hours at the striking Kyoto Station , make your way to Toji Temple  for an introduction to Kyoto’s religious heritage. Marvel at the 1,001 goddess statues in Sanjusangen-do , then grab lunch at Tsuruki Mochi Hompo Shichijo (561 Nishinomoncho). Next, head to the Fushimi Inari Shrine  where a pretty tunnel of torii lead to great views over the city. Return to central Kyoto come evening for a riverside stroll and dinner at Gyoza Shop Gion .

Day 6

Delve into Kyoto’s past at the Imperial Palace , learning its history on a free tour. At lunchtime, make a beeline to bustling Nishiki Market to fuel up before embarking on the Philosopher’s Walk. It ends at Nanzen-ji , where you can enjoy a traditional matcha tea. Round off your day sampling different sakes at the Jam Sake Bar .

Day 7

Spend your final morning in Kyoto at the Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine  and the glittering Kinkaku-ji . Enjoy a quick tofu meal at nearby Maboya (9-1 Kinugasa Somoncho) before boarding the train to Osaka . Head into lively Dotonbori in downtown Osaka for dinner and drinks – Tachinomi Nikou  is a top option

Day 8

Spend the morning exploring Osaka Castle. For lunch, sample marinated eel at Unagi Nishihara (4-12 Kita Shimmachi), then continue learning about the city’s history at the 6th-century Shitenno-ji . As the sun goes down, leave the past behind and head to the top of the sleek Conrad Osaka – with epic city views, this is the perfect cocktail spot.

Day 9

Start by exploring Osaka’s subterranean National Museum of Art , then make your way to Michelin-starred Kashiwaya  for lunch in a traditional tearoom-style setting. Next, head to the distinctive Umeda Sky Building for panoramic views from its Floating Garden Observatory . In the evening, explore the retro charms of the Shinsekai district, famed for its narrow lanes and old school bars.

Day 10

Spend today in Nara , just a onehour train ride from Osaka. Pick up picnic supplies near the station before heading to Nara Park to visit Todai-ji . After your lunch, explore the shops and machiya (merchant homes) in the Naramachi district before returning to Osaka.

Day 11

 Journey 30 minutes from Osaka to Kobe . Start by walking up Kitano-zaka to Kitano-cho and touring the Europeanstyle villas. No trip to Kobe would be complete without trying its famed beef, so order it for lunch at Steak House Garaku (2-14-25 Yamamotodori). Spend the afternoon sampling sake at the Ginjo Brewery , then take a sunset walk around the harbor to admire the striking Port Tower and Maritime Museum. Head to the city’s lively Chinatown for dinner.

Day 12

 From Kobe take the shinkansen to Okayama, famous for its beautiful Korakuen Garden. The garden is close to Okayama’s castle, as well as the city’s museums, so there’s plenty to fill the morning. After lunch at Shiroshita Cafe (1-1-8 Omotecho), catch a ferry to the Benesse Art Site Naoshima . Spend the night at stylish Benesse House, enjoying artfully presented kaiseki (small plates) for dinner.

Day 13

Rise early for a morning exploring Naoshima’s museums, before heading back to Okayama and taking the shinkansen to Hiroshima. Have lunch at Okonomiyaki Nagata-ya , then pay your respects at the monuments and museum in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park . Oysters are a Hiroshima staple – try them for dinner at Kakifune Kanawa 

Day 14

Discover Hiroshima’s forward-thinking attitude at the Hiroshima Museum of Art  and Hiroshima Orizuru Tower. After slurping some slippery noodles at Bakudanya (2-12 Shintenchi), fly back to Tokyo. If you have the energy, go bar hopping in Shimokitazawa, or treat yourself to a meal at the renowned Inua .

2 WEEKS in Japan 2 WEEKS in Japan Reviewed by MELANIE INFINITY on January 08, 2020 Rating: 5

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