[Japan] The 12-day​ itinerary. What did we do during Christmas and New year in Japan

In this blog,  I decided to share my 12 days of Japan itinerary during last Christmas and New year period (I made it sounds like people actually are following my blog) because I am going Singapore soon! (and I haven’t finished my Vietnam, Cambodia, Taipei….hmm)

I hope this itinerary can help you plan your trip. It’s not perfect, and should never be perfect because there is nothing called a perfect trip planning.  Those random things pop up during the trip make each trip special, isn’t it? 🙂

here we go.

Day 1:

Arrive Osaka at night. Check in hotel and familiar with the surrounding.

From Osaka Kansai airport to Osaka station: Take JR Kaisai airport rapid service (71 min, cost 1190 Yen)

From Osaka Kansai Airpot to Namba: Nankai Namba Station, Nankai Airport express (44 min)

From my experience, Namba is a very convenience and touristy location for shopping and food. If you only stay in Osaka, Namba is highly recommended. We stayed around Osaka station area because it has JR and Shinkansen direct to other cities.

Day 2:

morning: Osaka Castle, link:

[Japan/Osaka-Kyoto] Castles built by the most influential families In Japan history: Osaka Castle and Kyoto Nijo Castle


Lunch: Puffy fish, link:

[Japan/Osaka] the beginning of a new trip, hotel and eating Fugu at Zuboraya Dotombori


Afternoon: Kyoto Inari 


Night: Osaka Namba

Day 3:

Morning: Hiroshima 

[Japan/Hiroshima] Peace and love are the keywords to this nuclear-bombed area

Afternoon: Miyajima Island 

[Japan/Miyajima] The giant torii and the 360 degrees panoramic view from Shishiiwa

Day 4:

Nara Day-trip:

[Japan/Nara] the deer, the owl, the temple and the shrines

Dinner: Osaka Namba

 Day 5:

Check out in the morning from our Osaka hotel and ship our luggage to Tokyo Hotel


If you take this itinerary, this is very important advice I recommend you to take. It will only cost you around $30-40 Aud but will save you a lot of energy. Becuase Kyoto and Hakone itinerary were heavily relying on services, yes, those small narrow bus. Lug a big luggage will make your trip harder. especially when it was winter or with kids.

Afternoon: Kyoto Kinkakuji and Nijo castle. Nijo castle was half closed for new year preparation. Better check before you go.

[Japan/Kyoto] The Golden temple in the snow – Kinkaku-ji

[Japan/Osaka-Kyoto] Castles built by the most influential families In Japan history: Osaka Castle and Kyoto Nijo Castle

Night: Kyoto ryokan experience

Day 6:

Morning: Kyoto Kiyomizu dera

Another must-visit temple in Kyoto. I also loved its small lane with full of small stores there.


Hakone Osen experience

Transportation: From Kyoto station to Odawara, shinkansen (123 min), then from Odawara to Hakone Yumoto (20min) then transfer to the local bus to your ryokan

Make sure you buy a 2-day pass at Odawara station!!!! Must do!!Just go to the counter and ask for a 2 day Hakone free pass!

I really regretted that I didn’t read the website properly. Nowadays Hakone area has this 2-day pass which will save you a lot of money. It only cost you 4000 Yen ($45 AUD). It offers unlimited transportation around the whole Hakone area for free for 2 whole days, including the Odawara to Hakone Yumoto leg. You know, the fare of the local bus from Hakone Yumoto to the ryokan we booked was already 800 Yen, and that’s like 1 way! Not to mention you can also take the unlimited cable car and the sightseeing cruise as well!

Day 7: 

Hakone area day trip

we took cable cars and Sightseeing cruise

Make sure you save your 2-day tickets in a safe place because wind can be big…. yes I lost mine…I blame on the wind and Dr.R.(My 45 bucks T_T)

Night: back to Tokyo.

Transportation: Hakone Yumoto to Odawara (15 min) then Odawara to Tokyo station (35 Min)

 Day 8: (30/12)


Morning: Tokyo royal palace, Parliment etc. Please be aware that all those places were closed after 28/12 for the New Year. So we didn’t get in which is a pity.

Afternoon: I went window shopping and Dr. R went to an aviation museum (which was closed at the end….should come with me for window shopping)

Night: Shibuya the giant crossing!


Day 9 (31/12)

Morning: Tokyo Tsukiji fish market and surrounding

Unfortunately this date the inner market is closed again!!! so we only ate sushi outside

Afternoon: Sensoji 

Night: Sensoji 


In Japan, you don’t see firework at new year eve. In 2017, the Tokyo tower also not open for the new year night. So we decided to try something local would do. Went back to Sensoji at night. Was super crowded but was a fun experience.


Day 10 (1/1)

Day trip to snow monkey park

[Japan] a day trip to Snow Monkey Park on the first day of the new year, and the prefect soba

Nothing is open in Tokyo! So we decide to get out of the town!!

Day 11 (2/1)

Morning: the royal palace speech happens 2nd of January every year. It was an interest experience given this is the last year the current emperor is doing the speech.

!!!Make sure you arrive early!!! This is how it look like….


Afternoon: Ueno National Gallary. this is huge. You can choose Ueno Zoo instead of the Gallary if you like Panda!!! (I didn’t get to see panda….something I really want to do during the trip but have to wait until next time…)

night: Odaiba, the place with Giant Gandam!!!


Day 12 (3/1)

Shop start open this day.

We had a lazy morning, slept in, packed our luggage.

Lunch: Kani fuku. A long lunch at this crab specialised local store.  Love the crab dish there.

After lunch: Every year Japan has this huge university Marathon competition call Hakone Ekiden. Here is the rule:

Five sections are provided between Tokyo and Hakone each way. Each runner runs one section, alternates with the next runner at a station. Each team has ten runners, running with their teams’ sashes which are handed over to the next runner on the team at each station.

DSC_0736We watched the last bit around Tokyo Station with a large crowd of people. Good experience.

Afternoon: Meiji shrine

If you are not going there to pray, I recommend you do not go during this new year period. because it will waste your time and you can’t even get into its beautiful garden. Simply because there are way too many people.


It took 2 hours to move like 300 meters….We end up just eating outside the shrine in those food market…

[Japan] What we ate on the street in front of the temples and the shrines

Night: Shinkansen back to Osaka

Day 13

Shopping at Namba

we stayed in a hotel just right next to Nankai Namba station. Be aware that most of the shop in Osaka is not open until 10 or 11 in the morning. So I didn’t really do a crazy shopping tour given I was only given 4 hours by Dr.R. (Sad…)

Fly back to Sydney at night

You can see that our 13 days was fully packed yet still has a lot of places we didn’t manage to visit. I hope this itinerary can give you a bit of idea where to go during the Christmas and new year period because I found it was hard to find any information about this.

Travel around New year can be troublesome. A lot of places was closed, too many people in the shrines/temples.

On the other hand, it can be very rewarding too. We got to see how ordinary family celebrate New Year.

A story I remembered. When we were in the fish market at 31/12, Tokyo suddenly snowed. It was the last day of the new year, and so many local families there were shopping for the New Year eve preparation. People were so cheerful and started talking to strangers next to each other:

“雪!雪降る! ”(snow! its snowing!)

All the people were so happy, and it was full of new year happiness.


Any problem you more than welcome to leave a message 🙂


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