Activate JR Rail pass- Day 68:30am: Head west to Arashiyama by taxi, train or bus.9:00am: Enter Tenryu-ji Temple and explore the temple.10:00am: Leave Tenryu-ji Temple by the north gate, which will bring you into the famed Bamboo Forest. Explore the Bamboo Forest for about half an hour.10:30am: Leave the Bamboo Forest and enter Okochi-Sanso Villa.11:30am: Leave Okochi-Sanso Villa and return to central Arashiyama. Eat a simple lunch of noodles or rice in one of the shokudo (simple eateries) on the main strip.12:30pm: Take a taxi over to Kinkaku-ji Temple, the famed “Golden Pavilion” in Northwest Kyoto.1:00pm: Explore Kinkaku-ji Temple. Yes, it will be crowded at this time, but it almost always is.2:00pm: Take a taxi down to Daitoku-ji Temple and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small subtemple there. Consider Koto-in TempleRead More
Activate JR Rail pass- Day 68:30am: Head west to Arashiyama by taxi, train or bus.9:00am: Enter Tenryu-ji Temple and explore the temple.10:00am: Leave Tenryu-ji Temple by the north gate, which will bring you into the famed Bamboo Forest. Explore the Bamboo Forest for about half an hour.10:30am: Leave the Bamboo Forest and enter Okochi-Sanso Villa.11:30am: Leave Okochi-Sanso Villa and return to central Arashiyama. Eat a simple lunch of noodles or rice in one of the shokudo (simple eateries) on the main strip.12:30pm: Take a taxi over to Kinkaku-ji Temple, the famed “Golden Pavilion” in Northwest Kyoto.1:00pm: Explore Kinkaku-ji Temple. Yes, it will be crowded at this time, but it almost always is.2:00pm: Take a taxi down to Daitoku-ji Temple and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small subtemple there. Consider Koto-in Temple
Activate JR Rail pass- Day 3TOKYO [ Departure track No.16 ] – Time: 6.15 Hikari 501, Kyoto Arrival- 9.15Kyoto is the cultural and traditional capital of Japan and there is much to find in this regard, think about temples, Zen gardens, the imperial castle, geisha’s and samurai.10 am: Head up to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Sure, it’s mercantile and touristy, but it’s also beautiful and it’s got a great view over the city. By going early, you’ll beat the daily crowds. Whatever you do, don’t forget to enter the subterranean Tainai-Meguri.11 am: Walk down Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka, two preserved streets, to Maruyama-koen Park to enjoy some greenery.12 am: Walk through Chion-in Temple but don’t linger, since it’s under construction.1.30 am: Enter Shoren-in Temple and enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the garden.2.30: Get on the Tozai Subway Line at Higashiyama Station and get off at Kyoto Shiyakushomae (downtown).3 : Eat lunch downtown and explore Nishiki Market and the food floor at nearby Daimaru Department Store.3:30pm: Take the Keihan Line to Fushimi-Inari Station and walk to nearby Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine. Climb as far up the mountain as your energy permits.Dusk: Return to your hotel and relax and freshen up.Evening: Eat dinner downtown, then walk over to Shimbashi in Gion and keep your eyes peeled for geisha.
First on the list of best places to travel alone for solo female travellers is Kyoto. This city of gorgeously styled temples, art galleries and master pieces of Japanese gardens is best explored walking. For a solo female traveller not just Kyoto but Japan as a country is considered the safest, thus walking through the beautiful corridors around the city with blooming cherry blossoms at night is not a problem at all.
Tempura Bar at Yoshikawa Inn. The chef serves us tempura omakase style - whatever he decides to be on the menu that day. We had shrimp, asparagus, yam, shinoki mushrooms, eggplant (i think). I might have missed out a few dishes they were all so good. The batter was light and didn't cover the ENTIRE food item. Its amazing how the oil he used for frying stayed clear throughout our meal and I learned afterward that he uses a special oil. He was cooking for 11 people in total because that's how much space the bar can accommodate. We arrived slightly around 1.30pm or so that the hostess only accepted another couple after us and started turning customers away (they close at 2.30pm and open later for dinner). We were also served shredded cucumber and tiny anchovies that we ate with rice. The kind hostess explained that we can dip our tempura in spiced salt (it wasn't spicy, just spiced) as an alternative to dipping in the sauce. She was so nice and I was afraid that she'd turn her nose up at us because we weren't Japanese and didn't know the proper etiquette for eating tempura in a proper establishment. I guess they get lots of foreign visitors. The tempura bar is in an actual ryokan.
Serene beauty: Kyoto (3 days… or 3 years)
Get back to Honshū and head to Kyoto, the place where you’ll find all the stereotypical images you probably have in mind about Japan: zen gardens reflected in peaceful ponds, infinite rows of red gates, and even — if you’re lucky — the fugitive sight of a geisha gracefully gliding down the street. Geishas are professional artists hurrying on their way to work, by the way, not cultural oddities: please don’t stop them to try and make them pose for a picture.
Get lost in the silver-green bamboo plantation, get a taste of ancient Japan in the teahouse district of Gion, risk blindness by contemplating the bright Golden Pavilion, stroll along the canal, explore the nearby mountain villages… and maybe consider sticking around for a few years. “I would happily include Kyoto among the ten cities in the world where it is worth living for a little while”, Nicolas Bouvier wrote in Japanese Chronicles The Travelettes Itinerary for Japan(which you should read by the way, no matter whether you have the intention of visiting Japan or not).
Thanks to the Google gods, we were able to find a great restaurant where we could enjoy some local flavors like oyster and sashimi! And surprisingly, it was incredibly affordable! My meal set (pictured above) was under 2000 yen, and came with so many things to try! The oyster was 1100 yen or so on it’s own, and I have to admit that I much prefer mussels, but it was great to try. They also offer kaiseki meals (traditional Japanese meal sets) for a range of prices, but those might need a reservation. Anyway, I would definitely recommend Torimatsu to those of you driving through Kyotango! :>
Time required: 1 Hour (8 PM-9PM)Line: Oedo line - Tochomae Station to Aoyama-itchome Station; Hanzoman Line- Aoyama-itchome Station to Shibuya stationEvery few minutes a wave of humanity flows across Shibuya Crossing. Join the masses or stand back and watch. An ideal vantage point is the bridge corridor linking Shibuya Station with the Shibuya Mark City complex.Read More
Time required: 1 Hour (8 PM-9PM)Line: Oedo line - Tochomae Station to Aoyama-itchome Station; Hanzoman Line- Aoyama-itchome Station to Shibuya stationEvery few minutes a wave of humanity flows across Shibuya Crossing. Join the masses or stand back and watch. An ideal vantage point is the bridge corridor linking Shibuya Station with the Shibuya Mark City complex.
Shibuya crossing- It is not very far from Ghinza and this is the busiest crossing in the world. There are around 3 road intersections here so many people cross at the same time. I was literally lost in the crowd when I was crossing and I felt like people would end up smashing into each other. There were people walking towards me from literally every direction. It was like one of those scenes in movies where people think its apocalypse.
After a day in ancient Japan, catapult your way back into the 21st Century by starting your second day in the district of Shibuya dodging humans at the world’s busiest crossroad, Shibuya Crossing. If it's too early for such physical contact find a spot to sit or stand and watch as the traffic lights go red and hundreds of busy commuters bolt across in every direction. You can even get a cool birds eye view of the scramble from the Shibuya Hikarie, located just East of Shibuya metro station.
One of the most exciting shopping places in Japan, everyone that visits Tokyo will surely pay a visit to this amazing district. Well known as the fashion central and an abundance of nightlife. One of the popular places here is the Shibuya 109 Building which is a must-stop for Japanese young women. Another well known place here is the Shibuya is famous for its scramble-crossing where you see thousands of people crossing this intersection at all angles. It is located in front of the famous Shibuya Station Hachikō exit. I also flew in to Japan via AirAsia X which lands at the Tokyo Haneda Airport which is much nearer than Narita. If you are visiting Tokyo, you should make it a point to visit this place to get a memorable Shibuya photo.
Visiting Japan isn’t complete without a picture with Hachiko, the very famous dog statue that is located in Shibuya. Hachiko is a very loyal dog, there’re some film about Hachiko, and I always cry when I watch Hachiko movie. It’s very sad, really. So yeah, I finally can meet Hachiko statue in person! Shibuya is also famous for its what so called “Shibuya Crossing”.
It’s located beside the Hachiko Statue.
Shibuya Crossing has five main intersections, and there’s time when the traffic lights will turn all green, and bunch of people will cross around the road. There are lots of photographers waiting for the traffic light turns green and take pictures from the top of the building next to Shibuya Crossing. Unfortunately, because I go here around 10 a.m in the morning, the crowd is not that crowded.
In one of the major fashion hubs of the world, Shibuya is reason enough to upgrade your wardrobe. One of the maddest and insanely crowded shopping districts of Tokyo, you can literally shop and drop here. Shibuya has numerous shopping centers and departmental stores like Tokyu, Shibuya Mark City, Seibu, Loft, Parco etc. It has three very famous streets, Koen Dori, Spain Slope and Center Gai. It is one such place where you would, in all probability, find the maximum number of shops and shoppers in one district, in the world.
Shibuya is also sought after for its food and nightlife. As one of the fashion centers that attracts mainly the youth, Shibuya's nightlife is quite groovy. It's a maze though, your best bet would be to ask around for a good place to hang out!
Shibuya is another district famous for its nightlife and shopping complexes. This entire shopping district filled with restaurants, bars and shops, many selling high street fashion brands, is located around the Shibuya Station, one of the busiest railway stations in Tokyo.
We had a memorable meal of steamed and fried pork dumplings (the best one's I have ever had) washed down with chilled Kirin beer at a restaurant tucked away in an alleyway in Harajuku, Shibuya.
On another night, we popped into what was clearly a local’s bar fronting as a frat house basement (or the other way around) with old school hip-hop blasting as the Australia/Japan World Cup-qualifying soccer match played on a huge screen. Dinner was being scooped out of a crock pot. Caught up in the moment, I high-fived the bartender when Japan scored a goal (sorry, Australia). A Japanese man came over and introduced himself and bought us three quick rounds of shots as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the patrons. We would have stayed all night if only we could handle the continuous flow of hard liquor before our early-morning, three-hour train ride to Kyoto the next day.
But we slipped into the streets of Shibuya and got another surprise: throngs of tipsy Tokyoans cheering and chanting over the Japan soccer team’s tie with Australia, which qualified the team for the World Cup. Group after group skipped by and held up their hands to us for a high five, embracing us in the celebration of their sports success.