Japan, Travel
Comments 36

10 days in Japan: Tokyo and Osaka

Two years ago, I could check a long-awaited trip off my bucket-list: Japan. It is one of the countries that I had wanted to visit for the longest time, but it required a lot of planning and saving. The day finally came and in June, two years ago, when I went on a 10-day-long trip to Japan with my sister. We mostly stayed in Tokyo but went to Osaka for a short weekend, with a friend.

To plan our trip, we used different guide books and marked each place we wanted to see. We bought metro cards and basically spent most of our days walking, admiring every single thing that we saw. I loved this trip so much and didn’t want to leave when the trip got to its end. I feel like there are still so many things I want to see in Japan, but also in Tokyo and Osaka.

In this post, I will try to draw an itinerary of the things we saw and did during this incredible trip, and I will probably write more specific, separate posts to add some details.

Day 1: arrival and first glance of Tokyo’s night life

After a very long flight to Tokyo, we arrived at Tokyo’s International Airport and took the train to get us to the city centre. We stared through the window during the whole train ride, feeling like we were in a Japanese animation movie. It’s crazy how nature and the countryside change when you are in a different part of the world!

Then, we arrived at Shinjuku station, where our accommodation was. Our first steps in Tokyo’s streets were some of the most memorable, especially since Shinjuku is one of the city’s most vibrant and lively areas. We left our bags in our Airbnb, then ventured out in the evening, in the never-sleeping, always-buzzing Shinjuku: neon lights, endless flows of people roaming around, restaurants everywhere. Very tired from the trip, we walked around and found a delicious place to eat ramen, then went back to prepare for the following days!

Day 2: picnic in a park and shopping mall

We started our exploration of Tokyo in Shinjuku and walked around the neighbourhood in the morning, stopping for a really nice lunch in Shinjuku Gyoen park, which is a huge Japanese park, exactly how you would imagine it, with small temples and cute bridges. If it weren’t for the huge skyscrapers in the background, you could have forgotten you were in Tokyo!

After this nice stroll we went to Ikebukuro, another very dynamic neighbourhood, with a lot of shops and restaurants. We stopped at a huge mall called Sunshine City, completely amazed by literally everything, and ate from delicious street-food stores. Our dinner was a soba bowl, eaten in a metro station, but it was one of the best meals we’ve had!

Day 3: world-famous dog and Japanese fashion street

We visited Shibuya neighbourhood in the morning, a world-famous district, thanks to the Shibuya crossing, its huge tv-screens and the statue of the dog Hachikō. I have to say that it was a bit overwhelming and not exactly how I pictured it, but an incredible experience!

In the afternoon we explored Harajuku, the birthplace of kawaii culture. It is famous in the whole country – and the world – for its shopping streets and especially its “fashion”. Walking around many different streets, we went in pretty much every shop and stopped for a snack at the “Pompompurin café”, which theme was Sanrio’s character Pompompurin. That day, we also took endless purikuras in photobooths and had a delicious dinner in a gyoza restaurant!

Day 4: traditional and ultramodern Tokyo

In the morning we visited the wonderful Rikugien gardens, one of the highlights of our trip, that I would highly recommend to anyone going to Tokyo: you really feel like Totoro might suddenly appear in front of you, while you walk in the gardens. Then, we headed to Asakusa, an iconic temple complex where we could see our luck and experience a lot of Japanese traditions.

Finally, after a stop in Ueno where we ate a delicious panda-shaped bread, we finished our day in the high-tech area of Akihabara, filled with tech and IT shops, showcasing the latest Japanese technologies, while also being home to the otakus of the world (gaming, manga and anime lovers). A bit like in Shinjuku, it seems like this part of town never sleeps!

Day 5: fish market and imperial palace

The Tsukiji fish market used to be the most famous fish market in the world, and we were incredibly lucky to be able to visit it, before it closed at the end of 2018. There, we walked around the food (fish and sea food) stalls, admiring the incredible displays, and trying all the freshest fish that Tokyo had to offer. We ate an amazing sashimi dish, some fried calamari, fish skewers, etc. Everything was delicious!

In the afternoon, we headed to see the imperial palace, which was sadly closed, so after a stroll in the area, we walked to the train station to see the Character street, a “street” inside the station with a lot of stores that sell merchandise of popular Japanese characters (from movies, mangas, animes, etc.). Note that it is almost impossible to go there without buying something!

Days 6 and 7: a weekend in Osaka

At the weekend, we took the shinkansen, the Japanese high-speed train, to go to Osaka for a weekend. I will write a separate post about it and link it here!

Day 8: Japanese shrines and shopping

Back in Tokyo, we only had two whole days left, so we decided to go back to the places we liked, do some shopping and see the things we hadn’t seen yet. After a short visit to the Hanazono-jinja shrine, we went back to Asakusa to go to an onigiri restaurant, which was closed the first time we visited. It was incredibly good!

Then, we went back to some shops in the Character street and walked around, fulling immersing ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere of the city.

Day 9: vintage stores and last-day activities

A visit to the Meiji-jingu shrine, one of the most visited in Tokyo, was a must-do for our last day, and we enjoyed a nice walk in the forest nearby. It was incredibly beautiful, though not my favourite! After that, we stopped to eat some fluffy pancakes in Harajuku. Absolutely delicious yet super filling!

Finally, we went to the district called Shimokitazawa, which has a lot of small independent shops and vintage stores. The atmosphere was completely different than the one in Harajuku and it really felt like we were in a small city. To finish the day, we had dinner in a standing barbecue restaurant, which served delicious meat, one of the best I’ve ever had!

Day 10: going back to Europe

The flight back to Europe being 12 hours, we took a whole day for it too, and came back with stars in our eyes, amazed by all the things that we saw, already planning our next visit!


Going back to my pictures of Japan and the pages dedicated to it in my travel journal definitely brought back some amazing memories and now I want to go back even more! Tokyo is an incredible city that is so different from everything I know, and I can’t wait to discover it even more, as well as some other parts of Japan!

Have you ever been to Japan? Is it on your list?

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Hey, I'm Juliette! I'm starting this blog to keep a record of and share my adventures. I love everything sweet, sunny days, fluffy kittens and people who smile. When I don't work I like to discover new places and try to learn languages. I hope you will find something that you like in here! ☼

36 Comments

  1. What a lovely adventure 🙂 can’t wait to return to Japan and discover Osaka (for the 1st time) and rediscover Tokyo eheh all the best and greetings from Portugal, PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went to Japan for a little over 2 weeks in 2017. I was in Tokyo for 5 days… in my experience with other cities, 5 days is typically enough time to get to know it, but I felt like I barely scraped the surface. I actually had a trip for Japan planned for this week, but the pandemic messed with our plans. Hopefully, we can go next year.
    Check out my (new) blog at nowpleasetravel.com 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I feel like 5 days is not a lot to see Tokyo entirely, also because we wanted to go back to some places several times ahah! Too bad for your cancelled trip… Hopefully next year will be better! 😊 Thanks for reading, I will definitely check out your new blog! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, isn’t just Osaka a lovely place to explore and photograph? I’m glad you had a great time visiting, your photos look absolutely amazing! 😀I have never been to Japan but it’s certainly on my travel wish list. I’ve been mesmerized by Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms and Osaka castle. Thanks for sharing and fueling my wanderlust 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    • Osaka was lovely, though we barely saw it as we only stayed a few days (we didn’t even see the castle 😭)! I will talk about it soon 😊 What really struck me in Japan was how everything was completely different, even the countryside or just random little streets! Can’t wait to go back and explore it even more! Thanks a lot for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what an awesome trip. Your photos are very cute, too. Thank you for sharing your memories of Japan! We have not been but you sure inspire us to get on with it once the world allows.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was supposed to go to Japan this year for Cherry blossom season! But reading your post has made me more determined to head there next year. Thanks for the itinerary! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cherry blossom season must be so so beautiful! Too bad you had to skip it 😥 Hopefully you can go next year! Thanks a lot for reading! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a vibrant and animated place. It is definitely super high on my own list of destinations that I need to visit in my lifetime and this post makes me crave for it even more! The food, the culture, the architecture, the crowd! Everything is just like how I have imagined it ever since I was a kid and got into Japanese culture through manga/anime/jap-drama hahaha Thanks for sharing this with us, Juliette! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was exactly how I imagined it to be – actually even better 😍 I’m sure you’ll get the chance to visit one day and I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed! Thanks for dropping by Lashaan! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Japan looks so much fun!!! I was supposed to go this year with my bf…but covid said no 😭 Love your photos and itinerary! Everything looks so cute and vibrant. Definitely gonna check out these places when I finally get to go to Japan 🙌

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nooo, it’s so sad that you had to cancel your trip.. 😭 I’m sure you will soon be able to go and discover all of these places! Thanks a lot for reading 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I feel like there are always so many things to see, and go back to! And it’s true ahah, but all of them are definitely worth the visit! 😊 Thanks for your comment!

      Like

    • Oh yes you should definitely go, it’s AMAZING!! I had such a great time and can’t wait to go back actually 😍 Thank you for reading!

      Like

  8. I’ve wanted to visit Japan for ages, and this makes me want to go so much more!! Definitely given me some extra things to add to my to-see list, thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Arrrghh I miss Japan so much 😭😭 Without hesitation it was one of my favorite trips! 😭 Looking at the pictures and remembering everything we did make me really nostalgic, it feels like such a long time ago yet all my memories are really clear 😍 So… let’s plan our next trip there? 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Short getaway in Osaka | Sunny Days with Juliette

  11. I’ve never been to Japan but would love to go some day. This is such a great itinerary – seeing the best Tokyo and Osaka have to offer without being too packed. As someone in the comments said, your photos are so cute. I can just imagine how cute everything is in Harajuku – I love all things kawaii and feel I will enjoy that part of Japan very much. Lovely you got to visit the Meiji-jingu shrine and hope it wasn’t too croweded 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for reading 😊 I love exploring a city but it’s always nice to have more time to go back to certain places at the end! If you love all the kawaii things, I’m sure you will absolutely love all the shops in Harajuku! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Japan is definitely an attractive destination for most Taiwanese travelers, both Tokyo and Osaka are popular cities to us. The foods, fashion, and dramas are appealing to some people in Taiwan. It is a nice country to travel around, though they don’t speak English that much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they don’t speak a lot of English but I also enjoyed that part, it forces the tourists to make a bit more of an effort and they definitely appreciate it! 😊 Thanks a lot for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Exploring Shinjuku | Sunny Days with Juliette

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