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First Time with Family - The Best Way to Enjoy Japan - 8 days 7 nights

Hi All,

I'm drafting the family trip itinerary right now but somehow lost in the middle. I'm not sure if the itinerary are the best way to enjoy japan for first timer
and not sure about the transportation options. We will be travelling in the group of 5 adults and 1 kid. Please kindly help me to find the right fit (places/timing/transportation) for itinerary below:

Tokyo: 9 - 12 September
Osaka: 12 - 16 September

*09/09 - Haneda Airport - arrived 16:30*

*10/09 - Tokyo*
Tsukiji Fish Market
Azumabashi Bridge
Sensoji Temple
Ueno Park

*11/09 - Tokyo*
The Imperial Palace
Meiji Jingu Shrine

*12/09 - Half Day Fuji & Osaka*
Lake Kawaguchiko
Gotemba Premium Outlets


*13/09 - Osaka*
Universal Studio Japan

*14/09 - Kyoto*
Ryoanji temple
Nijo castle
Kiyomizu-dera temple
Fushimi inari-taisha shrine

*15/09 - Osaka (or Kyoto and Nara)*
Shitennoji temple
Osaka castle
Kuromon market
Umeda sky building

*16/09 - Osaka (or Tokyo)*
Still not sure how to spend the last day
Flight from Haneda Airport at 22.55

*Plan for transportation:*
Tokyo to Fuji: JR PASS
Fuji: ??
Fuji to Osaka: JR PASS
Osaka: ??
Osaka to Kyoto or Nara: ??
Kyoto: ??
Nara: ??
Osaka to Tokyto: JR PASS

What can be fixed with the itinerary? What is the best value option for the transportation?
Is it possible to visit Disneyland or Disney Sea, if yes when?

Thank you.


  • Hi,
    Well you know your interests best, but you only have about 6½ days and you are already cramming in a lot. There are also a couple of issues.
    For Sep 9, you are already arriving late in the afternoon. Not sure what you want to do at Shinjuku, but if you have the energy, you could go up the Tokyo Metro Gov't Bldg for the view (it's free).
    The Tsukiji Fish Market is closed - all that's left is the outer ring of restaurants and some vendors of vegetables etc. If you want to see the new location with the auction, it is now at Toyosu. But you'd need to be there around 5:45 AM for the auction. Actually if you are going to Toyosu, the best place there is TeamLab Planets, where you walk part of the way through pools of water and colorful projections are all around you. It's an exhibit going to autumn 2020 and quite a sight to see. It takes about 1-2 hours and about 2700 yen per adult. Even better is the permanent exhibit TeamLab Borderless in nearby Odaiba and while pricey and crowded at 3200 yen for adults, is unforgettable.

    The Azumabashi Bridge is nothing special. Ueno Park has some good museums and zoo, but otherwise is not that amazing. If you have time though, I do suggest you see one of Tokyo's traditional gardens - among the best are Koishikawa Korakuen and Rikugien.

    Ginza offers some high end shopping mostly. Not sure what else you have planned there. For Meiji Jingu, don't miss the Meiji Gyoen garden inside as well - nearly everyone just walks past it so it is not crowded, and gives a very quiet and scenic walk. In fact it's hard to believe you're in the middle of a massive city.
    Sept 12 is where it gets really hard. You can go part of the way there up to Otsuki with a JR Pass, but the last hour there you have to take a Fujiden train (not covered with the pass). In total almost 2½ hours to Kawaguchiko. If you were to take a train from there to Gotemba, it would take you 4½ hours. The only practical way is to pay for a bus (1½-2 hours). Then with a rail pass getting from Gotemba to Osaka is another 3 hours - in total about 7 hours sitting on buses and trains. I just don't see your plan as realistic.
    Unless you have your heart set on seeing something at the Fuji 5 Lakes, it would save you a lot of time and trouble to go to the other side of the mountain at Hakone. It is near Gotemba and much easier to continue on down to Kansai afterwards.
    The type of sights are similar.
    If you are already seeing Tokyo, there is far less need to spend any day time hours in Osaka. The city is very good in the evening though, such as Dotonbori, Shinsekai, the Umeda Sky Building, Abeno Harukas, Cosmo Tower, etc.

    If you want to see the best castle in the country, then skip Osaka Castle (which isn't even a castle - it's a facade over a ferro-concrete museum) and go see Himeji - the castle is the best original surviving castle (not a reconstructed fake) and the Kokoen Garden nearby is also wonderful.

    I also highly recommend seeing Nara - you can see most of the best in Nara Park in half a day. The Todaiji Temple in particular is a must see and it would be a tragedy if you missed it.

    Given how little time you have in total, you really don't have time for the Disney parks - save them for a future trip.
    You can get around the Kansai cities easily with the JR Pass, though the only real value is in long distance travel.
    You can check on train info on Hyperdia - you can see regular fares, routes, and schedules.
    For Hyperdia, under "More Options", with a full JR pass, be sure to uncheck the Nozomi box since you can't ride that train using the JR pass.

    Also, you can look at some previews of some of the best places to see in Japan on:

    There are also loads of other tips on

    Best regards.
  • Thank you Tenjin for your feedback..

    I've been updated the itinerary and below is the summary of it

    Day 1 - Tokyo (arrived in the afternoon)
    Day 2 - Tokyo
    Day 3 - Tokyo
    Day 4 - Tokyo to Hakone to Osaka
    Day 5 - Osaka (USJ)
    Day 6 - Kyoto and Nara (Based in Osaka)
    Day 7 - Osaka to Tokyo (departed in the evening)

    I'm planning to purchase 7 days JR Pass and Hakone Free Pass for this trip. Is it worth it and enough to cover all the transportation for this trip?

    Thank you for your help :)
  • If you use the JR Pass on the monorail to/from Haneda, plus all the long distance travel, I show you barely breaking even for a 7-day JR Pass. You can use the Hakone Free Pass for Hakone, and as for within the cities, you can use JR when convenient for you - but most likely will need to pay for other buses or subways at times - it depends where you are going.
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