Japan Travel Guide Itinerary Osaka Kyoto Nara 5D4N

Japan Travel Guide Itinerary Osaka Kyoto Nara 5D4N

Japan. The Land of the rising sun. The country of advanced technology and well preserved history. It resides smart, honorable and hardworking people. It is a country of great imagination – mangas, anime, J-Pop and some totally weird and funny stuff. Japan never ceases to amaze the world especially travelers who have actually visited the country. As they say, it’s different when you’re actually there than just watching from your TV/phone or reading from a book.

Finally together with my wife, my parents and my brother, we ended all curiosities! We traveled to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, Japan! Nothing stopped us, not even Super Typhoon Lan that landed in Japan on our 2nd and 3rd Day of exploring! Read more of our experience and of course, our detailed guide with itinerary and expenses which are helpful to those planning to go on a trip to the Kansai region!

For our Japan Tourist VISA guide, click here.

Our Itinerary

Day 1 (Oct. 20) Osaka

6:55AM – Depart Manila NAIA 1

11:50AM – Arrive Kansai Airport Terminal 1


Klook.com

1PM – Lunch at some Udon restaurant in Namba

3PM – Check-in Airbnb Room and rest

4:30PM – Dotonbori (Glico Man, Big Crab, Dinner)

Dotonbori crab

Can you eat that crab?

Day 2 (Oct. 21) Kyoto

10AM – Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

11AM – Gion District (Lunch)

1PM – Yasaka Shrine and Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park

4PM – Back to Osaka

6PM – Dinner at 肉バル 3丁目

Day 3 (Oct. 22) Kyoto

10AM – Kinkakuji Temple

11:30AM – Lunch at Lawson store

12:30PM – Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

Batto Baio! Kurasshu Auto!

3PM – Back to Osaka

6PM – Dinner at 肉バル 3丁目

Day 4 (Oct. 23) Osaka

9AM – Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

11AM – Lunch at some bento store

11:30AM – Tempozan Ferris Wheel/Marketplace

1PM – Dotonbori / Shinsaibashisuji shopping

Day 5 (Oct. 24) Nara and back to MNL

8AM – Check-out and store luggage in the coin locker (Namba sta.)

9AM – Nara Deer Park

10AM – Todai-ji Temple

Todaiji temple

Todaiji temple

Yoshiki-en garden

12PM – Lunch at 711

1PM – Kokufuji Temple

3PM – Back to Namba to get luggage in the coin locker

4PM – Go to KIX

1AM – Flight to MNL (Delayed)

WiFi Connectivity

Though our Airbnb host provided a pocket wifi (limited with 3gb every 3 days), we still booked one from KKDAY here for 5 days . It’s 4G, unlimited, very fast and can connect up to 10 devices! And it’s only P255 per day! So if you’re in a group, you can share the cost and enjoy fast internet while in Japan. You’ll need it especially for the train routes, Hyperdia, research and of course, your IG and FB pics lol.

Book it here.

Transportation

Going to Osaka from Manila

We booked roundtrip plane tickets from Manila to Osaka (KIX) from Jetstar for 7844.22 per pax all-in including seat reservation fee, check-in baggages and all other fees.

Traveling Around Kansai

Prior to our travel, we booked the ICOCA IC Card from KLOOK here.


Klook.com

It’s a convenient discount card for JR, subway, private railway, buses and shopping in the Kansai area including the Nankai airport express to/from Osaka/KIX. Think of Octopus card in HK or T-money in Korea – it’s like that. No need to buy tickets from the vending machine, just tap and enter.

Train Japan

Inside the train

The card is pre-loaded with 1500 Yen and a refundable deposit of 500 Yen. You can re-load the card in convenience stores like Family Mart and ticket stations in Kansai. By the end of your travel, you can refund the remaining balance in the card with a refund fee of, if I’m not mistaken, 228 Yen.

Book it here.

ICOCA Vs JR Pass

Of course, you can buy the JR passes instead of the ICOCA card if that’s what you prefer. What made me decide to get the ICOCA is the flexibility. I don’t think the JR pass stops at all the stations like Daikokucho station where it’s the nearest station from our Airbnb unit. Plus, you can ride JR trains with the ICOCA card anyway. I think the main advantage of the JR pass is, of course, it’s unlimited. If you got lost or exited at the wrong station, it won’t cost you to re-enter and pay for a ride again. That happened to us because instead of just transferring to another railway, we exited the station and re-entered again. JR pass is also great if you’re traveling way far from Osaka like Himeji. So before buying, understand the routes and compare it to your itinerary.

Kyoto Train station

Kyoto Train station

Anyway, to give you the numbers in peso… we spent a total of P3784.19 per pax for 5 days including the initial buy from KLOOK of P1006. We traveled around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara by trains and buses. Compare it to the 5 Day JR Kansai Wide Area pass here which cost P4127. The difference is not much but as I mentioned, we bought the ICOCA for its flexibility and our plans might change during our stay. Like for example, there’s a super typhoon during the 2nd and 3rd day of our stay. Some of you might’ve changed their plans and stayed at your accommodation instead of traveling so a day of unlimited rides was wasted already. But if you’re like us with itchy feet, you’d still explore 😀

Subway Japan

Where to?

TIP: Hyperdia.com is your bestfriend. This is where you can check the train routes, their timetables and fares!

Going back to Manila from Osaka

As mentioned, we booked roundtrip tickets from Jetstar. It’s our first time to fly with Jetstar and our flight back to Manila was delayed by 4 hours due to “crew limitations”. First time I heard about that but if that’s their excuse so be it. But they should’ve provided at least meals to the affected passengers. Cebu Pacific and Air Asia provided meals when our flight got delayed just by 3hrs. Also, they notified us of the delay the day of the flight.

Plus, I won’t book any flights from NAIA 1 again unless I have no other choice. For me, it’s still the worst airport. The Immigration line itself is nerve wracking.

Accommodation

We booked an Airbnb room here. It is a 10-15 minutes walk from their building to Namba station and Dotonbori. Namba station is a big station and this is where the Nankai railroad line is located – the one we rode to/from KIX. The nearest station from the unit though is Daikokucho station around 5 minutes walk.

We booked the unit for 4 nights for a total of P9665. Original/regular price is P12204 for 4 nights but I used some of my Airbnb credits so the total dropped down.

About the room… it’s like a studio condo unit but it fits all 5 of us nicely. They have 2 double beds and one comforter. Everything was clean when we got there including the toilet. They provide towels, toiletries, washing machine, hair dryer and umbrellas! Good thing they have umbrellas because it rained hard during the weekend so we didn’t buy anymore. The Air-conditioning is fine but we only used it during our first night because the succeeding nights are cold enough. There’s no TV (you don’t need it anyway) but they provide a pocket wifi with limited data of 3gb every 3 days. It’s also complete with a fridge and a microwave which are very useful if you want to store meals bought from the supermarket or convenience stores then just re-heat it. And oh, no need to buy drinking water since tap water in Japan is very clean and safe!

Airbnb Osaka

View from our room

Around the area, there’s a big grocery store called Life Supermarket (You’ll pass it when you’re going to Daikokucho station). This is where we bought some of the Japanese goods like chocolates, snacks, beer and meals. Goods are cheaper than in convenience stores and some of the stores in Dotonbori so check it out!

There are also restaurants nearby but I think one of the best is 肉バル 3丁目. I don’t know if it has an English name but if you see a number 3 with a Kobe beef in the menu then that’s it. Their food is very good and price is reasonable. Kobe beef here is I think cheaper than the ones sold in Dotonbori. We love it and we ate here twice!

If you’re not an Airbnb member yet, then sign up here and get free credits! Click here to view the Airbnb room we booked.

For more recommended accommodations in Osaka, check these properties:

Drop Inn Osaka
Fuku Yado – Fuku Hostel
Hostel Jin
Hotel Chuo
Capsule Hotel Astil Dotonbori

You can also find more accommodations and compare their prices from different booking sites here with Hotels Combined! Or find one from the search box below.

Sights

We only toured the Kansai region particularly Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for 5 days. We will reserve other places in Japan like Tokyo or Sapporo in another time. You don’t have to tour Japan all at once right? Take it easy. There’s always a next time. Travel at a relaxing pace.

Osaka

Dotonbori

On our first night, we roamed around Dotonbori… ate street foods, shopped a little and of course took pictures at the world famous Glico Man and those big sized mechanized signs like crabs, octopus, takoyakis, dragons, etc. This place is so lively with food, people and stores. It’s like the Myeongdong of Korea, only bigger!

Dotonbori

Dotonbori

Glico man

Wouldn’t miss Glico man!

Osaka Castle

The symbol of Osaka. It was constructed in 1583 and was then destroyed by war and natural forces and then rebuilt and now modernized with high-tech facilities inside. It was actually my first time to see a castle with a surrounding moat and thought it to be very beautiful. If you want to know more about the castle’s history, there’s an informative museum inside the castle for an admission fee of 600 Yen.


Klook.com

Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Marketplace

The biggest Ferris wheel I’ve ever seen. It is formerly the biggest but now surpassed by the London Eye. A ride will cost you 800 Yen and high up there is a majestic view of Osaka.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Universal Studios is also near Tempozan, so if you have kids with you and you’re Harry Potter fans, it’s ideal to book tickets here in Klook. They have different kinds of passes so just check what suits you.

Kyoto

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

Located at the base of a mountain and the head shrine of Inari. It’s most famous for its picture perfect torii path. But the problem is, it’s hard to take pictures due to the influx of tourists and in our case, it was also raining hard. Anyway, try to get here as early as possible to avoid the crowd.

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine

Gion (Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama park, Hanamikoji dori)

These three are all near to each other so it’s very easy to explore them in one go. Yasaka shrine for more temple sightings, Maruyama park for its natural scenery and Hanamikoji street for the old houses, tea shops and Geisha sightings. We didn’t see one since, again, it was raining hard.

Hanamikoji Dori

Hanamikoji Dori

Kinkakuji Temple

The Golden Pavilion. It is one of the most visited temple in Japan and you can see why. The temple is surrounded by a pond and trees and make no mistake about it, the top two stories are covered with pure gold leaf. Real gold people.

Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Klook.com

Toei Kyoto Studio Park

For something different, we went to Toei Kyoto Studio Park. My brother and I are sentai and anime fans especially those in the 90s so we wouldn’t miss this. The theme park is also used for filming jidaigeki films and they have different performances from samurai sword fights, ninja shows, oiran parade and other street performances. Admission fee cost 2200 Yen.

Toei Samurai

Pictures with the Samurais!

Note: We didn’t go to Kiyomizu-dera since it is being renovated. We also skipped Arashiyama since my parents needs to rest and it was raining very hard.

Nara

Nara deer park

Deers deers deers, deers are everywhere! They bow, they look at you with those cute eyes, they ask for food and they sometimes nip your clothes if instinct tells them you’re a bad person lol. You can feed them with shika senbei (deer food) sold for 150 Yen.

Nara Deer Park

Hello Deer

Todaiji Temple

This temple is one of the most famous in Japan and its main hall, the Daibutsuden is the world’s largest wooden building where it houses a large Bronze statue of Buddha. The admission fee to the main hall is 500 Yen.


Klook.com

Yoshikien Garden

A beautiful garden besides Todaiji. Admission is free for overseas visitor.

Yoshikien Garden

Yoshikien Garden

Kokufuji Temple

This was once a family temple of the Fujiwara clan in 710. What stands out for me is the five story pagoda which is Japan’s second tallest. Entrance is free.

Kokufuji temple and pagoda

Kokufuji temple and pagoda

Food

Oh my, where do I start? Everywhere in Japan, food is delicious. Yes, even those meals in the convenience stores and supermarkets. In Japan, food is a work of art and of devotion… I even saw a gyoza cook molding the gyoza as if she was praying to the Gods to bless the food. Yes, it’s that serious. And yes, their gyoza is heavenly!

The taste and authenticity of the food in Japan is very different from what we’ve eaten here in the Philippines. I don’t know if it’s just something psychological but I swear, you have to be there and eat there to feel the difference.

Start in Dotonbori and Namba area. There alone, you can sample some of Japan’s most delicious foods. Takoyaki, gyoza, okonomiyaki, ramen, sushi, udon, kobe beef, matcha ice cream, etc. Takoyaki prices ranges from 380 Yen (6pcs) to 600 Yen (10pcs). Gyoza is around 520 Yen for 12pcs. Kobe beef can go up 1K Yen.

Upon arrival in Namba, we searched for food and we ate at the first restaurant we saw. It was an Udon restaurant where you place your order in a vending machine. Order the one topped with a Tofu! It’s the best! Though my wife and I ordered the Tempura, we had a taste of the Tofu from my mom’s.

Udon noodle tempura

My first meal in Japan: Udon noodle tempura

Takoyaki

Takoyaki!

As mentioned previously, we dined twice at 肉バル 3丁目 a nearby restaurant from our Airbnb unit. Their food is just amazing.

Kobe beef

Sizzling Kobe beef for 842 Yen


Klook.com

In Gion, we ate at a restaurant where they serve Shoyu ramen and damn, it was glorious. Perfect for the rainy weather.

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu Ramen

Then there’s the convenience store and supermarket meals. It’s cheaper but it’s filling and friendly to the taste buds as well. Price range is from 240 Yen to 500 Yen. On our last night in Osaka, we bought different types of food in Life supermarket and ate it in our room complete with Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin, Suntory beers. We had tempura, yakitori, sushi, maki, roast beef and noodles.

Dinner Japan

Our last dinner in Japan!

TIP: Beer is cheaper (and might be any form of good for that matter) in supermarkets obviously. Hoard them there 😀

Also check: Our other Food Adventures!

Shopping

I should really ask my wife to write this section but she doesn’t like to write. Anyway, for branded items and clothes go to Shinsaibashisuji. I bought a hoodie jacket in GU there… much cheaper than Uniqlo.

Shinsaibashisuji

Shop shpo shop at Shinsaibashisuji

For cheap items, there’s Daiso and Don Quijote. Lots of choices in Don Quijote like chocolates, snacks, drinks, beauty products, etc. You’ll also find lots of beauty shops and drugstores in Dotonbori and Namba area. You girls would love this place.

Again, you can almost buy any type of product in the supermarket and it is cheaper. So find a supermarket near you where the locals buy their needs.

TIP: If you’ve checked out in your hotel or Airbnb and you have lots of time left before your flight and they don’t want to keep your luggage, you can store your things in the coin lockers located in the train stations. For instructions, you can check this article. We stored our things in a large size locker for 600 Yen. One large locker can fit a big luggage.

Expenses Summary

Here is a summary of our Expenses in Japan. Please note that shopping items and souvenirs were not included as this may vary per individual preferences. Please note the Remarks column as some items here are shared between some of us. Conversion rate: 1 JPY = .454 PHP

ExpensesPHPRemarks     
Roundtrip Jetstar fare (MNL - KIX)7844.22All in including tax, fees, advanced seat reservations, check-in baggage
Day 1 (Flight to Osaka, Check-in Airbnb, Dotonbori)
Airbnb room 4 nights19331933 per night per pax (we are 5)
Original total is 12204 but I have airbnb credits so the new total is 9665 for 4 nights
Global Wifi Pocket WiFI for 5 days256256 per day (5 days) = 1280 divided by 5 booked through KKDAY
ICOCA Card1006Booked through KLOOK with 1500 Yen initial load and 500 Yen deposit
ICOCA re-load1362.133000 Yen re-load
Udon noodles (lunch)108.99240 Yen Udon Noodles
Steamed pork bun68150 Yen per pc
12 pcs Gyoza47.2520 Yen for 12 pcs divided by 5
Softdrinks90200 Yen
Takoyaki 6pcs86.28380 Yen divided by 2
Beer, coffee, snacks, bfast for tomorrow2092312 Yen divided by 5
Day 2 (Kyoto - Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Gion district, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park
Snacks113.48500 Yen divided by 2
Fried chicken in a cup at Fushimi Inari113.48500 Yen divided by 2
Lunch (somwhere in Gion)272.34Syoyu Ramen plus fried rice for 1200 Yen divided by 2
Dinner at 肉バル 3丁目226.915Shared 1K Yen divided by 2
Breakfast for day 3113.48500 Yen divided by 2
Day 3 (Kinkakuji Temple, Toei Studio Park)
ICOCA re-load453.831000 Yen
Kinkakuji Temple ticket181.65400 Yen
Lunch at Lawson convenience store103.93458 Yen divided by 2
Toei Studio Park Ticket998.162200 Yen
Dinner at 肉バル 3丁目454.13Shared 2000 Yen divided by 2
Bfast for tomorrow, beer and snacks226.961000 Yen divided by 2
Day 4 (Osaka Castle, Tempozan Ferris Wheel and Marketplace, Dotonbori and shopping at Shinsaibashisuji)
ICOCA re-load453.831000 Yen
Lunch at some bento store236520 Yen
Takoyaki sandwich104.44230 Yen
Takoyaki 8pcs60.52400 Yen divided by 3
ICOCA re-load907.962000 Yen
Day 5 (Nara Deer Park, Todaiji Temple, Yoshikien garden, Kokufuji Temple)
Coin Locker136.18600 Yen divided by 2
Todaiji Temple ticket227500 Yen
Lunch208.85460 Yen
Icoca card Refund-399.56880 Yen
Steamed bun118260 Yen
Yogurt Drink53117 Yen
GRAND TOTAL18375.395

Wow, I didn’t really expect this. We only spent 18375.40 in Japan for 5 days? Ok, add the travel tax of P1620 then that’s 19995.40. Just 20k! Amazing. What’s great about it is we didn’t hold back on our expenses. We dined at restaurants, drank beer every night (yes we did because my Father and I are beer drinkers and he always insist we drink every night lol) and even bought airport food going back to Manila. I guess that’s the good thing of traveling as a group because you can share some expenses like the pocket WiFi, food and accommodation.

That’s it guys! I hope you like this post and got some great information from our trip. If you are happy about it, kindly share the post to everyone! Thanks for reading our Japan Travel Guide and Itinerary!

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He is a programmer by profession but has a soul of a traveler. Aside from his ultimate dream of travelling around the world, he loves to eat, drink, listen to music, talk about aliens and the occasional secret guilty pleasure of singing love songs in videoke. His favorite superpower is to teleport from one place to another. I guess you know why.

  • Eli Esller

    Hahaha ang kulet, left untranslated talaga si 肉バル 3丁目. =)) And grabe nasurvive nyo si Kansai ng less than 20k @_@ Question lang, how were you able to get by in Kansai region? Marunong ka mag-Japanese (or may kasama kang marunong mag-Nihongo), or marunong naman mag-English yung mga nakausap or nakatransact nyu dyan (and may mga English signs naman)? TIA 😀

    • Hi Eli!

      Yup, hindi ko alam kung may English name sila 🙂

      Walang marunong samin mag Nihongo… you have to learn body and sign language… pag pupunta sa non-english speaking foreign country, you have to expect na wala makakaintindi sayo… kadalasan pakiramdaman at itatry niyo unawain ang isa’t isa hehe… Wag niyo ng tanungin kung marunong ba sila mag English, basta tanungin niyo lang with matching sign language at i-ready agad ang phone para dun niyo pakita ang gusto like Maps or images.

      Yup may mga English signs naman don’t worry 🙂

  • Kuan Chiew Yee

    hello, i would like to ask u, u just use icoca card for whole osaka trip??

    • Hi Kuan,

      Thanks for visiting!

      Yes, we only used the ICOCA card even to and from the airport 🙂

      • Kuan Chiew Yee

        you use icoca card from kix airport to namba station? Use nankai or JR?