I remember The first time I visited Japan. It was last spring during Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) season. I stayed in backpackers hostel for 6 days and explored Tokyo to the fullest. You are always bound to find something interesting to do there – eating at themed cafes, sleeping in capsule hotels and shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya were just few of many things the city had to offer. I knew that I would come again for a second visit and so I did. This time I decided to visit other prefecturesto see what more Japan can offer its visitors.

I flew back to Japan to take ever so famous THE GOLDEN ROUTE: OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO and TOKYO. I spent one whole week moving from one prefecture to another and came fully prepared with a detailed custom itinerary and a JR Pass in hand. To give you an overview, here’s a simple breakdown of how my week went:

JAPAN DAY 1: Arrival at Narita Airport / Tokyo to Osaka via Shinkansen
I arrived at Narita Airport (Terminal 2) around 10 in the morning. I had my JR pass activated at the ticketing office and also reserved seats there. Took the 1 pm N’EX train headed to Shinagawa Station and then transferred to Shinkansen Hikari train en route to Osaka. I arrived at around 4pm and checked in at the AirBnB rented apartment in Umeda. Since there was still time to explore, I went for an evening stroll at Dotonbori in Namba.

JAPAN DAY 2: Day Trip to Nara and Kyoto Prefecture
The next day I headed off to Nara to see the famous deers and temples. See: A Morning Trip to Nara Deer Park. After spending a few good hours at the park taking pictures and trying out different Japanese street food, I took the train to Kyoto and grabbed lunch near Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Forest (got myself a hot Tempura soba on a cold winter day). I then went for a quick visit to Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine afterwards.

JAPAN DAY 3: Universal Studios Japan / The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Woke up early to line up for the limited USJ Express Pass and timed-entry ticket for Harry Potter themed park. I spent the whole day here so that I can live out my wizard fantasies and immerse in the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was worth it! Here’s a more detailed blog post on that: The Muggle’s Guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Honeydukes Sweets Shop at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

JAPAN DAY 4: Osaka to Tokyo Shinkansen / Shibuya at Night
Checked out of the apartment in Umeda and had brunch near the train station. Left Osaka via the Shinkansen Hikari at 1 in the afternoon and arrived in Tokyo around 4:30. Took another train to Edogawa and finally got to the apartment an hour later. Went to Harajuku to see the shops at Takeshita Dori Street and also went to Shibuya for Hachiko’s statue and Don Quijote.

JAPAN DAY 5: Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama
Met up with my college friend in Yokohama who’s currently based in Japan for work and went to Cup Noodles Museum together. Unfortunately, we were not able to buy timed-entry tickets to create our own cup noodles so we took the tour instead and watched a full documentary about Momofoku Ando and his inventions.

JAPAN DAY 6: Shopping at Ueno Ameyoko Market
Exhausted from yesterday’s trip, I missed the trip to Hakone to see Mt. Fuji and decided to head towards Ueno instead. I did some last minute shopping at Ameyoko Market and found really awesome souvenirs and gifts for my friends and family. Ameyoko Market is the cheapest place in Tokyo to buy souvenirs. I spent hours and hours walking and looking around for goodies.

JAPAN DAY 7: Last day in Tokyo, Japan and Narita Airport
Took the earliest train to Tokyo station and hopped on the 8 am N’EX train to Narita Airport. Checked in at the luggage counter around 9 and was able to roam around Terminal 2 and buy a few more gifts and souvenirs for my family.