Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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Japan’s Kansai region that includes Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo, is a treasure trove of interesting sights. Whether you are looking to dive into historical sights, cultural experiences, or some of Japan’s best cuisine in the Kansai area, it can be hard to decide what to pick and choose. While you might think you would need several weeks to be able to see everything, if you plan your trip well, you will be able to see the best of what each area has to offer in only 5 days. Let us share with you a 5-day Kyoto Osaka Hyogo itinerary with a perfect balance of some of the best that Kansai has to offer!
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Day 1: Kyoto
Your trip will start in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital city that has famously been spared the ravages of war and natural disasters. Whether you have been here before or are a first-time visitor, Kyoto will have something new to see for everyone. Spend the first half of the day exploring the beautiful Kiyomizu Dera and its picturesque surroundings. The Buddhist temple itself has many points of interest such as its 400-year old main hall and a large terrace overlooking the city. Higashiyama, the area around the temple, is known for its winding roads with charming wooden shop fronts where artisans sell their handiwork. It is easy to spend a few hours walking around the temple’s precinct and the area surrounding it. The geisha quarter Gion is also around the corner, which is also worth a walk around.
Later in the day it is a great time to go to Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto’s most famous Shinto shrine. First you can walk around the Fushimi district to learn more about the sake that has been brewed here for centuries. The Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum is a must-visit if you are interested in the process behind sake brewing. Afterward, once the crowds have left, it is time to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine itself. It is open 24/7, and there’s a much nicer atmosphere once peace has returned after the day is done. Enjoy strolling through the many red torii gates while soaking up the atmosphere.
Day 2: Northern Kyoto
On day 2 of your trip you will leave Kyoto city to see more of the beautiful prefecture that stretches far beyond the urban area. Northern Kyoto is a relatively undiscovered gem where you can see rare and pretty scenery. Amanohashidate has officially been chosen as one of Japan’s 3 most scenic spots. Its geography is such that a sandbar crosses from one side of the mainland to the other over more than 3 kilometers. Adding to the beauty of the scenery are the pine trees that cover the sand bar. A great way to enjoy the area is to rent a bicycle to go around.
A good destination to combine with Amanohashidate is Ine, a small fishermen’s town that is famous for its funeya or boat houses. What makes the townscape so special is that the funeya lean out above the water, as the fishermen use the first floor to park their boats while they live on the 2nd floor. Of course, the best way to enjoy Ine is from the water, and there are organized boat tours to take you there. There are other interesting small towns in the region as well, such as Higashi-maizuru, Yosano, and Kumihama.
Day 3: Kinosaki Onsen
The third day of your trip is reserved for some well-timed rest and relaxation before you will move on to enjoy a more urban area again. Kinosaki Onsen is located on the northern coast of Hyogo prefecture, and is known as one of the most beautiful hot spring towns in Japan. Strolling along the picturesque streets lined by weeping willows and lovely preserved onsen hotels will make you feel like you are in an old Japanese movie. The scenic streets are lit up at night, giving it an even more romantic atmosphere. Each of the 7 bath houses has its own features and health benefits, so you can be assured that any muscle or joint pain will be relieved after your stay in Kinosaki Onsen. And as an added bonus, your skin will glow like never before!
Staying in one of the traditional ryokan with an on-site hot spring will be the finishing touch on day 3 of your trip, which always comes with a sumptuous course meal that the ryokan will provide as a part of their top-notch Japanese-style service. After being spoiled like this, you will be completely refreshed to continue your trip to the city.
Day 4: Kobe
On the 4th day, you will travel on to Kobe, known all over the world for its connection with some of the best wagyu beef there is. Of course, you are going to have to taste this delicacy in the place where it originated, and luckily there are many restaurants in Kobe that serve delicious Kobe beef. We especially recommend Tor Road Steak Aoyama , as they serve excellent meat for a decent price. As for sightseeing, Kobe Kitano Ijinkan (Kitano-cho) is a must-see. A large part of Kobe’s history revolves around its port, through which the area was exposed to influences from all over the world. After Japan reopened in the Meiji Period, Kobe was one of the ports where foreigners started coming in, and some of them were housed in mansions in this district. Today, you can still see a few intact buildings from that time which were built with a very interesting architecture style.
If you had Kobe beef for lunch, you should head over to Kobe Chinatown for dinner. This is one of the largest Chinatowns in Japan, and there are many Chinese delicacies to be tried. The atmosphere of the area that is also known as Nankinmachi is different from the rest of town and it is a nice place to walk around. At night, you should go up Mt. Maya, which has the best night view of the sprawling city.
Day 5: Osaka
Your 5th and final day will be spent in the city of food, Osaka, where the motto isn’t ‘kuidaore’ (eat yourself into bankruptcy) for nothing. Start the day with a tasty browse through Dotonbori, which is the street food capital of Japan. To walk it off, your next stop would be Osaka Castle which is not only an interesting place to learn about Osaka’s turbulent history, but there is also a large park around it that’s great for a long stroll. Then it is time to head to Shinsaibashi and Kuromon Market, which is open until 9 pm, for more delicacies. If you really want to make sure that you are not missing anything and get your delicacies only from Osaka’s best, you can also book a tour with an experienced local foodie.
Tours in Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo
If you want to make the most of your trip to Kansai, why not book a day with one of our private guides? Our local guide will make sure that you have the best day possible with an itinerary that is adjusted to your interests and requests. Furthermore, they can tell you a lot more about the area that you are visiting which will help you enjoy your trip one step deeper. And of course, if you would be interested in seeing more local spots instead of the famous tourist attractions, that is also a possibility. We offer city tours in Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe among other places throughout Japan!
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