When you travel to Japan for the first time, you will probably make a plan to visit and stay in Tokyo at first. Being one of the biggest and most famous cities in the world, it is indeed a must-visit place. But there are so much more! If you are planning a long trip in Japan, we would like to suggest you the other parts too.
There are many beautiful places where you can learn more about traditions and Japanese culture in different areas in Japan. Especially, Kansai Region (Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara) is a top choice for travelers. Around Kyoto and Osaka, there are many destinations where you can travel to, even just for a day trip.
For those of you who are planning to visit Western Japan, we would like to share a global 7 days itinerary in Kansai Region including Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe. Please check it out! If you are interested in more detailed information per location, please read our other blogs.
–A Complete Guide to Osaka and Kyoto
–2 Days Itinerary in Nara
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- Day 1 – Welcome to Osaka!
- Day 2 – Explore Osaka, the street food capital!
- Day 3 – Day trip to Kobe or Hiroshima from Osaka
- Day 4 – Move to Kyoto
- Day 5 – 1 day highlight of West or East Kyoto
- Day 6 – Day trip to Nara or Mt. Kurama from Kyoto
- Day 7 – Fly out from Osaka
- Other options for day trip from Kyoto or Osaka
- Other options for 2 days trip from Kyoto or Osaka
Day 1 – Welcome to Osaka!
The international airport of the Kansai region (KIX) in Osaka is well connected airport, with direct flights to cities all around the world.
You can check the flight schedule from here.
Also, we recommend buying a JR rail pass in advance to come to Japan! (7 days : +/- 29,110 yen)
You can activate it at KIX, Osaka Station, Shin-Osaka Station, or Kyoto Station.
Day 2 – Explore Osaka, the street food capital!
Also, Osaka city is a place where kitschy culture and sophisticated culture are mixed. Here, you can learn the depth of Japanese culture where food is amazing and people are very friendly and open-minded.
Popular Tours in Osaka
Would you like to see around Osaka in one day efficiently? Or explore the local food culture? Then we would highly recommend you to take a local guided tour to explore Osaka in depth. From local food tours to private tours, a wide variety of guided tours are available in Osaka.
Best Highlights and Suggested Itinerary in Osaka:
Osaka Castle > Shinsekai Area > Kuromon Market > Dotonbori Area > Umeda Sky Building
If you want more details about Osaka Itinerary, check the link below:
Suggested Itinerary in Osaka
Day 3 – Day trip to Kobe or Hiroshima from Osaka
Option 1; Kobe
Kobe is 6th biggest city in Japan and one of the most attractive cities in Kansai Region.
The city is famous for a breathtaking night view, and it’s often called “The Million Dollar Night View”.
Kobe City is located between Seto Inland Sea and Rokko Mountain. In addition to the stunning night views, there are a lot of worth-to-visit places and activities during the day.
We recommend the itinerary on the following link at daytime, and enjoy the view after evening.
Kobe Day Tip Guide
Since Kobe and Osaka are very close to each other and there is a direct train even at night,
you have plenty of time to enjoy the night view in Kobe City after excellent dinner (like Kobe Beef)!
Popular tours in Kobe
To explore Kobe efficiently with limited time, how about taking a private one-day tour? With a local guide, you can visit the best highlights of the city in one day!
Option 2; Hiroshima
Another recommended city for a day-trip from Osaka is Hiroshima, one of the most popular destinations among the tourists in Japan. Next to the beautiful sights, Hiroshima has rich history that should not be forgotten. There are two widely known World-Heritage Sites: Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima Island and the Peace Memorial Dome – known as the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima City.
It takes about one and a half hour if you take a the Shinkansen “Nozomi” or “Sakura” from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station.You can check the suggested itinerary from the link below.
Popular tours in Hiroshima
To really get the most out of your visit to Hiroshima, we recommend you discover the city with a local guide. This way you will visit not only the famous sightseeing spots, but you can also learn the deep history and culture of Hiroshima City. A great way to discover the city is also by bike!
Day 4 – Move to Kyoto
After checking out from your hotel in Osaka, you can take a train or subway to Kyoto (approx. 30 min). Leave your luggage in your hotel and start exploring the great city of Kyoto depending on the location of your hotel.
Best highlights and suggested itinerary in Kyoto:
East Kyoto: Kiyomizu temple > Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka > Yasaka shrine > Gion > Fushimi Inari Shrine.
West Kyoto: Bamboo Forest > Tenryu-ji Temple > Togetsu-kyo Bridge > Ryoan-ji Temple > Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion).
See more details about exploring in Kyoto:
Day 5 – 1 day highlight of West or East Kyoto
Kyoto used to be the capital city for 1,000 years and these days it is a popular place to enjoy Japanese culture and traditions, we recommend that you should stay minimum two days to explore Kyoto city. (Though, honestly two days are still not enough!)
Popular tours in Kyoto
Would you like to explore the unique and distinctive food culture in Kyoto? Food and Drink tour offers guests authentic Kyoto’s food experience and the deep culture at the popular local market with a variety of snacks and dishes. See the link below for more details about the tour!
We also have a private tour which can be customized as you want. Friendly English speaking guide show you around the places telling you the stories behind each places.
Day 6 – Day trip to Nara or Mt. Kurama from Kyoto
Option 1; Nara
If you prefer nature and history to city and modern life, you should go to Nara, ancient capital of Japan. In fact, Nara is older than Kyoto and there are unique traditions and culture as well as numbers of historical monuments. For example, wild deer is sacred in Nara. Also, there are many World Heritage Sites.
From Kyoto Station, there is a direct train to Nara Station and it takes about 50 min by train.
If you want more details, check the link below:
If you prefer spending more than 1 day in Nara, there is also 2 days itinerary:
Popular tours in Nara
To learn the deep history and culture in Nara, it’s highly recommended to take a private guided tour! You can go through the best highlights of Nara including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in one day with a local expert! Check the link below for more details:
Option 2; Mt.Kurama
Mt. Kurama is a spiritual mountain and good trekking spot from the center of Kyoto.
You can go there by bus or train and it takes about 70 mins. from Gion Shijo Station.
During the trekking, you will go through so many temples and shrines. After you arrive on top, there is a onsen (Natural Hot Spring). Also, if you prefer, you can head to Kibune area which is known for the beautiful river side view from the mountain.
Day 7 – Fly out from Osaka
The regional airport KIX is easy to access from Kyoto Station. There is a direct limited express train named “Haruka” to KIX and it takes about 70 mins. If you have time, climb Kyoto Tower and say “Good-bye” to Kyoto City before leaving. Or spend time in Rinku Park right next to the airport.
This is our suggested 7 days itinerary in Osaka and Kyoto to enjoy Kansai Region. But to fully enjoy this great area, 7 days are far from enough. Since there are a lot of roots of Japanese culture, the more days you spend, the more you learn about Japan! Along with your visit, we would also recommend you to take guided tours to make most out of your stay!
Other options for day trip from Kyoto or Osaka
The followings are the options if you have more days.
Himeji Castle is the first place which was registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nickname is “White Heron Castle” due to the brilliant white walls. The specialty of Himeji Castle is not only the beauty. It was built as a fortress to protect Kyoto and Osaka from Samurai Warrior who comes from far west side of Japan. That’s why you could find a lot of functions for war here.
From Kyoto or Osaka, you can take a JR train. From Kyoto Station, we recommend take a bullet train (Shinkansen). It takes about 80 min. From Osaka Station, it takes about 80 min by either local train or bullet train.
Miho Museum is one of the most unique museums in Japan and it is located in Shiga prefecture, next to Kyoto prefecture. The feature is their wide-range collections and their concept “Promoting Beauty, Peace and Joy Through Art”. The collection contains about 3,000 artworks from Japan and the ancient orient. Also, the combination of their architecture and surrounding nature is breathtaking.
Unique Miho Museum Tour
Access from Kyoto and for more details;
If you head to the far north of Kyoto prefecture, there is a miracle spot created by magnificent nature. Amanohashidate means the bridge to heaven and is known as three of the most scenic spots in Japan. (Others are Matsushima which is very close to Sendai city and Miyajima in Hiroshima prefecture)
Here you can find amazing seafood, white sand beaches and pine‐covered seashores.
It takes approx. 2 hours by JR limited express train “Hashidate” from Kyoto Station.
Amanohashidate Bus tour from Osaka
The birth place and first capital of Japan was Asuka. That’s why there are a lot of enigmatic ruins and beautiful rice terrace. The location is south from Nara city. You can visit there from Kyoto, Osaka or Nara as a day trip. It is highly recommended if you like cycling because Asuka is very good place to discover by bicycle.
It’s not in Kansai region, but you can visit Kanazawa, the scenic city with the greatest Japanese garden. From Kyoto Station, it takes about 2 hours to Kanazawa Station by JR Limited Express “Thunderbird”. The most famous destination is Kenrokuen Garden, but there are a lot more places to visit, such as Traditional Samurai houses, a fabulous seafood market, a castle, and prestigious museums. Convenient for 1 day trip as most sites are within walking distance from Kanazawa Station.
Private tour in Kanazawa
Other options for 2 days trip from Kyoto or Osaka
Mt. Koya (Koyasan)
If you have an interest in trekking as a pilgrimage, the best distination is Mt. Koya. The sacred place of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. The access is not so simple and you need to have about 3 hours to go there from Osaka, but it is worth-to-visit place. Due to the special experience by staying in temple lodging, we strongly recommend having at least one night. You can get a taste of a monk’s lifestyle, eating monk’s cuisine (shojin-ryori) and attending the morning prayers.
Feel sacred atmospheres in Mt. Koya
You can make a reservation of temple lodging from the link below:
Naoshima Island is a very small island with 3,000 population, but now called “The sanctuary of contemporary art”. This small island is located in Seto Inland Sea known as Japanese Aegean. The feature of Naoshima is the harmony of natural beauty, Tadao Ando’s architecture, and Site-specific arts. Since most of the museums are based on the concept to feel and forget time, it is recommended to stay here. If you have an interest to visit there and stay there, see the link below.
Access: Mainland to Naoshima Island
Shodoshima is also the island in Seto Inland sea. It is well-known as the olive plantations, soy sauce production and Somen noodle. There are amazing white sand beach, Olive Park, and local small village. The most famous place is “Angel Road” which appears only twice a day due to the rise and fall of the tide. If you like to be relax with beautiful landscape, you should come here.
If you really want to take very good Onsen, Kinosaki makes your dream come true.
This pleasant town, built along a willow-lined river, is one of the top onsen destinations in Japan.
There are 7 different Onsen you can enjoy. Each Onsen has each history and each hot spring quality.
It is fun to explore the town and find those Onsen after evening.
You can go there about 2 and half hour from Kyoto Station by JR train.
To prepare your trip in Kansai, take our online tours!
You will get an overview of Osaka or Nara, what you can do or what you shouldn’t miss there.
ONLINE Osaka Virtual Highlight Tour
ONLINE Ghibli Spots in Japan Virtual Tour