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Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide

Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide

Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide

Traveling to Japan this year for cherry blossom season? Then this article is perfect for you! This Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide is meant to help you plan out and prepare for your cherry blossom trip!

There are 100s and 100s of cherry blossom spots throughout Japan and it can be hard to figure out where you want to see the cherry blossoms most. That is why in this article I have provided you with a list of top places to see cherry blossoms.

And not only did I give you that, but I also created a table for you with the best locations ALL THROUGHOUT Japan to see the cherry blossoms. The table includes the dates that are best to view the cherry blossoms too.

So I hope you enjoy learning about cherry blossom season with this article and hope it can provide value to you in some way for your 2019 trip!

If you want to read more about cherry blossoms in detail, feel free to check out our other article here.

 

This Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide Includes:

1.    Japan Cherry Blossom Tradition

2.    Hanami Viewing Tips

3.    Where Do Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Japan?

4.    Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Top Locations

5.    Cherry Blossom Viewing Time Table

 

 

1. Japan Cherry Blossom Tradition

The cherry blossom, known as sakura in Japan, is a symbol to the Japanese of human life and transient beauty.

Cherry blossom viewing, which is called hanami in Japanese, is a Japan cherry blossom tradition that has been around for centuries. And not only does hanami refer to seeing cherry blossoms. It also means a time to gather with friends and family and, essentially, have a “party” under the pink and white cherry blossom trees.

Typically, people will have a picnic, drink, and enjoy their time among all the beautiful trees.

Additionally, there are some locations in Japan that like to illuminate the sakura trees at night. The act of viewing illuminated trees is called yozakura. Before going, check to see if the location you’d like to go to lights up their trees at night!

Japan Cherry Blossom Tradition

2. Hanami Viewing Tips

Now since you know what the Japanese hanami tradition is, I figured I could give you some hanami viewing tips. These tips are meant to make your cherry blossom Japan 2019 experience more enjoyable!

First off, if you want to have a hanami, first check by doing a quick Google search to see if it is allowed to have a hanami in the location you want to be in. Some locations will not allow for picnics under the trees.

Secondly, because sakura season is so popular in Japan, we recommend to save a spot under the trees with your picnic blanket early in the day.

This way you can reserve the area for your friends and family for however long you’d like to be there. But be sure not to take up more space than you need, as this will not seem polite in the Japanese culture.

Thirdly, be prepared for the weather. Typically cherry blossom season is during March and April. These months tend to be a little chilly!

Lastly, for your hanami viewing experience, we suggest you bring these items:

  • Picnic blanket to sit on
  • Basket of picnic food
  • Wine and a wine bag to carry it
  • Bottle opener
  • Plastic cups for wine and drinks
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Disposable wooden chopsticks
  • Garbage bags
  • Hand warmers, sweaters, warm hats, blankets or anything else to keep you warm

Things to be aware of:

  • No garbage cans
    • Please take note that garbage cans can be scarce around Japan. This means that after your hanami, you must be prepared to carry your garbage with you until a garbage can is found or until you get back to your hotel. Do not leave your garbage behind, as this is considered very rude in Japan (and pretty much everywhere).
  • Long bathroom lines
    • Also, we highly suggest to use a bathroom beforehand, as there will be long lines to use them at your cherry blossom location.

Hanami Viewing

 

3. Where Do Cherry Blossoms Bloom in Japan?

Cherry blossom trees bloom all throughout Japan. However, each location blooms at different times throughout the spring season. They start to go full bloom in southern Japan around March and work their way up to northern Japan until late May.

Japan has 8 regions, and a total of 47 prefectures within those regions.

japan prefectures legendjapan prefectures

So the cherry blossoms start blooming in Kyushu and Okinawa and work their way all the way up to the northern region of Hokkaido.

It may be helpful to look at this map once you know the specific locations you want to see most for your cherry blossom Japan 2019 trip.

4. Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan: Top Locations

Now that you have an understanding of the layout of Japan, you can take a look at this list below of top places to see sakura for your cherry blossom Japan 2019 trip.

Top Locations of Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan:

Tohoku Region

  • Aomori Prefecture
    • Hirosaki Castle
  • Yamanashi Prefecture
    • Chureito Pagoda
    • Lake Kawaguchiko

Kansai Region:

  • Tokyo Prefecture
    • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
    • Ueno park
    • Chidorigafuchi (also lights up at night)
  • Kyoto Prefecture
    • Philosopher’s Path
    • Maruyama Park
    • Nakanoshima Park
    • Hills of Arashiyama
  • Osaka Prefecture
    • Kema Sakuranomiya Park
    • Nishinomaru Park
  • Hyogo Prefecture
    • Himeji Castle
  • Nara Prefecture
    • Mount Yoshino (Yoshinoyama)

Hokkaido Region

  • Hokkaido Prefecture
    • Goryokaku Park

If you want to see the absolute top 5 places for your cherry blossom Japan trip, check out the article we wrote.

5. Cherry Blossom Viewing Time Table

The list above only consists of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms.

However, we realize that this list may not be ideal for some people. You could be travelling elsewhere in Japan or you may want to go to quieter, less known spots of Japan instead.

There are definitely a lot more great spots to see sakura trees throughout Japan, which is why we made an extensive cherry blossom Japan 2019 table of more locations for you.

The cherry blossom viewing time table below consists of:

  • All 8 regions in Japan
  • The best prefectures within those regions to see cherry blossoms
  • The best locations within those prefectures to see cherry blossoms
  • The estimated first bloom date of the specific location
  • The estimated full bloom date of the specific location

 

The first bloom date in the table is the date that the cherry blossoms are estimated to start opening up and blooming.

The full bloom date is the date that the flowers are estimated to be fully opened up and bloomed. Typically the full bloom phase will last around one week. So plan accordingly.

These estimated dates are predictions made by the Japan Meteorological Agency. This agency publishes updates 4 times a year.

The table you currently have downloaded is the second update of estimated dates this year. This means that the dates could change slightly from this table below.

Because the dates will be updated two more times, I will update this exact same post for you!

This does not mean you have to wait to plan your trip. The dates are close enough to where you can be confident planning your vacation. But just a little disclaimer, extreme whether may throw this off. That is the risk of planning your trip around cherry blossom season.

Cherry Blossom Viewing Time Table

Prefecture Location Estimated First Bloom Date Estimated Full Bloom Date
Kyushu & Okinawa Region
Fukuoka Nishi Park 3/22 4/1
Fukuoka Fukuoka Castle/Maizuru Park 3/22 4/1
Fukuoka Uminonakamichi Seaside Park 3/22 4/1
Fukuoka Atago Shrine 3/22 4/1
Fukuoka Shiranoe Botanical Garden 3/22 4/1
Fukuoka Nokonoshima Island 3/22 4/1
Kumamoto Kumamooto Castle 3/24 4/2
Kumamoto Suizenji Koen 3/24 4/2
Nagasaki Tateyama Park 3/24 4/2
Nagasaki Sakura no Sato 3/24 4/2
Nagasaki Nagasaki Peace Park 3/24 4/2
Nagasaki Omura Park 3/24 4/2
Saga Ogi Park 3/25 4/2
Saga Karatsu Castle 3/25 4/2
Shikoku Region
Kochi Kyotan Sakura 3/22 3/30
Kochi Kochi Castle 3/22 3/30
Kochi Makino Botanical Garden 3/22 3/30
Kochi Kagamino Park 3/22 3/30
Ehime Matsumaya Castle 3/23 4/4
Ehime Hirakiyama Park 3/23 4/4
Kagawa Mt Shiude 3/28 4/5
Kagawa Kinbuchi Forest Park 3/28 4/5
Kagawa Ritsurin Garden 3/28 4/5
Kagawa Megijima Island 3/28 4/5
Chugoku Region
Tottori Tottori Castle Ruins 3/27 4/3
Tottori Inaba Senbonzakura 3/27 4/3
Tottori Minatoyama Park 3/27 4/3
Okayama Handayama Botanical Garden 3/26 4/2
Okayama Korakuen Garden & Okayama Castle 3/26 4/2
Okayama Yakebenomori Park 3/26 4/2
Okayama Asahi River Sakura Road 3/26 4/2
Hiroshima Miyajima 3/25 4/2
Hiroshima Hiroshima Peace Park 3/25 4/2
Hiroshima Shukkeien Garden 3/25 4/2
Hiroshima Hiroshima Castle 3/25 4/2
Kansai Region
Kyoto Philosopher’s Path 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Maruyama Park 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Hills of Arashiyama 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Haradani-en Garden 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Keage Incline 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Nakanoshima Prk 3/26 4/3
Kyoto Heian Shrine 3/26 4/3
Osaka Osaka Castle 3/26 4/3
Osaka Kema Sakuranomiya Park 3/26 4/3
Osaka Nishinomaru Park 3/26 4/3
Osaka Osaka Mint Bureau 3/26 4/3
Osaka Expo 70 Park 3/26 4/3
Osaka Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park 3/26 4/3
Nara Nara Park 3/27 4/3
Nara Mt Yoshino 3/27 4/3
Nara Yoshimizu Shrine 3/27 4/3
Nara Mt Wakakusa 3/27 4/3
Hyogo Himeji Castle 3/28 4/5
Hyogo Shukugawa Park 3/28 4/5
Hyogo Akashi Park 3/28 4/5
Shiga Hikone Castle 4/1 4/7
Shiga Ho Park 4/1 4/7
Shiga Lake Biwa Canal 4/1 4/7
Shiga Kaizu Osaki 4/1 4/7
Chubu Region
Nagano Takato Castle Park 4/9 4/15-22
Nagano Kaikoen Garden 4/9 4/15-22
Nagano Garyu Koen 4/9 4/15-22
Nagano Matsumto Castle 4/9 4/15-22
Niigata Takeda Castle 4/7 4/15-22
Niigata Muramatsu Park 4/7 4/15-22
Niigata Hakusan Park 4/7 4/15-22
Ishikawa Kenrokuen Garden 4/3 4/9
Ishikawa Kanazawa Castle Park 4/3 4/9
Ishikawa Daishoji River Boat 4/3 4/9
Ishikawa Kazuemachi Geisha Street 4/3 4/9
Aichi Nagoya Castle 3/24 4/2
Aichi Yamazaki River 3/24 4/2
Aichi Tsurama Park 3/24 4/2
Aichi Togokusan Fruit Park 3/24 4/2
Aichi Gojo River Bank 3/24 4/2
Yamanashi Northern Shores Lake Kawaguchi & Nagasaki Park 3/26 4/3
Yamanashi Takeda Srine 3/26 4/3
Yamanashi Oboshi Park 3/26 4/3
Yamanashi Chureito Pagoda 3/26 4/3
Yamanashi Iyashi no Sato 3/26 4/3
Yamanashi Oshino Hakkai 3/26 4/3
Kanto Region
Tokyo Shinjuku Gyoen National Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Ueno Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Chidorigafuchi 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Kitanomaru Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Sumida Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Yoyogi Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Asukayama Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Meguro River 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Inokashira Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Koganei Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Rikugien Garden 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Koishikawa Korakuen Garden 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Roppongi Sakurazaka 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Kinuta Park 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Imperial Palace East Gardens 3/23 3/30
Tokyo Showa Kinen Park 3/23 3/30
Kanagawa Odawara Castle 3/28 4/4
Kanagawa Kinugasayama Park 3/28 4/4
Kanagawa Sankeien Garden 3/25 4/1
Kanagawa Sagamiko Resort 3/28 4/4
Kanagawa Miyagino Hayakawa River 3/28 4/4
Kanagawa Mitsuike Park 3/25 4/1
Kanagawa Negishi Shinrin Park 3/25 4/1
Kanagawa Minato Mirai 21 3/25 4/1
Chiba Mobara Park 4/3 4/9
Chiba Naritasan Park 4/3 4/9
Gunma Akagi Senbonzakura 3/28 4/4
Gunma Takasaki Castle Ruins 3/31 4/6
Gunma Maebashi Park 3/28 4/4
Tohoku Region
Aomori Hirosaki Park 4/23 4/27
Aomori Ashino Park 4/23

 

4/27
Aomori Komakaido 4/23 4/27
Akita Kakunodate 4/17 4/21
Iwate Kitakami Tenshochi 4/20 4/26
Iwate Takamatsu Park 4/20

 

4/26
Fukushima Hanamiyama Park 4/9 4/13
Fukushima Miharu Takizakura 4/9 4/13
Fukushima Shinobuyama Park 4/9 4/13
Fukushima Natsui River Senbonzakura 4/9 4/13
Fukushima Tsuruga Castle 4/9 4/13
Yamagata Okitama Cherry Blossoms Road 4/15 4/19
Yamagata Kajo Park 4/15 4/19
Yamagata Tsuroka Park 4/15 4/19
Miyagi Hitomesenbon Sakura 4/11 4/16
Miyagi Shiroishi Riverside 4/11 4/16
Miyagi Mikamine Park 4/11 4/16
Miyagi Tsutsujigaoka Park 4/11 4/16
Miyagi Ogawara Park 4/11 4/16
Hokkaido Region
Hokkaido Matsumae Park Late April Mid May
Hokkaido Goryokaku Park 5/3 5/8
Hokkaido Maruyama Park 5/4 5/8
Hokkaido Nijukken Road Cherry Blossoms Early May Mid May
Hokkaido Odori Park 5/4 5/8
Hokkaido Nakajima Park 5/4 5/8

We hope you enjoy your vacation with this thorough Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide!

If you want to know Japanese Words to know when visiting Japan, check out our article!

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Cherry Blossom Japan 2019 Guide

Japan Travel Tips

Japan Cherry Blossom Season 2019

Japan Cherry Blossom Season

Japan Cherry Blossom Season 2019

Are you planning a trip during Japan cherry blossom season? Then this article is just for you!

The Japanese cherry blossom season is right around the corner. So I figured it would be a perfect time to go over the Japanese tradition of hanami, when the Japan cherry blossom season is, and 5 best places to see cherry blossoms.

If it is your very first time going to Japan, (or even if it isn’t) then please feel free to take a look at our article about Japanese words to know when visiting Japan. The Japanese locals love when you try a little to speak their language!

Hanami Cherry Blossom Viewing

The cherry blossom, known as sakura in Japanese, marks the beginning of spring. Its natural beauty signifies a time that allow family and friends to gather together and enjoy the cherry blossom trees.

Cherry blossom viewing, called hanami, has been around in Japan for centuries, dating back to the 700s. Back then, the term hanami originally referred to plum blossom viewing instead of cherry blossom viewing.

But people started to be more attracted to the white and pink sakura trees in the late 700s. So the term hanami came to mean cherry blossom viewing instead.

Today the ancient practice of viewing plum blossoms still remain, but mainly through elderly people. Now the modern day hanami consists of having a “party” underneath the sakura trees with food and drink during the day or night.

Hanami Cherry Blossom Viewing at Himeji Castle

The elderly tend to enjoy plum blossom viewing more since it is more calm and peaceful than the sakura parties.

If you want to see some of Japan’s other flowers, check out our other article here. -> 5 Unique Japan Flower Festivals. We go over Japan’s top 5 unique flower festivals that you could have the chance to experience in addition to the cherry blossoms.

For your trip to Japan you can choose to view the sakura trees at night too!

Every year there are some locations in Japan that illuminate the cherry blossom trees at night, giving them a pink glow. This will be sure to give you an unforgettable experience!

However, keep in mind that not every sakura location in Japan allows hanami cherry blossom viewing. So be sure to check for that when planning your trip.

And just for you, we’ve made this Free 2019 Ultimate Japanese Cherry Blossom Guide that consists of exclusive hanami tips! These tips will ensure that you plan your hanami just right so that you know what to expect and have a great time with your friends and family.

japan cherry blossom guide

Now that you know the Japanese hanami tradition, lets get into when the Japan cherry blossom season is!

When is Cherry Blossom Season in Japan?

Cherry blossom season in Japan is mainly from March to May. However, in less known cherry blossom locations, the sakura can start to bloom as early as January.

These sakura blossom in the subtropical islands of Okinawa, Japan. The latest cherry blossoms bloom in Hokkaido into late May. But the major cities of Japan, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, generally bloom in early April.

Japan Cherry Blossom Season in Kyoto

The exact timing of the cherry blossoms in full bloom is all dependent on a variety of factors.

The first factor in determining the timing of cherry blossoms is location. The first cherry blossoms bloom in southern Japan and work their way up to northern Japan in May.

If you have a location in mind OR don’t know any location to go to for your trip in 2019, this Free 2019 Ultimate Japanese Cherry Blossom Guide contain 135 of the best spots in all of Japan to view cherry blossoms.

Each location in the Free Guide contains an estimated start bloom date and an estimated full bloom date.

The dates of each location are estimated by the Japan Meteorological Agency, which they update 4 times a year. If you sign up for our Free Guide, we will let you know when the dates of all top 135 locations have been updated and send you a newly updated list! We want to be sure you can plan your 2019 Japan trip just right.

But do keep in mind that the dates are only estimates.

Japan Cherry Blossom Season in the Rain

A few other factors that can affect these cherry blossoms dates are temperature, wind, and rain.

Each factor can come into play to determine the estimated exact date of the blooms, which is why the agency sends updates 4 times a year before spring.

So again, if you want to take a look at the top 135 locations all throughout Japan, please feel free to sign up for the Free Guide!

We realize that you cannot see every single cherry blossom location throughout Japan. Which is why we’ve made a list below of the absolute best places to see Japanese cherry blossoms!

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Now we know you can’t see every cherry blossom location in Japan, which is why we’ve narrowed it down for you. The list below, which is not in any particular order, consists of 5 best places to see cherry blossoms.

1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Tokyo

Blooming Time: Early April

Shinjuku Gyoen, which consists of three different gardens, is one of the most popular places in Tokyo to have a hanami. The English garden contains a wide open lawn containing many cherry trees of different varieties. This makes it the perfect place to have a hanami with your friends and family!

Japan Cherry Blossom Season at Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

2. Ueno Park, Tokyo

Blooming Time: Early April

Ueno Park has over 1000 cherry trees, also with a few different varieties. The park has many streets lined with stalls containing sakura-themed food and desserts! Plus, the layout of Ueno Park allows for plenty of space, making it a great place to also have a hanami.

Japan Cherry Blossom Season at Ueno Park

3. Hirosaki Castle Park, Aomori

Blooming Time: Late April – Early May

Hirosaki Castle Park consists of over 2,500 cherry trees with 50 different varieties. All the different cherry blossom trees surround Hirosaki Castle, making it a magnificent scene to view.

Visitors can even paddle a small boat down the river to see the surrounding sakura. If you want, you can also come here at night since this location likes to illuminate the cherry trees as well!

4. Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi

Blooming Time: Mid April

The northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko contains some of the best views of sakura trees along with Mount Fuji in the background!

However, if you go to Lake Kawaguchiko expecting to see Mount Fuji, it’s a possibility you may be let down. Weather conditions may prevent you from seeing the glorious Mount Fuji.

But that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms! There are many spots around the northern shores of the lakes for you to enjoy the sakura.

Japan Cherry Blossom Season at Lake Kawaguchiko

5. Himeji Castle, Hyogo

Blooming Time: Early April

Himeji castle during cherry blossom season is an amazing sight to see. This white castle truly looks beautiful against the surrounding pink cherry trees.

And there’s more than just the castle to look at it too. The Himeji castle complex consisits of more than 80 buildings.

Everywhere you walk around the complex, there will be cherry blossom trees. So really take the time to explore this complex, maybe even have a hanami, and enjoy your time!

Japan Cherry Blossom Season at Himeji Castle


If you want to discover more places throughout Japan, be sure to check out our free 2019 Cherry Blossom Guide. We will give exact dates for best viewing times for the locations above and more!

It is hard to plan your trip without knowing the exact dates to see the cherry trees. And it’s also difficult if you don’t know the best places to go to out of the 100s of locations throughout Japan.

And that is exactly why we made this Free Guide for you. We hope that it can help plan your vacation!

We also hope that you enjoy the beauty Japan has to offer with their magnificent cherry trees! It is truly a great time to experience Japan that not many get to have.

Safe travels!


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Japan Cherry Blossom Season

Japan Travel Tips

15 Best Temples in Kyoto

temple in kyoto

15 Best Temples in Kyoto

There are over 1600 temples in Kyoto and I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to see every one on your trip to Kyoto!

That is why I have listed 15 of the best temples in Kyoto, to narrow it down for you and so that you can make the most out of your time in Kyoto.

This list of 15 best temples in Kyoto consists of:

  • Popular, touristy temples
  • Unique temples
  • Quieter, Peaceful Temples

If you want more ideas on what to do in Kyoto, check out our other post, talking about 7 Top Things to do in Kyoto. 

There is more to do than see ancient temples in Kyoto, including seeing a Monkey Park!

With that being said, lets start with the most popular temples in Kyoto!

The Popular, Touristy, but Beautiful Temples

Below are the 4 most popular temples in Kyoto that go from number 1 most crowded to the number 4 most crowded.

Though these temples can get overcrowded, sometimes you can get away with the crowds if you go at the right time.

Generally with touristy temples, it is best to go right when it opens or an hour before closing.

Though there still might be a few people during that time, it’ll still be better than the peak crowd times, which is usually midday.

Admission:

  • Grounds: Free
  • Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaizando: 400 yen
  • Houjo Garden: 400 yen

Below are 5 temples that have very unique features to them and still make the list of the best temples in Kyoto. Most of these unique temples tend to be a bit quieter than the touristy ones. So you shouldn’t have to worry about crowds too much with these ones.

5) Honen-in Temple

Honen-in was founded in honor of monk Honen, who founded the Pure Land sect of Buddhism.

This temple is particularly known for its moss covered gate and garden.

Once you enter through the moss gate, you’ll cross a stone bridge over a pond. Then you’ll get to discover and explore the moss garden.

Come here to go for a peaceful stroll and relax.

Hours: 6am-4pm

Admissions: Free

honen-in temple surrounded by trees

6) Adashino Nembutsu-ji Temple

Nembutu-ji Temple is a particularly unique temple in Kyoto, consisting of 8,000 Buddhist statues. Each statue was placed here in memory of those who died without family members to remember them.

Each year, the grounds are lit on the evenings of August 23 and 24 to hold a ceremony.

This impressive temple is placed at the edge of a bamboo grove and gives you a break from all the crowds.

Hours: 9am-4:30pm March to November (open until 3:30pm December to February)

Admission: 500 yen

nembutsu-ji temple statues

7) Shoju-in Temple

Shoju-in is a very unique temple that is popular among Instagram lovers.

What visitors love most about this temple, is its heart-shaped window, called “inome”. Inome is a Japanese pattern that is believed to bring happiness and avoid disaster.

One of the best times to visit the temple is when the heart-shape reflects a sunlit heart on the ground, which will usually occur between 3pm and 4pm.

Another attraction at the temple is the ceiling with 160 unique paintings.

Though this place is a little on the outskirts of Kyoto, the heart and painted ceiling make this temple a very unique sight to see!

Hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm

Admission: 400 yen (includes tea)

heart in bushes

Not picture of Shoju-in Temple

8) Rengeo-in Sanjusangendo Temple

Rengeo-in is famous for its bright orange structure and 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy.

The statues are of 1000-armed Kannon to help fight the suffering of humans.

They also consist of 11 heads to better see whom is suffering.

If you happen to be here on January 15, be sure to check out the annually held archery competition called kyudo that is held here at the site of the temple!

Hours:

  • 8am – 5pm April to Mid November
  • 9am-4pm November 16 – March 31

Admission: 600 yen

Rangeo-in Sanjusangendo statues

10) Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryu-ji, located in the Arashiyama mountains, is considered a world heritage site and is ranked number 1 of Kyoto’s five great Zen temples.

There are many buildings and a beautiful garden featuring a pond surrounded by rocks and forested trees. The beautiful, inspiring nature helped it make this list of best temples in Kyoto. Come here to relax and explore the grounds.

Hours: 8:30am to 5:30pm (open until 5pm Late October to Late March)

Admission:

  • Grounds: Free
  • Hojo Garden: 500 yen
  • Hodo: 500 yen

tenryu-ji temple garden

11) Ninna-ji Temple

Ninna-ji was founded in 888 by the reigning emperor.

The temple is most famous for the Goten, which was the former residence of a head priest.

Goten is built with inspiration behind imperial palaces featuring painted sliding doors.

Surrounding the temple is beautiful rock and pond gardens, which contain late-blooming cherry trees.

The best time to see these trees in bloom is usually mid April.

Hours: 9am-5pm (open until 4:30pm December to February)

Admission:

  • Grounds: Free (expect cherry blossom season, 600 yen)
  • Goten Palace Buildings: 500 yen

ninna-ji temple with cherry blossom trees

12) Jojakko-ji Temple

Jojakko-ji temple is a quieter temple in Kyoto, making it a great place to escape the crowds.

To make the best use of your time here, go to the 12 meter tall pagoda, surrounded by trees, which give a nice scenic overlook of the city and Arashiyama mountains.

Though it is beautiful year round, one of the best times to see Jojakko-ji is during autumn season to see over 200 maple trees. Though there might be more people than usual at this time.

Hours: 9am-5pm

Admission: 400 yen

jojakko-ji temple during autumn season

13) Daitoku-ji Temple

Daitoku-ji is a large Zen Buddhist complex that is surrounded by walls.

This site consists of about 24 subtemples and a variety of Zen gardens within the walls. Only about 4 of the subtemples are open to the public, except when the others have temporary openings.

Koto-in is especially a nice subtemple to see during the autumn season.

Because this temple is quieter and little out of the way, the best time to visit is when other famous temples are busiest, which is usually midday.

Hours: 9am-5pm (open until 4:30pm December to February)

Admission: Free

daitoku-ji temple with trees surrounding path

14) Shoren-in Temple

Shoren-in is located at the base of Higashiyama mountains.

This temple is considered a monzeki temple, which is a temple where the head priest was a member of the imperial family.

A walking route will take you through the various temples and gardens, which have a very peaceful atmosphere.

A really good time to see the temple is during the spring and autumn, when illuminations are held at night. The illuminations look magnificent along with the cherry blossom trees and autumn foliage.

Hours: 9am-5pm (and 6pm-10pm during spring and autumn illuminations)

Admission: 500 yen (800 yen for illuminations)

shoren-in temple during the day

15) Kennin-ji Temple

Kennin-ji is located near Gion, which is a famous geisha district.

This temple was founded by a Buddhist monk who introduced Zen Buddhism and tea to Japan, which he learned through his studies in China.

Founded in 1202, this Zen temple consists of large halls, gates, and over 20 smaller structures.

As you walk through, you’ll notice dragons which where painted on the ceilings and sliding doors of some of the buildings.

kennin-ji temple dragons

While here, be sure to also enjoy the rock and moss gardens.

Hours: 10am-7pm (open until 4:30pm November to February)

Admission: 500 yen

kennin-ji temple during the day


I hope you enjoyed reading this list of top 15 temples in Kyoto! Which one do you want to see most?

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Best Temples in Kyoto

 

Japan Travel Tips

Japan Flower Festival: 5 Unique Festivals You Must See

nemophila japan flower festival

Japan Flower Festival: 5 Unique Festivals You Must See

When spring dawns in Japan, its surrounding areas become beautifully adorned by a variety of blooming flowers. And what other way to celebrate spring than to hold a Japan Flower Festival!

It is at this time of the year when multiple Japan flower festivals are held all across the country to welcome this beautiful season!

The Japanese recognize the act of admiring flowers using the term “hanami”, meaning “flower viewing”. And it is fairly common to see the Japanese gather with their friends and family and have picnics or “parties” in the surrounding blooming flowers.

If you are in Japan during spring, be sure to check out these 5 unique Japan flower festivals below!

Alright lets get to it!

Japan flower festival at chidorigafuchi

1. Cherry Blossom Festival

The most celebrated Japan flower festival among both locals and tourists is the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The cherry blossom, known as ‘sakura’ in Japanese language, is a widely celebrated flower in Japan symbolizing purity, life, and friendship. There are various places in Japan to see the sakura flowers.

Tokyo is one of the most popular places to go “hanami” viewing. A few of the best spots to see the cherry blossoms in Tokyo are:

  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
  • Ueno Park
  • Yoyogi Park
  • Chidorigafuchi
  • Sumida Park

If you want to see any of these parks, view the $30 Tokyo Itinerary here, which features these parks with opening/closing hours, suggestion time to go, suggested duration, and admission fees.

Japan flower festival at ueno park

Another beautiful place to view the sakura flowers is at Mount Yoshino in Nara Prefecture. This is the most popular spot in all of Japan to see the flowers since it contain over 30,000 cherry blossom trees.

If you go, be sure to take a stroll along the roads leading up the mountainside. You’ll be sure to have a very peaceful stroll not many in this world get to experience.

Japan flower festival at mount yoshino

Though the cherry blossom is one of the most popular flowers to see, it only blooms for 2-3 weeks, making these flowers even more special. The timing of the bloom is dependent on weather conditions, such as temperature, wind and rain.

So if you are visiting Japan to see these beautiful pink flowers, be sure to check the predictions often made by Japan weather agencies. This is so you can get the latest updates on the specific location you will be visiting during your trip.

2. Nemophila (Baby Blue Eyes) Festival

The Baby Blue Eyes Japan Flower Festival is known as ‘Nemophila Harmony’ and is held every year at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture. The Hitachi Seaside Park offers an amazing sight of over 4.5 million baby blue-colored flowers spanning over hillsides, which mimic the nearby waves of the ocean.

These pale blue and white flowers bloom between the months of late April to mid May, after Cherry Blossom Season. Walk along the small paths through these hills and discover the immense beauty that these baby blue flowers have to offer.

Hitachi Seaside Park is usually open from 9:30am to 5pm, so plan accordingly.

Also, the weekends tend to be very crowded when the flowers bloom, so if you can, go during the weekday instead!

nemophila japan flower festival

 

3. Great Wisteria Festival

The Great Wisteria Festival is held in the largest garden of Japan at Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture.

This unique park features 350 different wisteria trees with flowers that hang low from the trees, creating colorful tunnels to walk through.

The various colors of the wisteria flowers include pink, purple, white, blue, and lavender, which is the color that blooms the most.

This garden is also home to the oldest wisteria tree in Japan, aging over 140 years old now.

Be sure to catch this Japan flower festival between mid April to mid May. Expect the garden to be very crowded, even during the weekdays.

wisteria Japan flower festival

4. Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Known as pink moss or phlox moss, Shibazakura is another widely celebrated flower in Japan.

The Fuji Shibazakura Festival takes place at Fuji Motosuko Resort at the base of Mt. Fuji, which is near the Fuji Five Lake Region.

There are over 800,000 of these beautiful flowers with various shades of pink.

And on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji as the backdrop, which offers a once in a lifetime magnificent sight.

The best chance of viewing Mount Fuji is of course on a clear day and early in the morning. But, even if you don’t get to see Mount Fuji, the pink moss spreading over the vast area is still a great sight to be seen.

This Japan flower festival usually takes place from mid April to late May. Avoid going during Golden Week and the weekends since this Japan flower festival can get really crowded.

fuji shibazakura japan flower festival

5. Tonami Tulip Fair

Another very unique Japan flower festival worth visiting is the Tonami Tulip Fair, which takes place at Tonami city in Toyama Prefecture.

Tonami Tulip Fair features nearly 3 million tulips of all colors and varieties neatly displayed in rows. The park features various walking paths, bridges, and a river running throughout.

In addition to walking through the paths of this garden, you can also try delicious food and purchase souvenirs from the stalls here.

Also be sure to check out the dancing, singing, and fashion shows held here at the park!

The colorful tulips bloom for just a short two weeks. The expected dates for the bloom in 2019 are from April 22nd (Monday) – May 5th (Sunday). The hours of the park are from 8:30am – 5:30pm.

tonami tulip japan flower festival

Spring – The Best Time to Go to Japan

Spring is undeniably the best time to visit Japan because you not only get to enjoy the blooming flowers but also can tour around the country without worrying about bad weather.

A Japan flower festival marks the importance of nature to Japanese people and how they treasure this wonderful time of the year. You will find most of them outdoors enjoying the blooming flowers with their family and friends.

Be sure to join them at the various flower festivals Japan has to offer for an unforgettable and colorful experience!

japan flower festival at imperial palace

Which Japan flower festival do you want to experience the most? For me personally I would love to see the Cherry Blossom and Baby Blue Eye Festivals!

Remember to leave a comment below and tell us which Japan Flower Festival you want to see most!

 

Japan Travel Tips

How to Plan Your Tokyo Trip Itinerary

Chidorigafuchi Park in cherry blossom season

How to Plan Your Tokyo Trip Itinerary

Planning a Tokyo Trip Itinerary is fun. You get to discover all the exciting things Tokyo has to offer and get more excited waiting for the moment to come when you’re finally there in Tokyo. But planning an itinerary to Tokyo is also very time consuming! It is especially difficult if you are going to Japan for the first time.

However, I am still here to take you step-by-step in how to plan a personalized Tokyo Trip Itinerary.

Tokyo City Lights at night

I’ve been to Tokyo and it was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had in my lifetime. My favorite memory is waking up at 4am and walking down the quiet streets of Tokyo while the rest of the city was still sleeping or getting ready to wake up. It was a very surreal moment, especially since Tokyo is such a busy city. But its moments like these really made my trip to Tokyo special.

However, there were a couple mistakes along the way of my trip that I wish I had known beforehand, such as not giving myself more time for certain activities.

This is why I made this 8 Step Guide for you. Here is a brief overview of the guide:

  1. Research Attractions in Tokyo
  2. Gather Every Activity you Like, Write in Document, and Decide Priority Level
  3. Research Opening/Closing Times and Prices
  4. Place Mark Each Activity in My Maps with Google Maps
  5. Decide Your Activities for Each Day and Place Them in Order
  6. Research Food – Restaurants, Cafes, Markets, Snacks
  7. Research Hotels in Tokyo
  8. Finally, Book Hotel and Flight

 

8 Step Guide

1. Research Attractions in Tokyo

The very first thing you should do for your Tokyo Trip Itinerary is research all of the activities and attractions that Tokyo has to offer.

People like Japan for different reasons. Maybe you want to explore the ancient temples and gardens Tokyo has to offer. Or maybe you want to see the ultramodern side of Japan by going shopping and and experience the busy streets and bright lights of Tokyo city. Or you could just experience a bit of everything!

Whatever it may be, choose which activities appeal to you the most. I suggest looking at TripAdvisor if you want to see reviews people have on the activity you are interested in.

From my personal experience, my favorite activities in Tokyo included:

  • Exploring the streets of the city in the early morning and night
    • including going to Shibuya Intersection, the busiest crossing in the world!
  • Nakamise street and Senso-ji temple (Go early if you want to see it!)
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
  • Going to Akihabara to see otaku culture
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
  • Cat Cafe Mocha
  • Tokyo City View Observation Deck, Roppongi Hills

Nakamise Street in Tokyo

 

2. Gather Every Activity you Like, Write in Document, and Decide Priority Level

 

After you have done some research on the activities you want to do, write all of them down in a document, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

I suggest deeming each activity as high, medium or low priority to you. This is just in case you get to Tokyo, and realize you don’t have enough time to do all activities on your list (and in that case you could skip the low priority activities) or just in case you want to extend your time for particular high priority activities.

I also did not decide on priority levels for my trip to Tokyo, but I wish I did.  Looking back, I was too focused on getting from one activity to the next, making sure I saw everything. I was rushing and did not take the time to fully take in and appreciate experiences I was having. That is one of my biggest regrets from my trip and I do not want you to experience the same thing.

Figure out which activities you really want to focus on. However, keep in mind that your perception of the activities could change once you get to Tokyo, so be prepared to change your plans a bit just in case.

a street in tokyo at night with lanterns

 

3. Research Opening/Closing Times and Prices

 

After you’ve written each activity down and marked their priority level, research the hours the activities open and close.

Various attractions, such as temples, gardens, and stores, all open and close at different times. You need to know the hours of your activities so you can plan them in the right order. Avoid the mistake of arriving to an activity that closed a couple hours ago!

If you want to keep track of your budget, then I suggest writing down entrance fees of each activity as well. Then at the end, you can add it all up to see how much you would be spending.

Go to Google and type in “yen to dollar” to see the conversion rates.

Chidorigafuchi Park in cherry blossom season

 

4. Place Mark Each Activity in My Maps with Google Maps

Now use the Map Maps feature in Google Maps to place mark each activity.

Adding a place marker for all the activities will allow you to get an overview and an idea of the routes you should be taking each day in Tokyo Trip Itinerary.

If you really want to be detailed, you can change the colors of the place marker for each activity to differentiate the priority level you chose for the activity. For example, you can choose an orange color for high priority activities, blue for medium priority, and grey for low priority.

 

5. Decide Your Activities for Each Day and Place Them in Order

After you’ve placed every activity on My Maps, you can decide the order of when you go to the activities. Look at your map and see which activities make sense to go to in order for each day in Tokyo.

But be aware of the opening/closing times of your choices when you’re planning the order!

You may also want to consider which attractions are most popular. The more popular attractions, such as Nakamise Street and Senso-ji Temple, tend to get very busy late morning and midday.

It is best to go as early as possible to attractions like these. Check the time it opens and be there at that time.

The best experiences I’ve had in Japan were ones where there weren’t too many people there. Overcrowded attractions tend to take away the personal experience for me.

So plan the highly popular activities first in your day (or possibly even later at night), and see from there on your map which activity makes sense to go to next. I did this for a couple of days in my Tokyo Trip Itinerary.

 

6. Research Food – Restaurants, Cafes, Markets, Snacks

 

Now that the base of your Tokyo Trip Itinerary is planned out with activities, you can choose which restaurants you would like to try out! And trust me, the food in Tokyo was some of the best I have ever had!

Planning out your meals is completely optional because in all honesty, you can just walk into any restaurant or food stand in Tokyo and the food will be GOOD.

But, here are two ways you can plan out your meals if you’d like:

  1. One way is to research, say on TripAdvisor, the best restaurants, cafes, or whatever it may be in the general area of Tokyo. Choose the places you want to try most and give them a place marker in your map from My Maps. Now see which activity the restaurant is closest to. Now you know to go to that restaurant before or after the activities it is nearby.
  2. The second way it to research the best restaurants by specific location. For example, you can research best restaurants in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Once you have found some, give them a place marker in your map. So now you can plan to eat at that restaurant whenever you are doing activities in Shinjuku.

Again, planning out your meals is optional.

I did plan out a few restaurants like Good View Tokyo Restaurant in Mori Tower. But the times I didn’t plan them out, I still fully enjoyed my meals.

You can choose to just walk into a random restaurant, and I guarantee you the food will be good! Every restaurant I walked into was delicious.

Food Shops in Tokyo

 

7. Research Hotels in Tokyo

Now you can research hotels in Tokyo that fit your needs most.

For my Tokyo Trip itinerary, I personally liked using booking.com to research hotels. This site will lay out each hotel option in Tokyo, which you can choose to organize by top picks, price, reviews, and more.

If you can, I suggest finding a hotel that is in the middle of all your planned activities so that it makes transportation a little easier.

Transportation in Tokyo is actually the best I have ever experienced. You can get from one activity to the next within 5 – 30 minutes on the subway trains. Their trains are very convenient and efficient allowing you to get anywhere in a quick amount of time.

One of the things I really appreciated about all of the hotels, is that they will usually take your luggage before the check-in time. This is super helpful when your walking around in Tokyo because you do not want to be lugging around your suitcase everywhere, especially in the trains.

Sometimes it can get very crowded in the trains, especially during Tokyo morning rush hour. I ran into rush hour the very first morning in Tokyo and I had a somewhat large suitcase with me. I felt very in the way, which was a little embarrassing!

So be sure to pack a small suitcase.

One other thing you should note is that usually hotel rooms are pretty small in Tokyo. But that doesn’t mean it still can’t be nice. I had a great experience staying at the APA Hotel Hanzomon. The staff service was excellent and the rooms were very clean.

 

8. Finally, Book Hotel and Flight

 

Once you’ve laid out your plan for each day in your Tokyo Trip itinerary, you can now take the final steps by booking your hotel and flight! The earlier you book is usually the better.

Do your research and see which sites have the best offers for your flight. You may decide you want to do a layover instead of a direct flight since it is a lot cheaper.

I highly suggest flying into Haneda Airport when you arrive in Tokyo since it is closer to central Tokyo. It will most likely be closer to all the activities in your Tokyo Trip Itinerary.

If you plan on going to more places in Japan other than Tokyo, I would consider buying a JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass). It’ll make transportation between prefectures a lot easier.

Tokyo niglhtlife


We hope this 8 step process makes it easier to plan your trip to Tokyo!

 

Japan Travel Tips

Japanese Words to Know When Visiting Japan

Japanese Words to Know When Visiting Japan

Are you traveling to Japan and want to know useful words while there? If so you are in the right place. I will list out and explain the most useful Japanese words to know when visiting Japan. I want to be sure you are all set to go before your amazing trip to Japan!

This article is perfect for you if you have not learned Japanese or if you know just a little bit of it. I went to Japan myself in 2018, and started learning Japanese a few months beforehand. 

When I was trying to speak a little Japanese to the locals, they noticeably and greatly appreciated the effort. I got into some of the best conversations with them just because I was trying a little to speak their language.

japanese woman working at a restaurant

 

Do you absolutely need to speak some Japanese in order to get around in Japan? No you do not. However, I ran into some instances where a few locals could not speak any English at all. And I was so thankful that I knew a little bit, especially the basics.

I believe the words and phrases below can benefit you greatly, especially if you want to try to connect with Japanese people a little bit. And trust me, they will LOVE you if you try!

To hear pronunciations of the Japanese words, I recommend using Forvo.com. Just type the Japanese word in, and you’ll be able to hear natives from Japan pronounce the words for you.

 

 

Greetings

group of japanese women waving hi

Hello, Good Afternoon – Konnichiwa

“Konnichiwa” can be used as a general greeting to say “hi”. It can also mean “good afternoon”. It’s okay to say “konnichiwa” at any time of day for foreigners because the Japanese will probably not expect you to know specific greetings, like good morning and good evening. But if you want to know specific greetings for time of day and impress the Japanese, I’ve listed them below!

 

Good Morning – Ohayo Gozaimasu

“Ohayo gozaimasu” is a polite way of saying “good morning”. It’s important to note that when pronouncing “gozaimasu”, the “u” at the end is for the most part silent.

 

Good Evening – Konbanwa

“Konbanwa” is another polite word and is used to greet people in the evening.

 

 

Helpful, General Phrases and Words

Excuse Me, Pardon Me – Sumimasen

“Sumimasen” is a very common word to use in Japan. You can say “sumimasen” when you bump into someone or when you need to ask a question.

a crowd in japan

 

Please – Kudasai OR Onegai shimasu

“Kudasai” and “onegai shimasu” is both used when you are making a request.

Often times, you can use these two words interchangeably. “Onegai shimasu” is a slightly more polite and formal way of saying “please”. (Again, note that the “u” at the end of “shimasu” is pretty silent).

For example, when asking for water (which is mizu), say:

“mizu o kudasai” or

“mizu onegai shimasu”

There are certain, specific situations in which it’s better to use one word over the other, but since you’re a foreigner, it doesn’t really matter. And for the sake of simplicity, I will leave it at that.

If you want to know the specifics and the differences between “kudasai” and “onegai shimasu”, you can check it out at Japanese Pod 1o1.

 

I don’t understand – Wakarimasen

“Wakarimasen” is a very important phrase if you do not really speak any Japanese. If a Japanese person is talking to you in their language and you don’t speak Japanese, just say “wakarimasen” and they should get the message.

 

 

English – Eigo

I would use “eigo” to communicate that you either you speak English or that you want the Japanese person to speak English.

If you want to be more polite and specific, and you would like them to speak English, just say “eigo de hanasemasu ka?”, which means “Can you possibly speak English?”.

“Hanasemasu” means “speak” and “ka” is basically just a word to indicate you are asking a question.

mount fuji with fog rising above lake

I’m sorry – Gomen nasai

Use “gomen nasai” when you have clearly done something wrong. It’s similar to “sumimasen”, however, “sumimasen” is more of a subtle sorry, like when you bump into someone. And “gomen nasai” is just a more straightforward “I’m sorry”.

 

Fine – Daijoubu

“Daijoubu” can be used to tell someone that you are fine or to say “that’s okay”. It can often times mean “no thanks” as well.

For example, if a waiter asks or signals to you if you want more water, you would say “daijoubu” or “daijoubu desu”, to mean “no thanks, I’m fine”.

(“desu” just means “it is” or “to be” in Japanese. It’s polite to use “desu”.)

two japanese men walking down a street in tokyo

Yes – Hai

“Hai” is a simple, straight forward “yes”. You can also use “hai” to say you are acknowledging something. Like “yes, I understand”.

 

No – Iie

“Iie” is a direct “no”, but I would advise you not to use this since Japanese language is very polite and they do not like to be very direct.

Instead of saying “iie”, say “daijoubu desu”.  Another alternative is “kekko desu”, which means “no, thanks”.

 

 

Questions

japanese man making food

How much? – Ikura? 

Say  “ikura?” or more formally “ikura desu ka?” when asking how much something costs.

 

Where? – Doko?

Say “doko” when asking where something is.

For example, if you want to know where the bathroom is, you can simply say, “toire, doko?” and they will get the message (toire means toilet/bathroom).

But if you want to speak more formally and grammatically correct, you can say “sumimasen, toire wa doko desu ka?”

 

 

Places

Restaurant – Resutoran

woman cooking in a japanese restaurant

Pronouncing “resutoran” is very similar to the English word “restaurant”.

You can use this word when asking where a restaurant is. For example, you can say “resutoran, doko?” Or more formally, “sumimasen, resutoran wa doko desu ka?”

If you want to ask where a good restaurant is specifically, the word for “good” is “ii”. So you can say, ” ii resutoran wa doko desu ka?”. Or more simply, “ii resutoran, doko?”.

 

Toilet/Bathroom – Toire

“Toire” is a very important term to know! If you just say “toire?” or “toire, doko?”, the message will get across easily that you’re trying to find a bathroom.

Again, if you want to say it more formally and grammatically correct, say “toire wa doko desu ka?”.

 

Convenience Store – Konbini

the store front of a family mart in japan

So once again with the “doko” word, you can say “konbini” along with “doko” to ask where a convenience store is. For example, say “konbini wa doko desu ka?”. Or more simply, “konbini, doko?”.

There are three main “konbini” I saw in Japan. When I went, I mostly saw 7-11, Family Mart, and Lawson. So keep an eye out for those three.

Also, I would definitely take advantage of the convenience stores there. They are more high end and more useful than the American ones! They actually have some good, healthy food available, as well as useful things you may need like batteries.

 

Train Station – Eki

people waiting for a train in japan

Knowing “eki” is useful if you want to know where the train station is. When travelling in Japan, you will probably get around the most by trains.

To ask someone, just say, “eki, doko?”. Or “eki wa doko desu ka?”.

 

Hotel – Hoteru

The word, “hoteru” is a borrowed word from English, just like “resutoran”. Use this word, when asking where a hotel is.

Say “hoteru, doko?”. Or more formally, “sumimasen, hoteru wa doko desu ka?”.

 

Airport – Kuukou

Say “kuukou, doko?” if you want to know where the closest airport is.

You probably won’t need to ask this, but just in case I wrote it here for you. I highly suggest using Google Maps to find where things are.

 

 

This and That

 

This – Kore

That – Sore

When pointing out something, such as on a menu (menyuu), you can just point to what you want and say “kore”. To be more polite, say “kore o kudasai”.

If you are pointing towards something that’s closer to the listener (the person you are talking to), just point and say “sore o kudasai”. Or more simply, “sore”.

In most cases, you’ll need to use “kore” a lot more than “sore”. I used it a lot when pointing to a menu of what I wanted.

 

 

Objects

Yen – En

 

The Japanese currency is yen. The word in Japanese (en) is very similar to the word in English so it should be easy to use and remember. Look out for the yen symbol   to see what the price of something is.

Bonus Info: It’s important to note that when you’re travelling to Japan, you need to always have cash on hand. Credit cards at not used nearly as much as in the U.S..

Go to any local 7-11 in Japan, and they have atms for you there to cash out you’re money. I recommend, if you’re from the U.S., to take out a few hundred dollars at a time. 1 Japanese yen is equal to 0.0089 of 1 U.S. dollar.

 

 

Water – Mizu

 

If you would like to ask for more water at a restaurant, say “mizu o kudasai”. Or more simply, “mizu”.

The Japanese tend to drink out of very small water cups, so you might need to ask for more water at some point!

Menu – Menyuu

The word “menyuu” in Japanese is another borrowed word from English, so it sounds very similar. I do not think you will need to use this word, but just in case, you can easily remember it.

 

Food – Tabemono

a japanese meal

“Tabemono” refers to food in general.

 

Drink – Nomimono

“Nomimono” refers to any type of drink.

 

Transportation

Train – Densha

train in japan

Trains will be you’re main method of transportation in Japan. If you want to find a certain train, you can use the word “densha” and point to whatever train you might need on a map.

I recommend using Google Maps to get around Japan. It’ll tell you the train times and where to catch them.

 

Taxi – Takushi

a taxi in japan

If you want to find a taxi, you can say “takushi” and you’re message will get across clearly.

Most of the time, I used trains to travel around Japan. I only used a taxi once.

 

 

Adjectives (Just for Fun)

Cute – Kawaii

hello kitty stuffed animals

“Kawaii” – one of the most common Japanese words! Japan is known for the culture of cuteness and this is where “kawaii” comes into play.

You can say “kawaii” to anything you find cute. Generally, the guys in Japan do not use it as much as women and girls.

Some examples of what you might call “kawaii” are merchandise items like cute characters or fashion items.

 

Cool – Sugoi

“Sugoi” is the equivalent to saying cool, wow, great, or amazing! It’s a word you say when you are hit with excitement of some sort.

Interestingly, “sugoi” can sometimes be used in a negative context to mean “horrible” or “terrible”. It all just depends on the context.

 

Delicious – Oishii

japanese dessert

You can say “oishii” when you find something to taste delicious! I found this word very fun to use when I went to Japan.

 

Cold – Samui

snow scene in northern yatsugatake

“Samui” is used to say it’s cold outside. It’s usually only used in terms of weather.

If you want to say that an object feels cold, you can say “tsumetai”.

 

Hot – Atsui

 

“Atsui” can refer to hot weather or hot objects.

Remember At Least These 8 Words

The words above are ones I recommend you use while in Japan. You absolutely do not need to remember all of them, though they are pretty useful.

Some Japanese people know a little English, and some do not know ANY English. I came across people who couldn’t speak any of it, especially in more rural areas of Japan.

However, there are 8 basic ones that I highly recommend you definitely remember and use, which are:

 

Hello – Konnichiwa

Excuse Me – Sumimasen

Please – Kudasai OR Onegai shimasu

I don’t understand – Wakarimasen

Yes – Hai

Where? – Doko?

Toilet/bathroom – Toire

This – Kore

 

I ended up using these 8 words the most while in Japan. So if you remember any, at least remember these 8 words! Or if not, you can have it on hand in your phone for a reference.

 

By the way, one word you will here Japanese people say a lot is irasshaimase, which means welcome in Japanese. They will say this anytime you enter a store or whatever it may be. 

 

 

In Review

Here is a list to sum all of the words up:

 

Greetings:

Hello, Good Afternoon – Konnichiwa

Good Morning – Ohayo Gozaimasu

Good Evening – Konbanwa

 

Helpful Phrases/Words:

Excuse Me – Sumimasen

Please – Kudasai or Onegai shimasu

I don’t understand – Wakarimasen

English – Eigo

I’m Sorry – Gomen nasai

Fine – Daijoubu

Yes – Hai

No – Iie

 

Questions:

How much? – Ikura?

Where? – Doko?

 

Places:

Restaurant – Resutoran

Toilet/Bathroom – Toire

Convenience Store – Konbini

Train Station – Eki

Hotel – Hoteru

Airport – Kuukou

 

This – Kore

That – Sore

 

Objects:

Yen – En

Water – Mizu

Menu – Menyuu

Food – Tabemono

Drink – Nomimono

 

Transportation:

Train – Densha

Taxi – Takushi

 

Adjectives:

Cute – Kawaii

Cool  – Sugoi

Delicious – Oishii

Cold – Samui

Hot – Atsui

 

 

Test Yourself

If you would like to test yourself, here is the list without the English translation:

 

Greetings:

Konnichiwa

Ohayo Gozaimasu

Konbanwa

 

Helpful Phrases/Words:

Sumimasen

KudasaiOnegai shimasu

Wakarimasen

Eigo

Gomen nasai

Daijoubu

Hai

Iie

 

Questions:

Ikura?

Doko?

 

Places:

Resutoran

Toire

Konbini

Eki

Hoteru

Kuukou

 

Kore

Sore

 

Objects:

En

Mizu

Menyuu

Tabemono

Nomimono

 

Transportation:

Densha

Takushi

 

Adjectives:

Kawaii

Sugoi

Oishii

Samui

Atsui

 


I hope you are able to learn and use these useful Japanese words and phrases! Please let me know if the comments if you have ANY questions! Remember, I have been to Japan myself and will gladly give any advice I have.

 

kana flashcardsWant to learn Japanese? Check out White Rabbit Japan. If you go under their Japanese Language Tab, then you’ll find lots of useful resources. If you buy through this link, it will greatly support this website. Any support is greatly appreciated 🙂

I personally think the flashcards they have will be very useful if you’re a beginner or not a beginner. If you are a beginner, then take a look at the Kana Flashcards Deck. If not, I suggest the Kanji Flashcards.

 

cover for winter in japan top things to doAre you interested about Winter in Japan? If so, check out this post here that will talk about the top things to do if you’re traveling during Winter.

 

 

cover for nikko japan top things to doCheck this post if you would like to know what to do in Nikko, Japan! It’s a more less known place to travel to and is just a 2 hour train ride from Tokyo.

Japan Travel Tips

Visit Kyoto: 7 Things to Do

ginkakuji temple

Visit Kyoto: 7 Things to Do

 

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan back until 1868, is a great place to experience Japan and Japanese culture. Kyoto is famous for its temples, shrines, traditional wooden houses, geisha women, and for its intricate cuisine! So here are 7 things to do when you visit Kyoto (not in any particular order).

 

 

1) Explore Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines

 

Fushimi Inari-taisha

fushimi inari taisha pathway

 

Fushimia Inari-taisha is a Shinto shrine honoring Inari, the god of rice, harvest, and business. Each torii gate is donated by a Japanese person or business in hopes of good fortune.

 

Additionally, you will find fox statues placed around the shrine since foxes are known to be messengers of the god Inari.

 

This vibrant orange shrine sits at the base of Inari mountain with trails leading upwards and can take several hours to hike.

 

Be sure to go to Fushimi Inari as early as you can or at night time since this attraction is very popular among tourists. This will ensure you’ll have a more relaxing time to explore the trails among the deep green forests of the mountain.

 

 

Kiyomizu-dera

People on Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the Fall

 

Kiyomizu-dera, meaning “pure water temple”, is a Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. It gets it’s name from the pure waters falling from the nearby waterfall. Visitors will come to drink the pure water in tin cups in hopes for success, longevity, and health.

 

The temple sits upon a mountain with a deck offering a great view of Kyoto city. This wooden deck is part of what makes this temple so popular. It’s made with 168 wooden pillars from century old trees and cypress boards for the deck without the use of any nails.

 

Get the opening and closing times here: Kiyomizu-dera Hours

 

 

Kinkakuji Temple

kinkakuji temple with reflection over large pond

 

When you visit Kyoto, you have to see the famous Kinkakuji Temple, or otherwise known as the “Golden Pavilion”. The top two floors of this zen temple are completely covered in gold leaves, which makes this structure so unique.

 

What also makes this temple interesting is that each floor uses a different style of architecture. The use of gold leaves and unique architecture along with the magnificent views of the reflection upon the large pond make it a must see.

 

Here are the opening times: Kinkakuji Hours

 

 

Ginkakuji Temple

ginkakuji temple with reflection over small pond

 

Ginkakuji Temple, or otherwise known as the “Silver Pavilion”, is modeled after the “Golden Pavilion” and sits at the base of mountains.

 

The site consists of the Silver Pavilion, other temple buildings, moss gardens, and a dry sand garden. You can view the whole thing by taking a pleasant walk around route it offers.

 

The best time to go is as soon as the temple opens or just before it closes so you can avoid the crowds and enjoy some peace as you explore.

 

Check out the opening and closing times here: Ginkakuji Hours

 

 

2) Visit the Samurai and Ninja Museum

samurai armor inside kyoto samurai and ninja museum

 

Samurai and ninja have roamed the streets of Kyoto from the Heian Period (794-1185) to the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868). The Samurai and Ninja Museum honors them and takes you back into time to get a glimpse of their lives.

 

You can take a tour for about 2 hours through all the rooms to learn about the history behind them, the swords and armor they used, and more. You’ll also have the option to throw a ninja star, try on samurai armor, and use a ninja blowgun! 

 

 

3) Go to Iwatayama Monkey Park

monkeys walking next to a pond at iwatayama monkey park

 

Iwatayama Monkey Park lies on Mount Arashiyama among the beautiful deep, green forests. The park inhabits around 170 wild Japanese Macaques, where you have the option to feed and observe them in their natural habitat.

 

Before you see the monkeys, you get to go on a short hike leading up to them, which will give you a great opportunity to enjoy the mountain’s nature.

 

 

4) Explore Gion district

people walking down gion district in kyoto at night

 

Gion is Kyoto’s most famous entertainment district, where if you’re lucky you can see geisha wandering the district. Geisha are Japanese women who entertain through performing traditional arts, dancing and singing. They wear traditional costumes and dramatic face makeup.

 

Along Gion District, you can find little shops, restaurants, and tea houses (known as “ochaya”) along with geisha. The District itself looks like old school Japan, which makes it a unique site to visit.

 

 

5) Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

 

Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove is a must see when you visit Kyoto. Walking through this bamboo forest will transition you into another world.

 

As you walk, you are surrounded completely with bright, tall green bamboo stalks towering over you. The best time to visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is early in the morning, since this place can get very packed with tourists. It’ll ensure you have some peace and quiet as you explore the magical forests.

 

 

6) Enjoy some good food!

Tofu

intricate tofu dish from tousuiro in kyoto

 

When you visit Kyoto, you have to try Kyoto’s tofu dishes. Tousuiro, specifically, is a good place to try a variety of tofu dishes and is located in an alley off of Kiyamachi street.

 

Matcha

matcha roll cake on a plate

 

Kyoto is one of the finest producers of matcha in Japan, which means you have to take advantage of matcha food and drinks while you visit Kyoto!

 

There are many matcha desserts to indulge in like, matcha tiramisu, matcha chocolate latte, or matcha roll cake. And of course, you have to try the traditional matcha tea!

 

A good place to try traditional Kyoto matcha tea is at Saryo Tsujiri, which is a traditional tea house located in Higashiyama, Kyoto.

 

 

Nishiki Market

man ordering food at nishiki market

 

Nishiki Market is a long shopping street consisting of over one hundred small shops and restaurants.  This popular market has everything from seafood to cookware like knives.

 

The market is operated by several families and has been around for several centuries. Make sure to take note of when the market opens and closes so you don’t go at the wrong time.

 

Here are the market’s hours: Nishiki Market Hours and Location 

 

 

7) Climb Mount Kurama and Relax in the Hot Spring

scenic view of trees and hills on mount kurama in kyoto

 

Mount Kurama offers lots of temples, dense green forests, and onsens (hot springs) to relax in. The main temple, Kurama-dera lays across the mountainside.

 

You can either take a cable car up the mountain or hike up the winding trail to explore and see more shrines. The main shrine at the top of the mountain offers magnificent views of the mountain and valleys below.

 

After exploring the mountain, you have the option to relax your muscles in the Kurama Onsen. They have indoor and outdoor baths to choose from. The outdoor onsens have an impressive, magical view overlooking the forests. The view is especially magical when it’s snowing!

 


 

Thank you for reading, I hope you discovered things you want to try when you visit Kyoto, Japan! Let me know in the comments what you want to try most!

 

Check out the top things to do in Nikko, Japan here! -> Nikko Japan: Top Things to Do

 

Learning Japanese? Check out my Japanese Words Daily Instagram page!

 

Japan Travel Tips

Nikko Japan: Top Things to Do

Nikko Japan: Top Things to Do

 

Nikko Japan is just 2 hours north of Tokyo, making it a very easy destination. Ideally you can make it a short 1 or 2 day trip.  Nikko has a lot to offer with beautiful mountain views, parks, shrines, temples, and waterfalls! So, to make it worth your time there, check out the top things to do below!

 

 

Toshogu Shrine

 

Nikko Japan, Toshogu Shrine

 

Toshogu Shrine is one of the top shrines to go to in Nikko Japan. The detailed architecture, colors of the buildings, history behind it, and the beautiful, deep green forest setting is what makes this shrine so unique.

 

The architecture of each individual building and the use of gold leaves to decorate is what makes Toshogu Shrine so stunning in Nikko Japan. You can see how detailed the wood engravings and colors are as you walk around this beautiful site.

 

Nikko Japan, Toshogu Shrine

 

What makes Toshogu Shrine so special is that it’s the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate until he died in 1616.  Tokugawa shogunate ruled Japan for over 250 years until 1868 when the Meiji Restoration occurred. Toshogu Shrine was originally a mausoleum (a building housing a deceased person) for Tokugawa Ieyasu and was enlarged in the 1600’s. It became a more complex and elaborate shrine offering beautifully decorated buildings. It’s a site you cannot miss!

 

 

Rinnoji Temple

 

Nikko Japan, Rinnoji Temple

 

Rinnoji temple is very special since it was founded by Shodo Shonin, a monk who introduced Buddhism to Nikko Japan in the 8th century.

 

Sanbutsudo, which is the main building, contains large wooden statues, decorated in gold, of the three mountain deities of Nikko Japan. The three deities are Buddhist manifestations of the three mountain kami (spirits) of Nikko. The deities are:

  1. Amida Buddha
  2. Senju-Kannon (“Kannon with a thousand arms”)
  3. Bato-Kannon (“Kannon with a horse head”)

 

Rinnoji temple also offers Buddhist and Tokugawa exhibits alongside a beautiful, small Japanese garden. The garden is especially popular in autumn due to the beautiful maple trees standing around the central pond.

Shinkyo Bridge

 

Nikko Japan, shinkyo bridge, Japanese bridge

 

Shinkyo Bridge is very popular in Nikko Japan for the magnificent views it offers and the history behind it.

 

This sacred, red bridge stands across the tumbling waters of Daiya River. Behind the bridge you can see pretty mountainous views and green hills. It stands at the entrance of Rinnoji temple, Toshogu shrine, and Futarasan shrine (a shrine dedicated to the three mountain deities of Nikko).

 

The bridge was built in 1636 for Shogun Generals and imperial messengers to cross.  Shinkyo Bridge is now open to the public since 1973 and is one of the finest bridges in Japan.

Kanmangafuchi Abyss

 

Nikko Japan , Kanmangafuchi Abyss

 

Kanmangafuchi Abyss is a gorge in central Nikko along with a great view of the river. The formation of the gorge was due to an eruption near Mount Nantai around 7,000 years ago.

 

As you walk along the running river, you’ll notice the magnificent views of vibrant green trees, bright blue waters, and large smooth rocks. It makes for a very pleasant walk!

 

Kanmangafuchi Abyss is also famous for the row of about 70 Jizo statues that stand alongside the river. The Jizo statues are Bodhisattva deities who care for travelers and lost souls. They are also known to be guardians of children.

 

NIkko Japan, Jizo statues, kanmangafuchi abyss

 

Legend has it that you can’t count the exact number of Jizo statues because each time you count, you get a different number due to some disappearing.

 

 

Kegon Falls

 

Nikko Japan, Kegon Waterfall, Kegon Falls

 

Kegon Falls is a powerful waterfall almost 100 meters tall in Nikko Japan. It is one of the most famous waterfalls in all of Japan along with two others (Nachi Waterfall and Fukuroda Waterfall).

 

The falling water from Lake Chuzenji creates a beautiful scene during all four seasons of the year. Winter, in particular, is a very cool time to see the Kegon Falls since the waters tend to freeze over during January and February.

 

Nikko Japan, Kegon waterfall frozen, Kegon falls frozen

 

Kegon Falls can be seen from a free observation platform and a paid platform. The paid one is at the base of the waterfall and offers a chance to see more spectacular views!

 

 

Explore the Town of Nikko

 

Nikko Japan street, nikko town

 

The town of Nikko offers a pleasant stroll with souvenir shops, food, and pretty views along the way.  The town has many restaurants and street food to enjoy. While there, you have to try the famous local food, yuba.  It’s tofu skin that you can eat raw or fried.

 

Taking a stroll through the town of Nikko is very pleasant since the town is well kept and clean. Plus the surrounding area offers spectacular mountain views!

 


Which activity would you want to do most? Let me know in the comments. My personal favorite was exploring Kanmangafuchi Abyss!

 

I have been to Nikko Japan, so please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments!

 

Want to know what Japan is famous for? Find out here -> What Japan is Famous For

 

Learning Japanese? Check out my Japanese Words Daily Instagram account!