Japan is an amazing country. With so much to see and do there, it can be hard to narrow down an itinerary when you’re travelling through it. If you’re planning on travelling through Japan as a couple with a Japan Rail Pass, there are certain things that you should add to your list.
From the incredible Okinawa to Nikko and Hakone, this list will take you through the top places you should visit!
Tucked away in the beautiful Japanese Alps, Shirakawa is something right out of a fairytale. Long isolated from the surrounding cities, this extraordinary travel destination is easy to reach by both bus and train. Filled with an abundance of Gassho-style houses, the natives live sustainably. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it showcases the fascinating history of Japan.
Want to experience the village in all of its glory? Then stay overnight in one of the picturesque Gassho houses.
Also known as the ‘Amsterdam of Japan’, Kurashiki boasts charming architecture and picturesque canals. The ideal place for couples to visit during their travels, it has numerous attractions, from the Ohara Museum of Art to Washuzan (the local amusement park) and the Achi Shrine.
Set in Japan’s Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, within easy reach of Tokyo (90 minutes to be specific), Hakone is infamous for its popular hot springs and views of the spell-binding Mt Fuji. For those visiting, there’s no better way to spend the day than within one of its onsen resorts. Whether you opt for Yunessun – known for its wine and coffee springs, Hotel Green Plaza Hakone with views out across the national park or another resort, you’re guaranteed a wonderful afternoon.
Alternatively, you can head to the Hakone Shrine, that overlooks the breathtaking Lake Ashi which you can view by boat or meet Japan’s most iconic entertainers – the Geisha.
Located in the entrance to Nikko National Park, Nikko is known for the lavishly decorated Toshogu Shrine and Tokugawa Leyasu’s mausoleum – the renowned founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate (the last feudal within the Japanese military). A centre for both Buddhist and Shinto worship, this beautiful national park has an abundance of hot springs, hiking trails, waterfalls and more.
The best time of the year to visit here is around Autumn when the leaves change to amazing colours.
Who doesn’t love Disney? Opened back in 1983, Tokyo Disneyland was famously the first Disney theme park to be built outside of the US. Beloved due to its two parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, it makes for an unforgettable trip with your partner.
With out-of-this-world theming, rides, parades and more, it will only cost you ¥7,500 (£53) to visit for one day. Boasting several areas including Westernland, Fantasyland, World Bazaar, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Mickey’s Toontown and Critter Country, there’s plenty to see and do there.
Situated within easy reach of Tokyo Yoyogi Park showcases the outstanding natural beauty of Japan. Featuring the Meiji Shrine, surrounded by a forest, it’s adorned by 100’s of Japanese couples and families. The temple itself has opulent decor, with one of the biggest torii gates on any temple.
Ryokan – A Traditional Japanese Inn
Want to experience Japan in all its glory? Then why not opt to stay in a traditional Ryokan. A Japanese style inn, they are found in numerous locations across the country, including Tokyo and Osaka. Presenting all that stays there with the opportunity to experience Japanese hospitality and lifestyle, it has Japanese style baths, scrumptious cuisine, futon beds and more.
With so many different types of Ryokans to choose from (each varying in style, cost and size), you’ll find the perfect one for your tastes – whether you opt for a smaller, family-run inn or a larger hotel-like one. Costing between ¥15,000 and ¥25,000 per person, per night it’s not the cheapest place to say. But for those wanting to discover the history and tradition of Japan, it’s well worth the investment.
Other places to stay:
Park Hyatt Hotel – Tokyo: Famous as the base for Lost in Translation, this stylish hotel offers views out over the city. And while it can be pricey, the chic decor, location and amenities are more than worth it.
Onyado Yuinosho: Encapsulating the simplicity of Japanese decor, this budget-friendly hotel is set in the middle of Shirakawa. A mixture of contemporary and traditional style, it boasts delicious food, welcoming staff and amazing views.
Dormy Inn Kurashiki: Fancy something a little more modern? Then Dormy Inn in Kurashiki is the ideal choice for you. With a hot spa, comfortable accommodation, a central location and other amenities, it makes an easy choice when in the area.
Okunoin Hotel Tokugawa: Looking to push the boat out? Then head to Okunoin Hotel Tokugawa. Within a 10-minute drive of Nikko Train Station, this Japanese Ryokan has a hot spring, chic rooms and other essential amenities.
Spend your time there unwinding in the hot spring bath, having a treatment within the spa or go hiking in one of the nearby trails.