questions & answers: itinerary check

travelling in japan from 27th dec to 3rd jan

Travelling in Japan from 27th Dec to 3rd Jan

I will be travelling in Japan from 27th Dec to 3rd Jan. This is my first time in Japan and would like some guidance with my itinerary.

I will arrive in Osaka on the 27th. The other cities I want to visit are Tokyo and Kyoto. Given that I only have 1 week, I hope this will be achievable.

I can't decide if I should stay in Tokyo or Osaka for NYE/NY, any suggestions?

This is my current draft:
27th to 30th in Osaka with a day trip to Kyoto in this period
31st to 3rd in Tokyo. Will need to travel back to Osaka on the 3rd to catch afternoon flight

I also heard that during this period, many shops are closed. Are major tourist attractions also closed?

And, should I get the 7 days JR pass for this itinerary?

Thanking you in advance for the many questions that I have!! =)

ewong
ewong

Hi there!

Here are some thoughts on your plans:

  1. Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka are very achievable within a 1 week period.
  2. About NY/NYE. I think I would stay in Osaka, and then visit Kyoto on NY day. It will be a great experience I think! (Tokyo is also a good choice if you have friends - aim to go to Shrines rather than Temples on that day!)
  3. Large shops and convenience stores are open over the new year period (1st-2nd), but some smaller specialist shops may be closed.
  4. As a 7 day JR Pass will be worthwhile if you do 1 return trip from Osaka to Tokyo you will certainly make savings with a 7 day pass, and will even be able to make good use of it on Tokyo.

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you so much for your prompt reply.

You mention that you would go to Kyoto in NY over Tokyo and Osaka, what is there to see and do in Kyoto on NY day? And what is the difference between a shrine and a temple?

We would like to visit the famous Tsukiji fish market, do you know what their opening hours are during the New Year period?

ewong
ewong

Hi there,

Shrines are Japanese Shinto religion (which celebrates Japanese NY). Temples are buddhist and are not involved in NY celebrations and have celebrations in August during Obon festival. You can read more on Japanese religions here.

In general, NY day in Japan is centered around visiting temples, so you should certainly aim to join the crowds and go and experience this national event. As there are many Shinto Shrines in Kyoto you'll have a lot of activity during new years day there. Although not as numerous, there are also many shrines in Tokyo such as Asakusa shrine, which will also be excellent to visit if you are in Tokyo.

Tsukiji will be closed on the 31st of Dec until 5th of January based on their 2011/12 schedule (red days are closed).

Hope this helps!

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mari
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Thank you for your help!

Since we will be travelling over the new year period, does transport in Japan run on a different timetable? ie. will there be less trains during the holiday season?

ewong
ewong

Hi there,

Buses, subways and trains actually run an increased service over the New Year period (It’s traditional to visit a Buddhist temple on New Year’s Eve and a Shinto Shrine during the first three days of January), and also operate throughout the night on New Years eve. However, do note that despite this the trains will be much busier than normal. I recommend you reserve seats as soon as you arrive in Japan to ensure you get a seat :)

Hope this helps!

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mari
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