Japan is a fascinating combination of ancient places with places where the main protagonist is high technology.
The following program considers all the best things to see in Japan in 15 days, in an unforgettable journey through the most spectacular cities and attractions of the eastern archipelago.
Is 15 days enough?
A trip to Japan for 15 days could be the perfect balance between time and budget for many people who want to get to know the great Asian nation without the amount being prohibitive. This taking into account that it is a tourist destination whose cost exceeds the average, especially for Latin American standards.
The following itinerary touring Japan in 15 days includes 7 cities (Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Nara and Osaka) with a return to the Japanese capital on the 14th and an international return flight on the 15th.
These 7 cities are close enough so that the time and cost of internal travel do not become too heavy and onerous and, above all, they bring together a set of physical and spiritual attractions that excellently represent the rich Japanese culture.
Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo / Activities in Tokyo
Days 2, 3 and 4: Tokyo
Day 5: Hakone day trip
Day 6: Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto / Activities in Kyoto
Days 7 and 8: Kyoto
Day 9: Travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima / Activities in Hiroshima
Day 10: Hiroshima
Day 11: Travel from Hiroshima to Osaka / Activities in Osaka
Day 12: Osaka
Day 13: Day trip to Nara
Day 14: Drive back to Tokyo from Osaka
Day 15: Return trip to the country of origin
Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo / Activities in Tokyo
All the major international airlines have flights that arrive in Tokyo early in the morning, so that the traveler can sleep during the journey and take advantage of his time early in the Japanese capital.
The Greater Tokyo area has two international airports: Narita and Haneda. Narita is located about 60 km east of central Tokyo and Haneda is located 26 km to the southeast. The trip from Narita to Tokyo on the Narita Express train takes about an hour and costs 3,020 yen (531 MXN).
Another way to go from Narita to Tokyo is by bus, which can be almost half the price compared to the express train; just try to make the reservation in advance.
The ride on the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Tokyo Hamamatsucho Station takes 15 minutes and costs 500 yen (88 MXN).
Where to stay in Tokyo
Greater Tokyo has endless accommodation possibilities for all budgets. An excellent place to settle in the capital of Japan is Shibuya, which is located to the west, very well served by the different modes of transport in the metropolis.
An affordable (for Japanese prices) and comfortable lodging option in Shibuya is Dormy Inn Premium Shibuya-jingumae , a 3-star hotel located at Shibuya-ku Jingumae 6-24-4. It is a 5-minute walk from Meiji Jingumae Subway Station and offers massage services and saunas.
Where to eat in Tokyo
Food is expensive in Tokyo, especially for Latin Americans, and choosing the right places to eat can make a big difference in your budget.
In Tokyo and the rest of Japan there are chains specialized in the main dishes of the archipelago’s cuisine and the food in these establishments allows you to discover the most important local cuisine at reasonable prices. Ichiran is a chain that specializes in ramen and Genki Sushi in sushi.
Western-style food is also common in Tokyo. If you prefer KFC, McDonald’s, Subway or Burger King, you won’t be short of places in the Japanese capital. If you are fond of gastronomy, Tokyo tour operators offer sushi tasting tours and other local specialties.
Activities in Tokyo (day 1)
Assuming that it takes you the morning to get from the Tokyo airport to the hotel, check in and get settled in the room, you will still have several hours left on your first day as a Tokyo tourist to get to know some of the city’s attractions, such as discovering Shibuya.
Your 15-day Japan itinerary might well start with a walk around Harajuku Station in Shibuya. It is one of the most popular shopping areas in Tokyo and a meeting point for people, especially young people, who go on Sundays to exhibit cutting-edge clothing.
Live music by soloists and groups is part of the bustling scene around Harajuku Station.
Other nearby attractions include a 1920 Meiji shrine; Omotesandō, an area known as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysées, with high-end shops, boutiques , and restaurants; and, finally, Yoyogi Park, one of the largest in Tokyo and the site of the first Japanese flight in 1910.
The Scramble (Shibuya)
Your trip to Japan will not be complete without passing through Shibuya Crossing, called The Scramble, which is located in front of Shibuya Station and is reputed to be one of the busiest places in the world.
Under the neon lights at night, the thousands of people crossing in different directions are the best example of perfectly organized chaos.
People avoid bumping into each other at the last moment as they rush to sites like the Shibuya Center Gai, which is home to hundreds of shops, restaurants and bars and offers good vantage points for photographing the endless mass of pedestrians.
Days 2, 3 and 4: Tokyo
In this itinerary through Japan 15 days, Tokyo has been reserved most of the time for being the largest city in the archipelago and for constituting a melting pot of Japanese culture in all its facets, including architectural, religious, technological, traditional, festive , sports and gastronomy.
The following are some examples of Tokyo sights you could see on days 2, 3 and 4 of your Japan vacation.
This Shinto shrine is located in Shibuya and was dedicated in 1920 to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. It was built in a Tokyo lily field that the royal couple used to visit. Destroyed by bombers during World War II, it was rebuilt in 1958.
It is located in a 70-hectare forest, which is one of the favorite natural spaces of Tokyo. In its outer enclosure there are 80 murals alluding to the life of the couple of emperors. Inside there is a museum with objects that belonged to both.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This Tokyo garden, located in the Shinjuku special region, has 58.3 hectares of an old manor estate that belonged to the feudal lord Naito. It is one of the main Japanese gardens of the Meiji era and, until World War II, it was an imperial garden.
After the war it was opened to the public as a national garden. During the first fortnight of November it hosts the National Exhibition of Chrysanthemums, a flower that symbolizes the Japanese imperial house. The cherry tree collection includes 75 varieties, and orchids and other tropical and subtropical plants are kept in the greenhouses.
Asakusa Senso-ji Temple
This Buddhist temple is the oldest in Tokyo. In 628, two fishermen brothers found a statue of the bodhisattva Kannon in the Sumida River, which flows through Tokyo, and the village chief, recognizing the religious importance of the image, made it a place of worship in his own home.
The splendid temple built after it was destroyed during World War II and its subsequent reconstruction became a symbol of the Japanese renaissance. During the Tokugawa shogunate (1600 – 1868) it functioned as the tutelary temple of the clan that dominated the entire Japanese archipelago.
Akihabara’s commercial hub is Tokyo’s electronics, anime, and video game mecca. The renowned stores on the main street (Chūōdōri) are full of foreigners who buy computers, gadgets , miniaturized cameras and a wide variety of accessories.
Those with more time or who want to stretch their budgets head to the back streets, where prices are lower. The influx of people in Akihabara is such that many employees are multilingual, including Spanish, English, Hindi and Mandarin.
Japan is one of the most technologically advanced nations and robotics has already become part of everyday life in Tokyo and other cities. In the Kabukicho neighborhood, one of Tokyo’s most popular leisure and entertainment areas, is the Robot Restaurant, a place that mixes food with cutting-edge technology.
You can go to this restaurant with little hunger, because you will almost certainly forget about the food, while you are amazed by the futuristic choreographies and the fights between robots, as if you were in a fantastic science fiction country.
Look at the street food of Japan:
In 2012 this communications, restaurant and observation tower became the tallest structure in Tokyo, at 634 meters. It is located in the Tokyo region of Sumida and the name Tokyo Skytree was decided by popular choice.
Its main function is broadcasting, in a city where the large number of tall buildings makes broadcasting difficult. It has a commercial area with shops and restaurants and the views of Tokyo from its viewpoints are magnificent, especially at night.
Tokyo Imperial Palace and its gardens
The Tokyo Imperial Palace is the residence of the emperor and the Japanese royal family. It has an area of 341 hectares, including its splendid gardens, which can be visited by the public. From the great esplanade of Kokyo Gaien there is a great view of the palace and it is the favorite place for tourists to photograph the building.
The East Gardens of the palace are open to the public, except Mondays and Fridays. They are located where the main circle and the second defense circle were, and of these structures the entrance gates and some walls, towers and moats are preserved.
The Americans introduced baseball to Japan when they took over the Philippines in 1898 after defeating Spain in the Spanish-American War. The Tokyo Dome is a modern baseball stadium, home to the Yomiuri Giants, the most successful player in the Japanese league.
If you are in Tokyo during the baseball season (March-November) you can enjoy a sport that the Japanese take with real passion, the Tokyo Dome, which has a capacity of 55,000 spectators, is also used for boxing, wrestling, arts competitions martial arts, football and musical concerts.
This bridge lights up at night with the colors of the rainbow and thus offers a beautiful postcard of Tokyo. It is a suspension bridge that crosses the northern sector of Tokyo Bay and links the port of Shibaura with the artificial island of Odaiba.
It is 570 meters long and has pedestrian walkways open to the public for a few hours a day. From the bridge there are fine views of the bay and, in clear weather, of Mount Fuji. The energy used in night lighting is captured from the sun during the day.
Tsukiji Fish Market
One of the most typical sights of Tokyo are the entertaining auctions at Tsukiji, which is the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. In this market you can find everything from seaweed to caviar, including large tuna weighing more than 300 kilos.
The spectacle of Japanese buyers bidding at auctions is a favorite with foreign tourists and you have to get there early to get a good spot. More than 400 marine species and Japanese kitchenware are sold at the market and there are excellent sushi and seafood restaurants.
Day 5: Hakone day trip
One of the most popular day trips from Tokyo is to the city of Hakone, in Kanagawa prefecture, especially for the chance to take a look at Mount Fuji, the highest mountain (3,776 meters above sea level) and a sacred site in Japan. .
Hakone is 88 km southwest of Tokyo and a convenient way to get there is by Odakyu Express train. The trip between Tokyo Shinjuka and Hakone Yumoto stations takes 75 minutes and costs 2,280 yen (402 MXN).
On the trip from Tokyo to Hakone take the foresight to sit on the right side of the car, since Mount Fuji will appear on that side.
In Hakone there are great attractions, such as the cable car, Lake Ashi, the Hakone Shrine, the Owakudani valley, the botanical garden and the Chokoku no Mori Museum.
This cable car reaches the top of Mount Hakone and offers the best view of Mount Fuji. The ropeway has two lines, the Owakudani, connected to the Lake Ashi Ferry, and an older one that goes to the top of Mount Komagatake.
Also called Lake Hakone, it is a scenic body of water with views of Mount Fuji. It is known for its spas and recreational boats that take tourists to places of incredible beauty.
It is a Shinto temple located on the shores of Lake Ashi. According to tradition, the first shrine was founded in the 8th century and the current building was built in 1667. According to legend, the priest Mangan, the former keeper of the shrine, pacified the 9-headed dragon that lived in the lake.
The so-called Valley of Hell due to the sulfurous emanations around the Owakuzawa crater, is a place for lovers of surreal landscapes. Arriving by cable car to the top of Owakudani, the formidable Owakuzawa crater appears at your feet, which was formed 3000 years ago by a phreatic explosion.
Hakone Wetland Botanical Garden
This 20-hectare garden is located within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, near Hakone. It is home to some 1,700 species of trees and herbaceous plants from Japanese wetlands, including marsh orchids, lilies, lilies, primroses, maples, quercus, and alpine vegetation.
Chokoku no Mori Museum
It is a museum with exhibitions in open spaces and in closed rooms, which was the first open-air museum in Japan. In the open area there are a hundred sculptures in the middle of beautiful gardens and green areas, while in the interior there is a pavilion dedicated exclusively to Pablo Picasso, with 300 works by the most universal Spanish artist.
Day 6: Travel from Tokyo to Kyoto / Activities in Kyoto
A destination that cannot be missed among the cities to see in Japan in 15 days is Kyoto, especially for having been the imperial capital and seat of the royal court for almost 11 centuries, between the years 794 and 1868.
It is located in the center of the island of Honshu, 457 km west of Tokyo, and with its more than 1,600 temples and other historical sites, it deserves at least 3 days on your Japan in 15 days route.
The trip from Tokyo Shinagawa Station to Kyoto on the Nozomi (Shinhansen) express train takes 2 hours and 20 minutes and the ticket price is 13,910 yen (2,452 MXN).
Where to stay in Kyoto
Kyoto is a small to medium-sized city by Asian standards (population 1.47 million) and there are good hotels located near its main attractions, minimizing transportation costs.
The Kyoto Hana Hotel is a 3-star establishment, located a few minutes’ walk from two subway stations (Sanjo and Sanjo-Keihan) and from the popular tourist areas of Gion and Ponto-cho. Its rooms have a private bathroom and there are free-use computers in the lobby.
Where to eat in Kyoto
Apart from western food from chain restaurants, in Kyoto you will find places to enjoy Japanese dishes at a good price. Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi restaurant offers a menu of prawn jiaozis (dumplings), plus a side dish (kimchi or cucumbers) and a pitcher of beer, for 1,380 yen (243 MXN).
Restaurants that serve sushi on conveyor belts to grab the desired bites are a cheaper option to eat the most popular Japanese dish in the West. At Chojiro restaurant, a set of 4 sushi (prawns, salmon, tuna and corn) costs 360 yen (63.5 MXN).
There are also restaurants in the same price range for ramen, tonkatsu (breaded pork fillets), gyudon (beef rice), Japanese curry, and okonomiyaki, a thin cake with toppings , similar to a pizza.
Activities in Kyoto (day 6)
Kyoto is full of temples, monuments, palaces and fortresses. The city shows the most traditional Japan, with its wooden houses, pagodas and geishas strolling the streets.
The tea ceremony continues to be a ritual that the residents of the former Japanese imperial capital carry out with pride and the utmost adherence to tradition.
After traveling to Kyoto from Tokyo in the morning, you will have the afternoon to see at least a couple of attractions. These places could be the Imperial Palace and Gion, the neighborhood of the geishas.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
It is located within a rectangular wall and was the official residence of the Japanese emperors until 1869. It is open to the public free of charge and offers the opportunity to appreciate the lavish residential environment of the Japanese monarchs.
The impressive access gates to the palace are worth seeing, including the Kenrei-mon, which was for the exclusive use of the emperor, the roofs and the Shishinden, where the Chrysanthemum throne is located.
Gion is a district of Kyoto known as the geisha neighborhood and it is possible that walking through its narrow streets you will come across one of these traditional Japanese artists. In Gion you can take a traditional tour , which includes a tea ceremony attended by a geisha.
Hanamikoji Street is lined with teahouses and restaurants and is a good place to see geisha on their way to work (5pm-7pm) or off work (from 8pm).
Days 7 and 8: Kyoto
Kyoto alone deserves a vacation of 15 or more days and in two days of staying in the city you will not have enough time to discover its myriad of monuments and places of interest.
Some of the most important are the following.
The Temple of the Original Vow is a Buddhist shrine listed as a World Heritage Site along with other historical monuments of ancient Kyoto. Established in 1321, in 1987 it was re-listed as a Buddhist mausoleum, while retaining its heritage as a historical shrine.
It is located northwest of Kyoto, near the Golden Pavilion temple and is home to the most famous Zen garden in the world.
The garden is beautifully simple, with its 15 mystical rocks that seem to float on a sea of pristinely pure white sand. It is visited by crowds and the least congested times are in the early morning and late afternoon.
Pure Water Temple
The Kiyomizu-dera, built in the year 778, is one of the main tourist attractions in Kyoto. It is a set of extraordinary beauty, formed by gates, pavilions, pagodas and splendid gardens.
It is located on top of a hill to the east of the former Japanese imperial capital, offering wonderful views of the city.
Temple of the Golden Pavilion
It is the informal name given to the Deer Garden Temple or Rokuon-ji. It was built at the end of the 14th century as a resting place for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and converted into a Zen temple after his death.
It has a magnificent Japanese garden, which includes a large pond with islands and stones allegorical to Buddhism.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
One of the moments that you will remember most of your 15-day trip to Japan on your own is the walk through this incredible Kyoto bamboo forest, with specimens of more than 50 varieties and more than 20 meters high, that sway in the wind while they let it rustle in the foliage.
There are visitors who go to the forest at different times of the day to admire the changes that sunlight produces in their appearance. Near the forest is the Togetsuky Bridge and some temples, including Tenryu-Ji.
Temple of the Silver Pavilion
Ginkaku-ji is another Buddhist temple that is among the most beautiful in Kyoto. It was conceived with a structure similar to that of the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and it was planned that one of its rooms would be covered with silver panels, although the project could not be completed due to a civil conflict.
It has beautiful Japanese gardens, including sand garden, moss garden, ponds and streams.
The Path of Philosophy or Philosopher’s Walk is one of the most beautiful places in Kyoto, especially in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. The name is due to the fact that it was the preferred meditation site of the philosopher Kitarō Nishida (1870-1945), founder of the Kyoto School.
The road is 2.5 km long and runs parallel to the Shishigatani canal, passing near shrines, cafes and craft shops where you can stop for a while to rest, have a snack and buy a souvenir.
Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka streets
It is located in the Higashiyama neighborhood and preserves the most authentic atmosphere of magical and imperial Kyoto. They are pedestrian streets with wooden houses, cafes and souvenir shops, delicious to walk around at sunset.
Even if you are not superstitious, you should tread carefully. A legend says that if you fall in Ninenzaka Street you will die within 2 years, while if calamity befalls you in Sannenzaka, the Grim Reaper will arrive in 3 years.
The translation of the name of the temple is “building with thirty-three spaces” and it stands out for its thousand statues of the Kannon of the thousand arms. The main building of Sanjusangen-do is the longest wooden building in Japan.
The images are carved from Japanese cypress wood and 124 come from the original temple that burned down in 1249, while the rest were carved in the 13th century.
Day 9: Travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima / Activities in Hiroshima
Hiroshima should be on the list of cities to see in Japan in 15 days, both for ancient historical reasons and for modern events.
The first city devastated by an atomic bomb was lavishly rebuilt and were it not for the Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb Dome, visitors would hardly notice the tragedy that befell the town on August 6, 1945.
The capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, located on Honshu Island, is a modern city with some ancient monuments, such as Hiroshima Castle.
The distance between Kyoto and Hiroshima is 360 km and the journey on the Nozomi fast train from the former Japanese imperial capital takes 1 hour and 40 minutes and costs 11,410 yen (2011 MXN).
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima is a magnificent 4-star accommodation located in the heart of the city. Its rooms have a private bathroom, air conditioning, air purifier and Serta beds.
The property features a swimming pool, fitness center and 6 dining options, including buffet, Japanese, Chinese and French cuisine. It is just a few minutes’ walk from the Peace Memorial, the Art Museum and Hiroshima Castle.
Where to eat in Hiroshima
The Okonomimura, located in the commercial area of Hondori, is a 4-story building filled with restaurants serving the best okinomiyaki in town. Hiroshima chefs are very proud of this kind of Japanese pizza, which is one of the stars of local cuisine.
At the Bake Cheese Tart restaurant, located at the south exit of Hiroshima Station, they serve cheesecakes whose aroma instantly attracts customers.
Activities in Hiroshima (Day 9): Itsukushima Shrine
After the drive from Kyoto and settling in at your hotel in Hiroshima, you will have ample time to go to Itsukushima Shrine, located 24 km to the southwest on Itsukushima Island.
According to tradition, this sanctuary built on the sea was built in the year 593, although its existence has been confirmed since the year 811.
The main buildings that remain are from the 13th century. It is universally recognized as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Shinto monuments in Japan.
Day 10: Hiroshima
Among Hiroshima’s attractions, we recommend you visit 4: the Peace Memorial Park, the Peace Monument, the Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Castle. If you have time, you can add Shukkei-en Japanese Garden and/or Hijiyama Park.
Peace Memorial Park
The death toll from the first nuclear attack in history was approximately 140,000 and this park in central Hiroshima was erected in memory of the victims and as a reminder of the atrocities of war and the importance of peace.
It was opened in 1954 and houses the Peace Memorial, Peace Cenotaph, Peace Flame, Peace Bells, Children’s Peace Monument, Memorial Mound with the remains of 70,000 unidentified victims and the Peace Memorial Museum, among its main places.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Also called the Peace Memorial and Atomic Bomb Dome, this concrete and red brick construction with a steel-reinforced dome was erected in 1915.
It lies horizontally 150 meters from the epicenter point of the atomic bomb (which exploded 600 meters from the ground) and was the only nearby structure that partially survived the impact.
It was preserved as it was, today being a monument to peace and a permanent reminder of the devastating power of nuclear energy.
Peace Memorial Museum
This museum located in the Peace Memorial Park exhibits objects that belonged to the victims (hair, clothes, watches), photographs, documents and other items, as well as a contrast of the city, before and after the nuclear deflagration.
One section is dedicated to illustrating the effects of nuclear energy on human flesh and on different materials such as stone, metal, wood, and glass, including the effects of radiation on the health of survivors of the attack. .
It was built in wood in 1599 as the residence of the daimyo (feudal lord) of Hiroshima and the atomic bomb destroyed it, being rebuilt. After the Meiji Restoration and the abolition of the feudal system, it became a military building for the imperial army.
Only partially wood was used in the reconstructed building and it now houses a museum on the city’s history before World War II.
Day 11: Travel from Hiroshima to Osaka / Activities in Osaka
Osaka is important among the places to see in Japan in 15 days due to its historical and modern attractions and its gastronomy. The third most populous city in Japan is located on the island of Honshū, at the mouth of the Yodo River, facing Osaka Bay.
It is 332 km east of Hiroshima and the journey between the two cities on the Nozomi Shinhansen express train takes 1 hour and a half. The ticket costs 10,440 yen (1,830 MXN).
Where to stay in Osaka
Cross Hotel Osaka is a 4-star accommodation with an excellent location, just a minute’s walk from Dotonbori, the city’s main commercial and nightlife hub. The Namba subway station is a 3-minute walk away and the American quarter America-mura is a 5-minute walk away.
The elegant rooms at Cross Hotel Osaka are decorated in a modern style and have a private bathroom, a refrigerator and an air purifier. It has the Lime restaurant, the Seagull bar and the Tables cafe.
Where to eat in Osaka
Osaka is considered one of the Japanese capitals of good food and in its gastronomy takoyaki stands out, a ball of wheat dough the size of a pingpong ball, stuffed with octopus.
In Dotonbori there are many restaurants that serve takoyaki and other typical specialties of the city.
A famous establishment is Kukuru, which has a huge octopus at the entrance notice and is a 3-minute walk from Namba Station. Another popular dish in Osaka is yakiniku, which are small cuts of meat grilled at the customer’s own table.
Activities in Osaka (Day 11)
On the day of your arrival in Osaka, after a journey of less than 2 hours from Hiroshima, you will surely have time to visit a couple of places of interest. Due to its proximity on foot to the recommended hotel, you could visit the América-mura neighborhood and the Dotonbori neighborhood.
It is a neighborhood with an American atmosphere, the epicenter of youth activity and entertainment in Osaka, called “Shibuya of the West”, in allusion to the famous Tokyo neighborhood. Its streets are full of music, clothing and electronics stores and bars and places to eat.
It has more than 20 venues with live performances and many of its bars and pubs are open day and night. It is best to go on foot or by public transport, as parking can be difficult.
It is the main tourist and commercial center of Osaka, populated with neon signs, nightlife establishments and restaurants. It is located in the Namba district and is crossed by the Dōtonbori Canal, between the Dōtonboribashi and Nipponbashi bridges.
It is the gastronomic heart of the city, with dozens of restaurants, izakaya bars, cafes and street food stalls. Some of its neon signs and signs are famous and tourists come to photograph them, such as the Kani Dōraku restaurant’s mobile crab and the Glico Man sign.
Day 12: Osaka
In Osaka you will have so many attractions to choose from, that a couple of days will be few, from monuments such as Osaka Castle, shrines such as Sumiyoshi Taisha and parks such as the splendid Kaiyukan Aquarium.
We are going to leave you with this selection with some of the best attractions in Osaka so that you can spend your second day in the city depending on what interests you the most.
It is one of the most famous castles in Japan, especially for the role it played in the process of national unification during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. It has 8 floors served by an elevator and is one of the best examples of 16th century Japanese architecture.
It’s open to the public year-round and is a popular gathering spot during hanami festivities, when the Japanese celebrate cherry blossoms.
Built in the early 3rd century, it is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and the most important in Osaka. It was the seat of power of Emperor Go-Murakami during the so-called Southern Court between 1336 and 1392.
Its beauty has made it one of the architectural and cultural icons of the archipelago and it is mentioned in ancient chronicles, novels and legendary stories from the Japanese past.
Due to its historical importance, it is the main temple among the 2,300 existing sumiyoshi shrines in Japan.
Its ponds have 11 million liters of water, being one of the largest indoor urban aquariums in the world. In its 14 large ponds, it reproduces the fantastic aquatic life that exists in the 10 regions that make up the Pacific Ocean.
The tour begins with a tunnel-shaped aquarium and the spaces range from surface life to life that develops on the seabed. It is home to nearly 30,000 specimens of more than 600 marine species, including the whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
It was the first Buddhist temple in Japan when it was built in 593, although its current version is a reconstruction from 1963.
The original shrine was erected in the 6th century by the Korean Kongō family, whose members soon after founded the Kongō Gumi company, the oldest company in Japan still in business.
The construction was ordered by Prince Shotoku, a ruler who deeply embraced Buddhism when it began to spread throughout Japan.
The main structure is an imposing 5-storey pagoda. On the 21st of each month, a market for food, souvenirs, and used items is held at the temple.
Osaka is a city that harmonizes ancient temples with avant-garde contemporary buildings. Among the various skyscrapers in the city, the Abeno Harukas stands out, inaugurated in 2014, which with its 300 meters in height held the record as the tallest building in Japan.
Another iconic skyscraper in Osaka is the Umeda Sky Building, which without being among the 15 tallest, is one of the most recognizable, especially for the bridges that connect its two 40-story twin towers. Its height is 173 meters.
Osaka Science Museum
Its predecessor, the Osaka City Electricity Science Museum, was opened in 1937, becoming the first Japanese museum dedicated to science and the first with a planetarium. One of its jewels is the Cockcroft-Walton particle accelerator, developed in 1957.
The new spaces were inaugurated in 1989, but the building in which the theoretical physicist and professor at the University of Osaka, Hideki Yukawa, predicted the existence of the pi meson is preserved, becoming the first Japanese to win a Nobel Prize in 1949.
Another of Osaka’s modern architectural landmarks is the 103-meter-high Tsūtenkaku tower, erected in the Shinsekai district as a symbol of the city’s progress after World War II.
It was built with the sponsorship of the multinational Hitachi and from its viewpoints there are spectacular views of the city. The mystical spirit of the Japanese is represented by the altar of Billiken, a deity linked to happiness, installed on the platform of the fifth floor.
Day 13: Nara day trip
Nara is a city of great historical importance after having been the Japanese capital between 710 and 784, during the Nara period. It is one of the most traditional cities in the archipelago and is located just 32 km from Osaka. On a day trip to Nara we suggest you visit the following attractions.
Nara is one of the Japanese cities with the greatest Buddhist influence and one of its main temples is Tōdai-ji, which houses a gigantic Buddha image that is one of the largest in the world.
The image was completed in 751 and left the country nearly bankrupt after consuming several years of the nation’s bronze output.
The great Buddha is found in the Daibutsu-den, an imposing wooden building that has a hole in one of its pillars similar in size to the nostrils of the wise ascetic. According to the myth, whoever manages to pass through the hole is enlightened.
It is a Shinto shrine whose interior is famous for its bronze and stone Tōrō lanterns. Built in 768 and undergoing various reconstructions throughout history, it was declared a World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Kasugayama Primeval Forest.
The thousands of lanterns are lit during the festivals of Setsubun Mantoro (February 2-4) and Obon Mantoro (August 14-15), creating a magical spectacle.
Next to the shrine is the Manyo Botanical Garden, dedicated to the plants mentioned in the Man’yōshū poetic anthology.
It is a public park and natural monument of 502 hectares that stands out for its more than 1,200 deer of the sika species that live in the wild. These cervids were sacred in Japan and killing a specimen was punishable by death until 1637.
The animals were officially stripped of their divine status after World War II, but remain protected as national treasures. They can be fed with some cookies that are sold in the park.
It is a temple of the Zen school of Buddhism that was declared a World Heritage Site as part of the Nara Historical Monuments. It was founded in the 7th century by the wife of the sick Emperor Tenji, as an offering for the monarch to recover his health.
Before its final location in Nara, it was first in Yamashina-ku and later in Fujiwara-kyō. It stands out for its slender 5-story pagoda.
It served as the imperial palace during the Nara period, and in 2010 its reconstructed building was the venue for festive events in the wake of the 1,300th anniversary of Nara’s designation as the capital of Japan. It is a World Heritage Site, as part of the monuments of ancient Nara.
Day 14: Drive back to Tokyo from Osaka
Osaka is located 406 km southwest of Tokyo and the journey on the Nozomi Shinhansen train takes 2.5 hours and the ticket costs 14,450 yen (2,530 MXN).
If you leave Osaka early in the morning, you will arrive in the Japanese capital with enough time to see some attraction that you could not visit during your first stay in Tokyo.
Some interesting Tokyo places you can go to are Tokyo Tower, Ueno Park, and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Day 15: return trip to the country of origin
Unfortunately, it was time to leave after this fascinating 15-day trip through Japan. Depending on your flight departure time, you might have time to see some more places, such as the Hamarikyu Gardens or the modern headquarters of the Tokyo City Hall.
What to see in Japan in 15 days : cost of a hotel in Japan
A 3-star hotel in Tokyo during the cherry blossom season (end of March, beginning of April) can cost between 4,000 and 7,000 MXN. The differences in rates depend on the location of the hotel and the amenities of the room, especially the bathroom, which can be private or shared. Shared bathrooms in Japanese hotels are usually spotless.
We hope that this itinerary on what to see in Japan in 15 days has seemed interesting and we ask you to share it with your friends on social networks.
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