After postponing their honeymoon for 3 years, a foodie couple from Austin finally embarked on their long-awaited 16 day trip to Japan. Follow their day-by-day itinerary through Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hakone as they savor gourmet cuisine, take in the cherry blossoms, and experience the country’s unique culture. Though faced with some initial flight delays, the pair made the most of their time exploring Japan’s top sights and flavors.
Day 1: Flight Delays
The couple planned to fly from Austin to Tokyo via Houston on an ANA-operated flight. However, their initial flight from Austin to Houston suffered a mechanical delay causing them to miss their connecting flight. They were rebooked by United on a flight the next morning from Austin to San Francisco and then onto Tokyo, arriving about 12 hours later than originally planned.
Day 2: Arriving in Tokyo
The couple finally arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on the morning of day 2. They picked up Suica cards in the airport to use for local transportation. They spent time in Ebisu, Nakameguro, and Daikanyama exploring restaurants and shopping.
Due to the flight delays, they missed out on some planned activities like the Meguro River Cruise.
Day 3: Tokyo
On their third day, the couple visited the Toyosu Market and got a behind-the-scenes tour with a chef they knew who was training there. They saw the daily morning shopping and vendor visits.
Day 4: Tokyo to Kyoto
The couple took the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto in the morning. They had reserved green car seats and luggage storage in advance.
In Kyoto, they walked the Philosopher’s Path into the Keage Incline to see the peak cherry blossoms. They also booked a locals’ hidden hiking tour of Fushimi Inari which allowed them to hike up the back of the mountain on a quieter path before joining the crowds at the main shrine area.
Day 5: Kyoto
On their fifth day, the couple continued seeing sights in Kyoto including the Nishiki Market. They enjoyed casual rooftop drinking and local cuisine. They also visited Mominoki House for a foot soak and massage after all the walking.
Day 6: Kyoto to Osaka
The couple took the limited express sightseeing train from Kyoto to Nara for a day trip before continuing on to Osaka. In Nara, they visited the park, Todai-ji temple, and Kikuichi Cutlery where the husband bought knives.
They checked into their hotel in Osaka that evening.
Day 7: Osaka
In Osaka, the couple visited the Team Labs exhibit at the Nagai Botanical Garden. They found it underwhelming compared to other Team Labs venues.
Day 8: Osaka
On their last full day in Osaka, the couple visited Universal Studios Japan. They purchased an express pass to skip long lines but still found some of the rides made them motion sick. They saw the highlights like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before ending the night.
Day 9: Osaka to Hakone
The couple shipped their large luggage from Osaka to Tokyo and traveled light to Hakone with just backpacks and a small duffel.
They stayed at Yama No Chaya ryokan based on recommendations but found it did not live up to expectations relative to the high price. The food was excellent but the location and views were lacking.
Day 10: Hakone
On their second day in Hakone, the couple visited the Open Air Museum and took the railway around the area. They found the transportation confusing at times.
They had to return to the ryokan by 5pm for the 6pm dinner so they did not have time to see everything they wanted like Lake Ashi.
Day 11: Hakone to Tokyo
The couple returned to Tokyo, staying in Ginza this time. They sent their Hakone luggage ahead so they could travel light.
Day 12: Tokyo
In Tokyo, they had a high-end 25 course omakase dinner at Hakkoku restaurant. They met the head chef but did not get to dine with him as first-timers. The seafood quality was superb.
Day 13: Tokyo
The couple visited the Nakagyo-ku Cherry Blossom illumination at Shinjuku Gyoen park. They wished they had brought their own food as many locals had picnics.
They also ate at a popular fried pork cutlet restaurant in Ginza.
Day 14: Tokyo
On their second to last day, the couple shopped for souvenirs and made some major purchases for themselves including handmade leather shoes and a chef’s knife.
Day 15-16: Flying Home
After 16 days, the couple departed Tokyo for their flight back to the United States, returning with many great memories.