After spending 9 days and 8 nights in Japan, I realized why everyone liked Japan so much. The scenery, nature, people, history here are all beautiful, attractive and enchanting. So wonderful, I definitely will come back here again when I have a chance. Everywhere in Japan is beautiful, you will want to go. So, what to do in Japan for 9 days? Let’s check out my sample Japan itinerary on how to spend 9 days in Japan on a budget (9 days in Japan budget, 9d8n Japan itinerary, Japan travel itinerary 9 days, Japan trip itinerary 9 days) through 4 great destinations: Osaka – Kobe – Kyoto – Nara from how to get to Japan, where to stay, best places to visit, top things to do, best things to do to find out the answer! I’d like to share about my last trip.

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Cherry blossoms at Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the must visit place in Kyoto. | 9 days in japan
kyoto Arashiyama
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, Kyoto
Osaka Castle, Osaka
Osaka Skyline and Osaka Castle – the symbol of Osaka City.
Nara japan autumn (1)
Friendly deers at Nara Park
Vibrant Kobe city at night. | 9d8n japan itinerary
kyoto kaiseki cuisine
Kyoto Kaiseki Cuisine
osaka cuisine osaka blog osaka travel blog osaka blog 2018 osaka travel guide blog
Osaka street food | japan travel itinerary 9 days

Transportation

From Vietnam to Japan, I fly with Vietjet Air, the round-trip ticket is $170 excluding luggage, book about 06 months in advance.

As for travel in Japan, I buy the following types of tickets to use:

Osaka One Day Pass
Osaka One Day Pass | 9d8n japan itinerary

P/S: These 4 types are purchased on Klook, so you should buy in advance because Klook usually has a lot of discount codes.

  • Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass
  • Buy tickets from Osaka Station to KIX airport
  • The JR tickets goes from Kyoto to Nara
  • The JR tickets goes from Nara to Osaka
JR Pass
JR Pass | japan travel itinerary 9 days

I find buying tickets like this very convenient to use and savings, cost-effective. Because if you take a single bus or JR trip then the costs about nearly $4.33 already. In addition, when you buying JR Pass, you will also receive a Kyoto Sightseeing ticket for free. The Osaka Amazing Pass, in addition to using Subway and Bus, it is even more powerful, free visit many tourist places such as ferris wheel, boats at Osaka Aquarium, boats in Dontobori Street, Umeda Sky Building (Kuchu Teien Observatory), Tsutenkaku Tower…

BOOKING THE JR PASS TO TRAVEL ALL JAPAN HERE.

Shinkansen bullet train
Shinkansen bullet train | 9d8n japan itinerary

Note: There are many types of JR tickets for regions or days available in Japan depending on your needs such as JR West Kansai Pass (1, 2, 3 or 4 Days) or JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days). Therefore, you should research and buy the tickets that suitable and match with your itinerary and schedule in the most economical way. To see the routes, stations you just use Google Map is fine or access directly from JR webste here. Japan transport infrastructure is very ok. Use more you will get used!

jrpass
JR Pass price list | japan travel itinerary 9 days

Mobile network + Money exchange

  • I rented a fast and stable Wifi network transmitter and can be used for 3 to 4 people so the rented cost is very ok.
  • I exchange my money at Dong Khoi street, the exchange rate is ok. The exchange rate for my exchange was $1 = 105 yen.

9 days in Japan: Where to stay?

I stayed in hostels in 4 locations. Below are details.

KOBE: Nakamura Kobe (1 night) (Agoda.com or Booking.com), $26/person/night. This hostel is about 800m from Kobe Station, dorm rooms here are a bit cramped, but still comfortable to stay. This hostel is like an old wooden house, strange design. There are rooms for reading, playing games …

Hostel Nakamura Kobe | japan trip itinerary 9 days

KYOTO: K’s House Kyoto (3 nights) (Agoda.com or Booking.com), $15/person/night. This hotel is the most comfortable and best looking among the 4 hostels I stayed, dorm room for 6 people is comfortable, spacious, about 600m from Kyoto Station. There is the second floor is the common floor. Generally highly recommended for this Hotel.

K’s House Kyoto – Hostel & Cafe Bar | japan travel itinerary 9 days

NARA: Base Nara (1 night) (Agoda.com or Booking.com), $16/person/night. This hotel is also about 800m from Nara Station. Room for 2 people with mezzanine. The room is also very clean and comfortable.

Base Nara

OSAKA: Osaka HIVE (3 nights) (Agoda.com or Booking.com), $16/person/night. This hostel has the most cramped space compared to the 3 hostels above. However, it is cheap and near Osaka Station (about 800m away). However, those who want to be a bit more comfortable space, should choose another hostel.

Osaka Guesthouse HIVE | japan trip itinerary 9 days

Note: Please note that hotels in Japan allow check-in are very late, around 3PM, the latest check-in time is 10PM, if you check-in after 10PM, you will be charged extra fees, so you should arrange your time.

9D8N Japan itinerary — Day 1: HCMC – Osaka – Kobe

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Kansai Aiport | japan itinerary 9 days

Morning flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Osaka (landing at Kansai airport). Then from Osaka use the JR-West Kansai Rail Pass 02 days to get to Kobe. Ticket vouchers are exchanged at Klook’s H.I.S counter at the airport. As for JP Pass, go to JR counter to exchange.

The Limited Express Haruka - Kansai Airport to Kyoto
The Limited Express Haruka at Kansai Airport. | japan itinerary 9 days

After arriving Kobe, I go to the hotel to send luggage first, then go to eat and explore. You can go to Himeji Castle, but remember to check the time because at 5pm the castle is closed. And Himeji is currently remodeling so it doesn’t look very nice. In the evening, walking around the city at night, eating Kobe beef in teppanyaki style at Steak Land. 1 set meal for 5.300 yen/person. Really good value for money, super delicious. You should try. After eating, strolling around the Kobe Harborland area. The air is cool and fresh, extremely pleasant.

Himeji Castle
Japanese ancient castle 3
Himeji Castle was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site (culture) in 1993 and a special historical monument of Japan. | japan itinerary 9 days
Japanese ancient castle 4
Various parts of Himeji Citadel have been recognized as national security or important national cultural heritage.
Steak Land Kobe
Steak Land Kobe
Kobe Harborland | japan itinerary 9 days

DISCOVERING KOBE IS EASY!

Japan itinerary 9 days — Day 2: Kobe – Kyoto

Check-out and send luggage at the hotel. Then heading to Mount Rokko. For breakfast, it’s easy at 7/11, Family Mart or Lawson with cost a meal around $2 – $3/person. My trip is not in the autumn of red leaves, if I go on the occasion of red leaves, it will be much nicer. You can bring food and drink. On the mountain, I see very few restaurants.

Mount Rokko
| japan trip itinerary 9 days

After visiing Mount Rokko, we return to the hotel to pick luggage and moving to Kyoto. Travel time from Kobe to Kyoto is about 1 hour.

After arriving Kyoto, check-in the hotel, take a shower and continue exploring. Dinner with sushi at Musashi conveyor belt sushi (Address: 440 Ebisucho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8005, Kyoto Prefecture / Hours: 11AM–10PM / Tel: +81 75-222-0634) is very famous. Quite a bit crowded but also handled quickly. Eat a full belly about 3.000 yen/person.

Kyoto Ancient city
Kyoto Ancient city
Musashi sushi
Tokyo tower

Japan itinerary 9 days — Day 3: Kyoto

Going to Fushimi Inari Shrine early in the morning. You should take advantage of early departure to avoid crowded. I used the Kyoto Sightseeing Pass (gifted when buy a 2-day JR-West Kansai Rail Pass) to exchange for the Keihan Railway Pass to catch the Keihan train at Tokufuji Station.

People bow outside of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto
Fushimi Inari-taisha, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto temple, Japan
Thousands of Torri gates

Fushimi Inari Shrine - One of the most famous shrine in Japan (9)

We rented Kimono at Nagomi shop near Fushimi Inari. You must be booked before 9AM to be able to take clothes. Kimonos for women range from 3.000 yen to 10.000 yen, men’s range from 4.000 to 5.000 yen. Rent items must be return before 6PM. Kimonos can be rented in Kyoto Station, but be sure to book in advance.

Fushimi Inari Shrine - One of most famous shrine in Japan (14)
Fushimi Inari Shrine

After taking a lot of pictures at Fushimi Inari Shrine and then going to Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka Temple to continue visit and take pictures. At Yasaka, there is a super nice photography corner that any visitor who comes here will check-in. However, when I come, it was very crowded. After visiting these 2 places, I took the train to Fushimi to return rented items. Then take a taxi to visit Gion district in the evening. You should note that from October 25, Gion District will not allow visitors to take photos, will be fined about 10.000 yen. However, when I wandering around, I saw that there were still a few tourists taking photos but I think you should complying with the regulations.

Kiyomizu Dera Temple, Kyoto
Kiyomizu Dera Temple, Kyoto

matcha at kiyomizu dera
Matcha at Kiyomizu Dera
Yasaka Shrine
Visit Yasaka Shrine in Gion
Kaguraden at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto
Kaguraden at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto
| japan itinerary 9 days
gion district geisha kyoto (1)
Gion District | 9 days in japan
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Gion District at night | 9 days in japan

If you’re lucky, you will meet geisha on this Gion street. I went too tired when back and forth for 2 rounds but could not see any geisha. Maybe it’s too early!

geisha in kyoto
A geisha in Gion district
gion district geisha kyoto (1)
Geisha | 9 days in japan
gion district geisha kyoto (5)
Tourists take photos with Geisha

Then continue to stroll around the Nishiki night market – the kitchen of Japan. Continue eating sushi, however not as good as at Musashi.

Nishiki Market Kyoto's Traditional Kitchen
Nishiki Market Kyoto’s Traditional Kitchen | 9 days in japan
Nishiki-Market-Street-kyoto-things to do in nishiki market kyoto (3)
| 9 days in japan budget

Nishiki-Market-Street-kyoto-things to do in nishiki market kyoto (6)

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO AND PLAY IN KYOTO? CHECK OUT NOW!

Japan itinerary 9 days — Day 4: Kyoto

Continuing departure from early morning to take advantage of time to go to Arashiyama to avoid crowded. Today, I used the Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus One-Day Pass to travel. It’s extremely convenient. You can buy bus tickets right at the hotel. Price of 600 yen.

Please note that this bus ticket is not apply for Keihan red bus.

Couple in kimono at Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kyoto
A couple in kimono at Arashiyama bamboo forests, Kyoto | 9 days in japan budget

To getting to Arashiyama, you can take the bus number 76, 28 or 77 from Kyoto Station. Travel time is about 1 hour. We spend the whole morning to walking around the Arashiyama area: there are many beautiful scenes, and definitely you cannot not help but to go to the famous Arashiyama bamboo grove.

Arashiyama Momiji Festival
Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama where Arashiyama Momiji Festival is held | 9 days in japan budget

Noon, you remember to visit the best Unagi (Japanese eel) shop in Kansai called Unagi Hirokawa (Address: 44-1 Sagatenryuji Kitatsukurimichicho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-8374, Japan / Hours: 11AM–2:30PM, 5–8PM; Monday: Closed). This restaurant only accepts customers who book in advance. The openning hours of the restaurant from 11AM to 3PM and from 5PM to 9PM. Although I didn’t book in advance but fortunately, that day I arrived at 10:45AM, I thought my group was cute so the receptionist asked the owner to agree to serve my group, of course after serve the reserved customers. Price for a set meal from 4.000 yen/person but really worth the money. Grilled eel rice (Unagi Don rice bowl) is so delicious!

unagi eel japan how to cook unagi unagi sauce (1)
Unagi

unagi eel japan how to cook unagi unagi sauce (1)

After eating, we continue going to the Philosopher’s Walk to take a walk. This road will be really beautiful during cherry blossom season.

kyoto blog kyoto travel blog
The philosophers path in cherry blossom season. | 9 days in japan budget

Dinner, we eat … sushi again. This time, eat at a famous restaurant called Sushiro. Around 6 o’clock than there are many diners lined up here. Luckily we came early, so there are few customers. After eating, we go back to the hotel to take a bath and then continue heading to Pontocho alley (take advantage of using the bus ticket). Pontocho is a famous alley with lots of restaurants, karaoke, massage … like Bui Vien Street in Saigon or Itaewon in Seoul. It was so much fun. Note the restaurants here are all small, few seats, around 9PM we go around but delicious and cheap restaurants are run out of seats. We can’t eat anything because of crowded with visitors.

Delicious sushi
Pontocho Alley
Pontocho Alley, Kyoto | 9 days in japan budget

Japan trip itinerary 9 days — Day 5: Nara

Buy JR tickets from Kyoto to Nara. In fact, you can go to Nara during the day and back to Kyoto because the travel time is only about 45 minutes. But because our group wanted to experience the whole nightlife in each place, so we decided to stay one night in Nara. Our hostel is Base Nara, about 500m from Nara Station, very convenient.

Credit: kyoto travel guide blog
Nara Park

After checking in at the hotel, we took a walk in Nara Park. This park is famous for a lot of deer, you can feeding them, the price is 200 yen for a package of cakes of 7-8 pieces. Please note that you only feeding deers with foods sold by the local people, don’t feed them any other food. There have been many cases where a few deers died from poisoning and ingested plastic bags. In this season I see most deer have been cut horns due to safety for visitors. Because the deers are not afraid of people. Just sniff the smell of food is to run to beg right away, sometimes they gently knock my butt. The most special thing of the deers here is that they can bow to visitors to beg for food. Looks so lovely!

nara japan
| 9 days in japan

In the afternoon, we all went to eat wagyu Gyukatsu (Deep-Fried Wagyu Beef Cutlets) on the 2nd floor of a restaurant that opposite Nara Park. I feel so good, you should try it. Price range 1.500 yen/person/part.

Kobe wagyu teppanyaki
| 9 days in japan budget

In the evening, I walked around the city at night and went out for a barbecue, drinking. If you do not like to drink alcohol, there is a non-alcoholic beer. Delicious. The total costs for this party was 12.000 yen/6 people.

WHAT TO DO IN NARA? CHECK OUT HERE!

Japan trip itinerary 9 days — Day 6: Nara

In the morning, I check out the hotel, send my luggage and go to Wakakusa mountain. By bus, you can catch the blue B4 Bus at Aburasaka station. At the last station Kasuga Taisha Honden, get off and start climbing the mountain. Bus fare of 100 yen. The entrance ticket is 150 yen.

| japan itinerary 9 days

If you have time, you can trekking from Nara Park to the mountain, along the way there are many beautiful scenes. Climb about 10 minutes you will reach the point that get a panoramic view of the ancient capital of Nara. Up here the atmosphere very cool, pleasant and very peaceful. There are also a lot of cute deer to take pictures again. At noon, we returan to the hotel to pick up luggage and move to Nara Station and take JR train to Osaka. Travel time is about 50 minutes. After check-in OSAKA HIVE hostel, we send luggage and go for lunch. When walking along the street, we meet a nice restaurant, cheap and delicious.

| japan itinerary 9 days

After lunch, we go to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. Ticket price of 2.200 yen. The aquarium here is very beautiful and diverse species. In addition, you can touch sharks and rays. You should spend 1 hour to going around this place.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan15
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
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| japan itinerary 9 days

Afterwards, we use the Osaka Amazing Pass to get a free ferris wheel (the same as the Sunwheel ferris wheel in Danang), watching the whole scenery of Osaka city at night. There are two types of cabins for you to choose from: glass bottom (with bottom views) and iron bottom. However, at the glass bottom area have to line up a little bit longer.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Osaka
Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Osaka | japan travel itinerary 9 days
View from Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Osaka
The beautiful view from Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Osaka | japan itinerary 9 days

After have much fun, we return to the hotel to check in the hotel and go to dinner. There is a famous sashimi shop called Maguroya Chayamachi (Address: 1 Chome-15-7 Shibata, Kita Ward, Osaka, 530-0012, Japan / Hours: 5–11PM / Friday: 5–11:30PM; Saturday: 5PM–12AM; Sunday: Closed). But when we come at 7PM, the shop announced that it was out of fish. Terribly sad. So we walking along the street and stopped at another sashimi shop to eat. Price is also ok. Total costs for 6 people about 16.500 yen.

Sashimi with some sake makes it more delicious | japan travel itinerary 9 days

9 days in Japan — Day 7, 8: Nara – Osaka

A few days later, the itinerary became easier. Partly due to tiring, partly visit Osaka mostly goes for eating and shopping.

After breakfast at the hotel, we go to Osaka Castle. Wandering and sightseeing here until noon, then go to Dontobori to eat sushi again. Dining at the quite famous restaurant is Genrokuzushi (Address: 1 Chome-6-9 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071, Japan / Hours: 11AM–10:30PM) with the symbol of sushi hand grip. Price is also ok. But in the end, after eating at a lot of sushi restaurants by pass, I still find the restaurant in Kyoto Station is the best.

Osaka Castle, Osaka
| japan itinerary 9 days

osaka castle inside

After eating, we continue walking and shopping. Use the Osaka Amazing Pass to exchange free train tickets and riding along the river to watch the sunset. I see there are 2 types of large and small boat, large boat can contains about 40 people. Small boat contains about 20 people. I take a small train with a very cute guide girl. She has a small book of common sayings in the languages ​​of countries. She asked us how to say Hello and Thank you in Vietnamese and took notes very carefully. Although the language she used to introduce was Japanese, we didn’t understand anything. But through her intonation and cuteness, we really like it. Especially she sings very well.

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Boating along Dotonbori Canal | japan travel itinerary 9 days

Take a round by boat and then continue walking the night street in Dotonbori. Dotonbori is most beautiful at night with thousands of large and small billboards and eye-catching advertisements, the flow of people is crowded. Well, you remember to take photos and check in with the athlete’s light board (Glico’s Running Man Signboard, Osaka’s Symbol) – it can now be seen as an symbol of Osaka. This sign only opens from 6pm, with 14 million LEDs …, light up for 15 minutes, then advertisement will appears.

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Tsutenkaku, Dōtonbori, Osaka
Dotonbori street
Dotonbori street | japan travel itinerary 9 days
Glico Man, the symbol of Osaka | japan trip itinerary 9 days

After getting tired of walking, I feel hungry, so we eat barbecue buffet at Yakiniku Rokko. You should book in advance (the mantra to is “book in advance”). We didn’t book in advance, but luckily (continued to be lucky) begged people to let us eat but must finished eating before 7:30PM (they allow eating in about 1 hour and 30 minutes). Finished we leave the table for guests who have booked in advance for them.

Must eat osaka
Yakiniku Toraji restaurant

Then we continue walking to Shinsekai area to play. Use the holy Osaka Amazing Pass to get to Tsutenkaku tower for free.

Janjan Yokocho Shinsekai-08919
Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku tower | japan trip itinerary 9 days

WHAT TO DO IN OSAKA? CHECK OUT HERE!

9D8N Japan Itinerary — Day 9: Fly back to Vietnam

Some useful tips

  • Remember to bring bottles of mineral water to save costs.
  • No need to tip for service staff because in invoice included tip and VAT. A private tip is an act of disrespect for them.
  • Japanese people are very enthusiastic, friendly. So if you have any questions, just greet and ask them. However, most Japanese people do not use English, so they only instruct in body language.
  • The most impressive thing in Japan is that it is very clean and has few trash bins, so it’s hard to find bin here than garbage.
| japan trip itinerary 9 days

Trip costs

The total trip costs for Japan itinerary 9 days (Japan travel itinerary 9 days): $1.000

  • Transport costs: Air tickets: $216/person (including extra 2-way luggage) / Getting around Kansai Region: $130/person
  • Accommodation: $140/person
  • Eating: $433/person (on average $55/day). This cost may be lower.
  • Other costs: Visa: $45/person / Wifi: $22.5/person (I use pocket wifi for 2 people)
Boat riding on Hozu-gawa river, Kyoto.
Boat riding on Hozu-gawa river, Kyoto.

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, to and from Kyoto you can refer to

ryoanji temple kyoto 3 days in kyoto kyoto 3 day itinerary what to do in 3 days in kyoto (1)
Cherry blossoms at Ryoanji Temple

Are you looking for more Kyoto travel guide and top things to do in Kyoto: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Read more: Kyoto travel blog — The fullest Kyoto travel guide blog for a budget trip to Kyoto for the first-timers.

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