Japan 12-Day Itinerary (Himeji, Kobe, Nara)

Summer at the Himeji Castle

Here's the next part of our Japan adventure -- Himeji, Kobe, and Nara! We used our JR West 2-Day Passes for these trips. Click here to learn more about the passes.

Alternatively, you may also use the Kansai Thru Pass to easily visit all of these places! Click here to learn more.

To see the first part of our itinerary (Osaka for 2 days), click on this link. To see our introduction which states our general tips, click here.

DAY 4, Tuesday: Himeji and Kobe (JR 2-Day Pass)

We did Himeji and Kobe in 1 day. We could've toured more had we gotten up at 6AM in the morning...but we opted to rest for a bit before hitting the road. Japan is tiring as you will be forced to walk and walk and walk...

Our main objectives for the day were to see Himeji Castle and to have a taste of Kobe beef in Kobe's Chinatown. Here's what happened:
  • Quick breakfast
  • Himeji Castle. A MUST-SEE! It has wide and complex castle grounds so be prepared to walk even more! Stock up with a matcha ice cream sandwich and some hydrating drinks, or a good brunch/lunch before going in. It took us about 3 hours to tour and enjoy the palace. Himeji is more than an hour away from Osaka, so you might want to leave your Airbnb/hotel earlier than usual.
  • Rushed lunch in a grocery
  • Rushed to Kobe to try Kobe beef at Kobe's Chinatown. We weren't willing to spend 10,000 JPY for Kobe beef so we tried it by portions at a stall in Chinatown. It was okay. It will definitely taste better, I think, if you purchase the more premium cuts at a more expensive price.
  • We returned back to Osaka, tired from our walking expedition, to meet our friend and have dinner at Moja Curry located at the JR Shin-Osaka Station (level 1 of their food hall). They also have branches at Shinsaibashi in Osaka, another one in Kobe, and a fourth branch at Himeji! They used 20 different spices to create the PERFECT and the BEST Japanese curry ever. Try their pork or chicken curry, then add green onions and an egg topping! (Thanks so much to this blog for recommending Moja Curry!)
  • We then had drinks afterwards with a friend. 

DAY 5, Wednesday: Nara (JR 2-Day Pass)

Nara -- a peaceful and picturesque city, where life and nature blended with history and culture. A breather from the busy streets of Osaka. Here's how our day went:

  • Quick breakfast at 7 Eleven. We also tried their yakitori and it was sooooooo good! Restaurants open late in Osaka and Kyoto (most of them open at 11 AM), so nearby convenience stores will work best if you're rushing or if you have a tight schedule.
  • Rested a bit in the morning again, so we arrived at Nara by around 11 AM - a bit late!
  • Rented a bike from JR, just below the JR Nara train station. If I remember it right, it costs 600 or 700 JPY per person.
  • Biked uphill (it's tolerable, don't worry) along the cute, quaint street to Kohfukuji Temple. I think it's Sanjo Dori Street? A lot of tourists walk here, on the way to Kohfukuji.
  • Kohfukuji Temple. Took photos with the sacred deers freely roaming the streets. They're everywhere.
  • Yoshiki-en Garden. We took a quick, relaxing breather here... It's free for tourists. :)
  • If you have extra time, visit the Isui-en Garden as well, beside Yoshiki-en Garden. It costs about 800 JPY.
  • Todaiji Temple. We saw the Great Buddha in here and marveled at the humongous structures of the temple. There were A LOT of deers here as well.
  • Had some Japanese snacks outside the temple. (Tip: Eat out at a restaurant instead of buying snacks from the small stalls outside Todaiji. The takoyaki, in particular, was overpriced and was sub-standard in quality. As soon as you exit the gates of Todaiji, turn right and check out the few restaurants nearby.)
  • Passed by Nara Park.
  • Biked towards the forest to see Kasuga Taisha Shrine, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Biked leisurely along the peaceful parks, all the way back to the JR Nara train station, to return our bikes before 6 PM
  • Green tea mochi with red beans snack. I just have to mention this because it was so good. We bought it along Sanjo Dori Street.
  • Supposed to eat in Nara, but we salivated for Moja Curry so we went back to Osaka to have our second round of this very addictive Japanese curry...
  • Tapped out; beer in our Airbnb
Tip: We were lucky to have seen and experienced quite a number of places in Nara despite the time constraints because of the bikes we rented. But I suggest to start your day earlier for you to be able to experience Naramachi as well. Naramachi is a traditional neighborhood in Nara with traditional homes, ryokans, shops selling Japanese sweets, art galleries, etc. Click here to learn more.

The next leg of our travels transpired in Kyoto. Click here for our helpful Kyoto travel guide!

For more detailed directions on train or bus rides, search via Google Maps instead. It changes from time to time, and it will depend on where you are staying.

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