Japan is beautiful through the seasons, but it absolutely transforms in Winter – think expansive snowscapes filled with frozen lakes and snow-capped trees. Ice festivals are held all over the island, and it’s the only time of the year when you can try your hand at activities like ice fishing!
After 83 years of operation, the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market has recently found a new home in Toyosu Fish Market. For those who miss the loud, authentic, and inviting charm of the Tsukiji Fish Market, no fret! It’s not all gone yet.
Explore Japan’s best kept secrets with your Kintetsu Rail Pass!
The Japanese transport system is notoriously confusing but yet we all know it’s the most efficient and cheapest way to get around! While we all know and love the usual hits in Osaka, Kyoto and Nara, there’s so much more to be explored.
The Japanese transport system is known for its efficacy and also the many different networks. Japan Rail, Hankyu, subway and also Kintetsu lines, these trains all service the same destination. But sometimes, one station might be closer to certain attractions!
If you’re looking for new sites to explore on your pilgrimage to the Kansai region, here are some hidden gems to get you started. The best part is these places can be easily accessed with the Kintetsu Rail Pass!
Visit the usual Osaka hotspots like Japan’s tallest skyscraper Harukas 300 and home to giant whale sharks Kaiyukan Aquarium! Not only does the Kintetsu Rail Pass takes you to these hotspots, it saves you the hassle of buying single trip tickets.
Located just a few blocks away from the iconic Glico man sign along the Dotonburi River, the Hozenji Yokochi Alley is your secret hideout from the crowds. This street is lined with traditional houses and charming little shops and restaurants. The most famous is a dessert store, Meoto Zenzai where you can get your sweet tooth satisfied.
P.S. Legend has it that eating the zenzai dessert as a couple will bring you luck!
Address: 2 Chome-7-21 Higashishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0083, Japan
Nearest Kintetsu station: Osaka Namba
But of course you can’t leave the Dotonburi area without a river cruise ride! The Kintetsu Osaka Namba station will take you right to the heart of Dotonburi where the shopping streets are! From there, you can stroll along the river and grab a Takoyaki or two or stock up on souvenirs at Don Don Don Ki!
Klook your Osaka Amazing Pass and not only will you get a free ride on the river cruise, you’ll even get unlimited transport on the subways, metros and buses!
2. Nipponbashi-suji Shotengai (Denden Town)
For the uninitiated, Shotengai is a local shopping street with rows of shops that carry everything residents in the area need. The Nipponbashi-suji Shotengai is the largest electronic product shopping area. Rivaling Akihabara in Tokyo, you can also find many animae stores where you can stock up on figurines and manga books!
While many of us know Nara as the land of deers, there is so much more worth exploring beyond the doe eyed creatures. From amusement parks to cherry blossom towns, you’ll definitely want to see more than just deers.
Visiting Nara is made easy with the Kintetsu Rail pass as it covers the Nara Kotsu Bus lines, taking you to Nara’s top attractions like the Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha shrine and more.
P.S. Did you know that the Kintetsu Nara station is only a 5 minute walk to the deer park whereas the other Nara stations can be up to a 20 minute walk away!
3. Ikoma Sanjo Amusement Park
Apart from being home to the Ikoma Sanjo Amusement Park, you can also enjoy a panoramic night view of Osaka! Located atop Mt Ikoma, after a day out at the amusement park, enjoy the firework show against the backdrop of the city lights.
Did we mention that admission to the Ikoma Sanjo Amusement Park is free!
Address: 2312-1 Nabatacho, Ikoma, Nara Prefecture 630-0231, Japan
Nearest station: Ikoma Station
Mount Yoshino is Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spot with over 30,000 cherry trees planted along the slopes. However, even if you are not visiting during cherry blossom season, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is still worth a visit. Named the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range”, there are many shrines and temples to check out on your trip up.
The Kintetsu Yoshino Line will take you straight to the Shimo Senbon where you can board the ropeway up to the entrance of the town. Plus, the Kintetsu line is the only direct train from Osaka!
Nearest station: Yoshino Station
Must visit spots in Mie
5. Yunoyama Onsen and Mt Gozaisho
Head up to the top of Mount Gozaisho and enjoy the cool breeze while you take in the spectacular views! On a clear day, you can even see as far as Mount Fuji. If you’re up for it, hike up to the top before heading to the Yunoyama Onsen Hot Springs for a good soak. Otherwise, take the ropeway up to the top of the mountain and enjoy the views along the way.
The Onsen is an 8 minute walk away from the nearest train station which is the Kintetsu Yunoyama station.
Address: 8625 Komono, Mie District, Mie Prefecture 510-1233, Japan
Nearest station: Kintetsu Yunoyama Onsen Station
6. Shima-shi Kanko Noen Sunflower Field
Many of us have dreamt of running through a field of sunflowers, well now you can! Head to the Shima-shi Kanko Noen, also known as the tourist farm and see about 5000 sunflowers planted right before your eyes. Stand in the middle of the sunflower fields for your million dollar photo moment!
However, as with all good things, they don’t last very long. The sunflower season is usually from July to August so be sure check the city website for updates before heading down.
If you head over from December to May, you won’t leave hungry because that is strawberry season!
Address: 48 Takamidai, Toyohama, Minamichita-Town, Chita-District, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Nearest station: Kowa station
7. Shima Spain Village
The Shima Spain Village, also known as Parque Espana in the Mie prefecture is definitely one of its kind! Located inside a national park, this little village has been landscaped to mimic that of the Andalusia region in Spain. Enjoy the amusement park, soak in a hot spring, enjoy some Spanish cuisine or simply just stroll along these picturesque streets for a day out!
If you’re heading here by train, the nearest station is the Kintetsu Shima Isobe station and there are free shuttle buses that take you to the village.
Check out the park calendar for the opening hours before heading down.
8. Menard Aoyama Resort Herb Garden
If walking through a carpet of lavender does not sound like heaven to you, we don’t know what will. Breathe in the fresh lavender scent as you stroll through rows and rows of purple at the Menard Aoyama Resort Herb Garden. They also have hot springs for you to soak in after a long day of walking!
To get here, hop onto the free shuttle buses from the Kintetsu Iga Kambe station.
Address: 2356 Kiryu, Iga, Mie Prefecture 518-0215, Japan
Nearest station: Iga Kambe station
Kyoto hidden gems
9. Shogunzuka Seiryu-den Glass Tea House
The Shogun Mound is located on the eastern mountains of Kyoto and the highlight of this place is definitely the observation deck. Enjoy clear views of Kyoto and even Osaka on clear days. The glass tea house at the Shogun Mound makes for great pictures, especially at sunset!
You can also take a hike up to the Shogunzuka viewpoint where you’ll get to enjoy the lush greenery as well as see landmarks like Japan’s largest bell along the way! This round trip hike will take about 2 hours and can be done by anyone in decent shape. You can begin your hike at Chion-in Temple in Southern Higashiyama.
Address: 400 Rinkacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-8686, Japan
Nearest station: Kyoto station
If you haven’t gotten enough of tea houses, visit the Taiho-an Tea House and savor some Matcha from the birthplace of green tea, Uji! Participate in a traditional tea ceremony and learn about how the famous Uji Matcha was made.
10. Nagoya Science Museum
The Nagoya Science Museum is home to the largest planetarium in the world. This dome shaped landmark looks deceptively like the robot from the movie The Incredibles! With interactive displays like the “Tornado Lab”, the “Electric Discharge Lab” and the “Deep Freezing Lab,” there’s plenty to see and do.
When in Nagoya, you definitely cannot miss visiting the postcard cities of Shirakawa and Takayama. The cute little steep sloped wooden houses against a backdrop of lush greenery screams photogenic!
Other Japan essentials
Apart from these secret spots, your visit to Osaka would not be complete without a visit to Universal Studios Japan. Don’t forget to Klook your tickets to skip the lines! You’ll also need an Osaka Amazing Pass for unlimited transport around Osaka as well as free entry into these attractions.
We all know and love Tokyo for many reasons – its quirky culture, hype beast fashion and efficient public transport system. More importantly, the Japanese food scene is known to be a gastronomic heaven! Whether you’re looking to experience some weird and wacky cafes or authentic good food, you’ll find it in Tokyo. However, Tokyo can also cost an arm and a leg if you don’t know where to look for cheap options.
While we all know and love the Japanese for their delicious cuisine, beautiful temples and kimonos, the Japanese are also famous being pretty strange. Most noteworthy is their crazy festivals, traditions and competitions! These include pitting crying babies against each other and painting faces on their bellies. Recently making the news is even a competition where they break tea tables! Read on to find out some of these whacky traditions and why they exist.
Many claim that Osaka is Japan’s kitchen, and we definitely agree! You can probably spend all day eating and not try all the city has to offer. One of the biggest pains of leaving Osaka after a holiday is the food withdrawal symptoms. Lucky for us, the Japanese have delicious food souvenirs that we can take home to have a taste of Osaka every now and then!
The best part is most of these can be found in the duty free stores in the Kansai International Airport! Read on to find out some of the must buy food souvenirs so worth extra luggage space.
1. All things Takoyaki flavored
As you stroll along the streets of Dotonbori in Osaka, you’ll probably see a Takoyaki store every few steps! What could be coined the national street food of Osaka, these little octopus balls were our favorite snack to have on the go. Luckily for us, the Japanese snack companies have came up with Takoyaki flavored snacks in all forms! Whether you’re looking for prawn crackers, potato sticks or even biscuit sticks, you’ll find Takoyaki flavors everywhere.
For the uninitiated, Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of short grain Japanese glutinous rice that has been repeatedly beaten with a wooden mallet. This chewy rice paste comes in many variations! The Strawberry Daifuku mochi comes with a huge strawberry and a red bean centre. Some of the more common flavors include the mochi with brown sugar filling coated in soy bean flour and green tea mochi!
P.S. If you’re looking to get some freshly made mochi to munch on while in Osaka, get some from the Kuromon Market! Klook yourselves a Kuromon market tour and let a local guide show you all the best places to get your Japanese food fix.
3. Kit Kats
The famous Japanese confectionary KitKat should definitely not be left out from your list. These make great gifts for friends back home with their huge variety of flavors. With over 200 different KitKat flavors, here are some unique Japanese flavors that you should definitely make space in your suitcases for.
The Tokyo Banana flavored KitKat is the perfect souvenir, combining both KitKat and the famous Tokyo Banana cake into one. Dorayaki, Red Bean, Wasabi and Sake are some of the more unique Japanese flavors that you can’t find elsewhere. While we’re not too sure how wasabi and chocolate combined would taste, we wouldn’t mind finding out!
4. Pablo Cheese snacks
If you haven’t heard, the Pablo cheese tarts are all the hype in Japan! If you didn’t manage to squeeze in the time and the belly space to get a taste of the rich creamy cheese tart, here is your next best option. Pablo has a range of take home souvenirs that we definitely will be trying. The Sabrel cheese biscuits come in 2 flavors, original and matcha. They also have a Pablo cheese creme brulee which we think is a match made in heaven!
5. Okonomiyaki flavored snacks
Apart from Takoyaki, another must try food in Osaka is definitely Okonomiyaki. This savory Japanese pancake is made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, a protein some delicious sauce! You can go for the regular Okonomiyaki flavored biscuit sticks but we would recommend the Okonomiyaki Senbei! This rice cracker is topped with real freeze dried Okonomiyaki toppings, giving you the real authentic flavor of Osaka.
Not to be confused with fellow Japanese banana cake counterpart (Tokyo Banana), the Osaka Petit Banana is a soft fluffy sponge cake filled with banana cream and wrapped in a rectangular bite sized piece for easy consumption!
7. Matcha madness
Did you know that the birthplace of Matcha is Uji? Located just slightly over an 1 hour by train from Osaka. It’s no wonder that all the Matcha snacks in Osaka taste so good! Whether you’re looking for biscuits, mochi, kit kats and even cheese biscuits, you’ll find a matcha variation.
You can even bring home authentic matcha powder from Uji to make your own cup of green tea! Read our guide to Uji for more.
8. Peach flavored everything
Most of us always think of peach (Momo) when it comes to fruit in Japan. While you’re in Osaka, you should definitely stop by the markets and feast on some fresh ones but since it might not be possible to bring them home, you can get the next best option – peach flavored snacks!
Hopping onto the whole peach craze is the latest peach flavored Coca Cola! You can even get a peach version of the Osaka No Koibito and the famous Japanese Glico snack , Pocky!
9. Instant noodles
Fans of the hit series Pokemon will definitely want to bring these cute cups of instant noodles home. These mini cups make for great snack portions for days where you want something substantial.
If you’re heading to Universal Studios Japan, you should definitely get your hands on the themed instant noodles! Whether you’re a fan of everyone’s favorite yellow Minions, Snoopy or Spider Man, you’ll find your favorite in a cup.
P.S. Don’t forget to Klook your Universal Studios Japan tickets for the ultimate hassle-free experience. With open-dated e-tickets, not only will you get flexibility in deciding which date to visit, you’ll even get to skip the queues!
If you’re looking for more gourmet options, there are many instant noodles in Japan that have even been Michelin Guide recommended! You can even find these bowls in a nearby 7-11 or Family Mart store. Who says gourmet experiences have to cost a bomb!
Names like Ippudo Ramen and Ichiran Ramen are no stranger to those who have frequented Japan. Famous for their solo eating booths, Ichiran’s broth is good to the last drop! Now you don’t have to fly all the way to Japan to get your cravings satisfied.
10. Calbee Jagariko
Calbee Jagariko is probably no stranger to us all. These stick shaped potato chips come in a variety of flavors! Our favorites are the salad and mentaiko flavours. But if you’re up for a little party on your palette, try the lemon flavored Jagariko for a change!
P.S. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, these are really addictive.
Now that you’ve got your food souvenirs all set, if you’re looking for inspiration on what to do in the city, we’d say the must visit place is definitely Universal Studios Japan! Relive the best movie magic moments of Harry Potter, the Minions and even Spiderman all in 1 place.
Don’t forget to also get yourselves an Osaka Amazing Pass to save money on Osaka attractions admission tickets! This pass not only grants you unlimited rides on the subways and metros, you’ll also get free entry to numerous attractions. Check out our guide to this pass to find out more.
A soaking good time awaits at Universal Studios Japan this summer 2018!
Nothing says summer in Osaka like soaking up the fun (literally) at Universal Studios Japan! Cool off from the summer heat and join your favorite One Piece characters in a battle of the super soakers. If water isn’t enough to cool you down, we hear the Minions went wild with their giant new freeze ray!
Starting from 30th June 2018, read on to find out what you can expect this summer!
From 6th July to 30th September 2018, experience the One Piece Premier Summer in Universal Studios Japan! Based off the ever popular manga series, step into the world of straw hat pirates and get ready to celebrate summer!
One Piece Premier Show 2018
Grab your fellow straw hat friends because the One Piece Premier Show is the one thing you must not miss on your visit to Universal Studios Japan this summer. Relieve one of the most popular moments in the manga series where Luffy and the other straw hat pirates rescue Princess Vivi from crisis! Complete with fireworks, stunts and special effects, get ready for the excitement of finding your very own One Piece.
This attraction requires a separate ticket from your Universal Studios Japan admission ticket. You can get them from the official Universal Studios Japan site.
Venue: WaterWorld Time: Doors open at 6.15pm, show begins at 7.15pm
Duration: 75 minutes
Show period: 6 July to 30 September 2018.
*Do note that there will not be a show on 10th July, 2nd August and 5th September.
Of course you can’t spend summer without having at least one water gun fight! Join the Straw Hat pirates in their quest to gain the hidden treasure and get in a few soaks while you’re at it.
Pick up your weapon of choice and help Luffy defeat the enemies! Be sure to pack an extra set of clothes because you can get pretty wet.
Period: 6th July to 2nd September 2018
Venue: Near the entrance of WaterWorld
Timing: Check out the daily soak sessions at the guest services centre!
Sanji’s Pirates Restaurant
You’ll definitely be starving after all that battling and there’s no better place to feel like a Straw Hat pirate than refuelling on some food by Sanji. For the uninitiated, Sanji is the Straw Hat Pirates’ cook and this themed restaurant is one of the most popular dining options as from previous years. Enjoy some delicious french cuisine as you bask in the hospitality of Sanji!
Period: 1st June to 30th September*
Opening hours: Restaurant opens 5 times a day and requires advanced seat reservations
*Do note that the restaurant is NOT open from 4th to 7th, 11th to 14th, 18th to 21st and 25th to 28th of June.
Minion Freeze Ray Sliders
Our favorite friendly little yellow friends couldn’t stand the summer heat so they stole Gru’s freeze ray gun and the next thing we knew, the entire pool at the Minion Park is frozen! If you too can’t stand the summer heat, be sure to head over to the new ice rink. Hop into the ice making machine vehicles and slide your way around the rink to free up the other frozen minions!
Getting tickets to Universal Studios Japan
With so much to see and do this summer at Universal Studios Japan, the last thing you’d want to do is spend your time outside the park queuing up for tickets. Klook your tickets to Universal Studios Japan and skip the queues! Just flash your mobile e-voucher and enter the park directly. From the best spots to view the night parade to secret souvenirs you can get, don’t forget to check out our insider tips to conquering the park!
Japan Railway Co. and Sanrio have launched what may just be the cutest train in all of history – a Hello Kitty themed Shinkansen bullet train! All decked out in bright pink and purple Hello Kitty gear, fans of the Sanrio character are definitely in for a treat!
In case you didn’t know, the Shinkansen line of bullet trains are considered to be the fastest in Japan. That said, you can expect this Hello Kitty-adorned train to be no different – just a whole lot cuter! In addition to its charming design, guests will also be greeted with no other than Conductor Hello Kitty herself upon entering the train!
As a cherry on top to this uber cute experience, travelers will also receive special Hello Kitty freebies such as towels, handbags, and stickers!
Book your JR Passes today!
The Hello Kitty Shinkansen train will be operational starting June 30th until September 30, 2018 only. Since it is on a limited run, the Hello Kitty Shinkansen will operate only once a day, unless stated otherwise. For now, only those traveling between Shin-Osaka and Hakata will be able to avail of this uniquely themed bullet train, but stay tuned for future updates!
In case you’re traveling to other Japan regions, we’ve got JR Passes for all your travels, too!
Need more Hello Kitty?
If this Hello Kitty themed train isn’t enough to curb your obsession, you can travel to Tokyo and visit Tokyo Sanrio Puroland! Apart from Hello Kitty, you’ll also meet a bunch of other Sanrio characters here, too!
Heading to Japan soon but still clueless about which Japan Rail (JR) Pass to get? Fret not, we’ve consolidated ALL the information needed to make an informed decision for choosing the right JR Pass, saving you the hassle of scouring through the net.
Discover the different types of JR Passes and choose the most suitable pass for your upcoming Japan adventure!
What are the different types of JR Passes Available?
Green vs Ordinary Passes
Think economy vs business class for airplane flights. The Green Pass gives you access to the Green Car, which is equivalent to business class for airplane flights. Some of these added advantages include:
Spacious seats that recline and more legroom
Hot/cold towel before boarding
Extra storage space
If you don’t mind paying more for the extra legroom and luggage space, you can choose to pamper yourself with the Green Passes! For Green Passes, seat reservation is required to be made at the JR Pass office before every train ride. Prices for Green and Ordinary Passes vary, so do check before you book.
Choice of 7, 14 & 21 Days
You can choose the duration of the JR Pass based on the number of days you’ll be travelling in Japan. For Whole Japan JR Passes, there are 7, 14 & 21 days passes available and you’ll enjoy unlimited travel during the validity period. Since there is no option to split the duration of travel, once the pass is activated, the clock starts!
Whole Japan vs Regional JR Passes
With more than 20 variations of JR Passes to choose from, the first step is knowing which areas of Japan you’d like to cover.
The Whole Japan Rail Pass allows you to thoroughly explore the whole of Japan with unlimited train rides in-between cities and within cities, with consecutive 7, 14, and 21 days passes to choose from. This pass would be perfect if you’re planning to explore Japan without staying in one specific region, since it provides the greatest flexibility in hitting all the best spots in Japan!
However, if you plan your route well and know the specific regions that you’d like to cover, choosing the regional passes would definitely be more cost-effective. Also, certain regional passes have non-consecutive day passes so you can travel slower, and take your time exploring each city.
If the cities you’re planning to go to fall under one Regional JR Pass, that JR Pass would be the best fit for your travels in Japan! Otherwise, consider getting the Whole Japan JR Pass as it allows greater flexibility travelling around the different regions in Japan.
Take rides on all Shinkansen in the area between Tokyo and Sapporo. The easiest and fastest way to explore the Tohoku and Southern Hokkaido regions with unlimited travels for any 6 days within a 14 days window period.
Popular Cities: Tokushima, Kotohira, Matsuyama, Kochi, and Tokushima
How to Book Your JR Pass Tickets
Now that you’ve decided on the JR Pass most suitable for your trip, the next step would be purchasing them!
On the Klook site/app, the JR pass booking page allows you to filter the passes via the different locations, hence making it easier for you to compare the prices between passes. You’ll also be able to filter via your JR Pass pick-up location, and the number of days you require for you JR Pass.
With the Klook website and app, booking your JR Pass is seamless and easy, with the lowest price guaranteed! For a step-by-step guide on buying your JR Pass through Klook, hop over to All You Need To Know About The Japan Rail Pass.