Wednesday, March 4, 2015

(Japan Jan 2015) Day 4: Visit Nara and Himeji. Stay at Osaka

Day 4 (26/1): Visit Nara and Himeji. Stay at Himeji

Itinerary for this day: 
(Day 3 of the 14 days' JR Railpass's usage)
0747-0807 Shin-Osaka to Tennoji via Haruka Express (21mins)
0814-0851 Tennoji to Nara via JR Yamatoji line (35mins)
Took short 5mins bus ride to near Todaiji
Quick visit to Nara's deers outside Todaiji
Took short 5mins bus ride back to JR Nara station
1101-1134 Nara to Tennoji via JR Yamatoji line (33mins)
1150-1205 Tennoji to Shin-Osaka via Haruka Express (15mins)
Lunch at Shin-Osaka station
1305-1342 Shin-Osaka to Himeji via Shinkansen
Visit Himeji
1625-1705 Himeji to Shin-Osaka via Shinkansen

The plan for today is to visit Nara and Himeji. 
Before heading out, we had our free breakfast at the hotel (well, technically the hubby did. The brother and I opted for more sleep) and here are some photos of the food.

Since brother and I didn't had our breakfast, so we bought some drinks and waffle from the convenience store to eat on the train for breakfast.

From Tennoji station (can board from Osaka station as well), we took the JR Yamatoji train to JR Nara station. The green and older looking train doesn't seemed to have toilets onboard the train, whereas the newer looking white train has 1 toilet onboard the train. Both trains run along Yamatoji line. 
From Tennoji station, it is about 35mins to reach JR Nara station via a Rapid train on Yamatoji line). The journey will take slightly longer if you'd board from Osaka station.

Didn't see any toilets onboard this train
There's a toilet on this train.
Since the hubby and I have already visited Nara on our previous trips, so this short visit to Nara is just to see the deers at Nara since my brother have yet to visit Nara before. 

From JR Nara station, it's just a short 5mins bus ride to the areas where there's deers roaming about freely near Todaiji. 

Not long after we arrived at Nara, it started to rain, so we cut short our visit and went back to JR Nara station to catch a train back to Osaka.

Lunch at Shin-Osaka station.
After a quick lunch at Shin-Osaka station, we managed to catch at Shinkansen ride to Himeji. I've visited Himeji castle on my previous trip but it was all covered up due to the restoration works. But this time round, the castle seems to be already done, but it's just too bad that it was raining heavily when we arrived at Himeji. 

Since the rain don't seem like it will stop anytime soon, so we decided to skip visiting Himeji castle, and just walk around Himeji station since we are already here. 

Raining heavily when we arrived at Himeji. 
There is actually a long sheltered shopping street that links Himeji station up to not too far from Himeji castle.  So we decided to stroll along this street and see how's the view of Himeji castle look like from the end of this street.

Can't find the name of the shopping street on google map, so linked google street view of this street instead.

This shop sells many cheap snacks

Finally we walked to the end of the shopping street and this is the view of Himeji castle from where we stood. 

Cold and disappointed with the weather, I found something that cheered me up. 
Yes, a Hello Kitty cafe! I managed to drag the 2 guys with me to take a break at the cafe while promising that I'd treat them to whatever they like from the menu. :)

Hello Kitty Cafe (Cafe de Miki) at Himeji, somewhere between Himeji castle and Himeji station.

The pink colored white chocolate ribbon is so cute!

After our teabreak, we took Shinkansen back to Shin-Osaka where we decided to just have a lazy day and buy food from convenience store to eat for dinner instead of heading out to explore the city.

Go to previous blog entry: Day 3 Visit Kyoto and Osaka
Go to next blog entry: Day 5 Osaka to Tokyo. Visit Tokyo.


  1. Hi Samantha, Your blog is fantastic, very detailed and informative. Love it. Need your advice on our family trip in December for 2 weeks. We are family of four, 2 adult and 2 teenagers. We would like to fly to Osaka first, may be 4 nights in Osaka (incl USJ), then take a bullet train to Kyoto, stay one night will also visit Nara Deer Park. Next take a train to Takayama, stay one night. Before going to Tokyo, we would like to stay one night at Hakone. And lastly 5 nights in Tokyo before flying back to Singapore.

    Could you pls give me some advice if my plan is workable? I would like to try out overnight train to somewhere can you pls give me some advise. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog.
      First, I'm just going to assume that you are flying in Osaka and flying out Tokyo?

      Here are some of your bigger train fares breakdown:
      Kyoto to Takayama via Shinkansen + Ltd Exp (transfer at Nagoya) 9960yen
      Takayama to Odawara via Ltd Exp + Shinkansen (transfer at Nagoya) 12760yen
      Odawara to Tokyo EITHER via regular train (1490yen, 95mins) or Shinkansen (3220yen, 36mins)

      Also, do note that if you intend to visit Owakudani in Hakone, it has been closed for the past few months due to an increase in underground volcanic activity. Hakone is still open to tourists, just that Owakudani and part of the ropeway is closed.

      If you just want to see a Mt Fuji, you can actually see quite a nice view of Mt Fuji (if not too cloudy) from the shinkansen ride from Nagoya to Tokyo actually. It is visible between Shin-Fuji station and Mishima station.

      Your route of Osaka to Kyoto to Takayama to Hakone to Tokyo should work. Since it's all along the way and not much of backtracking.

      If you find the train costs from Kyoto to Takayama to be too expensive, you can consider taking bus from Kyoto to Takayama.

      And if you also want to take bus from Takayama to Tokyo, you can too:

      If you want to skip Hakone, but yet want to go somewhere to see a view of Mt Fuji, you can consider taking bus from Tokyo's Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko:

      Also, you don't need to spend so much to take Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Kyoto. You can just take the local trains which costs 560yen per pax.
      Shinkansen costs around 2810yen (14mins) whereas a Rapid regular JR train costs only 560yen (about 30mins).

      Since u are only spending 1 night at Kyoto, so my advice is to just concentrate on visiting Kyoto on that 2D1N, and visit Nara while u are staying at Osaka instead of when u are staying at Kyoto.
      Just take the JR Yamatoji line from Tennoji station in Osaka to reach Nara.
      Usually takes about 35-45mins, costs 470yen.

    2. Regarding Overnight train...well, in recent years, JR have retired many overnight trains so your options are not alot.
      For your itinerary, there's non that runs along your route...unless you want to take the Sunrise Izumo/Seto from Osaka to Tokyo.

      If you have a 7 days JR railpass, u can book a berth on the open berth (not a private cabin) for free for this particular overnight train. HOWEVER, since there's only a limited number of such berths, so it is extremely difficult to book it, since you can only make the reservation after you arrive at Japan (whereas the Japanese can start booking the moment the date is being released for booking in Japan).

      Therefore, every time I plan to take an overnight train, I'd go with the assumption that I will not be able to get a ticket, and have backup train route/overnight options.
      If you don't mind spending more $$, you don't need to get the JR railpass, you just spend more to book a private cabin. But it's going to cost much more than hotel stay or domestic flight.
      (The rates quoted on the website are for JR railpass holders. If you don't have the railpass, it will cost much more, am not exactly sure how much).

    3. There is a new railpass called the Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass, but since u are only making a 1 way journey from Osaka to Tokyo instead of 2 way, so I don't think this railpass is economical for u.

  2. Hi Samantha, thank you very much for your detailed reply. Yes, we plan to arrive in Osaka and depart from Tokyo. I will slowly look through the information that you have given and may ask for your help again. I am quite worry that it is not so easy to find the routing like how to take what bus or train etc. it seems very confusing for me. You are really very good, I have also read thru all your japan travel blog and admire all the places that you have been through. Your blog really provide a look of information for our planning. Cheers!

    1. I always use hyperdia website to plan my train travels in Japan.

      If you need more help, feel free to email me. I have listed my email address on my side navigation bar.

      Generally speaking, your train travels would be something like this:
      Osaka station (or Shin-Osaka station) to Kyoto via JR Kyoto line (takes about 30-45mins, costs 560yen per pax). If possible, catch the trains that are labelled as "Rapid" since those trains skip many stations along the way and so you will reach Kyoto faster than the regular local trains.
      You can use the transport card ICOCA card (works kinda like Singapore's EZ-link card, if you are familiar with Singapore's MRT) to just tap in and tap out of the gantries.

      For Shinkansen, if you are not using railpass, you will have to go to the JR Ticking office or counter to buy the tickets. The offices are marked by a green logo of a reclining seat graphic.

      For Kyoto to Takayama, the usual route is to take Shinkansen to Nagoya, then transfer to a Ltd Exp train. Any train journey that involves Shinkansen and/or Ltd Exp train will be expensive.
      I know that there's also a direct Ltd Exp train that runs from Kyoto to Takayama but I think there's only 1 train per day, which departs Kyoto station around 0830am I think. Journey takes about 4hrs and costs 7650yen. I'm not 100% sure if this train runs every day though, so once u know your exact travel date, use the hyperdia website to check the train schedule. Untick the "Bullet train" and "Nozomi/Mizuho" boxes to remove Shinkansen options from your search results.

  3. Hi Samantha, once I have done up the itinerary I will send it to your private email for your advice but not so soon. May be in one or two months time. Best regards, Stephanie

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  5. Hi Samantha, I chanced upon your blog while doing for itinerary to Japan next year April. Thank God that I've found your blog and thanks for writing such a detailed blog.

    However, I could like to check with you some of the stuff. As I'll be travelling to Japan next year April for 15days, and I'll getting the JR Pass 7 days. It is advisable to get the JR Pass, can the JR Pass useable for many of the trains rides?

    Thank You.

    1. It really depends on where you will be going on your itinerary.
      The 7 days JR pass is pretty expensive, and it will only pay off if you intend to take multiple Ltd Exp and Shinkansen trains during the 7 day period.

    2. Hi Samantha,

      Okays, noted. Thanks for responding! (: