Japan is a country with many cities, natural wonders and cultural experiences to be had. Certainly it cannot all be taken in with a single trip or even a long stay. So when looking at our first ever itinerary with time constraints, budgeting and highest value for time to spend here we decided on the following itinerary: Osaka and Kyoto.
Deciding factors for our Japan itinerary:
This will vary for many people, but often Japan is a haul even if you are coming from elsewhere in Asia as was our case. Fitting it in with other Asian destinations really only gave us 5-6 days to which realistically 2-3 cities could be seen. Kyoto and Osaka are a good combo because they are only around an hour from each other and in the same province. So bus and train routes are plentiful and not too pricey.
Japan is a costly destination overall. From plane tickets, to train and bus tickets to hotel accommodations. Food was not as costly as we had anticipated but still higher than most places in the world. We found markets and groceries to be the best way to eat healthily and affordably. Kyoto and Osaka were good choices for this since both cities have competitive infrastructures.
While one might long for the crowds and electric signs of Tokyo or the still mountain air of the rural monasteries it is difficult to have it all in a normal length trip. We decided on Osaka to get the big city experience with an ocean view that included world class hotels, cultural attractions and a good point of entry. Flights to and from Shanghai, our point of departure, seemed very good to Osaka.
Kyoto we chose because it offers a window into a unique historic and cultural city not far away. Temples, stone streets, saki, tofu and charming rivers, houses and gardens make this a window into the more laid back town life of Japan without being too far from the Osaka.
Our itinerary was 5 days total and in that time we explored much of Kyoto and enjoyed the city scape of Osaka. The size and attractions of each city are different. Kyoto is certainly more of a tourist town while Osaka is a commercial and business area with attractions and a wide range of luxury hotels to enjoy.