Japan's golden route - tour to the world heritage sites (8D7N itinerary)

This trip was planned almost 1 year ago. When I first saw the picture of this beautiful village Shirakawago on internet, I fell in love with this place immediately. I spent months to plan the itinerary. I hope this 8D7N itinerary to central Japan will be useful to you. 

Tokyo - Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa - Kyoto - Osaka - Tokyo

  • A night stay in Takayama Japanese ryokan with traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner (Hida beef). Hida beef is comparable to Wagyu beef!!!
  • A night stay in Shirakawago traditional gassho zukuri farmhouse with traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner
  • Shirakawago, UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Kenrokuen garden 兼六園
  • Osaka castle 大阪城
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine 伏見稲荷大社
  • Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion 金閣寺

You may want to download word version (with more details) of my itinerary here

Day 1 
Arrive Tokyo Narita T2 at 10:40 by Scoot
Set off to Takayama 高山
Stay overnight in Hodakaso Yamano Iori

Read my post here - Takayama

Day 2 
Visit Jinya-mae and Miyagawa morning market
Check out and take 12:50 bus to Shirakawago, arrive at 13:40
Ogimachi Tenbodai lookout Shiroyama viewpoint
Myozenji Temple and house 300 yen. Wadake house 300 yen. Gassho zukuri minkae 500 yen. Kandake house 300 yen. Nagaseke house 300 yen. Shirakagawa no-Yu 700 yen.
Stay overnight at Mishuku Kanjiya

Read my post here - Shirakawago

Day 3 
Check out and take 10:20 bus to Kanazawa, arrive at 11:35
Visit Omicho market, Kanazawa seafood
Walk to Kanazawa castle
Walk to Kenrokuen garden 兼六園

Stay overnight at Garden Hotel Kanazawa, $55/pax without breakfast wifi 

Read my post here - Kanazawa

Day 4 
Set off to Kyoto, 2 hrs JR train ride
Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine 伏見稲荷大社
Visit Nishiki market
Shopping at Teramachi Archade, Shin Kyogoku Arcade
Watch geisha (geiko & maiko) performance @ Gion Corner
Stay overnight at Capsule Ryokan Kyoto, $56/pax without breakfast with wifi

Read my post here - Kyoto

Day 5
Visit 400 yen Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion 金閣寺
Visit Higashiyama district
Stay overnight at Capsule Ryokan Kyoto, $56/pax without breakfast with wifi

Day 6 
Visit Osaka Castle 大阪城. 

Visit Osaka downtown, Dotonbori. 
Try famous Osaka food Takoyaki octopus ball.
Stay overnight at Capsule Ryokan Kyoto, $56/pax without breakfast with wifi

Day 7 
Set off to Tokyo
Visit Tsujiki market
Visit temple Zojoji temple 増上寺
Stay overnight at Hotel Horidome Tokyo, $42/pax without breakfast with wifi

Day 8 
Morning check out and proceed to Narita Airport


I spent only SGD2300/pax including air ticket, accommodation, meal, transport, entrance fees, shopping and etc.  

Read japan-guide on budget estimation. 

Scoot air ticket SGD550
7N accommodation ¥41,370/pax
JR pass ¥29,110/pax
8D meal SGD30x8x3-4 (included in accommodation) = SGD600 (we used only SGD350/pax)
Museum/ Temple entrance tickets ¥4000/pax
Mobile wifi SGD22.5/pax
Local transport ¥3000/pax
Shopping (souvenir etc) SGD300/pax

Average SGD216 (US166)/day/pax exclude air ticket. Medium budget traveler. 

Interested to visit these places too? Check out my trip report KanazawaTakayamaShirakawagoKyoto 

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  1. Yeah, I'm a big fan of Japan too!

  2. Hi may I know where u got the mobile wifi from? U got it in sg first?

    1. I reserved it through their website - http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html
      They can deliver it to Japan airport and u pick up from airport post office, they can also send it to your hotel in Japan

  3. hi read your shirakawa-go itinerary. I have the same timing, reaching shirakawa-go around 1pm.
    is half a day enough to tour the place, other than the shirakawa village, is visiting Ainokura village necessary (or your itinerary already included Ainokura village)?
    thank you


    1. Hi Choy, I did not visit Ainokura village. If you visit Shirakawago in December, sun sets at around 4-5pm which means you have limited time to take daytime pictures. There are quite a few museums and shrines in Shirakawa village, you also should spend at least half an hour at view point enjoy magnificent Shirakawago from height.

  4. Hi, firstly I love the very very beautiful photos. I'm planning a last minute trip week-long trip out from Tokyo to visit central Japan. Shirakawago is the main destination I'm looking to go to so reading your blog was really helpful. I'm trying to decide my exact dates, and want to make sure the place is snowy like I see in the photos... so I'd like to know what date exactly did you arrive there? I'm wondering if week of 7th December is too early and perhaps I should push it to mid December?

    1. Hi Sam,

      I visited Shirakawago on 22nd Dec 2013

      First snow fall in Shirakawago in the past
      27 Oct 2010
      21 Nov 2011
      14 Nov 2012
      25 Nov 2013

      It doesn't mean the place will be covered by snow after first fall as morning sun will melt the snow.
      You can check 7 days weather forecast before you go there -

      You can also see the picture updated by Shirakawago Facebook, they will upload picture once Shirakawago is covered by snow - https://www.facebook.com/shirakawagoinfo

      Also, Shirakawago live webcam - http://shirakawa-go.org/livecam/

  5. Thanks for the quick reply! I'll keep an eye out on the info within the links and plan accordingly.

  6. Just coming back here to post and say thank you to the author. Your detailed blog was extremely useful. A few points that might help others who come across this site.

    Firstly I went in late Feb, and by all accounts it should generally be covered in snow like her photos, but I it was a warm year for me so bad luck for me. At least it did snow heavily during the morning and I was up at 6:00am to take advantage of it, like her I think it was worth getting out of bed that early, if nothing else just to experience the quiet village in the morning snow. A lady was telling me that best bet for snow covered sights is of course Jan, plus there is light up sessions on weekends during Jan and early Feb, so if you can plan ahead then maybe factor in for that. I tried booking in Nov and only secured the late Feb weekdays.

    My holiday was actually Tokyo->Kanazawa->Shirakawago->Takayama->Okuhida->Matsumoto->Tokyo. Considering there is now the new bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa, plus Nohi-bus offer a bus package ticket taking you along those exact destinations, its pretty handy. Bus package also allows for those destinations in the opposite direction. Here is the details of the Bus Package I am talking about (https://www.alpico.co.jp/access/ticket/pdf/mitsuboshiroute2014[1].pdf). I chose to spend a night in each destination except for Matsumoto where I just made my way home to Tokyo that night.

    Takayama, looking at her photos, I wish it was covered in snow there also. Its ok-ish place to walk around and spend a night (my opinion). Okuhida, I loved this place. Matsumoto, only stopped by to see the castle (one of the national treasures).

    It might be worth considering going Kyoto/Osaka->Kanazawa->Shirakawago->Takayama->Okuhida->Matsumoto->Tokyo, for those newly planning and especially if you are in Tokyo already.

    Thanks again for to the Author!

    1. Hi Sam, thanks for the new train route info, that makes travelling to Kanazawa/Takayama/Shirakawago much easier now. I'm glad that my blog post help you in your Jap trip itinerary.

  7. Hi I will be travelling to Takayama during the CNY. Certain trains are not covered by the 5 days pass . Can I top up if I use those trains. I managed to book Nohi tickets but my time is very tight. Planning for a Plan B. Taking the train from Kyoto straight to Takayama. Appreciate feedbacks. Thanks

    1. Are you referring to the Hokuriku 5 days pass? This pass was not available during my visit to Takayama, I used 7 days JR pass. You may want to refer to this link for information - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_takayama_hokuriku.html

  8. Hi, was wondering is it worth driving if 2 adults and 4 kids aged from 5-13? Or public transport is so much easier and cheaper to reach all these places?

    1. Hi, I don't see the need to drive as these places are easily accessible by public transport service.