Also known as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, Japan’s beauty comes in many forms. Majestic shrines, dramatic scenery, lush gardens, mouth-watering food, and advanced technology combine to make this destination one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. From the vibrant capital city of Tokyo to scenic Hokkaido to laidback Okinawa, beauty is in every corner of Japan. Japan will magically reel you in with its ancient temples, tranquil ceremonies, relaxing hot springs… Whether you are looking for culture, romance, adventure, nature or something spiritual in your honeymoon, Japan has something in store for you.
Welcome to Japan
Located along East Asia’s Pacific coast, Japan is an island country that is located on the edge of several tectonic plates. Its landscape comprises of islands, mountains, valleys, active volcanoes, and tectonic landscapes. You will find calderas, fuketsu (cave) and geothermal areas where there are hot springs. Japan’s terrain is mostly mountainous (70%) and forested.
The 5 main islands of Japan are Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Okinawa. Japan has over 6,000 remote islands. Japan being an archipelago has the sixth-longest coastline. Many people reside at the coastal areas, and its sandy beaches and coral reefs are home to many species of birds and fishes.
Early Japanese culture was heavily influenced by China. Today, Japan has Western influences evident in many aspects including art, lifestyle, and food. Shinto and Buddhism are the two main religions in Japan.
The national language is Japanese, which is primarily spoken around the country. Japan is pronounced as “Nippon” or “Nihon” in Japanese. Old Japanese (“Kanbun”) originated from China, and the earliest Japanese text (“Kojiki”) was written in the 8th Century- this is why you will notice familiar Chinese characters on signboards. English is not very widely spoken in Japan, so you may face some difficulties getting directions. Try to have a translate app or a language handbook with you to help you communicate.
Japanese are primarily fish eaters and Japan is the number one fish importer in the world. The Japanese diet commonly includes rice, fresh seafood, and pickled vegetables. Their healthy diet is believed to correlate to their longevity. You will remmber Japan for sushi, ramen, tempura & more.
Though Japan is heavily urbanized, there is so much nature in Japan. Famous for its cherry blossoms, you will see gorgeous sakura flowers blossom all over the island over the year. Japan has many national parks and marshlands for you to trek, gorges to hike, waterfalls to see, caves to explore, beaches to swim, and mountains for scenic views. It is absolutely stunning.
Best Time to Visit Japan
Japan has four distinct seasons, and each region may have varying climates. For good weather, in general, the best time to visit Japan would be in late spring (March to May) and late autumn (September to November). During this period, there is little rainfall, clear skies, and mild temperatures. You will get to see beautiful cherry blossoms (Hanami) in spring and red maple leaves (Koyo) in autumn. However, this falls in the high season.
I would visit Japan during the shoulder season of summer (June to September). You get good weather and cheaper prices.
The winter months of (December to February) are cold, but it is the least-visited season for tourists and so you get the lowest prices. There are plenty of winter activities in Japan for you to enjoy. I will share more details on the best time to visit Japan for each region in the travel FAQ section below.
Popular Japan Honeymoon Destinations
Japan is a wonderland, with many different areas for you to explore.
Here are the top destinations in Japan to visit.
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Top 10 Things to Do in Japan
Exploring Japan? Don't miss out on your Japan Rail Pass
Top Romantic Resorts in Japan
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
The St. Regis Osaka
Japan Travel FAQ
As mentioned above, Japan has 4 distinct seasons. Each region may have varying climates. The best time to visit Japan would be during the shoulder season of summer (June to September) – you get good weather, less crowds, and cheaper prices. The high season in Japan is late spring (March to May) and late autumn (September to November). Winter (December to February) is cold, but there are plenty of winter activities to enjoy.
Below is the best time to travel to each region:
– Kanazawa: December to March
– Takayama: April and October (April is the spring and sakura season. October is the start of autumn season, yet is not as crowded as November)
– Kyoto & Osaka: March to May, October & November
-Tokyo: March to May
– Hakone & Mt. Fuji: Year round
– Hiroshima: April, May, October & November
– Nagasaki: March, April & October
Tokyo is the capital city and gateway to japan. There are two major airports Tokyo Narita (NRT) and Tokyo Haneda (HND).
Direct flights are available from Singapore to Okinawa, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo and Hiroshima, Sapporo (Hokkaido).
Full-fledged airlines that fly direct to Japan include Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Nippon Airways (ANA), British Airways and Delta. Budget airlines Jetstar and Scoot do fly to Japan, though do check if they have a transit stop. Singapore Citizens (holders of Singapore passport) who intend to stay in Japan as tourists for a period of up to 3 months do not need a visa. More Visa information here.
From Narita Airport, you can reach downtown Tokyo in 40+ minutes by Skyliner Train. Alternatively, you can take this airport limousine bus transfer with free wifi onboard. Check out this full guide by Klook on how to go to Tokyo from Haneda Airport or Narita International Airport.
Flight prices to Tokyo average about $500. If you find flights at $300 – $400, that is a good deal and you can proceed to buy without waiting too long. Prices can quickly double during high season.
The cheapest month for tickets to Japan would be November. The high season in Japan is May and June, but if you book early enough you might be able to get good deals. Subscribe to price alert on Skyscanner so you get notified when the price drops to your budget. Book at least 3 weeks before departure.
The flight duration from Singapore to Tokyo, Japan is about 6 hours 30 minutes to 7 hours.
The flight duration to Okinawa is slightly shorter at 5 hours.
If you are planning to visit just Tokyo and Kyoto, cater at least 7 – 10 days for a comfortable pace. If you are planning to make a few stops, 2 weeks would be better and you can add in Osaka, Hiroshima, as well as day trips to Mt Fuji, Nara, Miyajima. That being said, Japan has so many places for you to explore that even a 3-weeks itinerary would be packed.
If it is your first-time in Japan, I would suggest this 2-week itinerary:
- – Day 1 – 5: Tokyo (including a day trip to Mount Fuji)
- – Day 6 – 10: Kyoto
- – Day 10 – 12: Hiroshima (including a day trip to Miyajima)
- – Day 12 – 14: Osaka (including a day trip to Nara)
- – Day 15: Transit to Tokyo and fly back to Singapore
- – Full itinerary coming soon!
If you are planning on visiting Okinawa, it takes about 3 to 5 days to see the sights on one island, so depending on the number of islands you plan to visit, cater accordingly. You can travel between the islands by ferry or plane.
If it is your first time visiting Japan, I would say Tokyo-Kyoto-Osaka is the usual circuit most take. Most head to West Japan where the Kansai and Chugoku regions are (Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Hiroshima).
For your second visit to Japan, you can visit the Okinawa islands in South or go to Hokkaido and North Japan. North Japan has many off the beaten path experiences for you. Here is a great itinerary for second timers by Tokyo Creative.
There are many places in Japan to go for your honeymoon. If you do not wish to head to the usual tourist spots, depending on what you like, below are the major cities and destinations in Japan and the experiences they have in store for you.
Tokyo: If you are a city lover, and you appreciate the busy, crowded streets with tons of stimuli, head to Tokyo. It is a feast for the senses and great for city thrills, skyscrapers, malls, trending spots, entertainment and shopping. Neighbourhoods like Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku are frequent spots.
Kyoto: If you are a culture-lover, Kyoto is the place for you. Kyoto was originally the capital of Japan, and today is the cultural and historical heart of Japan. It is a great place to discover temples and shrines, as well as dining traditions and see geishas.
Osaka: If you like both the city and want to experience Japanese culture at the same time, Osaka is your pick. Osaka has been rated to be one of the most livable cities in the world. It is an urban area with lively character and charm. It is home to one of the world’s largest public aquariums and Universal Studios Japan. Visit the entertainment district of Dotonbori, yet don’t miss out on Osaka Castle, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine and Bunraku puppet shows for a dose of culture.
Sapporo (Hokkaido): If you love winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, Hokkaido is great during the winter season. It is also well known for fresh seafood, produce and dairy products. The Sapporo Snow Festival is one of the largest winter events happening here. Don’t miss out on Shiroi Koibito Park, which is a cookie factory, the Sapporo factory for shopping and entertainment as well as the seafood markets.
Nagoya (Aichi): If you want to check out the latest technology, Nagoya is well known for their transportation and technology advancements. It is the centre of Japan’s automotive and aviation manufacturing, as well as a growing hub for robotics. It has also recently hosted the World Cosplay Summit.
Kobe (Hyogo): If you are a foodie, Kobe is well known for their marbled steak and sake breweries. Bordering the Mount Rokko mountain range, Kobe is also a great place for nature hikes, and is also home to one of Japan’s oldest hot springs, Arima Onsen.
Yokohama (Kangawa): If you like the city buzz but want to be close to the sea, Yokohama is the place for you. You can enjoy a scenic harbour view while soaking in the city vibes. There are museums, shopping and sightseeing here you can do.
Nara: If you like both culture and nature, Nara is the place to visit. Nara is Japan’s very first capital and a treasure trove of culture as well as natural beauty. The ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”, UNESCO heritage site is made up of 6 temples and ruins and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest. Nara is well known for their wild deer that roam the city freely. Nara Park is the place to get acquainted with these lovely doe eyed animals.
Hiroshima: For history buffs and peace-lovers, head to Hiroshima. Also known as the ‘City of Peace’, Hiroshima is the site where the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Today, it is a resilient city that has been reconstructed, but with many places serving as peaceful reminders of the tragedy. Also worthwhile visiting are the Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden.
Okinawa: If you like beachside relaxation, or if you are into water activities like diving, snorkelling or watersports, Okinawa is your island paradise. Made up of 160 islands, it is known for its subtropical climate home to many rare species of plants and animals.
Japan has a wide range of accommodation to offer, both Japanese (Ryokan and Minshuku) and Western styles (hotels and hostels).
Ryokans are traditional Japanese-style inns and is a great way to experience Japanese lifestyle. They usually have tatami fitted rooms, communal baths (luxury ones have private baths), onsen (hot spring), kaiseki dinner and yukata robes. There are many different types of ryokan varying in size, cost and style, but the average cost of staying at a ryokan ranges between JP¥15,000 – JP¥25,000 (~S$190 – $313). You can find more information about staying at a ryokan here.
Minshuku are family-operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfast lodging. It gives you an opportunity to meet local families. They are typically around tourist areas, hot springs, ski resorts.
Minpaku is a new lodging option, which means accommodation at a private residence. In other words, AirBnb. Average cost is about JP¥5,000 – JP¥8,000 (~S$62 – S$100) per night. Get $62 off* from your first AirBnb Booking here.
You can also find unique lodging such as Capsule hotels and temple lodgings (shukubo). Mount Koya is one of the best places to experience a temple lodging.
Getting around Tokyo itself is really easy as the train network is very well connected. One thing to note is that taxis in Japan is extremely expensive! I took a 15-minute ride in Tokyo and it cost me over S$100!
If you are planning to get out of Tokyo, getting around Japan itself is relatively easy. Below are your transport options. In short, the best way to get around Japan depends on how long your trip is. If you only have a week in Japan, getting around quick is key, so get a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) and take the train everywhere you go. It is convenient, more economical, and saves you a ton of hassle and headache.
You can get around speedily by bullet train, though they are expensive (you pay a basic train fare and an additional ‘super express fee’. A one-way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto is about JP¥14,000 (S$175), Kyoto to Hiroshima can cost you JP¥11,300 (S$141) and Osaka to Tokyo costs ~JP¥15,000 (S$188).
The cheaper alternative would be the local train, but the train duration is much longer. Kyoto to Tokyo will cost about JP¥8,000 (S$100), but will take 9 hours instead of 3 and require several transfers. If you are planning to get out of Tokyo, I highly suggest getting a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) to reduce your train costs. Key thing to note is that you need to buy your JR pass before coming to Japan. More information on the JR pass in the next tab.
Another way to get around Japan is by public bus. They are cheaper, but take way longer time. A 2-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo to Osaka will take you 10 hours on the bus, though costing only JP¥4,500 (~$56). If you have limited time, this trade off will not be worth it. Though that being said, there are plenty of cool stops along the bus journey. You can get 3-day unlimited bus passes that start at JP¥10,000 (S$125).
You can also fly to the various Japan destinations. This is definitely more expensive as compared to train or bus. Japan Airlines (JAL) and Nippon Airways (ANA) are the domestic carriers. JAL offers cheaper flights. Typical price by ANA for Tokyo to Kyoto is JP¥9,000 (S$112) for one way and JP¥18,000 S$225 for a return journey.
There is an inter-island ferry available with extensive routes. You can choose from 3 classes, and some comes with a bed. Japan’s 4 main islands are connected by bridges and tunnels, but many of the smaller islands can only be reached by water. If you are keen on exploring these islands, you might want to consider buying the Japan Ferry Pass 21. It costs JPY21,000 and good for 6 trips over 21 days. Do note that some ferry durations can be long, so do your research prior to make sure it fits in your itinerary.
Japan is not a road-trip friendly destination, so I would advise against renting a car to drive around Japan on your own. Rental cars are more expensive than public transport, traffic can be a headache and signs and language are in Japanese. Taxis in Japan are also incredibly expensive.
The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a cost-effective rail pass for long-distance train travel in Japan. This pass is catered for tourists and offers you unlimited use of JR trains (both regular and bullet trains) for 7-days, 14-days or 21-days at a much cheaper rate than buying tickets individually. Note that the validity is by calendar days. There are two types you can choose from – ordinary and green car (first class).
If you are planning on exploring Japan’s cities, I would highly encourage you to get the JR Pass because it is cost-saving and time-saving. You can pre-book your tickets at any train station up to one month in advance. The JR Pass allows you to take the shinkansen (bullet trains) which are much faster than the regular, though cheaper, local trains. The JR Pass also allows you to spontaneously make side trips without additional transport cost, giving you flexibility.
When does the JR Pass pay off?
The 7-day pass costs about the same as regular shinkansen (bullet train) tickets for a round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto. If you travel less than that, it will not pay off. You can use this Japan Rail Pass Calculator by Japan-guide to see if it will pay off for you to get the JR pass.
What is the JR Pass valid for?
On top of all JR trains (Shinkansen, limited express, express, rapid and local trains), you can also use the JR Pass to take the Monorail to/from Haneda Airport. IT also includes the following:
- – JR Ferry to Miyajima
- – Some non-JR trains to access isolated JR lines
- – Local JR buses (not on highway buses)
Note that the JR pass cannot be used for private train lines or subways within cities. You can get instead a Tokyo subway ticket here. The JR Pass, however, can be used on the Tokyo Yamanote Loop Line, which is one of the most convenient lines in Tokyo. But if you are planning on just doing short hops on local lines/city trains, and not planning on intercity travel, the JR Pass might not be worth it. Instead, consider a smart card like a Suica IC Card.
Japan is very safe for travellers. In fact, it is one of the safest countries in the world and is ranked the 9th safest country in the world. Though the crime rate in Japan is low, always travel with common sense, and look after your belongings as nowhere is immune from crime.
I was initially worried about traveling to Japan because of the fear of radiation (due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011), but after reading this, I did feel more assured to visit there, and the short answer is yes, it is safe.
Japan being on tectonic lines is at risk of earthquakes, but it should not deter you from visiting the country. Instead, be prepared for them. Read up on how to stay safe in the case of an emergency.
Make sure to always get travel insurance before your trip. The insurance only costs you tens of dollars, but this keeps you safely covered. In the unlikely (but still possible) event you fall sick, get into an accident or have to deal with lost luggage, this insurance will be a life saver. I have been in that position before when I got injured in Vietnam, so I strongly encourage you to get at least a basic travel insurance plan before you leave.
Our friends at Singsaver compared the best travel insurance policies here so you can choose the one that suits you best. It’s very easy to use!
Language: The national language of Japan is Japanese. During my trip, I found that not many people in Japan speak English (if they do, it is usually the younger generation). Be prepared by having a language book or app with you to allow you to communicate and ask for directions. Also, many signs are in Japanese, so use the Google Translate app to help you know what is said.
Currency: The official currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY). At this point of writing (Oct 2019), 1 SGD = 79.56 JPY.
Credit Cards & ATMs: There is little problem in using your credit card when in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. It is advised to carry cash for entrance fees to tourist attractions, and also if you are planning to explore out of the city. ATMs are commonly found in the cities.
Plugs: The plugs in Japan are different from Singapore. They are type A and B, whereas Singapore is type G. The standard voltage and frequency is the same at 100 V and 50 / 60 Hz. Do remember to bring a universal adapter (with surge protection) with you.
Best Japan Hotels by Destination
Depending on where you wish to visit in Japan, here are the best hotels in each region.
The Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so
Hotel Seiyo Ginza
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Hotel Kanra Kyoto
St. Regis Osaka
Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel
Hilton Niseo Village
The Windsor Hotel Toya Resort & Spa
Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort
The Ritz-Carlton Okinawa
The Terrace Club at Busena
Tenku no Mori
JR Kyshu Hotel
Chikusenso Mt. Zao Onsen Resort & Spa
Takamiya Ryokan Miyamaso
Fuji Onsenji Yumedono
Fuji Marriott Hotel Lake Yamanaka
Four Seasons Yuzawa Quattro
Hotel La Neige Honkan
Courtyard by Marriott Hakuba
Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton
Westin Nagoya Castle
Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa
Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima
Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto
Kanazawa no Yado Tyokusone
Hotel Nikko Kanazawa
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