Autumn Central Japan Kansai Kanto Travel Guide

13-Day Japan Itinerary – November

When it comes to visiting somewhere else in Asia in November, Japan is hard to beat. Honshu, the largest island of Japan is where you will be traveling around at this time of year.

This suggested itinerary is crafted with many interesting places and landmarks that are located across Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Takayama, Gifu, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Tokyo, Kamakura, and Hakone. These places also include the best autumn colors spots to visit in November.

If you are planning an upcoming trip to Japan and don’t know really where to start, I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do. This suggested itinerary helps you organize your entire Japan trip with sharing useful info on the things to do and see, foods to eat, places to stay, ways to save money, and more.

Kofukuji temple in Nara. Photo Credit: Scarper Montgomery at Flickr.

Indeed, the above destinations along with other well known attractions situated throughout the country are considered tourist magnet. One of the top reasons why November should be your ideal place to visit Japan is you can experience impressive fall colors vistas.

Please note on Honshu Island, autumn leaves can be seen from mid-October through early-December.

One interesting point about this itinerary is that you can easily modify this the way you want it. Let me show you my ultimate travel guides through this travel plan. I hope you will have a fantastic a 13-day trip (almost a 2 week holiday) in Japan this November.

Day 1: Osaka

ANA at Kansai International Airport. Photo Credit: tataquax at Flickr.

Welcome to Japan!

Yeah you are supposed to start off your trip from Osaka. Hop on a JR airport rapid train to get to Osaka Station from Kansai International Airport. The one way ride takes about 70 minutes.

You can purchase your 1-day Amazing Osaka Pass from the Osaka Visitor Centre outside JR Osaka Station. It costs 2,500 Yen. The pass allows you unlimited rides on buses, and trains. Entry to Osaka Museum of History, Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, and other sightseeing spots are fully covered by the pass.

You can also use this as sightseeing spots for free facility I suggest you to buy only “One day Osaka Amazing Pass.” For more info click here.

No matter what time you land at Kansai International Airport, you will be staying at this hotel in Umeda area, located quite close to Osaka Station.

If you will land at the airport before your lunch time, you can spend some time roaming around the city in the evening. On the other hand, if you reach Osaka in the evening, there is no need to go for sightseeing.

Sleep tight!

Hotel to Stay in Osaka: Hilton Hotel Osaka.

Day 2: A Day in Osaka

Osaka Castle! Photo Credit: neepster at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Shitennoji Temple, Osaka Castle Museum, Nishinomaru Garden, Osaka Museum of History, Midosuji Avenue and Umeda Sky Building.

The day has arrived to use the Osaka Amazing Pass. It does save you some money!

Admissions to the above attractions (except Midosoji and Dotonbori) are fully covered by the pass including the subway.

A visit to Shitennoji in the morning will be just a great experience. Founded in 593 by the Prince Shotoku, Shitennoji is a stunning Buddhist temple and the best way to spend your time here is to take a walk around its complex and in the Gokuraku-jodo garden.

A view from Umeda Sky Building observation platform. Photo Credit: Laika ac at Flickr.

Next destination is Osaka Castle Park. With garden, walking trails, museum, and the castle tower, this park is one of the city’s most popular attractions for tourists.

In search of some interesting exhibit, you should get to Osaka Museum of History. Admission to the museum is free if you have the pass.

HEP FIVE Ferris Wheel in Osaka. Photo Credit: m-louis .® at Flickr.

Walk along the Midosuji Street as it’s packed with many shops, restaurants and cafes there. One of my favorite places to wonder in Osaka is Umeda Sky Building.

This 173 meter tall building consists of two distinct towers that are connected with the “Floating Garden Observatory” on the 39th floor. The observatory offers bird’s-eye view of Osaka city.

If you are not tired, visit HEP FIVE, one of Osaka’s major shopping malls where visitors can spend time on shopping and dining.

The shopping complex is actually known for its Ferris Wheel, attached to its roof. The ride will be quite relaxing for you at night and admission is included in Amazing Osaka Pass.

Let’s call it a day!

Day 3: A Day trip to Nara from Osaka

Todaiji Temple, Nara Park. Photo Credit: Fredrik Rubensson at Flickr.

Osaka Station -> Nara Station -> Osaka Station

For day three, interesting places to visit are Nara Park, Kofukuji Temple, Nara National Museum, Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha, Isuien Garden, and Yoshikien Garden. Nara Park itself is spacious area in Nara city and famous for its temples, and deer.

There is no need to stay a night in Nara as it’s located about 28 kilometers east of Osaka. You will enjoy a day trip there, that’s your today’s plan. After the end of the trip you head back to Osaka.

Since you will stay nearby Osaka Station, it would be best if you reach Nara by JR Yamatoji rapid trains. The one way trip to Nara Station from Osaka Station takes about 45-50 minutes, and costs 800 yen.

Instead of taking a bus, I would like you to take a walk to Nara Park from the station. It usually takes 20 minutes. You will definitely enjoy the walk!

Deer at Nara Park. Photo Credit: Carl Flor at Wikimedia Commons.

Once you reach there, you take a look at the map and decided which attractions and landmarks you should be visiting first. Would it be the Nara National Museum or Todaiji? Decide yourself!

There is nothing much to say about Nara’s main attractions as everything you see and find there are worth exploring. Enjoy a leisurely walk into the park, feed the deer, and learn the history and traditions of those famous attractions to make your day a great adventure.

After the end of Nara expedition, head back to Osaka Station by train. Have some rest and take a shower before leaving for Dotonbori.

Visiting Dotonbori in the evening till late night is a must thing to do if you are looking for some ideas on where to spend your time in Osaka at night.

The area is very lively with lots of crowds, and most of them actually go there to taste the foods of different kinds that Osaka has to offer you.

Goodnight! Sleep well.

Day 4: Osaka to Kyoto

Torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine. Photo Credit: Ben & Gab at Flickr.

Places of Interest: Toji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Tofukuji, Higashiyama district, and Kiyomizudera.

There are two ways you can get to Kyoto Station, they are as follows:

1) Osaka Station -> Shin-Osaka Station -> Kyoto Station

2) Osaka Station -> Kyoto Station

You will be staying at Kyoto Tower Hotel. The location of the property is adjacent to Kyoto Station and there are many restaurants and shops around.

If you think that getting to Kyoto Station from Osaka Station by JR Special rapid train on the JR Kyoto Line is convenient for you, then choose this route.

The one way trip takes about 30 minutes. Alternatively, you will have to hop on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen (Hikari and Kodama trains) from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.

Toji Temple’s Five-storied Pagoda, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Tyler Black at Flickr.

There are many coin lockers to storage your luggage at JR Kyoto Station. Do it right away, if you can’t manage to drop them off at the hotel you are going to stay overnight in Kyoto.

Contact with a support desk staff at the hotel to know whether they can hold the luggage for you before check in.

I am sure that you will find a smart solution, though, and these days most of the hotels actually provide such kind of service for their guests.

Buy a Kyoto City Bus All-day Pass to roam around the city. It costs only 500 yen for adult, and 250 yen for children.

This pass is valid for only one day with unlimited ride on the city buses to access Kyoto’s popular attractions. This page guides you how to take a bus in Kyoto.

Kyoto is famous for its iconic temples and shrines. Therefore let’s begin today’s sightseeing trip with a visit to Toji Temple. It’s situated a 15 minute walk southwest of Kyoto Station.

Enjoy a leisurely walk around its beautiful temple’s complex and discover its iconic Five Storied Pagoda, and the Kondo Hall.

Kiyomizudera temple wooden stage and pagoda. Photo Credit: Kimon Berlin at Flickr.

Then visit rest of the attractions one after another. Your trip to Kyoto in the fall is incomplete until you pay a visit to Tofukuji. Get there and see incredible fall foliage.

The temple is considered one of the best fall foliage spots in Kyoto. It’s always lovely to take a walk along the streets of Higashiyama District and it’s packed with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

In the evening, you will be visiting one of Japan’s most popular Buddhist temples called Kiyomizudera (listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site). It has a large wooden stage, from where visitors can enjoy great views of maple leaves in autumn.

Day 5: Kyoto -> Arashiyama -> Kyoto

Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. Photo Credit: Kentagon at Wikimedia Commons.

Located in the western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama is a perfect day trip destination from Kyoto city. From the picturesque temples, to the beautiful bamboo grove, there’s no other place like in western Kyoto.

Visiting Arashiyama in November can make you fall in love with its interesting landmarks. The good thing about Arashiyama is that it’s an easy day trip from Kyoto city by train.

Please note the one way trip to Saga-Arashiyama Station from Kyoto Station takes about 15 minutes and costs 240 yen.

Visitors, who come to Kyoto, usually don’t bother coming to Arashiyama and spending a lovely day discovering its main highlights.

A Maiko walks at Gion. Photo Credit: Elsie Lin at Flickr.

Read this page to see how to spend a day in Arashiyama during autumn.

Whatever you intend to do and see in Arashiyama; just don’t forget to take a walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge. It looks pretty stunning in the sunshine!

Get back to Kyoto and enjoy your evening walking down the streets of Gion, a famous geisha district in Kyoto. This is not a mandatory activity for you, if you think you want to spend your time around Kyoto Station.

Tonight you pack your suitcase as you will say “Goodbye” to Kyoto City tomorrow.

Day 6: Kyoto to Takayama

Nijo Castle’s wall. Photo Credit: BriYYZ at Flickr.

Today you will go to Takayama, but before you hop on the train, I believe you should visit two must-see places in Kyoto, they are: Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion).

Start your morning by heading towards Kyoto Station. First destination for today is Kinkakuji temple. It’s best when you visit the temple in the morning. You hop on a bus either Kyoto City Bus number 205, or 101. The one way ride takes about 40 minutes and costs 230 yen.

After the expedition, head to Nijo Castle. The area of the castle is spacious and you should spend most of your time exploring its main highlights such as the Karamon Gate, Ninomaru Palace, Ninomaru Garden, and Honmaru.

Take the bus number 101 from Kinkakujimae bus stop to reach Nijo Castle.

Kinkakuji, Kyoto. Photo Credit: Roy Chan at Flickr.

Once you get back to your hotel room, check your all belongings, and get ready to check-out and make your way to Kyoto Station thereafter.

Here is the route: Kyoto Station -> Nagoya Station -> Takayama Station

At first, you will have to take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto to Nagoya, afterwards transfer to the JR Hida limited express train to reach Takayama. The one way ride from Kyoto Station to Takayama Station with a change at Nagoya Station takes about 3 hours.

For your overnight stay I highly recommend you this hotel. It’s just a short walk from Takayama Station.

If time permits, you can walk for a while nearby the station.

Sleep tight!

Day 7: Takayama to Shirakawa-go

Ogimachi village in Shirakawa-go. Photo Credit: IQRemix at Flickr.

There are two interesting bus tours to Shirakawa-go provided by Nohi bus on daily basis. Join this bus tour and explore Ainokura and Ogimachi villages. This tour costs 6690 yen with lunch included and the bus departs everyday from Takayama Bus Terminal. Find more info here.

Next, you make your way to your hotel room and take a shower if you want to. Then I would like you to visit the Old town of Takayama. There, visitors like walking down the streets and taste some local foods from the cafes and restaurants.

If you are not interested in that bus tour, you can completely forget about it and plan on your own to explore Shirakawa-go and Kenrokuen in Kanazawa. Spend half a day in Shirakwa-go and half a day in Kanazawa.

I would not recommend you visit all the popular sightseeing spots of Kanazawa but the iconic Kenrokuen. This is one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan alongside Mito’s Kairakuen and Okayama’s Korakuen. Fall color here is stunningly breathtaking as ever.

If you have enough time to travel around the city, make your way over to Kanazawa Castle Park.

Check out the Bus timetable here.

Day 8: Takayama to Nagoya

Korankei Gorge in the fall. Photo Credit: bryan… at Flickr.

Takayama Station -> Nagoya Station

Good morning!

It’s time to head towards Nagoya City from Takayama. If you can, catch the early morning train to Nagoya Station. There are many coin lockers at the station, so finding an empty locker would not be a daunting task. Leave your luggage there and make your way to Meitetsu Nagoya Station.

Nagoya has one of Japan’s famous autumn leaves spot called Korankei Gorge. This is an incredible site to behold in autumn, especially in mid-November when the valley is ablaze with colors.

Meitetsu bus. Photo Credit: JKT-c at Wikimedia Commons.

There are multiple ways to get to Korankei with at least one transfer involving trains and buses. Take a train from Meitetsu Nagoya Station on the Meitetsu Line and get off at Higashi-okazaki station.

From there, you will have to reach Korankei by Meitetsu bus. The one way bus ride to Korankei takes about an hour.

You can learn more about this popular fall foliage spot in this post.

Tonight you are going to stay a night at this hotel in Nagoya City.

Day 9: Nagoya to Tokyo

Autumn leaves at Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

Nagoya Station -> Tokyo Station -> Shinjuku Station

I always like staying in Shinjuku area in downtown Tokyo. It would be best if you could stay in a hotel that’s located adjacent to Shinjuku Station. You’d better stay the nights at Shinjuku Prince Hotel.

If you have a valid JR Pass, hop on a shinkansen (bullet train) either Hikari or Kodama at Nagoya Station. The one way journey takes about 110-120 minutes. Next, you transfer to Shinjuku Station by train (15 minutes) on the Chuo line.

You can visit some interesting landmarks right after you finish your lunch. You won’t go that much far, but around Shinjuku area including two beautiful fall foliage spots in Tokyo called Shinjuku Gyoen and Yoyogi Park.

Start your today’s sightseeing with a visit to Shinjuku Gyoen. You can take a walk from the hotel, spend two hours there viewing gorgeous maple leaves. After enjoying the garden, head over to Yoyogi Park.

At first, get to Yoyogi Station and take a train to Harajuku station (2 minutes’ ride). It’s a 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

If you think that visiting Meiji Shrine can make your trip awesome, visit it as it’s located next to Yoyogi Park. Marvel at the large torii gate there, it’s impressive!

Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Jordy Meow at Wikimedia Commons.

Wondering what to do next? Well, you can enjoy shopping along Takeshita Dori in Harajuku.

From Hakajuku Station you get to Shibuya Station. It’s a 2 minute train ride on the JR Yamanote Line. The ride is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. You can have your dinner in Shibuya, but before doing that, please head over to Hachiko Statue, and experience the Shibuya Crossing.

Get back to your hotel room from by train from Shibuya Station to Shikjuku Station. Goodnight!

Day 10: A Day trip to Kamakura

Kamakura Daibutsu at Kotokuin Temple. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Kamakura, one of the best side trip destinations from Tokyo, is a coastal town located south of Tokyo. With historic temples and shrines, Kamakura offers a number of easy hiking opportunities to enjoy the fall colors.

I have already shared a perfect one day Kamakura itinerary for those who want to visit the area in the fall. Check it out here.

Kamakura can be accessed directly from Shikjuku Station by train on the Shonan Shinjuku Line. Please note when coming from Tokyo, make sure you get off at Kita Kamakura Station if you are to start your trip with a visit to Engakuji temple.

Get back to Tokyo in the evening. Still want to roam round Shinjuku a little longer? Do it on your own then. Good luck to you guys!

Day 11: A Day Trip Hakone

Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji in the background. Photo Credit: Kentagon at Wikimedia Commons.

Today, you will be visiting Hakone, one of the best places to enjoy hot springs, and natural beauty in Japan. Before you take a day trip to Hakone, I want you to buy Hakone Free Pass.

It’s a discounted rail pass offered by Odakyu Railways. You can purchase it at Shinjuku Station, and costs you 5,140 yen.

Visitors to Hakone usually intend to experience a ride on the Hakone Tozan Train, the Hakone Open Air Museum, the Hakone Tozan Cablecar, Hakone Ropeway, Owakudani (Hell Veally), Hakone sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashinoko, the Hakone Checkpoint Museum, the Ancient Cedar Avenue, and Hakone Shrine.

A day trip to Hakone can give you once-in-a-life time experience as you can see the iconic Mount Fuji.

The day you visit Hakone, don’t forget to pray for a lovely sunny day to see the mountain! If the sky is cloudy, there is no chance of viewing Mount Fuji, though!

Day 12: Tokyo City

Icho Namiki during autumn. Photo Credit: Kakidai at Wikimedia Commons.

This is a trip that includes the best attractions of Tokyo City. If my recommendations here don’t inspire you to explore the city, replace with your own choices.

Tokyo in November is stunning with its parks and streets that ablaze with vivid colors. There is a list of best Tokyo’s autumn leaves spots.

Among these notable koyo spots, you have already visited at least two, Shinjuku Gyoen, and Yoyogi Park.

Have your breakfast and then discover some awesome places around Tokyo City! Start your morning by taking a walk along the avenue lined with ginkgo trees of Meiji Jingu Gaien (Icho Namiki). Icho Matsuri is held there during the peak season (mid November through early December).

At the time of the festival, a lot of people come to admire the beautiful foliage here. That’s for why I tell you to visit the festival site in the morning, before it gets crowded!

Tokyo Skytree. Photo Credit: Natalie Maguire at Flickr.

After enjoying the festival, head to Sendagaya Station and then hop onto a train to Iidabashi Station (8 minute ride) on the JR Chuo-Sobu Line (yellow). From there, you have to walk for 6-8 minutes to reach Koishikawa Korakuen.

This is a traditional Japanese landscape garden with ponds, mandmade hills, trails, and trees of different kinds such as plum, cherry, and maple. You can spend an hour here viewing red maple leaves!

Head over to Asakusabashi Station on the JR Sobu Line, then transfer to Asakusa Station. Walk for a while from the station to Sensoji Temple (Asakusa Kannon Temple).

Enjoy a walk along Nakamise, a shopping street. In fact, this is the path that leads you to the temple complex. You will also see an impressive shrine located next to the temple.

Autumn illumination at Rikugien Garden. Photo Credit: mrhayata at Flickr.

Your next place to visit is Tokyo Skytree, the tallest tower in Japan with a height of 634 meters. Enjoy a great bird’s eye view from its observatories. You can have your lunch at Sky Restaurant 634 (Musashi).

I would recommend you two more spots to see for today before you call it a day, they are: Tokyo National Museum and Rikugien Garden. In search of history of Japan, one must get to Tokyo National Museum.

On the other hand, Rikugien is another beautiful Japanese landscape garden where maple trees are illuminated gorgeously in the evening till 9:00 pm at night.

Day 13: Shinjuku to Narita/Haneda Airport

At Narita International Airport. Photo Credit: Kentaro IEMOTO at Flickr.

It’s time to say “Goodbye” to Japan!

Get to the airport well in advance and check your flight schedule. However, if you have enough time before takeoff, spend some time on shopping (duty free) at Narita and Haneda airports. You can buy some souvenirs to take home.

If you have few more days to travel around Japan, you can visit a number of places except the above ones such as Nikko, Yamanashi, Ibaraki, and Yokohama.

It’s my pleasure to introduce this suggested itinerary. You can modify it on your own; there is no problem at all. To see the best of Japan in November, follow my guides and this travel plan, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

I do hope you will have a great time in Japan this November. Take care and have fun!

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