We spent a little over two weeks in Japan, and the things I fell in love with most were the culture—the hospitality, the mannerisms, and the cleanliness—and the food. Every encounter that we had with a local left us feeling so grateful, so cared for. Every street in every city was so clean, yet there were hardly any trash bins! And the food… I’ve never had better ramen or tempura than I did when we were in Japan. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Our itinerary: Okinawa → Osaka → Kyoto → Tokyo
I absolutely fell in love with Okinawa (the largest island in Japan). While here, we rented a car and spent most of our time exploring the island and relaxing & dining at our resort.
Hotel: Halekulani Okinawa
- Cape Hedo: Okinawa’s most northern tip—stunning views of the cliffy coast
- Kouri Island: one of the most beautiful beaches in Okinawa, with it’s white sand and transparent emerald green water
- Mihama American Village: built as a replica of Seaport Village along Okinawa’s coast, this village is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, entertainment facilities and a movie theatre
We spent hours on end walking through the streets of Osaka, taking in the foliage and the good eats.
Hotel: InterContinental Osaka
- Le Bresso: the perfect piece of toast—great for breakfast or dessert
- LiLo Coffee Roasters: great pour-overs and lattes
- Granknot Coffee: perfect pour-over coffee
- Micasadeco & Cafe: enjoyed the ricotta and granola pancakes here
- A Happy Pancake Shinsaibashi: also loved the pancakes here
- Pizzeria Del Tigre: exceptional michelin-guide pizza for when you’re looking to change it up
- Ramen Honolu Osaka: amazing ramen and fried chicken (& it’s halal!)
- Shinsaibashi: known as the best shopping district in Osaka
- America Mura: known as the heart of young culture in Osaka (similar to the Harajuku district in Tokyo), this area is filled with trendy shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants
- Osaka Castle: beautiful, massive grounds with fountains, forests and gardens that we loved walking through
- Nara Park: observe and feed the countless deer as they roam around this park (about an hour away from Osaka)
Kyoto was our favorite city, by far.
Hotel: Kyoto Yura Hotel Mgallery
- Cafe Rhinebeck: the best pancakes
- % Arabica Kyoto Higashiyama: great cup of coffee
- Yoshikawa Tempura: the most amazing tempura I’ve ever had—this is a must! make sure to snag reservations in advance
- Nanzan Grill: also a must—mouthwatering Japanese BBQ (& it’s halal!)
- Gion Kinana: some of the best ice cream I’ve had, located in a touristy old town in Kyoto
- Kyoto Imperial Palace: former palace of the emperor of Japan—great for picnics, strolling through the gardens, or just relaxing on the lawns
- Nijo Castle: one of the largest castles in Kyoto and once home to one of the most powerful men in Japan—the grounds are massive and peaceful to stroll through
Tokyo gave off New York vibes—albeit cleaner.
Hotel: Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo
- Toranomen Koffee: great cup of coffee—located in the swanky Toranomon Hills tower
- Mercer Brunch: the best french toast I’ve ever had, ever
- Tsukiji Outer Market: also known as Japan’s food town, is filled with character—walk through here and you’ll pass by vendors selling all sorts of fresh food (like seafood, fruits, and vegetables) and Japanese staples, sushi shops, ramen stalls, and so much more