Japan Trip 2016 Part 2/2

This article is the part 2 of my trip to Japan in 2016. For part 1, you can refer to this link.

We spent a total of 8 days and 7 nights in Japan. I will share my trip in more detail here. The time written here are approximate only.

Day 1 (Airport - Kanazawa 金沢)
  • 1540H: Reached Kansai Airport (关西机场)
  • 1600H: Went to JR (Japan Rail) Kansai Airport Station
  • 1730H: Boarded train from Kansai airport to Kanazawa station, interchanged at Shin-Osaka station(新大阪).
  • 2130H: Reached Kanazawa station & checked-in hotel
  • 2200H: Dinner at Kanazawa town

      First day train journey in Japan

This was a long journey, as after a 6-hour flight, there was another 3-4 hours on train.

After reaching Kansai Airport, we went straight to JR Kansai Airport Station located just next & connected to the airport building. We had to go to the JR West office there (2nd floor) to exchange for JR passes by showing our passports.

At important stations, JR hires mostly Chinese & English speaking employees at their counters so there is no worry of communication problem.

       JR West office at JR Kansai Airport Station

The train that services Kansai airport-Shin Osaka-Kyoto route is called "Haruka". There is no train which travel directly from Kansai airport to Kanazawa. So we need to change train at either Shin-Osaka or Kyoto station.

As we do not reserve seat, it is better to change train earlier at Shin-Osaka rather than in Kyoto because most seats might be occupied by the time the train reaches Kyoto.

The train travelling between Shin Osaka-Kyoto-Kanazawa is called "Thunderbird" and it is available quite frequently about every 20-30min. Kanazawa Station is an important station in which most trains from various directions make a final stop there.

As it was dinner time, we just took some snacks on the train.

It was raining lightly when we reached Kanazawa. After checking in the hotel, we went to search for dinner in town. Most restaurants have already closed, and the hotel staff recommended us a small cozy restaurant in a dark alley nearby. After completing our trip then we only realized that that was one of the most expensive meal we had in Japan.

The hotel we stayed in Kanazawa was Daiwa-Roynet Hotel located just next to Kanazawa station (East exit). It was about 1-2 min walk from the station. The major bus station is just in front of the east exit and the bus ticket counter to Shirakawa-go is just next to the hotel. Forus Kanazawa/AEON, which is a shopping complex, is located between the hotel and Kanazawa station. So, this hotel has a very strategic location and overall it's very good.

       Kanazawa Station

Day 2 (Kanazawa - Alpine route)
  • 0700H: Breakfast at hotel 
  • 0800H: Took bullet train (Shinkansen) from Kazanawa to Toyama (富山)
  • 0930H: Took local train from Toyama to Tateyama (立山)
  • 1030H: Took cable car & bus to Murodo (室堂)
  • 1300H: Lunch at Murodo
  • 1600H: Took the same route back to Kanazawa station
  • 1900H: Dinner at Forus Kanazawa

       Route covered from Kanazawa to Alpine route

Day 2 was not perfect for us as it was drizzling in Toyama and Murodo when we were there. The weather at Murodo was cold (8C) and the visibility was bad...

After breakfast, we took Shinkansen bound for Tokyo and alighted at Toyama station. We had to walk out of the station building as the Dentetsu-Toyama station (local train) is located outside but just next to the main Toyama station.

       Main Toyama Station, from Dentetsu-Toyama Station

There is a counter that sell tickets for Alpine route in Dentetsu-Toyama station. You can choose where you want to stop at along the alpine route. Generally there are 2 major destinations in this route: Murodo (the snow wall & pond) & Kurobe dam (dam & valley view).

We have decided earlier to just travel to Murodo and turn back, omitting the Kurobe dam as our main purpose here is to see the snow & snow wall.

The round-trip fare to Kurobe Dam from Dentetsu-Toyama (Y13,190) is almost 2x more than Murodo (Y6,710). It was a good decision as the visibility was poor everywhere and we saved a lot of time, energy and money by giving Kurobe dam a miss.

I guess a good time to go to Kurobe Dam might be during autumn as one can view the beautiful autumn leaves in the valley while travelling on Tateyama Ropeway. This tallest dam will discharge water from July to October, which also serves as a tourist attraction.

       Price of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (May 2016)

When we arrived at Dentetsu-Toyama station, a train has just left so we had to wait for another 40min or so. We walked around and explored Toyama town while waiting for the next train.

The old-fashioned train took nearly one hour to reach Tateyama station, which is a final station. From here, we took a cable car (like Penang hill cable car) to Bijodaira where we took a bus straight to Murodo.
We spent around 4 hours in Murodo. We tried to walk to Mikurigaike pond but the weather was bad and the visibility was poor as it was raining even though just lightly.

       Scenery in Murodo

When we were there, the snow wall was 10m high and was getting wider day by day. The best time to see it is in April in which the highest point can reach 20m.

Anyway, this was still a memorable trip as it was a first time we came into contact with real snow.

       Restaurants in Kanazawa Forus

Day 3 (Kanazawa - Shirakawa-go)
  • 0800H: Took a bus to Kenrokuen Garden (兼六园)
  • 1000H: Checked-out hotel and took a bus to Shirakawa-go(白川乡). Simple breakfast on bus.
  • 1330H: Lunch at Shirakawa-go
  • 1600H: Left Shirakawa-go
  • 1800H: Left Kanazawa for Kyoto(京都). Simple dinner at Kanazawa Station plaform.
  • 2130H: Checked-in homestay apartment at Arashiyama (岚山)

To go to Shirakawa-go, we need to reserve seats on the bus earlier. The bus ticket counter is located between Daiwa Roynet hotel and the bus stops. We went to book the tickets on day 2 after coming back from Alpine route. Unfortunately most of the bus to/from Shirakawa-go were fully booked and we could not get the time we preferred. We were forced to stay longer at Shirakawa-go than initially planned. So, travelers should book the bus seats as early as possible.

Before departing for Shirakawa-go, we took a bus (Y200) from Kanazawa station to Kenrokuen Garden, which is said to be one of the 3 most beautiful garden in Japan. The admission fee is Y310 per person.

       Kenrokuen Garden

It was easy to take a bus from Kanazawa Station to Kenrokuan Garden, but it was a different story when going back from the garden because we did not know for sure which bus to board.

Luckily the buses there do show on its LED display board the next few stations. So we just board the bus with words of Kanazawa Station on it.

Shortly after reaching Kanazawa Station, we checked out from the hotel and then took the bus to Shirakawa-go. The journey took about 1 hour.

       Route from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go

       Scenery along the way to Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is a mountainous historic village and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The houses with special architecture were built more than 200 years ago.

No matter how tired, visitors have to climb up a small hill to have an aerial view of the whole village.

       Shirakawa-go, from top of the hill

After coming back to Kanazawa, we took our luggage kept in the hotel and went straight to catch "Thunderbird" train to Kyoto Station. As we wanted to reach Kyoto as early as possible, we just bought simple dinner and took it while waiting for the train at the station.

The train took slightly more than 2 hours to reach Kyoto, where we changed to local JR train (Sagano line) heading to Saga Arashiyama station.

We chose "homestay" in Arashiyama just to get an experience staying in a Japanese house, besides saving some cost. Anyway, the place we stayed in was not a traditional Japanese house. It was an apartment with a "hotel-like" unit with own bathroom.

The host, Chika, is a very nice person. She gave us some useful guides on the night we arrived at her place. The house is just 2 minutes walk from Saga Arashiyama station, and within walking distance to every tourist attractions in Arashiyama area.

For those who wish to stay in Arashiyama area, I think Chika's house is a good choice and can be found from airbnb.com.

       Arashiyama main street in early morning

Day 4 (Western & Northern Kyoto)
  • 0800H: Walked to Arashiyama main street for breakfast
  • 0830H: Visited Togetsukyo bridge(渡月桥)
  • 0900H: Visited Tenryuji Temple(天龙寺)
  • 0930H: Walked to Bamboo groove through back door of Tenryuji garden
  • 1000H: Walked to Saga-Toriimoto preserved street (鸟居本)
  • 1200H: Tofu lunch at Arashiyama area
  • 1300H: Took Randen (tram) from Arashiyama to Ryoanji Temple(龙安寺)
  • 1430H: Took a bus from Ryoanji Temple to Kinkakuji Temple (金阁寺)
  • 1600H: Took a bus & JR train back to Saga Arashiyama Station
  • 1800H: Dinner and night walk in Arashiyama

Day 4 involved a lot of walking. We only paid admission fee to visit Tenryuji, Ryoanji & Kinkakuji Temples. We didn't go to the Daikakuji Temple (大觉寺)which is also quite famous.

Tenryuji Temple which was built in 1339, is a World Heritage site. While the temple building have been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, the garden is said to stay at its original form for centuries.

       Garden at Tenryuji Temple

After visiting Togetsukyo bridge, Tenryuji Temple & Bamboo Groove, we walked northward pass Jojakkoji(常寂光寺), Nisonin(二尊院)& Gioji Temples(祇王寺), all the way to Saga-Toriimoto preserved street. We didn't pay to enter those temples.

       Arashiyama Bamboo Groove

       Walking path in Arashiyama

This walking path might not be suitable for everyone as it really involves a lot of walking. However, it is worth trying as we can get a good feel about Japanese neighbourhood.

After a special tofu lunch, we took Randen (tram) from its final station Arashiyama Station and headed to Ryoanji Station, with an interchange at Katabiranotsuji Station. We have to walk about 10min to reach Ryoanji Temple, which is famous for its rock garden.

       Tourists visit Ryoanji Temple to stare at this

Even though Kinkakuji seems to be within walking distance from Ryoanji, we decided to board a bus there to save energy. 

Kinkakuji is a top tourist spot in Kyoto and it was really really packed with visitors. Though the original "Golden Pavilion" was built more than 600 years ago, the present structure is actually rebuilt in 1955. Until today I still can't figure out why it is a no.1 tourist attraction in Kyoto.

       Crowded scene at Kinkakuji

        Tranquil scene at Kinkakuji

To go back to Arashiyama, we tried a different path. We walked to a bus station at Nishioji Dori Street opposite Kinkakuji Temple, and took a bus heading south to bus station near JR Emmachi Station. We took a JR train from Emmachi Station back to Saga Arashiyama Station.

At night, we had a nice BBQ dinner and casual walk around this small town before checking out to Central Kyoto the next morning.

In Arashiyama, we didn't go to the monkey park. We didn't try the river cruise and Sagano scenic railway tour due to various reasons. Both the river & railway cruise will give a magnificent view of Arashiyama's river valley.

       Night scene at Arashiyama Station (Randen)

Day 5 (Central & Southern Kyoto)
  • 0800H: Took JR train from Arashiyama to Kyoto Station. Simple breakfast at Kyoto station.
  • 0830H: Keep luggagge at hotel near Kyoto Station
  • 0900H: Took a bus from Kyoto Station to Nishi Honganji(西本院寺)
  • 0945H: Took a bus from Nishi Honganji to Nijo Castle(二条城)
  • 1100H: Took a bus from Nijo Castle to downtown Kyoto & Nishiki Market(锦市场)
  • 1200H: Lunch near Nishiki Market
  • 1500H: Took a bus back to hotel & checked-in
  • 1800H: Took JR train (Nara line) to Fushimi Inari Taisha(伏见稻荷大社)
  • 2030H: Dinner at Kyoto Station

It is very convenient to travel by bus in Kyoto. You can get a bus route map and daily bus pass from the bus office in front of the north entrance of Kyoto Station. The bus routes are very clear.

The main bus stops are located at north entrance of Kyoto Station. Just check the bus number you want to get in and wait at the numbered stations.

The city buses have fixed rate at Y230. You can get a one-day bus pass for Y500 (adults) which will worth the money if you take the bus 3 times or more a day. There is also a one-day subway+bus pass at Y1200. I think that generally bus can bring you anywhere in Kyoto conveniently and there is no need for subway.

In Central Kyoto we stayed at Almont Hotel which is located within walking distance south-east of Kyoto Station south exit. However, it is not too near if you walk from the north end of the station where the bus stations are. Besides Kyoto Station, the nearest bus stop to the hotel is about 10min walk south, which is not that near actually.

This hotel is relatively new and overall it is good. We booked it rather late so it was our most expensive accommodation in this trip.

After placing our luggage in the hotel, our first destination in central Kyoto was Nishi Honganji, which is FOC. The huge temple is built in 1591 and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

       Nishi Honganji

After this, we went to another world heritage site Nijo Castle, which was built in 1603. We didn't go to the Imperial Palace nearby as visitors need to book a palace tour online before going. We tried to book about 1-2 weeks before departure to Japan but all the English tour on this day has been fully booked.

So we went to the heart of central Kyoto next for lunch, and walked to Nishiki Market which is known as "Kyoto's Kitchen".

       Kyoto's kitchen: Nishiki Market

After brief shopping, we took a bus back to the hotel to check-in. After resting for a while in the hotel, we walked back to Kyoto Station to take a JR train to the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha. Most of the temples will be closed by 4-5pm but this place is opened 24 hours. The train stops right in front of it and the admission is FOC. There is a hill to climb at the back and we actually underestimated it and it looked never-ending. I really don't recommend tourists to climb all the way up.

       Fushimi Inari Taisha

Day 6 (Eastern Kyoto)
  • 0700H: Breakfast at hotel
  • 0800H: Took a bus from Kyoto Station to Kiyomizudera(清水寺)
  • 0930H: Walked through Higashiyama district(东山) preserved historic street to Yasaka Shrine(八坂神社)
  • 1100H: Walked to Hanamikoji Dori (Gion Corner)(花见小路)
  • 1200H: Lunch at Gion area(祇园)
  • 1300H: Took a bus from Yasaka Shrine to Ginkakuji(银阁寺)
  • 1430H: Walked along philosopher's path(哲学之道) to Nanzenji(南禅寺)
  • 1700H: Took subway from Keage Station to Sanjokeihan Station
  • 1730H: Rest beside Kamo River(鸭川)
  • 1900H: Dinner at Pontocho(先斗町)

We knew that day 6 will be the most tiring day. Our first destination was Kiyomizudera, which has almost similar big crowd as Kinkakuji even though the time was still quite early when we reached there.

Kiyomizudera, founded in 780, is a world heritage site and popular tourist destination in Kyoto. From here, we walked through the preserved historic streets to Yasaka Shrine.

       Kiyomizudera - also packed with tourists

Across the main road of Yasaka Shrine is Gion area, which is famous for Japanese traditional performing arts. It was a hot day so we just took green tea ice kacang for lunch.

After lunch, we took a bus straight to Ginkakuji which was built since 1482. It is a "silver" version of the "golden pavilion" in Kinkakuji. From here, we walked along the "Philosopher's Path" to Nanzenji. The path is renowned for its numerous cherry blossom trees along it. However, when we were there in spring-summer time, all looked like ordinary trees and there was nothing special about this narrow & tiring path.

Nanzenji has one of the largest gate in Japan, the Sanmon gate, which is worth to see. We didn't pay a single yen here as we didn't go up the gate or into the temples and gardens which required entrance fees.

       Sanmon Gate

To experience riding a subway in Kyoto, we walked about 10min from Nanzenji to the nearest Keage subway station, and took a short trip to our next destination Pontocho area in central Kyoto for dinner.

When we arrived at Pontocho, it was about 6pm and we had time to sit and relax beside the Kamo River. There was a band performance there as well. Potoncho is famous for its fine dining on open deck beside the river. So, the dinner price was expensive as expected. After dinner we took a bus back to Kyoto Station and walked back to hotel.

       Pontocho & Kamo river

Day 7 (Osaka)
  • 0830H: Breakfast at Kyoto Station. Took a train from Kyoto to Osaka Station(大阪)
  • 0930H: Took subway from Higashi-Umeda(东梅田) Station to Tanimachi 9-chome Station
  • 1000H: Checked-in hotel
  • 1030H: Took subway to Osaka Castle(大阪城)
  • 1330H: Lunch at Osaka Castle
  • 1400H: Took subway to Shitennoji Temple(四天王寺)
  • 1500H: Took Hankai Tramway to Sumiyoshi Taisha(住吉大社)
  • 1700H: Took Hankai Tramway & subway back to hotel
  • 1800H: Took subway to Dotonbori(道顿堀)
  • 1930H: Dinner at Dotonbori
  • 2000H: Shopping at Shinsaibashi (心斋桥)& Nippombashi(日本桥) area
  • 2200H: Took subway back to hotel

Day 7 was a day dedicated to Osaka, so we departed Kyoto as early as possible and had a quick breakfast in McDonald's Kyoto Station.

Initially we followed the signboard to a platform bound for Osaka. However, when we tried to confirm with a local Japanese, he asked us to go to another platform. We then asked an attendant in the station and he again asked us to wait at that other platform which was bound for Himeji.

The platform for Himeji does not have a word "Osaka" on it. I guess may be it was the fastest way to get to Osaka without too many stops that only the local people know.

At Osaka station, we came out at the north end of the station and has a chance to have a look at the special Umeda Sky Building. Osaka Station is a big station and we have difficulty to locate Higashi-Umeda subway station initially (Tanimachi line).

       North end of Osaka Station

There are 2 important city centers in Osaka, which are Kita (Umeda 梅田) in the north and Minami (Namba 难波) in the south. Due to limited time in Osaka, we have decided earlier to just concentrate on Namba area which looks more interesting. So we booked a hotel close to Namba area through Booking.com and was quite lucky to find a budget one which has a strategic location, even though it was like a last-minute desperate booking.

Our earliest plan was to stay in Osaka for 2 nights. The plan then changed to no stay in Osaka after we decided to stay two nights in Kanazawa. After Airasia X changed our return flight schedule, we have no choice but to stay for a night in Osaka. Thus, we booked our hotel quite late but I think it was still a good deal. The hotel, which is called Weekly Uehomachi, is just 1 min walk away from one of the exit of Tanimachi 9-chome subway station.
We didn't plan to visit places like Universal Studio, Ferris Wheel and Aquarium etc, so we didn't go to Osaka Bay area. From online research, we decided to visit Osaka Castle, Shitennoji Temple, Sumiyoshi Taisha, Shinsekai (新世界)and Namba area (Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi & Kuromon Ichiba Market).

There are 2 subway lines that stop at Tanimachi-9-chome (Tanimachikyuchome), namely Tanimachi line & Sennichimae line. It is just 2 stops away from Osaka castle, one stop away from Dotonbori/Kuromon market/Namba area and one stop away from Shitennoji Temple. So, our hotel is in the heart of everywhere we planned to visit.

When we reached the hotel in the morning, we were allowed to check-in straight away. After that, we headed to Osaka Castle via subway Tanimachi line.

We spent quite a lot of time at Osaka Castle watching and reading the history of the castle. We had our simple lunch there before heading to our next destination Shitennoji Temple.

       Osaka Castle

Unlike in Kyoto, it seems like all the temples in Osaka are not that popular as there are only little tourists there which is a sharp contrast to Kyoto's temples. The Shitennoji temple is the oldest temple in Japan and is built in year 593. The pagoda was under renovation when we were there. We didn't pay to enter the temples.

       Shitennoji Temple, with Japan's tallest building Abeno Harukas in the background

After that, we walked about 10-15min to Tennoji Station which is the biggest transportation hub after Osaka-Umeda Station. We took a tram (Hankai tramway Uemachi line) from Tennojiekimae and stopped right beside Sumiyoshi Taisha. Sumiyoshi Taisha is the oldest shrine in Japan which was built in the 3rd century.

       Sumiyoshi Taisha

Throughout the whole trip, the only place that we planned to go but didn't make it was Shinsekai. It was supposed to be a place for lunch. We had to omit it as we spent too much time at Osaka Castle.

We went back to the hotel at about 5pm. After rest and bath, we took subway and exited just at the next station at Nippombashi Station, where we walked for 2 minutes to reach Dotonbori, which is a famous street by the river.

There are some must-try food in Osaka, which are Okonomiyaki (大阪烧)and Takoyaki(章鱼烧). We searched for the best Okonomiyaki online and found "Mizuno" which is in Dotonbori area. It was a long queue outside this small restaurant. After finally manage to get into the restaurant, there was another queue inside...

       Mizuno's okonomiyaki, the queue was longer than this

We queued and waited for more than one hour for it. Luckily it was worth the wait. We only ordered one to try and share, and very quickly we regretted it as we should order two. Anyway, we planned to taste different kinds of foods at other shops too.

       Okonomiyaki of Osaka

After having dinner, we just walked around the numerous crowded shopping streets there. It was raining lightly but all the major streets have roof above them.
In the famous shopping area Shinsaibashi, most of the shops closed between 9-10pm. So we didn't have much time to shop actually.

       The Running Man at Dotonbori

Day 8 (Osaka - Airport)
  • 0830H: Took subway to Kuromon Ichiba Market(黑门市场)
  • 0900H: Breakfast at Kuromon market
  • 1100H: Lunch at Dotonbori
  • 1200H: Took subway back to hotel
  • Took subway to Tennoji Station(天王寺)
  • Took train to Kansai Airport

On our last day in Japan, we went to Kuromon market in the morning. It is more or less like Nishiki market in Kyoto. We had our Takoyaki as breakfast there. Generally, I feel that things in Osaka is cheaper than Kyoto, even though Osaka is a bigger city.

       Kuromon Ichiba Market

From Kuromon Market, we walked to the area near Namba station and went to one of the 100 Yen shop.

For lunch, we crossed the road to Dotonburi to have another try of okonomiyaki at another famous outlet. However, this time it did not taste so nice.

When going to Kansai airport, initially our plan is to take a train from Osaka Station but later we changed to Tennoji Station after finding out that we could take a train from there too, which could save us some money and time.

We refunded the remaining credit and deposit in our Kansai One Pass (ICOCA) at JR West office at Kansai Airport Station. There is a handling fee of Y220 per card.

       Shinsaibashi, famous shopping street in Namba Osaka

We were in Japan around end of May & early June, so it should be about spring-summer time. The weather is just nice for me, may be slightly above 20C in daytime. The sun shone brightly but we did not feel the heat except on day 6 afternoon. It's quite windy and it's a bit chilling.

Of course we missed the cherry blossom time in Mac/Apr, as we can only travel during school holidays. Many of the temples & gardens are famous for their spring (cherry blossom) and autumn (orange leaves) scenery.

To travel the same route as we did (Kanazawa-Alpine route-Shirakawago), a better time might be mid-April when you can see the snow wall at its best as well as cherry blossom in certain parts.

       Cherry blossom trees along Philosopher's Path of Kyoto

This is the first time we plan our own trip overseas and we are very satisfied with it. We don't need to rush from one place to another and waste time at shopping stations. We can go anywhere we like and eat whatever we want.

However, you should spend some time and effort in research to plan your trip well so that you won't miss something or waste time on unnecessary traveling. 

Before I did research on this trip I have totally no idea about Kyoto/Osaka/Kanazawa etc. After 3 days doing research on these places, I feel like I know them very well.

This is because nowadays it is very easy to search for anything as we have a friend calls "Google". I read a few websites and articles while planning the trip this time. The main sites I refer to are: www.japan-guide.com & Google map. JR West website is also useful for me as it shows the timetable of intercity trains and the exact fares.

I think the japan-guide.com website is excellent. Not only it describes and ranks the tourist spots, it also shows the direction to get to the place clearly.

So, we just choose the places we wish to visit and plan an easiest and best route to cover all these places. 

For more detail planning, I refer to Google Map. There is a function in Google Map which shows not only direction from a point to another, but also the alternative routes, the time and fees involved in detail.

From Google Map, I know roughly how much time is required when traveling from a place to another, and also the precise walking distant. This allows me to be sure that I can cover all the places planned in a day.

Overall, except Shinsekai, everything went well according to plan in this trip.

How about the overall cost then?

During my visit time, the currency exchange rate was at around 100yen = RM3.80, which is a recent high. A normal ordinary meal costs about Y600-1000 per person (~RM23-38), a cone ice cream costs about Y250-300 (~RM9-12), a bus ride in Kyoto costs Y230 (~RM9), and entrance fee to tourist spots is about Y300-400 (~RM12-15). Some of the things in the 100-yen shop (RM3.80) are really worth to buy.

We had a buffet breakfast at Daiwa-Roynet Kanazawa (Y900 = RM34 per person) & another at Almont Hotel Kyoto (Y1800 = RM68 per person). Both are quite nice but the one at Daiwa-Roynet is more worth the money.

The overall cost of this trip for 2 persons (base on 3.8 rate) are roughly RM12,331.
  • Flight +  meals + travel insurance
    •  RM4068.14
  • Transport
    • JR Rail pass: USD262 (RM1098)
    • Others: RM430 
  • Accomodation
    • Two nights at Tune Hotel KLIA2: RM400 
    • Two nights at Daiwa-Roynet Kanazawa: Y15000 (RM576)
    • Two nights at Kyoto homestay: RM515
    • Two nights at Almont Hotel Kyoto: Y32600 (RM1254)
    • One night at Weekly Uehomachi Osaka: Y7500 (RM300)
  • Meal/snack - RM1500 (~RM100 per person per day)
  • Entrance fees - RM840
  • Shopping/Gift - RM1350

Excluding money spent in shopping, total expense will be around RM11,000, which means RM5,500 per person.

Is this an expensive trip? Well, depends on how you view it. It can still be cheaper actually as a lot can be saved from accommodation and dining. You can stay in dormitory or capsules and take bread & instant noodles but these are not what we want for our 10th year anniversary.

Overall I'm quite satisfied with this trip as I was ready to fork out my hard-earned RM10,000 for it, with the fear of unexpected over-spending.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, I wrote this article about my trip to Japan not only to keep as a memory, but to share with those who are planning for a similar trip.

I have benefited from others who share their experience online. So it's time for me to give back.