9D8N in JAPAN | Part 1

20 April 2018

Finally have time to blog about my 9D8N in Japan. 
This trip is truly amazing because i get to explore another side of Japan. Basically, this itinerary is arranged by a tour. For those who are interested with my full itinerary feel free to drop me a comment with your email and i will email it over for your reference. Meanwhile, here is some interesting highlight that i’ve done during this trip. Keep reading...

Do you know that, There’s so much to see and do in Japan. The popular and mainstream destinations like Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido and Kyoto are great, but there is so much more to see and do in Japan. I’m glad i get to explores some of the lesser known yet amazing places in Japan.

My first stop - MATSUMOTO (松本)

Matsumoto(松本)is in the Nagano prefecture, located in the centre of Japan Map. Matsumoto is a small and tranquil city with a population of 250,000; though the city is small, it has a lot to offer. The best part is, it is surrounded by many beautiful mountains. Matsumoto is known as a gateway to the Japanese alps, offers great hotspring onsets, beautiful mountains, and home to the oldest original Japanese castle.

#1 Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is built during the feudal ages (15 th century), there used to be hundreds of Japanese castles in Japan. However, Matsumoto Castle is the oldest original castle (construction began in 1592) in Japan so it’s definitely a must see in Matsumoto 

HOURS: 8:30AM to 5:00PM (4:30PM end of admission)
DIRECTIONS: Just a 15-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.

#2 Mount Norikura

After 3 hours of snow hike, we went to Soba-dokoro Gassho for the authentic soba as lunch!

Soba is a Japanese buckwheat noodle and Matsumoto is famous for this kind of fare. It is important to note though that soba should not to be mistaken for ramen (thin wheat noodles) nor udon (thicker).  For one of the best places to try soba, check out Soba-dokoro Gassho that makes homemade soba from freshly made buckwheat and eat it in a very traditional way. Not to mention that it is super good! One of the best soba i’ve ever taste! 

Address : 4025-2 Azumi | Kogen-no-yado Miharashi, Matsumoto 390-1511, Nagano Prefecture 

#3 Nakamachi Street 

Nakamachi Street prospered as the main business district of Matsumoto’s castle town. Quaint little street with cafes and quirky little stores. Good for a bit of walking and shopping. Many of the historical buildings in Nakamachi are old storehouses, some being over 100 years old. 

#4 Matsumoto Art Museum 

Yes, the famous artist Yayoi Kusama is actually born in Matsumoto. The museum itself is definitely outstanding and cultural, you can see why Yayoi grew up with a vibe of gifted artsy capability. 

Lovely architectural space housing a good collection of local art including Yayoi Kusama's collection. A must visit place if you are a fans of Yayoi Kusama. 

Hours : 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM ( closed on Monday)
Direction : From Matsumoto Station(JR Shinonoi Line), 12 min walk

Second stop -Takayama (飛騨高山)

 It is located in Gifu Prefecture. I have to stay that, among all of the places that i’ve been this trip, Takayama is personally one of my favorite.

#1 Hida dai-shounyudo 飞驒大钟乳洞

Hida Great Limestone Cave (Hida dai-shounyudo) is around 20-30 minutes drive to the Takuyama city. You can probably drop by to visit if you drove from Matsumoto to Takayama. The Hida Great Limestone Cave is a fantastic cavern that opens up 800 meters below a beautiful waterfall. It is even more beautiful during winter and this is how it looks during our visit this February. 
The view is spectacular. Definitely worth a visit! 

The cave itself is around 800 meters long. It is around 30-40 minutes to complete the whole tour and this is what you can to see after exit the cave. The view outside the cave is much more nicer. 

Hida Takayama Dai Shonyudo 
ADMISSION: Adults  ¥1000,  Children ¥500

If you’re looking for a thoroughly old and authentic traditional Japanese village, traveling to the city of Takayama in Gifu Prefecture is a must. Truth be told, due to its well-preserved antiquity, it has earned the title of being Japan’s “Little Kyoto”. I really love this little town.
Every single corner is so instagrammable. Wish i can have more time to explore

That era spans from the early 1600s to the mid 1800’s, so seeing the state of the houses here is nothing short of impressive!

#3 Morning Markets (Asaichi)

Early in the morning, start your day at the Miyagawa Morning Market located by the riverside. It is only walking distance from our hotel. ( Takayama Ou-An, Takayama) We walked around 15 minutes from our hotel to the market. It’s a slightly touristy affair but you’ll still find locals selling agricultural products alongside. It is quite interesting and worth visiting.

It typically opens at 7:00AM and closes at noon

#4 Old Town (Sanmachi)

After that, we went to the old town. Which is the main streets of Takayama. Also a MUST-VISIT places in Takayama. It is not too far from the Morning Markets and this shopping district is Takayama’s famous Old Town and right from the moment that we stepped into this area, I was in awe with the rows and rows of streets that were filled with old wooden latticed buildings!
While here, make sure to try the Hida Beef Sushi from one of the stalls. It’s served on a thin rice cracker and makes for a good introduction to the specialty meat in the region. It is so so so good! Definitely worth the queue. Don’t worry, it is not hard to find. Just follow wherever the crowd is and you will able to find this stalls. This sushi that i’m holding is around ¥700

#5 Experience making your own Sarubobo doll

Ask any Japanese person about a souvenir to get from Takayama in Gifu prefecture, and top on the list would be sarubobo dolls. It is like their signature in Takayama. The dolls are traditionally made by grandmothers for their grandchildren, or by mothers for their daughters as a good luck charm. We managed to made one for ourselves at one of the shop.
the dolls were already provided: all we had to do was decorate and help put on the vest!
 So if you’re looking for a gift to bring back from Takayama, definitely get a sarubobo doll. 

#6 Visit the Teddy Bear Museum 

There is huge display of different kind of teddy bear in this museum. The owner create and collects these teddy bear from all around the world with different meaning behind every bears. The concept of this museum is to promote about saving the environment. Therefore, every single display of the teddy bears actually represent different story and the owner hope to deliver the message about protecting the environment through a different ways using the teddy bear. 

Don’t miss it if you are a fans of teddy bear. It is around 10-15 minutes away from Takayama city.

Hida Takayama Teddy Bear Eco Village 
TEL : 0577-37-2525 

#7 Eat the Hida Beef Sukiyaki

I’m a big fans of Japanese food especially SUKIYAKI. It is amazingly good in Japan and you just can’t find it anywhere else in the world. We manage to find one in Takayama. The price is reasonable, the services is amazingly good ( the owner can speak good english and very helpful ), the food is good too! So, if you are looking for a place for dinner in Takayama, SUZUYA is a place where you should pay a visit! 
The beef with raw eggs is heavenly good! Just can’t get enough of Sukiyaki.
I’m missing it already. Bring me back :P

Address: 24, 花川町 Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0015, Japan 
Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 8PM

I really enjoyed my time in Takayama with lots of good food, and onsen everyday in my hotel ( Takayama Ou-An ) I would definitely come back to Takayama again because there is so much more to see and experience in this city. Two days in Takayama is not enough. 

NEXT, off to Gokayama to visit one of the most trending attractions......

Stay tuned for my next post 


  1. Can I've more information about the itinerary please? Thank you!��
    Here's my email, miyazakisumiye@gmail.com

  2. panzepinoko@gmail.com


  3. Hi Karen, your trip looks interesting :) Can I have your itinerary please? My email address is lemonade99274@yahoo.com.tw
    Thank you !!