Things to do in
Kansai

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Our most recommended things to do in Kansai

Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

1. Nara: Big Buddha, Bambi and Backstreets Cultural Tour

Accompanied by your tour guide, head straight to one of Nara’s top historical sites and one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, the Todaiji temple. Its famous centerpiece is the 15-meter bronze statue of the Great Buddha, Vairocana. On our way, you will be greeted by the friendly deer of Nara. The deer are divine protectors of the ancient capital living in perfect harmony with the locals. Next stop is the second of the seven great temples of Nara, Kofukuji. Make a brief stop at the Sarusawa pond, well known for its turtles and the pretty scenery surrounding it; this is considered a perfect spot for a romantic evening walk in Nara. Move forward into the quiet alleys and backstreets of Nara-machi, the well-preserved former merchant's district, where you will be able to see and experience unique traditional arts and crafts. As the best way to experience a city is through its food, you will get the chance to test some of our favorite local delights. The last stop of your journey will take you to a shopping street, where you can find colorful and diverse shops, perfect for souvenir hunting.  Both the JR Nara station and the Kintetsu station are within comfortable walking distance from the finishing point of the tour. Your guide will be happy to help you with directions to your hotel or to provide a restaurant recommendation for lunch. Do not forget to ask for more hints and tips on what else there is to do in Nara during your time here. 

Japan: eSIM Mobile Data Plan

2. Japan: eSIM Mobile Data Plan

Make your trip to Japan hassle-free with a convenient eSIM data plan of your choosing. Stay connected on your travels with high-speed coverage allowing you to easily upload your photos, navigate on maps, and communicate with your friends. Purchase and install your eSIM anytime and anywhere, choosing from a variety of data packages, validity options, and even having the option of adding coverage in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Simply scan the eSIM QR code to access all your essential apps on your vacation. Choose a zero-waste solution and avoid the trouble of having to manage multiple SIM cards. Once activated, your coverage will begin according to your selected duration.

Kumano/Tanabe: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail Private Tour

3. Kumano/Tanabe: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trail Private Tour

Discover Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Trails on a private tour alongside a licensed local guide. Choose from a 6 or 4-hour tour option and receive a meet-and-greet service at your accommodation or from the main train station in Kumano or Tanabe. Let your guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. You can also pre-plan your itinerary in advance. Benefit from a guide that holds a Nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter Certification issued by the Japanese government, which certifies that your guide holds good knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture and history. Explore an ancient network of pilgrim trails dating back more than 1,000 years connecting historic shrines and temples running through the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. The most popular route, Nakahechi, along which past emperors traveled, crosses the width of the Peninsula from Tanabe town on the west coast to Shingu and Nachi-Katsuura towns on the east. Hikers of all levels can enjoy quiet mountain hamlets and onsens. Popular 6-hour itinerary - Hossinmon-Oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha: Experience a route that is a good mixture of ridge-top settlements and forest trails. Walk through Kumano Kodo to Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine and learn about its history and cultural importance. After lunch, visit the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine, one of the three grand shrines, standing on a small ridgeline in the north of the Hongu village. Admire the 800-year-old austere pavilions that are made of wood with impressive cypress bark roofs which architecture style.

Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

4. Himeji: Private Customized Tour with Licensed Guide

Explore Himeji in your own way with a private licensed guide. Choose the 6 or 4-hour option depending on what fits with your schedule. Let the guide know what special requests you have for the day and they will tailor your itinerary accordingly. All guides hold the nationally-licensed Tour Guide-Interpreter certification. It is issued by the Japanese government and requires a good understanding of Japanese culture and history. This tour features a morning pickup at your hotel in Himeji, then a visit to any number of possible sites. You can customize your itinerary according to the places you want to visit. See a suggested itinerary below: The first stop is Himeji Castle, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji Castle dates back to 1333, and has survived natural disasters, WWII bombing, and the wear of the weather. In 2015, it underwent restoration works, which helped return its facade to a brilliant white. Visit the castle with a local knowledgeable guide and learn about the castle's architecture. Next is Mt. Shosha, a picturesque temple area located in the mountains behind Himeji Castle. Take the ropeway cable car up to Mt. Shosha. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extremely energetic, you could hike up the mountain in an hour or less. Then stop by the Engyo-ji Temple. With so much to explore on the temple grounds, plan to spend around an hour here to see the main structures. The trails that lead through the grounds reveal Mt. Shosha's gorgeous flora, and little details that create a magical atmosphere. For lunch, you enjoy delicious local food around Himeji Station, such as amen, gyoza, tonkatsu, and sushi. The local shopping street arcade is another charm of Himeji, and your guide will pick out the best shops for you to visit.  Other popular places to visit on this tour could be the Himeji City Museum of Literature, the Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery, or the Hiromine Shrine.

Himeji: Private Guided Walking Tour

5. Himeji: Private Guided Walking Tour

Meet your expert private guide at JR Himeji station to begin the tour. With your guide, learn more about some of Japan's most significant historical sites. First, stop by the Castle View Deck and enjoy fantastic views of Himeji Castle from afar. Continue by walking down Otemae Street before arriving at the foot of Himeji Castle, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest and most visited castle in Japan. After some time to admire its exterior, wander through the tranquil Koko-en gardens located beside the castle. Take a bus to the Mount Shosha Ropeway which brings you to Engyo-Ji Temple Complex. Discover a serene place of pilgrimage for those of the Tendai Mahayana Buddhist faith. Enjoy the serene atmosphere and scenic views of the city from the summit of Mount Shosha.

From Tokyo: Day Trip to Coastal Kamakura

6. From Tokyo: Day Trip to Coastal Kamakura

Meet your guide in Tokyo and take the train to the laid-back beach town of Kamakura. Just an hour south of Tokyo, this beach-side town offers ample opportunity to learn more about Japan’s heritage and feudal history. Be paired with guides that are passionate about the place they call home and who choose to spend their free time sharing it with like-minded travelers matched to them. Follow your guide as you navigate through the intricate architecture of the area, past flame-colored torii gates marking entrances to shrines, and magnificent Buddhist temples. See the most notable attractions, including the spectacular Great Buddha and Hokokuji Bamboo Forest. Kamakura was the ancient feudal capital of Japan and had a vital role in spreading Buddhism across the country. The crown jewel of the town is the Amida Buddha at Kotoku-in, forged from bronze. See the modern side of the town by heading over to the local surf shacks and eyeing up the waves. Finish your day with a hike up to the peaceful local forest.

From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

7. From Osaka: Himeji Castle and Arima Onsen Private Tour

Venture out from Osaka on day trip that gives you history, relaxation, and fun, all with the comfort and luxury of a private vehicle, tour guide, and door-to-door transportation. Customize your itinerary to your preferences and discover the gems of the Kansai region. Discover the mysteries of Himeji Castle, a feat of engineering and one of Japan's most elegant castles still standing today. Let your English-speaking guide take you into the castle buildings, providing you with stories and facts that make for a much richer experience than could be obtained on your own. Learn what rooms were used for what, all about defensive strategies, the role of concubines, and of course how the castle was designed to thwart invasion. Leave Himeji Castle and take a lunch break before heading off to Arima Onsen or central Kobe for some afternoon sights and relaxation. Feel restored by the therapeutic, mineral rich waters of Arima Onsen as others have done for over 1,300 years. Sense how your mind becomes more at ease and your skin smoother after the experience. Then, take a lovely stroll around the town, with shops and food vendors pleasantly scattered about. For those not quite so interested in hot springs, opt instead to explore the coastal areas of Kobe City at no additional cost. Choose from a number of local highlights according to your interests, including a well-known sake (Japanese rice wine) producer, where you can learn how the product is made and get some free samples. See the Western-style area of Kyu Kyoryuchi with its well-preserved houses dating back to the late 1800s.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

8. Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Walking Food Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga Arashiyama station. The Arashiyama district, located west of the Kyoto city center, has long been a scenic leisure spot. Many ancient aristocrats had their villas here 1000 years ago and enjoyed writing literature and poetry. Today, the area is one of the most popular tourist sites in Kyoto.  First, explore the Bamboo Forest and quiet Sagano District, a peaceful neighborhood known for its beautiful maple trees. Then, visit Tenryu-ji temple which was built in 1339 by the Shogun Ashikaga in memory of the Emperor Go-Daigo and was a complex of more than 100 buildings. They were mostly destroyed by fires and civil wars over the years, but the traditional garden remains in its original form, designed by the monk Muso. Enjoy walking in the landscaped garden. After walking, taste Japanese croquette, leek pancakes, and sweet potato. Then, head over to the Togetsukyo bridge which, as the area’s landmark, dates back to the 9th-century and provides a good photo taking spot for visitors today. At the end of this half-day tour, have a nice sweets. If you like, you can enjoy shopping around after the tour because the this tour finished in a district where you can find many souvenirs.

Kumano Kodo: Private Full-Day Pilgrimage Trip

9. Kumano Kodo: Private Full-Day Pilgrimage Trip

Embark on an adventure to see all the key sights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in a single trip. Admire all three shrines and pause at the beautiful Nachi falls to watch water crashing down from 133 meters in the air. After pickup from your hotel, start with a visit to the Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine. Learn about the sun goddess Amaterasu at a location which is the head of over 3000 Kumano shrines across Japan. Admire the biggest torii gate in the world which, at 33 meters tall, dwarfs visitors passing under it. Next, head to the Kumano Hayatama Taisha, located in Shingu City. This shrine has occupied the same spot on the Kumano Riverbank since at least the 12th century. Learn about the Shinto creation myth which claims how three deities descended to earth nearby. Head back in the vehicle for the drive to Kumano Nachi Taisha, located near the coastal hot spring Katsuura. Admire the fusion of Buddhist and Shinto influences that is particular to the Kumano region. Finish your pilgrimage with a stop at Nachi Falls, Be awed by Japan's tallest waterfall with a single uninterrupted drop of 133 meters. Feel the power of a sacred site where a ton of water drops down the cliff every second.

Kyoto: 4-Hour Arashiyama Walking Tour

10. Kyoto: 4-Hour Arashiyama Walking Tour

Start the tour from the JR Saga-Arashiyama station North Exit. Skip the regular and crowded route which leads directly to the bamboo forest, and make your way to the lesser-known Saga-Toriimoto area.  Visit the local gift shops and beautiful local temples and shrines. Learn about the local stories and legends of the area from your guide. Enjoy the beauty of the bamboo forest and learn about its significance for the locals.  Next, visit Tenryu-Ji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous its beautiful Sogenchi pond and garden which was once owned by local aristocrats. Walk towards Arashiyama's iconic Togetsukyo bridge. Then, enjoy a traditional lunch with typical Kyoto cuisine. Enjoy the views over the Togetsukyo bridge from the restaurant while you are eating.

Other Sightseeing Options in Kansai

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What people are saying about Kansai

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 350 reviews

It was an absolute splendid few hours!! Nia did an incredible job at showing me around, showing me the most interesting and beautiful parts of Nara. She had interesting tidbits and information about everything and clearly knows her way around the city! This was absolutely with its money and I'm so glad I did this tour.

Definitely worth it and also absolutely necessary because some don't speak English or often look through maps themselves for where and how they're going

A great day at the Japanese seaside with Patrick. Temples, shrines, local food and Black Kites behaving like Seaguls. Amazing.

Great tour guide! Niall was professional and very helpful with providing a pleasant tour.

The game in Osaka was an amazing experience to do with kids. We enjoyed it a lot.