The Guide to Planning an Enviable Japan Honeymoon

Journey to neon lights, cherry blossoms and Shinto shrines.
Tokyo skyline and Mount Fuji, Japan honeymoon.
Photo: Shutterstock
james wong - the knot contributing writer and travel expert
by
James Wong
james wong - the knot contributing writer and travel expert
James Wong
Travel Writer & Expert
  • James Wong is a freelance travel writer and expert.
  • He's reported for publications including VOGUE, GQ, Time Out and Thrillist.
  • James has lived in London, Tokyo and New York; and has traveled to almost every corner of the world.
Updated Apr 09, 2024
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From ancient shrines and temples to splendid and modern culinary experiences, a Japan honeymoon offers just about everything. Japan is known as the "Land of the Rising Sun," reputable for its efficiency, spectacular dining options and world-class sunrises. You know you're marrying a fellow adventurer when the country is the agreed-upon best honeymoon destination.

Japan offers the ultimate thrill, a chance to get out of your comfort zone, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new and foreign land. The range of adventurous honeymoon activities won't be short either: ancient temples, neon-lit alleyways, Zen bamboo forests and the famous Mount Fuji all await.

A far-flung spot from the US, many couples consider this region of the world a bucket list destination. However, it's easily accessible through multiple airline providers, and once on the ground, through JR (Japan Rail) Pass. Here are the basics to know if you're planning a Japan honeymoon itinerary.

Japan Honeymoon Tips in this Article:

    Japanese wooden sightseeing boat with pink sakura branches in Kyoto
    Photo: DoctorEgg | Getty

    Best Time to Honeymoon in Japan

    Cherry blossom season in Japan happens around the same time every year (March, April and May), which makes those months some of the priciest but best times to visit. If you don't mind dishing out for your Japan honeymoon, expect to be treated to a pink paradise of hanami (flower viewing) celebrations.

    Fall in November is a cheaper yet popular time to visit, when mild temperatures and romantic golden hues warm spectacular landscapes. June to August are considered tsunami season, with torrential downpours frequent and humidity lingering in the air. As with any destination, explore the local weather by month first.

    Best weather: March to May.
    Festival highlights: Cherry blossom festivals (Sakura) during the spring, particularly in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, where the blooms create a romantic backdrop. Summer brings vibrant fireworks festivals (Hanabi) across the country, with the Sumida River Fireworks in Tokyo being a definite highlight. Autumn is marked by colorful foliage celebrations (including the Kichijoji Autumn Festival and the Shinagawa Shukuba-matsuri Festival), and winter features the Sapporo Snow Festival, which showcases spectacular ice and snow sculptures.

    Japan Honeymoon Planning Tips

    Ready for the honeymoon to end all honeymoons? Here's how to make your Japanese adventure one for the books. For US couples, a honeymoon in Japan is easily accessible through multiple airline providers, running non-stop from the West Coast to Tokyo in 11-to-12 hours, and the East Coast to Tokyo in 14-to-15 hours. When looking at plane tickets for your Japan honeymoon, monitor prices ahead of time to find the best deals on airfare. Once you're in the country, all you'll really need is the JR (Japan Rail) Pass to get from city to city.

    Japan is very well connected by train and exploring on the JR pass is the most practical and economical way to do it. The pass provides unlimited access to all trains (Shinkansen, national and local) plus JR buses, ferry, and select airport transfers for seven, 14, or 21 days. Japan has some of the lowest crime rates in the world—many who lose valuables find that they're promptly returned in their entirety.

    When planning your honeymoon, keep in mind that English is not widely spoken in Japan—not even in Tokyo. Though this can be a challenge, many public areas have free Wi-Fi for when you need Google assistance.

    Entry requirements: You must have a valid US passport and an onward or return ticket for "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.
    Language:
    Japanese.
    Location:
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia, located in the Pacific Ocean. It stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.
    Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY).
    Flight time to Destination: From Los Angeles, direct flights to Tokyo are usually 11-12 hours.
    Getting around: Japan's public transportation system is world-renowned for its efficiency and coverage, including high-speed Shinkansen (bullet trains), local trains, buses and subways. Renting a car is an option if you plan to explore more rural areas, but public transit is generally the best way to travel between and within cities.

    Pro tip: Find a honeymoon planning expert to help you answer any questions you have, like where to buy a JR pass, how much yen to bring and even cultural etiquette. You can browse travel agents near you on The Knot Marketplace to help you with your Japan honeymoon itinerary.

    Best Japan Honeymoon Hotels and Resorts

    From wellness resorts and luxury hotels to ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) with beautiful onsen (hot springs), you really can't lose when it comes to Japan honeymoon accommodations. Here are a few recommendations to get you started.

    Interior design in modern living room with wood floor and white wall
    Photo: ume illus | Getty

    Ritz-Carlton Osaka

    For a harmonious melody of easts meets west, base yourselves at the Ritz-Carlton Osaka, a hotel that infuses its corners with 18th-century British style and subtle Japanese details. Five-star dining options include Michelin-starred French restaurant La Baie, and renowned Japanese restaurant, Hanagatami.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Four Seasons Kyoto

    Set in the scenic Higashiyama district of temples, the Four Seasons Kyoto features an 800-year-old pond garden that's covered with cherry blossom in spring and red foliage in fall. Of course, every room has floor-to-ceiling windows to view the natural spectacle.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Aman Tokyo

    Aman Tokyo is a razor-chic designer hotel situated in Tokyo's Otemachi Tower, outfitted with ryokan-style rooms, a sleek black bar, and a spa that's one of the largest in town—all a sublime contrast from the madness outside.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Zaborin Ryokan

    Heading to Hokkaido to do absolutely nothing? Check in to Zaborin, a luxury ryokan with 15 secluded villas. Each has private onsens (both indoor and outdoor) and the capability to host multi-course omakase meal experiences.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Pro tip: If you're looking for unique honeymoon accommodations in Japan, consider staying at a romantic Airbnb or VRBO.

    Japan Honeymoon Itinerary Ideas

    Couples on a Japan honeymoon can enjoy a variety of activities, from strolling through serene gardens and historic temples to experiencing the neon-lit nightlife of cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Here are our top picks for things to do while you're there.

    A couple on a street in old town Kyoto
    Photo: Francesco Riccardo Iacomino | Getty

    Get Lost on the Streets of Tokyo

    We all remember Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray wandering the neon-lit streets of Tokyo, albeit unenthusiastically. Relive the famed movie by spending at least part of your honeymoon in Tokyo. Start with the Shibuya crossing, the world's busiest pedestrian intersection (tip: the glass Starbucks on Tsutaya bookstore is the best place to watch it from), grab some conveyor-belt sushi from Genki, and karaoke the night away at one of the many sky-high karaoke chains, such as Big Echo.

    Bathe at Hakone's Traditional Onsens

    Whilst westerners visit spas for R&R, in the east it's all about the onsen. These communal baths are filled with natural volcanic spring water, known for their healing mineral content. Hakone, an hour southwest of Tokyo, is most famous for its high concentration and varying kinds of onsens, including those designed especially for families, couples and customers with tattoos. Whatever one you choose, be sure to read up on local onsen etiquette before entering.

    Find Your Zen in Kyoto

    The ancient city is the ideal spot to slow things down at a pace, and if it weren't so pretty, disconnect completely (but we understand everything is 'gram gold here). You'll want to head to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove at the crack of dawn to avoid crowds. The forest is 16 square kilometers deep in lush bamboo stalks, offering a cool respite from the summer heat. Get some steps in with a stroll through Fushimi Inari Shrine, a 1,300-year-old monument consisting of 10,000 red torii gates. Finally, the cream of the crop? Kinkakuji, Kyoto's famed golden temple, where the top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Viator offers a variety of excursions to see Kyoto's treasures. Remember to refrain from tipping—gratuity is considered rude in Japan.

    Capture the Beauty of Mount Fuji

    Japan's tallest mountain is so huge it can be seen from multiple locations across Japan. Hire a Flytographer to navigate you to the best viewpoints from the city, or bring your own camera to Lake Kawaguchiko and capture the snow-capped mountain's reflections in the water. Need more direction? Japan Airbnb experiences offer hiking in the Mount Fuji area with an English-speaking guide.

    Let Loose at Universal Studios in Osaka

    Universal Studios Japan was the first of its kind to open in Asia, and the perfect excuse to let your hair down and be silly amidst the historic sites of West Japan. The Japanese take 'kawaii' (cute) that extra mile, and seeing the seas of minions is in itself worth the ticket price. Situated in the Osaka Bay area, the theme park includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World and Minion Park.

    Pro tip: Include a few Japan honeymoon experiences to your gift registry so loved ones can give you a couples' activity to enjoy together abroad. Don't forget to post some cute honeymoon photos to your wedding website and social feed for your guests to see.

    What to Pack for a Japan Honeymoon

    Pagoda overlooking Mount Fuji, Japan
    Photo: Andria Patino | Getty

    Your packing checklist should definitely include comfortable footwear, as you'll likely end up walking a lot on your honeymoon in Japan.

    Higher-end dining establishments strictly require smart or formal attire, so make sure you bring a few elegant outfit options in your honeymoon luggage, too. Most onsens and some beaches require tattoos to be covered up, so prepare your clothing and swimwear accordingly.

    Brittany Barber contributed to this article.

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