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The Ultimate Japan Itinerary for First-Timers: From 1 to 3 Weeks

A towering, colorful pagoda in the foreground with beautiful Mount Fuji in the distance in Japan

I’ve yet to meet a traveler who didn’t love their time in Japan . It’s just one of those countries that everyone loves. How can you not? The food is carefully crafted and delicious; the history and culture are both rich and long; the landscape breathtaking; and the people super friendly and polite.

Japan remains one of my favorite countries. No matter how long I visit, it’s never enough. I always leave wanting more.

But the country always seems forbidding to many travelers. It definitely still has that “exotic” stereotype that makes people think it’s hard to travel around.

Where should you go? What should you include in your Japan itinerary? Should you buy a JR Pass to help you get around?

To help you out, here are a few suggested itineraries based on my years of visiting that will ensure you see the best sites on your Japan trip — as well as get off the beaten path and get a real sense of Japanese culture!

Table of Contents

Japan Itinerary: Know Before You Go

Japan itinerary: one week, japan itinerary: two weeks, japan itinerary: three weeks.

A bullet train passing the beautiful Mount Fuji in Japan on a sunny day

Just be sure to get one BEFORE you go as you cannot purchase them on arrival. For more information on the pass, including how much they cost and how you can get one, read this blog post . It has everything you need to know!

Mobile Data in Japan In Japan, English isn’t widely spoken (especially outside of the major cities) so having access to the internet is vital for checking addresses, using translation apps, and looking up things to see and do. The easiest way to get data is through an international eSIM for Japan .

An eSIM allows you to access mobile data via a QR code so you can have internet wherever you are, without worrying about physical SIM cards or roaming charges. This will save you a lot of time and hassle when using apps like Google Maps, Google Translate, Instagram, and YouTube. It will also come in handy for checking menus at restaurants (since they are rarely in english).  

The famous Sensoji temple during a sunny day in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, Japan

Day 1 & 2: Tokyo Chances are you’ll be starting your trip in Tokyo , since it’s home to the country’s biggest international airport. If your trip is seven days long, activate your JR Pass right away, so that you can take advantage of the free JR trains that run through the city.

While you could easily spend your entire week in Tokyo and not get bored, here are some of the highlights:

Visit the fish market – Toyosu is the world’s largest fish market. The daily auction here powers much of the world’s sushi supply, and it is truly an absolute must-see! You can go for free, but food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market are available for around 14,500 JPY.

See Sensoji Temple – Sensoji is beautifully painted and sits in a scenic spot near a five-story pagoda and the famous Kaminari Gate. There’s a huge statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the main hall. It’s always busy but is worth seeing with your own eyes. The temple is free to visit.

Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a lively place to drink at night and has a bit of a red-light-district feel to it. It is not to be missed. Even if you don’t drink, be sure to wander about. Arigato Tours offers tours of the area where you’ll learn about the neighborhood while stopping to sample Japanese classics like sushi, yakitori, and ramen. Tours are 23,900 JPY and include a drink and dishes at four food stops.

Visit the Imperial Palace – The home of the emperor of Japan was built in the 15th century, and while you can’t go inside, the palace and its grounds are a peaceful place for a stroll.

Watch a sumo match – If you’re in town at the right time, this is a must-do . Tickets sell out quickly, so book early. Expect to pay around 11,000-13,000 JPY.

If you have more time, consider taking a day trip to Kamakura to see the giant Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It is over 13 meters (42 feet) tall and dates back to the 13th century. The journey is around 90 minutes each way — and free with the JR Pass !

For delicious food, some of my favorite bars and restaurants include: Uogashi Nihon-Ichi (Standing Sushi Bar), Nemuro Hanamaru KITTE Marunouchi, Motodane, Tokyo Whisky Library, Ichiran Shibuya, and Uohama.

WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO : Hostel Chapter Two – A small, family-run hostel not far from Skytree Station in Asakusa. I really like the shared kitchen and common room, as there’s a real social feel to them.

A narrow, old street in quiet Kyoto, Japan with a pagoda in the distance

With its beauty come lots of crowds though, so try to visit outside of the busy summer months. Even with lots of tourists, though, the city is still magnificent and has a lot to offer. Some things to see and do that you shouldn’t miss are the following:

Visit the Golden Pavilion – This famous (and picturesque) temple dates to the 1950s, when a monk burned down the previous temple (from the 14th century) while trying to commit suicide. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most-visited destinations in the country!

Explore Gion – Gion is the historic geisha district. Stroll along the main street and see ochaya s (teahouses where geishas entertain), the small shops, and the many restaurants that line the district’s streets. You can take a walking tour of Gion for 1,800 JPY.

Wander in the Bamboo Forest – For a relaxing break, head to Arashiyama and let the calm swaying of the forest envelop you. Located near the famous Tenryu-ji temple, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the entire country. Arrive early if you want to enjoy it without the crowds. Kyoto Bike Tours offers an early-bird bike tour for a guided way to do just that.

Admire Ryoan-ji temple – This is my favorite temple in Kyoto. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a mausoleum that houses the remains of seven emperors. The traditional rock and sand garden is considered one of the best in the country.

For a half-day trip, you can also visit Nara. It’s a small city just one hour from Kyoto. Nara was the capital of Japan in the eighth century, so there are lots of buildings and temples here that are upwards of a thousand years old (which is rare in Japan, due to fires, as well as World War II). But the real draw in Nara are the deer.

Since the 17th century, those in and around the city have been considered sacred. You can buy crackers to feed them or just watch them stroll around carefree. A guided half-day walking tour that includes all of Nara’s highlights as well as a traditional lunch is 11,500 JPY.

While you’re here, don’t miss a visit to Todai-ji. It’s the world’s largest wooden building and is home to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was built in 738 CE and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admission is 600 JPY.

WHERE TO STAY IN KYOTO : Backpacker Hostel K’s House – A fun, social backpacker hostel in a great central location. The rooftop terrace is a cool spot to hangout and meet other travelers after a day of exploring.

The iconic, towering Osaka Castle overlooking busy Osaka, Japan on a sunny day

Don’t miss Osaka Castle though. While it’s not the original (this version dates to 1931), it’s nevertheless an impressive sight. It’s home to a small but insightful museum and an observation deck that offers some picturesque city views.

And be sure to stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at night), the main street, which is lined with restaurants, stores, and tons of neon lights and signs. A guided walking tour that includes Dotonbori as well adjacent neighborhoods is 6,500 JPY.

The bombed-out ruins of the atomic bomb site in Hiroshima, Japan

Today, Hiroshima is thriving . Don’t miss the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the history of the city before and after that fateful day. It has photos, artifacts, videos, and information about the effect of radiation on the population. It’s a sobering experience but one that should not be missed.

If you feel like getting out of town afterward, head to Miyajima , an island that offers a place to hike and enjoy nature. You can also take a cable car to the peak of the mountain to take in the view. A one-way ferry ride to the island takes 10 minutes and is free to JR Pass holders.

WHERE TO STAY IN HIROSHIMA : Roku Hostel – A cozy, small hostel with a rustic atmosphere and design. It feels like you’re staying with a friend here, and the beds are super comfy too.

An empty street with glowing lights in Tokyo, Japan

If you like history, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folk Village, home to a collection of traditional thatch-roof houses that you can enter to further immerse yourself in the country’s past.

This city (and region, really) is famous for its Hida beef, a high-fat variety that’s even better than any A5 Wagyu you might have. It just melts in your mouth. Be sure to have some while you are here!

The Japanese Alps are not far from here as well, so if you love hiking and want to extend your time in the region, head to Kamikochi for a day hike or overnight trip. It’s just an hour away and has both easy and moderate trails, which are open from April to November. Hiking trails can also be found in Hakusan National Park (also just one hour away by car).

The quiet streets of scenic Kanazawa, Japan with locals wearing traditional clothing

One of the more unique temples in Japan is here too: Ninja (Myoryuji) Temple. While the temple wasn’t home to actual ninjas, Myoryuji was built as a defensive structure (strict laws forbade local lords from building defenses, so they were hidden in the temple to circumvent the rules). These include hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

If you need a break from exploring cities, Hakusan National Park, home to Mount Haku, one of the three holy mountains, is just an hour south of town.

The traditional Japanese castle overlooking Matsumoto in Japan

If you’re here in April, there are incredible cherry blossom displays that are famous in the region. And, just like Takayama, Matsumoto is close to the Japanese Alps, so you’re just a stone’s throw from some of the best hiking in the country.

A red torii gate in the water with lush greenery and Mount Fuji in the background Japan

There are tons of hotels (both modern and traditional) that have their own hot springs (often both indoors and outdoors). It’s the perfect place to wrap up a trip, relax, and take in the views.

In addition to getting a copious amount of R&R, be sure to ride the cable car up the mountain for even more amazing views. The area is surrounded by craters from an inactive volcano that erupted 80,000 years ago (not to be confused with nearby Mount Fuji, which is an active volcano), and you’ll find lots of vendors at the top selling eggs cooked in the sulfurous waters. It’s said the eggs prolong one’s life by seven years, so feel free to give them a try!

If you prefer to hike up instead, the trail is open between July and September, with the trek taking anywhere from 5 to 12 hours, depending on your level of fitness. Typically, hikers leave at night in order to arrive at the summit by dawn. There are little shops along the way that sell food and even beds you can rent in advance if you want to split your journey up. Just make sure you do your research and prepare in advance as it’s a tough hike!

If you really want to play tourist, you can also ride a mock pirate ship around the lake for more views of the mountains, and Mount Fuji in particular.

Full-day tours around Hakone that include all the main sights cost 14,800 JPY.

WHERE TO STAY IN HAKONE : Hotel Green Plaza – With gorgeous views of Mount Fuji, a huge buffet dinner (with both Western and Japanese options), and a private onsen where you can relax and enjoy the view, this is one of the best places to stay in Hakone if you want value but don’t want to break the bank.  

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan

Using the suggestions above, here’s how I would organize your itinerary:

  • Days 1-3 : Tokyo
  • Day 4 : Mount Fuji or Hakone
  • Day 5 : Takayama
  • Days 6 & 7 : Kanazawa
  • Days 8 & 9 : Matsumoto
  • Days 10-12 : Kyoto
  • Days 13 & 14 : Osaka
  • Days 15 & 16 : Hiroshima

The sprawling, green landscape of Hokkaido, Japan inside a national park

If you do want to spend a few hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, where you can find lots of fresh seafood. You can also visit Fort Goryokaku, the first “Western”-style fort in the country.

An old brewery in the winter in Sapporo, Japan

Be sure to stop in at the local Beer Museum too, owned by Sapporo Breweries (the oldest beer company in the country). It showcases the history of beer in Japan and how the business got its start. If you’re a whiskey fan, stop by The Bow Bar, home to some rare (and expensive) whiskeys and considered one of the best such bars in the world.

What I love about the city is its location. This region has some of the best hiking in the country. There are plenty of hills and mountains, offering options for both day hikes as well as overnight trips. Some highlights include Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For the best views of the city, head to Mount Moiwayama. It’s just a 30-60-minute hike to the top, though there is a cable car you can take as well.

And if you’re visiting in the winter, hit the slopes! There are over a hundred ski resorts in Hokkaido. You can rent skis (or a snowboard) for around 10,000-18,000 JPY. Lift prices are usually 4,000-6,000 JPY per day. In the winter, don’t miss the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. It’s held every February and draws over two million visitors. There are ice sculptures, igloos, live music, and delicious local foods on offer.

Additionally, be sure to take a day trip to Otaru, where you’ll find some of the freshest uni in the whole country (this is the main area where the famed Hokkaido uni is caught). Go hungry and visit the markets, stalls, and shops around there.

WHERE TO STAY IN SAPPORO : Waya Hostel – This is a laid-back, colorful hostel with a social atmosphere that makes meeting people a breeze. It has a homey, DIY feel and is perfect for budget travelers looking for a no-frills place to crash.

The busy streets of Tokyo, Japan near an old temple

There is a ton to see and do in Japan , and you could easily spend another month here and still just scratch the surface (we didn’t even get to Okinawa and the islands!). And while these itineraries are a bit fast-paced, Japan isn’t cheap, so budget travelers need to move around the country quickly to avoid breaking the bank.

But no matter how long you visit, you won’t be disappointed. Japan is an amazing, beautiful, and unique destination that I never get tired of visiting. While it’s not as affordable as its neighbors, there are still plenty of ways to save money , and it’s definitely worth spending the time (and money) visiting. You won’t be disappointed!

Just make sure to get your Japan Rail Pass before you go!  

Book Your Trip to Japan: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . They are my two favorite search engines, because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is left unturned!

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most comprehensive inventory so they are best for booking a hostel. If you want to stay in a hotel or guesthouse in Japan, use as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancelations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel — and I think they will help you too!

Be sure to check out the Japan Rail Pass if you’ll be traveling around the country. It comes in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and can save you a ton of money!

Looking for More Travel Tips for Japan? Check out my in-depth Japan travel guide for more ways to save money; information on costs; tips on what to see and do; suggested itineraries, reading, and packing lists; and much, much more!

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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The Ultimate Japan Travel Itinerary for First Timers: 2 Weeks in Japan

In this article we aim to uncover the perfect 2 week itinerary for first timers in Japan. We aim to arm you with the right tools and advice to help you explore Japan with confidence.

Join us as we embark on an exploration of this enchanting archipelago, where the old and the new converge to create an unforgettable travel experience.

Japan Travel Requirements

Travelling to and around japan, best time to travel to japan, days 1-3: tokyo, day 4: hakone, days 5-7: kyoto, day 8: day trip to nara & osaka, day 9: day trip to hiroshima & miyajima, day 10: day trip to himeji & osaka, day 11: osaka, mobile data in japan, booking attractions in japan, useful applications whilst in japan, final thoughts, planning a trip to japan.

Japan mount Fuji

They say when the old Gods decided to make this world they dipped a coral blade into the ocean and when they pulled it out four perfect drops fell back into the sea. Those four drops became the islands of Japan.

If you are planning a trip to Japan we suggest you start fairly early. This is because you want to be sure you get the best experience whilst you are there and don’t miss anything on your to do list.

As an idea, we booked our trip 9 months before and planning took a few good weeks if not months. The main issue we found was the general lack of content available.

Another thing worth mentioning is that in Japan very few people speak any English. This is important to note, as when you arrive there, chances of “winging it” will be slim. Hence it’s very important you come with your plan ready.

Considering most of you will be travelling from far away, it’s best to consider travel insurance for your Japan trip. Japan’s health insurance system does not cover tourists and other short-term travellers to the country.

Read More: How to plan a trip: Best tips for your next holiday plan

plane tickets and passports

Before heading off to Japan it’s worth looking whether a visa is required. You can check this on the Japanese Ministry of External Affairs here .

If you are visiting Japan, your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

The use or possession of some common prescription and over-the-counter medicines is banned under Japan’s strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law.

This includes Vicks inhalers, medicines for allergies and sinus problems, cold and flu medication containing Pseudoephedrine and even some over-the-counter painkillers like those containing codeine.

Foreign nationals have been detained and deported for offences. You should check the status of your medication with the nearest Japanese Embassy or Consulate before you travel.

Japan travel

Japan is accessible either via air or sea. We believe most of you will be coming in by plane either via Osaka or most likely via Tokyo.

We’ve often seen well priced flights from London. If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights .

Considering the cost to travel to Japan we strongly encourage you consider a 2 week itinerary, unless you live already in Asia where doing ad-hoc Japanese city breaks could be possible.

Once you arrive in Japan, we suggest you consider looking into traveling within the country itself. It would be advisable to download a Japan trip planner app such as Wanderlog to help you map your itinerary.

Once you map out your itinerary it’s best to consider transport options. We used public transport such as metro, trains and bullet trains. We encourage you to do the same however, your circumstances may vary.

We found that the JR Pass was an excellent option to move around the country. It allows you to use any JR trains or buses but more importantly, it gives you access to the famous Japanese bullet trains called Shinkansen.

Book: JR Pass

There are plenty of online calculators to see whether the pass is viable or not however, the calculations will be based on some price ranges. We suggest you do it the old methodical way with a spreadsheet, which is what we did.

To do that, you will need to use the Japan Train Planner App called Jorudan . Select the trains you wish to travel with and note down the prices. Then compare and see if the JR Pass is viable for your trip.

If you plan to follow our 14 day Japan itinerary, the 7 days JR pass is still a viable option if travelling with the Shinkansen where possible.

Kyoto Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion)

Choosing the right time for your trip to Japan is crucial for a truly enchanting experience, as each season unveils a different facet of the country’s beauty. Here’s a brief guide to help you plan the perfect Japanese adventure:

  • Spring (March to May) – Cherry Blossom Season: Spring is arguably the most popular time to visit Japan. Cherry blossoms, or sakura, blanket the country in delicate hues of pink, creating a breathtaking spectacle. This period varies annually but usually occurs in late March to early April.
  • Summer (June to August) – Festivals and Fireworks: Summer brings vibrant festivals, lively street parades, and spectacular fireworks displays. While it can be hot and humid, especially in July and August, this season offers a lively atmosphere and a chance to partake in traditional summer celebrations.
  • Autumn (September to November) – Foliage and Mild Weather: Autumn paints Japan in warm hues of red and gold as the leaves change colour. The weather is generally mild, making it a pleasant time for outdoor activities. Popular spots for autumn foliage include Kyoto and Nikko.
  • Winter (December to February) – Snow-Covered Landscapes: Winter in Japan brings a serene beauty, especially in regions like Hokkaido where you can enjoy winter sports. The illuminations in cities like Tokyo and Osaka add a magical touch to the season. Be sure to pack warmly, especially if you plan to explore the northern regions.

Choosing the best time depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Consider the unique charm each season brings to tailor your visit to match your ideal Japanese adventure.

We chose to travel in November and enjoy the autumn colours in Japan.

Two Week Japan Travel Itinerary

Our itinerary starts from Tokyo and ends in Osaka with Osaka being a travel base for Western Japan. We chose this because we felt using the Shinkansen was a good way to move fast and we could just leave our luggage in our hotel in Osaka.

We also chose to return to Tokyo for our return flight as the prices were a little bit cheaper and we made use of the JR Pass till the last day in this way. Above is an interactive map of our trip and below we highlight per day some of the cities and top things to consider visiting.

If you plan to do the same itinerary a 7 day JR Pass would be sufficient. We will also assume that 3 of the days from your 14 day itinerary in Japan will be dedicated to flying.


Tokyo, a city where ancient traditions meet futuristic innovation, creating a dynamic tapestry of experiences for every traveller. As one of the world’s most electrifying metropolises, Tokyo beckons with its skyscrapers, bustling neighbourhoods, and a cultural richness that seamlessly intertwines the old and the new.

  • Tokyo Skytree: Piercing the skyline at 634 meters, the Tokyo Skytree stands as a testament to the city’s modern architectural prowess. Offering panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond, a visit to its observation decks is a breathtaking introduction to the vastness of this urban landscape.
  • Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa: Step into Tokyo’s historic past with a visit to Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple nestled in the charming Asakusa district. The Thunder Gate, Nakamise Shopping Street, and the iconic Kaminarimon Gate are just a few of the highlights that make this spiritual sanctuary a must-visit cultural landmark.
  • Shibuya Crossing: A symbol of Tokyo’s energetic and bustling urban life, Shibuya Crossing is an iconic pedestrian scramble. Join the tidal wave of humanity as you navigate the crosswalk surrounded by neon lights, giant screens, and the vibrant energy of Shibuya, a district famous for its fashion and entertainment.
  • Meiji Shrine in Shibuya: Find serenity amidst the urban chaos by exploring the Meiji Shrine, nestled in the lush greenery of Yoyogi Park. Dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, this tranquil Shinto shrine provides a peaceful escape, inviting visitors to partake in traditional rituals and admire the stunning architecture.
  • Akihabara: Akihabara is a treasure trove of anime merchandise, retro video games, and the latest electronics, making it a mecca for those seeking a unique blend of modern subculture and technological innovation in the heart of Tokyo.

Tokyo is a city that never sleeps, and as you explore its vibrant neighbourhoods, you’ll discover a metropolis that effortlessly balances its rich heritage with a forward-thinking spirit.

Where to stay in Tokyo: Hotel Tokyu Stay Ginza

Read More: Explore Tokyo: Your Guide To Japan’s Capital


Nestled in the embrace of nature, Hakone is a tranquil escape just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant pulse of Tokyo.

Renowned for its hot springs, breathtaking landscapes, and cultural treasures, this charming town offers a serene retreat for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.

Our top recommendations for this place are:

  • Hakone Open-Air Museum: Immerse yourself in a harmonious blend of art and nature at the Hakone Open-Air Museum. Scattered across beautifully landscaped grounds, this outdoor gallery showcases a diverse collection of sculptures and artworks, inviting visitors to appreciate creativity in the midst of Hakone’s scenic beauty.
  • Hakone Ropeway and Owakudani: Soar above Hakone’s lush valleys on the Hakone Ropeway, granting panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Ascend to Owakudani, a volcanic valley known for its active sulphur vents and hot springs. Here, you can savour the iconic black eggs, boiled in the natural hot springs and said to add years to your life.
  • Lake Ashi and Hakone Shrine: Discover tranquility by the shores of Lake Ashi, a pristine crater lake set against the backdrop of Mt. Fuji. Cruise across its serene waters, enjoying stunning views of the iconic volcano. On the lake’s edge, Hakone Shrine stands with its vermillion torii gate, offering a spiritual ambiance amid the picturesque landscape.
  • Stay at a Ryokan: These traditional inns offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich heritage, featuring tatami mat rooms, sliding paper doors, and the soothing ambiance of natural surroundings. Guests can savor kaiseki meals, a multi-course feast showcasing seasonal delicacies, and luxuriate in communal baths adorned with picturesque outdoor settings.

Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, Hakone offers a perfect blend of both, making it an idyllic retreat for those looking to escape the urban bustle.

For us it also revealed the amazing experience of sleeping in a Japanese Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) with the amazing hospitality that it entails.

Where to stay in Hakone : Mount View Hakone

Read More: Hakone Travel Tips: Your Essential Guide to Exploring Japan’s Gem


Kyoto, the cultural gem of Japan where time seems to stand still, and every cobblestone street whispers tales of ancient elegance. This city, steeped in history, is a living canvas that beautifully preserves Japan’s traditional arts, architecture, and customs. Here is a sneak peak of what Kyoto has to offer:

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha: Begin your Kyoto adventure at the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine famous for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates that form a mesmerizing path up the sacred Mount Inari. The spiritual ambiance, coupled with the stunning forested surroundings, creates an unforgettable experience.
  • Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion): A testament to Kyoto’s architectural splendour, Kinkaku-ji glistens on the edge of a reflective pond. Covered in gold leaf, this Zen Buddhist temple is a captivating sight, surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens that change with the seasons, providing a tranquil escape.
  • Gion District: Step into the world of traditional Japan in the historic Gion district, renowned for its well-preserved machiya (traditional wooden townhouses) and teahouses. Gion is also famous for its geisha culture, and you might catch a glimpse of these iconic figures gracefully moving through the narrow streets.
  • Kiyomizu-dera: Perched on a hillside, Kiyomizu-dera offers breathtaking views of Kyoto and beyond. The wooden terrace, supported by wooden pillars without a single nail, extends over the hillside, creating an awe-inspiring vista. Visit during cherry blossom season for a magical spectacle.
  • Bamboo forest : A visit to this surreal landscape is a journey into tranquility, where the sheer scale and grace of the bamboo create a meditative atmosphere, making it one of Kyoto’s most captivating and photogenic destinations.
  • Arashiyama Monkey Park : As you ascend to the mountaintop, you’ll encounter a troop of Japanese macaques, freely roaming within a designated area. Surrounded by panoramic views of Kyoto and the Hozugawa River, visitors can observe these playful monkeys up close, witnessing their natural behaviors in a semi-wild environment.

Kyoto, with its blend of cultural richness and natural beauty, invites you to wander through its historic districts, partake in traditional tea ceremonies, and savour the timeless beauty of its temples and gardens.

Each corner of Kyoto tells a story, and as you explore, you’ll find yourself transported to a bygone era, where the essence of Japan’s heritage is lovingly preserved. Kyoto should definitely figure on your Japan itinerary.

Where to stay in Kyoto: Ala Hotel Kyoto

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Nara, a city steeped in ancient grace and serenity, where history whispers through the rustling leaves and sacred deer roam freely. As Japan’s first permanent capital, Nara boasts a wealth of cultural treasures that transport visitors to a bygone era.

We suggest you explore Nara throughout the day and in the evening head back to Osaka to the Dotonbori District to experience the city by night.

  • Nara Park: Begin your Nara adventure in the expansive Nara Park, where friendly deer, considered messengers of the gods, freely roam the grounds. You can interact with these gentle creatures, purchase deer crackers to feed them, and witness the harmonious coexistence between nature and tradition.
  • Todai-ji Temple: Dominating the landscape, Todai-ji is home to the awe-inspiring Daibutsu, or Great Buddha – one of the largest bronze statues of Buddha in the world. Enter the Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) to marvel at the colossal statue and experience the spiritual atmosphere within this UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine: Delve into Nara’s spiritual legacy at Kasuga Taisha, a Shinto shrine known for its enchanting lantern-lined paths. The shrine’s architecture, surrounded by lush forest, creates a mystical ambiance, and you can explore the atmospheric setting of over 3,000 lanterns, both stone and bronze.

Nara, with its tranquil parks, majestic temples, and cultural treasures, invites you to step into a world where the past gracefully meets the present. Wander through ancient pathways, encounter sacred deer, and feel the spiritual energy that permeates every corner of this historic city.

As you explore Nara, you’ll find yourself transported to a time when reverence for nature and tradition laid the foundation for Japan’s rich cultural tapestry.

  • Osaka Dotonbori: As one of Osaka’s most iconic and bustling areas, Dotonbori is a sensory feast that captivates visitors with its lively atmosphere, delectable street food, and eclectic entertainment.

As you wrap up your day finish with a takoyaki in Osaka’s Dotonbori district and why not enjoy a cruise on Dotonbori river.


Hiroshima, known for its resilience after the devastation of World War II, now stands as a testament to peace and renewal. Miyajima Island, just a short ferry ride away, adds a touch of magic with its iconic torii gate and serene landscapes.

Here are our top picks for Hiroshima and Miyajima:

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Begin your exploration in Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Park, a place of reflection and remembrance. The park is home to the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage site that stands as a poignant reminder of the city’s history. You can also explore the Peace Memorial Museum, which offers a moving and informative experience about the events of 1945.
  • Hiroshima Castle: Explore Hiroshima’s historical legacy at Hiroshima Castle, a reconstructed castle that offers a glimpse into the city’s samurai past. The castle grounds are adorned with cherry blossoms in spring, creating a serene backdrop for a leisurely stroll.
  • Miyajima’s Floating Torii Gate: A short ferry ride from Hiroshima takes you to Miyajima Island, famed for its “floating” torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine. Set against the backdrop of Mount Misen, this iconic vermilion gate appears to float during high tide, creating a scene of breathtaking beauty. The island itself is a haven of tranquillity, with wandering deer and picturesque shrines.

Hiroshima and Miyajima Island combine historical significance with natural beauty, providing a profound and captivating travel experience.

Whether you’re contemplating peace in Hiroshima, marvelling at the floating torii gate, or embracing the serenity atop Mount Misen, this duo of destinations promises a journey that is both poignant and picturesque.


Himeji offers a captivating blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. We suggest you split your day and allocate the morning for Himeji and the afternoon for Osaka’s Shinsekai District to make good use of time:

  • Himeji Castle: Dominating the city skyline, Himeji Castle stands as Japan’s most iconic and well-preserved feudal castle. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this white fortress with its intricate wooden structures and defensive features is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. Take a journey through time as you climb the castle’s steep staircases and enjoy panoramic views of the city.
  • Koko-en Garden: Adjacent to Himeji Castle is the enchanting Koko-en Garden, a series of nine distinct gardens designed in the Edo Period style. Wandering through these meticulously landscaped gardens, you can appreciate the tranquillity of traditional Japanese aesthetics, complete with ponds, teahouses, and vibrant seasonal flora.
  • Osaka Shinsekai District: A vibrant neighbourhood that pulsates with retro charm and modern flair. Initially developed in the early 20th century as a futuristic utopia, Shinsekai (“New World”) has evolved into a lively entertainment area with a unique blend of nostalgia and contemporary excitement. Characterized by its iconic Tsutenkaku Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city.

Himeji invites you to stroll through its castle grounds, savour the tranquillity of traditional gardens, and uncover the layers of history woven into its architectural treasures.


As the heart of Japan’s Kansai region, Osaka beckons travellers with its vibrant street life, historic landmarks, and a culinary scene that rivals any in the country.

  • Osaka Castle: Embark on a historical odyssey at Osaka Castle, a formidable symbol of Japan’s samurai heritage. Surrounded by lush gardens and moats, the castle’s majestic façade invites you to delve into its storied past and enjoy panoramic views of the city from its observation deck.
  • Shitenno-ji Temple: Immerse yourself in spirituality at Shitenno-ji, Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple. Founded in 593 AD, this serene sanctuary offers a peaceful escape from the urban bustle. Explore the temple grounds, admire traditional architecture, and partake in moments of reflection amidst beautiful gardens.
  • Kuromon Ichiba Market: Satiate your culinary curiosity at Kuromon Ichiba Market, Osaka’s gastronomic paradise. This bustling market boasts a kaleidoscope of fresh produce, seafood, and street snacks. Engage your senses as you sample local delicacies like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes).

Osaka, with its friendly locals, historic landmarks, and a gastronomic scene that caters to every palate, promises a dynamic adventure. From the serenity of ancient temples to the electric energy of bustling districts, Osaka invites you to experience the myriad facets of Japanese culture in one captivating city.

Where to stay in Osaka: karaksa hotel grande Shin-Osaka Tower

Practical Tips

Osaka Dotonbori

When planning such an ambitious trip it’s worth considering a few tips that helped us during our trip. Below we will cover everything from data to useful apps to make your trip more manageable.

Japanese sim cards for travellers are fairly easy to acquire and we even found that eSIMs are also very cheap. We used Airalo eSIM for internet . For the above trip for two people we think 20 GB are more than enough.

If your phone doesn’t support eSIMs, you could also consider this Japan pocket Wi-Fi .

When considering booking attractions, we found that Klook is a far better choice than other providers. They are based in Hong Kong and offer a very good selection of tickets and experiences at great prices.

Otherwise there are plenty of organised tours via Travel Agencies that specialise in Japan. The benefit of them is that they take care of everything and you just enjoy the trip.

Some useful apps for your Japan trip would be:

  • Klook – Find discounted attraction tickets, tours with unique experiences, and more! Join local day tours to visit spectacular sights and go on delicious food trips
  • Jorudan – A Japanese company headquartered in Shinjuku, Tokyo. It has been involved in the publishing and developing of video games since 1991, and is currently primarily known for operating, a public transport route navigation website.
  • Google Lens & Google Translator – As we mentioned above very few people speak English and sometimes having Google Translate is paramount. Moreover, as the characters are unique to Japan, it’s important to consider Google Lens also even if it’s just to understand the ingredients in your food.
  • Wanderlog – A great app that helps you organise your trips. This is particularly useful if you are planning a group trip and want to be able to collaborate.

Money & currency

If you are wondering “How much does a trip to Japan cost?” then this is the right section for you.

If you are looking to cover most of the itinerary we showcased above, then we would say your 2024 Japan travel budget should be around £5,000. This is our recommendation for 2 people on a 2 meals a day basis including flights and accommodation.

Whilst attractions and food are fairly affordable in Japan, accommodation and flights will make up for the difference.

Read More: Smart Budgeting: Maximise Your Travel Funds

Whether you are planning a family trip to Japan or doing a solo trip, we think Japan is a wonderful country to explore. The convenience and efficiency of their travel network combined with the world class hospitality, will make your trip comfortable and enjoyable.

Whilst English can be a barrier at times in Japan, we think that with great planning you will overcome any challenges. We believe Japan is a destination to be experienced as a whole.

Unlike Europe where you can find “old” architecture, this simply isn’t the case in Japan and so it’s important to enjoy Japan with its temples and palaces but also its neon lights illuminating futuristic skyscrapers and where the latest technological innovations are born.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:

  • Flights – we use flight aggregators such as Skyscanner and Google flights to find the best options. You can find more information about finding cheap flights here .
  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.
  • Transport – consider for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.
  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide , Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.
  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.
  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.
  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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Boutique Japan

Sample Trip: 2-Week Japan Itinerary

If you’re planning on visiting Japan for around two weeks, you’re in the right place! This sample 14-day Japan itinerary includes a unique mix of the country’s best destinations , from Tokyo to Kyoto and beyond.

Of course, even if you’re traveling for more (or less) time, you can easily modify this sample trip – and make sure to see more of our Japan trips  for additional travel inspiration!

Even for the most experienced travelers, planning a first or second trip to Japan can feel overwhelming at times. Apart from things like the language barrier  and  deciding when to visit , it can be hard to decide where to go with so many remarkable places to choose from.

Originally written in 2017, this post was updated and republished on April 30, 2019.

Traditional wooden home in Gion, Higashiyama district, Kyoto, Japan

For the full experience (and context), we recommend reading the whole trip from start to finish. But if you can’t resist, feel free to click on the below to skip to a specific destination.

  • Day 1. Tokyo’s lively Ebisu district
  • Day 2. Omotesando and Aoyama
  • Day 3. Ramen
  • Day 4. Tsukiji Market
  • Day 5. Kanazawa
  • Day 6. The Japanese Alps or rugged Noto Peninsula
  • Day 7. Kyoto
  • Day 8. Nishiki Market
  • Day 9. Osaka
  • Day 10. Zen and Pottery
  • Days 11 & 12. Naoshima and Teshima
  • Day 13. The Izu Peninsula

Day 14. Depart Japan

Is this itinerary perfect for you?

Possibly not. In our years of trip planning, we’ve found that every Japan traveler  is different, with unique interests, priorities, and travel styles.

But we are confident that you’ll find this a perfect place to begin, and hope it provides you with inspiration for your Japan adventure, whether it’s a solo trip, a family vacation, or a honeymoon in Japan .

So, get ready for takeoff… we’re headed to Tokyo!

izakaya shibuya maruyamacho tokyo japan Large

Day 1. Tokyo’s lively Ebisu district: An evening of food and drink at an authentic izakaya

Japanese food is reason enough to visit, but you don’t need to hit the high-end, Michelin-starred restaurants  to have an amazing meal. Tokyo’s izakayas , or Japanese-style gastropubs, are the best way to experience authentic Japanese cuisine in a friendly, casual environment (think Japanese tapas).

Tokyo has a well-deserved reputation as a city that never sleeps.  The nightlife in Tokyo  is vibrant, eclectic, and unlike anywhere else on the planet.There are too many great Tokyo neighborhoods  to name, and Ebisu is always one of our favorites. The hip and lively Ebisu district is brimming with cocktail bars, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and boisterous izakayas . End the night at Bar Trench , or the rambunctious Ebisu Yokocho.

meiji jingu shrine torii harajuku yoyogi tokyo japan 1140

Day 2. Omotesando and Aoyama: Immerse yourself in fashion and design

Central Tokyo’s west side — where you’ll find notable neighborhoods such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Harajuku — is also home to many of the city’s most fashionable districts.

Begin at the serene Meiji Jingu shrine, then stroll through the colorful backstreets of Harajuku, a neighborhood known around the world for its outlandish fashions, vintage shops, and easy eats.

Wander down the Omotesando, a wide tree-lined boulevard featuring some of Tokyo’s most outstanding modern architecture. Then wander into Omotesando’s charming side streets, which are full of lovely boutiques and cafes.

Grab a snack at Commune 2nd , a stylish outdoor food court perfect for a cold beer, delicious street food, and some of the best people watching in the city. You’re in Aoyama now, home to many of the city’s most remarkable shops (Maison Kitsune, Issey Miyake, Miu Miu, Louboutin, and Hanae Mori have cutting-edge fashion outlets here). The stylish Aoyama is also a wonderful place to enjoy Japan’s coffee culture .

Tonkotsu Ramen in Fukuoka Japan 1140x758

Day 3. Ramen: Learn to slurp like a pro on a private “ramen safari”

If you’ve been to New York or Melbourne lately (make that any great world city), chances are you’ve experienced just how glorious ramen can be. But if ramen makes you think of Momofuku Ando  and instant ramen cup noodles, you’re in for a delightful surprise.

As far as popularity goes, ramen is the new sushi, inspiring the same passion in its enthusiasts, and a plethora of ramen shops around the world.

Of course, ramen in Japan  is on a completely different level! To help immerse you in the delicious (and surprisingly fascinating) world of ramen in Tokyo, you’ll head out with a ramen expert who will take you to a couple of unique ramen shops, specializing in different varieties of ramen.

Learn how to order, how to customize your noodles and select toppings, and basic ramen etiquette – including how to slurp like a local.

tsukiji fish market tokyo japan 1140

Day 4. Tsukiji Market: Still Tokyo’s best market

In 2018, the fish market’s wholesale operations moved from historic Tsukiji to the gleaming new Toyosu Fish Market.

But as anyone who has visited can attest, Toyosu is no match for Tsukiji when it comes to old-fashioned charm and atmosphere.

Even after the move, Tsukiji Market  is one of Tokyo’s highlights, and you could easily spend a couple of hours wandering the market sampling mouthwatering Japanese street food , and shopping for knives and Japanese spices.

Find more ideas for your visit to Tokyo in our guide to One Day in Tokyo  or our 25 Amazing Tokyo Sushi Restaurants .

Higashi Chaya geisha teahouse district Kanazawa Japan 1140x760

Day 5. Kanazawa: Incredible food and historical gems

Kanazawa  is a lovely old city famed for its sushi and seafood (widely considered the best in Japan), traditional crafts, and impeccably well-preserved historical geisha and samurai districts.

Kanazawa is also home to one of Japan’s most famous gardens , Kenrokuen. In addition to all its highlights, part of the experience is getting here.

You’ll be taking Japan’s world-famous shinkansen  (the bullet train), and you’re in for a special treat on this particular journey.

While most of Japan’s shinkansen offer only standard and first class, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo to Kanazawa, offers a special carriage known as Gran Class.

Be forewarned: a ride in Gran Class will spoil you! It is one of the most worthwhile train journeys in Japan , including outrageously comfortable seats, complimentary snacks and bento boxes, and — of course — free drinks, including beer, sake, Japanese whisky , and wine.

Day 6. Day trip to the Japanese Alps or rugged Noto Peninsula

Day six of your Japan itinerary allows you to spend another day exploring Kanazawa’s many highlights, or take a day trip to the mountains or the sea.

To the south of Kanazawa, deep in the Japanese Alps, you’ll find the historic town of Takayama, the UNESCO World Heritage villages of Shirakawago and Gokayama , and the off-the-beaten-path Hida-Furukawa.

To the north of Kanazawa is the rugged Noto Hanto (Noto Peninsula), renowned for its wild coastal scenery, remote onsen  (hot springs), and the colorful Wajima Market, where you’ll find the region’s bounty of seafood and produce on display (including the wondrous Noto gelato ).

Fushimi Inari shrine Kyoto Japan red orange torii gates 1140

Day 7. Kyoto: Cycle — and eat — your way around the ancient capital

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over a thousand years, and its cultural heritage is evident in every corner of the city – making it an essential destination on any Japan itinerary.

Kyoto is full of UNESCO World Heritage sites , though these days — with how popular the destination has become for visitors from around the world — it is often even more rewarding to explore Kyoto’s best off-the-beaten-path temples and shrines .

While also an excellent walking city, there is perhaps no better way to explore Kyoto than on two wheels.

Venture out on a private bicycle tour through Kyoto’s picturesque historical districts, winding through charming backstreets, and sampling Kyoto’s delectable cuisines along the way.

End at the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha. While deservingly popular with travelers, the thousands of vermilion torii form one of the most memorable sights in all of Japan.

Day 8. Nishiki Market: Treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime culinary adventure

Nishiki Market got its start as a 14th century fish market, and today represents the epitome of Kyoto’s culinary abundance .

Fish, squid, vegetables, tea, pickles, and wagashi  (traditional sweets) jostle for prominence in a gloriously colorful and crowded yet orderly array of vendor stalls.

Following your stroll through the market (make sure to enjoy some samples as you walk!), head for lunch at a tiny counter-only restaurant, where a detail-obsessed shokunin  (master) painstakingly prepares locally-sourced ingredients – a culinary experience you won’t soon forget.

osaka cityscape skyscrapers night japan 1140

Day 9. Osaka: Immerse yourself in Japan’s most food-obsessed city

Speaking of food, there’s nowhere in Japan where the locals are more unabashedly passionate about eating than in the city of Osaka .

Just thirty miles from Kyoto, a short train ride away, Osaka can feel like a different planet – as anyone from Kyoto or Osaka would agree!

While the ancient capital is often considered more formal, the merchant city of Osaka seems to be all about fun. Japanese whisky distilleries can be lively places to tour, and Osaka’s outgoing people are not shy when it comes to their obsession with food – hence the infamous local term kuidaore , “to eat oneself to ruin.”

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Osaka’s food  is a delectable mishmash of unique and addictive treats: takoyaki , golf ball-sized octopus fritters; okonomiyaki , savory pancakes stuffed with seafood, pork, and kimchi; and kushikatsu , deep-fried meats and veggies on a skewer (perfect with a cold beer); among so many others.

Osaka really comes alive at night, and tonight you’ll venture out on a private sake crawl, visiting amazing izakayas, and bars specializing in premium sake paired with tapas-style bites.

If you happen to be here in March, when the spring sumo basho (tournament) takes place in Osaka, you may even come across rikishi (sumo wrestlers) out and about on the town!

kyoto Japan itinerary ryoanji zen temple rock garden

Day 10. Zen and Pottery: A day of tradition in Kyoto

After an evening out in Osaka, it’s always nice to enjoy a leisurely morning, and a relaxing coffee at one of Kyoto’s many excellent cafes .

After lunch, you’ll have the unique chance to visit a working Buddhist temple for a private session with an irreverent monk who will introduce you to Zen (minus the cliches) and lead you on a fluff-free meditation. Cap it off with a lovingly prepared cup of Japanese tea , which you can enjoy in peace in a tranquil Japanese-style room.

You’ll have a smooth transition from tea to sake  via the beauty of Japanese pottery, new and old.

Meet a Japanese pottery expert for a primer on the history and aesthetics of Japanese pottery, while enjoying sake from meditation-worthy pieces.

Western Japan Naoshima Island Art Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture bigstock

Days 11 & 12. Naoshima and Teshima: Art and architecture in the Inland Sea

The art island of Naoshima  is a small, formerly remote island that has become one of the world’s most noteworthy art destinations.

Enjoy the natural beauty of the island-filled Inland Sea, quaint fishing villages, and stunning modern architecture that blends into the landscape.

The incredible Chichu Art Museum  alone is worth the visit, but in addition to the island’s many art offerings, one of the highlights is a stay at the coveted Benesse House , which doubles as a museum and hotel.

Don’t miss the day trip from Naoshima to the neighboring art island of Teshima, home to — among other highlights — the breathtaking Teshima Art Museum .

japanese onsen hot spring rotenburo open air bath

Day 13. The Izu Peninsula: Slow down at a luxurious traditional ryokan

As your Japan adventure begins to wind down, there is no better stop than a traditional ryokan  (Japanese-style inn)  with soothing onsen. Japan is blessed with more than its fair share of rejuvenating hot springs, and a wonderful culture of hospitality has arisen around them.

One of the best places to experience a luxury ryokan stay  is in the Izu Peninsula (located within easy reach of Tokyo), home to pristine forests, rugged coastlines, and dozens of top-quality ryokans.

After a rejuvenating soak in the healing waters, put on your yukata  (robe) and you’ll be treated to a lavish, multi-course kaiseki  dinner. Enjoy a dreamy sleep before your return to Tokyo tomorrow.

Shinjuku Tokyo Japan Panoramic Cityscape bigstock

Begin your final day with an early-morning soak in the onsen, and an unforgettable Japanese-style breakfast.

Then it’s time for your easy and pleasant trip back to Tokyo, where you’ll spend your last few hours in Japan.

Enjoy one final stroll, and another meal, before it’s time to head to the airport.

Come back again soon! Arigatou gozaimashita !

Looking for more Japan itinerary ideas?

If you are looking to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan, we have resources that can help.

Start by checking out our sample travel itineraries  and learning about our process of crafting customized trips for travelers seeking unique, authentic experiences.

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Thrifty Nomads

The Ultimate Itinerary for a Trip to Japan: Unforgettable 7, 10 and 14 Day Journeys (Updated 2024)

travel itinerary sample japan

Some destinations reward spontaneity – in Europe, cheap flights and rail passes give  you the freedom to wake up in the morning and choose your next destination on a whim. Japan, on the other hand, rewards forward planning.

The country’s abundance of both natural and manmade attractions, combined with its high standard of living and general efficiency, make it a fairly pricey destination. The more you plan, the better you can mitigate the damage to your wallet, and get the most out your trip – no matter how long you plan to stay.

These itineraries are designed to inspire you to build your own trip. Based around a few key highlights that represent both modern and ancient, they’re crafted to give you a rich and satisfying experience of Japan in 7, 10 or 14 days. Let’s jump right in!

Psst: want more tips for planning a trip to Japan? Check our rail pass guide  and cheap eating tips .

  • 1 Getting Around
  • 2 7 Day Itinerary: Tokyo and Mt Fuji (Fuji Five Lakes)
  • 3 7 Day Itinerary: Osaka, Kyoto and Nara
  • 4 10 Day Itinerary: Tokyo, Mt Fuji and Kyoto
  • 5 10 Day Itinerary: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima
  • 6 14 Day Itinerary: Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima

Getting Around

Before we get to the itineraries, there's one important piece of planning to keep in mind – whether or not to get a JR pass . A Japan Rail (JR) pass is exclusively available to tourists, and grants you unlimited travel on JR trains within Japan, including the world-famous bullet trains. Depending on your itinerary, this will save you time and money vs buying individual train tickets within Japan. But importantly,  you must purchase the pass before you arrive in Japan . We recommend ordering from Klook for their low prices and 10-day global delivery.

We've marked the itineraries that we recommend the JR pass for below, but for a more in-depth guide, be sure to read our full guide The Japan Rail Pass: Is It Worth The Cost?

7 Day Itinerary: Tokyo and Mt Fuji (Fuji Five Lakes)

travel itinerary sample japan

Get the essentials of urban and rural Japan with four days in the unforgettable capital, followed by three days of reflection and recovery under the shadow of Mt Fuji.


Tokyo: 4 Days

  • Highlights: Go crazy in Japan’s frenetic, eclectic and incomparable capital. Live out a manga fantasy in Akihabara , drink shoulder to shoulder with locals in Roppongi , and see the world’s largest metropolis in 360 degrees from the top of the Tokyo Tower . And for an immersive digital art experience, check out the popular teamLab Planets TOKYO Museum .
  • Where to stay: Public transport is comprehensive, so search far afield. Roppongi neighborhood if you like nightlife, Shinjuku to be close to the beating heart. Use TripAdvisor to compare hotel and hostel deals across all booking sites along with thousands of reviews.
  • What to eat : Chains like Sushiro ($1 / plate train sushi) and the ubiquitous Gyudon houses like Yoshinoya can get you a delicious local meal for a budget price. Check out a Maid Cafe for an authentic (if risque) local experience!

Mt Fuji: 3 Days

Tip: If you don't have 3 days to spend in Fuji, you can book a  full day tour from Tokyo .

  • Highlights: See why this 3776 meter high mountain has inspired artists, writers and pilgrims for countless centuries. Soak up the volcanic waters in the Five Lakes District , a major tourist destination since the 1920s, it’s still possible to get away from the crowds and immerse yourself in nature.
  • Where to stay:  The Five Lakes Region contains a wealth of hotels and resorts. If you’re striking out, try a bit further away from (but still in plain view of) the mountain in Hakone district. Compare across booking sites with TripAdvisor's hotel search.
  • What to eat: Try the regional speciality: udon noodles, often served cold in a delicate, flavorful sauce.

Japan Mt Fuji

7 Day Itinerary: Osaka, Kyoto and Nara

travel itinerary sample japan

Osaka: 3 Days

  • Highlights: Japan’s second biggest city is a microcosm of everything that magnetizes visitors to the country. Gaze in awe at giant plastic sea creatures and effusive street vendors in Dōtonbori , wander among the tuna merchants at the fish market, and connect with history at the 16th century Osaka Castle . Get to know Osaka like a local with a highly-rated walking tour .
  • Where to stay: Try AirBNB and trust the train network if you find a good option a little outside of town. For hotels and hostels, compare across booking sites using TripAdvisor .
  • What to eat : The same budget chains in Tokyo will serve you well here (I practically moved in to my nearest Sushiro!), but you really must try the street food on Dōtonbori .

Kyoto: 2 days

  • Highlights: After the urban grunge of Osaka, it’s time to embrace the Japan’s spiritual side at the ancient seat of empire. It’s still possible to see Geisha in the historic Higashiyama District, which you can even explore by rickshaw , and the subtle beauty of temples like Kinkaku-ji is simply too much to put into words. Make sure you catch everything there is to see with a custom-made walking tour with a local . Go!
  • Where to stay: Downtown Kyoto is the most convenient spot for sightseeing and will allow you to cover much of the historic town on foot. Try Airbnb or compare hotels and hostels across booking sites with TripAdvisor .
  • What to eat : Restaurant prices can be steep so take a trick from the locals and stock up on tasty (and filling) instant meals at chain stores like the ubiquitous 7/11

Nara: 2 days

  • Highlights: Stick with the theme of history but swap the Geisha for sacred deer in Nara , Japan’s capital from AD 710 to 794. In Nara park you can sip green tea in a traditional “Chaya” tea house and watch the deer frolic over 700 year old ground. Hire a local guide to make sure you catch it all!
  • Where to stay. While it’s possible to day trip from Osaka, the town is well worth staying overnight – guest houses are abundant and there are even hotels in the historical park! You can compare all your options and find the best price using TripAdvisor .
  • What to eat . Vegetarian food and pickled delicacies are the local specialities, due to the surrounding mountains and buddhist communities.

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

10 Day Itinerary: Tokyo, Mt Fuji and Kyoto

Got 10 days? Let’s do it right. Take a deep dive into the capital, cleanse yourself with nature in Mt Fuji and the surrounding 5 Lake District, and transport yourself back in time in Kyoto – a rich overview that will leave you feeling refreshed, satisfied and exhilarated.

For this itinerary, we recommend a JR pass . It will save you precious travel time on the bullet train, and save you money on train fares between, and within, Tokyo and Kyoto. Remember to order your pass BEFORE you enter Japan (we recommend Klook ). If you're still unsure, be sure to check out our in-depth guide on whether the JR pass is worth it .

  • Highlights: Lose yourself among the neon lights of Shibuya and have a drink at the Monster Cafe . Watch locals transform themselves into Manga characters on an anime/gaming tour in Akihabara , drink hot sake with locals in Roppongi, and let digital art completely immerse your senses in  Japan’s unforgettable capital.
  • Where to stay: Public transport is comprehensive so search far afield. Roppongi neighborhood if you like nightlife, Shinjuku to be close to the beating heart.
  • What to eat : Tokyo has unlimited dining options – if you’re on a budget, try Gyudon and brave the budget chains where it’s still possible to order with ancient vending machine located by the kitchen!

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

  • Highlights: Make all your instagram followers jealous as you soak up the steamy volcanic waters under the shadow of Japan’s largest and most famous mountain.
  • Where to stay:  The Five Lakes Region near the mountain contains a wealth of hotels and resorts. If you’re striking out, try a bit further away from (but still in plain view of) the mountain in Hakone district.

Kyoto: 3 days

  • Highlights: The twin temples Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji  (gold pavilion and silver pavilion) have been carrying out an architectural and spiritual debate for centuries. It’s still possible to see Geisha in the historic Higashiyama District, which you can even explore by rickshaw . Make sure you catch everything there is to see with a custom-made walking tour with a local .
  • Where to stay: Downtown Kyoto is the most convenient spot for sightseeing and will allow you to cover much of the historic town on foot.
  • What to eat : Live out a warrior fantasy at the Samurai Restaurant . It’s a bit kitsch and definitely designed for the tourists, but so what – you’re on holiday!

10 Day Itinerary: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima

Get the best of Japan today and yesterday in racey Osaka, tranquil Kyoto and serene Nara, before coming face to face with perhaps the darkest period of Japan’s history at Hiroshima.

For this itinerary, we recommend a JR pass . It will save you tons of travel time on the bullet train to Hiroshima, and save money on train fares within the Osaka/Kyoto/Nara area. You need to order your pass BEFORE you enter Japan (we recommend Klook ). If you're still unsure, be sure to check out our in-depth guide on whether the JR pass is worth it .

travel itinerary sample japan

  • Highlights: “Forget Tokyo,” I was told when I planned my first trip to Japan, “Go to Osaka!” While the capital is awesome, Japan’s second city more than holds its own. Here you can gaze in awe at giant plastic sea creatures and effusive street vendors in Dōtonbori, wander among the tuna merchants at the fish market, and connect with history at the 16th century Osaka Castle. Get to know Osaka like a local with a highly-rated walking tour .
  • Where to stay: Try AirBNB and trust the train network if you find a good option a little outside of town.
  • What to eat : Try the street food on Dōtonbori! A nightfood tour will help you find the best spots and eat where the locals eat!
  • Highlights: Say goodbye to the furious pace of modern Japanese city life, and embrace the tranquil, spiritual and ancient in Kyoto. Believe it or not, but it's still possible to see Geisha in the historic Higashiyama District, even from a rickshaw . The gentle beauty of temples like Kinkaku-ji is simply too much to put into words. Make sure you catch everything there is to see with a custom-made walking tour with a local . Go!

Higashiyama District, Kyoto

  • Highlights: In Nara park you can sip green tea in a traditional “Chaya” tea house and watch the deer frolic over 700 year old ground. Hire a local guide to make sure you catch it all!
  • Where to stay. While it’s possible to day trip from Osaka, the town is well worth staying overnight – guest houses are abundant and there are even hotels in the historical park!
  • What to eat . Thank the Buddhist communities in the surrounding mountains for the abundance of local vegetarian food.

Hiroshima: 2 days

  • Highlights : Infamous for its more recent history (which you can learn from a local on a cycling tour ), the rebirth of Hiroshima from ashes into a vibrant modern city is reason to visit in itself. In addition to haunting museums and poignant relics to the nuclear attacks, Hiroshima is the gateway to rural Chūgoku , a chance to tip your toes into Japan’s unspoiled wilderness.
  • Where to stay : Hiroshima is drenched in hotels. Stay near the train station for convenient access to the city center and surrounding attractions.
  • What to eat : Try the local okonomiyaki, a delicious, savory grilled pancake smothered in sauces and toppings.

Hiroshima city

14 Day Itinerary: Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima

This is an itinerary for people who want it all! You’ve got two weeks, you’ve got your rail pass , and you’re going to jolly-well make the most out of your time. Well, if you’ve got the energy, then here’s how it could be done. It’s everything you see above, rolled into one epic itinerary for the bold and brave.

For this itinerary, we definitely recommend a JR pass . With the distance being covered from the east to the west of country, the amount of time and money this will save is a no-brainer. You must order your pass BEFORE you enter Japan (we recommend Klook ). But if you're still unsure, be sure to check out our in-depth guide on whether the JR pass is worth it .

  • Highlights: Start with the blast of energy, neon, weirdness and glamour that is Japan’s capital. Opportunities for entertainment are virtually unlimited – feel the awe of the emperor at the imperial palace, indulge in a retail fantasy in Ginza, and finish the day with a well needed pint of Asahi in Roppongi.
  • Where to stay: Public transport is comprehensive so search far afield. Roppongi neighborhood if you like nightlife, Shinjuku to be close to the beating heart. Use TripAdvisor to compare hotel and hostel deals across all booking sites along with thousands of reviews.
  • What to eat : The real question is what NOT to eat. You could go to a different restaurant in Tokyo everyday for 20 years and still not run out of options. If you’re on a budget, look to the local fast food chains – if you’re on a tight budget, trust to the 7/11!

Mt Fuji: 2 Days

  • Highlights: Hear a rumble? Fuji-san isn’t just a stunning, snow capped mountain, it’s still an active volcano! Soak up the volcanic waters and watch Fuji’s towering form from the Five Lakes District , a popular spot for locals and and travelers.
  • Where to stay:  The Five Lakes Region contains a wealth of hotels and resorts. If you’re striking out, try a bit further away from (but still in plain view of) the mountain in Hakone district. Compare across booking sites with TripAdvisor's hotel search.
  • What to eat: Try the regional speciality: udon noodles, often served cold in a delicate, flavorful sauce. 

travel itinerary sample japan

Osaka: 2 Days

  • Highlights: Japan’s second biggest city is a microcosm of everything that magnetizes visitors to the country. Gaze in awe at giant plastic sea creatures and effusive street vendors in Dōtonbori , wander among the tuna merchants at the fish market, and connect with history at the 16th century Osaka Castle .Get to know Osaka like a local with a highly-rated walking tour .
  • Where to stay: Try AirBNB  or TripAdvisor and trust the train network if you find a good option a little outside of town.
  • What to eat : The same budget chains in Tokyo will serve you well here (I practically moved in to my nearest Sushiro!) but you really must try the street food on Dōtonbori .
  • Where to stay: Downtown Kyoto is the most convenient spot for sightseeing and will allow you to cover much of the historic town on foot. Try  Airbnb  or compare hotels and hostels across booking sites with  TripAdvisor .

Monkey Park Iwatayama

  • Where to stay. While it’s possible to day trip from Osaka, the town is well worth staying overnight – guest houses are abundant and there are even hotels in the historical park! You can compare all your options and find the best price using  TripAdvisor .
  • Where to stay : Hiroshima is drenched in hotels. Stay near the train station for convenient access to the city center and surrounding attractions. Check both Airbnb and TripAdvisor for the best prices.

With the abundance of incredible places to visit in Japan, the only trouble you'll have with planning a trip here is which itinerary to follow. Tell us, what are your must-visit's on a trip to Japan?

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10 Days in Japan: A First-Timer’s Complete Japan Itinerary

last Updated: March 7, 2024 hiroshima japan kyoto miyajima nara osaka tokyo

FYI: Affiliate links may be sprinkled throughout the awesome, free content you see below. I’ll receive a small commission when you purchase from my links (at no extra cost to you), which I’ll totally blow on adult things like boba tea and avocado toast. As always, thanks for the support.

Looking for the best way to spend 10 days in Japan?  You’re in the right place! 

Continue reading for tons of first-hand tips, recommendations, and a complete 10 day Japan itinerary, which can easily be turned into two weeks in Japan if you’ve got a few more days.  I absolutely LOVED my time in the country, and with some proper planning, I can guarantee you will too.   

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Japan is over-stimulating and over-whelming in the best way possible. An absolute thrill to the senses. 

From the shiny bright lights of Tokyo’s Akihabara District to the serene temples and zen gardens in Kyoto , Japan is a country where the past and the future collide more than you initially realize.

I can promise you that every bite of food will be better than the last, and you’ll be saying oishi (“delicious” in Japanese) during every meal.

If you can visit during cherry blossom season, you’re in for a real treat – the streets will be lined with the most beautiful bunches of white and pale pink flowers you’ve ever imagined, which in turn makes the country smell absolutely phenomenal.

Japan is quite literally the most fascinating country I’ve explored to date. (And I just hit my goal of 30 countries by my 30th birthday a few months ago!) #killingit

I’d love to spend more time in Japan, and am highly encouraging everyone I know to discover this little piece of Asia sooner than later. So today, I am sharing with you my 10 day Japan itinerary, all heavily researched (for hours!) before my trip and followed pretty much to a T.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Overview of this 10 Day Japan Itinerary

When I initially started planning my trip, I was worried that 10 days in Japan wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully, I proved myself wrong and was able to see and do  oh so   much , as well as stuff myself silly with all those Japanese snacks I had heard so much about. [Spoiler alert: bring stretchy pants.] 

The country is filled with so many fascinating areas, but 10 days in Japan will give you enough time to see the highlights. To be completely honest, this Japan itinerary is rather jam packed, yet highly efficient (I promise!), although I suggest slightly modifying it if you’d like a more relaxed trip or are traveling with kids.

While we’re at it, check out all my travel planning tips right over here!

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

This Japan itinerary starts in Tokyo , makes a day trip to either Kamakura, Nikko, or Hakone, then ventures south to Kyoto , with day trips to Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Miyajima Island. Distances really depend on the mode of transport you use, with bullet trains being the fastest.

  • Days 1-3 : Tokyo
  • Day 4: day trip from Tokyo
  • Days 5-6: Kyoto
  • Day 7 : Nara and Osaka
  • Day 8 : Miyajima and Hiroshima
  • Day 9 : morning in Kyoto  → Tokyo
  • Day 10: Tokyo in morning/afternoon  → airport

Japan is a decently large-sized island country located in Eastern Asia, being slightly smaller than California .  Rest assured, the entire country is connected via trains. In my experience, Japan may have the most efficient and well-connected public transportation system in the world (and that’s coming from someone who spent their childhood riding the extensive New York City subway).

Despite holding the title for the 10th most populated country in the world (aka: it’s crowded), you can still find some peace and solitude in the many gardens and temples located just about everywhere.

Pre-Travel Guide to Japan

Where to get the best flight deals to japan:.

I swear by Skyscanner and Google Flights , and always always always use these two sites when looking for airfare.  The option to watch prices and get email notifications are top notch and one of my favorite features of the two. 

Always check budget airlines that may not be listed, especially if you are coming from other areas in Asia with shorter flight times.  A great list of budget airlines can be found here .

For reference, we flew premium economy on China Airlines with a short layover in Taipei for about $1200 round trip from San Francisco – during Easter and cherry blossom season – but I saw deals for under $800 in coach. [I’m not complaining about the upgrade that my husband insisted on buying, but know that cheaper flights are out there.]

If you’re coming from the East Coast USA, flights will be a bit more expensive but shouldn’t be more than $500 more or so.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Where to stay:

In an effort to keep things simple (and avoid changing accommodation every night or two – what a pain!), this itinerary will have you staying in 2 main areas (Tokyo and Kyoto).

I highly advise booking accommodations near centrally located train stations in each as it’ll be easiest for the day trips mentioned in the 10 day Japan Itinerary below.

I opted to stay near Shibuya Station in Tokyo, as it’s centrally located and easy to reach other districts. In Kyoto we stayed near Kyoto Station as we were taking a bunch of day trips and wanted to be able to walk to our accommodation easily after a long, busy day on the road bullet train.

  • Luxury:  Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel
  • Mid-Range:  Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyo
  • Budget:  Shibuya Tokyu Rei Hotel
  • Check out other hotels in Tokyo here.
  • Luxury:  Hotel Granvia Kyoto
  • Mid-Range:  Kyoto Century Hotel
  • Budget:  Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto
  • Check out other hotels in Kyoto here.
  • Yado Kiramachi
  • Kyoto Takasegawa Bettei
  • Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado

Airbnb is also a great option and a good way to save some money if you’re spending a few nights in one spot (always check the cleaning and booking fees, as these can greatly increase the price should you only need a 1-night stay).

New rules regarding Airbnb rentals were implemented in June 2018, and now listings must be registered and display a license number on their booking page. Thankfully all current listings on Airbnb are compliant (the company removed any which failed to register in 2018), so you can be sure your booking is absolutely legit.

While I’d love to recommend the Airbnbs we stayed in during our trip to Japan, they are no longer available. However, there’s tons more to choose from – just check out the Airbnb website .

First time using AirBnB?  Sign up with THIS LINK to get $30 off your first stay!

When to visit:

There’s never a horrible time to spend 10 days in Japan, but each season has their pros and cons.

Spring : If you’re hoping to see the ever-so-beautiful cherry blossoms, April is your best bet. That being said, it’s also the month most people visit Japan for that very reason. I visited in early to mid-April, and while yes it was crowded, the beauty of the cherry blossoms found throughout the country was well worth it.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Fall : Autumn is another wonderful time to visit Japan, as you’ll get to experience the vibrant fall colors (bright red leaves) from September to November.

Summer (June to August) is hot, humid, and rainy (although the rain tends to dissipate in early July), while winter (Dec-Feb) is generally cool, sunny, dry and great for snow-sports in the mountains.

Note that weather varies dramatically throughout the country, so be sure to plan accordingly especially if you visit higher altitudes.

Read Next: When to Visit Japan (Weather, Seasons, Festivals, and Crowds)

Planning a trip and confused about the best month to visit Japan?! Keep on reading, because I’ll not only be dishing out info on when to visit Japan, but when to avoid the crowds, best times to see those beloved cherry blossoms, and when you can get the best bang for your buck.

How to get Japanese Yen:

I highly advise you to NOT exchange your money at a currency exchange kiosk before or after you land as you won’t get the best rates. Instead, take out local currency (Japanese Yen) at the airport via ATM machine.

If you travel quite frequently, consider applying for a Charles Schwab bank account. The company refunds any and all fees associated with foreign transaction ATM withdrawals. You’ll pay no ATM fees anywhere in the world, including your home country. It’s what I’ve been using for years and it’s saved me 100’s in unwanted pesky fees.

Surprisingly, considering it’s crazy-advanced technology and all, Japan is mostly a cash society; yes, we were exceptionally wowed by that! Expect your credit card to get rejected at most places (especially small eateries and of course street-food stands) and be sure to carry enough Yen with you.

If you’re coming from the US, an easy way to figure out USD to JY is to move the decimal point two spots to the right >> 100Y = approximately $1USD. Just for quick reference, 10,000Y = approximately 100USD.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

How to Get Around Japan:

If you’re visiting Japan from elsewhere in the world (i.e. you are not a resident of Japan), you are able to purchase a JR train pass for varying amounts of time.  The JR pass gives you access to all of the trains, most Shinkansen lines (bullet trains), the ferry to Miyajima, and a few other transportation lines.  Options include 7-day, 14-day, and 21-day.

I used a 7-day JR pass during my trip, and I highly advise you to do the same if you’ll be following this 10 day Japan itinerary. The Green Car option, while a bit more expensive, is JR’s version of “first-class” and most definitely worth it in my opinion.  Note that it does not cover all bus routes/lines and some local trains, but these only cost about 100-300Y ($1-3USD), so no biggie.

If you plan on using a JR pass, you NEED to purchase it before you enter the country . Once you arrive in Japan, there is no option to buy it. And when I say no option, absolutely NO option at all.  

Once you purchase the pass (which must be done outside of Japan) you will receive a voucher in the mail (within a few days) which you will then exchange upon your arrival in Japan at a designated JR ticket booth in major train stations. 

Buy your Japan Rail Pass here (it’s the company I used and our voucher arrived promptly in the mail). There was free delivery straight to our home which I greatly appreciated, and once in Japan we saved a ton of money on the Shinkansen (high-speed bullet train), and breezed through the JR rail stations like a boss.

I can’t imagine doing Japan any other way than with a JR Pass. Check out the options (standard and green pass) here.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

UPDATE — Buying a JR Pass in Japan : The Japan Rail Pass be will sold at a higher price point and on a trial basis in Japan through October 1, 2023 at major stations and airports. However, if you know you’ll be using one, miiiight as well save a bit of money and purchase it beforehand from a trusted company . There’s really no reason not to.

The public transportation system in Japan is top-notch, and although extremely overwhelming (at first, trust me), it’s by far the best (and most cost effective) option for getting around throughout the country.

Electricity and Power in Japan:

Japan uses the same 2-pronged electrical outlets as found in the USA. If you’re coming from America, note that some electrical devices use a three-pronged plug.

It’s also important to understand that the amount of voltage is different and you’ll need a converter (different than an electrical adapter) to change the amount of electricity pushed to each device if you plan on bringing anything which uses an excessive amount of power (including hair dryers, curling irons, and/or straightening irons). 

If you don’t want to worry about this, I suggest you invest in dual-voltage devices made especially for travel like this  dual-voltage blow dryer , dual-voltage mini straightener , and this dual-voltage curling iron .

Using a Pocket Wifi Router in Japan :

If you’ve done any research on Japan, you probably came across something called Pocket Wifi . What is it exactly and why should you consider getting it for your trip to Japan?

Pocket Wifi is exactly as it sounds — a small portable device that you can keep in your pocket (or purse/backpack/day bag) that provides wifi to all your devices (cell phone, iPad, computers, etc). And the best part? One Pocket Wifi will power up to 10 devices, so you can share the same Pocket Wifi with your family and friends.

Since wifi is less common in Japan than in other countries (surprising, right?!), this handy little device does wonders! You will be able to find free wifi in your hotel/ryoken, Starbuck locations around the city, and some other restaurants, but I always recommend having your own, especially if you’re visiting any smaller cities. Do note that some ryokans and older hotels might only have LAN cable internet access, instead of wifi, so you’ll definitely want a Pocket Wifi there!

You’ll use wifi on your phone for just about everything in Japan — train schedules, getting around, translating important phrases, making FaceTime calls to family, etc. You don’t wanna be without it when you need it!

And they make it so super easy — the Pocket Wifi will be delivered straight to your hotel in Japan! Once you’re done with your trip, use the convenient prepaid envelop to return your router from any address in Japan. Couldn’t be simpler than that!

Check out the benefits and purchase your Pocket Wifi here. Honestly, a life saver!

Useful Japanese Phrases:

  • Hello/Good Afternoon: konnichiwa
  • Good bye: sayonara
  • Delicious: oishi
  • Thank you: arigatō
  • Please: kudasai
  • Where’s the toilet: benjo wa doko desu ka?
  • Does anyone speak English? Eigo no hanaseru hito wa imasen ka

Headed to Japan and looking for the best things to do in Kyoto? You’re in luck, because I’ve compiled a whole bunch of Kyoto sights and attractions!

Packing tips for Japan:

Clothing : Seaso ns are kind of temperamental in Japan, and you may be wishing you brought different clothing. Therefore, I highly suggest you pack layers for your trip to Japan. An umbrella (cute ones here , here , and here ) and light raincoat (like this or this one ) are recommended as well.

We encountered much more rain during our 10 days in Japan than we had originally planned for, and I’m glad I brought along a raincoat. If you don’t want to stuff a coat in your luggage, consider bringing along a poncho  just in case.

Electricity and Power : As noted above, most of Japan’s electrical outlets are the 2-pronged “Type A” type (100 Volt, 50-60 Hz).

If you have a device with a 3-pronged or European/UK-style plug, you may need a travel adapter (for all devices) and power converter (for high powered devices like a hair straightener or blow dryer).

Pack comfy shoes that are easy to take off. You’ll need to slip off your shoes at various temples, at the airport, at ryokans, and some restaurants. My favorite ones here (on sale), here , and here .

I also suggest bringing along socks if you don’t want to go barefoot… These sushi socks are quite cute and perfect for the occasion…  🙂 

Small throwaway bags for garbage. You won’t find many garbage cans around Japan in general, and it’s expected that you keep your trash on you until you can throw them away. Keep a small bag in your purse/backpack for this purpose. A small foldable tote is perfect for this, and can be used for spontaneous shopping trips.

Pack light. Navigating Japan is much easier when you have a small suitcase, especially since Japanese trains (and train stations) do not cater to travelers with a lot of luggage. In addition, there’s not as many elevators or escalators as you might wish, so remember, you may be carrying your luggage up and down a few flights of stairs.

I recommend traveling with a small rolling suitcase (one that fits in the overhead bin on an airplane like this one or this one ) and a backpack (I have this one and love it).

Stay organized with packing cubes , which also help you fit more into smaller suitcases (I’m able to fit about a months worth of summer clothing using packing cubes and packing strategically).

Language : If you’re up for it, you can also consider taking along a small Japanese Phrase Book . The language is quite difficult, and Google Translate (which won’t work without wifi or a cell plan) saved our butts far too many times.

Japanese written language uses characters, which you’ll see all over the place.  Thankfully, most signs are written in phonetics using the alphabet we use.

We were also surprised by the low number of people who speak any English. Save yourself some frustration and pack a lightweight phrase book in your bag. Interested in learning some Japanese before your trip?

This book looks like loads of fun, and I’m actually thinking of buying it before my next trip back to the country. (The Japanese language is difficult you guys, just trust me.)

Travel Insurance for Japan

Yes, you need this. I always recommend purchasing travel insurance before your trip. You never know what might happen (flight delays, lost baggage, illness), and travel insurance definitely helps with all of those unfortunate unexpectancies.

I highly recommend the companies World Nomads and SafetyWing . I’ve recently been buying coverage with SafetyWing since they cover pandemic-related costs (which most travel insurance companies do not do).

Whenever we travel, we always buy a short term plan (depending on how many days/weeks we’ll be away) before leaving for any trip! Even if you don’t end up using it, peace of mind is 100% worth it in my opinion.

Find plan options and pricing here (and at only a few bucks a day, there’s no excuse not to!) I always say, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford your trip. It’s that easy.

Buy your travel insurance now — don’t wait until it’s too late!

10 Days in Japan:  A Complete Japan Itinerary

And now, the fun part! The 10 day itinerary in Japan!

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo!

You’ll most likely be flying into Narita Airport  and will need a little over an hour to get into the city center via the Narita Express.  After such a long flight (with lots of time difference), it’s best not to plan much on this first day – hello, jetlag! 

I suggest exploring the area you’re staying in (my suggestions: Shibuya or Akihabara) and devouring your first Japanese dinner of either ramen or pork Katsu.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

During my stay, I opted for an AirBnB in Shibuya , which has an epic nightlife with tons of stuff going on, restaurants included (even if “partying” isn’t your thing- it sure ain’t mine!).  Use this first afternoon/night to relax and rest up, as the rest of this itinerary will be go-go-go!

Day 2: FULL DAY IN TOKYO (West Side)

Today’s all about modern Tokyo !  You’ll be exploring the western districts of the city, including Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku – just saying these names are fun!  You can either walk from district to district as they are fairly close together, or buy single use train tickets to hop between each. 

DO NOT USE YOUR JR PASS YET as it will expire before you finish needing it later on during the trip. Train tickets within Tokyo are not very expensive, and you won’t be needing many today anyways!

Stop 1: Shibuya

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

If you opted to stay in Shibuya, you won’t need to take a train here!  Shibuya is Tokyo’s version of Times Square , and with all the bright lights and massive amounts of people, it’s easy to see why.  Be sure to check out the world-famous Shibuya Crossing , where 100’s of people scramble across the street at once. 

For the best view above, head to Starbucks (you’ll need to order something before going upstairs), or find the Keio Inokashira Line at Shibuya Station for another perfect view.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Also say “Hello” – or Konichiwa — to Hachiko (the most loyal dog in the world statue) at Shibuya Crossing and do some shopping at Tokyu Hands .

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Meiji Shrine shouldn’t be missed as well, which is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.  You’ll be seeing lots of shrines and temples during your time in Japan, and Meiji is a great one to start with! 

If you’re lucky, you may even witness a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony!  I, however, was not so lucky.

Stop 2: Harajuku

If you want to get a taste for Japanese street style, visit Harajuku.  On Sundays, you can see traditional Harajuku Girls dressed in elaborate costumes and anime – so fun! Try and spot the girl in the photo below all decked out in costume. If you can’t make it on a Sunday, you can get a feel for Japanese street style any day of the week. 

You can reach Harajuku by taking the Yamanote line to Harajuku Station, although it’s not a far walk from Meiji Shrine.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Walk down the famous shopping street of Takeshita Dori , where you’ll find a whole mess of fun stores and fun cafes.  Note that most shops don’t open until 11am, but if you’re following this itinerary, you’ll probably arrive here around 1pmish or so. 

Be sure to try a crepe – the unofficial street food of Harajuku, which you’ll find all over Takeshita Dori!  We also visited a hedgehog café and played with them for about 45 minutes or so.  A super quirky and super weird area, definitely not meant to be missed!

Read Next: Top Things to do in Harajuku

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Stop 3: Shinjuku

Shinjuku is the largest neighborhood in Tokyo (dubbed the crazy entertainment district), and you’ll find thousands of restaurants, shops, entertainment, and other attractions that you could easily spend all day here. 

With limited time, we spent a decent portion of the afternoon and night here and felt that was sufficient enough to see the highlights.

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Many people opt to see the ever-so-popular Robot Restaurant , which I’ve heard is an other-worldly experience, but after reading reviews, we decided against it.  Do your own research and decide for yourself whether this show is worthy of your time and money. 

Whether you decide to spend part of the evening at the Robot Restaurant, I highly encourage you to make a visit to Omoide Yokocho , commonly known as Piss Alley. 

Piss Alley is a small network of alleyways along the tracks northwest of Shinjuku Station filled with dozens of tiny eateries serving ramen, soba, sushi and yakitori.  Just pick one with open seats and go in – they’re all worthy of some stomach real-estate.

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Consider the free observation deck on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building , visit Shinjuku Gyoen (a large public park near Shinjuku Station being a perfect cherry blossom spot – check on hours, we missed the entrance by about 20 minutes 🙁 ), and find an epic view of the area from the pedestrian overpass near the northwest corner of the Shinjuku station.

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Day 3: FULL DAY IN TOKYO (East Side)

Now it’s time to experience the more traditional side of Tokyo , including Sensoji Temple and Ueno Gardens.  Another bird’s eye view can be seen today, at nearby Tokyo Skytree.

If you’re staying in Shibuya like I did, you’ll need to take the train from Shibuya Station to Asakusa Station (35-45 min on train) via the JR Yamanote Line to Ginza or Asakusa Line. Make sure to purchase single tickets – do NOT activate your JR pass yet!

Asakusa and Sensoji Temple

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Asakusa is the spiritual heart of Tokyo and a good place to start your day!  Sensoji Temple is the main attraction here, and you’ll start your morning journey at the Kaminarimon Gate . 

As you walk toward the temple buildings, check out the historic  Nakamise Dori shopping street, pick out some souvenirs and grab a Japanese snack (or two!) before exploring Sensoji Temple. 

Consider drawing Omikuji (written fortunes) while here.  If you’re up for it and are interested, check out the surrounding old-fashioned neighborhoods around Asakusa.

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Sumida Park and Tokyo SkyTree

If you’re visiting during cherry blossom season, I highly advise you to visit Sumida Park , which is an absolutely wonderful spot to see the flowers in bloom!  It was one of the least crowded public parks we went to and FULL of cherry blossoms! 

I cannot recommend this spot enough!  Bring a snack or two and sit on a blanket for the ultimate experience. We got sakura donuts from Mister Donut (located all around), and ate our flower-themed treats amongst the cherry blossoms.

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Next up – Tokyo SkyTree , the tallest tower in not only Japan, but the entire world!  At 634m (2,080 feet),  the complex has two observation decks with great views over the city.  There’s even a glass floor for any of you brave souls!  Expect a cue, so plan on spending a bit of time here.  The Tokyo Skytree is about a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute train ride from Asakusa.

If you don’t wanna wait in line, I highly encourage you to book your skip-the-line Tokyo SkyTree ticket in advance. You can even upgrade to include the Tembo Galleria.

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End the afternoon at Ueno Park , another large public space located in central Tokyo and another lively cherry blossom spot.  There are more than 1000 cherry trees of multiple varieties lining its central pathway and lots of temples and shrines here to check out, as well as museums and a zoo if those are of interest to you.

You’ll most likely want to take the JR train from Tokyo SkyTree to Ueno Park.  

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Akihabara District

Wake up because we’re off to Tokyo’s crazy Akihabara District! Spend the evening perusing the many electronic shops, including Yodobashi Akiba – the world’s largest with nine stories stuffed with hi tech equipment – for geeks with money.

You’ll also find Japan’s diehard fan anime culture here, with stores devoted to anime and manga; just be sure to keep kids away from the adult-only sections (I wondered at first why all the anime was butt naked)! 

You could easily fill up a whole afternoon and night in Akihabara, from its maid and Gundam cafes, gaming centers (check out Super Potato Retro Shop if you want to be transported into the 90’s), and just gazing at the bright lights.

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Day 4: DAY TRIP from Tokyo — 3 Options

Today you’ll activate your JR pass and start putting it to use!  Now that you’ve explored Tokyo, get out of the busy city center and explore another nearby area.  There are numerous day trips you can take from Tokyo , and depending on your interests, you may want to visit more than one! 

Unfortunately this ten day Japan itinerary only allows for one, but if you have another day or two to spare, you could easily do all three. 

I opted for Kamakura because of the rainy and cold weather, but I would have loved Nikko or Hakone had the weather been more cooperative that day. With two weeks in Japan, you can most definitely do all three if you’d like.

Here are my three recommended day trips from Tokyo:

1) Kamakura

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Don’t miss the Great Buddha of Kamakura (at Kotokuin Temple), easily the most popular attraction in the area, and literally hard to miss at 44 feet.  Here you’ll find the second largest Buddha in all of Japan. 

Another site not to miss, and only a few minute walk from the Great Buddha – the Hase Dera Temple , which is a beautiful temple located on a hillside overlooking the ocean.

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There’s also a bamboo forest at Hokokuji Temple , similar to that in Kyoto, and it’s possible to see Mt. Fuji on a clear day from Kenchoji Temple. 

Once you’ve had your fair share of temples, or are just hungry for some lunch, head on over to Komachi-dori , the busiest commercial street in Kamakura. Try the local specialty of Shirasu-don , (a Whitebait rice bowl), which you’ll easily find in numerous restaurants on the busy street.

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Not interested in venturing to Kamakura alone and prefer a group tour?  Looking back, I wished I booked a tour.  Although it wasn’t too far away, we got a bit confused on the train and wasted a bunch of time trying to navigate our way to Kamakura, and then even more time once we arrived.

Many of the tours include other highlights like a tea ceremony and a view of the Bay, which we missed by going alone. I recommend these (from Tokyo) which cover all the top attractions:

  • Full Day Trip to Kamakura, Yokohama, and Tokyo Bay (from Tokyo) : Not only does this day tour from Tokyo take you to all the highlights of Kamakura, but you’ll also get to have lunch in Yokohama’s bustling Chinatown, visit the traditional Japanese-style sunken garden of Sankei-en (including tea rooms!), and admire the modern cable-stay Yokohama Bay Bridge.
  • 5 Hour Nature and History Walking Tour:  This walking tour follows a hiking route from Kita-Kamakura to Hase-dera Temple, passing many historic temples and shrines.  You’ll be able to enjoy some wonderful panoramas from a hiking trail that offers views in all directions. Note that transportation is not included.

Literally sick of the city and need to get some nature into your life?  Nikko may just be your answer.  Full of ancient moss, stone lanterns, vermillion gates, and towering cedars, there’s a reason why this area is one of Japan’s most visited areas.

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Located about two hours north of Tokyo, Nikko is the site of the famous Toshogu Shrine , the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (VIP in Japan), and numerous other temples and shrines. Don’t miss the famous Shinkyo bridge , the beautiful Nikko National Park (on a sunny day), Kanman-ga-Fuchi Abyss, and Kegon Falls . 

I’m quite bummed we didn’t make it here as all the photos look absolutely spectacular, but now I’ve got another reason to return to Japan!

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Trying to fit in a lot during your one day in Nikko?  Consider a group tour which gets you around easily to all of the highlights.

Day Trip Options here: 

  • From Tokyo: Nikko World Heritage Full-Day Tour :  Explore the beautiful mountain landscape of Nikko, Japan, experience the majesty of the Tamozawa Imperial Villa, bow to the three golden Buddah’s at the Rinnoji Temple, explore the surrounding landscape with a trip to Kirifuri Falls, and have a relaxed Japanese lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Nikko: Autumn Leaves and World Heritage Full–Day Tour :  Discover the beautiful autumn leaves and world heritage of Nikko. During your full-day tour by air-conditioned coach, visit Nikko’s natural sights, Senjo-gahara and Kegon waterfalls, and Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Perfect during those autumn months!
If you have more than 10 days in Japan, check out these additional day trips from Tokyo .

If seeing Mt. Fuji is on your bucket list, then I definitely recommend making the day trip to Hakone. 

Once arriving, you have a whole slew of options to fill your day, including the Hakone Tozan Cable Car for stunning views, the Hakone Ropeway for even more epic views, Owakudani with views of Mt. Fuji on a clear day, and a small Buddhist alter. 

You can also take a Hakone Sightseeing Cruise and spend time at the Hakone Open Air Museum (art gallery). Brave? Try a black egg!

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If you’re not up for heading to Hakone alone , there are numerous day trips from Tokyo that leave the transportation and planning up to someone else.  You’re on holiday – treat yourself and save yourself the hassle! I recommend the followings tours:

  • From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip by Shinkansen : Spend a day trip traveling to Mt. Fuji, Japan’s most famous symbol and highest mountain. Enjoy the view from the 5th Station before visiting the nearby resort town of Hakone, known for its onsen hot springs. Return to Tokyo by bullet train!
  • From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour with Bullet Train :  Get spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and its surrounding mountains on a day trip from Tokyo. Cruise across Lake Ashi by boat and take the ropeway up Mt. Komagatake. Relax in the hot springs resort of Hakone, and then catch the bullet train back to Tokyo.

However, note that seeing the mountain is never guaranteed and it’s possible you may make the trip only to be disappointed.  Some months out of the year have higher chances of visibility, including the winter months.  If it looks like a questionable morning with lots of clouds, I highly suggest you alter your plans and opt for either Nikko or Kamakura instead.


First Bullet Train Ride!

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*Note that you’ll be required to make a seat reservation if you have opted for the Green JR Pass.  Make this reservation when you first exchange your JR voucher for a ticket, or the night before leaving for Kyoto.  Don’t wait until the morning of because it’s possible the reservation desk will not be open yet.

Get up nice and early, grab some breakfast in the station/on the way to the station, and take a 7:00/7:30am bullet train from Tokyo Station (you may need to transfer at Shinagawa Station) in route for Kyoto! 

If you take this early morning train ride, you’ll arrive in Kyoto around 10:30am or so, which is necessary if you want to see a bunch of Kyoto sites today.  Once you arrive in Kyoto, put your luggage/bags into a coin locker (roughly 500-900 Yen for two suitcases for the entire day) and get exploring!

A note about Kyoto’s public transportation: Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto relies on large public buses. We were unaware of this and unfortunately caught off guard when we couldn’t take fast trains to get around. Give yourself some extra time as it’ll take longer to get around. Embrace it – look outside the window on the bus and take in some local Kyoto life.

Arashiyama Area

Catch the bus to the  Saga-Arashiyama Station , where you’ll be hanging out for a few hours.  First up, Tenyru-Ji Shrine and its accompanying zen garden.  So many beautiful plants and flowers (nicely labeled in both English and Japanese) here, such as the Japanese wisteria, which you’ll never see outside of Japan.

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Once you exit the garden, you’ll come across the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove/Forest .  Walking through the Bamboo Grove is definitely one of the essential experiences to have in Kyoto so don’t pass it up! 

The grove is much smaller than I thought, taking roughly 15 minutes to walk through, but is absolutely excellent for photography.

Walk through slowly to take it all in, and don’t forget to look up at the towering bamboo!  Bring a wide-angle lens and if possible, a go pro, in order to include as much of the bamboo in your photos!

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Before you head to the Monkey Park (coming up next!), you’ll most likely come across a lovely area with small eateries and a beautiful, green emerald lake. A good spot for some photos in my opinion!  🙂  We enjoyed a few vending machine coffees and teas here (you’ll be doing that everywhere in Japan too, you’ll see!).

Read Next: Top Things to do in Kyoto and Attractions

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Next up, walk to the Iwatayama Monkey Park !  Yes, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk completely uphill to reach the park, but definitely worth it!  Just be aware, the Google Maps directions to this attraction are wrong.

The entrance to the park is simply near the orange shrine gate at the south side of the Togetsu-kyo bridge. Look for a cartoon picture of a monkey and you’re golden!

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The park is a nice change from the temples and shrines you’ll be seeing a lot of in Kyoto, and it’s so much fun to feed the monkeys for only 100Y.  There’s also a wonderful view of Kyoto from up here.  

Before anyone gets mad at those pictures of the monkeys “behind bars”, please know they are free to roam wherever they’d like throughout the park, and us humans are actually put in an enclosed area when feeding them. This is to protect both the animals and us.

We could have easily spent hours watching the monkeys and admiring the view, but off to the Golden Pavilion it was!

Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)

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If you’ve got more time today, take the bus to the Golden Pavilion , which is super impressive and made entirely of gold!  Reflected in the lake, it’s no wonder this is one of the top things to do in Kyoto. 

Make sure to try some Japanese flavored ice cream here, such as green matcha and/or black sesame, my new favorite!  It’s guaranteed to be crowded, but very, very worth it in my opinion.

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*Don’t forget to head back to Kyoto Station to collect your bags before heading to your hotel or AirBnb for the night!


Nishiki Market

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Start the day at the Nishiki Market – known for its different food stalls where you can try all kinds of Japanese cuisine and treats. 

Stroll for an hour or so up and down the streets of the market, stopping whenever something tickles your fancy. The market is a great place to dive into some of the more unusual dishes – don’t be a chicken, try them!

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However, absolutely don’t leave the market without trying tako tamago – the infamous candied baby octopus stuffed with a quail egg.  It tastes way better than it sounds – I could have eaten three!

Want a taste of those cutesy animal donuts you’ve possibly seen all over the internet? You can try them here – at Floresta Donuts .  I had a hard time eating mine as it was just too cute to bite into! Quite possibly my favorite thing I ate during our 10 days in Japan! SO cute!

travel itinerary sample japan

After your fix of Japanese delicacies and donuts, walk on over to Gion, Kyotos famous geisha district.  If you’re lucky you may spot a real true-life geisha , although they tend to walk fast to their destination and don’t like to show their face. 

However, if you do spot one, but courteous and don’t obviously follow them or point your camera directly to their face.  Show respect for their culture. I wasn’t so lucky and didn’t spot any on my trip.

Higashiyama District

End the day at the Higashiyama District, the world famous hub of Kyoto’s best-known shrines and temples.  And let me tell me, this place is worth checking out. It’s one of my favorite areas in all of Kyoto .

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Make sure to walk down Sannenzaka and Ninensaka – the two most beautiful streets in the district, with numerous souvenir shops and eateries.  It can get rather crowded during the day (for good reason!), so we chose to come a bit before dusk had encountered a less cramped experience. 

Still cramped, but less cramped than I imagine mid-day would be. You’ll find some eats on the walk – make sure to try a sakura cream puff !

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Kyomizu-dera Temple , a listed UNESCO site, should be next on your list.  Again, it’s quite busy, but the view out over a sea of trees is hard to beat – just imagine this during cherry blossom season (absolutely to die for!) And yea, try an onigiri maki – an emoji in the wild!

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Finish off this (long and tiring) day by walking part of the Philosopher’s Path (found on Google Maps as  Tetsugaku-no-michi) , a path that runs along a narrow river and is lined with more cherry blossom trees than you can ever imagine! 

You’ll end at the Silver Pavilion, although not as fancy and intricate as the Golden Pavilion, and not even lined in silver, but still impressive nonetheless.


It’s time for some day trips today, and we’ll be crossing off two in one day’s time!  Head to Nara from Kyoto Station (via JR Nara Line – roughly 1 hour on the express train), then after seeing some of the top temples, head on over to Osaka and eat everything!

Get ready to interact with some deer in Nara Park , which can be found all throughout the area and are literally impossible to miss!  And oh yea, those crackers you see being sold on the street?  Those are for the deer, not us hungry humans!

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A few temples to see: Todaiji (must visit Unesco World Heritage Site with super tall Buddha), Kasaguga Taisha Shrine (the most important shrine in Nara), Kofukuiji Temple, and Gangou-ji Temple.  If you’ve had enough of temples by this time, head over to Osaka and skip a temple or two.

Tip : Get the Nara Kotsu one day pass (it’s more of a wooden plague you can wear around your neck if you please) for 500 Yen.  This sightseeing bus brings you around to the top attractions in Central Nara, and is good for most of the buses you see throughout the city.

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Off to Osaka for the rest of the day!  Many people skip Osaka as they think it’s just another large city like that of Tokyo, but we absolutely loved our few hours here!  Don’t skip it!

First up, the ever-so-beautiful Osaka Castle , one of Japan’s most famous landmarks!  Get off at Osakajokoen Station. 

Note that the castle may very well be closed by the time you reach it depending on how long you spend in Nara (last admission is 4:30pm in April, a bit later in the summer months), but the outside alone is worth the train and short 20 minute walk!

Next up, Dotonbori Street !  It’s an absolute madhouse full of people, shops, and eateries, and an absolute must-do while in Osaka.  Be sure to look up and admire the moving animal billboards found on the buildings.

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Osaka is the food capitol not just of Japan, but of the entire world.  Hence, you’ll want to eat everything in sight (just leave some room for a Kobe beef dinner).  Try beloved regional dishes like okonomiyaki, takoyaki (fried octopus balls – tastes way better than it sounds), udon, and hiyashi ame ginger drink.

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Rule of thumb: if there’s a long line, the food is out of this world.  Wait and you’ll be rewarded.

If you want to get some shopping on, head on over to nearby Shinsaibashi, the city’s premier shopping district.  We chose to skip the shopping and focused on stuffing our faces 😉

Great dinner suggestion: Tsurugyu.  This place is all about Kobe beef , and is super fresh and decently priced.  Expect to pay around 5,000Y per person, drink included.  Reservations are highly recommended, although we somehow got extremely lucky and were able to sit at the bar – but don’t count on this!

Looking for the best places to go in Japan?! This Japan bucket list has you covered! Definitely saving this for my future trip to Japan!


Get ready for another jam-packed day.  Yes, it’ll take a while to get here, but trust me, on a clear, sunny day, it’s 100% worth it and absolutely beautiful. 

Take an early morning bullet train to Hiroshima, which takes roughly 2 hours from Kyoto Station, then a local JR train to Miyajimaguchi Station, then finally the JR ferry to Miyajima.  All included in your JR Pass .

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You can choose to visit either Miyajima or Hiroshima first, but I highly recommend visiting Miyajima during high tide to see the gate “floating” in the water.  Check tide schedules online.

If you opt for Miyajima first (again, tide dependent), and take an 8am bullet train out of Kyoto Station, you’ll reach Miyajima by approximately 11am.

Head straight to the tori gate (after some deer interaction of course, yes there’s deer here and they’re SUPER friendly, just watch your food). 

You’ll want to snap a million photos because this place is just so damn beautiful it’s hard not to!  You can also check out the floating shrine as well, which we loved and was unlike any other shrine/temple we saw in Japan!

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Spectacular views your thing? Take the Miyajima Ropeway (~15 minutes, $17 roundtrip) for better-then-great views of the whole area from the top of Mt. Misen . There’s a bus at the base of Miyajima Island which will take you to the ropeway station fo’ free as well if you’re already feeling super tired from your journey.

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Before heading back to the ferry, pick up some ice cream (green tea or black sesame, you are in Japan!) – perfect on a hot, sunny day.

Take the ferry back to Miyajimaguchi Station, then the JR train to Hiroshima.  Note that you’ll need to either take a tram or buy a Hiroshima Sightseeing Hop-On, Hop-Off Loop Bus “Meipuru-pu” to get around in Hiroshima super easily – which is free of cost for JR pass users . 

We took the sightseeing bus to Hiroshima Castle , and then to the area with the A-Bomb Dome , Children’s Peace Monument , and Peace Memorial Museum and Park .  The museum was closed by the time we arrived, but we were still able to wander around at the memorials and pay our respects.

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End this super long day eating okonomiyaki at Okonomimura , a humungous multi-level eatery with tiny stalls of different shops making varieties of the famous pancake.  Just for reference, we made it back on a bullet train around 8:30/9pm, getting back to Kyoto around 11pm.  Told you it was a long day.  😉

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Today’s your last day in Kyoto, so it’s time to do those last-minute things you missed, including the Fushimi Inari Shrine.   Put your bags in coin lockers at Kyoto Station before heading out for the day (just don’t forget to pick up before the bullet train heading back to Tokyo!)

Morning/Afternoon in Kyoto

1. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha): COME EARLY BEFORE THE MASSES ! No matter how tired you are, do not skip Fushimi Inari Shrine!  To get here, you’ll need to take the JR Line (Nara or Keihan Main) from Kyoto to Inari Station. 

The shrine is comprised of over 10,000 beautiful orange-y red tori gates arching over a scenic, possible 2-hour-long walking trail. You don’t need to do the entire circuit, but definitely make it past the initial arch as this is the most populated one due to its close proximity to the start. 

Make sure to notice the numerous fox statues along the shrine grounds, as they are thought to be Inari’s messengers and hold much importance to this area. And get some inari sushi if you’re a bit hungry – look how cute they are! Definitely one of my favorite things we did during our 10 days in Japan.

Read Next: Alllll the best things to do in Kyoto

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2. Nijo Castle: One of Kyoto’s most popular and impressive sights, and a wonderful place to walk around on your last official morning in the city. The grounds are large with numerous fortifications, a lovely castle, beautiful moat, and gardens.

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Inari Shrine to Nijo Castle: Head back to Kyoto Station, then take the JR Sagano train to Nijo stop

3. To-Ji Garden and Temple: Depending on your groups level of tired-ness, you may choose to skip these gardens (which are a 15 minute walk from Kyoto station).  We were too pooped from the week’s festivities to even think about wandering around here, and let’s face it – I saved myself an hour or so of complaints from my husband. 

We both get a little grumpy when the tiredness kicks in.  If you do decide to go, you’ll find the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan, a lovely garden with a koi fish pond, and some beautiful cherry blossoms. Next time for me!

Bullet Train to Tokyo

Once you’re done with your activities in Kyoto, back on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo it is!

The bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo takes around 3 hours or so, and with our stomachs grumbling already, we opted for a dinner of bento boxes to take on the train with us.  You’ll find a handful of stalls in the train station selling a wide variety of food options, with bento boxes being absolutely perfect for the long train ride!

Since you’ll only be in Tokyo for one additional night and will need to take the train from Tokyo station to Narita International Airport the next day, I suggest staying in the Ginza area, 1 or 2 stops on the train depending on which line you take.

It also lets you explore a new area the next morning before heading off to the airport.

Recommended hotels in Ginza:

  • Luxury : Millenium Mitsui Garden Hotel  (where we stayed and we absolutely loved it! – and less than $150 a night!)
  • Mid-Line : Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Ginza  (super chic upscale hotel at affordable rates in a great location)
  • Budget : Tokyo Ginza Bay Capsule Hotel  (if you don’t know what a capsule hotel is… go check that out!)


Before heading out for the day, it’s a good idea to check out of your hotel to avoid rushing back for the mid-morning check-out time, and be sure to ask your hotel to store your bags (which you’ll pick up later before heading off to the airport).

Sushi Breakfast at Tsukiji Market

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

On your last official morning after 10 days in Japan (cue the sad face), there’s nothing better than an authentic sushi breakfast!  And no better place to get fresh sushi than at the Tsukiji Fish Market – the world’s largest, busiest fish market! 

Note that the Tsukiji Fish Market is comprised of two parts – the inner market (the Uogashi wholesaler market) and the outer market.  The inner market is where you’ll find the early-morning wholesale tuna auction (think 4am, yes, really that early), while the outer market is for all of us foodies hoping to satisfy our taste buds with some seafood goodness.

While Daiwa Sushi and Sushi Dai are two of the most common sushi shops in Tsukiji Market, the lines are astronomically long.  We picked a place at random and had a wonderful experience – the fish was fresh, service was adequate, and prices were competitive.

You won’t find mediocre sushi anywhere in this area, so decide for yourself (and your hungry belly) if waiting in those long lines is worth it.

If you have a little extra time and wanna learn about Japanese food culture and the market in general, consider signing up for a Tsukiji Outer Market Food and Drink Walking Tour . You’ll sample bonito, katsuobushi, dashi stock, sushi, sake, fresh tuna, local omelets (my all-time fave) and so much more. I so wish we did this as we didn’t learn much about the market and honestly didn’t even know where to begin on our own — there’s so many stalls and we didn’t know half of the foods!

Next time we’re in Japan I REALLY wanna take this combined tour of the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and sushi-making class! I love taking cooking classes when I travel (I’ve made macarons in Paris, egg tarts in Lisbon, and tamales in Mexico so far), so I think sushi in Japan is next for me!

Shopping in Ginza

After filling up on some sushi (and ice cream, because, why not?!), head back to Ginza for some upscale window shopping.  This district is home to the most expensive shopping and real estate in Tokyo – kind of like New York’s Fifth Avenue, but with more lights!

Off to the Airport

Heading to Japan soon?! Check out this COMPLETE 10-DAY JAPAN ITINERARY filled with exactly how I spent my 10 days in Japan, which could easily be expanded to 2 weeks in Japan.

Depending on your flight time, you may have a bit more time, but it’s always wise to get to the airport extra early for international flights. 

Head back to your hotel, collect your bags, head to Tokyo Station, then to Narita Airport (takes approximately 1 hour via Narita Express), have one more Japanese meal at the airport, and say goodbye to this eclectic yet charming country.

If you have any questions on this 10 day Japan itinerary, please ask below in the comments! If you follow this itinerary (exactly what we did), I can promise you not only will you see so much in such a short period of time, but you won’t be stressed out planning either!  🙂

TRAVELING TO JAPAN SOON? Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of  World Nomads  and SafetyWing when traveling abroad.

Recently, I’ve been mostly using SafetyWing since they cover pandemic-related claims (most travel insurance companies do not). Be sure to protect yourself from possible injury, lost baggage, travel delays, and theft before it happens.  Learn more and Sign up here.

Did you know that …

When you purchase something through our links, we earn a small fee (but you still pay the same) ! Win-win! If you found this article useful, consider using the links within the article or below. Thanks for your support! 

  • Book a hotel
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Feel free to share this 10 day Japan itinerary with a friend (just copy and paste the link!), and get started planning your trip! Have you been to the country before? What were your favorite things to do in Japan?

Photos via Day 1a | Day 2 and Steam Fire at Asakusa  | cherry blossoms | Akihabara | Hakone 1 and 3 | Hakone 2 |

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September 23, 2020 at 10:18 pm

Great post! We are planning to visit Japan around cherry blossoms season next year. Your 10-day itinerary seems perfect. We might add 3 to 4 days to it as we love to follow the slow pace when we travel 🙂

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September 23, 2020 at 10:47 pm

You’re gonna have the best time ever – I wish I could go back and do my entire itinerary again! An extra few sounds would be perfect; we had to rush around a lot!

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April 13, 2021 at 11:26 pm

Very elaborate Japan guide! Hope to visit this wonderful place in the near future!

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March 27, 2022 at 5:54 am

Thanks so much, this was very helpful, and fun to read. I’ve been once by myself and hope to return with my wife. If it’s not too personal, what was the total cost of the trip for two?

April 4, 2022 at 6:16 pm

Hi Bill! So glad the post was helpful! Unfortunately it’s really hard to say the total cost, as it greatly varies depending on what hotels you choose, activities you do, and restaurants you eat at! With that being said, the street food is absolutely phenomenal and a great way to save a bit of money! We loved it all!

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April 7, 2022 at 1:22 am

such an amazing post and trip, wish i can go there very soon. thankyou for sharing 🙂

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July 18, 2022 at 8:44 am

I am so very grateful for your post. I have been researching for months and this is the most helpful post I have found! We will be traveling to Japan April 2023 for my sons graduation present. We will only have 7-8 days there. If you were to take off 1-2 days which would they be. Right now I am thinking one less day in Tokyo but not sure what else to eliminate.

July 20, 2022 at 6:58 pm

So glad you found it helpful! I would cut off the day trip from Tokyo, and eliminate a day in Tokyo like you suggested. You can see the main highlights of Tokyo in 2 long, jam packed days. It’ll be a very hectic and tiring trip, but you’ll see a lot in just a week! I cannot wait to go back to Japan! Enjoy your trip — sounds like it’ll be a special one!

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August 29, 2022 at 1:19 pm

I’m planning a trip to Japan and this has been super helpful! One question though, did you mainly find lodging in just Tokyo and Kyoto? And you did day trips out of those cities but would return back?

August 29, 2022 at 8:42 pm

Hi Francesca — yup, did exactly that! I stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto and did day trips! SO much to see! Have such a great trip! I cannot wait to go back to Japan!!!

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October 1, 2022 at 10:40 pm

Hey! your post is SUPER helpful for my 10 day trip I want to take in April 2023! But I was curious if you visited any hot springs or passed by any while on your trip? I want to go to one with my boyfriend and have a relaxing dip 🙂 I look forward to the trip and your trip sounds like something we would follow to enjoy our time! thnk you 🙂

October 2, 2022 at 4:33 pm

Hey there! We didn’t have time for any on our first trip, but spent a few days at an onsen in Mt. Muji on our second trip! Highly recommend adding that in if you’re looking for some peace and quiet! It was incredible!

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August 9, 2023 at 9:19 am

Hi! Which onsen do you recommend?

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November 1, 2022 at 11:18 am

Can u suggest a place to do one day of kintsugi lesson. I love your itinerary and plan to follow it to the T. And will definitely share my experience once I am back… I have about 13 days…one last thing..anything that a vegetarian can eat

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November 6, 2022 at 2:26 am

Excellent guide! May I know is the 7-day JR pass one-way only (Tokyo -> Kyoto)? Do we need to buy another ticket/pass for the bullet train from Kyoto back to Tokyo?

November 6, 2022 at 4:32 pm

The JR pass works for all directions! As long as it’s still within the 7 days if you buy the 7 day pass! You can use the pass as many times as you want within the time frame you buy it for. It’s great!

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November 27, 2022 at 10:18 pm

love your itinerary! i’m planning to visit japan in december and wondered if the disneyland in tokyo was worth it?

November 28, 2022 at 7:47 pm

Hi Rama! How exciting! I’ve never been to Tokyo Disney so unfortunately cannot comment! Have a great trip! Japan is easily one of my favorite countries!

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January 19, 2023 at 12:04 pm

This post is amazing! We are planning a trip to Japan and this has everything. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences!

January 20, 2023 at 5:15 pm

Of course, so glad it’s helpful! Let me know if you have any questions! We loved our trips to Japan and can’t wait to go back!

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February 9, 2023 at 2:03 pm

Thank you so much for sharing, this is super helpful! I was wondering, if you were to have stayed at a ryokan during this trip, when / in which city would you recommend staying? I’m currently planning a 10 day try and would like to follow your itinerary but also want to squeeze in a stay in a ryokan!

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March 22, 2023 at 6:38 am

I just wanted to thank you. My wife and I returned last night from our first trip to Japan, 11 nights in total. We followed your itinerary almost to the letter, including all three day trips from Tokyo – Kamakura, Nikko and Hakone.

It was an extra special trip for us, celebrating my 50th birthday, and your itinerary made the incredibly intimidating task of knowing how to structure a short trip to Japan, manageable and endlessly rewarding.

I commend you for your excellent research and wanted you to know how valuable of a service you are providing!

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March 28, 2023 at 7:06 pm

Just to be clear, you’re recommending just two home bases during the ten days in Japan: Tokyo and Kyoto? We’re going in October and are booking hotels. So – one hotel in Tokyo and one hotel in Kyoto from which we see those cities and take day trips. It’s that simple?

April 5, 2023 at 11:07 am

Yup — makes it so much easier than booking a different hotel for every night! 🙂 The train system is amazing in Japan and you can easily get to so many day trips from both major cities.

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April 26, 2023 at 3:42 pm

We are planning a trip to Japan in April 2024 and I came across you blog post. Amazing post and your detailed itinerary is very helpful. I’m wondering if there is any advantage of choosing Narita vs Haneda airport. We will be flying from SFO and have options to both.

April 27, 2023 at 2:05 pm

If you can find a flight to Haneda for a decent price, I’d actually choose that! It’s much closer to Tokyo itself. However, more airlines fly into Narita. I’ll be looking into Haneda for my next trip! 🙂

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May 9, 2023 at 4:22 pm

Thank you so much for this very helpful itinerary. My husband and I are planning to visit in early December to celebrate my 60th birthday. Your suggestions and recommendations were very helpful and I will definitely be using them. Thank you again.

May 9, 2023 at 5:54 pm

Glad it was helpful! That’s so exciting — what a special spot for a birthday! Have the best time, and let me know if you have any questions!

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May 21, 2023 at 2:06 am

We are booked on a cruise around Japan for 10 days but coming in earlier to do some land tours and hopefully see things we will not be able to do on the cruise. All your information was so informative and will be looking more into it all. We will be leaving Sydney Australia on 23rd March 2024 specifically for Cherry Blossom time.

August 9, 2023 at 9:17 am

Hi! We are flying to HND arriving June 8th at 21:05. We depart from NRT June 20th. I haven’t booked any accommodations yet. I’m trying to follow your itinerary. How many nights would you recommend in Tokyo and Kyoto? Should we stay in another city for a few nights to reduce traveling time? Regarding the JR Pass, we fall in between the 7 day and 14 day pass. I’m thinking the 7 day pass should be enough if we start using it day 4 or 5. Thank you!

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November 5, 2023 at 2:56 pm

Hi Jess. Your itinerary was the inspiration for my first visit to Japan last month with my niece. We followed the majority of the 10 days outlined including all of the daytrips except for Hakone. Your suggestions were excellent because each day trip was unique and memorable. Your tips on where to purchase the local currency, the JR train pass as well as the packing tips were incredibly helpful. We also made it a point to try every single one of your foodie recommendations. Black sesame and Sakura were definitely our favorite Japanese flavors for ice cream. Nishiki Market, Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, the floating shrine in Miyajima, the Great Buddha statues at Kotokuin in Kamakura and at Todaji in Nara, Okonomimura in Hiroshima, Fushimi Inari Shrine were absolute highlights. Thank you so much for sharing this well-researched and well-organized itinerary that helped us make the most of our truly breath-taking adventure in Japan.

November 8, 2023 at 12:16 am

So glad it was helpful and that you had an amazing trip to Japan! Every time I go back I’m already planning my next trip! Such a wonderful, diverse country!

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December 18, 2023 at 4:02 pm

Hello, I want to make sure I understand your itinerary. At the beginning, does it call for 4 or 5 nights in Tokyo?

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January 16, 2024 at 12:46 pm

What would you add to this itinerary if you travel with 12 and 13 year old children?

January 20, 2024 at 10:56 pm

Hi there! I don’t have kids so not sure I’m the best person to ask! There’s tons of things to do in Tokyo for people with all different interests though.

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February 20, 2024 at 5:16 am

Fantastic info for a possible first time visitor. Thanks so much! Just querying the following part of your page though:

“If you’re coming from the US, an easy way to figure out USD to JY is to move the decimal point two spots to the right >> 100Y = approximately $1USD. Just for quick reference, 10,000Y = approximately 100USD.”

If I move the decimal place to the right for 100.00Y that equal 10000 USD based on the above. Should that have said “move the decimal place two spots to the left (which would = 1.00)

February 20, 2024 at 5:19 am

Ignore all that.. I now see it from the US point of view – i.e. move the US decimal point two spots to the right to get JPY. Sorry! Great site, really appreciate ethe information.

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March 7, 2024 at 3:50 pm

what is the latest the bullet trains operate for example taking a day trip from Kyoto to Osaka at what time do you have to head back? Is there a website were we can see this?

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travel itinerary sample japan

The Ultimate Two Weeks in Japan Itinerary: Where to Visit

The Ultimate Two Weeks in Japan Itinerary

For the first-timer, spending two weeks in Japan is the ultimate way to go. This Japan itinerary will break down exactly where to visit in Japan and how long to stay. Japan is a special place for me. After visiting for my third time this last year, it has become easily my number one destination in Asia.

Japan is wildly different from anything here in the U.S. Their culture has preserved the arts and historic components of society. Meanwhile, it has integrated technology and processes that drive their community forward. I’ve never seen anything quite like it — an incredible blend of the old world and the new world. Japan has a wonderful way of drawing you in and showing you a new way to live.

So if you’ve booked yourself a two-week trip to Japan, here’s everything you need to know about where to visit and why.

Why You Should Spend Two Weeks in Japan

How long you spend in Japan is entirely up to you. I would vote to do two weeks for a few reasons especially if it’s your first time. The first is that it allows you to get off the main path that most tourists will visit. All of those cities like Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo are wonderful. However, there are some other hidden gems of places to go. Spending two weeks gives you the right amount of time to truly digest it all. You can blend the perfect trip of highlighted cities and some other experiences that will take you by surprise. There are several world heritage sites you won’t want to miss as well along the way.

On our first trip to Japan, we booked in over two weeks and we felt we had really gotten a taste of the country. By the end of the trip, we were ready to go home. Our most recent trip was around 12 nights long and we felt we could have stayed the full two weeks. So my suggestion based on experience is that two weeks is the golden number.

What will be in this two-week itinerary in Japan post:

  • A sample itinerary.
  • Information on accommodations and dining.
  • Sources for more detailed guides.
  • What to Know About Transportation and the JR Rail Pass

Short on Time? Here’s How I Would Spend 2 Weeks in Japan:

Before arrival.

  • Purchase a JR Rail Pass , for unlimited train travel while in Japan

Stop 1: Tokyo — 3 nights

  • Shibuya Hotel En , for the best centrally-located hotel
  • Shibuya Granbell Hotel , for the best Shibuya Station hotel
  • Keio Plaza Hotel , for the best Shinjuku hotel

Stop 2: Kiso Valley — 2 nights

  • Magome Chaya , for the best Magome hotel
  • Ooedo Onsen Monogatari Hotel Kisoji , for the best hotel near Tsumago
  • Japanese Guesthouses , for the best intimate stays in the Kiso Valley

Stop 3: Kyoto — 4 nights

  • Kyoto Hotel Okura , for the best downtown hotel
  • Yuzuya Ryokan , for the best ryokan hotel
  • Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo , for the best budget hotel

Stop 4: Onsen Experience — 2 nights

  • Gora Kadan , for the best modern onsen hotel
  • Yaeikane , for the best traditional onsen hotel

Stop 5: Tokyo — 2 nights

The ultimate two weeks in japan itinerary, stop 1: tokyo — 3 nights, tokyo highlights.

Starting in Tokyo is a wonderful immersion into Japan. I’d recommend flying into Narita Airport as it has a fast train into the heart of the city. Your first day or night will give you time to adjust to the changes. There are wonderful highlights to visit in Tokyo including incredible museums, neighborhoods, markets, and restaurants. You get an opportunity to experience Japan’s sprawling city.

A few favorites for me include spending a morning at Tsukiji Fish Market. It is certainly sensory overload but out of this world. One new thing we did this last trip was going to teamLab Borderless afterward since they’re both on the outskirts of town. It was a wonderful way to spend a day.

There are other day trips you can do as well like to the Fuji Five Lakes, so if you want a break from the city you can consider this. Overall starting your time in Tokyo is the most convenient for getting adjusted and from there you can continue on to your next destination with the extensive train routes.

Helpful Tokyo Guides to Plan Your Trip

  • For creative things to do: The Alternative Guide to Tokyo
  • Most recent coffee guide: A Guide to the Coolest Coffee Shops in Tokyo
  • Back-up coffee guide: 7 Coffee Shops Not to Miss in Tokyo
  • General travel guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to Tokyo

Where to Stay in Tokyo

I personally love to stay in Shibuya as it’s the best-located neighborhood to explore. A few recommended hotels:

Stop 2: Kiso Valley — 2 Nights

Kiso valley highlights.

If there is one recommendation for getting out of the major cities, it’s to go visit the mystical Kiso Valley. It’s famed for the Nakasendo Trail where you can hike between the small towns of Tsumago and Magome. These two towns are historic and contain old-world buildings telling of Japan’s past.

Whether you’re looking to slow down, get some time in nature, or do something a bit more traditional like stay in a ryokan, the Kiso Valley is it. It does take some patience and time to plan this part of a trip to Japan as it’s only ryokans available in the towns. You can reach it by train from Tokyo with a few transfers and a final bus ride into Tsumago.

Need A Japan Rail Pass?  This Is Where I Book Mine

Two nights is wonderful here and a welcomed reprieve from city life. This is mostly why I’d recommend doing it between Tokyo and Kyoto and you can easily follow the train routes.

Helpful Kiso Valley Guides to Plan Your Trip

  • My personal experience : Visiting the Kiso Valley

Sample Train Route from Tokyo to Tsumago

You will need to bus from Nagiso to Tsumago, see schedule here

Where to Stay in Kiso Valley

I’d recommend staying in Tsumago or Magome which sit on either end of the Nakasendo Trail. Here are my top picks of where to stay in the Kiso Valley:

Stop 3: Kyoto — 4 Nights

Kyoto highlights.

Oh Kyoto, this city forever has my heart. Whether you come for the famed cherry blossom season that transforms the city or to explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s wonderful. Kyoto is a special place in Japan and a must on the first trip.

A few highlights for me are the Arashiyama bamboo grove in the early hours before the crowds. I’ve done it twice and each time it has been worth the early wake-up call to catch sunrise there. The red Torii gates of Fushimi Inari Shrine are another wonderful highlight as well. Fushimi Inari Taisha (full name) is not a world heritage site but nonetheless incredible.

You could easily spend 4 nights in Kyoto mostly because there is so much to do there. One way you can get out of the city is a day trip to Nara as well, utilizing the central train station. I’d recommend reading the extensive guides below to plan your days in Kyoto as there is a lot to do. That’s why I’d allot four nights in this city alone.

Helpful Kyoto Guides to Plan Your Trip

  • Accommodation advice : Where to Stay in Kyoto By Neighborhood
  • Temple and shrine guide : A Guide to the Best Temples & Shrines in Kyoto
  • Local artisan shops: 7 Local Shops Not to Miss in Kyoto
  • For photography: Best Photography Locations in Kyoto
  • Where to eat: 20 Best Restaurants in Kyoto
  • Where to get coffee: 7 Coffee Shops Not to Miss in Kyoto
  • The overall guide: The Ultimate Guide to Kyoto

Sample Train Route from Tsumago to Kyoto

You will need to bus from Tsumago to Nagiso, see schedule here

Where to Stay in Kyoto

I have an entire post on where to stay in Kyoto and it is broken into the neighborhoods. The city is very diverse so I’d recommend giving it a read before making a choice on where you stay. The accommodation location in Kyoto makes a huge difference in your experience in the city.

Here’s my short list of best hotels in Kyoto:

Stop 4: Onsen Experience — 2 Nights

Onsen experience highlights.

A traditional experience in Japan is to go stay and enjoy the healing waters of an onsen. It’s truly Japanese in the sense of slowing down and restoring the body. After all the travel, I love to schedule this towards the end of the trip which is why I’ve placed it after four nights in Kyoto where you’ll walk a lot.

Since you’ll need to make your way back toward Tokyo eventually, you can choose a few locations. The more commonly visited area is Hakone which is filled with onsen ryokans. You can even get a day pass to the onsens and buy the Hakone Free Pass to visit the nearby sights. This is just one option if the area of Hakone is of interest.

We decided to spend a few more hours on a train and make our way towards the onsen region of the Yakushiyma mountains where the Yamashiro Onsen is. We splurged on two nights at Beniya Mukayu. It’s the single most expensive hotel we’ve paid for but in return received the best stay and a lot included. The hotel stay included daily breakfast and dinner, and our room had a private onsen. The food was exquisite, each meal several courses long with fine ingredients. Again this is a splurge experience but I’d say is well worth it.

You could choose to stay in this region (there are other onsen ryokans and hotels) as well. You’ll have to account for a few more transfers to get back to Tokyo but it is totally doable.

Helpful Onsen Guides to Plan Your Trip

  • Our onsen experience : Staying at an Onsen in Japan’s Countryside

Sample Train Route from Kyoto to KagaOnsen

Local hotels pickup at the train station.

Where to Stay: Best Onsen Hotels

In Hakone, some of the top-rated onsen hotels include:

  • Hakone Airu , for the best Balinese onsen hotel

Check out 224 more hotel options in Hakone here.

For onsen hotels near the Beniya Mukayu in Kaga, see this page for the city of Kaga and over 40 options.

Stop 5: Tokyo — 2 Nights

We always tack on two more nights in Tokyo before leaving Japan. One reason is that we want to be in the city at least the night before our flight and the second is, there’s always something we didn’t get to. If you’re there for cherry blossom season, then definitely make an extra stop as the blooms could have changed.

I love eating once more at our favorite yakitori restaurant, strolling the gardens and shrines of Yoyogi Park, and soaking in the city’s energy. It’s a special city and one I always look forward to going back to.

  • The Alternative Guide to Tokyo
  • A Guide to the Coolest Coffee Shops in Tokyo
  • 7 Coffee Shops Not t o Miss in Tokyo
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to Tokyo

Sample Train Route from KagaOnsen to Tokyo

Before leaving Tokyo to go back to the airport, I’d recommend booking a hotel near the main train station like Shibuya for easy, direct access. Here are my top picks for best hotels when returning to Tokyo:

Planning for Transportation in Japan

One of the most overwhelming parts of Japan is sorting out whether or not you need a Japan Rail Pass and the train systems. The rail pass and Japan Rail are incredibly easy to use and convenient pending a few factors. I have an entire blog post dedicated to transportation in Japan which goes into great detail on all of the factors to consider.

The  JR Rail Pass  is essentially a joint pass for the majority of the JR Company trains in Japan. Passes are available by either a 7, 14, or 21-day period. If you do a quick tally of individual ticket prices (especially between Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other regions) it will be worth it. You can use it on the JR lines in Tokyo and Kyoto which connect you between neighborhoods. You can purchase it through this link and it must be done so before arrival (give a few weeks to receive the pass). One other benefit is the ability to reserve seats on certain trains.

*You’ll find each train station easy to navigate and the famed bullet train really is wonderful. Trains in Japan are timely so be prepared to arrive ahead of time.

Other Destinations to Consider for Your Two-Week Japan Itinerary

There are several other destinations you can consider as even Hakone mentioned above. One popular other destination is Hiroshima which is home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Peace Memorial Park. I know so many people love to visit as the Peace Memorial Museum is incredibly special. A few other destinations to consider are:

  • The Alpine Route
  • Miyajima Island
  • Osaka (wonderful for a few days in a different city)

Get Travel Insurance Here

I always recommend travel insurance for international travel. Especially when you’re headed overseas for an extended time. I often use World Nomads , they’ve reimbursed me personally on a few occasions for trip delays and cancellations.

Want to create your own travel itinerary?

Save this post for later on pinterest, ps — are you booking a trip soon use my booking checklist.

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you . If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here .

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:

  • World Nomads (best for all-around)
  • Safety Wing (best for frequent travelers)

Xx, Jessica

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Yes yes yes. Japan is at the absolute top of my list of dream places to visit and I’m saving this guide.

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Thank you! I loved this guide, super helpful: concise, informative and an easy read. Loved your photos too!

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I am Aileen

Japan Itinerary for First-Time Visitors: 4 to 21 Days or More (Ultimate Travel Guide)

by Aileen Adalid Itineraries , Japan 70 comments

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I’ve managed to travel to all 7 continents now, and from all of my adventures, one of the countries that I will never get tired of revisiting multiple times would be Japan! (Japan Itinerary)

As a timeless destination, I am forever enamored by Japan’s ancient traditions that are perfectly fused with its vibrant modernity. Not to mention the lush nature and exquisite cuisine that it has and I’m sure that I’ll still barely ‘ scratch the surface ‘ even if I spend my life exploring it in its entirety.

With that said, it does seem daunting to whip up a Japan itinerary — but then again, not really! The country may be vast but it’s totally possible to make the most of it with whatever time you have.

TRIVIA : Japan has 4 main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu (the largest where Tokyo is found), Kyushu, and Shikoku. These areas are all divided into 47 prefectures that are grouped into 8 regions (chihō). . For instance, the capital of Tokyo is within the Tokyo prefecture and under the Kantō region. Whereas the popular cities of Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara each have their own separate prefecture (under the same name) and are all under the Kansai region.

Where to Stay in Japan?

Come and check out my lists below that feature the top-recommended choices for cheap to luxurious accommodation choices in the country: Best Hotels in Tokyo Best Hotels in Kyoto Best Hotels in Osaka Best Hotels in Hiroshima

As of this date, I think I have already visited Japan more than 15 times and I still can’t get enough of it! Hopefully, with what knowledge I have, I can help you plan a great Japan itinerary trip with ease and speed.

Rest assured, the Japan itineraries in the latter section of this post is totally customizable to fit any number of days that you might be spending.

Top photo by: Shutterstock

Table of Contents

Japan Travel Guide

» quick travel planning.

  • Top tours & experiences
  • Find flights to Japan
  • Visa requirements
  • Best places to stay
  • Travel insurance (5% discount)
  • Stay connected

– – –

» Best Time to Visit

Honestly…? Any time! After all, Japan is a ‘year-round’ destination. But depending on your preference, below are the country’s seasons…

  • Beware though because this is high season, so do expect higher prices and bigger crowds. It’s the same as well during Golden Week (concentration on national holidays) which happens from late April to the first week of May.
  • Summer: Be prepared for high humidity and smoldering heat (with June being the rainy season) . If you want to escape this, head on ever to the mountains or to the northern island of Hokkaido.
  • ★ Autumn: This is yet another great time for visiting Japan; besides, I personally love it when the trees turn into warmer hues. September though is usually the time when typhoons visit the country, so it could be best to plan your trip somewhere from late October to November (it’s also the best time for seeing the full autumn colors).
  • Winter:  As the temperatures drop, prices and airfares also drop. Take note though that it can get very chilly; but, supposing you’re not that sensitive to the cold, this can be a fun time given all the amazing ski resorts and festive atmosphere.
  • WINTER: Dec to Feb
  • SPRING: March to May
  • SUMMER: June to Aug
  • AUTUMN: Sept to Nov

Other Japan blooms to watch out for?

See this list of the most popular spring flowers in Japan — when to see them and where to go!

» Getting in to Japan

International visitors typically arrive at Tokyo’s  Narita Airport  (NRT), followed by  Kansai Airport  (KIX) which is south of Osaka. To get to any of these points, I recommend browsing through  Skyscanner  to find the best flight deals from your point of origin. If you’re from the Philippines like me, Skyscanner also scans through the budget airlines such as Air Asia and Cebu Pacific in order to find which of the 2 has the cheapest rate on the dates you choose.

From Narita Airport to Tokyo, you can:

  • Ride an  airport limousine shuttle bus   that goes to key points and areas in Tokyo (around 1,000 yen = $10~).
  • Is it worth it to buy a JR Pass for your Japan itinerary? Read  here .
  • Ride a taxi , which would be the most expensive at the range of 20,000 to 30,000 yen = $195~ to $295~.
  • Uber is also a possible option to take, but a private transfer is usually at a better price — more so if you want a bigger car. Otherwise, if you’re coming from  Haneda Airport , you can book through  this service .

» Visa for Japan

If you’re NOT a citizen of any of Japan’s  exempted countries , you are then required to avail of a visa beforehand. (If you’re from the Philippines, you can read my guide on how to get a  Japan visa  in Manila  here .)

  • Check full visa requirements here as per your nationality.

» Where to Stay (Japan Accommodations)

To search for the best hotel accommodation in Japan at the best prices, I suggest cross-checking hotel prices between  Agoda  and . But if you’re rather interested in renting comfortable houses or apartments, you should search through AirBnB .

If you want particular hotel names per district, I prescribe that you read my lists below: Best Hotels in Tokyo Best Hotels in Kyoto Best Hotels in Osaka Best Hotels in Hiroshima

» Japan Currency

Japanese yen (JPY / ¥) wherein ¥100 is equal to about USD $1~ / €0.85~ / Php 45~ (this is as of March 2021). In the event that you want to exchange your money for JPY, I highly advise that you do NOT exchange your money at the airport since the rates there are not competitive.

  • How to best exchange your currency? Either exchange it at a bank or at a money exchanger in your home country or in Tokyo’s city center. Better yet, just withdraw from an ATM with your debit/credit card — however, you must do one big withdrawal to minimize fees with your bank. Speaking of cards, a lot of Japan’s establishments accept credit cards but it’s always advisable to have cash on hand because a lot of smaller shops do not accept international credit cards.

» Cost of Travel in Japan

A lot of people have the misconception that Japan is an expensive destination; however, it is totally possible to travel on a budget! Just take note that accommodation rates typically go up during peak season (March to April in Spring and November in Autumn) .

To give you an idea, you should expect to travel in Japan with an average daily cost of about USD $45~ per person on a budget, or at least $120~ if you want to experience more comfort in activities, tours, hotels, and more. (Values below show low budget to medium budget ranges).

  • Hotels: $25 to $120 USD / day
  • Food: $12 to $30 USD / day
  • Fun: $5 to $20 USD / day
  • Transport: US$1 per subway ride*

*FREE subway and bullet train rides if you hold a Japan Rail Pass

» How to Get Around Japan

You could flag down a taxi, an  Uber , ride the bus, rent a bike or go on foot; but if you want to be efficient and fast, the trains are the way to go!

Take note that Tokyo’s train system is dense and extensive, so it can be  very  confusing. However, all throughout my stay in Tokyo, I’ve managed to make it less complicated by simply using  Google Maps   (mapping my point A and point B and then checking out the directions for the subway/train/bus. — it even has real-time walking navigation and an offline option!)

TIPS : – Though Google Maps can be used offline, if you want routes or transportation schedules, it won’t work. So I recommend that you get a  pocket WiFi  or a  SIM Card  to stay connected online. . – Tokyo’s trains typically open around 5AM and close somewhere around midnight. If you don’t have an  IC Card , purchasing local rail lines and subway tickets can only be done with cash or coins at the ticket machine. Credit cards are only applicable when buying long-distance bullet train tickets. . – If you’re traveling by train during rush hour, be wary that it can get crowded. If you’re a woman, you can ride the carriages that are designated only for females (this is only during weekdays until 9AM). . – You will notice that on escalators in Tokyo, people stand on the left side so that those who are in a hurry can pass on the right. But when you’re in the Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, etc.) it’s the other way around. . – When riding taxis, the left rear door is operated automatically by the driver so do NOT try to open or close it by yourself. . – There are several train etiquettes that you should remember when in Japan, number one of which is to keep the noise down to a minimum.

Speaking of which, when it comes to local train tickets in Tokyo, there are several types that you can choose from but what I would highly recommend is if you’re  only  planning on traveling INSIDE Tokyo, buy the prepaid IC cards (like  Suica ) that can be used in any train or bus in the city.

NOTE:  There is also the option of buying the  Tokyo Subway Ticket  which will give you UNLIMITED access to all subway lines of Toei and Tokyo Metro (but NOT JR lines, which is fine since most key places in Tokyo is accessible via Toei and Tokyo Metro). . There are options for this for 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours. I only find this choice as economical IF, and only if, you are going to ride the train for MULTIPLE times in a day or a span of days. But if let’s say, you’re only going to one place or district in a day, then just use your IC card as per normal.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling outside of Tokyo, that’s a different matter since I would recommend that you consider buying a  Japan Rail Pass  or JR Pass for unlimited rides. To see if buying this train pass will be worth it for your Japan itinerary, go and read my explanation  here .

  • See the whole list of available train passes that you can get in Japan  here !

» Staying Connected in Japan

Japan has one of the fastest internet connections in the world so you’re assured of great connections wherever you go. Hotels and most shops (even convenience stores) offer FREE WiFi connections — but in order to stay connected online at all times during your Japan trip, I recommend getting your own  pocket WiFi  or a  SIM Card .

» Safety in Japan

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world with very low crime rates. I have been traveling solo to this country many times now and I have never felt unsafe even in the late hours of the night — however , this is NO excuse to get too complacent. ‘Little crime’ does not mean ‘no crime’, so stay vigilant and be “street smart” by using your common sense at all times.

Nevertheless, the Japanese people are one of the kindest and most respectful people I have ever met, so solo travelers don’t have much to worry about in this amazing country.

  • HOW TO: Find the right travel insurance for you

» Helpful Japanese Phrases

Japan may be one of the most developed countries in the world, but a lot of the locals don’t speak English. However, this should not discourage you from traveling to this country because apart from the fact that there are a lot of translation apps that will help you understand and speak Japanese, a lot of the locals are also making the effort to learn and use the English language.

  • RELATED READ: Best translation apps for travel

Anyhow, below are some helpful Japanese phrases that will help you along the way! And even if you do encounter a Japanese who can speak English, it doesn’t hurt to say a word or two in their language.

Hello: Konnichiwa ( Kohn-nee-chee-wah ) Thank you (normal): Arigatō. ( Ah-REE-gah-tohh ) Thank you (less formal): Arigatō gozaimas  (Ah-REE-gah-tohh goh-zahy-mahs) Thank you (informal): Dōmo  (DOHH-moh) Yes: Hai  (Hai) No: Iie  (E-eh) Goodbye (long term): Sayōnara  (Sah-yohh-nah-rah) Goodbye (informal): Ja ne  (Jahh neh)

Excuse me: Sumimasen  (Soo-mee-mah-SEN) I’m sorry: Gomen nasai  (Goh-men-nah-sahy) Is there someone here who speaks English?: Dareka eigo ga hanasemasu ka?  (Dah-reh-kah ey-goh gah hah-nah-seh-mahs kah?) Help!: Tasukete!  (Tahs-keh-teh!) Cheers!: Kanpai! ( Kan-pie!)

» Other Important Tips

Here are some other helpful travel and etiquette tips to remember for your Japan itinerary:

  • Cars drive on the left in Japan, so be mindful when crossing the street. In this same manner, try to always walk on the left side so as not to bump into other people.
  • Most restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the cash register which is usually by the entrance. (They will typically leave the bill at your table, so after eating, take it to the register and pay before leaving).
  • Some establishments and restaurants (and all private homes) have a sunken foyer entrance (genkan) with shelves of footwear by the door — a clear sign that you’re expected to remove your shoes before entering.
  • If you are sick (have a cold, are coughing etc.) , it’s considered respectful to wear face or surgical masks in public. On that same note, do not blow your nose in public as it is considered uncouth.
  • For more first-time traveler etiquette tips in Japan, come check out this post:  [coming soon]
  • I bet you don’t want to miss out on the top Japanese food dishes and drinks, so here’s a list of things you MUST try:  [coming soon]

Other F.A.Q.

There is NO tipping culture in Tokyo or Japan in general. If you end up giving them something, they’ll mostly be confused why, and they will surely end up giving the money back to you. Sometimes, it’s even considered rude and insulting if you tip someone.

Japan typically uses two plug types: type A (two flat parallel pins) and type B (two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin at the bottom). The country operates on a 100V voltage and a frequency of 50/60Hz.

 Please check their  latest travel advisories  page for more details.

All visitors to Japan must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the period of their intended stay (as well as have 2 blank pages).

In general, no as long as you are a non-resident staying for less than 6 months.

If you want to operate a UA/Drone, it is required to follow the conditions set by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (more info here ) . You can also contact Japan’s Drone Counseling Service ( [email protected] ) for more information.

Japan Itinerary Guide

It can be a daunting task to plan a Japan itinerary because the country is undeniably packed with SO many interesting places, picturesque sights, good food, fun activities, and colorful culture among many others!

For starters, I will list below summarized itineraries that are typically done for X number of days, and then it will be followed by a tabbed section that shows the things you can do in each area or city in order to fill up the travel days that you have.

••• 4 DAYS It’s preferable to just stay in one place like Tokyo — especially if it’s going to be your first time in Japan. However, if you rather want to explore the Kansai region, you can stay in Kyoto or mix in Osaka with a side trip to Nara. (For other areas that you can explore are: Chubu region, or Niigata , etc. Make sure to check the ‘Extra Days’ tab below for other ideas.) TIP : If you’re only spending 4 days in just Tokyo, you don’t really need a Japan Rail Pass. But if you’re exploring Kansai, it can be cost-efficient to get a JR regional pass. It really depends on your preferred itinerary, so you should read through this article .

••• 7 DAYS If you don’t want to rush yourself, you can simply spend 7 days in Tokyo; otherwise, it is totally possible to squeeze in Kyoto and/or Osaka too if you’re willing to do a fast-paced trip. Ideally for this, you will spend 4 days in Tokyo and 3 days in Kyoto and/or Osaka. TIP : It’s a good idea to get a JR Pass for this. But then again, it really depends on your preferred stops, so you should read through this article .

••• 10 DAYS Doing 5 or 6 days in Tokyo, and 5 or 4 days in Kyoto + Osaka + Nara ( Kansai area) would be great for this number of days. If you don’t mind a fast-paced trip, you can even squeeze in a trip to Hiroshima by lessening your days in both Tokyo and Kansai. Either way, feel free to mix things up. TIP : It’s a good idea to get a JR Pass for this. Read through this article to see if it’s worth it for you.

••• 14 DAYS Consider doing 5 days in Tokyo, 5 days in Kyoto + Osaka + Nara, 2 days in Hiroshima, and 2 days in any region you want for your Japan itinerary (check ‘Extra Days’ tab below — or spend 7 days in Tokyo and 7 days in Kansai Region. Otherwise, just prolong your days in Tokyo because that city is just so massive with so many things to do! It’s all up to you). TIP : It’s a good idea to get a JR Pass for this. Read through this article to see if it’s worth it for you.

••• 21 DAYS OR MORE With this number of days, you’ve got all the time to take things easy for your Japan itinerary! So feel free to extend the days per area and make sure to check the ‘ Extra Days ‘ tab to see other destinations you can explore. When planning out your route, do make sure to check travel times and connectivity to avoid future hassles. NOTE : On my first trip to Japan I spent about 20 days there as I explored Tokyo (6), Kyoto (3), Osaka (2), Nara (1), Hiroshima (3), Takayama (2), Magome-Tsumago (1), and Kinosaki (2). For this, I only used a 14-day JR Pass since I spent 6 days in Tokyo and it was cheaper to just buy single tickets in the subway. TIP : A 14-day or 21-day JR Pass is costly at first sight — but it could totally help you save up more depending on your itinerary. Make sure to do some calculations to see if purchasing single tickets is better or not. See this article for more info.

ADDITIONAL TIP: To further save up on time when you’re visiting multiple cities, please consider booking a flight out of Japan to the nearest international airport on your last day so you don’t have to travel back to Tokyo’s Narita. . So for example, if you end your Japan itinerary somewhere in the Kansai region (Kyoto, Osaka, etc.), go and book a departure flight from Kansai Airport instead. Of course, this depends if the ticket is not more expensive compared to a roundtrip flight that’s all done at Tokyo’s Narita Airport. Either way, if you don’t mind the additional travel time and you’ve got a Japan Rail Pass, it’s absolutely fine to travel back to Narita after your trip.


  • The following Japan itinerary section is in a tabbed format; so, in order to see the next day’s contents, just click the headings below.
  • I will mainly highlight the so-called “ Golden Route ” that comprises Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka followed by Nara and Hiroshima, and then format them under a 14-day itinerary . After all, they are the typical spots that are visited by the vast majority of first-time tourists in Japan.
  • Rest assured, I will also cover other regions in Japan under the ‘ Extra Days ‘ tab below so that you can consider these places if you happen to have more days for your trip, or if you simply want to see more than the typical.

Tokyo Itinerary & Side Trips

The way I see it, Tokyo can be a separate country on its own given how massive it is. That being said, keep in mind that going from one place to another within this urban city can often take 30 minutes to an hour — or even more! (Always check Google Maps to verify your travel times).

  • With that in mind, even if it is humanly possible to go to ALL of the attractions listed below per day for your Japan itinerary, it’s best that you don’t because you will definitely be running around. This is why I suggest that you pick out the top spots that you really like and then save the rest for later or for other days (in case you have more days in Tokyo).
RELATED READ: – Detailed Tokyo Itinerary – Top Things to do in Tokyo (Per District) – Best Hotels in Tokyo – Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo – 10 Things Foreigners Must Know About Japan

◘◘ Day #1 — West of Tokyo

Tokyo Itinerary

The Tokyo Metropolis is composed of 23 special wards and the city’s top highlights are found in only a few numbers of these wards. For ease of discussion, I will divide Tokyo into two: the west and the east. Below are the west’s top attractions…

SHIBUYA. This is referred to as a major nightlife area but it’s also a major shopping and entertainment venue especially because of its strong youth presence in fashion and culture.

  • ★ Shibuya Crossing: Found in front of Hachiko Exit, this is arguably the most prominent landmark of the district and the most filmed spot in the area. If you want to get a good view of it, go to the QFRONT building where a big Starbucks cafe is found. It’s best to come during rush hour to see an impressive sight but be prepared for crowds inside the cafe. Nevertheless, if you want more of a higher bird’s eye view, go to Shibuya Hikarie shopping mall’s Sky Lobby on the 11th Floor.
  • ALTERNATIVE : If you want less of the crowd, there’s a bigger statue of Hachiko along with his master, Professor Ueno, at the grounds of UTokyo or the University of Tokyo. .
  • Rainbow Karaoke in Modi is incredibly stylish yet cheap, Karaoke Kan is famed for being the location of the movie ( Lost in Translation )’s karaoke scene, or for the more standard chain, Big Echo is a good one.
  • Love Hotel Hill: This is where you can find the biggest concentration of love hotels in Tokyo, and though it’s not a typical item on a ‘ things to do in Tokyo ’ list, it can be an amusing thing in itself especially if you’re traveling with your loved one — largely because of how the rooms are delightfully themed. Just be warned though that some love hotels don’t accept same-sex couples or even two foreigners. Nevertheless, you can ‘rest’ in a room for 1-4 hours at around 1,500 yen ($15~) per hour or ‘stay’ in a room overnight for as low as 7,000 yen ($68~). .
  • For nightlife: Two of the most brilliant clubs would first be the mammoth super club ageHA with over 4 dance floors, an outdoor pool, and an outdoor dance tent; and second, the laser-filled Womb club with its identifiable giant mirror ball. Better yet, get this Tokyo Nightclub Pass that grants you UNLIMITED entry to the top 7 nightclubs in Tokyo! .
  • ★ Don Quijote, Loft, and/or Tokyu Hands: These shops are great to include in your Japan itinerary if you’re looking for cheap souvenirs, novelty items, stationaries, and more!
  • Center Gai, Koen Dori, Spain Slope, and/or Shibuya 109: The first 3 are distinct shopping streets in Shibuya, whereas Shibuya 109 is a complex that you don’t want to miss out on if you want to do some serious shopping!
  • Shimokitazawa : This nearby district is a great ‘bohemian’ spot if you’re looking for vintage and second-hand items and clothes. .
  • Ichiran Ramen: A famous ramen (noodle soup dish) place that gained popularity worldwide because of its solo booth style of dining. Rest assured, the ramen tastes superb here and is worth a try so jot this down on your Japan itinerary!

Harajuku : Japan Itinerary

HARAJUKU. Famed for its fashion scene, quirky culture, cosplay shops, and so much more!

  • TIP : If you want to witness a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding in which they make a procession to the temple, head here around 10AM and try your luck!
  • Yoyogi Park: A typical meeting place for Japanese people from all ‘walks of life’. Since it’s just near the trendy Harajuku, you will normally find crowds of band members, lolitas , cosplayers, and fashionistas in interesting clothing (they’re sometimes concentrated around Jingubashi or the bridge near Meiji Shrine). Taking photos of these people in fancy clothing is perfectly fine, but it’s best if you ask for permission first since not all of them are there to please the crowd — they’re usually just there to hang out or do practices, etc. .
  • TIP : Wanna do a guided tour? Take this Harajuku half-day tour that will take you through Takeshita as well as grant you access to some of the district’s top cafes!
  • Cat Street: If you want to stray away from Takeshita Dori’s crowd, this is the next best place to be.
  • TIP : Drop by Espace Luis Vuitton Tokyo which is found on the top floor of its building to find an amazing art space — not to mention that the bathrooms are really fancy.
  • Daiso Harajuku: This is one of Japan’s famous 100-yen variety-store shops that offer affordable housewares, toys, stationery, decorations, bento supplies, gifts, and more!
  • Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku: This is a multi-story shopping center that recently became even more popular because of its kaleidoscope-like entrance that’s made of dozens of tilted mirrors. Don’t miss out as well on its rooftop terrace area on the 6th floor if you want views over Harajuku. .
  • Maison de Jullieta: Kawaii (cute) culture is a ‘thing’ among the Japanese and one of those kawaii fashion styles would be the sweet lolita look. In Maison de Jullieta in Harajuku, you can dress up as one — complete with costume, makeup, and hair arrangement at a price of around 10,000 yen ($97~)!
  • Kawaii Cafe: In line with Harajuku’s colorful splash of colors and eccentric atmosphere, there exists the Kawaii Monster -themed cafe! With over 5 separately themed areas, the cafe is like a rainbowholic’s paradise where every corner is filled with kawaii decoration and Instagram-worthy scenes.
  • ★ Purikura: Purikura runs like a photo booth — but ‘leveled up’ in a Japanese kind of way and it’s widely popular among females. Through these machines, you can take photos of yourself or your friends in a studio-esque booth; after which, you will be digitally enhanced. By that, I mean automatically Photoshopped in a kawaii manner: bigger eyes, whiter skin, and narrower face.

Japan Shinjuku

SHINJUKU. As a major city center, Shinjuku has the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station) , it houses the administration center for the Tokyo government, and holds a plethora of amazing things to do in Tokyo!

  • Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Towering at 243m, this structure has two towers and each of these has an observatory which visitors can visit for FREE in order to get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo. I recommend the southern tower since it shows a better ‘side’ of Tokyo (closes at 5:30PM), whereas the northern tower is best for night shots since it closes later into the night (until 11PM).
  • Shinjuku Gyoen: Best visited during sakura and fall season, this place is just a stone’s throw away from Shinjuku station and it is surely one of the city’s largest and most favored parks. Here, you will find three different gardens, a traditional Japanese landscape garden, a French garden, and an English landscape garden.
  • Samurai Museum: As a Japanophile , I have also been enchanted by the culture and history of the samurai (or bushi ) — Japan’s notable military warriors. Adults can enter for a fee of 1,800 yen ($18~) in order to see the impressive exhibits; but the highlight of this place is probably the experiences that you can try: photoshoot with basic samurai gear (500 yen $5), sword battle performance with an actor (free), samurai calligraphy lesson (500 yen or $5~), and professional photoshoot with full samurai gear (starts at 32,000 yen or $320~). .
  • TIP : Book here for a guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything!
  • TIP : For your Japan itinerary, book here for a guided tour so you don’t miss out on anything!
  • Kabukicho: This is the entertainment and red-light district in Shinjuku which is sometimes called the “Sleepless Town”. Unlike Amsterdam which features prostitutes on the windows of their buildings, Kabukicho has a more subdued collection as it only includes hostess clubs, love hotels, massage parlors, and more. Unless you want to avail these kinds of services, as a regular tourist, I just find this as an interesting place to see in Tokyo. Rest assured, I felt entirely safe walking around here since it didn’t feel seedy. Truth be told, one particular thing about Kabukicho that I best liked to see or observe was the pachinko parlors. (Pachinko is an insanely popular game in Japan that somehow resembles pinball and since gambling is illegal there, this is the only way that locals can ‘gamble’.) .
  • READ : For my experience !
  • Godzilla: Japan’s famous giant monster and pop culture icon, Godzilla , can be seen here in Shinjuku atop Toho Cinemas. It’s a nice spectacle because he looks like he’s taking a peak from the building above — seconds away from wreaking utter havoc .
  • Animal Cafes: Plenty of people would recommend that you go to Tokyo’s well-liked animal cafés such as those of a cat café, owl café, rabbit café, goat café, etc. (There are lots of them found around Shinjuku such as Cat Cafe Calico, etc. ). I don’t like them though because I’m uncomfortable with the idea of keeping multiple animals in such a small space with strangers that they’re not that accustomed to — but, I leave it up to you to decide what you would do.

◘◘ Day #2 — East of Tokyo

Japan Asakusa

Photo by: Shutterstock

ASAKUSA. This is said to be the center of Tokyo’s shitamachi (“low city”) — which means that it’s an ‘olden’ district where you can get a feel of how Tokyo was in the past decades.

  • ★ Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine: Take note that a shrine is dedicated to the Shinto faith, whereas a temple is dedicated to Buddhism. These two places are the main highlight in Asakusa with Senso-ji being the oldest temple in Tokyo. There is also an impressive “Thunder Gate” called Kaminarimon (which is a symbol of Asakusa and Tokyo) in front of the temple.
  • Sumida River and Park: For a leisurely stroll, go over to Sumida River and lounge by Sumida Park which stretches on both sides of this body of water. Like what you’d expect, there are cherry blossoms here that come alive in spring, and then during July on its last Saturday, this becomes a great spot for viewing the Sumida River Firework. (If you see a golden building with an odd golden structure on top that looks like a teardrop, that’s the Asahi Beer Tower with its ‘Asahi Flame’.) .
  • Read my kimono rental guide here to learn more about the process.
  • Samurai Armor rental: You can take a step further and rent to wear Japan’s famous traditional warrior’s (samurai’s) armor! If you book this activity online , you can even have a professional photographer take photos of you.
  • Rickshaw ride: To complete your kimono look, I recommend that you rent a traditional Japanese rickshaw which will take you around key spots in Asakusa.
  • To be frank with you, this is a very long ceremony where you will sit motionless for hours as you follow a set of guidelines… but it is a striking example of Japan’s amazing culture that is exceptional for immersing one’s self with. For a good place to try this in, go here .
  • Hanayashiki: If you’re up for it, this is said to be Japan’s oldest amusement park (built in 1853). .
  • ★ Nakamise shopping street: Stretching about 250 meters from Kaminarimon to the main grounds of Sensoji Temple is this picturesque shopping street with over 50 shops that offer local specialties and the usual array of tourist souvenirs.
  • Shin-Nakamise: Also called as “New Nakamise”, this runs perpendicular to the Nakamise Shopping Street and is lined with various shops and restaurants.
  • Asakusa Kagetsudo: This is a famous melon-pan store that has been running since 1945. Melon-pan is basically a sweet baked bread with an outer layer that looks like a melon — so it’s just named that because of its appearance and not because it tastes like a melon. When you buy from this store, it is best to eat it when warm.

Akihabara : Otaku Central

AKIHABARA. Dubbed as the otaku* cultural center and tech shopping district of Japan, walking through Akihabara’s main street called Chuo-dori will already give you an idea of what this district is all about. *Japanese term for people who have obsessive interests commonly towards anime and manga. A synonymous word in English would be ‘geeks’.

You see, Japan may have an amazing olden culture, BUT it has also developed an equally amazing modern culture over the recent years, and it is in Akihabara that you can get a glimpse of this somewhat wacky ‘evolution’.

  • Maid cafe: A lot of people in Tokyo love to cosplay — a form of roleplaying where people wear costumes to represent a character (often found in animes and mangas). One of the good ol’ favorites of the Japanese when it comes to cosplaying or ‘dressing up’ is waitresses dressed in those frilly Victorian maid costumes. In line with their ‘character’, they will even act as if they’re servants and then treat others as their masters. Now apply that idea to a café, splash it with small games, a cutesy demeanor, brief performances, and picture-taking with customers and that’s where you get the famed maid cafes of Japan. A great place to try in Akihabara would be @Home Cafe.
  • ★ Arcades: We have tons of video game arcades in the Philippines — HOWEVER, they’re not as insanely amazing, bright, exciting, and numerous as what Tokyo has! One of the most known gaming arcades in Tokyo would be Taito Station . (You could also do purikura inside these arcades).
  • ★ Go Kart: Come live on the edge and explore downtown Tokyo in a cool Go Kart while you’re dressed in popular cosplay costumes! With this fun driving tour , you can opt to do a one-hour experience or a whole day affair. .
  • Yodabashi: If you have time to visit only 1 tech gadget store in the district, then this 9-story building is your best bet! After all, it is proven that their items are usually cheaper than in Europe or even Asia.
  • Mandarake or Tokyo Anime Center: Mandarake , a gigantic 8-floor complex that is full of merchandise related to anime and manga, is the best go-to space if you’re a hardcore otaku or at least a knowledgeable one at that; whereas I believe that a visit to the Tokyo Anime Center is best done first by people who have no idea of the otaku scene in order to gain a better understanding of it.

SUMIDA. The most noteworthy attraction that you should visit in this ward would have to be the following:

  • Tokyo Skytree: At 634m, this is the tallest tower in the world. It is primarily a television and radio broadcast site for the Kanto Region; but for travelers, you can visit the large shopping complex, aquarium, and planetarium that are located at its base. And of course, for sky-high views of the city, Tokyo Skytree has two observation decks and you can purchase your tickets here .
  • Try chanko nabe in any of the restaurants in the neighborhood. This is basically a hot pot dish that is a staple food of sumo wrestlers.
  • TIP : To reserve your sumo tickets for Japan’s Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament, go to this link . For the months wherein tournaments are not held, you can get a close-up look at the sumo wrestlers’ morning fight practices via this tour .

◘◘ Day #3 — Mt. Fuji

Chureito Pagoda

It’s time to check out Mt. Fuji or ‘Fuji-san’ (it’s how the locals commonly call it).

As the country’s tallest peak, it has been considered one of the most iconic sights in Japan so it would be a good idea to dedicate this day to it. There are several ways for seeing this active volcano in all its glory (including riding a Tokaido shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka if you sit on the right, 40min before Shin-Fuji Station, or going to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station) but below are the best locations for viewing it.

  • Some people do one of the places below as a day trip, while others as an overnight trip to also experience staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). It’s totally up to you, but naturally, if you’re short on time, making it a day trip would be enough.
  • Clouds often block the view of Mount Fuji so you often have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of it. It is said that visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer. Otherwise, it’s great in the early morning or late evening hours compared to the middle of the day.
  • To save up on transportation costs, get a Hakone Free Pass to gain unlimited travel on eight transportation options including the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise (Pirate Ship), Hakone Tozan Train, Hakone Tozan Bus, Hakone Tozan Cable Car, and Hakone Ropeway.
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can take a Hakone day tour that already includes a stop at Mt. Fuji and some other interesting activities like a lake cruise and more. Or, you can also do this other Hakone tour . .
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can take a Mt Fuji day tour to this lake region with the inclusion of Kachi Kachi Ropeway, fruit picking, and fruit picking.
  • A different option is to rather go to Chureito Pagoda (pictured above) which is still part of Fuji Five Lakes but not found within Lake Kawaguchiko. This spot is a favorite among photographers, especially during spring or autumn and it’s easy to see why! (This tour includes this pagoda as a stop) .
For other options and details, you can read my Mt. Fuji tour post!
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can do a Kamakura + Enoshima day tour. .
  • Enoshima: (1hr from Tokyo) This is a touristic island that offers a variety of attractions (Enoshima Shrine), beaches, parks, an observation tower, and caves (Iwaya Caves). If I say so myself, doing a Kamakura + Enoshima day tour would be ideal if you want to check out both of these towns. .
  • Fuji Shibazakura Festival: (2hrs from Tokyo) This is a famous time-limited event that is usually held at Fuji Motosuko Resort from the middle of April to late May. If you have the time, I recommend doing a sakura tour of this festival as it features over 80,000 blooming shibazakura (pink, red, and white mountain phlox flowers) over 6 acres of sloping hills. Pair this off with a great view of Mt. Fuji and it instantly becomes an Instagrammable spot!

◘◘ Day #4 — Other Day Trips Outside Tokyo

Japan Nikko

Below are other interesting day trips that you must see near Tokyo!

  • TIP: For a hassle-free experience, you can do a Nikko day tour that includes several stopovers. .
  • TIP: You can avail of a ‘ Yokohama and Kamakura Enjoy Pass ‘ to enjoy the major sightseeing attractions in these cities. .
  • Kusatsu: (3hrs from Tokyo) This is a sound trip to make if you want to visit one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts. In fact, Kusatsu Onsen is blessed with large volumes of high-quality spring water which makes it popular among locals and tourists alike. You will love the atmosphere here as you find almost everyone wearing yukata/kimono on the streets. Otherwise, when winter comes, the town becomes a great ski resort to visit. .
  • Chichibu: (2hrs from Tokyo) This city is a great place to escape if you want to get away from Tokyo’s bustle. After all, its forested mountains provide impressive nature views and hiking opportunities. One of the most sought-after events here though is its Chichibu Night Festival in December and its Hitsujiyama Park in Spring (for its beautiful pink moss park).

◘◘ Day #5 — …or More! (Tokyo Extra Days)


Naturally, there’s more to Tokyo than the sights I’ve mentioned on days #1 and #2 above. So in order to fill up your Japan itinerary with other activities for your extra days in the capital, below are some considerations that you can make.


  • To enjoy the picturesque rooftop views on Mori Tower’s 52nd floor, just book an Observation Deck ticket online .
  • Below Mori Tower, you will find a giant spider sculpture called Maman which means ‘mother’ in French. This is made by the artist Louise Bourgeois .
  • Tokyo Midtown is yet another building that you can go into if you’re up for more shopping and entertainment.
  • During Christmas, head to the area in Mori Tower that faces Keyakizaka Street in Roppongi Hills to see a great view of Tokyo Tower being illuminated by the street lights. Whereas if you go to Tokyo Midtown, you will find the Starlight Garden which has over 280,000 lights that are magically spread out on the grounds!
  • ★ Tokyo Tower: At a height of 333 meters, this is like a replica of the famous Eiffel Tower. Made after Japan’s post-war rebirth, this used to be the country’s tallest tower — until Tokyo Skytree was made in 2012. Despite this fact, the tower’s prime location is still a splendid place to see a panoramic view of the city. There are 2 observatories here: the main one at 150m high and the special one at 250m high. The entrance is at 900 yen ($9~) for the main observation deck and 1,600 ($16~) yen for both decks. To book your tickets, go here .
  • Nightlife: Clubs and bars in Roppongi can be a dizzying encounter for a first-timer; so it’s actually preferable if you visit this with a local. Otherwise, just a bit of advice: avoid the men (generally African men) who would try to push you into going to their clubs! More often than not, those are seedy ones, and later on, they might even overcharge you. For the best clubs to go to, I suggest Jumanji55 , V2 Tokyo , or Club Brand Tokyo which all have a good mix of locals and foreigners. Better yet, get this Tokyo Nightclub Pass that grants you UNLIMITED entry to the top 7 nightclubs in Tokyo! .
  • Hie Shrine: You don’t need to travel all the way to Kyoto to witness a Shinto shrine with multiple iconic red torii (traditional Japanese gate) because you can find this right in the heart of Tokyo! (Otherwise, there’s also a similar one called Nezu Shrine).


  • Imperial Palace: This is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan and it’s actually a massive park surrounded by moats. It contains buildings including the palace, private residences of the Imperial Family, offices, museums, and more.
  • ★ Chidorigafuchi: Located just at the northwest section of the Imperial Palace is this moat section. This area is highly recommended during sakura season as it is one of the best spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). To add: they regularly light up the trees at night during that period and then you can even rent boats there!
  • Tokyo Central Railway Station: This is the busiest railway station in Japan in terms of the number of trains per day and it’s quite a sight to see! For starters, you’ll instantly find this building because of its red brick appearance — a look that survived from when it was first opened in 1914. .
  • DiverCity Tokyo Plaza: This is a dining, entertainment, and shopping complex which also features attractions related to the famous Gundam anime series. Truth be told, it also has a life-size Gundam statue in front of its building.
  • Fuji TV Area: This is called such because of how the Fuji TV Building (one of Japan’s biggest TV stations) towers above everything else. As a visitor, you could definitely go into Fuji TV’s observatory deck that’s located in the circular portion of the establishment. Other things to see around here would be the shopping mall of Decks Tokyo Beach and the scenic Rainbow Bridge (which looks dashing at night, and where you can also find a replica of the Statue of Liberty.)
  • TeamLab: Yet another Instagrammable attraction, this interactive museum is well-known for digital and light art, and to book your tickets, just go here .
  • The Soho: This is an Instagram-worthy office building that’s famed for its color-blocked hallways.
  • ★ Oedo Onsen Monogatari: If you can’t afford to go to a hot springs resort town, this is the next best thing for your Japan itinerary! This is basically a hot spring theme park that emulates the atmosphere of the Edo Period. You can enjoy various types of indoor and outdoor baths, restaurants, massages, games, and other entertainment while wearing a yukata (traditional Japanese wear). To reserve tickets for this, go here .
  • ★ Tsukiji Market: Fish is a big business in Japan and the Tsukiji Market is a marvelous point for observing this lively industry as well as tasting its fresh produce. To date, this market has been divided into two, one of which is still found near Tsukiji Shijo Station and the other near Odaiba. If you want a guided day tour here, book an experience here . .
  • TIP: Make the most of this area’s local flavors and drinking spots by doing a ‘ Tokyo After 5 ‘ tour!
  • If you want the best ‘festive’ experience on this street, I suggest walking through here on weekends from 12PM to 5PM (until 6PM from April to September) because it is customarily closed to automobile traffic — an event known as ‘Pedestrians’ Paradise’.
  • Depachika: This is a combination of the words depato (department store) and chika (basement). In Japan, most of the big department stores such as that of Mitsukoshi have their basement floor made into some sort of food market — but actually, if I have to describe it myself, I will call it a ‘food theme park’ because you can get to have a fun yet quick introduction into the VAST variety of Japanese food there — including square watermelons and insanely priced strawberries! Anyhow, the stalls are very generous with giving away samples too; so if you’re on a budget, you really don’t have to buy something (though it will be respectful to do so, naturally).


  • To book discounted tickets, reserve your spot here. .
  • To book discounted tickets, reserve your spot here.

Kyoto Itinerary & Side Trips

Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan — nevertheless, it has retained that former glory with its great historic value alongside countless temples, shrines, gardens, imperial palaces, and traditional wooden houses among many others.

If I may add, this is also the city that is well known for its formal traditions most especially that of the geisha (or geiko ) who are Japan’s famed professional female entertainers. For these reasons and more, this is important to include in your Japan itinerary.

Looking for top sakura locations in Kyoto?

Check out this ultimate guide to Kyoto cherry blossom spots — from lesser-known locations to the most popular ones!

RELATED READ: Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Kyoto Best Hotels in Kyoto

Fushimi Inari

Take note that it takes around 3 hours by bullet train (shinkansen) to get to Kyoto from Tokyo. With that said, the ‘things to do’ for this day of your Japan itinerary should be fewer, but depending on your arrival time, it’s still possible to do a lot. Go and pick from my suggestions below…

  • Nijo Castle: Also called Nijojo , this is the former residence of the first shogun (military dictator) in the Edo Period during his stays in Kyoto. Today, this castle is divided into 3 areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense), and the gardens. What’s great about the castle grounds too is that there are over 400 cherry blossom trees so it is quite a sight during the spring season. (Admission is 600 yen).
  • Nishiki Market: Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this is a long yet narrow shopping street that features over 100 lively shops and restaurants. This is a great spot to visit for your Japan itinerary if you want to buy any fresh produce or Kyoto specialties. As a market with a long history, this is also a great place to mingle with the locals.
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace: This great expanse used to be the residence of Japan’s Imperial Family until 1868, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. Given that this is within the Kyoto Imperial Park, it makes for a leisurely stroll to go through the space which is full of ponds, gardens, and weeping cherry trees. (Admission is FREE).
  • Manga Museum: If you’re fascinated by Japan’s manga (comics) culture and history, this could be a quaint stopover for your Japan itinerary. Sometimes there are even artists who set up exhibits and offer sketches or portrait drawings of the visitors. (Admission is 800 yen).
  • For a hassle-free experience, you can do a guided Fushimi-inari tour that includes a Sagano Train ride and a visit to Arashiyama.
  • Pontocho: This is a dining area that’s packed with restaurants offering a wide range of choices from local to foreign cuisines. Take note though that most establishments open from around 5PM to 11PM only. If you come in the warmer seasons, most of the places build temporary platforms over the river for open-air dining (called kawayuka ).
TIP : If you want a hassle-free experience for your Japan itinerary, you can take a guided Kyoto morning tour or afternoon tour to key places in the city.

Kyoto Itinerary

Time to make full use of this day in exploring Kyoto’s other important sights!

In my opinion, though it is possible to do all of the sights below in one day, it’s still a good idea to pay heed to the time especially if you plan to do a Kyoto kimono rental too because it will lessen your hours of exploration (given that putting on a kimono takes some time).

  • Kiyomizudera: This is a famous temple in Kyoto that’s listed under the UNESCO World Heritage and it is best known for its wooden stage that stretches out to the hillside as it offers great views over the cherry and maple trees below it — so imagine how the site will be like during spring or autumn! (Admission is 400 yen).
  • Other streets to check out in the district are Sannenzaka / Sanneizaka and Ninenzaka.
  • ★ Kinkaku-ji: Lauded as the ‘Golden Pavilion’, this is — indeed — a structure that’s mostly covered in gold leaf. This Zen temple actually used to be the retirement villa of a shogun. Today, you would absolutely enjoy its impressive architecture as it overlooks a picturesque pond. Before leaving, don’t forget to go through the gardens and check out Sekkatei Teahouse to enjoy some matcha tea and sweets. (Admission is 400 yen).
  • Ginkakuji: On the other hand, though this is referred to as the ‘Silver Pavilion’, it’s not really in silver — it never was. Many believed that it garnered its name after the building was built to contrast the Golden Pavilion. Either way, this remains to be a popular spot for many.
  • Philosopher’s Path: This is a pleasant stone path (near Ginkakuji ) that is a must to visit during cherry blossom season . Its name was derived from Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, who used to practice meditation while walking this route.
  • Hanami-koji Street and Shirakawa Area: The most popular places within Gion, so don’t forget to wander around here.
  • ★ Gion Corner: Ideally, one of the ultimate experiences in Kyoto is to dine with a maiko or geiko, but since this is often expensive and exclusive, the next best thing you can do to ensure that you witness a real maiko or geisha is to visit Gion Corner. Aimed at foreign visitors, this place offers cultural shows that introduce traditional Japanese arts such as the tea ceremony, ikebana, bunraku, Kyogen comic plays, and maiko dances.
  • Shijo Avenue: Bisecting Gion district is a popular shopping area that sells local souvenirs and gifts.
  • Gion Matsuri: This is the festival of Yasaka Shrine and it is said to be the most famous festival in Japan! Therefore, if you happen to be in Kyoto in the month of July, you’re in for a treat because they celebrate during the whole month (with the highlight being July 17 as they do a grand procession of floats called Yamaboko Junko).
TIP : Wanna join a guided tour to the geisha districts for your Japan itinerary? Click here !

Kimono rental: Much like Tokyo, Kyoto has a lot of kimono rental shops too. If you only have the budget to do one kimono experience, I highly recommend doing it in the unique atmosphere of Kyoto than in Tokyo’s Asakusa! Another option is to do an oiran ( courtesan ) rental or photoshoot at Studio Esperanto .

◘◘ Day #8 — …or More!

Japan Arashiyama

Arashiyama is particularly popular during the spring and autumn season — nevertheless, it’s a year-round destination due not only to its close proximity to Kyoto but also to its natural setting! In order to make the most of your Japan itinerary, don’t forget to check out the following Arashiyama highlights…

  • Bamboo Groves: I’m sure you’ve seen photos of this place and it is famous for a reason: it really makes for a nice scenic walk or bicycle ride! If you happen to have the budget to rent a kimono in this area as well, then it is a must to take photos on this path. To avoid the crowd, I recommend coming in the early morning.
  • Togetsukyo Bridge: Translated to ‘Moon Crossing Bridge’, this is an iconic landmark within Arashiyama due to how it is backdropped by the forested mountains. There is even a park by the river which is speckled with cherry trees.
  • Monkey Park Iwatayama: The entrance to this park is found south of the Togetsukyo Bridge. Be wary that it’s a bit of an uphill climb — but which only spans for about 10 minutes. In this place, you will love the fact that there are over a hundred monkeys roaming freely in the open area. I particularly loved my experience here as I also fed the monkeys from a designated area. To add, this is also a great vantage point for panoramic views over Arashiyama. (Admission is 550 yen).

The center of the district is quite compact so I suggest taking your time strolling around. Other places of interest that you can check are Tenryuji Temple and Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street. (Want a guided Arashiyama tour packaged together with Nara for your Japan itinerary? Check out this tour . Otherwise, you can also just take a half-day tour that will only focus on the top sights within Arashiyama.)

Or, you can also do this other Arashiyama tour from Kyoto with a Nara stopover for your Japan itinerary.

If you still have some more time, there is an option of doing the Sagano Scenic Railway which is a sightseeing activity on an old-fashioned train. Most people usually take a guided tour for this which is partnered together with a tour around Arashiyama. If not, you can just simply buy a one-way ticket .

◘◘ Extra or Substitute Activities in Kyoto

Daigoji Temple

Got some more time for your Japan itinerary? Check out these other places…

  • ★ Daigoji Temple: A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site that is hugely popular especially during autumn or springtime due to its picturesque surroundings. Sure enough, with its beautiful grounds, landscaped gardens, hiking trails, and so much more, it instantly makes for a worthy destination for your Japan itinerary.
  • Toji Temple: This is yet another one of Kyoto’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and what’s notable about this temple is its 5-storied pagoda which is said to be the tallest pagoda in Japan.
  • Shojuin Temple: This has risen to popularity among young females in Japan primarily because of its Instagrammable heart-shaped window called an ‘ inome ‘ window in its guest hall. What’s more, the temple’s ceiling has beautiful pieces of splendid patterns. (Admission of 400 yen).

Osaka Itinerary (including Nara)

Osaka has the 2nd largest metropolitan area after Tokyo and as a part of the Kansai region, it is best known not only for its grand shogunate castle but also for its nightlife and street food. Truth be told, this is a quintessential stop for your Japan itinerary!

RELATED READ: Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Osaka Best Hotels in Osaka

◘◘ Day #9 (Nara)

Japan Nara Park

For your Japan itinerary, take note that it only takes about 1 hour by train to get to Osaka from Kyoto. After you check in to your Osaka accommodation , venture out on a day trip to the nearby district of Nara (which only takes less than an hour). If you’re not up for that, you can interchange this with day #10.

Nara is the first permanent capital of Japan, after which it was moved to Nagaoka, later to Kyoto, and then to Tokyo. Today, this district is famous for its historic treasures and adorable deer park.

  • TIP : Try bowing down to the deers and oftentimes, you will find that they bow back! It is said that back in the olden times, the locals bowed down to them as they were (like I said) regarded as messengers of God. For generations, they have retained this Japanese custom especially when they expect some food.
  • ★ Todaiji Temple: Found adjacent to Nara Park, you’ll first enter this temple’s towering Nandaimon Gate with fierce-looking statues that represent the Nio Guardian Kings. This is followed by the main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) which is the world’s largest wooden building housing one of japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddha.
  • Horyuji Temple: This is one of the world’s oldest surviving wooden structures and a designated UNESCO World Heritage.
TIP : It’s possible to take a guided tour to Nara from Osaka (with a stop to Arashiyama included in it too). Alternatively, if you want to focus on this city only for your Japan itinerary, you can also just take a focused Nara tour .

If there’s still time, head on over to the nearby Mount Yoshino — even more so if you’re in Japan during its sakura season. Besides, this is regarded as the country’s most famous cherry blossom spot given the 30,000 cherry trees found on its slopes! Truth be told, Mount Yoshino together with the nearby Mount Koya and Kumano have been designated as a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site since 20014.

Wanna stay a night or more? Check out these top best hotels in Nara grouped from budget to luxury places to stay.

◘◘ Day #10+ (Osaka)

Osaka Castle

For this part of your Japan itinerary, t’s time to explore Osaka’s top wonders, namely…

  • Beside it is the Nishinomaru Garden with over 600 cherry trees with an admission of 200 yen.
  • TIP : Don’t miss out on the cool photo opportunities on the long escalator that leads to this observatory! In the basement of the building, you’ll also find a restaurant floor that emulates the early Showa Period of Japan.
  • If you see a long line, don’t hesitate to line up too because most of the time it means that it’s a pretty good place! (Of course, if you don’t mind waiting).
  • Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade: This nearby area is Osaka’s premier shopping center that combines retail stores, boutiques, department stores, etc.
  • Hozenji Yokocho Alley: This narrow path has a number of interesting restaurants and izakaya (informal Japanese pubs) that are somewhat reminiscent of Kyoto’s Pontocho alley.
  • Shinsekai: If you want a less crowded version of Dotonbori, this is the place to go to for your Japan itinerary. Notable here is the Tsutenkaku Tower (the symbol of the district) and the kushikatsu (an Osaka specialty of various battered deep-fried foods)
TIP : Want to save time for your Japan itinerary? Take a guided Osaka walking tour or a food tour !

Are you rather looking for a fun and quirky way to explore Osaka? Then come and join a Go Kart experience and race through the city!

◘◘ Extra or Substitute Activities in Osaka

  • For greatly discounted tickets, book online : ( standard E-ticket /+ express pass 3 , express pass 4 , or express pass 7 ).
  • Hirakata T-SITE: This is a commercial complex near Hirakatashi Station that has beautiful architecture. Inside it is the famous Tsutaya Bookstore which has over 150,000 books and which also has become a recent hit on Instagram for its charming interiors.
  • Osaka Aquarium: This is an incredible aquarium that displays over 15 tanks, each representing specific regions of the Pacific Rim. For instance, the central tank that represents the Pacific Ocean is 9 meters deep and is home to a whale shark which is the main attraction of the aquarium! ( Reserve your tickets here ).

Hiroshima Itinerary & Side Trips

This is the city that was largely destroyed back when an atomic bomb was dropped over it during World War II. Great efforts were taken to rebuild the city and today, Hiroshima is well known for its aspirations of tranquility with its Peace Memorial Park and if I must say so myself, this is a must for your Japan itinerary.

RELATED READ: Best Cherry Blossom Spots in Hiroshima Best Hotels in Hiroshima

◘◘ Day #11 (Hiroshima)

Japan Hiroshima

Please take into account in your Japan itinerary that it takes more or less 3 hours to get to Hiroshima from Osaka. Once here, below are landmarks that you can include on your…

  • Peace Memorial Museum: Comprises of 2 buildings that go through the history of the city and the events that happened after the nuclear bomb. When I visited here, most of the exhibits were upsetting — and for good reason because they wanted to serve as a reminder of how we should never take peace for granted.
  • A-Bomb Dome: This is what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. When the bomb exploded, this is one of the few buildings that still stood and remains so today. (This is also a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • Cenotaph: This is an arched tomb dedicated to the A-Bomb Victims who died. Underneath it is a stone chest that holds the register of their names that number over 220,000. On the anniversary of the bombing, a ceremony is held at the park every year along with an observed silence at 8:15AM (the exact time of the bombing).
  • Hiroshima Downtown: This is a bustling downtown area with Hondori Street as its main feature. As you venture about this place, do try the city’s specialty which is the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki — a delicious savory pancake containing various ingredients.
  • Hiroshima Castle: This was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945 but it was rebuilt and nowadays, it holds exhibits about the castle’s history as well as Japanese castles in general.
TIP : If you don’t intend to stay a night in Hiroshima, you can take a day tour to this city — which will already include a trip to Miyajima. (Starting points for your Japan itinerary can be from either Kyoto or Osaka ).

◘◘ Day #12 (Miyajima)

Miyajima Island

Just a 1-hour ride away by train and ferry from Hiroshima is the small island of Miyajima. It’s particularly famous for its giant torii gate that seemingly floats on the water during high tide — making it one of Japan’s best views. Most people do this as a day trip for their Japan itinerary but you could also stay overnight to experience a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).

  • If you want the best view, be mindful of the timings of the tides during your visit. High tide is obviously when it is most picturesque, but the low tide has its charm too because then you can walk up to the gate and see it up close.
  • Momijidani Course: shortest but also the steepest and goes mostly through the forest.
  • Daisho-in Course: offers the nicest views and is not as steep as the other two.
  • Omoto Course : any of these 3 hiking trails takes about 1 to 2 hours to reach the summit.
  • Daisho-in Temple: Found at the base of Mount Misen. There is an interesting Buddha ritual here wherein as you walk up the temple steps, you spin the metal wheels with inscribed sutra as it is believed to have the same effect as reading them.
  • Omotesando: This shopping street is the busiest place in Miyajima where you can find souvenir shops, food stalls, and restaurants. Why not do some shopping here while doing your Japan itinerary!

Other Destinations & Trips

Obviously, there is more to Japan other than the famous destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Hiroshima. So if you have more days on your Japan itinerary, consider filling it up with any of the following destinations!

TIP : For a complete list of amazing tours and activities to do for your Japan itinerary, see here ! When booking, use code AILEEN5OFF to get 5% off!

travel itinerary sample japan

Niigata Itinerary

travel itinerary sample japan

Chubu Itinerary

travel itinerary sample japan


Tateyama Kurob Alpine Route

◘◘ Day #13 and Onwards

(My favorites are marked with a ★).


  • See here for a list of things to do in Hokkaido . .
  • READ : Niigata Prefecture: A New Japan Foodie Destination! .
  • Nagoya: Also found within the Chubu region is Nagoya which is known for its towering castle. Other notable sites are as follows: Korankei, City Science Museum, Atsuta Shrine, and Railway Museum. For food, check out Sekai no Yamachan , a famous izakaya (Japanese pub) in the city that serves flavorful “legendary chicken wings”. .
  • Kanazawa: This is the capital of the Ishikawa prefecture and it boasts historical attractions as well as its ‘ Kenrokuen ‘ — said to be one of the 3 best landscape gardens in Japan. .
  • Kiso Valley: Nestled within Nagano prefecture is this valley that holds an ancient 70km trade route called Kisoji which was later on combined with other routes forming the 500km long Nakasendo . Today, nearby post towns of Magome, Tsumago, and Narai are flocked by visitors not only to hike through the Nakasendo but to also revel in the traditional stone paths and wooden buildings of these quaint towns. Truly an interesting addition to your Japan itinerary! .
  • READ : Things to do in Matsumoto .
  • For more info, read here . .
  • READ : Things to do in Takayama
  • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route: If you’re up for incredible and unique nature activities in Japan, it’s a MUST to visit the stunning mountain sightseeing route that’s commonly referred to as the “Roof of Japan”. A crowd favorite as of late is its grand ‘Snow Wall’ that’s open from mid-April to late June! For more info, read here . .
  • You can do this as a day tour from Nagano .
  • Shibu Onsen: An old-fashioned hot spring town
  • Shiga Kogen Resort: The largest ski resort in Japan.
Wanna see cute and fluffy foxes? Then go and visit the famous fox village in Miyagi Zao’s city of Shiroishi for your Japan itinerary! . Check out this blog post to find out more: The Fluffiest Place on Eart: Miyagi Zao Fox Village!

Fox Village


  • ★ Kinosaki: Located about 3 hours away from Kyoto, this is a pleasant onsen town that has a great atmosphere. I stayed here before for 2 nights and I loved strolling around the town in my yukata and geta (wooden clogs), feeling like a local! After all, everyone (locals and foreigners alike) who visit the town almost always wears the same attire when going about the place onward to the public baths. .
  • See here for a list of things to do in Okinawa . .
  • Himeji: This place is most famous for its Himeji Castle which is typically considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. Because of this, it is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national treasure that you must see for your Japan itinerary. .
  • See here for a list of things to do in Kobe .

Booking Essentials

Book an AirBnB

TIP: It’s a good idea to crosscheck the prices with other popular travel insurance providers like World Nomads and HeyMondo (as my reader, you get 5% off)! . However, take note that a travel insurance’s affordability typically means lesser coverage; so please always ensure that you read the fine print in order to decipher which travel insurance company is the right fit for you and your trip!

The Best Tours in Japan?

Come and check out this list of the top things to do in Japan which features the best activities and tours to do in Tokyo, Okinawa, and more!

Japan Itinerary

There really is SO much to see in Japan! …But I believe that my travel guide here is already a good start. Please feel free to tweak this itinerary and make full use of my extra activity suggestions in order to make your trip shorter or longer and better fitting for your travel style.

Enjoy and do let me know how your trip goes!

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How to start a successful blog, 70 comments.


I want to go back there so much! Loved it


This really is a comprehensive guide to Japan. It has everything you would need to know about Japan and how to plan the perfect itinerary.

jenny summers

we are planning to visit Japan next year and this is very helpful


Thanks for sharing this useful article about Japan itinerary, it will so great holiday :)

Renee Jill

Do I need JR Pass if I travel to Hakone? My whole trip is just 5 days.

Aileen Adalid

I guess that would mean you’ll mostly base yourself in Tokyo? If so, I don’t think you’ll need a JR Pass — but to be more precise you can read my article here: . It has a link to a calculator site there that can calculate if having a JR pass is worth it or not for your route. Hope that helps!

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Wapiti Travel

The best Japan 5-day itinerary suggestions for first-timers

By: Author Sylvia

Posted on Last updated: February 27, 2024

Here you can find several Japan 5-day itinerary suggestions.

5 days in Japan is not much but if that is all the time you have to spend in this magnificent country, don’t look any further. We will share several options on how to maximize your spare time and see many impressive sights. 

Our Japan 5-day itineraries will set you up for the perfect Japan short trip. 

travel itinerary sample japan

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

View on Mt. Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko

Japan itinerary 5 days 

Below we share a few sample itineraries that give you an idea of what you could do and see when you have 5 days in Japan.

Option 1: Explore Tokyo and make a few day trips 

Tokyo is a stretched-out city with several districts that vary in atmosphere from crazy and vibrant to charming and quaint.

Iconic Mt. Fuji is just a short train ride with the ultra-fast Shinkansen and if you’re traveling with your children you can throw in a day full of fun and broad smiles in magical Disney.

By using Tokyo as your base you won’t be losing too much time commuting and you can still experience the slim Shinkansen trains when you’re going to Mt. Fuji.  

Day 1-2 Tokyo 

First-time Tokyo visitors should not miss the following highlights: 

  • Shibuya crossing 
  • Akihabara Electric town
  • Shinjuku Gyoen and Ueno Park

Tokyo Skytree

  • Yoyogi shrine
  • Asakusa – Sensoji temple
  • TeamLab Borderless

Wapiti Travel icon

You can use this great Tokyo itinerary to organize your days. If you are interested in visiting TeamLab Borderless and the Tsjujiki Fish Market, check out this 4 day Tokyo itinerary.

The best way to get around Tokyo is by using public transportation, either the trains or the subway. We have an extensive guide to introduce you to Tokyo’s public transportation options .

Shibuya crossing Tokyo Japan

Where to stay in Tokyo

We advise you to stay in Shinjuku. By staying here you are close to many of Tokyo’s highlights. This is also a great choice for side trips as Shinjuku station offers many direct connections.

Here you can find more info about hotels in Tokyo. If you want to spoil yourself during your stay in Tokyo, take a look at this list of cool hotels in Tokyo. 

If you prefer staying in an Airbnb in Tokyo, click here. If you are traveling with your family or a bigger group, take a look at our Airbnb selection targeting families.

Day 3-4 Day trips from Tokyo 

If by now you’ve completely fallen in love with Japan’s capital we urge you to skip to option 4 where you spend 5 full days in this massive city.

If you rather escape the concrete jungle for a while we have just the thing to add some variation to your Japan short trip. 

Here are some suggestions for day trips from Tokyo.

Lake Ashi Hakone Japan

Visit the onsen town of Hakone

Hakone makes a great day trip if you love nature and want to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji.

One day is enough to see the highlights but if you want to rush less, go hiking and relax in an Onsen we would advise you to stay at least 2 days. Here is all the information you need to spend one or two splendid days in  Hakone.

Explore the area around Lake Kawaguchiko 

Lake Kawaguchiko is the largest and easiest accessible of the five lakes of the Fuji Five Lakes resort. 

Besides splendid views of Mount Fuji, it offers plenty of other great activities such as onsen, museums, cable cars, hiking trails, an amusement park, and much more. 

Here you can find more info on what to do in Lake Kawaguchiko.

Lake Kawaguchiko Fall Colors Mt. Fuji Japan

Make an organized day trip to Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is on many Japan traveler’s bucket list.

You can go independently to Hakone or Lake Kawaguchiko as we have shown above but it’s also possible to join a group tour.

A group tour will take you to many viewing spots and along the way, your guide will tell you loads of interesting facts about the region. It may be less stressful than going independent as you don’t have to worry about public transport.

Tours are for sure a popular option shown by the sheer number of them that are available.

There are hundreds of tours but they all more or less come down to variants of a few popular routes.

Because there are so many it is kinda hard to choose the best one.

We had a look at the most popular routes and created this overview in which we list the pros and cons of these traveler’s favourites. 

The Mediterranean Harbor in Tokyo DisneySea

Indulge yourself in Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea

Kids will love Disney but even we as a childless family had a terrific day in this magical place. If all you want is a day of fun then Disney is the place to be.

There are two theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. 

DisneySea is the bigger of the two and has more attractions aimed at an adult audience.

DisneySea is built around a unique concept unseen in other Disney parks around the world.  The park was also awarded the Thea Award for its great decor.

Because we heard the raving reviews of DisneySea, and also because Tokyo Disneyland is similar to other Disneyland parks around the world, we opted to spend our day in the first.

We absolutely loved it.  The park has some really good attractions and the design is one of the best we have ever experienced in a theme park.   It was also fun to see how some Japanese completely dress up in the Disney magic. 

Purchase your tickets here: Tokyo DisneySea ticket

How to get there

Bus icon

Take the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino lines to Maihama Station. This is fully covered by the  Japan Rail Pass .  In Maihama station you can change to the Monorail that will take you to the entrance of Disneyland or DisneySea.

Note that the Monorail is not included in the price of your entrance ticket and is only free for overnight guests to the park. You can also walk from the JR station to the entrance of the parks.  For Disneyland, this would be the best option as the entrance is really close by and only a 5-minute hike.  DisneySea would approximately be a 15-minute hike.

If you don’t want to take the JR train and the monorail you can opt for tickets with a transfer from Tokyo.

Purchase tickets with transfer: Entry ticket and transfer

The Shrine in Nikko

Wander around Nikko 

Nikko is also a great option if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. 

The main attraction is the UNESCO World heritage Toshogu Shrine but Nikko is also home to the beautiful Nikko National Park.

This is the perfect place if you love hiking or just want to unwind in nature.

For a completely different experience, we would advise you to stay for 2 days in Nikko and spend the night in a traditional ryokan.

The JR Tohoku Shinkansen is the fastest option to reach Nikko.  The train departs in Tokyo station or Ueno station and takes you to Utsunomiya where you change to the JR Nikko line.  The journey takes about one hour and a half and is fully covered by the JR Pass.

A cheaper option is the limited express trains that leave from Shinjuku station. 

These trains take two hours to reach Nikko, they are NOT fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass but are free to those who own a JR Tokyo Wide Pass or one of the JR East Passes.

travel itinerary sample japan

Visit the Samurai town of Kanazawa

The Samurai city of Kanazawa is a great alternative to crowded Kyoto.

Kanazawa is home to the Kenrokuen Garden widely regarded as one of the “Top 3 Landscape Gardens of Japan.”

What makes the city special is that it not only has a geisha district but also a Samurai District. The Nagamachi Samurai District has been very well preserved and retains a lot of its original charm with earthen walls, winding stone paths, and water canals.

Several samurai residences have been restored to their yesteryear glory and can be visited.

The Higashi Chaya-Gai geisha district is in our personal opinion also one of the best of its kind. It showcases all the allure of old Japan without the crowds that you encounter in other places such as Kyoto and Takayama.

If you are wondering if Kanazawa is something for you, take a look at our Kanazawa itinerary.

If you want to see all that Kanazawa has to offer in a single day you can book this guided tour.

Read reviews and book: Private Kanazawa Tour

The JR Hokuriku Shinkansen goes from Tokyo to Kanazawa regularly and takes approximately 2.5 – 3 hours.

This train is covered by the  JR Pass , as are most Shinkansen routes.

To know whether you can  benefit from a Japan Rail Pass, click here.

Without a JR Pass, the Shinkansen will cost around ¥14,000 (~$130 USD).

This is the easiest route from Tokyo to Kanazawa as it takes you from the middle of Tokyo city directly to the middle of Kanazawa city, eliminating the need to navigate changing transport or checking for the most convenient stop.

The cheapest way to travel between Tokyo and Kanazawa (without a JR Pass) is via  bus .

There are several buses going from Tokyo to Kanazawa, mostly taking around 7-8 hours.

These go throughout the day, including overnight. The price can be as low as ¥4000 (~ USD 35)up to around ¥8000 (~USD75).

Day 5 Tokyo

Spend your last day in Tokyo checking of all the things you still have on your bucket list. 

The famous torii gates at Fushimi Inari

Option 2: Tokyo and Kyoto 

Our second sample 5-day Japan itinerary brings you 5 days around bustling Tokyo and mystic Kyoto.

This is a great itinerary if you want to get an impression of both the new and old Japan.

Similar to our first itinerary we spend the first day in the capital.

Have a look above for the things you absolutely shouldn’t miss and use our Tokyo itinerary to outline your sightseeing route.

Looking for the best places to visit in Tokyo, click here.

Day 3-4 Kyoto 

Kyoto is with 32 million tourists per year Japan’s most popular tourist destination and there’s a reason why.

The city is jam-packed with more than 4000 historical temples and shrines.

As you’re wandering through the well-preserved streets of the old geisha district it feels like you moved back in time. The nearby Higashiyama district is a maze of narrow lanes all lined with wooden traditional buildings, some dating back to around 100 years ago.

Kodai-ji temple, Kyoto, Japan

2 days in Kyoto is not much but it is enough to visit a lot of Kyoto’s highlights. We’ve created this super-efficient Kyoto itinerary to maximize your time in this culture-rich city.

Although it is tempting to retire to your room after a long day exploring this mystic city, there is a lot to be discovered in Kyoto at night. From illuminated shrines and temples to Kyoto night tours such as this walking tour around Gion , the famous geisha district, and more.

That’s why we advise you to spend a few extra hours in the city. We assure you you won’t regret it.

Where to stay in Kyoto

With only 2 days in Kyoto, downtown Kyoto is a great place to stay.

By staying in this area you are close to some famous highlights such as the geisha district, the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, the Philosopher’s path, the Silver Pavillion, the Kodai-Ji Temple, etc. 

Here you can find more info about the best areas to stay in Kyoto together with some great hotels. 

We also have some suggestions if you prefer staying in an Airbnb .

Philosopher's Path Kyoto, Japan

The high-speed Shinkansen or “bullet train” provides the fastest transport service between Tokyo and Kyoto. 

If you  have a JR Pass , you can ride  the Hikari Shinkansen  at no additional cost. The journey from Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station takes 2h40. The Nozomi Shinkansen is faster and rides more frequently but is not covered by your JR Pass. 

You could also opt for the Kodama Shinkansen but this would add an extra hour to your journey.

If you  do not have a Japan Rail Pass  then the fare will be  13,080 yen  one way with an unreserved seat. 

Spend your last day exploring some of Tokyo’s districts that you couldn’t visit during your first days in the city. 

Osaka Castle, Japan

Option 3: Osaka and Kyoto itinerary 5 days 

Many tourists root for Kyoto and absolutely want to visit the city when in Japan. If you want to avoid the 2.5-hour train ride back and forth from Tokyo to Kyoto you can opt to combine your visit with Osaka instead of Tokyo.

Osaka is Japan’s second-largest city and has a big international airport. You should have no problems finding flights to Osaka’s Kansai airport.

Osaka offers a great number of tourist attractions such as Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, the Umeda Sky Building, and Universal Studios but has the advantage that it is slightly more compact than Tokyo.

Osaka can be explored in 2 days without feeling too rushed. That leaves 3 days to discover Kyoto or you could add a day trip to Universal Studios or Nara.

Day 1-2 Osaka

Did you know that Osaka is also known as the “Nations Kitchen”? If you are a foodie, you should put visiting Osaka on top of your Japan bucket list. 

Here’s a detailed Osaka itinerary for 2 days to help you with your planning.

Osaka is also known as Japan’s Kitchen. For an overview of the best food tours in Osaka, click here.

  • Where to stay in Osaka

Our advice would be to base yourself in one of Osaka’s central districts. By staying in this area you will save a lot of time on train and subway rides.

The best district is probably Kita , a major business and retail hub with lots of restaurants and entertainment, as well as several tourist attractions. It’s also where the JR Osaka train station is located which makes it very convenient to commute between Osaka and Kyoto and for a day trip to Nara. Here’s more information about staying in Kita. 

Here you read about the other districts in Osaka together with some great hotel recommendations.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out our other Osaka accommodations posts:

  • Best ryokan in Osaka
  • Best ryokans in Osaka with private onsen
  • Coolest hotels in Osaka
  • Best Osaka hotels with onsen
  • Best capsule hotel in Osaka

Make sure to also explore the well-preserved streets of old Kyoto after dark during you 5-day Kyoto itinerary.

Day 3-4 Kyoto

You can spend your third and fourth days exploring the highlights of Kyoto.  You can use this 2-day Kyoto itinerary to plan your days.

This itinerary is jam-packed with Kyoto’s major highlights and may feel a little rushed.

If you want you can spread it out across 3 days but if not you have time for a day trip on day 5.

Day 5 Day trip from Kyoto or Osaka

There are plenty of amazing day trips you can take from Kyoto and Osaka. 

Here are a few examples. 

Universal Studios

If you love theme parks Universal Studios is the place to be. The park makes a great day trip for both young and old.

Harry Potter fans will indulge in the Harry Potter section which is done with such an eye for detail that you might think that you accidentally ended up in the movie itself.

The park is huge and can be busy.  If you want to be able to do all the rides in 1 day we highly recommend paying the extra fee for the Express Passes.   These express passes need to be bought separately from the entry tickets. A limited number of express passes is available for each day which is why we recommend buying them in advance as they may be sold out on the day itself.

How to get there: 

Take the JR Osaka Loop Line  towards  Nishikujo Station  and switch to the  JR Yumesaki Line  to  Universal City Station.   Once you exit the train at Universal-city station you just need to follow the crowds through the shops to the entrance of the park.

Follow a Japanese cooking class

This is not a real day trip but definitely, an experience that can transport foodies to another dimension.

Japanese food is both healthy and tasty so why not follow a Japanese cooking class , there’s no better place to do this than the city nicknamed the nation’s kitchen.

Nara deer park Japan

Visit Japan’s original capital, Nara

Nara, Japan’s original capital,  makes an excellent day trip. Here you can find the impressive Todaiji Temple, the largest wooden building in the world. 

It is a popular UNESCO World Heritage site. Inside the building, you will find a large bronze, Buddha.

Kids will also love the free-roaming deer.

If you have  a Japan Rail pass,  you can use the  JR Yamatoji line.  The trajectory is completely covered by the Japan Rail Pass, as well as the Kansai area pass, and takes about 50 minutes.

If you don’t have a JR Pass you might prefer  the Kintetsu Nara Line.   The Rapid Express Kintetsu train reaches Nara in only 39 minutes and the Kintetsu station is more centrally located in Nara.

Kintetsu has a faster limited express train but it costs twice as much and it only saves you 5 minutes.

The Kintetsu trains leave from Osaka Namba station.

travel itinerary sample japan

Tickets for the JR trains ( without having the JR pass) as well as the Kintetsu trains are 560 yen.

Tokyo skyline Japan

Option 4: Spend 5 days in Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan’s capital has so many faces and different districts that you can spend 5 days in the capital itself without any problems. 

This option is for you if you don’t fancy relocating and don’t feel bad about missing culture-rich Kyoto because you know you will return to Japan one day. 

Get ready for 5 thrilling days in Japan’s capital.

Day 1: Shinjuku

Shinjuku is one of Tokyo’s most colorful districts.

Highlights are Golden Gai (well-preserved narrow alleys with small eateries near Shinjuku station, the world’s busiest train station), Kabubicho (Tokyo’s crazy and popular nightlife district), the famous Robot Restaurant , the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building, and the green lung of the district, the huge Shinjuku Gyoen Park. 

Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen Park in Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen Park

Start your first day in Japan by exploring the gigantic Shinjuku Gyoen Park. This is one of Tokyo’s biggest and most popular parks.

If you want to read more about the park, click here . 

This is one of the best spots to watch the cherry blossoms in Tokyo if you are here in the Sakura season.

Foresee around 2-3 hours to explore the park at ease. 

From the Park, it is a small walk to the Hanazono Jinja Shrine , a small Shinto shrine. 

Next, you can head to Piss Alley to have lunch. 

Piss Alley consists of 2 narrow alleys. Both are lined with loads of small and cheap restaurants. As you walk through Piss Alley it will feel as if you have stepped back in time. Both alleyways have been untouched for ages and exude the charm of yesteryear.

This is the perfect place to try Yakitori ( skewered chicken ) while enjoying the vibe of old Japan. 

Piss Alley is close to the West Exit of Shinjuku train station.  The two alleys run parallel to the tracks.  You will see the entrance on your right if you face the Shinjuku Dai-Guard train bridge.   Shinjuku station is served by several JR lines and both Tokyo Metro and Toei lines.

Kabukicho Tokyo Japan

Continue your first day in Tokyo by heading to Kabukicho, Tokyo’s famous nightlife district. This is a great place to spend the rest of your day and if you want you can party well into the wee hours.

One of the most famous symbols of Kabukicho is the giant Godzilla, which is watching over the Shinjuku Gracery Hotel. 

Also in Kabukicho is the Samurai Museum, a great place to learn more about these old rulers. They have lost their privileges but the memory and weaponry are still very prominent in today’s culture.

Shopping lovers should head to the gigantic discount shop, Don Quijote. This gigantic discount shop sells everything. It’s also a great place to buy your souvenirs. 

End your first day in Tokyo by attending a performance at the famous  Robot Restaurant which makes a fun night out. 

Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi Park Tokyo

Day 2: Shibuya and Harajuku

A visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without calling on the famous Shibuya crossing. It’s an impressive sight to watch 1000 people crossing a street at a time.

For the best views, head to Starbucks or to the mostly less crowded L’occitane café.

Most people only have an eye for the masses flooding the streets with every change of the traffic light and miss the statue of Japan’s most famous dog Hachiko. 

The statue can be found near the exit of the subway station but is often lost in the crowds.

Shibuya also houses some great shopping possibilities. Several large department stores can be found within a few minutes’ walk of Shibuya station. The latest addition is Shibuya Scramble Square, it is the tallest building in Shibuya and offers 16 floors of shopping pleasure and an observation platform on floor 46.

 Shibuya station is right underneath this crossing.  Take the Hachiko exit.

Entrance of Takeshita Dori street in Tokyo

The next stop on our Tokyo itinerary is Harajuku.

Harajuku is the center of Japanese fashion and Kawaii culture. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon. 

One of the best things to do in Harajuku is to stroll down the busy Takeshita Dori street. Here you will find lots of fashion and vintage shops. This is also the place where you can taste plenty of weird-colored food such as rainbow cotton candy, candy floss, sweet crepes, etc

If you are more into high-end fashion Omotesando is the place to be. This is where you will find Haute couture clothing from brands such as Dior and Louis Vuitton. 

When you have enough of the crowds in Harajuku, continue your way to Yoyogi Park. It’s a great place to relax after a busy day.

Meiji-Jingu Shrine

Here you will find the impressive Meiji-Jingu Shrine.

This is the largest and most famous shrine in Tokyo. You enter the shrine by walking under a huge wooden Torii gate which leads to a forest of over 100.000 trees. Take your time to wander around the peaceful shrine complex. 

If you are lucky you might see a traditional Shinto wedding since this is also a popular wedding venue. 

Meiji-Jingu shrine is a short 10-15 minute walk from Harajuku station

Kawaii monster cafe

Kawaii Monster Café

End your second day in Tokyo at the famous Kawaii Monster café known for its colorful and crazy design. 

The food is expensive and isn’t too good but if you are looking for a colorful, fun, and unforgettable experience, this is the place to be. 

It’s also a great place to take Instagram-worthy pictures. 

You can walk in and see if they have availability but if you want to be sure of a seat we advise you to book tickets through their official partner Voyagin. Here you can check the different packages.

Note that if you choose the admission only option you are still required to order 1 drink and 1 food item per person.

Read reviews and buy your tickets: Kawaii Monster Café

Sensoji temple Asakusa Tokyo

Day3: Asakusa, Ueno park and Tokyo Skytree

Start your third day in Tokyo by exploring Asakusa. Here you can find everything from traditional shopping to temples. 

One of the main attractions of Asakusa is the Sensoji Temple,  Tokyo’s oldest and one of the busiest temples. 

Take your time to wander around. 

Surrounding the area are several shopping streets with various restaurants and shops.

Many people unfortunately skip the traditional Japanese Denboin garden.  This zen garden is a great place to escape the crowds that flood the Asakusa temple, certainly if you are visiting Tokyo in March or April.

The traditional Japanese Denboin garden in Asakusa Japan

Museum lovers should head to Ueno Park, Tokyo’s biggest cultural center. Here you can find the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, etc. 

Ueno Park is also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan’s oldest zoo. 

But even if you aren’t much into museums the park is still a great place to unwind after the busy Sensoji Temple. 

Ueno park is also where you can watch Japanese have their Hanami, which translates to Cherry Blossom viewing party.

When we visited the park during the cherry blossom season it was jam-packed with people who were having picnics with their friends.

Ueno station is a major hub of JR and is also served by the Ginza and Hibiya metro lines.

Tokyo Skytree

End your third day in Tokyo at the Tokyo Skytree, Japan’s tallest structure. Besides several restaurants, there are also shops and an aquarium.

From the observation decks, you will have spectacular views of Tokyo and the surrounding area. There are 2 main observation decks to choose from. 

The lower deck at 350 meters spans 3 levels with broad windows offering panoramic views. Here you can also find a restaurant and a café. 

The other platform, The Tembo Galery is 100 meters higher. 

 You can choose to buy a ticket to visit only the first observation platform or both.

The Tokyo Skytree is a great place to visit around sunset as it gives you the chance to see the skyline during the day and the thousands of city lights when the sun has set.

Note that the lines are often very long so we recommend you to book  skip the line tickets.  These are currently cheaper when bought in advance than on-site.

The Venice Canals in Tokyo DisneySea

Day 4: Tokyo Disney 

Tokyo Disney consists of 2 parks Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. 

Tokyo Disneyland is comparable to the other Disney parks you can find around the world. 

Tokyo DisneySea is bigger and more adult-focused.

Tokyo Disney is also a great place to watch how the Japanese embrace Disney magic by completely dressing up.

Since Tokyo Disney is often very crowded we would advise you to make use of the Tokyo Disney Resort app. You can use it to check wait times and get your free fastpasses for the next attractions.

Note that the Monorail is not included in the price of your entrance ticket and is only free for overnight guests to the park. You can also walk from the JR station to the entrance of the parks. For Disneyland, this would be the best option as the entrance is really close by and only a 5-minute hike. DisneySea would approximately be a 15-minute hike.

Akihabara, also called Electric City, in Tokyo

Day 5: Akihabara and Imperial Palace

If you are into anime and manga you should not skip Akihabara also nicknamed Electric City and seen as the center of Japan’s anime culture. But even if you aren’t that much into Anime it’s a great place to spend a few hours. 

Akihabara is where you can find all kinds of electronics and gadgets.

It may be worthwhile to compare prices in advance if you plan on buying a new camera or mobile phone but even if you don’t fancy any new electronics it’s a great place for some window shopping to see the wide selection of cool gadgets that are for sale.

Several shops offer tax-free shopping, make sure to bring your passport!

Not all electronics are guaranteed to work in your home country due to the voltage difference.  When in doubt ask a sales person or stick to the larger electronics stores that usually have a selection of international models.

The manga stores are also fun to snoop around. You can spend hours in just one store.

They are stuffed with everything that relates to mange from comic books to DVDs and action figures. One of the more famous ones is Mandarake.

Akihabara is also home to the famous Maid cafés. It’s a fun but expensive place to have a drink.

If you don’t fancy paying around 15 USD for a simple drink and the privilege of seeing a maid you just have to keep your eyes peeled while walking around Akihabara.

Chances are you will see maids walking through the streets with flyers to promote their cafés.

Take the JR train to Akihabara station.

This station is also served by the Hibiya metro line.

A view on the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Imperial Palace

Depending on how much time you still have left before returning to the airport,  you may want to hop on the JR Yamanote train and head 2 stops south to Tokyo Station. 

A 10-minute walk from Tokyo station is the Imperial Palace. 

The Imperial Palace is a quiet place in the center of busy Tokyo.

It is also a big and beautiful green lung for the city. The East Gardens of the palace, the Kokyo Gaien National Garden, and Kitanomaru Park are open to the public all year round. 

The inner grounds are only open to the public during the Sakura season, on December 23rd, and select other occasions. 

For the exact dates, take a look at the website of the  Imperial Household Agency.  

The rest of the year the inner grounds can be visited with a guided tour but the buildings remain closed to visitors.

Daily two tours are conducted in both Japanese and English.  You can  subscribe to these tours online .

Take the JR train to Tokyo station.

This station is also served by the Marunouchi metro line.

Japan travel tips  

Let us finish this post by answering some general questions you may have.

Are 5 days in Japan enough ?

You may already have guessed that 5 days will not allow you to discover the whole of Japan. You can easily spend a couple of weeks or months in this striking country without getting bored.

These itineraries will help you maximize your time when all you have is 5 days. By looking at our below itineraries you will notice that 5 days is all you need to get a good first impression. And believe us, it will be love at first sight.

All of our itineraries focus on 1 or max 2 different cities to avoid losing too much time relocating.

How do I prepare for my first Japan trip ?

To help you plan an epic Japan trip, you can follow our step-by-step guide on how to plan your Japan trip

We also have a great Japan travel planning document that will help you along every step of your preparations to create a perfect and stress-free trip.

If you don’t want to organize your trip yourself, you could always opt for an organized 5-day Japan tour package. These tours are arranged in such a way that they maximize your time and show you the most in as little time as possible.

We prefer to travel independently but we also always stay for several consecutive weeks in one country which gives us ample time to discover everything at ease. We truly believe that these organized tours can be a great alternative if you don’t have that amount of time and still want to squeeze in as much as you can. 

Here you can find an overview of the best 5-day Japan package tours. 

Will this be your first time in Japan?  We know some people feel a little overwhelmed when traveling to Japan for the first time so we brought together a lot of interesting tips for first-time travelers to Japan.

How much should I budget for a trip to Japan ?

Although Japan isn’t as cheap as some other Asian countries we thought it was still pretty affordable. 

We carefully tracked what we spent and made an overview of our expenses on food, lodging, and transportation.

You can find all you need to calculate the average cost for a Japan vacation here. 

Japan train public transport

How to get around Japan ?

We are fond of self-drives and love the freedom that comes with a rental car but you don’t need one in Japan. And certainly not for these 5 days Japan example itineraries that focus mostly on Japan’s megacities where a car is more of a liability than an asset.

The best way to get around Japan is by train. Unless you want to discover far-out places you will have no problem getting there by train.

Depending on what you want to see and do you might benefit from taking a Japan Rail Pass.

Here’s more info on the different passes that are available , including how you can calculate the cost of your journey to see if you benefit from a pass or not.

TIP : Do you need more help with your train journey? Our Japan travel planner includes a train planner that explains in great depth how to plan your route and how to know if you will benefit from the JR pass or not.

Do you need travel insurance for your trip to Japan ?

The short answer is yes.  

Although chances are small that you will encounter any problems while traveling in Japan, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Here you can find more info about the best travel insurance for your Japan trip.

Tokyo Tower in Japan

We hope that these example itineraries show you that, although a 5-day trip to Japan isn’t long, it can still offer an incredible experience.

Whether you choose to stay in Tokyo and make day trips, want to see Mount Fuji, relax in an onsen, visit the cultural capital Kyoto, or wander around crazy Dotonbori in Osaka, chances are it will be an experience unlike anything else you have seen and one before.

Our 5-day Japan itineraries will help you to have an unforgettable Japan vacation. 

Which Japan itinerary is your favorite? 

Here you can find our other Japan Itineraries:

  • Japan 7-day itinerary
  • 14 days in Japan
  • 21 days in Japan

12 days, 11 nights

The following is a suggested itinerary for first time travelers to Japan who spend 12 days and 11 nights in Japan, and arrive/depart from Tokyo 's Narita Airport .

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 1 - Arrive at Narita Airport

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 2-5 - Tokyo with sidetrips

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 6 - Tokyo to Kyoto

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 7-9 - Kyoto with sidetrips

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 10 - Kyoto to Hiroshima

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 11 - Miyajima to Tokyo

travel itinerary sample japan

Day 12 - Depart from Narita Airport

Regular train tickets will be cheaper than a Japan Rail Pass for this itinerary; however, travelers who do not mind paying extra for the convenience and flexibility of the pass' all-you-can-ride priviledge could consider using a 14-day Japan Rail Pass. Below are some sample budgets for the itinerary, excluding airfare. Find out more about the sample budgets and about the current yen exchange rates .

Questions? Ask in our forum .

travel itinerary sample japan

THE BEST OF TOKYO in 5 DAYS: Sample Itinerary for First Timers

THE BEST OF TOKYO in 5 DAYS: Sample Itinerary for First Timers

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To say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. When I first set foot in Tokyo, I was extremely intimidated. It wasn’t my first time in Japan—I had enjoyed Osaka and Kyoto before—yet Tokyo was still able to make me feel small and dazed. It’s a city that’s impossible to describe without the help of superlatives, whether they refer to its size, density, taste, or vibrance.

Since that first visit in 2013, I visited the Japanese capital six times. I have experienced it in every season, and it doesn’t look like I’m done with it. Tokyo has so much to offer to tourists that even after numerous visits, I’m still left with several items on my list. Every time I tick one off, two new unchecked entries appear. This dynamic destination is always evolving, always has something new and worth checking out.

In this post, we’ll give you a sample 5-day itinerary. In reality, five days might not be enough to cover most of what this megalopolis has to offer, but it’s a good start. If you’re visiting Tokyo for the first time, it might be a good idea to trim down the attractions to the classics . Yes, they can get crowded, but they are popular for a reason. These sites can give you some of the best glimpses of the city, its unique beauty, long history, rich culture, and frenetic energy.

Note: In the itinerary below, let’s assume that you’re staying near Ueno Station. I’ve created this based on my personal knowledge of Tokyo with a little help from Agoda’s Travel Guide . If your hotel is located elsewhere, make the necessary adjustments by using Hyperdia .


Day 1: Arrival & Asakusa

After clearing Immigration and picking up your bags, walk to the airport terminal train station. Take the Keisei Main Line Limited Express to KEISEI-UENO Station. Travel time: 80 minutes. Fare: 1030yen.

Travel on foot to your hotel and check in. If you arrive too early, you can drop your bags at the reception and check-in in the evening. In the meantime, explore!

Our first stop is the Asakusa district. From Ueno Station, take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line to Asakusa Station. Travel time: 5 minutes. Fare: 170yen.

travel itinerary sample japan

Asakusa is famed for retaining an Old Japan atmosphere. Its streets are lined with traditional houses, many of which have been converted into inns or restaurants. But the focal point of every visit is the spectacular Sensoji Temple. To get there, you’ll first walk under the Kaminarimon, a 1000-year old gate. A 250-meter pedestrian walkway called Nakamise-dori, lined with souvenir and snack shops, will lead you to the Sensoji Temple, the oldest in the city.

You can spend as much time as you want here. You can walk around the neighborhood, try some snacks, or take photos. If you get hungry, try Tempura Daikokuya , a century-old restaurant which serves some of the best tempura in the city. A meal starts at 1550yen.

If you have more time, you can also visit the towering Tokyo SkyTree , which is not too far away. You can actually see it clearly from the temple premises.

Otherwise, travel by subway back to Ueno Station and then on foot to your hotel. Have some rest for a pretty packed day tomorrow.

Day 2: Shibuya

Your second day is all about the Shibuya district, which harbors tourist spots that are most identifiable with Tokyo.

Start your journey at Ueno Station, where you’ll take the JR Yamanote Line (Inner Loop, bound for Osaki) to Harajuku Station. Travel time: 30 minutes. Fare: 200 yen.

From Harajuku Station, you’ll immediately see the extremely popular Takeshita-dori, but don’t be magnetized by it yet. Instead, walk the other way to Meiji Shrine . The shrine grounds are huge, so take your time and admire the verdant surroundings and the breath of fresh air. The shrine was built in 1921 in honor of the imperial family. Admission is FREE.

travel itinerary sample japan

If you have more time, you might also want to check out the teahouse and the inner gardens, but a visit incurs a 500-yen entrance charge. You can also cross to the nearby Yoyogi Park !

After a relaxing stroll, trace your steps back to Takeshita-dori . When people imagine Harajuku, this is probably what they have in mind. Takeshita-dori is crowded and lively, embodying Harajuku’s reputation as the center of Tokyo’s youth culture. Check out the shops and the snack kiosks.

travel itinerary sample japan

From here, travel on foot to Harajuku Gyoza Ro (or Harajuku Gyoza Lou). This gyoza place is a favorite among tourists and locals. Serving Japan’s signature dumplings for only 200yen per plate, it’s an inexpensive dining hotspot. There are also other items on the menu, if you want some variety.

Continue your march toward Shibuya Crossing , said to be the world’s busiest intersection. This perfectly exemplifies Tokyo’s organized chaos. This area is also known for its wide array of shops and restaurants. Look around and you might find something you like. Grab some dinner before leaving!

travel itinerary sample japan

On your way to Shibuya Station, pay a visit to Hachiko , the city’s most famous and most beloved loyal dog, immortalized as a sculpture within the vicinity. After a quick photo, catch the train or subway back to Ueno Station. Travel time: 30 minutes. Fare: 200 yen.

Day 3: Disneyland or Disney Sea

Prepare to indulge your inner child because today, you’re going to Disneyland ! Or Disney Sea , whichever you prefer.

travel itinerary sample japan

One of the questions we always get is: Which is better between Disneyland and DisneySea?

And my answer is always the same: DisneySea. I have been to both, but I found the latter to be more entertaining and more exciting. But the most compelling reason is that DisneySea is one-of-a-kind. Tokyo Disneyland is very similar to Hong Kong’s own or other Disneylands, but there is only one DisneySea in the world.

travel itinerary sample japan

To get to Disney Resort from Ueno Station, take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Hatchobori Station, then transfer to JR Keiyo Line to Maihama Station. Travel time: 35 minutes. Fare: 390yen.

Whether you choose Disneyland or DisneySea, I recommend spending the entire day there to make the most out of the hefty ticket price. Once you have tried the rides to your heart’s content, trace your steps back to your hotel.

Day 4: Ueno & Akihabara

Ueno Park is most well-known as one of the best spots to see the cherry blossoms. In spring, the park is flooded with massive crowds—a mixture of locals and tourists, all enjoying the colorful season under the shade of over 1000 cherry trees. But when it’s not sakura season, it is one of Tokyo’s most peaceful corners, especially in the early morning. Its map is shaded with gardens and dotted with museums, where you can spend a few hours learning more about the city. The park itself is free of charge, but individual museums collect entrance fees ranging from 100 to 650 yen.

travel itinerary sample japan

If you’re staying in Ueno, the park is within walking distance. Just a stone’s throw from Ueno Park is the start of Ameyoko , a bustling open-air market street. With over 400 shops flanking it, you’ll find almost everything here—from apparel to accessories to spices to meat and seafood products. The stores are punctuated by eateries, where you can enjoy a quick lunch.

From Ameyoko, continue walking and you’ll reach Akihabara, Tokyo’s quirkiest district. This is every otaku’s dream paradise. Anime-inspired maid cafes? Check. Arcade shops? Check. Gundam Café? Check. Real-life Mario kart? Check.

travel itinerary sample japan

Don’t forget to drop by Yodobashi-Akira and check out their selection of gadgets and appliances! You just might find something you like.

When you’re ready to call it a day, head to Akihabara Station and catch the train (Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or JR Yamanote Line) to Ueno Station.

Day 5: Tokyo Tower & Departure

It’s your last day in Tokyo! If your flight is scheduled to leave in the morning, then there isn’t much you can do. Just use the time to pack and have a good last meal. The Keisei-Ueno Station, which will take you directly to Narita Airport, is just around the corner.

But if your flight is in the late afternoon or evening, you probably still have some time to explore. Check out early, head to Ueno Station, and store your bags in one of the lockers. Then take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho Station. Travel time: 22 minutes. Fare: 200 yen.

travel itinerary sample japan

From Kamiyacho Station, walk for 5-10 minutes and you’ll reach the Tokyo Tower . At 333 meters tall, it’s the country’s second tallest man-made structure, next only to the SkyTree. It was constructed in 1958 and inspired by the Eiffel Tower. It has two observation decks that allow splendid views of the city. Fees: 900 yen for the main observation deck; 2800 yen for both decks.

Once you’re satisfied, trace your steps back to Ueno Station, pick up your luggage, and make your way to Keisei-Ueno Station to catch your train to the airport!

Your 5-day stay in Tokyo is over, but I’m pretty sure you’ll never forget this trip!

  • Where to Stay in Tokyo

Although the itinerary above assumes you’re staying in Ueno, there are other ideal areas for first-time Tokyo visitors. All these have direct links to Narita Airport, for convenience.

  • Shinjuku – a colorful and electric ward with a rich selection of dining and lodging options
  • Asakusa – a district that fosters an old Japan vibe with lots of budget accommodations.
  • Tokyo Station area – if Tokyo’s railway network is its circulatory system, Tokyo Station is its beating heart.
  • Ueno – close to many family-friendly attractions like Ueno Park and Akihabara, with plenty of budget hotels too.

Aside from the neighborhood, another criterion to consider is its proximity to a train or subway station. Most of the city’s tourist spots are near a railway station.

travel itinerary sample japan

Tokyo is VAST. Many of the city’s key attractions are within walking distance of each other, forming clusters. But the thing is, these “clusters” are so far apart. Thankfully, the city is served by an expansive public transportation system that operates like clockwork, so you shouldn’t worry too much.


Here’s the summary of the above itinerary:

Day 1: ASAKUSA 12:00nn – Airport to Tokyo – ¥1030 01:30pm – Check-in or drop baggage 02:30pm – Ueno to Asakusa – ¥170 03:00pm – Sensoji Temple 04:30pm – Explore neighborhood 06:00pm – Dinner 07:30pm – Train back to Ueno, ¥170 08:30pm – Back to hotel

Day 2: SHIBUYA 08:00am – Ueno to Harajuku Station – ¥200 08:30am – Meiji Shrine & Yoyogi Park – FREE 11:30am – Takeshita Dori (Harajuku) – FREE 01:00pm – Light Lunch at Harajuku Gyoza Ro – ¥1000 03:00pm – Shibuya Crossing + Hachiko + shop around 07:00pm – Dinner 09:30pm – Back to Hotel

Day 3: TOKYO DISNEYLAND OR DISNEYSEA 08:00am – Ueno to Maihama Station – ¥390 08:40am – Disney Resort Monorail – ¥260 09:00am – Disneyland/DisneySea – ¥7400 10:00pm – Monorail to Maihama – ¥260 10:20pm – Maihama to Ueno – ¥390

Day 4: UENO & AKIHABARA 10:00am – Walk to Ueno Park 10:30am – Ueno Park + Tokyo National Museum – ¥620 12:00nn – Continue exploring 12:30pm – Lunch at Ameyoko 02:00pm – Akihabara 06:00pm – Dinner 08:00pm – Train/walk back to Ueno

Day 5: TOKYO TOWER 08:00am – Early check out 09:00am – Train to Kamiyacho Station – ¥200 09:40am – Tokyo Tower 12:00pm – Train to Ueno 12:30pm – Lunch 01:30pm – Train to airport, ¥1030

We hope this sample itinerary was able to help you plan your dream Tokyo vacation! If you have questions, feel free to sound off in the comments section below and we’ll try to answer them when we have time.

Good luck! Happy planning! And may the #goals be with you!

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How much did it costs you for this , excluding airfare? Accommodation / tours etc

Ijaz Ahmad

we need JR Passes and Ticket in advance before application for visa when applying?

Yosh Dimen

Are you applying in the Philippines? If so, no need. It’s not a requirement here.

If you’re applying in another country, I don’t know.


I plan to visit Tokyo on 27 January 2020 to 1 February 2020 my stay in Tokyo city only for 5 days I’m going first time so I don’t know how can I make itinerary for embassy of Japan please guide me

Dude, there is a sample itinerary in the post above.

We have more sample Tokyo itineraries here:


we are family of 4 adult and wish to visit for 5 days in Jan 2023 ….please let me know the best package with details and photos . I will require the package with hotel and also let me know with hotel

Karl Luis

Thank you for this very informative post. Planning a family trip to Tokyo by mid-April this year. It will be our first time in Tokyo and leaning towards replicating your sample itinerary here. Would a Suica Card cover the train rides throughout the 5-day itinerary? Or do we also need to get a JR Pass/ticket at some point? Thanks in advance and hope to hear from you soon.

Hi, yes. SUICA/PASMO will do. No need for additional passes.

Liza J

I have watched and read your blogs, and they are very informative, thank you. My tween and I are going for 15 days, planning on staying in Shinjuku for 7 days as our base to go to Puroland, Ghibli Museum (hopefully), DisneySea; then 5 days in Kyoto with day trips to Osaka (Universal then Toei and Dotonbori); and Hiroshima, then back to Tokyo as we depart from Narita. Will a 14-day JR Pass be the most economical? Or Suica for 7 days in Tokyo; then the 7-day JR Pass for the next 7 days? Appreciate your input.

Get a 7-day JR pass and use it first on the day you’ll travel from Tokyo to Kyoto to maximize it.

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travel itinerary sample japan

7 Best things to do in Japan in 2024

A s a travel enthusiast starts planning a 2024 travel itinerary, Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, ticks all the boxes. It is the ultimate travel destination thanks to its historic streets of Kyoto, savoring delicious street food in Osaka, exploring the religious shrines, or staying at the ryokans . From the age-old cherry fields to the peaceful country roads, this place is a feast for the senses.

Springtime being this place's truly magical venture, Japan comes alive with color and energy, and visitors are feasted on a lot of enjoyable destinations to explore. Its rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty offers an array of adventures for every travel enthusiast.

Disclaimer: This is purely the writer's opinion, and might have missed some favorite destinations.

The top activities to experience in Japan in 2024

Whether the avid traveler is a history buff, a food enthusiast, or a nature lover, Japan is the perfect place for their visit in 2024.

Ahead, Team Sportskeeda has thoughtfully created a list of the seven best things to do in Japan in 2024 and make the most of their visit.

  • Explore Kinkaku-ji at Kyoto
  • Enjoy Hanami in Tokyo
  • Feed the deer at Nara
  • Learn about the city's history at Hiroshima
  • River cruise at Osaka
  • Ski at Hokkaido
  • Sun-bask on the shorelines of Okinawa

1) Explore Kinkaku-ji at Kyoto

Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan , is a must-visit spring destination for avid travelers. Considering that the best time to travel is in late March to early April, this holiday and sightseeing place is well-known for its cherry blossoms in full bloom.

Sight-seers should not miss the spectacular Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and the traditional Gion District. For lodging, one should consider staying at a classic ryokan to experience the hospitality at its best. Kansai International Airport, the nearest airport, can be easily commuted to thanks to local transportation.

Once in Kyoto, one should also make sure to try out the local cuisines, like kaiseki (a multicourse feast) and various matcha confectionaries. Noted diners like Nishiki Market and Pontocho Alley also rule the culinary delight list.

2) Enjoy Hanami in Tokyo

Be it the onset of autumn or spring, the metropolis of Tokyo, Japan, is always bustling with a unique blend of modernity and ritual. Including Senso-ji Temple and Meiji Shrine, this metropolis' main attractions are decorated with cherry blossoms, catering to a panoramic view.

Once in Tokyo, tourists can enjoy activities like hanami (flower viewing) picnics in Ueno Park and boat or yacht cruises along the Sumida River. For an unforgettable stay, visitors can select a hotel in the vibrant Shibuya or Shinjuku districts and indulge in a wide variety of delectable local cuisines, like sushi tempura and ramen at Tsukiji Outer Market, and the food stalls at Ameyoko Market.

Read more: 6 Best European countries to visit in Summer 2024

3) Feed the deer at Nara

Nara, well-known for its friendly deer and ancient religious shrines, it is always the perfect time for any travel enthusiast to visit this charming destination.

Visitors can engage in activities like feeding deer and exploring the picturesque Isuien Garden at Nara Park and Todai-ji Temple, the main attractions they shouldn't miss. Once here, a holiday enthusiast can stay at cozy homestays or ryokans for an authentic lodging experience. There are also sample local delicacies, like Kakinoha sushi and persimmon leaf sushi, at the best diners in the Nara-machi district.

4) Learn about the city's history at Hiroshima

Hiroshima, a Japan metropolis with a resilient spirit and a profound history, is best visited in early April. From the local Hiroshima Airport, courtesy of its travel-friendly communication, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Shukkeien Garden are the main places of interest that offer serene beauty. Here, tourists can engage in activities like visiting the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to learn about the city's history.

One can also plan their stay at comfortable hotels and savor local cuisines like okonomiyaki and oysters from the best diners like Okonomimura and Mitaki-en.

5) River cruise at Osaka

Considered one of the most vibrant cities, Osaka is famed for its lively environment and mouthwatering delicacies. The best time to visit is late March or early April. Once landing at the Kansai International Airport, a vacationer can enjoy their holiday by visiting the main attractions, like Osaka Castle and Dotonbori.

Thanks to its panoramic view, travelers can enjoy local activities like exploring the bustling Kuromon Ichiba Market and river cruising along the Okawa River. Planning a 2 to 3-day trip to Osaka, a vacationer can book their stay at downtown's trendy hotels and indulge in local cuisines like takoyaki , okonomiyaki , and kushikatsu at street food stalls, and best-eating joints like Mizuno and Kani Doraku.

Read more: 6 Best treks in the world

6) Ski at Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the northernmost island, is a must-see spring holiday destination in Japan, courtesy of its spectacular natural attractions. When hiring local transportation or pre-paid cabs from New Chitose Airport, the best time to visit is late April or early May. During this time, tourists can enjoy the main attractions, such as the vast fields of Shikisai-no-Oka and the majestic beauty of Shikisai Hill.

They can engage in activities like exploring Biei's charming beauty, skiing, Onsen (hot springs), enjoying a relaxing soak in the famous Noboribetsu hot springs, or staying at comfortable ryokans or motels with stunning mountain views. They can also savor these gastronomical delights in local delicacies like fresh seafood , spicy ramen, and tasty dairy products at the best diners like Ramen Yokocho and Nijo Market.

7) Sun-bask on the shorelines of Okinawa

Off-boarding at the Naha airport, Okinawa's gorgeous shorelines and rich history welcome avid travelers, making it an excellent destination year-round for all travel enthusiasts visiting Japan. Once here, travelers can explore the lively marine life at the Churaumi Aquarium and the Ryukyu culture of historical Shuri Castle.

They can rest and recoup at beachfront resorts like the Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa, or Halekulani, Okinawa, to experience the true essence of Okinawa, Japan. Visitors can also spoil their tastebuds with the local flavors of sample Okinawan soba, agu pork , goya champuru, and rafute pork.

Read more: 6 best Spring destinations in the world to take a family vacation

These are the seven best things to do in Japan in 2024 that promise an array of unforgettable experiences for travel enthusiasts. So, avid travelers can start backpacking to enjoy their adventure-packed holiday.

7 Best things to do in Japan in 2024 

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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

  • Local Cuisine Eastern Japan
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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

  • Wellness Travel in Japan
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  • A Guide to Stargazing in Japan
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travel itinerary sample japan

  • Experiences in Japan
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travel itinerary sample japan

  • Visa Information
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travel itinerary sample japan

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travel itinerary sample japan

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Itineraries Take a journey through Japan's scenic countryside, quaint towns, and cosmopolitan cities with these suggested routes

Explore the possibilities and make the best use of your time throughout your japan journey, recommended itineraries.


Into the Wild—The Shiretoko Peninsula

Unspoiled nature awaits


Spirituality in the Mountains of Koyasan


Cycling the Shimanami Kaido

Itsukushima-jinja Shrine

Hiroshima in Autumn

Visit Hiroshima's Peace Memorial and experience panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea

Lake Ashinoko

Hakone—An Easy Excursion From Tokyo

Escape the big city and soak in Hakone's scenic hot springs and abundant nature

Top Off The Beaten Path Trips


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  1. SAMPLE JAPAN ITINERARIES (with Estimated Budget)

    travel itinerary sample japan

  2. SAMPLE JAPAN ITINERARIES (with Estimated Budget)

    travel itinerary sample japan

  3. SAMPLE JAPAN ITINERARIES (with Estimated Budget)

    travel itinerary sample japan

  4. SAMPLE JAPAN ITINERARIES (with Estimated Budget)

    travel itinerary sample japan

  5. SAMPLE JAPAN ITINERARIES (with Estimated Budget)

    travel itinerary sample japan

  6. SAMPLE ITINERARY for JAPAN VISA Application (Schedule of Stay)

    travel itinerary sample japan



  2. Travel Itinerary

  3. How i plan a Trip to Japan


  1. The Ultimate Japan Itinerary for 2024: From 1 to 3 Weeks

    Days 15 & 16: Hiroshima. Day 17: Train to Hokkaido. The train to Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island home to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by train. There are sleeper cars available, but you'll have to pay a surcharge (around 9,500 JPY) for a bed.

  2. Sample JAPAN ITINERARIES with Estimated Budget: 4, 6, 7, 8, 15 Days

    Here are some sample DIY Japan itineraries for Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto for 4 DAYS, 6 DAYS, 7 DAYS (1 WEEK), 8 DAYS, and 15 DAYS. Each DIY itinerary has its own recommended minimum budget to help you manage your finances well.

  3. Japan Travel Itinerary

    Day 8 - Side trip to Nara. On a side trip from Kyoto, visit Nara, home of Japan's first permanent capital. Visit some of the oldest and largest temples in Japan and feed the deer that roam freely in the city.

  4. Japan Travel: Suggested Itineraries

    More Nationwide Itineraries: Airport: Duration: Regional Itineraries. Best of Kanto. Best of Kansai ... Japan travel news. 2024 Cherry Blossom Forecast. Travel News. Our rail pass calculator is now handling regional passes. Travel News. Cycling, Stand Up Paddleboarding, and Tea Tasting in Shizuoka City.

  5. Sample Trips

    The sample itineraries below include some but far from all of our favorite destinations in Japan. 8 Days Japan Essentials: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hakone 11 Days Luxury Japan: Art, Culture & Cuisine 13 Days Luxury Ryokans &. the Japanese Countryside 12 Days Japan Cities, Mountains & Art. For more inspiration, also see our 9-day sample itinerary, and our ...

  6. Sample Trip: 9-Day Japan Itinerary

    Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Japan. Day 2: Private tour of Tsukiji Market & behind-the-scenes sushi lesson. Day 3: Old Tokyo walking tour & lively izakaya outing. Day 4: Traditional ryokan stay and onsen (hot springs) in the beautiful Izu Peninsula. Day 5: Travel by train to Kyoto & evening geisha district stroll.

  7. PDF Travel Itinerary Sample

    The travel itinerary of the visa applicant(s) is as follows: Print or write in block letters. If you are staying at a hotel, write the hotel name and complete address in the "Accommodation" field. Your hotel reservations might be checked. If you are staying at the house of a relative/acquaintance, write his/her complete address. In.

  8. Itineraries

    These itineraries can be used as a foundation to craft a journey that suits you, from the remote reaches of Hokkaido, the central Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park on Japan's Golden Route, down to tropical Okinawa. Into the Wild—The Shiretoko Peninsula. Unspoiled nature awaits. Spirituality in the Mountains of Koyasan. Daimon.

  9. The Ultimate Japan Travel Itinerary for First Timers: 2 Weeks in Japan

    If you are looking to cover most of the itinerary we showcased above, then we would say your 2024 Japan travel budget should be around £5,000. This is our recommendation for 2 people on a 2 meals a day basis including flights and accommodation.

  10. 2 Weeks in Japan: A Unique Sample Itinerary

    Sample Trip: 2-Week Japan Itinerary. If you're planning on visiting Japan for around two weeks, you're in the right place! This sample 14-day Japan itinerary includes a unique mix of the country's best destinations, from Tokyo to Kyoto and beyond. Of course, even if you're traveling for more (or less) time, you can easily modify this ...

  11. The Ultimate Itinerary for a Trip to Japan ...

    A Japan Rail (JR) pass is exclusively available to tourists, and grants you unlimited travel on JR trains within Japan, including the world-famous bullet trains. Depending on your itinerary, this will save you time and money vs buying individual train tickets within Japan. But importantly, you must purchase the pass before you arrive in Japan.

  12. Japan Travel Itinerary

    Below are some sample budgets for the itinerary, excluding airfare. Find out more about the sample budgets and about the current yen exchange rates. Single Traveler. Two Travelers. Low Budget. 59,000 - 78,000 yen. 118,000 - 156,000 yen. Medium Budget. 78,000 - 134,000 yen.

  13. 10 Days in Japan: A First-Timer's Complete Itinerary

    Distances really depend on the mode of transport you use, with bullet trains being the fastest. Days 1-3: Tokyo. Day 4: day trip from Tokyo. Days 5-6: Kyoto. Day 7: Nara and Osaka. Day 8: Miyajima and Hiroshima. Day 9: morning in Kyoto → Tokyo. Day 10: Tokyo in morning/afternoon → airport.

  14. SAMPLE ITINERARY for JAPAN VISA Application (Schedule of Stay)

    How to Make an Itinerary for Japan Visa Application. Date. This is the date when you make the itinerary. The standard format is YEAR/MONTH/DAY. Name. Don't forget to write your full name. Travel Dates. Pretty straight-forward. Activity Plan.

  15. The Ultimate Two Weeks in Japan Itinerary: Where to Visit

    What will be in this two-week itinerary in Japan post: A sample itinerary. Information on accommodations and dining. Sources for more detailed guides. What to Know About Transportation and the JR Rail Pass; Short on Time? Here's How I Would Spend 2 Weeks in Japan: Before Arrival . Purchase a JR Rail Pass, for unlimited train travel while in Japan

  16. The Perfect 14-Day Japan Travel Itinerary for First Timers

    The next step in our 14-day Japan itinerary is Matsumoto. There're many Samurai Castles scattered across Japan and you should visit at least one during your 14 days in Japan. We opted for the castle in Matsumoto as it is one of the few remaining original castles. Most other castles you will see are reconstructions.

  17. Japan Itinerary for First-Timers: From 1 to 3 Weeks (2024)

    To give you an idea, you should expect to travel in Japan with an average daily cost of about USD $45~ per person on a budget, or at least $120~ if you want to experience more comfort in activities, tours, hotels, and more. (Values below show low budget to medium budget ranges). Hotels: $25 to $120 USD / day.

  18. PDF Travel Itinerary

    The travel itinerary of the visa applicant(s) is as follows: Date Activity Plan Contact Accommodation . Title: 平成18年2月 Created Date:

  19. Sample TOKYO ITINERARIES with Estimated Budget: 1-8 Days

    A 3-day itinerary will give you a good taste of some of the things that Tokyo is best known for. The itinerary below will take you to Ueno, Akihabara, Shibuya, and Tokyo Disney Resort! Day 1: UENO & AKIHABARA. 10:30am - Airport to Ueno, ¥1030. 12:00nn - Check-in or drop baggage. 01:00pm - Lunch, ¥1000.

  20. The best Japan 5-day itinerary suggestions for first-timers

    Option 3: Osaka and Kyoto itinerary 5 days. Many tourists root for Kyoto and absolutely want to visit the city when in Japan. If you want to avoid the 2.5-hour train ride back and forth from Tokyo to Kyoto you can opt to combine your visit with Osaka instead of Tokyo.

  21. Japan Travel Itinerary

    Regular train tickets will be cheaper than a Japan Rail Pass for this itinerary; however, travelers who do not mind paying extra for the convenience and flexibility of the pass' all-you-can-ride priviledge could consider using a 14-day Japan Rail Pass. Below are some sample budgets for the itinerary, excluding airfare. Find out more about the sample budgets and about the current yen exchange ...

  22. THE BEST OF TOKYO in 5 DAYS: Sample Itinerary for First Timers

    Travel on foot to your hotel and check in. If you arrive too early, you can drop your bags at the reception and check-in in the evening. In the meantime, explore! Our first stop is the Asakusa district. From Ueno Station, take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line to Asakusa Station. Travel time: 5 minutes. Fare: 170yen.

  23. 7 Best things to do in Japan in 2024

    A s a travel enthusiast starts planning a 2024 travel itinerary, Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, ticks all the boxes. It is the ultimate travel destination thanks to its historic streets of ...

  24. Itineraries

    Cycling the Shimanami Kaido. Onomichi. Hiroshima in Autumn. Visit Hiroshima's Peace Memorial and experience panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea. Hakone—An Easy Excursion From Tokyo. Escape the big city and soak in Hakone's scenic hot springs and abundant nature.