A towering, colorful pagoda in the foreground with beautiful Mount Fuji in the distance in Japan
Posted: 1/16/23 | January sixteenth, 2023

I’ve but to fulfill a traveler who didn’t love their time in Japan. It’s simply a kind of international locations that everybody loves. How will you not? The meals is wealthy, rigorously crafted, and scrumptious; the historical past and tradition wealthy and lengthy; the panorama breathtaking; and the folks tremendous pleasant and well mannered.

Japan stays one among my favourite international locations. Regardless of how lengthy I go to, it’s by no means sufficient. I at all times go away wanting extra.

With Japan open to vacationers once more, individuals are racing to go to! I personally will likely be heading again once more this yr, and numerous folks I do know are lastly making their first journey.

However the nation at all times appears forbidding to many vacationers. It positively nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes folks suppose it’s laborious to journey round.

The place do you have to go? What do you have to see? How do you take advantage of your time there? Fortunately, due to Japan’s dimension and uber-fast trains, it’s very straightforward to see quite a bit in a really brief period of time.

That will help you out, listed here are a couple of instructed itineraries based mostly on my years of visiting that may provide help to see the perfect websites in addition to get off the crushed path and get an actual sense of Japanese tradition:


Japan Itinerary: One Week

A traditional temple in Kyoto, Japan on a bright and sunny day

Day 1 & 2: Tokyo
Chances are high you’ll be beginning your journey in Tokyo, because it’s house to the nation’s greatest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Pass immediately, with the intention to benefit from the free JR trains that run by way of the town.

Whilst you might simply spend your whole week in Tokyo and never get bored, listed here are a few of the highlights:

  • Go to the fish market – Toyosu is the world’s largest fish market. The day by day public sale right here powers a lot of the world’s sushi provide, and it’s really an absolute must-see! You may go at no cost, however food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market can be found for round 13,500 JPY.
  • See Sensoji Temple – Sensoji is fantastically painted and sits in a scenic spot close to a five-story pagoda and the well-known Kaminari Gate. There’s an enormous statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the principle corridor. It’s at all times busy however is value seeing with your personal eyes.
  • Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a energetic place to drink at night time and has a little bit of a red-light-district really feel to it. It isn’t to be missed. Even in case you don’t drink, remember to wander about.
  • Go to the Imperial Palace – The house of the emperor of Japan was constructed within the fifteenth century, and whilst you can’t go inside, the palace and its grounds are a peaceable place for a stroll.
  • Watch a sumo match – When you’re on the town on the proper time, this can be a must-do. Tickets promote out shortly, so e-book early. Count on to pay round 3,800 JPY.

You probably have extra time, think about taking a day journey to Kamakura to see the enormous Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It’s over 13 meters (42 ft) tall and dates again to the thirteenth century. The journey is round 90 minutes every means — and free with the JR Pass!

For scrumptious meals, a few of my favourite bars and eating places embody: Uogashi Nihon-Ichi (Standing Sushi Bar), Nemuro Hanamaru KITTE Marunouchi, Motodane, Tokyo Whisky Library, Ichiran Shibuya, and Uohama.

For extra Tokyo suggestions and ideas, try my complete free information!
Days 3 & 4: Kyoto
A narrow, old street in quiet Kyoto, Japan with a pagoda in the distance
Kyoto is arguably probably the most lovely metropolis in Japan. It seems like stepping again in time. It’s nestled into the mountains and dappled with temples, gardens, and bamboo forests.

With its magnificence come a number of crowds although, so attempt to go to exterior of the busy summer time months. Even with a number of vacationers, although, the town remains to be magnificent and has quite a bit to supply. Some issues to see and do that you simply shouldn’t miss are the next:

  • Go to the Golden Pavillion – This well-known (and picturesque) temple dates to the Fifties, when a monk burned down the earlier temple (from the 14th century) whereas attempting to commit suicide. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Website and one of many most-visited locations within the nation!
  • Discover Gion – Gion is the historic geisha district. Stroll alongside the principle avenue and see ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), the small outlets, and the numerous eating places that line the district’s streets. You may take a walking tour of Gion for 1,600 JPY.
  • Wander within the Bamboo Forest – For a calming break, head to Arashiyama and let the calm swaying of the forest envelop you. Positioned close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s one of the crucial lovely locations in your entire nation (arrive early if you wish to take pleasure in it with out the crowds).
  • Admire Ryoan-ji temple – That is my favourite temple in Kyoto. It’s additionally a UNESCO World Heritage Website and residential to a mausoleum that homes the stays of seven emperors. The normal rock and sand backyard is taken into account probably the greatest within the nation.

For a half-day journey, you can too go to Nara. It’s a small metropolis only one hour from Kyoto. Nara was the capital of Japan within the eighth century, so there are many buildings and temples right here which might be upwards of a thousand years previous (which is uncommon in Japan, on account of fires, in addition to World Struggle II). The true attract Nara are the deer. Because the seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought of sacred. You should buy crackers to feed them or simply watch them stroll round carefree.

Whilst you’re right here, don’t miss a go to to Todai-ji. It’s the world’s largest picket constructing and is house to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was in-built 738 CE and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Website. Admission is 500 JPY.

For extra Kyoto suggestions and ideas, try my complete free information!
Day 5: Osaka
The iconic, towering Osaka Castle overlooking busy Osaka, Japan on a sunny day
Osaka is the third-largest metropolis within the nation. It’s the monetary capital of the nation, however I come for the meals. Mouth-watering sushi and sashimi, Kobe beef and Japanese BBQ, and flavorful ramen can all be discovered right here in abundance. Plus there are native specialties like okonomiyaki (a savory pancake with egg and greens) and kushikatsu (skewered kebabs). You may take a food tour for round 12,000 JPY or simply wander and eat. That’s all I do: eat, eat, eat.

Don’t miss Osaka Fort although. Whereas it’s not the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s nonetheless a formidable sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an remark deck that provides some picturesque metropolis views.

And remember to stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at night time), the principle avenue, which is lined with eating places, shops, and tons of neon lights and indicators.
Day 6: Hiroshima
The bombed-out ruins of the atomic bomb site in Hiroshima, Japan
On August 6, 1945, Allied forces dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. It was the primary time a nuclear weapon was dropped on a metropolis, and it had devastating penalties. Upwards of 80,000 folks have been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 folks have been injured, and 70% of the town was destroyed.

Immediately, Hiroshima is prospering. Don’t miss the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the historical past of the town earlier than and after that fateful day. It has photographs, artifacts, movies, and details about the impact of radiation on the inhabitants. It’s a sobering expertise however one which shouldn’t be missed.

When you really feel like getting out of city afterward, head to Miyajima, an island that provides a spot to hike and luxuriate in nature. You can even take a cable automotive to the height of the mountain to absorb the view. A one-way ferry trip to the island takes 10 minutes and is free to JR Pass holders.

For extra Hiroshima suggestions and ideas, try my complete free information!
Day 7: Tokyo
An empty street with glowing lights in Tokyo, Japan
Head again to Tokyo on your flight house. It’s slightly below 4 hours on the bullet prepare, so that you’ll have time to discover a bit extra earlier than you allow!

Japan Itinerary: Two Weeks

A traditional Japanese castle on a sunny day near a moat in Japan
When you’re going to be in Japan for 14 days and have bought a rail pass, right here’s how one can divide your time:

Days 1-9
Comply with the itinerary above however add an additional day in Tokyo and, relying in your pursuits, both Osaka or Kyoto.
Day 10: Takayama
The quiet streets of scenic Takayama, Japan
Takayama is a small metropolis with a gorgeous historic previous city (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Interval (1603–1868). The slim streets are lined with conventional picket buildings that make you’re feeling such as you’ve stepped again in time. There are teahouses, cafés, sake breweries, and extra. It’s about as near historic Japan as you will get!

When you like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, house to a group of conventional thatch-roof homes that you could enter to additional immerse your self within the nation’s previous.

This metropolis (and area, actually) is known for its Hida beef, a high-fat selection that’s even higher than any A5 Wagyu you may need. It simply melts in your mouth. Make sure you have some if you are right here!

The Japanese Alps should not removed from right here as properly, so in case you love mountain climbing and wish to lengthen your time within the area, head to Kamikochi for a day hike or in a single day journey. It’s simply an hour away and has each straightforward and average trails, that are open from April to November. Mountain climbing trails will also be present in Hakusan Nationwide Park (additionally only one hour away by automotive).
Day 11: Kanazawa
The quiet streets of scenic Kanazawa, Japan with locals wearing traditional clothing
Kanazawa is commonly thought of “Little Kyoto,” as it’s house to an extremely well-preserved Edo-era district. There are quite a few previous samurai properties you possibly can admire (and one, the Nomura Home, which is restored and open to the general public).

One of many extra distinctive temples in Japan is right here too: Ninja (Myoryuji) Temple. Whereas the temple wasn’t house to precise ninjas, Myoryuji was constructed as a defensive construction (strict legal guidelines forbade native lords from constructing defenses, so that they have been hidden within the temple to bypass the foundations). These embody hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

When you want a break from exploring cities, Hakusan Nationwide Park, house to Mount Haku, one of many three holy mountains, is simply an hour south of city.
Day 12: Matsumoto
The traditional Japanese castle overlooking Matsumoto in Japan
Surrounded by lovely views, Matsumoto is house to one of many nation’s best-preserved castles, Matsumoto-jo (Matsumoto Fort), which dates again to 1594. Whereas some sections have been rebuilt, the principle construction is authentic. It’s colloquially often known as “Crow Fort” on account of its black exterior.

When you’re right here in April, there are unimaginable cherry blossom shows which might be well-known within the area. And, similar to Takayama, Matsumoto is near the Japanese Alps, so that you’re only a stone’s throw from a few of the greatest mountain climbing within the nation.
Days 13 & 14: Hakone
A red torii gate in the water with lush greenery and Mount Fuji in the background Japan
Positioned simply 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tokyo, Hakone is a picturesque area identified for its onsen (sizzling springs). The area is a part of a nationwide park and presents unimaginable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. Your complete area is scenic and fashionable for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of resorts (each trendy and conventional) which have their very own sizzling springs (typically each indoors and outside). It’s the proper place to wrap up a visit, chill out, and take within the views.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, remember to trip the cable automotive up the mountain for much more superb views. The world is surrounded by craters from an inactive volcano that erupted 80,000 years in the past (to not be confused with close by Mount Fuji, which is an lively volcano), and also you’ll discover a number of distributors on the prime promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s stated the eggs lengthen one’s life by seven years, so be happy to provide them a strive!

When you choose to hike up as an alternative, the path is open between July and September, with the trek taking anyplace from 5 to 12 hours, relying in your stage of health. Usually, hikers go away at night time with the intention to arrive on the summit by daybreak. There are little outlets alongside the way in which that promote meals and even beds you possibly can hire upfront if you wish to cut up your journey up. Simply be sure to do your analysis and put together upfront because it’s a tricky hike!

When you actually wish to play vacationer, you can too trip a mock pirate ship across the lake for extra views of the mountains, and Mount Fuji particularly.

Full-day tours around Hakone that embody all the principle sights price 14,000 JPY.

Japan Itinerary: Three Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan
You probably have a 3rd week in Japan, you possibly can decelerate a little bit and spend extra time in every vacation spot.

Utilizing the ideas above, right here’s how I’d set up 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

Day 17: Prepare to Hokkaido
The sprawling, green landscape of Hokkaido, Japan inside a national park
The prepare to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island house to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by prepare. There are sleeper automobiles accessible, however you’ll need to pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You may finish your journey in Hakodate if it is advisable stretch your legs and get off the prepare for a bit. In any other case, you possibly can head on to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (one other three hours by prepare).

When you do wish to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you could find a number of contemporary seafood. You can even go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.

When you’d relatively not spend that lengthy on the prepare, a flight from Hiroshima to Sapporo is simply two hours and prices round 12,000 JPY (one-way).
Days 18-20: Sapporo
An old brewery in the winter in Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo is the fifth-largest metropolis, although it’s far faraway from the remainder of Japan. The area was first house to the indigenous Ainu, although elevated immigration within the nineteenth century noticed the Japanese inhabitants skyrocket.

Make sure you cease in on the native Beer Museum too, owned by Sapporo Breweries (the oldest beer firm within the nation). It showcases the historical past of beer in Japan and the way the enterprise bought its begin. When you’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, house to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and thought of probably the greatest such bars on the planet.

What I like in regards to the metropolis is its location. This area has a few of the greatest mountain climbing within the nation. There are many hills and mountains, providing choices for each day hikes in addition to in a single day journeys. Some highlights embody Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For the perfect views of the town, head to Mount Moiwayama. It’s only a 30-60-minute hike to the highest, although there’s a cable automotive you possibly can take as properly.

And in case you’re visiting within the winter, hit the slopes! There are over 100 ski resorts in Hokkaido. You may hire skis (or a snowboard) for round 4,500-10,000 JPY. Carry costs are normally 4,000-6,000 JPY per day.Within the winter, don’t miss the annual Sapporo Snow Competition. It’s held each February and attracts over two million guests. There are ice sculptures, igloos, dwell music, and scrumptious native meals on supply.

Moreover, remember to take a day journey to Otaru, the place you’ll discover a few of the freshest uni in the entire nation (that is the principle space the place the famed Hokkaido uni is caught). Go hungry and go to the markets, stalls, and outlets round there.

Day 21: Residence!
The busy streets of Tokyo, Japan near an old temple
Time to fly again to Tokyo or hop on the in a single day prepare from Sapporo. You’ve had a whirlwind of a visit, so take pleasure in your closing hours right here and soak in as a lot as you possibly can!


There’s a ton to see and do in Japan, and you could possibly simply spend one other month right here and nonetheless simply scratch the floor (we didn’t even get to Okinawa and the islands!). And whereas these itineraries are a bit fast-paced, Japan isn’t low-cost, so finances vacationers want to maneuver shortly to keep away from breaking the financial institution.

However irrespective of how lengthy you go to, you received’t be disillusioned. Japan is an incredible, lovely, and distinctive vacation spot that I by no means get bored with visiting. Whereas it’s not as reasonably priced as its neighbors, it’s positively value spending the time (and cash) visiting. You received’t be disillusioned!

REMINDER: You’ll positively want a JR Pass to get round. Make sure you get one BEFORE you go! For extra data on the cross, learn this weblog put up I wrote about it.

Ebook Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. They’re my two favourite search engines like google and yahoo, as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is left unturned!

Ebook Your Lodging
You may e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve probably the most complete stock so they’re greatest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a resort or guesthouse in Japan, use Booking.com because it constantly returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and resorts. They’re the perfect reserving web site on the market. My favourite locations to remain in Japan are:

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that provide the perfect service and worth are:

In search of the perfect firms to save cash with?
Try my useful resource web page for the perfect firms to make use of while you journey! I checklist all those I exploit to save cash once I journey — and I believe they are going to provide help to too!

Make sure you try the Japan Rail Pass in case you’ll be touring across the nation. It is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and might prevent a ton of cash!

In search of extra journey suggestions for Japan?
Try my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to save cash; data on prices; recommendations on what to see and do; instructed itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, far more!