From 1 to three Weeks

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 satisfy a traveler who didn’t love their time in Japan. It’s simply a type of international locations that everybody loves. How will you not? The meals is wealthy, fastidiously crafted, and scrumptious; the historical past and tradition wealthy and lengthy; the panorama breathtaking; and the individuals tremendous pleasant and well mannered.

Japan stays one in every of my favourite international locations. Regardless of how lengthy I go to, it’s by no means sufficient. I all the time go away wanting extra.

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

However the nation all the time appears forbidding to many vacationers. It positively nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes individuals assume it’s laborious to journey round.

The place must you go? What must you see? How do you benefit from your time there? Fortunately, because of Japan’s measurement and uber-fast trains, it’s very simple to see rather a lot in a really quick period of time.

That can assist you out, listed here are a couple of steered itineraries based mostly on my years of visiting that may provide help to see one of the best websites in addition to get off the overwhelmed 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
Likelihood is you’ll be beginning your journey in Tokyo, because it’s house to the nation’s largest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Pass immediately, so as to benefit from the free JR trains that run by way of the town.

Whilst you might simply spend your total 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 actually an absolute must-see! You may go without spending a dime, 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 all the time busy however is price seeing with your individual eyes.
  • Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a energetic place to drink at evening and has a little bit of a red-light-district really feel to it. It’s not to be missed. Even should you don’t drink, make sure you 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 ebook early. Count on to pay round 3,800 JPY.

When you 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 method — and free with the JR Pass!

For scrumptious meals, a few of my favourite bars and eating places embrace: 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 essentially the most lovely metropolis in Japan. It looks 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 season months. Even with a number of vacationers, although, the town continues to be magnificent and has rather a lot to supply. Some issues to see and do that you just shouldn’t miss are the next:

  • Go to the Golden Pavillion – This well-known (and picturesque) temple dates to the Nineteen Fifties, when a monk burned down the earlier temple (from the 14th century) whereas making an attempt to commit suicide. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Web site and one of many most-visited locations within the nation!
  • Discover Gion – Gion is the historic geisha district. Stroll alongside the principle road and see ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), the small outlets, and the various 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 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 Web site and residential to a mausoleum that homes the stays of seven emperors. The standard rock and sand backyard is taken into account probably the greatest within the nation.

For a half-day journey, you may also 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 can be upwards of a thousand years outdated (which is uncommon in Japan, attributable to fires, in addition to World Struggle II). The actual attract Nara are the deer. For the reason that seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought of sacred. You should purchase 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 wood constructing and is house to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was inbuilt 738 CE and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Web site. 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 powerful sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an commentary deck that gives some picturesque metropolis views.

And make sure you stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at evening), the principle road, 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 individuals have been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 individuals have been injured, and 70% of the town was destroyed.

Immediately, Hiroshima is flourishing. Don’t miss the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the historical past of the town earlier than and after that fateful day. It has images, 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 gives a spot to hike and luxuriate in nature. You may as well 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 just 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
Observe 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 ravishing historic outdated city (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Interval (1603–1868). The slender streets are lined with conventional wood 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 you could enter to additional immerse your self within the nation’s previous.

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

The Japanese Alps usually are not removed from right here as nicely, so should you love mountain climbing and need to prolong 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 simple and reasonable trails, that are open from April to November. Mountain climbing trails can 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 usually thought of “Little Kyoto,” as it’s house to an extremely well-preserved Edo-era district. There are quite a few outdated samurai houses you’ll be able to 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, in order that they have been hidden within the temple to bypass the foundations). These embrace 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” attributable to its black exterior.

When you’re right here in April, there are unbelievable cherry blossom shows which can be well-known within the area. And, identical 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 (scorching springs). The area is a part of a nationwide park and provides unbelievable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. The complete area is scenic and common for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of motels (each trendy and conventional) which have their very own scorching springs (usually each indoors and outside). It’s the right place to wrap up a visit, calm down, and take within the views.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, make sure you trip the cable automotive up the mountain for much more wonderful 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 energetic volcano), and also you’ll discover a number of distributors on the high promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s mentioned the eggs delay one’s life by seven years, so be at liberty to provide them a strive!

When you want to hike up as a substitute, the path is open between July and September, with the trek taking wherever from 5 to 12 hours, relying in your stage of health. Usually, hikers go away at evening 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’ll be able to lease prematurely if you wish to cut up your journey up. Simply be sure to do your analysis and put together prematurely because it’s a tricky hike!

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

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

Japan Itinerary: Three Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan
When you have a 3rd week in Japan, you’ll be able to decelerate a bit of and spend extra time in every vacation spot.

Utilizing the ideas above, right here’s how I might arrange 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 obtainable, however you’ll should pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You may finish your journey in Hakodate if that you must stretch your legs and get off the prepare for a bit. In any other case, you’ll be able to head on to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (one other three hours by prepare).

When you do need to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you will discover a number of contemporary seafood. You may as well 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.

Be 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 obtained its begin. When you’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, house to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded 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 embrace Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For one of the best 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’ll be able to take as nicely.

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

Moreover, make sure you 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: Dwelling!
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’ll be able to!


There’s a ton to see and do in Japan, and you may 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 funds vacationers want to maneuver shortly to keep away from breaking the financial institution.

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

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

E-book Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

E-book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight by utilizing 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 all the time know no stone is left unturned!

E-book Your Lodging
You may ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve essentially the most complete stock so they’re greatest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a lodge or guesthouse in Japan, use because it constantly returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and motels. They’re one of the best reserving web site on the market. My favourite locations to remain in Japan are:

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes improper. 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 one of the best service and worth are:

In search of one of the best firms to save cash with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for one of the best firms to make use of while you journey! I listing all those I take advantage of to save cash once I journey — and I believe they may provide help to too!

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

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