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 fulfill a traveler who didn’t love their time in Japan. It’s simply a kind of nations 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 in all my favourite nations. Irrespective 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 12 months, and numerous folks I do know are lastly making their first journey.

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

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

That will help you out, listed below are a number of recommended itineraries based mostly on my years of visiting that may enable you see the most effective 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 largest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Move instantly, in an effort to reap the benefits of the free JR trains that run by way of town.

When you may simply spend your total week in Tokyo and never get bored, listed below 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 totally free, however foods and drinks excursions of the Tsukiji Outer Market can be found for round 13,500 JPY.
  • See Sensoji Temple – Sensoji is superbly 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 night time and has a little bit of a red-light-district really feel to it. It isn’t to be missed. Even for those who don’t drink, make sure 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 – In case you’re on the town on the proper time, this can be a must-do. Tickets promote out rapidly, so e book early. Anticipate to pay round 3,800 JPY.

In case you have extra time, take into account taking a day journey to Kamakura to see the large 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 Move!

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 options, take a look at 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 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 lot of crowds although, so attempt to go to outdoors of the busy summer season months. Even with a lot of vacationers, although, town continues to be magnificent and has quite a bit 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 Fifties, when a monk burned down the earlier temple (from the 14th century) whereas attempting 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 strolling tour of Gion for 1,600 JPY.
  • Wander within the Bamboo Forest – For a soothing 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 some 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 the most effective within the nation.

For a half-day journey, it’s also possible to 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 outdated (which is uncommon in Japan, as a consequence of fires, in addition to World Battle II). The true 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.

When 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 Web site. Admission is 500 JPY.

For extra Kyoto suggestions and options, take a look at 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 meals 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 statement deck that provides some picturesque metropolis views.

And make sure to stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at night time), 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 folks have been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 folks have been injured, and 70% of town was destroyed.

In the present day, Hiroshima is flourishing. Don’t miss the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the historical past of 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.

In case 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 journey to the island takes 10 minutes and is free to JR Move holders.

For extra Hiroshima suggestions and options, take a look at 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

In case you’re going to be in Japan for 14 days and have bought a rail cross, 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 an attractive historic outdated city (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Interval (1603–1868). The slender streets are lined with conventional picket buildings that make you are 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 may get!

In case you like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura People Village, house to a set 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 might need. It simply melts in your mouth. You’ll want to have some while you’re right here!

The Japanese Alps will not be removed from right here as nicely, so for those who love mountaineering 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 simple and average trails, that are open from April to November. 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 commonly 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 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, in order that they have been hidden within the temple to avoid the principles). These embody hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

In case 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 called “Crow Fort” as a consequence of its black exterior.

In case you’re right here in April, there are unbelievable cherry blossom shows which might 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 finest mountaineering 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 unbelievable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. The whole area is scenic and well-liked for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of accommodations (each fashionable and conventional) which have their very own sizzling springs (usually each indoors and open air). It’s the proper place to wrap up a visit, calm down, and take within the views.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, make sure to journey the cable automotive up the mountain for much more wonderful views. The realm 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 lot 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 happy to present them a attempt!

In case you choose to hike up as an alternative, 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 night time with a purpose to arrive on the summit by daybreak. There are little outlets alongside the best way that promote meals and even beds you possibly can lease upfront if you wish to break up your journey up. Simply be sure you do your analysis and put together upfront because it’s a tricky hike!

In case you actually wish to play vacationer, it’s also possible to journey a mock pirate ship across the lake for extra views of the mountains, and Mount Fuji specifically.

Full-day excursions round Hakone that embody all the principle sights value 14,000 JPY.

Japan Itinerary: Three Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan

In case you have a 3rd week in Japan, you possibly can decelerate a bit of and spend extra time in every vacation spot.

Utilizing the options 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 vehicles obtainable, however you’ll must pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You may finish your journey in Hakodate if it’s essential 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).

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

In case you’d quite 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.

You’ll want to 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. In case you’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, house to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded the most effective such bars on the planet.

What I really like concerning the metropolis is its location. This area has a few of the finest mountaineering 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 most effective views of 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 nicely.

And for those who’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. Raise 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 supply.

Moreover, make sure 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: House!
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 can 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 rapidly to keep away from breaking the financial institution.

However regardless of how lengthy you go to, you received’t be dissatisfied. Japan is a tremendous, 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 undoubtedly price spending the time (and cash) visiting. You received’t be dissatisfied!

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

Ebook Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Ideas and Tips

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner. They’re my two favourite serps, 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!

Ebook Your Lodging
You may e book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve essentially the most complete stock so they’re finest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a resort or guesthouse in Japan, use because it constantly returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and accommodations. They’re the most effective 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 in opposition to sickness, harm, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes fallacious. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many instances previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide the most effective service and worth are:

In search of the most effective corporations to save cash with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of if you journey! I listing all those I exploit to save cash once I journey — and I feel they may enable you too!

You’ll want to take a look at the Japan Rail Move for those who’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; tips about what to see and do; recommended itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, way more!

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