From 1 to three Weeks

Posted: 1/16/23 | January sixteenth, 2023 I’ve but to satisfy a traveler who didn’t love…

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 kind of international locations that everybody loves. How are you going to not? The meals is wealthy, fastidiously 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 all the time go away wanting extra.

With Japan open to vacationers once more, individuals are racing to go to! I actually can 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 positively nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes folks assume it’s onerous to journey round.

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

That can assist you out, listed below are just a few steered itineraries based mostly on my years of visiting that can assist you see the very best 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 Pass straight away, so to make the most of the free JR trains that run by means of town.

Whilst you may simply spend your complete week in Tokyo and never get bored, listed below are among 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’ll be able to 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 all the time busy however is price seeing with your individual eyes.
  • Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a full of life 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 the event you don’t drink, you’ll want 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 – If you happen to’re on the town on the proper time, it is a must-do. Tickets promote out shortly, 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 enormous Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It’s over 13 meters (42 toes) tall and dates again to the thirteenth century. The journey is round 90 minutes every approach — 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 appears like stepping again in time. It’s nestled into the mountains and dappled with temples, gardens, and bamboo forests.

With its magnificence come numerous crowds although, so attempt to go to exterior of the busy summer season months. Even with numerous vacationers, although, town remains to be magnificent and has loads 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 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’ll be able to take a walking 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 one of the vital lovely locations in your complete nation (arrive early if you wish to get pleasure from 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 top-of-the-line within the nation.

For a half-day journey, you may as well 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 are upwards of a thousand years outdated (which is uncommon in Japan, as a consequence of fires, in addition to World Warfare 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.

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 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’ll be able to 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 Citadel although. Whereas it’s not the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s however a powerful sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an remark deck that provides some picturesque metropolis views.

And you’ll want 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 had been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 folks had been injured, and 70% of town was destroyed.

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

If you happen to really feel like getting out of city afterward, head to Miyajima, an island that provides a spot to hike and revel in nature. You can even take a cable automobile 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 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 to 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 permit!

Japan Itinerary: Two Weeks

A traditional Japanese castle on a sunny day near a moat in Japan
If you happen to’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 an attractive historic outdated 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 may get!

If you happen to like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, house to a set of conventional thatch-roof homes that you would be able to 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. Be sure you have some if you are right here!

The Japanese Alps aren’t removed from right here as properly, so in the event you love 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 straightforward and average trails, that are open from April to November. Mountain climbing trails can be present in Hakusan Nationwide Park (additionally only one hour away by automobile).
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 properties you may 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 had been hidden within the temple to bypass the principles). These embody hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

If you happen to 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 Citadel), which dates again to 1594. Whereas some sections have been rebuilt, the principle construction is authentic. It’s colloquially generally known as “Crow Citadel” as a consequence of its black exterior.

If you happen to’re right here in April, there are unbelievable cherry blossom shows which are 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 among the finest 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 unbelievable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. Your entire area is scenic and fashionable for laid-back getaways.

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

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, you’ll want to journey the cable automobile 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 lively volcano), and also you’ll discover numerous 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!

If you happen to choose 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 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 may hire upfront if you wish to break up your journey up. Simply be sure to do your analysis and put together upfront because it’s a tricky hike!

If you happen to actually need to play vacationer, you may as well journey 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 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 may decelerate slightly 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: Practice 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 out there, however you’ll need to pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You’ll be able to 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 may head on to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (one other three hours by prepare).

If you happen to do need to spend just a few hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you will discover numerous contemporary seafood. You can even go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.

If you happen to’d reasonably 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 acquired its begin. If you happen to’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, house to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded top-of-the-line such bars on the planet.

What I like concerning the metropolis is its location. This area has among the finest 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 very best views of town, head to Mount Moiwayama. It’s only a 30-60-minute hike to the highest, although there’s a cable automobile you may take as properly.

And in the event you’re visiting within the winter, hit the slopes! There are over 100 ski resorts in Hokkaido. You’ll be able to hire skis (or a snowboard) for round 4,500-10,000 JPY. Raise costs are often 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, stay music, and scrumptious native meals on provide.

Moreover, you’ll want to take a day journey to Otaru, the place you’ll discover among 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 get pleasure from your remaining hours right here and soak in as a lot as you may!


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

However regardless of how lengthy you go to, you gained’t be disenchanted. 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 positively price spending the time (and cash) visiting. You gained’t be disenchanted!

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

Ebook Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Ideas and Methods

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner. They’re my two favourite search engines like google, 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’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve probably 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 persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and accommodations. They’re the very best 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 improper. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many instances up to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that supply the very best service and worth are:

Searching for the very best corporations to save cash with?
Try my useful resource web page for the very best corporations to make use of while you journey! I listing all those I exploit to save cash once I journey — and I feel they’ll assist you too!

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

Searching for extra journey suggestions for Japan?
Try my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to save cash; info on prices; recommendations on what to see and do; steered itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, way more!