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 kind of international locations that everybody loves. How are you able to now not? The meals is wealthy, moderately 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 seek advice from, it’s by no means sufficient. I all the time depart short of extra.

With Japan open to vacationers once more, persons are racing to seek advice from! I personally can be heading again once more this 12 months, and numerous other people I do know are in any case making their first shuttle.

However the nation all the time turns out forbidding to many vacationers. It indubitably nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes other people suppose it’s exhausting to shuttle round.

The place will have to you cross? What will have to you notice? How do you profit from your time there? Fortuitously, because of Japan’s measurement and uber-fast trains, it’s really easy to look so much in an excessively brief period of time.

That will help you out, listed below are a couple of advised itineraries in accordance with my years of visiting that can assist you see the most efficient websites in addition to get off the overwhelmed trail and get an actual sense of Jap tradition:


Japan Itinerary: One Week

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

Day 1 & 2: Tokyo
Chances are high that you’ll be beginning your shuttle in Tokyo, because it’s house to the rustic’s largest global airport. In case your shuttle is seven days lengthy, turn on your JR Move straight away, in an effort to profit from the loose JR trains that run in the course of the town.

Whilst you might want to simply spend all your week in Tokyo and now not become bored, listed below are one of the vital highlights:

  • Consult with the fish marketplace – Toyosu is the sector’s greatest fish marketplace. The day-to-day public sale right here powers a lot of the sector’s sushi provide, and it’s really an absolute must-see! You’ll be able to cross without cost, however food and drinks excursions of the Tsukiji Outer Marketplace are to be had 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, within 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 position to drink at night time and has a bit of of a red-light-district really feel to it. It’s not to be overlooked. Even supposing you don’t drink, be sure you wander about.
  • Consult with the Imperial Palace – The house of the emperor of Japan was once constructed within the fifteenth century, and whilst you’ll be able to’t cross within, the palace and its grounds are a relaxed position for a walk.
  • Watch a sumo fit – If you happen to’re on the town on the proper time, this can be a must-do. Tickets promote out temporarily, so ebook early. Be expecting to pay round 3,800 JPY.

In case you have extra time, imagine taking an afternoon shuttle to Kamakura to look the large Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It’s over 13 meters (42 ft) tall and dates again to the thirteenth century. The adventure is round 90 mins every means — and loose with the JR Move!

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

For extra Tokyo guidelines and recommendations, take a look at my complete loose 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 gorgeous town 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 attractiveness come a variety of crowds although, so attempt to seek advice from out of doors of the busy summer season months. Even with a variety of vacationers, although, the town continues to be magnificent and has so much to supply. Some issues to look and do this you shouldn’t pass over are the next:

  • Consult with the Golden Pavillion – This well-known (and picturesque) temple dates to the Nineteen Fifties, when a monk burned down the former temple (from the 14th century) whilst seeking to devote suicide. It’s a UNESCO International Heritage Web page and some of the most-visited locations within the nation!
  • Discover Gion – Gion is the ancient geisha district. Walk alongside the principle avenue and spot ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), the small stores, and the numerous eating places that line the district’s streets. You’ll be able to take a strolling excursion of Gion for 1,600 JPY.
  • Wander within the Bamboo Wooded area – For a soothing destroy, head to Arashiyama and let the calm swaying of the woodland envelop you. Situated close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s one of the gorgeous puts in all of the nation (arrive early if you wish to experience it with out the crowds).
  • Respect Ryoan-ji temple – That is my favourite temple in Kyoto. It’s additionally a UNESCO International Heritage Web page and residential to a mausoleum that homes the stays of 7 emperors. The standard rock and sand lawn is thought of as some of the ideal within the nation.

For a half-day shuttle, you’ll be able to additionally seek advice from Nara. It’s a small town only one hour from Kyoto. Nara was once the capital of Japan within the 8th century, so there are many constructions and temples right here which might be upwards of 1000 years previous (which is unusual in Japan, because of fires, in addition to International Battle II). The actual attract Nara are the deer. For the reason that seventeenth century, the ones in and across the town had been thought to be sacred. You’ll be able to purchase crackers to feed them or simply watch them walk round carefree.

Whilst you’re right here, don’t pass over a seek advice from to Todai-ji. It’s the sector’s greatest picket construction and is house to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was once inbuilt 738 CE and is now a UNESCO International Heritage Web page. Admission is 500 JPY.

For extra Kyoto guidelines and recommendations, take a look at my complete loose information!
Day 5: Osaka
The iconic, towering Osaka Castle overlooking busy Osaka, Japan on a sunny day

Osaka is the third-largest town within the nation. It’s the monetary capital of the rustic, however I come for the meals. Mouth-watering sushi and sashimi, Kobe red meat and Jap 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 meals excursion for round 12,000 JPY or simply wander and devour. That’s all I do: devour, devour, devour.

Don’t pass over Osaka Fort although. Whilst it’s now not the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s nonetheless an excellent sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an commentary deck that provides some picturesque town perspectives.

And be sure you walk down Dotonbori (preferably at night time), the principle avenue, which is coated with eating places, retail outlets, and heaps of neon lighting 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 once the primary time a nuclear weapon was once dropped on a town, and it had devastating penalties. Upwards of 80,000 other people had been killed by way of the bomb and the firestorm it created. Every other 70,000 other people had been injured, and 70% of the town was once destroyed.

These days, Hiroshima is prospering. Don’t pass over the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the historical past of the town sooner than and after that fateful day. It has pictures, artifacts, movies, and details about the impact of radiation at the inhabitants. It’s a sobering revel in however one that are meant to now not be overlooked.

If you are feeling like getting out of the town in a while, head to Miyajima, an island that provides a spot to hike and experience nature. You’ll be able to additionally take a cable automobile to the height of the mountain to absorb the view. A one-way ferry trip to the island takes 10 mins and is loose to JR Move holders.

For extra Hiroshima guidelines and recommendations, take a look at my complete loose 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 at the bullet educate, so that you’ll have time to discover a bit of extra sooner than you allow!

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 feature bought a rail go, right here’s how you’ll be able to divide your time:

Days 1-9
Practice the itinerary above however upload an additional day in Tokyo and, relying to your pursuits, both Osaka or Kyoto.
Day 10: Takayama
The quiet streets of scenic Takayama, Japan

Takayama is a small town with an exquisite ancient previous the town (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Duration (1603–1868). The slim streets are coated with conventional picket constructions 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 as regards to ancient Japan as you’ll be able to get!

If you happen to like historical past, don’t pass over the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, house to a number of conventional thatch-roof homes that you’ll be able to input to additional immerse your self within the nation’s previous.

This town (and area, in point of fact) is known for its Hida red meat, a high-fat selection that’s even higher than any A5 Wagyu you’ll have. It simply melts for your mouth. Make sure you have some while you’re right here!

The Jap Alps aren’t some distance from right here as nicely, so for those who love mountain climbing and need to lengthen your time within the area, head to Kamikochi for an afternoon hike or in a single day shuttle. It’s simply an hour away and has each simple and average trails, that are open from April to November. Mountaineering trails can be present in Hakusan Nationwide Park (additionally only one hour away by way of automobile).
Day 11: Kanazawa
The quiet streets of scenic Kanazawa, Japan with locals wearing traditional clothing

Kanazawa is steadily thought to be “Little Kyoto,” as it’s house to a shockingly well-preserved Edo-era district. There are a large number of previous samurai properties you’ll be able to respect (and one, the Nomura Space, which is restored and open to the general public).

Probably the most extra distinctive temples in Japan is right here too: Ninja (Myoryuji) Temple. Whilst the temple wasn’t house to exact ninjas, Myoryuji was once constructed as a defensive construction (strict rules forbade native lords from construction defenses, in order that they had been hidden within the temple to avoid the principles). Those come with hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

If you want a destroy from exploring towns, Hakusan Nationwide Park, house to Mount Haku, some of the 3 holy mountains, is simply an hour south of the town.
Day 12: Matsumoto
The traditional Japanese castle overlooking Matsumoto in Japan

Surrounded by way of gorgeous perspectives, Matsumoto is house to some of the nation’s best-preserved castles, Matsumoto-jo (Matsumoto Fort), which dates again to 1594. Whilst some sections had been rebuilt, the principle construction is unique. It’s colloquially referred to as “Crow Fort” because of its black external.

If you happen to’re right here in April, there are improbable cherry blossom shows which might be well-known within the area. And, identical to Takayama, Matsumoto is as regards to the Jap Alps, so that you’re only a stone’s throw from one of the vital ideal 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

Situated 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 countrywide park and provides improbable perspectives of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. All the area is scenic and in style for laid-back getaways.

There are heaps of lodges (each fashionable and standard) that experience their very own scorching springs (steadily each indoors and out of doors). It’s the easiest position to wrap up a shuttle, loosen up, and take within the perspectives.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, be sure you trip the cable automobile up the mountain for much more superb perspectives. The realm is surrounded by way of craters from an inactive volcano that erupted 80,000 years in the past (to not be puzzled with within sight Mount Fuji, which is an lively volcano), and also you’ll to find a variety of distributors on the most sensible promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s mentioned the eggs extend one’s existence by way of seven years, so be at liberty to offer them a check out!

If you desire to hike up as an alternative, the path is open between July and September, with the trek taking any place from 5 to twelve hours, relying to your degree of health. Generally, hikers depart at night time to be able to arrive on the summit by way of crack of dawn. There are little stores alongside the way in which that promote meals or even beds you’ll be able to hire prematurely if you wish to break up your adventure up. Simply be sure you do your analysis and get ready prematurely because it’s a tricky hike!

If you happen to in point of fact need to play vacationer, you’ll be able to additionally trip a ridicule pirate send across the lake for extra perspectives of the mountains, and Mount Fuji particularly.

Complete-day excursions round Hakone that come with the entire primary attractions price 14,000 JPY.

Japan Itinerary: 3 Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan

In case you have a 3rd week in Japan, you’ll be able to decelerate a bit and spend extra time in every vacation spot.

The use of 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: Educate to Hokkaido
The sprawling, green landscape of Hokkaido, Japan inside a national park

The educate to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island house to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by way of educate. There are sleeper automobiles to be had, however you’ll must pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You’ll be able to finish your adventure in Hakodate if you want to stretch your legs and get off the educate for a bit of. In a different way, you’ll be able to head at once to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (some other 3 hours by way of educate).

If you happen to do need to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t pass over the Morning Marketplace, the place you’ll be able to to find a variety of contemporary seafood. You’ll be able to additionally seek advice from Fortress Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style citadel within the nation.

If you happen to’d reasonably now not spend that lengthy at the educate, 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 town, although it’s some distance got rid of from the remainder of Japan. The area was once first house to the indigenous Ainu, although greater immigration within the nineteenth century noticed the Jap inhabitants skyrocket.

Make sure you prevent in on the native Beer Museum too, owned by way of Sapporo Breweries (the oldest beer corporate within the nation). It showcases the historical past of beer in Japan and the way the trade were given its get started. If you happen to’re a whiskey fan, prevent by way of The Bow Bar, house to a few uncommon (and dear) whiskeys and thought to be some of the ideal such bars on the earth.

What I really like concerning the town is its location. This area has one of the vital ideal 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 come with Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For the most efficient perspectives of the town, head to Mount Moiwayama. It’s only a 30-60-minute hike to the highest, although there’s a cable automobile you’ll be able to take as nicely.

And for those who’re visiting within the wintry weather, hit the slopes! There are over 100 ski lodges in Hokkaido. You’ll be able to hire skis (or a snowboard) for round 4,500-10,000 JPY. Elevate costs are normally 4,000-6,000 JPY according to day.Within the wintry weather, don’t pass over the once a year Sapporo Snow Pageant. It’s held each February and attracts over two million guests. There are ice sculptures, igloos, are living tune, and scrumptious native meals on be offering.

Moreover, be sure you take an afternoon shuttle to Otaru, the place you’ll to find a few of the most up to date uni in the entire nation (that is the principle house the place the famed Hokkaido uni is stuck). Cross hungry and seek advice from the markets, stalls, and stores round there.

Day 21: House!
The busy streets of Tokyo, Japan near an old temple

Time to fly again to Tokyo or hop at the in a single day educate from Sapporo. You’ve had a whirlwind of a shuttle, so experience your ultimate hours right here and soak in up to you’ll be able to!


There’s a ton to look and do in Japan, and you might want to simply spend some other month right here and nonetheless simply scratch the outside (we didn’t even get to Okinawa and the islands!). And whilst those itineraries are a bit of fast moving, Japan isn’t affordable, so price range vacationers wish to transfer temporarily to keep away from breaking the financial institution.

However regardless of how lengthy you seek advice from, you gained’t be disenchanted. Japan is a great, gorgeous, and distinctive vacation spot that I by no means get bored of visiting. Whilst it’s now not as inexpensive as its neighbors, it’s indubitably price spending the time (and cash) visiting. You gained’t be disenchanted!

REMINDER: You’re going to indubitably want a JR Move to get round. Make sure you get one BEFORE you cross! For more info at the go, learn this weblog submit I wrote about it.

E-book Your Go back and forth to Japan: Logistical Guidelines and Methods

E-book Your Flight
Discover a affordable flight by way of the use of Skyscanner. They’re my two favourite engines like google, as a result of they seek internet sites and airways around the world, so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned!

E-book Your Lodging
You’ll be able to ebook your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve probably the most complete stock so they’re ideal for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a resort or guesthouse in Japan, use because it constantly returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and lodges. They’re the most efficient reserving website available in the market. My favourite puts to stick in Japan are:

Don’t Fail to remember Commute Insurance coverage
Commute insurance coverage will give protection to you in opposition to sickness, damage, robbery, and cancelations. It’s complete coverage in case anything else is going flawed. I by no means cross on a shuttle with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it repeatedly prior to now. I’ve been the use of International Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that supply the most efficient provider and price are:

In search of the most efficient corporations to save cash with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most efficient corporations to make use of while you shuttle! I record the entire ones I take advantage of to save cash after I shuttle — and I feel they are going to assist you to too!

Be certain 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 will prevent a ton of cash!

In search of extra shuttle guidelines for Japan?
Take a look at my in-depth Japan shuttle information for extra techniques to save cash; data on prices; recommendations on what to look and do; advised itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, a lot more!

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