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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 type of nations 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 in every of my favourite nations. 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, persons are racing to go to! I personally can 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 onerous to journey round.

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

That will help you out, listed below are just a few urged itineraries based mostly on my years of visiting that may enable you to see the very 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
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 Cross straight away, so as to reap the benefits of the free JR trains that run by way of the town.

When you might simply spend your complete 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 at no cost, however foods and drinks excursions 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 full of life place to drink at evening and has a little bit of a red-light-district really feel to it. It isn’t to be missed. Even if you happen to don’t drink, you should definitely wander about.
  • Go to the Imperial Palace – The house of the emperor of Japan was constructed within the fifteenth century, and when 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 shortly, so guide early. Anticipate to pay round 3,800 JPY.

In case you have extra time, contemplate taking a day journey to Kamakura to see the large 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 manner — and free with the JR Cross!

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 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 lot of crowds although, so attempt to go to outdoors of the busy summer time months. Even with a lot of vacationers, although, the town remains to be magnificent and has lots 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 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 retailers, 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 calming break, head to Arashiyama and let the calm swaying of the forest envelop you. Situated close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s some of the lovely locations in your complete 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 standard rock and sand backyard is taken into account top-of-the-line within the nation.

For a half-day journey, you too can 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, resulting from fires, in addition to World Conflict II). The actual attract Nara are the deer. Because the seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought-about sacred. You should buy 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 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 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 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 you should definitely stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at evening), 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.

At this time, 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.

In case you really feel like getting out of city afterward, head to Miyajima, an island that provides a spot to hike and revel in nature. You may as well take a cable automobile to the height of the mountain to absorb the view. A one-way ferry experience to the island takes 10 minutes and is free to JR Cross 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

In case you’re going to be in Japan for 14 days and have bought a rail move, 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 wonderful historic outdated city (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Interval (1603–1868). The slim streets are lined with conventional wood 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 will get!

In case you like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, house to a set of conventional thatch-roof homes which 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. Make sure you have some while you’re right here!

The Japanese Alps will not be removed from right here as properly, so if you happen to love 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 simple and reasonable trails, that are open from April to November. Mountaineering trails will also 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 usually thought-about “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, so that they have been hidden within the temple to avoid the foundations). These embrace 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” resulting from its black exterior.

In case you’re right here in April, there are unimaginable 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 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

Situated simply 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tokyo, Hakone is a picturesque area recognized for its onsen (scorching springs). The area is a part of a nationwide park and gives unimaginable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. The whole area is scenic and widespread for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of accommodations (each trendy and conventional) which have their very own scorching springs (usually each indoors and open air). 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 should definitely experience the cable automobile 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 energetic volcano), and also you’ll discover a lot of distributors on the high promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s stated the eggs extend one’s life by seven years, so be at liberty to provide them a strive!

In case you favor 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 degree of health. Sometimes, hikers go away at evening in an effort to arrive on the summit by daybreak. There are little retailers alongside the best way that promote meals and even beds you’ll be able to lease 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 troublesome hike!

In case you actually wish to play vacationer, you too can experience a mock pirate ship across the lake for extra views of the mountains, and Mount Fuji specifically.

Full-day excursions round Hakone that embrace all the principle sights price 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’ll be able to 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: 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 accessible, however you’ll should pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You may finish your journey in Hakodate if you might want to 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).

In case you do wish to spend just a few hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you will discover a lot of recent seafood. You may as well go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.

In case 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. In case you’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 earth.

What I like in regards to the metropolis is its location. This area has a few of 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 embrace Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For the very 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 automobile you’ll be able to take as properly.

And if you happen to’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 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, dwell music, and scrumptious native meals on provide.

Moreover, you should definitely 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 retailers 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 ultimate 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 might 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 gained’t be dissatisfied. Japan is a tremendous, lovely, and distinctive vacation spot that I by no means get uninterested in visiting. Whereas it’s not as inexpensive as its neighbors, it’s positively value spending the time (and cash) visiting. You gained’t be dissatisfied!

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

Guide Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

Guide 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 at all times know no stone is left unturned!

Guide Your Lodging
You may guide 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 cost effective 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 Neglect 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 flawed. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions up to now. My favourite firms that provide the very best service and worth are:

On the lookout for the very best firms to economize with?
Try my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of once you journey! I listing all those I take advantage of to economize once I journey — and I feel they may enable you to too!

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

On the lookout for extra journey suggestions for Japan?
Try my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to economize; info on prices; recommendations on what to see and do; urged itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, way more!



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