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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 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 individuals tremendous pleasant and well mannered.

Japan stays one in every of my favourite international locations. Irrespective 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 actually shall be heading again once more this yr, and numerous individuals 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 individuals assume it’s exhausting to journey round.

The place do you have to go? What do you have to see? How do you take advantage of your time there? Fortunately, due to Japan’s measurement and uber-fast trains, it’s very straightforward to see so much in a really quick period of time.

That can assist you out, listed below are a couple of advised itineraries primarily based on my years of visiting that may aid you see the perfect 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 dwelling to the nation’s largest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Move straight away, so that you could reap the benefits of the free JR trains that run by means of town.

Whilst you may simply spend your total week in Tokyo and never get bored, listed below are a number of the highlights:

  • Go to the fish market – Toyosu is the world’s largest fish market. The each 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 without 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 energetic place to drink at night time 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 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 e book early. Anticipate to pay round 3,800 JPY.

When you’ve got 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 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 recommendations, 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 stunning 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 plenty of crowds although, so attempt to go to outdoors of the busy summer time months. Even with plenty of vacationers, although, town remains to be magnificent and has so much 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 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 retailers, and the numerous eating places that line the district’s streets. You’ll be able to 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 one of the vital stunning locations in all the 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 normal rock and sand backyard is taken into account among the best within the nation.

For a half-day journey, you can even 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, on account of fires, in addition to World Warfare II). The true attract Nara are the deer. Because the seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought-about 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 dwelling 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 recommendations, 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’ll be able to 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 Fortress although. Whereas it’s not the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s however a formidable sight. It’s dwelling to a small however insightful museum and an statement deck that gives some picturesque metropolis views.

And make sure you 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 individuals had been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 individuals had been injured, and 70% of town was destroyed.

Right this moment, 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.

In case 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 too can take a cable automobile 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 Move holders.

For extra Hiroshima suggestions and recommendations, take a look at my complete free information!
Day 7: Tokyo
An empty street with glowing lights in Tokyo, Japan
Head again to Tokyo in your flight dwelling. It’s slightly 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 cross, 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 ravishing 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!

In case you like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, dwelling to a group of conventional thatch-roof homes that you may 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 may need. It simply melts in your mouth. You should definitely have some while you’re right here!

The Japanese Alps are usually not removed from right here as properly, so should you love mountain 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 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-about “Little Kyoto,” as it’s dwelling 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 dwelling to precise ninjas, Myoryuji was constructed as a defensive construction (strict legal guidelines forbade native lords from constructing defenses, in order that they had been hidden within the temple to bypass the foundations). 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, dwelling 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 stunning views, Matsumoto is dwelling to one of many nation’s best-preserved castles, Matsumoto-jo (Matsumoto Fortress), which dates again to 1594. Whereas some sections have been rebuilt, the principle construction is unique. It’s colloquially referred to as “Crow Fortress” on account 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, similar to Takayama, Matsumoto is near the Japanese Alps, so that you’re only a stone’s throw from a number of the finest 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 (sizzling springs). The area is a part of a nationwide park and gives unbelievable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. All the area is scenic and fashionable for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of inns (each trendy and conventional) which have their very own sizzling springs (typically each indoors and open air). It’s the right place to wrap up a visit, chill out, and take within the views.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, make sure you trip 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 lively volcano), and also you’ll discover plenty of distributors on the high promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s mentioned the eggs lengthen one’s life by seven years, so be at liberty to provide them a strive!

In case you desire 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 degree of health. Usually, hikers go away at night time 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 may lease prematurely if you wish to cut up your journey up. Simply ensure you do your analysis and put together prematurely because it’s a troublesome hike!

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

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
When you’ve got a 3rd week in Japan, you may decelerate a little bit and spend extra time in every vacation spot.

Utilizing the recommendations 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 dwelling to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by prepare. There are sleeper vehicles obtainable, however you’ll should 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).

In case you do wish to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you will discover plenty of recent seafood. You too can go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.

In case you’d moderately 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 dwelling to the indigenous Ainu, although elevated immigration within the nineteenth century noticed the Japanese inhabitants skyrocket.

You should definitely 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 received its begin. In case you’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, dwelling to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded among the best such bars on the planet.

What I really like concerning the metropolis is its location. This area has a number of the finest 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 embody Mount Me-akan, Mount Asahim, Mount Mashu, and Nishibetsu-dake. For the perfect 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 should you’re visiting within the winter, hit the slopes! There are over 100 ski resorts in Hokkaido. You’ll be able to 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 Competition. 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 you take a day journey to Otaru, the place you’ll discover a number 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: 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 closing hours right here and soak in as a lot as you may!


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 regardless of how lengthy you go to, you gained’t be upset. Japan is an incredible, stunning, 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 upset!

REMINDER: You’ll positively want a JR Move to get round. You should definitely get one BEFORE you go! For extra data on the cross, learn this weblog publish 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 search engines like google, 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!

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll be able to 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 Reserving.com because it persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and inns. They’re the perfect 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 towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many instances prior to now. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide the perfect service and worth are:

In search of the perfect corporations to economize with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of once you journey! I record all those I exploit to economize after I journey — and I believe they may aid you too!

You should definitely take a look at the Japan Rail Move 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 economize; data on prices; tips about what to see and do; advised itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, far more!



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