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From 1 to a few 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 are you able to no longer? The meals is wealthy, in moderation 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 seek advice from, it’s by no means sufficient. I all the time go away in need of extra.

With Japan open to vacationers once more, persons are racing to seek advice from! I personally might be heading again once more this 12 months, and numerous folks I do know are in the end making their first travel.

However the nation all the time turns out forbidding to many vacationers. It indubitably nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes folks suppose it’s onerous to go back and forth round.

The place must you pass? What must you notice? How do you take advantage of your time there? Fortunately, due to Japan’s dimension and uber-fast trains, it’s really easy to look so much in an overly brief period of time.

That will help you out, listed here are a couple of instructed itineraries according to my years of visiting to help 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 travel in Tokyo, because it’s house to the rustic’s largest world airport. In case your travel is seven days lengthy, turn on your JR Go in an instant, so as to profit from the unfastened JR trains that run during the town.

Whilst you might want to simply spend all of your week in Tokyo and no longer become bored, listed here are one of the crucial highlights:

  • Consult with the fish marketplace – Toyosu is the arena’s greatest fish marketplace. The day by day public sale right here powers a lot of the arena’s sushi provide, and it’s really an absolute must-see! You’ll pass without spending a dime, 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 value seeing with your personal eyes.
  • Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a full of life position to drink at evening and has a little bit of a red-light-district really feel to it. It’s not to be overlooked. Even supposing you don’t drink, you should definitely 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 pass within, the palace and its grounds are a calm 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 briefly, so e-book early. Be expecting to pay round 3,800 JPY.

You probably have extra time, believe taking an afternoon travel to Kamakura to look the enormous Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It’s over 13 meters (42 toes) tall and dates again to the thirteenth century. The adventure is round 90 mins each and every approach — and unfastened with the JR Go!

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 proposals, take a look at my complete unfastened 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 good looks come numerous crowds regardless that, so attempt to seek advice from out of doors of the busy summer season months. Even with numerous vacationers, regardless that, 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 dedicate suicide. It’s a UNESCO Global Heritage Website online and one of the crucial most-visited locations within the nation!
  • Discover Gion – Gion is the historical geisha district. Walk alongside the principle road and spot ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), the small stores, and the various eating places that line the district’s streets. You’ll take a strolling excursion of Gion for 1,600 JPY.
  • Wander within the Bamboo Woodland – For a calming smash, head to Arashiyama and let the calm swaying of the woodland envelop you. Positioned close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s probably the most gorgeous puts in all the nation (arrive early if you wish to revel in it with out the crowds).
  • Respect Ryoan-ji temple – That is my favourite temple in Kyoto. It’s additionally a UNESCO Global Heritage Website online and residential to a mausoleum that properties the stays of 7 emperors. The normal rock and sand lawn is regarded as one of the crucial preferrred within the nation.

For a half-day travel, 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 structures and temples right here which can be upwards of one thousand years previous (which is uncommon in Japan, because of fires, in addition to Global Struggle II). The actual attract Nara are the deer. For the reason that seventeenth century, the ones in and across the town had been regarded as sacred. You’ll 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 arena’s greatest wood development and is house to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was once in-built 738 CE and is now a UNESCO Global Heritage Website online. Admission is 500 JPY.

For extra Kyoto guidelines and proposals, take a look at my complete unfastened 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 pork 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 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 Citadel regardless that. Whilst it’s no longer the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s however an outstanding sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an remark deck that provides some picturesque town perspectives.

And you should definitely walk down Dotonbori (preferably at evening), the principle road, which is coated with eating places, shops, and lots of neon lighting fixtures 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 folks had been killed by means of the bomb and the firestorm it created. Some other 70,000 folks 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 enjoy however one that are supposed to no longer be overlooked.

If you are feeling like getting out of the city in a while, head to Miyajima, an island that provides a spot to hike and revel in nature. You’ll additionally take a cable automotive to the height of the mountain to soak up the view. A one-way ferry experience to the island takes 10 mins and is unfastened to JR Go holders.

For extra Hiroshima guidelines and proposals, take a look at my complete unfastened information!
Day 7: Tokyo
An empty street with glowing lights in Tokyo, Japan

Head again to Tokyo to your flight house. It’s slightly below 4 hours at the bullet educate, so that you’ll have time to discover a little bit 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 cross, right here’s how you’ll be able to divide your time:

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

Takayama is a small town with a wonderful historical previous the city (the Sanmachi Suji district) that dates again to the Edo Length (1603–1868). The slim streets are coated with conventional wood structures 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 just about historical Japan as you’ll be able to get!

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

This town (and area, actually) is known for its Hida pork, a high-fat selection that’s even higher than any A5 Wagyu you’ll have. It simply melts on your mouth. Make sure you have some if you are right here!

The Jap Alps don’t seem to be some distance from right here as effectively, so when you love climbing and need to lengthen your time within the area, head to Kamikochi for an afternoon hike or in a single day travel. It’s simply an hour away and has each simple and average trails, that are open from April to November. Climbing trails may also be present in Hakusan Nationwide Park (additionally only one hour away by means of automotive).
Day 11: Kanazawa
The quiet streets of scenic Kanazawa, Japan with locals wearing traditional clothing

Kanazawa is incessantly regarded as “Little Kyoto,” as it’s house to a surprisingly well-preserved Edo-era district. There are a large number of previous samurai properties you’ll be able to recognize (and one, the Nomura Area, 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 development defenses, so that they had been hidden within the temple to avoid the foundations). Those come with hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.

If you wish to have a smash from exploring towns, Hakusan Nationwide Park, house to Mount Haku, one of the crucial 3 holy mountains, is simply an hour south of the city.
Day 12: Matsumoto
The traditional Japanese castle overlooking Matsumoto in Japan

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

If you happen to’re right here in April, there are unbelievable cherry blossom shows which can be well-known within the area. And, similar to Takayama, Matsumoto is just about the Jap Alps, so that you’re only a stone’s throw from one of the crucial preferrred 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 recognized for its onsen (scorching springs). The area is a part of a countrywide park and gives unbelievable perspectives of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. All of the area is scenic and widespread for laid-back getaways.

There are lots of resorts (each fashionable and standard) that experience their very own scorching springs (incessantly each indoors and outside). It’s the easiest position to wrap up a travel, chill out, and take within the perspectives.

Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, you should definitely experience the cable automotive up the mountain for much more superb perspectives. The realm is surrounded by means of craters from an inactive volcano that erupted 80,000 years in the past (to not be at a loss for words with within reach Mount Fuji, which is an lively volcano), and also you’ll in finding numerous distributors on the most sensible promoting eggs cooked within the sulfurous waters. It’s mentioned the eggs lengthen one’s lifestyles by means of seven years, so be happy to present them a check out!

If you want to hike up as an alternative, the path is open between July and September, with the trek taking anyplace from 5 to twelve hours, relying for your stage of health. Normally, hikers go away at evening to be able to arrive on the summit by means of first light. There are little stores alongside the way in which that promote meals or even beds you’ll be able to hire upfront if you wish to break up your adventure up. Simply you’ll want to do your analysis and get ready upfront because it’s a tricky hike!

If you happen to actually need to play vacationer, you’ll be able to additionally experience a ridicule pirate send across the lake for extra perspectives of the mountains, and Mount Fuji specifically.

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

Japan Itinerary: 3 Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan

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

The usage of the tips 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 means of educate. There are sleeper vehicles to be had, however you’ll need to pay a surcharge (round 9,500 JPY) for a mattress. You’ll finish your adventure in Hakodate if you wish to have to stretch your legs and get off the educate for a little bit. Differently, you’ll be able to head immediately to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (every other 3 hours by means 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 in finding numerous contemporary seafood. You’ll additionally seek advice from Fortress Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fortress within the nation.

If you happen to’d relatively no longer 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, regardless that it’s some distance got rid of from the remainder of Japan. The area was once first house to the indigenous Ainu, regardless that greater immigration within the nineteenth century noticed the Jap inhabitants skyrocket.

Make sure you forestall in on the native Beer Museum too, owned by means 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, forestall by means of The Bow Bar, house to a couple uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded as one of the crucial preferrred such bars on the earth.

What I really like in regards to the town is its location. This area has one of the crucial preferrred 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, regardless that there’s a cable automotive you’ll be able to take as effectively.

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

Moreover, you should definitely take an afternoon travel to Otaru, the place you’ll in finding 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). Move 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 travel, so revel in 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 every other month right here and nonetheless simply scratch the skin (we didn’t even get to Okinawa and the islands!). And whilst those itineraries are a little bit fast paced, Japan isn’t affordable, so finances vacationers want to transfer briefly to keep away from breaking the financial institution.

However regardless of how lengthy you seek advice from, you gained’t be upset. Japan is an excellent, gorgeous, and distinctive vacation spot that I by no means get bored of visiting. Whilst it’s no longer as reasonably priced as its neighbors, it’s indubitably value spending the time (and cash) visiting. You gained’t be upset!

REMINDER: You are going to indubitably desire a JR Go to get round. Make sure you get one BEFORE you pass! For more info at the cross, learn this weblog put up I wrote about it.

Ebook Your Travel to Japan: Logistical Pointers and Tips

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a affordable flight by means of the use of Skyscanner. They’re my two favourite serps, as a result of they seek web sites and airways world wide, so that you all the time know no stone is left unturned!

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have got probably the most complete stock so they’re preferrred for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a lodge or guesthouse in Japan, use because it constantly returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and resorts. They’re the most efficient reserving web site available in the market. My favourite puts to stick in Japan are:

Don’t Fail to remember Commute Insurance coverage
Commute insurance coverage will offer protection to you towards sickness, harm, robbery, and cancelations. It’s complete coverage in case the rest is going incorrect. I by no means pass on a travel with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it again and again prior to now. I’ve been the use of Global Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that supply the most efficient carrier and price are:

Searching for the most efficient firms to economize with?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most efficient firms to make use of while you go back and forth! I checklist the entire ones I take advantage of to economize after I go back and forth — and I feel they’ll permit you to too!

Ensure that to take a look at the Japan Rail Go when you’ll be touring across the nation. It is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and will prevent a ton of cash!

Searching for extra go back and forth guidelines for Japan?
Take a look at my in-depth Japan go back and forth information for extra techniques to economize; knowledge on prices; recommendations on what to look and do; instructed itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, a lot more!

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