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 going to not? The meals is wealthy, rigorously crafted, and scrumptious; the historical past and tradition wealthy and lengthy; the panorama breathtaking; and the individuals tremendous pleasant and well mannered.
Japan remains one of my favorite countries. Regardless of how lengthy I go to, it’s by no means sufficient. I all the time depart 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 all the time appears forbidding to many vacationers. It positively nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes individuals assume it’s arduous 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 straightforward to see so much in a really quick period of time.
That can assist you out, listed below are a couple of instructed itineraries primarily based on my years of visiting that can provide help to see the perfect websites in addition to get off the overwhelmed path and get an actual sense of Japanese tradition:
Japan Itinerary: One Week
Day 1 & 2: Tokyo
Chances are high you’ll be beginning your journey in Tokyo, because it’s residence to the nation’s greatest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Pass instantly, with the intention to benefit from the free JR trains that run by the town.
While you could easily spend your entire 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 each day public sale right here powers a lot of the world’s sushi provide, and it’s really an absolute must-see! You may go without spending a dime, however food and drink tours of the Tsukiji Outer Market can be found for round 13,500 JPY.
- See Sensoji Temple – Sensoji is superbly 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 energetic 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 – When you’re on the town on the proper time, this can be a must-do. Tickets promote out rapidly, so e-book early. Count on to pay round 3,800 JPY.
When you have extra time, think about taking a day journey to Kamakura to see the enormous Buddha statue (Daibutsu). It’s over 13 meters (42 ft) tall and dates again to the thirteenth century. The journey is round 90 minutes every method — 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 ideas and options, check out my comprehensive free guide!
Days 3 & 4: Kyoto
Kyoto is arguably probably the most stunning 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 outdoors of the busy summer time months. Even with numerous vacationers, although, the town remains to be magnificent and has so much to supply. Some issues to see and do that you simply 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 attempting 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 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 stunning locations in your entire 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 Website and residential to a mausoleum that homes the stays of seven emperors. The normal rock and sand backyard is taken into account probably the greatest 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 previous (which is uncommon in Japan, as a consequence of fires, in addition to World Conflict 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 residence to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was in-built 738 CE and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Website. Admission is 500 JPY.
For extra Kyoto ideas and options, check out my comprehensive free guide!
Day 5: Osaka
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 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 nonetheless a powerful sight. It’s residence to a small however insightful museum and an commentary deck that gives some picturesque metropolis views.
And you’ll want to stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at night time), the principle avenue, which is lined with eating places, shops, and tons of neon lights and indicators.
Day 6: Hiroshima
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 have been killed by the bomb and the firestorm it created. One other 70,000 individuals have been injured, and 70% of the town was destroyed.
Immediately, Hiroshima is prospering. Don’t miss the Atomic Bomb Museum, which depicts the historical past of the 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.
When 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 may as well 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 minutes and is free to JR Pass holders.
For extra Hiroshima ideas and options, check out my comprehensive free guide!
Day 7: Tokyo
Head again to Tokyo on your flight residence. 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
When you’re going to be in Japan for 14 days and have bought a rail pass, right here’s how one can divide your time:
Comply with the itinerary above however add an additional day in Tokyo and, relying in your pursuits, both Osaka or Kyoto.
Day 10: Takayama
Takayama is a small metropolis with a ravishing historic previous 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!
When you like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, residence to a group of conventional thatch-roof homes that you could 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. Make sure to have some while you’re right here!
The Japanese Alps usually are not removed from right here as properly, so in the event 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 automotive).
Day 11: Kanazawa
Kanazawa is commonly thought-about “Little Kyoto,” as it’s residence to an extremely well-preserved Edo-era district. There are quite a few previous 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 residence 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 bypass the foundations). These embody hidden rooms, secret tunnels, and a maze of staircases and halls to confuse enemies.
When you want a break from exploring cities, Hakusan Nationwide Park, residence to Mount Haku, one of many three holy mountains, is simply an hour south of city.
Day 12: Matsumoto
Surrounded by stunning views, Matsumoto is residence 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 unique. It’s colloquially often known as “Crow Citadel” as a consequence of its black exterior.
When you’re right here in April, there are unbelievable cherry blossom shows which might 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 greatest mountain climbing within the nation.
Days 13 & 14: Hakone
Positioned 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 nationwide park and presents unbelievable views of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashinoko. Your entire area is scenic and standard for laid-back getaways.
There are tons of lodges (each fashionable and conventional) which have their very own scorching springs (typically each indoors and open air). It’s the proper place to wrap up a visit, calm down, and take within the views.
Along with getting a copious quantity of R&R, you’ll want to experience the cable automotive up the mountain for much more wonderful views. The realm 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 mentioned the eggs delay one’s life by seven years, so be at liberty to present them a attempt!
When you choose to hike up as a substitute, the path is open between July and September, with the trek taking anyplace from 5 to 12 hours, relying in your stage of health. Usually, hikers depart at night time so as to arrive on the summit by daybreak. There are little retailers alongside the best way that promote meals and even beds you may hire upfront if you wish to break up your journey up. Simply ensure you do your analysis and put together upfront because it’s a tricky hike!
When you actually wish to play vacationer, you can even experience 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 price 14,000 JPY.
Japan Itinerary: Three Weeks
When you have a 3rd week in Japan, you may decelerate slightly and spend extra time in every vacation spot.
Utilizing the options above, right here’s how I might manage 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 prepare to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island residence to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by prepare. There are sleeper automobiles obtainable, however you’ll need to 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 may head on to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (one other three hours by prepare).
When you do wish to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you’ll find numerous contemporary seafood. You may as well go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.
When you’d somewhat 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
Sapporo is the fifth-largest metropolis, although it’s far faraway from the remainder of Japan. The area was first residence to the indigenous Ainu, although elevated immigration within the nineteenth century noticed the Japanese inhabitants skyrocket.
Make sure to 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. When you’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, residence to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded probably the greatest such bars on the earth.
What I like in regards to the metropolis is its location. This area has a few of the greatest 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 the town, head to Mount Moiwayama. It’s only a 30-60-minute hike to the highest, although there’s a cable automotive 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 may hire skis (or a snowboard) for round 4,500-10,000 JPY. Carry costs are normally 4,000-6,000 JPY per day.Within the winter, don’t miss the annual Sapporo Snow Pageant. 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 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!
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 ultimate 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 finances vacationers want to maneuver rapidly to keep away from breaking the financial institution.
However regardless of how lengthy you go to, you received’t be disenchanted. 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 price spending the time (and cash) visiting. You received’t be disenchanted!
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 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 may e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve probably the most complete stock so they’re greatest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a lodge or guesthouse in Japan, use Booking.com because it constantly returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and lodges. They’re the perfect reserving web site on the market. My favourite locations to remain in Japan are:
Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend 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. 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 save cash with?
Take a look at my resource page for the perfect corporations to make use of if you journey! I checklist all those I take advantage of to save cash once I journey — and I believe they’ll provide help to too!
Make sure to 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 might prevent a ton of cash!
In search of extra journey ideas for Japan?
Take a look at my in-depth Japan travel guide for extra methods to save cash; info on prices; recommendations on what to see and do; instructed itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, far more!