Monday, February 26, 2024

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 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 folks 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 all the time depart wanting extra.

With Japan open to vacationers once more, persons are racing to go to! I actually can be heading again once more this 12 months, and numerous folks I do know are lastly making their first journey.

However the nation all the time appears forbidding to many vacationers. It undoubtedly nonetheless has that “unique” stereotype that makes folks suppose it’s arduous to journey round.

The place must you go? What must you see? How do you take advantage of your time there? Fortunately, because of Japan’s dimension and uber-fast trains, it’s very straightforward to see rather a lot in a really quick period of time.

That can assist you out, listed here are a couple of advised itineraries primarily based on my years of visiting that may enable you see one of the best websites in addition to get off the crushed 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 greatest worldwide airport. In case your journey is seven days lengthy, activate your JR Cross straight away, so that you could reap the benefits of the free JR trains that run by the town.

Whilst you might simply spend your total week in Tokyo and never get bored, listed here are a number 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’ll be able to go totally free, however food 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 primary corridor. It’s all the time busy however is value seeing with your individual eyes.
  • Drink in Golden Gai – This alleyway of back-street bars is a full of life 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 if you happen to 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 whilst you can’t go inside, the palace and its grounds are a peaceable place for a stroll.
  • Watch a sumo match – For those who’re on the town on the proper time, this can be a must-do. Tickets promote out rapidly, so e-book early. Anticipate to pay round 3,800 JPY.

If in case you have extra time, take into account 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 means — and free with the JR Cross!

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 ideas, 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 probably the most lovely 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 season months. Even with numerous vacationers, although, the town continues to be magnificent and has rather a lot 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 primary road and see ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), the small outlets, and the various 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 probably the most lovely locations in the complete 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 probably the greatest within the nation.

For a half-day journey, it’s also possible to 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 Conflict II). The true attract Nara are the deer. For the reason that seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought of 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 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 Web site. Admission is 500 JPY.

For extra Kyoto suggestions and ideas, 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 Citadel although. Whereas it’s not the unique (this model dates to 1931), it’s nonetheless a powerful sight. It’s house to a small however insightful museum and an commentary deck that gives some picturesque metropolis views.

And make sure you stroll down Dotonbori (ideally at night time), the primary 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 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.

In the present day, 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.

For those who 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 also take a cable automotive to the height of the mountain to absorb the view. A one-way ferry journey to the island takes 10 minutes and is free to JR Cross holders.

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

Head again to Tokyo on your flight house. It’s just below 4 hours on the bullet practice, 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

For those who’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
Observe 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’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 will get!

For those who like historical past, don’t miss the Hida Minzoku Mura Folks Village, house to a set 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 legendary 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 will not be removed from right here as nicely, so if you happen to love mountaineering and need 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 reasonable trails, that are open from April to November. Mountaineering trails can be present in Hakusan Nationwide Park (additionally only one hour away by automotive).
Day 11: Kanazawa
The quiet streets of scenic Kanazawa, Japan with locals wearing traditional clothing

Kanazawa is usually thought of “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, in order 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.

For those who 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 Citadel), which dates again to 1594. Whereas some sections have been rebuilt, the primary construction is unique. It’s colloquially referred to as “Crow Citadel” on account of its black exterior.

For those who’re right here in April, there are unimaginable 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 number of the greatest mountaineering 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. Your entire area is scenic and in style for laid-back getaways.

There are tons of accommodations (each trendy and conventional) which have their very own scorching springs (usually each indoors and outdoor). 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, make sure you journey the cable automotive up the mountain for much more superb 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 stated the eggs delay one’s life by seven years, so be at liberty to present them a strive!

For those who choose 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 depart at night time in an effort to arrive on the summit by daybreak. There are little outlets alongside the way in which that promote meals and even beds you’ll be able to hire upfront if you wish to break up your journey up. Simply be sure you do your analysis and put together upfront because it’s a troublesome hike!

For those who actually need to play vacationer, it’s also possible to journey 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 primary sights price 14,000 JPY.

Japan Itinerary: Three Weeks

A busy street in sunny, subtropical Okinawa, Japan

If 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.

Utilizing the ideas above, right here’s how I’d set up 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: Practice to Hokkaido
The sprawling, green landscape of Hokkaido, Japan inside a national park

The practice to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island house to volcanoes and rugged landscapes, takes 15-16 hours by practice. There are sleeper automobiles accessible, 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’s essential stretch your legs and get off the practice 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 practice).

For those who do need to spend a couple of hours in Hakodate, don’t miss the Morning Market, the place you’ll find numerous contemporary seafood. You may also go to Fort Goryokaku, the primary “Western”-style fort within the nation.

For those who’d reasonably not spend that lengthy on the practice, 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.

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. For those who’re a whiskey fan, cease by The Bow Bar, house to some uncommon (and costly) whiskeys and regarded probably the greatest such bars on the planet.

What I like in regards to the metropolis is its location. This area has a number of the greatest mountaineering 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 one of the 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 automotive you’ll be able to take as nicely.

And if you happen to’re visiting within the winter, hit the slopes! There are over 100 ski resorts in Hokkaido. You’ll be able to hire skis (or a snowboard) for round 4,500-10,000 JPY. Carry 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, 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 primary space the place the famed Hokkaido uni is caught). Go hungry and go to the markets, stalls, and outlets 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 practice 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’ll be able to!


There’s a ton to see and do in Japan, and you could possibly 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 funds vacationers want to maneuver rapidly 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 undoubtedly value spending the time (and cash) visiting. You gained’t be dissatisfied!

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

Ebook Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

Ebook Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of 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 all the time know no stone is left unturned!

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll be able to 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 because it persistently returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and accommodations. They’re one of the 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 towards 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 firms that supply one of the best service and worth are:

In search of one of the best firms to economize with?
Try my useful resource web page for one of the best firms to make use of if you journey! I record all those I exploit to economize after I journey — and I believe they are going to enable you too!

You should definitely take a look at 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!

In search of extra journey suggestions for Japan?
Try my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to economize; info on prices; tips about what to see and do; advised itineraries, studying, and packing lists; and far, rather more!

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