Japan in 2 weeks
Get ready for an incredible 2-week Japanese adventure, blending old traditions and new vibes. Explore Tokyo's buzz, soak in the Alps' charm, feel Kyoto's grace, marvel at Himeji's elegance, embrace Hiroshima's strength, unwind amidst Miyajima's beauty, and savor the flavors of Osaka. This itinerary is your ticket to an amazing journey!
19 Places • 10 Saves • ago
Free

Japan

Embark on a delightful 2-week adventure across Japan that blends the best of tradition, nature, and modernity. This carefully crafted itinerary is your ticket to a balanced journey, filled with unforgettable experiences which you can adjust to make your own 10-20 days itineray to Japan a dream come true!

Get ready for an incredible journey starting in Tokyo, where the buzz of modern life meets tradition. Travel back in time through the charming villages of the Japanese Alps – Takayama, Shirakawago, and Kanazawa. Experience Kyoto's mix of classic charm and modern vibes. Don't miss the striking beauty of Himeji Castle before diving into Hiroshima's history and the peace of Miyajima. Wrap it all up in lively Osaka, where you can savor Japan's best flavors.

With this guide in one hand and the Shinkansen tickets on the other, let the rhythm of the rails guide you through beuaty of Japan's landscapes, culture and gastronomy. 

Index

General Tips

Itinerary

- Day 1-3: Tokyo

- Day 4-6: Japanese Alps

- Day 7-9: Kyoto

- Day 10-12: Himeji, Hiroshima & Miyajima

- Day 13-15: Osaka & back home

General Tips

🌐 Itinerary organization: I have organized the itinirary explanining you the prefered options for transportation, restaurants, hotels and activities to choose based on my experience and also some friends' tips. Although we did a 2-week itinerary you can transform this guide into a 10-20 days trip according to your preferences. Take into account that this is a perfect itinerary for your first time in Japan and does not include some additional spots that in my opinion would be more of a longer stay or second trip choice. However, this is completely up to you!

📸 Pictures: unfortunately this time, the pics are not mine! 

📅When was I there? April 2019, cherry-blossom season - Itinerary revised in 2023. 

☀️Weather: Japan experiences four distinct seasons. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are popular due to mild temperatures and picturesque landscapes. Summer (June to August) is less optimal since it gets very hot and humid and the possibility of typhoons. Winter (December to February) brings colder temperatures, especially in northern areas, making it ideal for winter sports enthusiasts. With that said, Spring would be my prefered choice, especially during the month of April with Sakura: cherry blossoms.

✅Visa: Citizens of many countries can enter Japan for tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days. Check the official Japanese government website for visa requirements based on your nationality.

💪🏻Healthcare: Consider travel insurance that covers medical expenses abroad. 

💰Money: Cash is widely used, so it's advisable to have yen on hand. consider using a reliable currency exchange service like Revolut to avoid high fees.

📱Wifi: Consider renting a Pocket Wi-Fi or buying a local SIM card for continuous internet access. You can also buy Airalo eSIM directly from the app - it provides internet access but not a proper phone number.

🚘 Transportation: Consider getting a Japan Rail Pass (JRP) if planning to travel between cities as this guide suggests, since it offers unlimited travel on most JR trains for a fixed period. Within urban cities, Japan has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including trains, subways, and buses.

🍽️ Regional Delights: In Tokyo, savor sushi at Tsukiji Market or try monjayaki at Tsukishima Monja Street. In Osaka, indulge in takoyaki (octopus-filled balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).

Must Cultural Experiences: Visit traditional sites like temples, shrines, and tea houses. Try a traditional onsen (hot spring bath) experience. Participate in a tea ceremony for a taste of Japanese culture. Dress like a sammurai or a Geisha. 

⭐️Highly recommend: you'll see some stars along the text which mean that this is a MUST!

💡Add-ons: find some additional options marked with a light bulb for you to tailor the trip to your preferences. 

🙋🏽‍♀️Doubts?: If you have any quick questions you can reach me at my IG account.

Itinierary 

Day 1-3: Tokyo

📍    City Hub: Tokyo

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: APA Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku 

🍽️ Dining Recommendations:

- Ueno and Asakusa: Ippudo Ueno Hirokoji Shop (Ramen), Asakusa Adventure (Various Culinary Delights), Iriyama Sembei (Rice Crackers), Hoppy-dori Specialties (Street Food)

- Akihabara: Maidreaming (Maid Cafe), Gyukatsu Motomura (tonkatsu)

- Ginza: Bairin Ginza Honten (Tonkatsu), Hakkou (Sushi Bar), Bifteck no Kawamura (Kobe Beef Teppanyaki)

- Shinjuku: Omide-yokocho (Yakitori), Ichiran(Ramen), Teppan Baby (Konomiyaki), Yoshinoya (Gyudon), Gyozalo (Dumplings), Sushizanmai (sushi)

- Roppongi: Roppongi Robataya (grilles skewers)

- Shibuya: Sushi no Midori (Quality Sushi), Maiizumi (Culinary Delights), Tonkatsu Maisen (Tonkatsu)

- Sweet treats: Rikuro (cotton cheesecake), Pablo (cheesecake)

Day 1: Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara, Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo
@skpaula
Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital, is a dynamic blend of modernity and tradition. Skyscrapers and neon lights define its futuristic skyline, while historic temples and serene gardens offer moments of tranquility. From high-tech shopping districts to traditional tea houses, Tokyo offers a captivating journey through contemporary Japanese culture.
Add to
Details

Morning: Begin at Ueno Park for stunning cherry blossoms. Highlights include Shinobazu Pond, Toshogu Shrine, Five-story Pagoda, Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple, and Jomyoin.

Lunch: Ippudo Ueno Hirokoji Shop.

Afternoon: Dive into Asakusa, exploring: Senso-ji Temple, grand Kaminarimon Gate, Nakamise Shopping Street, Hozomon Gate, Shin-Nakamise Street... Savor panoramic vistas of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree observation decks.

Evening: Immerse yourself in the world of anime and manga in Akihabara. Explore shops and stalls around Akihabara Station and Chuo-Dori. 

Dinner: Hoppy-dori specialties.

Day 2: Tokyo - Imperial Palace, Ginza, Shinjuku

Morning: Start your day by heading to the Imperial Palace (Kokyo), enjoying the serene ambiance and beautiful scenery. Make your way to the Tokyo Station area or visit the Pokémon Café (for Pokemon fans!) Explore Ginza, strolling along Chuo Dori and passing by landmarks like: The Kabuki-Za traditional theater, Sony Building, Ginza Wako with its iconic clock, Tokyu Plaza Ginza, Luxury fashion and accessory stores. Depending on your time, you might visit the Hamarikyu Gardens and its charming teahouse or experience the unique Tsukishima Monja Street for a taste of monjayaki.

Lunch: Bifteck no Kawamura (Kobe beef teppanyaki)

Afternoon and Evening: Take a metro or train to the vibrant district of Shinjuku, Tokyo's administrative and entertainment hub. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen, a tranquil oasis amidst the urban chaos. 

Evening: As dusk falls, make your way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for its free observation decks to watch the sun set. Once night falls, explore the enigmatic allure of Kabukicho, Shinjuku's famous entertainment and red-light district.

Dinner: Ichiran (ramen).

Nighlife: Explore Shinjuku's unique bars and bohemian atmosphere of the Golden Gai alley or try a karaoke night!

Day 3: Tokyo - Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi, Shibuya

Morning: Begin your day at the tranquil Meiji Shrine and enjoy a serene walk through the lush Yoyogi Park. After the shrine, emerge onto the bustling Takeshita Street in Harajuku. and explore the vibrant pedestrian street, known for its unique fashion and culture. Discover quirky shops, including the Hedgehog Café and Shiner with rainbow-colored treats.

Lunch: Gyozalo (enjoy dumplings).

Afternoon: Head to Omotesando, a street celebrated for its architecture and high-end fashion.Catch glimpses of notable buildings while strolling: V28, Iceberg, Laforet, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando rooftop, Omotesando HillsTods, Hugo Boss... Consider a leisurely walk along Cat Street for more boutiques and creativity.

Evening: Travel to Roppongi for a stunning sunset at Mori Tower, where you'll be able to admire Tokyo's lights. As night falls, take the metro to Shibuya. Witness the iconic Shibuya Crossing, one of the world's busiest pedestrian crossings. Pay your respects to the Hachiko Statue and its heartwarming story. Explore the quirky Dogenzaka area, or the "Love Hotel Hill," for a glimpse of unique architecture. Venture to the Nonbei Yokocho, the "Drunkard's Alley," for a step back in time. Enjoy tiny, nostalgic bars where you can enjoy a drink or two and might get some "tapas" (although not enough to eat).

Dinner: Tonkatsu Maisen (tonkatsu).

💡More time?

You can add an extra day so that your itinerary is not so packed. 

Additionally, you can consider adding 1 or 2 extra days and explore the following regions from Tokyo:

Nikko
@skpaula
Escape to Nikko's serene embrace, a haven of ancient shrines and natural beauty. Discover the ornate Toshogu Shrine honoring Tokugawa Ieyasu. Marvel at Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls' majestic vistas. Immerse in Japan's history and spirituality in this peaceful retreat.
Add to
Details
Hakone
@skpaula
Indulge in Hakone's rejuvenating onsens with views of iconic Mt. Fuji. Traverse the Hakone Ropeway for panoramic mountain and valley scenes. Unleash creativity at the Open-Air Museum. Hakone invites you to unwind in hot springs and bask in nature's splendor
Add to
Details

If you stay in Hakone you can also get nice views of Mount Fuji! Stay in a traditional ryokan with views!

However if you want to stay in one of the best places to see Mount Fuji and do some trecking experiences, I would then recommend Kawaguchi Lake.

Lake Kawaguchi
@skpaula
This is one of the Fuji Five Lakes and offers stunning views of Mount Fuji reflected in Lake Kawaguchi. There are various accommodations in the area, including ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and hotels. You’ll find hiking trails around the lake and even the possibility of taking a ropeway or cable car for panoramic views.
Add to
Details

Day 4- 6: Japanese Alps

📍    City Hub: Takayama

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hida Hotel Plaza

🍽️ Dining Recommendations (Takayama): Sakaguchiya (Hida beef), Maruaki Hida Beef (Hida beef), Sumiyoshi, Matsuri No Mori (varied dishes)

Day 4: Travel to Takayama

Takayama
@skpaula
Takayama offers a glimpse into Japan’s past with its Edo-period streets and lively festivals. Indulge in Hida beef, explore sake breweries, and soak in the town’s rich cultural heritage, all set against the backdrop of stunning alpine landscapes.
Add to
Details

Morning: Get up early and enjoy the scenic train journey to Takayama.

Lunch: Visit the Miyagawa Morning Market and enjoy local specialties for lunch. You can try some mitarashi-dango (skewered rice dumplings covered in a sweet soy glaze).

Afternoon/ Evening: Explore the charming streets of the old town and have some rest, maybe at the onsen of your hotel. 

Enjoy dinner at Maruaki Hida Beef. 

Day 5: Shirakawago

Shirakawa-go
@skpaula
Step into a time capsule in Shirakawago, a village embraced by the Japanese Alps. Discover the iconic Gassho-style farmhouses with their steep thatched roofs, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of rural life amidst lush mountains.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train trip to the traditional village of Shirakawago, known for its thatched-roof houses. Visit the village and its sorroundings. 

Lunch: Savor local soba noodles at Tenshukaku

Afternoon/ Evening: Go back to Takayama to rest and have dinner. 

Day 6: Kanazawa

Morning: Hop on a train to Kanazawa, a city renowned for its preserved samurai and geisha districts. Visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's most beautiful landscaped gardens, and explore the historic Higashi Chaya district.

Lunch: Try fresh seafood at Omi-cho Market and ensure to get your golden icecream at Hakuichi’s.

Afternoon/ Evening: return to Takayama, rest and have dinner. 

💡More time?

There are other beatiful villages and places along the japanese alps. Check them out!

Another option although it involves a bit of more travelling is to visit Matsumoto Castle. 

Matsumoto
@skpaula
Matsumoto Castle, also known as the "Crow Castle" due to its distinct black exterior, stands as one of Japan's most iconic and well-preserved feudal castles. Dating back over four centuries, this National Treasure offers a glimpse into Japan's samurai heritage. The castle's striking architecture, characterized by its six-story main keep and commanding tower, provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Add to
Details

Day 7-9: Kyoto

📍    City Hub: Kyoto

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Gimmond Kyoto

🍽️ Dining Recommendations:

- Gion and Higashiyama: Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi (gyozas), Ippudo Ramen (ramen), Ramen Sen no Kaze (ramen), Gion Kappa (izakaya - tapas)

- Kyoto Station Area: Chojiro (kaiten sushi), Katsukura (tonkatsu),  Rokurinsha (ramen)

- Various locations: Yoshinoya (beef bowl), Curry House Coco Ichibanya (curry)

Day 7: A first sneak peek to Kyoto

Kyoto
@skpaula
Kyoto is a city of cultural treasures, where ancient temples, shrines, and traditional wooden machiya houses evoke the elegance of Japan’s past. Known for its stunning cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant fall foliage, Kyoto is a living museum of Japan’s imperial history and spiritual heritage.
Add to
Details

Take an early Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. Arrive in Kyoto by late morning.

Morning: Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple for panoramic views. Explore the Higashiyama District for traditional shops and tea houses.

Lunch: Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi (dumplings and don’t forget to order the Nutella ones for dessert!)

Afeternoon and evening: Stroll through Gion to catch a glimpse of geisha. Some hihglights to consider: Sanjo Station, Ontho Market, Kenininji Temple (Japan's oldest temple), Shijo Street, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Shirakawa Canal (cherry blossoms), Heian Shrine & Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji). 

Dinner: Ippudo Ramen (ramen)

Day 8: Continue exploring Kyoto

Morning: Kyoto Station area

Begin at Kyoto Tower for a panoramic view and then continue visiting: Higashi Hogan-ji Temple, Shosei-en Garden, Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, Toji Temple (five-story pagoda) and Tofukuji Temple.

Lunch at Kyoto Station

Afternoon: It's all about royalty

Visit Nijo Castle, an iconic palace-castle of the Tokugawa era.

Explore the Imperial Palace (reservation required).

Head to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), covered in gold leaf.

Nearby, visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

Dinner: Gion Kappa for another chance to see Geishas.

Day 9: Day Trip to Nara

Nara
@skpaula
Nara, Japan’s historic capital, boasts Nara Park where deer roam freely. These revered creatures add a unique charm to the city’s cultural landscape. Todai-ji Temple houses the Great Buddha, an awe-inspiring bronze statue, while Kasuga Taisha Shrine’s vibrant vermilion structures and stone lanterns showcase Shinto traditions. Nara-machi’s preserved streets offer a glimpse of traditional Japan through antique shops and well-preserved houses, completing the city’s immersive blend of history and charm.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train to Nara (about an hour from Kyoto). Start at Nara Park to see the famous bowing deer and visit Todai-ji Temple with the Great Buddha. 

Lunch: grab a quick bite. 

Afternoon: Visit Kasuga Taisha Shrine and explore the charming streets of Nara-machi.

Evening: Return to Kyoto. Relax and have dinner at a local restaurant.

💡More time? 

Add one extra day to explore Fushimi Inary and Arashiyama: Start your day by exploring the vibrant torii gates of Fushimi Inari in the morning  and then take a train to Arashiyama to enjoy the iconic bamboo grove, Togetsukyo Bridge, and Tenryu-ji Temple. 

Fushimi Inari Pathway
@skpaula
Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is famous for its stunning pathway of vibrant red torii gates that lead up the slopes of Mount Inari. Dedicated to the Shinto god of prosperity, the shrine offers a serene escape with countless torii gates creating a mesmerizing walk. Stone fox statues line the path, and the summit rewards visitors with panoramic views of Kyoto. It's a must-visit destination that beautifully weaves together tradition, nature, and spirituality.
Add to
Details
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
@skpaula
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, located on the outskirts of Kyoto, enchants visitors with its towering bamboo stalks that create an otherworldly atmosphere. Walking through the winding paths, the rustling of bamboo and interplay of light and shadows create a serene and captivating experience. The grove’s beauty seamlessly blends with the nearby Tenryu-ji Temple, making it a must-visit destination for nature and culture enthusiasts.
Add to
Details

Day 10-12: Himeji, Hiroshima & Miyajima

📍    City Hub: Hiroshima

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima

🍽️ Dining Recommendations: Okonomimura (multi-story building dedicated to okonomiyaki), Hatchobori (tsukemen or dipping ramen)

Day 10: Himeji

Himeji Castle
@skpaula
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle is a stunning example of Japanese feudal architecture. Often referred to as the “White Heron Castle” due to its elegant white exterior, it stands as a masterpiece of defensive design, showcasing intricate wooden construction and breathtaking views.
Add to
Details

Morning: Depart from Kyoto to Himeji by Shinkansen (1.5 hours). 

Along the day: Explore Himeji Castle, one of Japan’s most well-preserved castles, especially beatiful during Spring with cherry blossoms.

Afternoon/ Evening: Depart from Himeji to Hiroshima by Shinkansen (2 hours) and have dinner.

Day 11: Hiroshima

Hiroshima
@skpaula
Add to
Details

Along the day: Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, including the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Evening: relax and explore Hiroshima's local cuisine.

Day 12: Mijayima

Itsukushima
@skpaula
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is an island steeped in spiritual significance. Its iconic torii gate seems to float on water during high tide, creating a surreal scene at Itsukushima Shrine. With a peaceful atmosphere and native deer roaming freely, Miyajima offers a serene escape from urban life.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train to Miyajimaguchi and then a ferry to Miyajima Island.

Along the day: Visit Itsukushima Shrine with its iconic floating torii gate and explore the island's scenic spots. Hike or take the ropeway up to Mount Misen for panoramic views.

Evening: Return to Hiroshima and have dinner. 

Day 13 - 15: Osaka & back home

📍    City Hub: Osaka for the first night but Tokyo for the second one to make your going back a bit easier

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Vista Grande Osaka

🍽️ Dining Recommendations: Dotonbori Kukuru (okonomiyaki), Kuromon Ichiba Market (fresh seafood), Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Restaurant (a bit more expensive but great views!)

Day 13: Exploring Osaka

Osaka
@skpaula
A vibrant metropolis renowned for its food scene and lively atmosphere, Osaka is often dubbed “Japan’s kitchen.” Beyond its culinary delights, the city boasts modern architecture, bustling markets, and historic sites like Osaka Castle. With its friendly locals and urban energy, Osaka offers a glimpse into modern Japanese urban life.
Add to
Details

Morning: Depart from Hiroshima to Osaka by Shinkansen (2 hours) and do the hotel check in. 

Morning & Lunch: take some tokayaki (fried octopus-balls) on the go and Visit Osaka Castle, an iconic historical site.

Afternoon/ Evening: Explore Dotonbori, a lively entertainment district known for its neon signs and street food.

Dinner: Go to Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Restaurant for some delicious food and incredible views. 

Day 14: Osaka's market and back to Tokio

Morning & lunch: rest a little bit and then explore Osaka's Market to have some lunch along the differents stalls

Afternoon: take a Shinkansen back to Tokyo (3 hours) (or your departure flight city)

Day 15: Back home

💡More time?

Add 1 or 2 extra days adding one of these trips from Osaka: 

Kobe
@skpaula
Nestled between sea and mountains, Kobe is a captivating port city celebrated for its fusion of modernity and natural beauty. Explore vibrant neighborhoods, savor world-renowned Kobe beef, and enjoy panoramic views from the iconic Kobe Port Tower.
Add to
Details
Koyasan
@skpaula
Resting atop the Kii Mountains, Koyasan is a serene Buddhist retreat enveloped in ancient temples and lush forests. Explore Okunoin Cemetery's mystical cedar trees and visit Kongobuji Temple. Participate in morning prayers at Ekoin Temple for a deep spiritual experience amidst tranquil pathways and lanterns.
Add to
Details
Naoshima Island
@skpaula
Naoshima Island is a captivating fusion of contemporary art and serene coastal landscapes, where avant-garde installations and sculptures emerge from the natural beauty, creating an unforgettable artistic retreat.
Add to
Details

If you love theme-parks, you can also add and extra day to venture to Universal Studios Japan for thrilling rides and cinematic experiences. 

Universal Studios Japan
@skpaula
Experience movie magic at USJ in Osaka. From the enchanting Wizarding World of Harry Potter to thrilling roller coasters like Hollywood Dream and The Flying Dinosaur, USJ offers exciting rides, live shows, and character interactions.
Add to
Details

* * *
CURATED BY
I'm Paula and I'm always my friends' go-to person for travelling & food, so... why don't you join me? I'm currently living in Barcelona, though my roots stretch across continents. I'm a mix of Chilean and Spanish heritage, but lived also in Argentina, France, and even Australia – talk about a whirlwind! Food and exploring the world are my two great loves. I'm a firm believer that every plate tells a story, and I'm always ready to dig in and taste the world's flavors. Travel-wise, I've got a knack for finding those sweet spots where quality meets affordability. Whether I'm chilling on a beach or hiking a trail, I'm all about finding that perfect balance. So, come along with me as we navigate cultures, savor cuisines, and discover breathtaking views. From tapas in Barcelona to street food in Bangkok, I'm here to share my stories and tips to make your own journeys unforgettable.
Send A Tip
Support Paula Sánchez Krag’s work.
Select your tip amount
$5
$10
$20
$50
Or type in other amount
Powered by Thatch
The home for unique & authentic travel
Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
© Paula Sánchez Krag Privacy Terms
Japan in 2 weeks
Get ready for an incredible 2-week Japanese adventure, blending old traditions and new vibes. Explore Tokyo's buzz, soak in the Alps' charm, feel Kyoto's grace, marvel at Himeji's elegance, embrace Hiroshima's strength, unwind amidst Miyajima's beauty, and savor the flavors of Osaka. This itinerary is your ticket to an amazing journey!
19 Places • 10 Saves • ago
Free

Japan

Embark on a delightful 2-week adventure across Japan that blends the best of tradition, nature, and modernity. This carefully crafted itinerary is your ticket to a balanced journey, filled with unforgettable experiences which you can adjust to make your own 10-20 days itineray to Japan a dream come true!

Get ready for an incredible journey starting in Tokyo, where the buzz of modern life meets tradition. Travel back in time through the charming villages of the Japanese Alps – Takayama, Shirakawago, and Kanazawa. Experience Kyoto's mix of classic charm and modern vibes. Don't miss the striking beauty of Himeji Castle before diving into Hiroshima's history and the peace of Miyajima. Wrap it all up in lively Osaka, where you can savor Japan's best flavors.

With this guide in one hand and the Shinkansen tickets on the other, let the rhythm of the rails guide you through beuaty of Japan's landscapes, culture and gastronomy. 

Index

General Tips

Itinerary

- Day 1-3: Tokyo

- Day 4-6: Japanese Alps

- Day 7-9: Kyoto

- Day 10-12: Himeji, Hiroshima & Miyajima

- Day 13-15: Osaka & back home

General Tips

🌐 Itinerary organization: I have organized the itinirary explanining you the prefered options for transportation, restaurants, hotels and activities to choose based on my experience and also some friends' tips. Although we did a 2-week itinerary you can transform this guide into a 10-20 days trip according to your preferences. Take into account that this is a perfect itinerary for your first time in Japan and does not include some additional spots that in my opinion would be more of a longer stay or second trip choice. However, this is completely up to you!

📸 Pictures: unfortunately this time, the pics are not mine! 

📅When was I there? April 2019, cherry-blossom season - Itinerary revised in 2023. 

☀️Weather: Japan experiences four distinct seasons. Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are popular due to mild temperatures and picturesque landscapes. Summer (June to August) is less optimal since it gets very hot and humid and the possibility of typhoons. Winter (December to February) brings colder temperatures, especially in northern areas, making it ideal for winter sports enthusiasts. With that said, Spring would be my prefered choice, especially during the month of April with Sakura: cherry blossoms.

✅Visa: Citizens of many countries can enter Japan for tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days. Check the official Japanese government website for visa requirements based on your nationality.

💪🏻Healthcare: Consider travel insurance that covers medical expenses abroad. 

💰Money: Cash is widely used, so it's advisable to have yen on hand. consider using a reliable currency exchange service like Revolut to avoid high fees.

📱Wifi: Consider renting a Pocket Wi-Fi or buying a local SIM card for continuous internet access. You can also buy Airalo eSIM directly from the app - it provides internet access but not a proper phone number.

🚘 Transportation: Consider getting a Japan Rail Pass (JRP) if planning to travel between cities as this guide suggests, since it offers unlimited travel on most JR trains for a fixed period. Within urban cities, Japan has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including trains, subways, and buses.

🍽️ Regional Delights: In Tokyo, savor sushi at Tsukiji Market or try monjayaki at Tsukishima Monja Street. In Osaka, indulge in takoyaki (octopus-filled balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).

Must Cultural Experiences: Visit traditional sites like temples, shrines, and tea houses. Try a traditional onsen (hot spring bath) experience. Participate in a tea ceremony for a taste of Japanese culture. Dress like a sammurai or a Geisha. 

⭐️Highly recommend: you'll see some stars along the text which mean that this is a MUST!

💡Add-ons: find some additional options marked with a light bulb for you to tailor the trip to your preferences. 

🙋🏽‍♀️Doubts?: If you have any quick questions you can reach me at my IG account.

Itinierary 

Day 1-3: Tokyo

📍    City Hub: Tokyo

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: APA Hotel Higashi-Shinjuku 

🍽️ Dining Recommendations:

- Ueno and Asakusa: Ippudo Ueno Hirokoji Shop (Ramen), Asakusa Adventure (Various Culinary Delights), Iriyama Sembei (Rice Crackers), Hoppy-dori Specialties (Street Food)

- Akihabara: Maidreaming (Maid Cafe), Gyukatsu Motomura (tonkatsu)

- Ginza: Bairin Ginza Honten (Tonkatsu), Hakkou (Sushi Bar), Bifteck no Kawamura (Kobe Beef Teppanyaki)

- Shinjuku: Omide-yokocho (Yakitori), Ichiran(Ramen), Teppan Baby (Konomiyaki), Yoshinoya (Gyudon), Gyozalo (Dumplings), Sushizanmai (sushi)

- Roppongi: Roppongi Robataya (grilles skewers)

- Shibuya: Sushi no Midori (Quality Sushi), Maiizumi (Culinary Delights), Tonkatsu Maisen (Tonkatsu)

- Sweet treats: Rikuro (cotton cheesecake), Pablo (cheesecake)

Day 1: Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara, Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo
@skpaula
Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital, is a dynamic blend of modernity and tradition. Skyscrapers and neon lights define its futuristic skyline, while historic temples and serene gardens offer moments of tranquility. From high-tech shopping districts to traditional tea houses, Tokyo offers a captivating journey through contemporary Japanese culture.
Add to
Details

Morning: Begin at Ueno Park for stunning cherry blossoms. Highlights include Shinobazu Pond, Toshogu Shrine, Five-story Pagoda, Kiyomizu Kannon-do Temple, and Jomyoin.

Lunch: Ippudo Ueno Hirokoji Shop.

Afternoon: Dive into Asakusa, exploring: Senso-ji Temple, grand Kaminarimon Gate, Nakamise Shopping Street, Hozomon Gate, Shin-Nakamise Street... Savor panoramic vistas of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree observation decks.

Evening: Immerse yourself in the world of anime and manga in Akihabara. Explore shops and stalls around Akihabara Station and Chuo-Dori. 

Dinner: Hoppy-dori specialties.

Day 2: Tokyo - Imperial Palace, Ginza, Shinjuku

Morning: Start your day by heading to the Imperial Palace (Kokyo), enjoying the serene ambiance and beautiful scenery. Make your way to the Tokyo Station area or visit the Pokémon Café (for Pokemon fans!) Explore Ginza, strolling along Chuo Dori and passing by landmarks like: The Kabuki-Za traditional theater, Sony Building, Ginza Wako with its iconic clock, Tokyu Plaza Ginza, Luxury fashion and accessory stores. Depending on your time, you might visit the Hamarikyu Gardens and its charming teahouse or experience the unique Tsukishima Monja Street for a taste of monjayaki.

Lunch: Bifteck no Kawamura (Kobe beef teppanyaki)

Afternoon and Evening: Take a metro or train to the vibrant district of Shinjuku, Tokyo's administrative and entertainment hub. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen, a tranquil oasis amidst the urban chaos. 

Evening: As dusk falls, make your way to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for its free observation decks to watch the sun set. Once night falls, explore the enigmatic allure of Kabukicho, Shinjuku's famous entertainment and red-light district.

Dinner: Ichiran (ramen).

Nighlife: Explore Shinjuku's unique bars and bohemian atmosphere of the Golden Gai alley or try a karaoke night!

Day 3: Tokyo - Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Omotesando, Roppongi, Shibuya

Morning: Begin your day at the tranquil Meiji Shrine and enjoy a serene walk through the lush Yoyogi Park. After the shrine, emerge onto the bustling Takeshita Street in Harajuku. and explore the vibrant pedestrian street, known for its unique fashion and culture. Discover quirky shops, including the Hedgehog Café and Shiner with rainbow-colored treats.

Lunch: Gyozalo (enjoy dumplings).

Afternoon: Head to Omotesando, a street celebrated for its architecture and high-end fashion.Catch glimpses of notable buildings while strolling: V28, Iceberg, Laforet, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando rooftop, Omotesando HillsTods, Hugo Boss... Consider a leisurely walk along Cat Street for more boutiques and creativity.

Evening: Travel to Roppongi for a stunning sunset at Mori Tower, where you'll be able to admire Tokyo's lights. As night falls, take the metro to Shibuya. Witness the iconic Shibuya Crossing, one of the world's busiest pedestrian crossings. Pay your respects to the Hachiko Statue and its heartwarming story. Explore the quirky Dogenzaka area, or the "Love Hotel Hill," for a glimpse of unique architecture. Venture to the Nonbei Yokocho, the "Drunkard's Alley," for a step back in time. Enjoy tiny, nostalgic bars where you can enjoy a drink or two and might get some "tapas" (although not enough to eat).

Dinner: Tonkatsu Maisen (tonkatsu).

💡More time?

You can add an extra day so that your itinerary is not so packed. 

Additionally, you can consider adding 1 or 2 extra days and explore the following regions from Tokyo:

Nikko
@skpaula
Escape to Nikko's serene embrace, a haven of ancient shrines and natural beauty. Discover the ornate Toshogu Shrine honoring Tokugawa Ieyasu. Marvel at Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls' majestic vistas. Immerse in Japan's history and spirituality in this peaceful retreat.
Add to
Details
Hakone
@skpaula
Indulge in Hakone's rejuvenating onsens with views of iconic Mt. Fuji. Traverse the Hakone Ropeway for panoramic mountain and valley scenes. Unleash creativity at the Open-Air Museum. Hakone invites you to unwind in hot springs and bask in nature's splendor
Add to
Details

If you stay in Hakone you can also get nice views of Mount Fuji! Stay in a traditional ryokan with views!

However if you want to stay in one of the best places to see Mount Fuji and do some trecking experiences, I would then recommend Kawaguchi Lake.

Lake Kawaguchi
@skpaula
This is one of the Fuji Five Lakes and offers stunning views of Mount Fuji reflected in Lake Kawaguchi. There are various accommodations in the area, including ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and hotels. You’ll find hiking trails around the lake and even the possibility of taking a ropeway or cable car for panoramic views.
Add to
Details

Day 4- 6: Japanese Alps

📍    City Hub: Takayama

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hida Hotel Plaza

🍽️ Dining Recommendations (Takayama): Sakaguchiya (Hida beef), Maruaki Hida Beef (Hida beef), Sumiyoshi, Matsuri No Mori (varied dishes)

Day 4: Travel to Takayama

Takayama
@skpaula
Takayama offers a glimpse into Japan’s past with its Edo-period streets and lively festivals. Indulge in Hida beef, explore sake breweries, and soak in the town’s rich cultural heritage, all set against the backdrop of stunning alpine landscapes.
Add to
Details

Morning: Get up early and enjoy the scenic train journey to Takayama.

Lunch: Visit the Miyagawa Morning Market and enjoy local specialties for lunch. You can try some mitarashi-dango (skewered rice dumplings covered in a sweet soy glaze).

Afternoon/ Evening: Explore the charming streets of the old town and have some rest, maybe at the onsen of your hotel. 

Enjoy dinner at Maruaki Hida Beef. 

Day 5: Shirakawago

Shirakawa-go
@skpaula
Step into a time capsule in Shirakawago, a village embraced by the Japanese Alps. Discover the iconic Gassho-style farmhouses with their steep thatched roofs, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of rural life amidst lush mountains.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train trip to the traditional village of Shirakawago, known for its thatched-roof houses. Visit the village and its sorroundings. 

Lunch: Savor local soba noodles at Tenshukaku

Afternoon/ Evening: Go back to Takayama to rest and have dinner. 

Day 6: Kanazawa

Morning: Hop on a train to Kanazawa, a city renowned for its preserved samurai and geisha districts. Visit Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan's most beautiful landscaped gardens, and explore the historic Higashi Chaya district.

Lunch: Try fresh seafood at Omi-cho Market and ensure to get your golden icecream at Hakuichi’s.

Afternoon/ Evening: return to Takayama, rest and have dinner. 

💡More time?

There are other beatiful villages and places along the japanese alps. Check them out!

Another option although it involves a bit of more travelling is to visit Matsumoto Castle. 

Matsumoto
@skpaula
Matsumoto Castle, also known as the "Crow Castle" due to its distinct black exterior, stands as one of Japan's most iconic and well-preserved feudal castles. Dating back over four centuries, this National Treasure offers a glimpse into Japan's samurai heritage. The castle's striking architecture, characterized by its six-story main keep and commanding tower, provides panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Add to
Details

Day 7-9: Kyoto

📍    City Hub: Kyoto

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Gimmond Kyoto

🍽️ Dining Recommendations:

- Gion and Higashiyama: Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi (gyozas), Ippudo Ramen (ramen), Ramen Sen no Kaze (ramen), Gion Kappa (izakaya - tapas)

- Kyoto Station Area: Chojiro (kaiten sushi), Katsukura (tonkatsu),  Rokurinsha (ramen)

- Various locations: Yoshinoya (beef bowl), Curry House Coco Ichibanya (curry)

Day 7: A first sneak peek to Kyoto

Kyoto
@skpaula
Kyoto is a city of cultural treasures, where ancient temples, shrines, and traditional wooden machiya houses evoke the elegance of Japan’s past. Known for its stunning cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant fall foliage, Kyoto is a living museum of Japan’s imperial history and spiritual heritage.
Add to
Details

Take an early Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. Arrive in Kyoto by late morning.

Morning: Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple for panoramic views. Explore the Higashiyama District for traditional shops and tea houses.

Lunch: Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi (dumplings and don’t forget to order the Nutella ones for dessert!)

Afeternoon and evening: Stroll through Gion to catch a glimpse of geisha. Some hihglights to consider: Sanjo Station, Ontho Market, Kenininji Temple (Japan's oldest temple), Shijo Street, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Shirakawa Canal (cherry blossoms), Heian Shrine & Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji). 

Dinner: Ippudo Ramen (ramen)

Day 8: Continue exploring Kyoto

Morning: Kyoto Station area

Begin at Kyoto Tower for a panoramic view and then continue visiting: Higashi Hogan-ji Temple, Shosei-en Garden, Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, Toji Temple (five-story pagoda) and Tofukuji Temple.

Lunch at Kyoto Station

Afternoon: It's all about royalty

Visit Nijo Castle, an iconic palace-castle of the Tokugawa era.

Explore the Imperial Palace (reservation required).

Head to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), covered in gold leaf.

Nearby, visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

Dinner: Gion Kappa for another chance to see Geishas.

Day 9: Day Trip to Nara

Nara
@skpaula
Nara, Japan’s historic capital, boasts Nara Park where deer roam freely. These revered creatures add a unique charm to the city’s cultural landscape. Todai-ji Temple houses the Great Buddha, an awe-inspiring bronze statue, while Kasuga Taisha Shrine’s vibrant vermilion structures and stone lanterns showcase Shinto traditions. Nara-machi’s preserved streets offer a glimpse of traditional Japan through antique shops and well-preserved houses, completing the city’s immersive blend of history and charm.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train to Nara (about an hour from Kyoto). Start at Nara Park to see the famous bowing deer and visit Todai-ji Temple with the Great Buddha. 

Lunch: grab a quick bite. 

Afternoon: Visit Kasuga Taisha Shrine and explore the charming streets of Nara-machi.

Evening: Return to Kyoto. Relax and have dinner at a local restaurant.

💡More time? 

Add one extra day to explore Fushimi Inary and Arashiyama: Start your day by exploring the vibrant torii gates of Fushimi Inari in the morning  and then take a train to Arashiyama to enjoy the iconic bamboo grove, Togetsukyo Bridge, and Tenryu-ji Temple. 

Fushimi Inari Pathway
@skpaula
Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is famous for its stunning pathway of vibrant red torii gates that lead up the slopes of Mount Inari. Dedicated to the Shinto god of prosperity, the shrine offers a serene escape with countless torii gates creating a mesmerizing walk. Stone fox statues line the path, and the summit rewards visitors with panoramic views of Kyoto. It's a must-visit destination that beautifully weaves together tradition, nature, and spirituality.
Add to
Details
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
@skpaula
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, located on the outskirts of Kyoto, enchants visitors with its towering bamboo stalks that create an otherworldly atmosphere. Walking through the winding paths, the rustling of bamboo and interplay of light and shadows create a serene and captivating experience. The grove’s beauty seamlessly blends with the nearby Tenryu-ji Temple, making it a must-visit destination for nature and culture enthusiasts.
Add to
Details

Day 10-12: Himeji, Hiroshima & Miyajima

📍    City Hub: Hiroshima

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima

🍽️ Dining Recommendations: Okonomimura (multi-story building dedicated to okonomiyaki), Hatchobori (tsukemen or dipping ramen)

Day 10: Himeji

Himeji Castle
@skpaula
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle is a stunning example of Japanese feudal architecture. Often referred to as the “White Heron Castle” due to its elegant white exterior, it stands as a masterpiece of defensive design, showcasing intricate wooden construction and breathtaking views.
Add to
Details

Morning: Depart from Kyoto to Himeji by Shinkansen (1.5 hours). 

Along the day: Explore Himeji Castle, one of Japan’s most well-preserved castles, especially beatiful during Spring with cherry blossoms.

Afternoon/ Evening: Depart from Himeji to Hiroshima by Shinkansen (2 hours) and have dinner.

Day 11: Hiroshima

Hiroshima
@skpaula
Add to
Details

Along the day: Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, including the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Evening: relax and explore Hiroshima's local cuisine.

Day 12: Mijayima

Itsukushima
@skpaula
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is an island steeped in spiritual significance. Its iconic torii gate seems to float on water during high tide, creating a surreal scene at Itsukushima Shrine. With a peaceful atmosphere and native deer roaming freely, Miyajima offers a serene escape from urban life.
Add to
Details

Morning: Take a train to Miyajimaguchi and then a ferry to Miyajima Island.

Along the day: Visit Itsukushima Shrine with its iconic floating torii gate and explore the island's scenic spots. Hike or take the ropeway up to Mount Misen for panoramic views.

Evening: Return to Hiroshima and have dinner. 

Day 13 - 15: Osaka & back home

📍    City Hub: Osaka for the first night but Tokyo for the second one to make your going back a bit easier

🏨 Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Vista Grande Osaka

🍽️ Dining Recommendations: Dotonbori Kukuru (okonomiyaki), Kuromon Ichiba Market (fresh seafood), Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Restaurant (a bit more expensive but great views!)

Day 13: Exploring Osaka

Osaka
@skpaula
A vibrant metropolis renowned for its food scene and lively atmosphere, Osaka is often dubbed “Japan’s kitchen.” Beyond its culinary delights, the city boasts modern architecture, bustling markets, and historic sites like Osaka Castle. With its friendly locals and urban energy, Osaka offers a glimpse into modern Japanese urban life.
Add to
Details

Morning: Depart from Hiroshima to Osaka by Shinkansen (2 hours) and do the hotel check in. 

Morning & Lunch: take some tokayaki (fried octopus-balls) on the go and Visit Osaka Castle, an iconic historical site.

Afternoon/ Evening: Explore Dotonbori, a lively entertainment district known for its neon signs and street food.

Dinner: Go to Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory Restaurant for some delicious food and incredible views. 

Day 14: Osaka's market and back to Tokio

Morning & lunch: rest a little bit and then explore Osaka's Market to have some lunch along the differents stalls

Afternoon: take a Shinkansen back to Tokyo (3 hours) (or your departure flight city)

Day 15: Back home

💡More time?

Add 1 or 2 extra days adding one of these trips from Osaka: 

Kobe
@skpaula
Nestled between sea and mountains, Kobe is a captivating port city celebrated for its fusion of modernity and natural beauty. Explore vibrant neighborhoods, savor world-renowned Kobe beef, and enjoy panoramic views from the iconic Kobe Port Tower.
Add to
Details
Koyasan
@skpaula
Resting atop the Kii Mountains, Koyasan is a serene Buddhist retreat enveloped in ancient temples and lush forests. Explore Okunoin Cemetery's mystical cedar trees and visit Kongobuji Temple. Participate in morning prayers at Ekoin Temple for a deep spiritual experience amidst tranquil pathways and lanterns.
Add to
Details
Naoshima Island
@skpaula
Naoshima Island is a captivating fusion of contemporary art and serene coastal landscapes, where avant-garde installations and sculptures emerge from the natural beauty, creating an unforgettable artistic retreat.
Add to
Details

If you love theme-parks, you can also add and extra day to venture to Universal Studios Japan for thrilling rides and cinematic experiences. 

Universal Studios Japan
@skpaula
Experience movie magic at USJ in Osaka. From the enchanting Wizarding World of Harry Potter to thrilling roller coasters like Hollywood Dream and The Flying Dinosaur, USJ offers exciting rides, live shows, and character interactions.
Add to
Details

* * *
CURATED BY
I'm Paula and I'm always my friends' go-to person for travelling & food, so... why don't you join me? I'm currently living in Barcelona, though my roots stretch across continents. I'm a mix of Chilean and Spanish heritage, but lived also in Argentina, France, and even Australia – talk about a whirlwind! Food and exploring the world are my two great loves. I'm a firm believer that every plate tells a story, and I'm always ready to dig in and taste the world's flavors. Travel-wise, I've got a knack for finding those sweet spots where quality meets affordability. Whether I'm chilling on a beach or hiking a trail, I'm all about finding that perfect balance. So, come along with me as we navigate cultures, savor cuisines, and discover breathtaking views. From tapas in Barcelona to street food in Bangkok, I'm here to share my stories and tips to make your own journeys unforgettable.
Send A Tip
Support Paula Sánchez Krag’s work.
Select your tip amount
$5
$10
$20
$50
Or type in other amount
Powered by Thatch
The home for unique & authentic travel
Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
© Paula Sánchez Krag Privacy Terms