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The Good 7-Day Japan Itinerary (Up to date 2024)

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The Perfect 7-Day Japan Itinerary (Updated 2024)


Posted: 4/17/2024 | April Seventeenth, 2024

Japan captured my coronary heart from the second I firs visited. The scrumptious meals, the wealthy tradition, breathtaking landscapes, vibrant historical past, and the very pleasant and well mannered individuals – all of it blew my thoughts.

However Japan usually feels impenetrable, particularly to first-time guests. Whereas I feel Japan deserves a minimal of 10 days, I get that some individuals would possibly solely have every week, so I wished to put in writing this, my preferrred seven-day itinerary for Japan for a first-time customer.

With solely every week, there’s not a lot you possibly can see until you actually rush it. And I don’t suppose it is best to do this.

So this itinerary solely focuses on Tokyo and Kyoto (the most well-liked locations) in addition to some day journeys from every. Should you wished to hurry issues just a little, you may add in Osaka (extra on that on the finish).

(Observe: Should you bought a Japan Rail Move, activate it on arrival. That method, you possibly can make the most of the free JR trains all through town.)

 

Japan Itinerary Day 1: Tokyo

The popular and colorful Asakusa Temple in bustling Tokyo, JapanThe popular and colorful Asakusa Temple in bustling Tokyo, Japan
With all of the attractive shrines, palaces, and temples; distinctive cocktail bars; and ample buying, you may simply spend a complete week in Tokyo. However, with solely a few days, you’ll wish to hit the highlights:

Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets
Remedy your jet lag with some meals! In 2018, Tokyo’s major fish market moved to Toyosu. It’s now twice the dimensions of Tsukiji (the outdated one), making it the most important such market on this planet. Right here you possibly can eat recent sushi for breakfast, just some toes from the place it was hauled in from the ocean, whereas marveling on the chaotic environment.

You’ll be able to nonetheless head to the outdated market in Tsukiji to eat, store, and wander as nicely. I prefer it quite a bit, as a result of there are extra meals choices! Food and drinks excursions of the Tsukiji Outer Market can be found for round 15,000 JPY.

Toyosu Fish Market is open Monday-Saturday 5am-5pm, although most retailers don’t open till 7am. Admission is free, however it’s important to choose up a customer’s cross while you enter. Tsukiji Fish Market’s hours fluctuate by store (often 5am-2pm). Admission is free.

teamLab Planets
This digital artwork set up is a multi-sensory and immersive expertise during which you turn out to be a part of the paintings, strolling barefoot by way of the 4 exhibition areas and gardens as you work together with the installations’ components in distinctive methods. It’s actually enjoyable! TeamLab is mostly sells out upfront, so I like to recommend getting your tickets on-line forward of time.

Take a strolling tour
Strolling excursions are an effective way to get the lay of the land whereas connecting with a neighborhood information. I all the time go on one or two once I arrive someplace. Tokyo Localized presents many free excursions, together with a traditional overview and ones of each the famed Harajuku and Shinjuku neighborhoods. Its Imperial Palace tour could be essentially the most handy one after teamLab.

The Imperial Palace
Previously Edo Citadel, the Imperial Palace was constructed within the fifteenth century, and among the partitions and moats from that point are nonetheless in use to today. When the emperor moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869, he took Edo for his new palace and renamed it. Whilst you can’t go inside, it’s surrounded by lovely grounds, a moat, and a park price wandering by way of. You may as well see the changing-of-the-guard ceremony (although it’s comparatively low-key and unassuming). Admission to the grounds is free.

Shinjuku Gyoen Nationwide Backyard
This park is over 144 acres and residential to some 20,000 timber. A lot of the authentic park was destroyed in World Conflict II however was rebuilt and reopened in 1949. Throughout spring, it is likely one of the finest locations to see cherry blossoms. My favourite space is the panorama backyard, which has a number of ponds with bridges and islands. It’s a peaceable oasis away from the city hustle and bustle.

Relying on how you’re feeling relative to your jetlag, you may match just a few extra actions earlier than you finish your day. Try this publish for recommendations.

Japan Itinerary Day 2: Tokyo

A bright and bustling street lit up at night with neon signs in Tokyo, JapanA bright and bustling street lit up at night with neon signs in Tokyo, Japan
I’d begin your second day by trying out Asakusa. You’ll be able to discover the realm on a guided strolling tour or by yourself. Go early to keep away from the crowds and see the 2 major temples:

  • Senso-ji – That is Tokyo’s hottest and well-known temple. Fantastically painted, it sits in a scenic spot close to a pagoda and the stunning Kaminari Gate. There’s an enormous statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, inside the principle corridor. It’s very busy in the course of the day, so possibly try the grounds within the night.
  • Asakusa Shrine – This close by Shinto shrine is rather more peaceable, with fewer guests, however with individuals praying, meditating, or performing conventional rituals. It was constructed in the course of the Edo interval (1603–1868) and survived the air raids of World Conflict II.

Afterward, head to Ueno Park. Spanning over 133 acres, Ueno Park was established in 1873 on land previously owned by a Seventeenth-century Buddhist temple. It will get tremendous busy in cherry blossom season, as there are over a thousand timber right here. All through, you’ll discover varied stalls and distributors promoting snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. On weekends, there are often cultural occasions or festivals showcasing conventional arts, music, and dance. 4 of Tokyo’s major museums are right here:

  • Tokyo Nationwide Museum – Established in 1872 on the north finish, this large constructing is the oldest and largest artwork museum in Japan. It homes one of many world’s largest collections of artwork and artifacts from Asia, significantly Japan.
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Artwork Museum – This museum showcases rotating exhibitions of latest and conventional Japanese artwork.
  • Nationwide Museum of Nature and Science – This museum options a variety of everlasting and momentary exhibitions overlaying pure science and historical past.
  • Tosho-gu Shrine – This lovely Seventeenth-century Shinto shrine has carved gold doorways and different ornate carvings. It’s price seeing up shut!

Afterward, stroll right down to Akihabara to discover the online game parlors, arcades, and anime retailers. This very buzzy space is floor zero for all issues digital, and it’s enjoyable to play most of the video games. That is the place you’ll discover the well-known maid cafés, the place servers costume up as maids and serve you meals and drinks. These vary from large touristy ones to holes-in-the-wall (the ladies on the road are selling the latter, that are much more culturally enjoyable). They aren’t low-cost, although, as it’s important to purchase drink packages and pay a price, however they’re kitschy and enjoyable.

Within the night, go to Shinjuku after which drink in Golden Gai. In Shinjuku, you’ll discover a plethora of cool bars, shiny lights, and tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries. You’ll want to wander down Reminiscence Lane (aka Piss Alley) for tiny izakaya joints and bars. Afterward, head over to Golden Gai, a warren of slim alleyways with a little bit of a red-light-district really feel, flanked by diminutive backstreet bars. It’s fairly touristy but in addition a whole lot of enjoyable. I’ve had some wild nights right here!

With Arigato Excursions, you’ll be taught in regards to the neighborhood whereas stopping to pattern Japanese classics like sushi, yakitori, and ramen. The 23,900 JPY price features a drink and dishes at 4 stops.
 

Japan Itinerary Day 3: Tokyo

The sprawling skyline of Tokyo, Japan with the famous Tokyo Tower in viewThe sprawling skyline of Tokyo, Japan with the famous Tokyo Tower in view
There’s quite a bit to see and do in Tokyo (I cowl all of it right here and right here)! However contemplate taking a day journey out of city to see some non-urban sights:

Kamakura
Right here you possibly can see a 13-meter (43-foot) bronze statue of Buddha that was inbuilt 1252. It was initially constructed inside Kotoku-in Temple, however that has since been washed away by a number of storms, so it now sits within the open air. Admission to enter the temple grounds is 300 JPY, whereas it’s 20 JPY to go contained in the statue. The journey there — round an hour — is free with a Japan Rail Move.

Tokyo Disneyland
I’m a sucker for Disney. You’ll discover most of the similar traditional rides from Disney World right here, like Splash Mountain, Large Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and everybody’s favourite teacup trip, The Mad Tea Social gathering. However there are a number of distinctive sights as nicely, like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Journey to the Heart of the Earth.

Ticket costs fluctuate relying on the day and time, however full-day admission begins at 7,900 JPY for adults and 4,400-6,200 JPY for kids. It’s finest to e-book upfront.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is positioned an hour outdoors of Tokyo. An energetic stratovolcano (which final erupted in 1708) and coated in snow for nearly half of the yr, it stands a powerful 3,776 meters (12,389 toes) and supplies probably the most iconic views within the nation. One of many Three Holy Mountains of Japan, Mount Fuji is each a Particular Place of Scenic Magnificence and a UNESCO Cultural Website. In the summertime, the mountain is open to hikers, who take 5-12 hours to succeed in the summit (historically, they depart at night time to reach on the high for the dawn).

Should you don’t wish to hike, you possibly can merely go to on a day journey. There are buses that may take you partway up, the place you’ll be supplied sweeping vistas of the encompassing space. Guided day excursions from town price round 12,000 JPY.
 

 

Japan Itinerary Day 4: Kyoto

A quiet path through the famous bamboo forest in beautiful Kyoto, JapanA quiet path through the famous bamboo forest in beautiful Kyoto, Japan
House to 1.5 million individuals and nestled within the mountains, Kyoto is likely one of the most lovely cities in Japan. It’s full of traditional-style buildings, bamboo forests, numerous Zen gardens, and historic Buddhist and Shinto temples. It’s finest to divide town into half, as sights are type of clumped collectively and getting throughout city takes a very long time. In the present day, it is best to do the western half:

Wander the Bamboo Forest
For a soothing break, head to Arashiyama and let the dense and towering stands of bamboo envelop you. Positioned close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s probably the most lovely locations in the complete nation. It’s not that large, however there are some hidden areas to discover. Simply be certain to reach early if you wish to get pleasure from it with out the crowds (it fills up quick after dawn).

Whereas there, I’d additionally advocate visiting the Okochi Sanso Backyard, which (together with the house) belonged to the well-known Japanese actor Denjir? ?ok?chi (1898–1962). It’s not free (it’s 1,000 JPY), nevertheless it’s very nice and has some great views.

Go to the Golden Pavilion
Initially constructed within the late 14th century as a retirement villa for the shogun (navy governor), this iconic construction was later transformed right into a Zen Buddhist temple. The current-day edifice dates solely to the Fifties, nevertheless, when a monk trying to kill himself burned the historic authentic to the bottom. The rebuilt temple is roofed in good gold leaf, symbolizing purity and enlightenment. Every of the three tales displays a unique architectural model. Finishing the scene are the serene reflecting pool and conventional Japanese gardens that comprise lush foliage, manicured timber, and scenic strolling paths.

1 Kinkakuji-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, +81 075-461-0013, shokoku-ji.jp. Open day by day 9am-5pm. Admission is 500 JPY.

Admire Ryoan-ji Temple
That is my favourite temple in Kyoto. Initially established in 1450 as a residence for a high-ranking samurai, it was quickly transformed right into a Zen temple and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Website, with a mausoleum that homes the stays of seven emperors. Its conventional rock and sand backyard is taken into account the most effective within the nation. There’s additionally a teahouse the place you possibly can expertise the standard Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu) as you overlook the Kyoyochi reflecting pool.

There are different temples within the space to take a look at as nicely:

  • Daitoku-ji Temple – This large complicated courting again to 1315 covers nearly 60 acres. It comprises a number of dozen temples and is an effective place to see quite a lot of Zen gardens and architectural kinds. It’s additionally deeply linked to the Japanese tea ceremony, as a number of of the nation’s most noteworthy masters studied right here.
  • Toji Temple – That is house to Japan’s tallest pagoda (5 tales excessive). Based in 796, simply after Kyoto grew to become the capital, it was one among solely three Buddhist temples allowed within the metropolis.

Go on a sake brewery tour
Kyoto has a sake (rice wine) brewing custom going again 400 years and is thought for among the finest on this planet, as a consequence of utilizing the realm’s pure pure spring water within the brewing course of. Arigato Excursions presents a superb three-hour tour of Fushimi (the brewing district) for 23,320 JPY, together with stops at a number of breweries, a guided tour of the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and tastings.
 

Japan Itinerary Day 5: Kyoto

A winding, narrow street in historic Kyoto, JapanA winding, narrow street in historic Kyoto, Japan
In the present day, you’ll do the japanese a part of city:

See the Fushimi Inari Shrine
This mountainside Shinto shrine, courting again to 711, is devoted to Inari, the god of rice and prosperity. It’s recognized for its hundreds of vibrant orange torii gates that type a community of trails main up Mount Inari. You’ll be able to hike the paths by yourself whereas having fun with panoramic views of Kyoto beneath or be a part of a guided climbing tour, on which you’ll get off the paved paths and into hidden bamboo groves. Get right here as early as doable to keep away from the crowds.

68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, +81756417331, inari.jp. Open 24/7. Admission is free.

Stroll round Higashiyama
Spend a day strolling alongside the slim streets of one of many oldest and finest preserved districts by yourself or on a strolling tour. The normal machiya buildings (conventional wood townhouses) are full of small retailers promoting native specialties and handicrafts, in addition to eating places and teahouses. It’s a well-liked space during which to take part in a tea ceremony. One other good place to walk on this neighborhood is the Thinker’s Path, which follows a cherry-tree-lined canal that’s lovely and meditative even when the blossoms aren’t in season.

Go to Kiyomizu-dera
Certainly one of quite a few UNESCO websites in historic Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera (which means “pure water temple”) is positioned within the foothills of Mount Otowa within the japanese a part of town. It’s probably the most well-known temples in all of Japan. It was established in 778, however many of the present buildings date to the Seventeenth century. There’s not a single nail used within the building, which turns into all of the extra spectacular when you see how giant the temple is, which is finest recognized for its wood terrace that juts out over the hillside. The temple’s identify comes from the close by waterfall whose waters (from which you’ll nonetheless drink right now) are mentioned to have wish-granting and therapeutic powers.

1 Chome-294 Kiyomizu, +81 75-551-1234, kiyomizudera.or.jp. Open day by day 6am-6pm. Admission is 400 JPY.

Discover Shorin-ji Temple
This small temple dates again to the sixteenth century. What makes it price visiting is its meditation courses. You’ll get to tour the temple after which be instructed in zazen, the Japanese model of meditation. It’s a really distinctive expertise and one thing that I feel will add a whole lot of depth and nuance to your go to (particularly if you happen to’ve seen a whole lot of temples). Simply be certain to decorate comfortably.

15 Chome-795 Honmachi, +81 75-561-4311, shourin-ji.org. Open day by day 10am-4pm. Admission is 800 JPY.

Wander the Nishiki Market
Nishiki Ichiba is now one of many greatest indoor markets on the town. Often called “Kyoto’s Kitchen” and spanning over 5 blocks, it is stuffed with distributors promoting conventional dishes from the area, traditional Kyoto souvenirs, and actually absolutely anything else. There are over 100 stalls right here, a lot of which have been in the identical household for generations. Opening hours rely upon the store however are sometimes from 9am to 6pm.

To dive deeper into Japanese meals tradition, you possibly can take a meals tour of the market. It’s the easiest way to find out about all of the meals you’ll see, in addition to the market’s historical past.

Discover Gion
Gion, the historic geisha district, is famend as being probably the most iconic and atmospheric areas of city. It’s recognized for its conventional wood machiya homes, slim alleyways, cobblestone streets, and preservation of geisha (recognized regionally as geiko) tradition. Lining the principle avenue are ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), small retailers, and plenty of eating places, starting from upscale kaiseki eating places serving conventional Kyoto delicacies to informal eateries.

To actually be taught extra about this superb celebration of city and its previous, take a strolling tour of Gion. You’ll be taught a ton and get a whole lot of context. They price round 1,800 JPY.

At night time, go to the Pontocho Row, a slim avenue lined with eating places, hole-in-the-wall bars, and jazz golf equipment. It’s one of many extra energetic areas in Kyoto.
 

Japan Itinerary Day 6: Nara

A small deer eating grass in a park in Nara, Japan, with cherry trees blossoming in the backgroundA small deer eating grass in a park in Nara, Japan, with cherry trees blossoming in the background
Many vacationers go to Nara on a day journey from Kyoto. Whereas that’s completely positive, I like to recommend spending an evening. After the vacationers head again to the massive metropolis within the late afternoon, you’ll see this small, charming vacation spot empty out and really feel like you will have it a bit to your self, together with the locals.

Nara was the capital of Japan within the eighth century, so there are many buildings and temples right here which can be upwards of a thousand years outdated (which is uncommon in Japan, because of the prevalence of fires and earthquakes, in addition to World Conflict II). Some issues to do:

  • Frolic with deer – The true attract Nara are the deer. Because the 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.
  • See the Buddha – Don’t miss a go to to Todai-ji, the world’s largest wood constructing, house to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was inbuilt 738 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Website.
  • Take a strolling tourThis guided half-day strolling tour for 11,500 JPY consists of all of Nara’s highlights in addition to a standard lunch.

 

Japan Itinerary Day 7: Tokyo

The sprawling skyline of Tokyo, Japan lit up at night with Mount Fuji in the distanceThe sprawling skyline of Tokyo, Japan lit up at night with Mount Fuji in the distance
It’s time to wrap issues up and head again to Tokyo on your flight house (or onward). In case you have extra time to spend, this publish right here will listing tons of issues to see and do in your final. Nonetheless, one factor I’d actually advocate attempting to do is watch a Sumo match.

Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s most well-known sumo wrestling area, hosts tournaments thrice annually, in January, Could, and September. Tickets promote out shortly, so e-book on-line upfront. Costs fluctuate however begin round 3,200 JPY for area seats. You’ll be able to e-book a ticket on-line right here (you’ll be accompanied by a information too, so you possibly can be taught extra in regards to the custom because it unfolds earlier than your eyes).

To be taught extra in regards to the sport in within the low season, e-book a tour of a sumo steady.
 

An Different Itinerary

the historic Osaka Castle in Osaka Japan towering over the city on a sunny summer daythe historic Osaka Castle in Osaka Japan towering over the city on a sunny summer dayThe above itinerary, whereas quick, isn’t rushed. It does match quite a bit in however at a tempo that’s slower than a whole lot of guests favor. Whereas I all the time recommend touring slowly and specializing in high quality over amount, some individuals favor to cram extra into their journey.

So, if you wish to add one other metropolis to this itinerary you possibly can comply with this breakdown:

  • Days 1 & 2: Tokyo
  • Days 3 & 4: Kyoto
  • Day 5: Nara
  • Days 6 & 7: Osaka

Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara are all coated above. As for Osaka, a few of my favourite issues to see and do:

Take a meals tour
Often called “the Kitchen of Japan,” Osaka boasts a various culinary scene. Mouthwatering 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 (kebab skewers). You’ll be able to take a meals tour for round 13,000 JPY, a ramen and gyoza cooking class for 9,500 JPY, or simply wander and eat.

Osaka Citadel
Some of the well-known landmarks within the nation, the fort was initially constructed within the late sixteenth century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and performed a pivotal function within the unification of Japan in the course of the Sengoku interval (1467-1615). Over the centuries, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of occasions as a consequence of wars, fires, and pure disasters. The present model dates to 1931. The fort is located amid sprawling grounds and surrounded by a moat. It’s additionally house to a small however insightful museum and an remark deck that provides some picturesque city views.

Dotonbori
That is arguably Osaka’s most iconic district, recognized for its vibrant nightlife (bars, golf equipment, theaters, and music venues), colourful signage, and scrumptious meals. It’s finest seen at night time because of the plethora of giant neon lights and indicators lining each the canal and streets, which have turn out to be symbols of Osaka’s nightlife. A guided strolling tour that features Dotonbori as nicely adjoining neighborhoods is 6,500 JPY.

Shitennoji Temple
This temple is likely one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, based in 593. The structure is a mix of conventional Japanese and East Asian kinds, that includes spectacular pagodas, gates, and shrines set amid serene gardens. Stroll by way of the tranquil grounds, admire the attractive structure, and be taught in regards to the temple’s historic and cultural significance on the museum. The temple is 300 JPY to enter, the backyard is 300 JPY, and the museum is 500 JPY.
 

 

***

Japan is one among my favourite international locations. Whereas it’s comparatively small, it presents an incredible array of issues to see and do (in addition to among the finest meals on this planet). With seven days, you possibly can simply see a very good variety of the principle highlights and get a style for the unimaginable historical past and tradition. Will probably be a busy week, however this itinerary ensures you’ll nonetheless have a while to decelerate, calm down, and take within the native tempo of life.

Simply be sure to get a Japan Rail Move earlier than you go. Whereas it’s not as low-cost because it was, it is going to possible prevent money and time!

E book Your Journey to Japan: Logistical Suggestions and Tips

E book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of 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 being left unturned!

E book Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld as they’ve essentially the most complete stock so they’re finest for reserving a hostel. If you wish to keep in a lodge or guesthouse in Japan, use Reserving.com because it constantly returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and motels.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will defend you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancelations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. My favourite firms that provide the very best service and worth are:

Searching for the Finest Corporations to Save Cash With?
Try my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of while you journey! I listing all those I exploit to save cash once I journey — and I feel they’ll allow you to too!

You’ll want to try the Japan Rail Move if you happen to’ll be touring across the nation. It is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and may prevent a ton of cash!

Searching for Extra Journey Suggestions for Japan?
Try my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to save cash, info on prices, recommendations on what to see and do, instructed itineraries and studying and packing lists, and far, rather more!

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