The Perfect 7-Day Japan Itinerary (Updated 2024)

0
123


A narrow path lined by beautiful cherry blossoms in Japan
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.

But Japan typically feels impenetrable, particularly to first-time guests. While I believe Japan deserves a minimal of 10 days, I get that some individuals may solely have per week, so I needed to write down this, my excellent seven-day itinerary for Japan for a first-time customer.

With solely per week, there’s not a lot you possibly can see until you actually rush it. And I don’t assume you must try this.

So this itinerary solely focuses on Tokyo and Kyoto (the most well-liked locations) in addition to some day journeys from every. If you needed to hurry issues slightly, you possibly can add in Osaka (extra on that on the finish).

(Note: If you bought a Japan Rail Pass, activate it on arrival. That manner, you possibly can reap the benefits of the free JR trains all through the town.)

 

Japan Itinerary Day 1: Tokyo

The popular and colorful Asakusa Temple in bustling Tokyo, Japan
With all of the beautiful shrines, palaces, and temples; distinctive cocktail bars; and considerable buying, you possibly can simply spend a whole week in Tokyo. But, with solely a few days, you’ll wish to hit the highlights:

Tsukiji and Toyosu Fish Markets
Cure your jet lag with some meals! In 2018, Tokyo’s important fish market moved to Toyosu. It is now twice the scale of Tsukiji (the outdated one), making it the most important such market on this planet. Here you possibly can eat contemporary sushi for breakfast, only a few ft from the place it was hauled in from the ocean, whereas marveling on the chaotic ambiance.

You can nonetheless head to the outdated market in Tsukiji to eat, store, and wander as nicely.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 drink 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 outlets don’t open till 7am. Admission is free, however it’s a must to choose up a customer’s go once you enter. Tsukiji Fish Market’s hours range by store (often 5am-2pm). Admission is free.

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

Take a strolling tour
Walking excursions are a good way to get the lay of the land whereas connecting with a neighborhood information. I at all times go on one or two after I arrive someplace. Tokyo Localized affords many free excursions, together with a traditional overview and ones of each the famed Harajuku and Shinjuku neighborhoods. Its Imperial Palace tour can be probably the most handy one after teamLab.

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

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This park is over 144 acres and residential to some 20,000 bushes. Most of the unique park was destroyed in World War II however was rebuilt and reopened in 1949. During spring, it is among the greatest 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.

Depending on how you are feeling relative to your jetlag, you possibly can match a couple of extra actions earlier than you finish your day. Check out this put up for options.

Japan Itinerary Day 2: Tokyo

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

  • Senso-ji – This is Tokyo’s hottest and well-known temple. Beautifully 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 primary corridor. It’s very busy through the day, so perhaps try the grounds within the night.
  • Asakusa Shrine – This close by Shinto shrine is way more peaceable, with fewer guests, however with individuals praying, meditating, or performing conventional rituals. It was constructed through the Edo interval (1603–1868) and survived the air raids of World War 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 bushes right here. Throughout, you’ll discover numerous stalls and distributors promoting snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. On weekends, there are often cultural occasions or festivals showcasing conventional arts, music, and dance. Four of Tokyo’s important museums are right here:

  • Tokyo National Museum – Established in 1872 on the north finish, this huge 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, notably Japan.
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum – This museum showcases rotating exhibitions of latest and conventional Japanese artwork.
  • National Museum of Nature and Science – This museum options a variety of everlasting and short-term exhibitions masking 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 outlets. This very buzzy space is floor zero for all issues digital, and it’s enjoyable to play lots of the video games. This is the place you’ll discover the well-known maid cafés, the place servers gown up as maids and serve you meals and drinks. These vary from huge touristy ones to holes-in-the-wall (the women on the road are selling the latter, that are much more culturally enjoyable). They aren’t low-cost, although, as it’s a must to purchase drink packages and pay a charge, however they’re kitschy and enjoyable.

In the night, go to Shinjuku after which drink in Golden Gai. In Shinjuku, you’ll discover a plethora of cool bars, brilliant lights, and tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries. Be certain to wander down Memory 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 additionally plenty of enjoyable. I’ve had some wild nights right here!

With Arigato Tours, 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 view
There’s quite a bit to see and do in Tokyo (I cowl all of it right here and right here)! But think about taking a day journey out of city to see some non-urban sights:

Kamakura
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 Pass.

Tokyo Disneyland
I’m a sucker for Disney. You’ll discover lots of the similar traditional rides from Disney World right here, like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and everybody’s favourite teacup experience, The Mad Tea Party. But there are a number of distinctive sights as nicely, like Pooh’s Hunny Hunt and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Ticket costs range 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 greatest to ebook prematurely.

Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is positioned an hour outdoors of Tokyo. An lively stratovolcano (which final erupted in 1708) and lined in snow for nearly half of the yr, it stands a formidable 3,776 meters (12,389 ft) and gives one of the vital iconic views within the nation. One of the Three Holy Mountains of Japan, Mount Fuji is each a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and a UNESCO Cultural Site. In the summer time, the mountain is open to hikers, who take 5-12 hours to succeed in the summit (historically, they depart at evening to reach on the prime for the dawn).

If 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 the town price round 12,000 JPY.
 

 

Japan Itinerary Day 4: Kyoto

A quiet path through the famous bamboo forest in beautiful Kyoto, Japan
Home to 1.5 million individuals and nestled within the mountains, Kyoto is among the most lovely cities in Japan. It’s crammed with traditional-style buildings, bamboo forests, numerous Zen gardens, and historical Buddhist and Shinto temples. It’s greatest to divide the town into half, as sights are kind of clumped collectively and getting throughout city takes a very long time. Today, you must 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. Located close to the well-known Tenryu-ji temple, it’s one of the vital lovely locations in your complete nation. It’s not that huge, however there are some hidden areas to discover. Just make certain to reach early if you wish to get pleasure from it with out the crowds (it fills up quick after dawn).

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

Visit the Golden Pavilion
Originally 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 present-day edifice dates solely to the Nineteen Fifties, nevertheless, when a monk trying to kill himself burned the historic unique to the bottom. The rebuilt temple is roofed in sensible gold leaf, symbolizing purity and enlightenment. Each of the three tales reveals a distinct architectural type. Completing the scene are the serene reflecting pool and conventional Japanese gardens that comprise lush foliage, manicured bushes, and scenic strolling paths.

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

Admire Ryoan-ji Temple
This is my favourite temple in Kyoto. Originally 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 Site, with a mausoleum that homes the stays of seven emperors. Its conventional rock and sand backyard is taken into account top-of-the-line within the nation. There’s additionally a teahouse the place you possibly can expertise the normal 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 huge complicated courting again to 1315 covers nearly 60 acres. It comprises a number of dozen temples and is an effective place to see a wide range of Zen gardens and architectural types. 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 – This is dwelling to Japan’s tallest pagoda (5 tales excessive). Founded in 796, simply after Kyoto turned the capital, it was one in all 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 understood for a number of the greatest on this planet, resulting from utilizing the realm’s pure pure spring water within the brewing course of. Arigato Tours affords a wonderful 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, Japan
Today, 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 identified for its hundreds of vibrant orange torii gates that type a community of trails main up Mount Inari. You can hike the paths by yourself whereas having fun with panoramic views of Kyoto beneath or be a part of a guided mountain 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.

Walk round Higashiyama
Spend a day strolling alongside the slim streets of one of many oldest and greatest preserved districts by yourself or on a strolling tour. The conventional machiya buildings (conventional wood townhouses) are crammed with small outlets promoting native specialties and handicrafts, in addition to eating places and teahouses. It’s a preferred space wherein to take part in a tea ceremony. Another good place to walk on this neighborhood is the Philosopher’s Path, which follows a cherry-tree-lined canal that’s lovely and meditative even when the blossoms aren’t in season.

Visit Kiyomizu-dera
One of numerous UNESCO websites in historical Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera (that means “pure water temple”) is positioned within the foothills of Mount Otowa within the japanese a part of the town. It’s one of the vital well-known temples in all of Japan. It was established in 778, however many of the current buildings date to the Seventeenth century. There’s not a single nail used within the development, which turns into all of the extra spectacular when you see how massive the temple is, which is greatest identified for its wood terrace that juts out over the hillside. The temple’s title comes from the close by waterfall whose waters (from which you’ll nonetheless drink in the present day) are stated to have wish-granting and therapeutic powers.

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

Explore 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 type of meditation. It’s a really distinctive expertise and one thing that I believe will add plenty of depth and nuance to your go to (particularly for those who’ve seen plenty of temples). Just make certain to decorate comfortably.

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

Wander the Nishiki Market
Nishiki Ichiba is now one of many greatest indoor markets on the town. Known as “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 on 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 one of the best ways to study all of the meals you’ll see, in addition to the market’s historical past.

Explore Gion
Gion, the historic geisha district, is famend as being one of the vital iconic and atmospheric areas of city. It’s identified for its conventional wood machiya homes, slim alleyways, cobblestone streets, and preservation of geisha (identified domestically as geiko) tradition. Lining the primary road are ochayas (teahouses the place geishas entertain), small outlets, 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 plenty of context. They price round 1,800 JPY.

At evening, go to the Pontocho Row, a slim road lined with eating places, hole-in-the-wall bars, and jazz golf equipment. It’s one of many extra full of life 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 background
Many vacationers go to Nara on a day journey from Kyoto. While that’s completely high quality, I like to recommend spending an evening. After the vacationers head again to the large metropolis within the late afternoon, you’ll see this small, charming vacation spot empty out and really feel like you have got 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, as a result of prevalence of fires and earthquakes, in addition to World War II). Some issues to do:

  • Frolic with deer – The actual attract Nara are the deer. Since the Seventeenth century, these in and across the metropolis have been thought of sacred. You can 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, dwelling to a 16-meter (52-foot) Buddha statue. It was inbuilt 738 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 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 distance
It’s time to wrap issues up and head again to Tokyo to your flight dwelling (or onward). If you have got extra time to spend, this put up right here will listing tons of issues to see and do in your final. However, one factor I’d actually advocate making an attempt to do is watch a Sumo match.

Ryogoku Kokugikan, Japan’s most well-known sumo wrestling area, hosts tournaments thrice annually, in January, May, and September. Tickets promote out shortly, so ebook on-line prematurely. Prices range however begin round 3,200 JPY for area seats. You can ebook 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, ebook a tour of a sumo secure.
 

An Alternative Itinerary

the 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 plenty of guests desire. While I at all times counsel touring slowly and specializing in high quality over amount, some individuals desire to cram extra into their journey.

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

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

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

Take a meals tour
Known as “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 can 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 Castle
One of probably the most well-known landmarks within the nation, the fortress was initially constructed within the late sixteenth century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and performed a pivotal position within the unification of Japan through the Sengoku interval (1467-1615). Over the centuries, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of instances resulting from wars, fires, and pure disasters. The present model dates to 1931. The fortress is located amid sprawling grounds and surrounded by a moat. It’s additionally dwelling to a small however insightful museum and an statement deck that gives some picturesque city views.

Dotonbori
This is arguably Osaka’s most iconic district, identified for its vibrant nightlife (bars, golf equipment, theaters, and music venues), colourful signage, and scrumptious meals. It’s greatest seen at evening as a result of plethora of big neon lights and indicators lining each the canal and streets, which have change into 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 among the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, based in 593. The structure is a mix of conventional Japanese and East Asian types, 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 in all my favourite nations. While it’s comparatively small, it affords an incredible array of issues to see and do (in addition to a number of the greatest meals on this planet). With seven days, you possibly can simply see a very good variety of the primary highlights and get a style for the unimaginable historical past and tradition. It shall be a busy week, however this itinerary ensures you’ll nonetheless have a while to decelerate, chill out, and take within the native tempo of life.

Just be sure to get a Japan Rail Pass earlier than you go. While it’s not as low-cost because it was once, it would probably prevent money and time!

Book Your Trip to Japan: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find an affordable flight by utilizing Skyscanner. They are my two favourite search engines like google, as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned!

Book Your Accommodation
You can ebook 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 resort or guesthouse in Japan, use Booking.com because it persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and inns.

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

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my useful resource web page for the very best firms to make use of once you journey! I listing all those I take advantage of to save cash after I journey — and I believe they may show you how to too!

Be certain to take a look at the Japan Rail Pass for those who’ll be touring across the nation. It is available in 7-, 14-, and 21-day passes and might prevent a ton of cash!

Looking for More Travel Tips for Japan?
Check out my in-depth Japan journey information for extra methods to save cash, data on prices, tips about what to see and do, prompt itineraries and studying and packing lists, and far, way more!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here