Japan Itinerary 10 Days

Japan Itinerary 10 Days

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Japan itinerary 10 days
Add at least 2 days in Kyoto when planning your Japan itinerary.

Have you always dreamed about visiting Japan? The Land of the Rising Sun is a unique fusion of old traditions and futuristic ideas. With so many exciting attractions as well as traditional and contemporary cultural experiences to put on your Japan itinerary, you’ll need at least 10 days in Japan to get a taste of what the country has to offer. From admiring the ethereal beauty of Mount Fuji to dancing in a robot café, once you hit the road, most people find that even 2 weeks in Japan is not enough. So to help you with your planning, we’ve put together a modular itinerary with four options: 5 days in Japan, Japan itinerary 10 days, a suggested Japan 2 week itinerary and the ultimate Japan 3 week itinerary.

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It doesn’t matter when you choose to visit; Japan offers impressive scenery, timeless sights, fantastic food and culture. Also known as the Land of Shoguns, Japan is a treasure trove of castles, shrines The Land Castles, shrines and temples are alluring.

Channel your inner Samurai or geisha and discover Japan. Our itineraries cover bucket list attractions and a few off-the-beaten-track experiences we think you should not miss. It’s mainly a Tokyo Kyoto Osaka itinerary with stops in Nara, Takayama and Hiroshima.

Japan Itinerary 5 Days

10 days in jJapan
5 or 7 days in Japan is not enough. Here are some options to help you construct a longer Japan itinerary 10 days to 3 weeks.

If five days in Japan is all you can spare, there are so many things to do in Tokyo you could easily fill your entire Japan itinerary but if the pace is a bit too frenetic, a couple of days in Takayama will help calm you down.

Japan Itinerary Day 1 – Tokyo

Tokyo Kyoto Osaka Itinerary
Your Japan itinerary 10 days should definitely include time in Tokyo.

If you love exploring megacities, then three days in Tokyo is not enough. You’ll most probably want to aim for a longer Tokyo itinerary.

Yoyogi Park

Landing in the midst of a forest of skyscrapers in one of the world’s most populated cities can be daunting. A great way to orient yourself and keep your feet on the ground is to soak up the sights at Yoyogi Park. The huge park is a green oasis in Shibuya that sets the scene for what to expect in Tokyo today, with both cultural activities, such as dancing and theatre, to eye-popping sights, from Tokyo-ites walking the dogs, cats, parrots and ferrets.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine) Shinto shrine is a serene spot to put on your Tokyo itinerary if you need some downtime away from the hustle and bustle. The walk from the soaring gate to the shrine itself leads through a forest adjoining Yoyogi Park.

Shinjuku

Wander around Shinjuku and ogle and the skyscrapers. Shinjuku Station is the world’s busiest railway station – over two million passengers pass through here every day. The network of laneways called Omoide Yokocho (little memory lane) is packed with food stores serving up ramen, soba, sushi and yakitori.

Shibuya Crossing

Unless you live in a city as large as Tokyo, seeing Shibuya Crossing at peak hour should be a fixture to any Tokyo itinerary. It’ll give you some context to the size of this megacity. Shibuya Crossing is a city showcase you need to see, especially on weekends and at night, when thousands of people cross in all directions. If you’re uncomfortable about being in the crowd, a good vantage point to watch the spectacle is from the Starbucks above Tsutaya.

See a range of hotels in Shibuya here

Japan Itinerary Day 2 – Tokyo

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo Imperial Palace is a symbol of Imperial Japan and, ever since the original Edo castle was built on this site in 1868, it has been home to the Meiji rulers. The palace is in the heart of Tokyo on sprawling palace grounds. These days, the original moats, watchtowers, gates and walls still stand and part of the palace is the official residence of Japan’s Emperor. The public can visit parts of the Imperial Palace on an organised tour, which you can book through the Imperial Household Agency.

Tokyo Skytree (or Tokyo Tower)

For a bird’s-eye view, either put Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower on your Tokyo itinerary. The observation decks of Tokyo Skytree (the tallest building in Tokyo) offer sweeping bird’s-eye views of the city. The view looking down from Tokyo Skytree (or Tokyo Tower), will take your breath away and a wow experience on your Japan trip. The Tembo Deck is 350m high and you can also walk the dizzying heights of the glass-covered Tembo Galleria from the 445th to 450th floors to reach 450m.

Japan Itinerary Day 3 – Tokyo

Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market is the place to go to watch Tokyo’s famous tuna auction. The market is one of the biggest fish markets in the world and is a spectacle to see. There’s an Outer Market, which has shops and eateries, and an Inner Market (where the auction is held). Only 120 visitors are allowed to see the popular auction each day so get there at 5 am to make sure you get in. Note that the Inner Market is closing on 6 October 2018 and moving to Toyosu (opening 11 October).

Akihabara

japan itinerary 10 days
Japan itinerary 10 days: Seeing the neon lights of Akihabara is a fun thing to include on your Tokyo itinerary, which is usually the first stop when spending 2 weeks in Japan or longer.

If you love electronics and gadgets, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store in Akihabara. It’s the place to shop for the latest cameras and new electronics. Akihabara also captures Tokyo’s wild side, as the streets are a parade of strange fashions and fantasy cafes that have become part of Japan’s modern-day culture. Pop into a cat café, owl café (fancy a cup of coffee while you pat an owl?), maid café (where the staff dress as butlers and maids) or manga café. If you only have time on your Tokyo itinerary for one cafe try the Robot Restaurant, to see the robot show.

Asakusa

visit Asakusa Temple 2 weeks in Japan
Japan itinerary 10 days: The jewel of Asakusa, the Sensoji Temple is a lovely stop to add to your Japan itinerary.

More than a touch of old Edo can be found in the backstreets of Asakusa (浅草), which is a hub of history and culture dating back to the Edo period. In the past, Asakusa was the centre of kabuki theatre. Now, you can explore on foot or take a guided rickshaw (jinrikisha) tour but make sure the main attraction in Asakusa, the 7th-century Sensoji Buddhist temple, is on your Tokyo itinerary.

Book a hotel in Asakusa here

Japan Itinerary Day 4 – Takayama

Travel by train from Tokyo to Nagoya on the Shinkansen Nozomi and on to Takayama (4 hours).

Historic timber building in Takayama
Japan itinerary 10 days: Balance your Japan itinerary with 2 days in Takayama for history and a calm stay. midway during your 10 days in Japan. Photo: ©Yasufumi Nishi/©JNTO

A contrast to frenetic Tokyo, the slow pace in historic Takayama provides the opportunity to calm down and admire ancient customs, like carpentry, brewing sake, lacquerware and pottery.

The first thing to do in Takayama is to take a leisurely walk for a few hours around Takayama’s Old Town, comprising buildings, houses and structures that date back to the Edo Period.

A fabulous way to soak up the traditional Japanese atmosphere is to stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) such as Honjin Hiranoya, which also has an onsen, or Temple Hotel Takayama Zenko-Ji, for a serene temple stay.

Check out Honjin Hiranoya and other ryokans here

Japan Itinerary Day 5 – Takayama

Start the day by sampling local fruit at the Miyagawa Morning Market, which is a hub of local activity.

Stroll around Takayama to soak up the traditional village scene admiring the dark timber beans and soaring pillars.

Museums worth seeing are the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall (for Takayama Festival floats0, Kusakabe Folk Museum (the former home of a wealthy merchant) and Takayama Jinya (Edo era government building).

The Takayama Festival has been part of the region’s culture since the 16th century.

Overnight in Takayama and enjoy another relaxing soak in an onsen before heading off to Osaka. If it’s your first time, here are some Japanese onsen tips.

Check out accommodation options in Takayama here

Japan Itinerary 10 Days

10 days in Japan is just enough to do the Tokyo Kyoto Osaka itinerary with a balance of popular tourist spots and cultural experiences. After the first five days, you’ll be looking forward to visiting Kyoto and Osaka.

Japan Itinerary Day 6 – Kyoto

Travel by train from Takayama to Kyoto via Nagoya (3.5 hours).

Famous for temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is one city in Japan you could spend weeks exploring and not be bored. Kyoto has 17 World Heritage sites and plenty of museums, galleries, boutiques, gardens and shops.

Your Kyoto itinerary should include one of the many experiential activities, such as Samurai lessons, sushi cooking classes, traditional Japanese tea ceremonies or cycling tours to see temples.

Gion

Remember Memoirs of a Geisha? One way to get into character is to dress up like a maiko or geisha and wander the streets of Gion.

Strolling through a historic hanamachi, or geisha districts is a highlight of a visit to Kyoto. Kyoto is a very safe city to walk around, even at night, and spotting a geisha wandering through the streets is a delightful surprise.

Gion is a convenient and atmospheric district to stay. There are many guest houses and ryokans to choose from. Here’s how to rent an apartment in Kyoto.

Another fun activity for your Kyoto itinerary is to channel your inner Samurai by taking a kendo class. Kendo is a Japanese martial art using bamboo swords.

Check out hotels in Gion here

Japan Itinerary Day 7- Kyoto

fushimi inari shrine kyoto is a highlight of 2 weeks in Japan
Japan itinerary 10 days: You’d be surprised at how quickly 2 weeks in Japan flies past. The Fushimi Inari Shrine should be on any Japan itinerary.

Of the 1000-plus temples in Kyoto, the Ryoanji Temple and Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) are two worth putting on your Kyoto itinerary, especially if it’s your first time visiting Kyoto.

Golden Pavilion

kyoto golden pavilion Japan 2 week itinerary
Japan itinerary 10 days: Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion is a beautiful landmark worth including in your Japan 2 week itinerary.

Golden Pavilion is a beautiful Buddhist temple with a golden hue. The two top floors are swathed in gold leaf and the Golden Pavilion is reflected in the glassy Mirror Lake. Once the home of the family of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (during the late 14th to early 15th centuries), the Golden Pavilion is now one of the most recognised Kyoto landmarks.

Ryoanji Temple

Ryoanji Temple is a Zen temple with lovely Zen rock gardens that are quite famous in Japan. It’s a lovely spot to include in your perfect Japan itinerary to contemplate the past, present and future of Japan while admiring the poetry of the temple and garden’s design.

Arashiyama

Bamboo Grove Kyoto Itinerary
If you’re spending 2 weeks in Japan make sure to walk the Kyoto Bamboo Grove.

Arashiyama’s most famous attraction is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, which is an impressive thing to see. The bamboo grove is a quintessential Kyoto landmark but there are a few other sights in Arashiyama worth checking out too. For a half-day trip to Arashiyama on your Kyoto itinerary, you could squeeze in the Tenyuji Temple, which is on the World Heritage list, and hang out with the monkeys in Arashiyama Monkey Park.

Japan Itinerary Day 8 – Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine
When visiting Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is a must-do on any Japan 2 week itinerary. Photo: ©Amanohashidate Tourist Association/©JNTO

There’s a good reason most visitors to Kyoto will have the Fushimi Inari shrine on their Kyoto itinerary. The Shinto shrine has the most impressive vermillion tori gates in Japan. It’s a good hike up the mountain and, if you take your time, you’ll want to allocate about three hours to admire the small shrines and torii gates along the way. The fabulous view of Kyoto from the top is well worth the effort.

Nijo Castle

Another of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Nijo Castle (also known as Fushimi Castle) was built in 1601 by the first Shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. Within the castle, the Ninomaru Palace was the residence and offices of the shogun. The sprawling castle complex is interesting to explore, especially the nightingale floors. These floors were built to squeak in a certain way to announce the arrival of unwanted visitors, such as thieves or assassins.

Book a hotel in Kyoto here

Day 9 – Nara

Travel by train from Kyoto to Nara on the JR Nara Line (1 hour)

Nara has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Japan’s largest Buddha and Todaiji Temple, the world’s largest wooden structure.

Nara’s top historical treasures are Todaiji Temple, which is one the Seven Great Temples of Japan, and Daibatsu, the world’s largest bronze statue.

The options are to stay in Nara for the night or take the JR Yamatoji Line Regional Rapid Service from Nara to Osaka (1 hour).

Check out hotels in Nara here

Day 10 – Osaka

japan itinerary 10 days
Japan itinerary 10 days – plan at least one day in Osaka.

Japan’s third largest city has its fair share of city attractions. Osaka is more compact than Tokyo and easier to get around. If you don’t have much time to spend in Osaka, it’s possible to experience both ancient and modern delights in one day on a whirlwind Osaka itinerary.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle
Your Japan 2 week itinerary should include a visit to Osaka Castle. Photo: ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Home to the country’s most well-known castle, Osaka Castle should be one of the stops on any Osaka itinerary.

Construction of the castle began in the 16th century by Samurai warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was where the Battle of Sekigahara was fought.

Osaka Castle fell to the Tokugawa clan, the last of the shoguns. Inside is a museum focusing on the history of the region and the park around the castle is a lovely spot for a stroll.

Dotonbori

night lights of dotonburi in osaka
The night lights of Dotonburi in Osaka is a fun addition to any Japan itinerary. Plan to spend 2 weeks in Japan as there’s so much to see. Photo: ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Dotonbori is packed with restaurants, bars and flashing lights. Osaka’s version of Times Square is where you can experience the wacky sights of neon Japan. From 3D models of sea creatures to pachinko parlours, a walk around Dotonbori will give you a glimpse of modern Japan.

Osaka is a fabulous city to try Japanese street food and a fun thing to do is to take a street food tour with a local foodie guide. Regional foods to taste in Osaka are Takoyaki (octopus balls), Okonomiyaki savoury pancakes, Kitsune udon, which is no popular throughout Japan, and some of best sushi in the world.

For a Japanese pod hotel experience, try the Asahi Plaza Capsule Hotel, which first opened in 1979.

Check out hotels in Osaka here

Depart Osaka on day 10 or add another day to your Osaka itinerary.

Japan 2 week itinerary

If you can stay for two weeks in Japan, another day in Osaka is full of fun before heading to Hiroshima. Hiroshima is a significant city that will open your eyes to the past and make you think about the future.

Day 11 – Osaka

Universal Studios Osaka

If you’re travelling with the family, or are a fan of theme parks, you might want to add Universal Studios to your Osaka itinerary. The amusement park is packed with fun for all ages and gets pretty busy. Harry Potter fans will want to spend time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Day 12 – Hiroshima

Take the Shinkansen Nozomi from Kyoto to Hiroshima (1.5 hours).

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at 8.15am on 6 August 1945. It exploded at a height of 600m in the air, 160m southeast of the Atomic Bomb Dome (which was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall).

Atomic Bomb Dome

2 weeks in japan will allow you to visit Hiroshima
If you can spend 2 weeks in Japan add a couple of days in Hiroshima. Photo: ©Hiroshima Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Atomic Bomb Dome is purposely maintained in the exact state of destruction caused by the bomb as a reminder of the significant event that changed the world.

From the Atomic Bomb Dome, follow the Peace Trail on a walk through the tranquil Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to various monuments, such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Cenotaph and the Statue of the A-Bomb Children.

Day 13 – Hiroshima

Hiroshima Castle

The 16th-century Hiroshima Castle, built by feudal lord Terumoto Mori, was destroyed during the Hiroshima atomic bombing. In 1958, the castle keep was rebuilt and turned into a museum showcasing Hiroshima’s history. However, the castle’s Edo era stone walls and inner fences remained intact.

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine is the focus of one of the most scenic spots in Japan. The shrine on Miyajima Island is a World Heritage Site and is incredible to see during high tide, when the torii gate, in particular, looks like it’s floating on the ocean.

Check out hotels in Hiroshima here

Day 14 – Hiroshima

Return to Tokyo from Hiroshima on the Shinkansen Nozomi (4 hours) to connect with your international flight.

Japan 3 week itinerary

If you can spend 3 weeks in Japan the keep on going south. The train will take you to Nagasaki and it’s a short flight to the idyllic island of Okinawa.

Day 15 – Nagasaki
Day 16 – Nagasaki
Day17 – Okinawa
Day 18 – Okinawa
Day 19 – Okinawa
Day 20 – Okinawa
Day 21 – Tokyo

Japan Itinerary planning tips

Best Time to visit Japan

Japan has distinct seasons and each season has its unique attractions. Spring is the season to see cherry blossoms but it’s also packed with tourists, while autumn (September to November) is also a beautiful time of year to see the changing leaves and is less crowded than spring. Winter in Japan is stunning, even if you are not a skier or snowboarder, and summer in Japan can get rather steamy especially in the cities.

How to get around Japan

2 weeks in Japan by train
2 weeks in Japan easily done by train. Photo: Shibuya Station. ©Yasufumi Nishi/© JNTO

Most top-tier international airlines have direct flights to Japan from many cities around the world. Most visitors arrive in Tokyo, where you can get a train from the airport to the city centre.

The easiest way to travel around Japan is by train and a Japan Rail Pass will allow you to travel on all JR trains in Japan, including the high-speed Shinkansen bullet trains and the Japan Rail (JR) Narita Express (NEX) from Tokyo Airport to the city.

Choose a 7, 14 or 21 days Japan Rail Pass but remember to buy it before you go as they are not available for purchase in Japan.

Tipping in Japan

Tipping in Japan is not customary, and in some places, tipping might even be considered as bad manners.

Food in Japan

Japanese food is delicious and the food is important in Japanese culture. If you’re spending 2 weeks in Japan you’ll have a smorgasbord of choice. Besides sushi, Udon, soba, matcha and miso soup, your trip around Japan will allow you to discover the local cuisine of each region.

Osaka is known for okonomiyaki and takoyaki while Kyoto is famous for kaiseki restaurants.

Japan Itinerary 10 Days

Japan Itinerary 10 Days

26 COMMENTS

  1. We have always dreamed of visiting Japan and in October we will be doing this. So your blog post was timely. Have pinned this. We start in Tokyo so will definitely want to visit Yoyogi Park. Or may a trip up to the top of Tokyo Tower to get our bearings on the city. Hubby has a long electronicsshopping list so he will definitely want to go to Akihabara. We want to take a train trip so Nagoya sounds good. We are on group tours after we leave Tokyo so hope we get to see some of the sights outside of Tokyo – Nijo Castle, Fusimi Inari Shrine and the Golden Pavillion look charming. Thanks for teasing us for our coming trip.

    • Thanks for pinning, LD! It sounds like you’re well on your way to planning your Japan itinerary. It would be interesting to know your thoughts on group tours in Japan after you’ve done your trip.

  2. This is a great Japan guide and you have shown me what I’m missing! I have been to Osaka, but went straight to Kyoto as I was on cruise and absolutely loved it there, even in the rain. We also stopped in Hiroshima that was fantastic, but I really want to see more of Japan. I would love to go there for two weeks and follow your guide to see Mount Fuji, the Golden Caste, Tokyo and what I missed in Kyoto, like the bamboo grove and also when it is dry!

    • Sounds like you’ve already had a good taste of Japan, Lucy. Glad you found our Japan itinerary options useful. 2 weeks in Japan will certainly fill in the gaps to give you a good overall view of the country and you’ll be able to compare cruising Japan with train travel in Japan.

  3. Ever since I read The Shogun in school, I have wanted to visit Japan. Soon, I hope. But your itinerary os fantastic for first-time visitors to cover the main attractions and for cultural immersion.

    • I read Shogun too when I was still at school! The beauty about these Japan itineraries is that you’ll see more than a glimpse of the places you remember from “Shogun” as you travel around Japan.

  4. Your set of itineraries is so useful 🙂 — it really gives visitors a guide that will fit their schedule, since so few working Americans can take three weeks off at one time. It’s easy to see how your 3 week version is the ultimate, the way to go if you possibly can. And — gorgeous photos!

  5. Every time that I read anything about Japan it moves higher up my bucket list. I love the way you have laid everything out so clearly as it’s easy to follow. Great photos as well! I have saved the post in the hopes that I might make it to Japan one day…..

  6. We have not yet made it to Japan. I bookmarked your post for future reference when we plan a trip to Japan. Thanks!

    I think I would like a month in Japan to spend more time at some of the places you suggest, so your 3 week itinerary is one I would refer to. The Golden Pavilion and Kyoto Bamboo Grove look spectacular. I look forward to the sushi or better yet, sashimi.

    I like the idea of a rail pass. Good tip!

  7. Japan is a country where the past, present, and future seem to merge together seamlessly. Its rich heritage and futuristic technology seem to co-exist. Temples and Mall rub shoulders. Japan is a dream destination for us. Your itinerary seems really perfect for us as it covers most of the places that figure in our own bucket list, like Hiroshima Castle and Nara. A very informative post for first time visitors to Japan.

    • It sounds like you might be planning a wonderful trip to Japan, Sandy. There are so many amazing places to visit in Japan, it can be a bit daunting to know where to start. Glad you found our Japan itinerary suggestions helpful.

  8. As a person who is in love in Japan and who reads a lot on that subject, I must admit that this is the best and one of the most exceptional guides for there. I loved your itinerary and I hope to put it to use soon. 😉

  9. That is a very detailed and lovely itinerary. It has everything – from temples to museums to local markets. I love Osaka in particular, especially over Tokyo. I would love to spend more time there.

  10. I love how you lay this out over a few days so I can follow it day by day! Out of everything to do, Yoyogi Park sounds awesome with dancing to theatre and of course, nature. Sounds like it has everything.

  11. Wow this is a great itinerary. My kids have been wanting to go to Japan, but it feels a little overwhelming to plan the trip. I might just copy this whole thing ha. I definitely think I will like Takayama!

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