One Week in Japan: Best Itinerary for Your First Visit

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One week in Japan is not a lot of time; but don’t worry — we’ve created a perfect, action-packed itinerary that’s filled with the best places to visit in Japan for your first visit. We’re taking you on the trip of a lifetime: through Kyoto, Hakone (and Mount Fuji!), Osaka, and of course, Tokyo. Follow this 1 week Japan itinerary, and you’ll get a taste of the country’s culture, food, cities and landscapes, and you’ll leave craving more!

One Wild Week in Japan Orange Gates

To be completely honest, one week in Japan is such a short amount of time to visit this incredibly diverse and interesting country. You could easily spend months exploring the small villages and tiny islands off the coast of the county and still not see it all.

But if you’re like us and your schedule only allows you a week in Japan, we’ve got you covered with the top things to see on your first trip to the “Land of the Rising Sun”. A week is short, yes, but it’s enough time to give you a taste of the culture, the food, the modern cities and the iconic landscapes that will make you fall in love.

We’re laying out a perfect one week itinerary for Japan, which is packed with the major highlights, making it perfect for anyone visiting Japan for the first time.

We have a feeling that after a week of exploring the best of Japan, you’ll fall hard for this country and start plotting a return trip even before you leave the country! (We certainly did!)

Japan 1 Week Itinerary at a glance

  • Kyoto: culture, food, temples, history, cooking class

  • Hakone: Mount Fuji, onsen, villages, nature

  • Tokyo: nightlife, architecture, food, pop culture

  • Osaka: street food, nightlife, hip neighborhoods

Good to know: This itinerary packs a lot in and can feel a bit rushed. We think this would be ideally spread across 8-10 days. But if you’re like us, and want to see as much as possible in a short time, this itinerary will do the trick!

Before your trip to Japan…

Purchase a 7-day JR Pass and you won’t regret it. The pass quickly pays for itself – just a roundtrip from Kyoto to Tokyo is enough to make up the steep price. (Plus, you get to ride the famous Japanese bullet trains!)

Insider Tip: It’s much easier to purchase the JR Pass before entering the country. Give yourself at least a week for the voucher to be shipped to you.

Japan+Rail+Pass+Buy+Now

You might want to order a pocket WiFi device before you arrive in Japan as well. This allows you to bring a hotspot with you wherever you go so you can search for directions, get train schedules or look up restaurants in the area. Plus, you can connect up to 10 devices, which makes it superior to a SIM card, in our opinion.

Also, before you pack your bags and book your flights, don’t forget to do this… you’ll thank us later. 

Did you know Japan is a great place to teach English? Find out how to get certified to teach English abroad.


Japan Packing List

Confused about what to wear in Japan? Not sure what travel gear you need to pack? We’ve got you covered with a complete Japan Packing Guide. This FREE 5-page e-book is filled with practical tips and everything we recommend bringing along on your trip to Japan!

Japan Packing List PDF download | Two Wandering Soles

Day 1: Arrive in Japan

Welcome to Japan: Your adventure is about to begin! But before we get to the fun stuff — aka things to do and what to eat! — let’s talk logistics.

It’s likely that some of the cheapest flights to Japan you’ll find are to Osaka, and this is where we begin our itinerary. (If you fly into Narita Airport in Tokyo, simply adjust your days to suit your travel plans.)

  • The best part of flying into Osaka Kansai Airport: It’s cheap.

  • Worst part: It’s on an island, so it takes about 30-45 minutes by train to Osaka city center.

Plan to stay in Osaka at the beginning or end of your trip, as your time allows. We have things to do in Osaka detailed on the last day of your trip to Japan, however you can explore this exciting city as soon as you arrive and alter your dates accordingly.

Have a bit more time in Osaka? Why not do a day trip from Osaka to Hiroshima to check out the highlights? As a bonus, it’s even covered in your J-Rail Pass!

If, like us, you choose to save Osaka for the end of your Japan trip, plan to take an express train to Kyoto as soon as you land.

Your first night in Kyoto can be spent adjusting to jet lag and wandering around the neighborhoods. If you’re hungry, pop into a ramen shop and fill your grumbling belly with noodles that are infinitely better than the dried packet kind.

Where to stay in Kyoto on a Budget: The Southern Higashiyama area is a good area to base yourself in during your time in Kyoto. We stayed at Santiago Guesthouse and really enjoyed the location and clean rooms. Plus, you can’t beat the price.

Hotels in Kyoto

Luxury Hotels: Hotel Granvia Kyoto – This 5-star hotel has everything, from an indoor swimming pool to a restaurant and bar to a spa. You can’t beat this location. Perfect for the business traveler or a splurging couple. 

Couple Stay/Mid-range: Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Hachijoguchi – Incredible location steps away from the Kyoto Rail Station. Each room has a plasma TV and free WiFi. Perfect spot to explore the city with your hunny. 

Budget Friendly/Social Atmosphere: Piece Hostel Kyoto – Awesome location, modern common areas, privates and dorms available, rooftop garden. Great place to meet other travelers.Day 2: Explore Kyoto

This gem of a city has enough history that you could spend a month here and still not see everything. Get an all-day bus card for only 500 yen at your hostel (or directly on the bus) for the easiest and cheapest way to see the city.

Make your way west to the Arashiyama area and explore the old town. Walk through the magical Arashiyama bamboo grove (must-do while in Kyoto) and if you have time, try to catch a glimpse of the monkeys at Kameyama-koen Park. Grab lunch at one of the many noodle shops lining the street.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Arashiyama Bamboo grove Kyoto Japan
Japan Golden Temple Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion

Afternoon: Head north by bus to Kinkaku-ji, the famous Golden Temple, and see it at sunset. It’s always busy so just bear with the crowds and enjoy the views. Once you had your fill, head back into town for dinner.

Evening: Walk the traditional Pontocho Alley and hunt for geishas. Keep your eyes peeled, because they scurry quickly between the restaurants and will vanish before you can blink.

Japan Kyoto Pontocho Alley Geishas

Day 3: Explore Kyoto More

Morning: Wake up early and head south to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its orange gates. Take the JR Nara Line to JR Inari Station. Once you leave the station, you’ll be able to see the entrance to the shrine.

Fushimi Inari Shrine Orange Gates Kyoto Japan

This place gets incredibly packed, so the earlier the better. Get lost taking pictures. If you want to get away from the crowds, head up the hill a little ways where you can get a picture without other tourists obscuring your shot. 

Afternoon: Take a cooking class at Cooking Sun School. There are many class options but we would recommend the sushi making class.

Cooking Sun School Kyoto Tokyo
Sushi Cooking Sun School

Travel back to the city of Kyoto and explore the Nishiki Market near downtown. Try the octopus balls (it’s not what you think).

At Sunset: Take the short hike up Kiyomizu-dera Temple for a great view over the city. Then as the sun is setting, walk through the Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka – streets that have been preserved and feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Kyoto Japan Sunset

Day 4: Travel to Hakone

Morning: Using your JR Pass, travel via Shinkansen (bullet train) to Odawara and grab a Hakone Free Pass for 4000 yen. Travel by bus into the Hakone region and stay in one of the many ryokan style guesthouses.

We stayed at Fuji-Hakone Guest House, which was one of the most affordable in the area. Check out other affordable guesthouses and hotels in Hakone here

If you are daring and want a real cultural experience, try an onsen — a Japanese-style bath house. Bathing suits not allowed.

The town of Hakone is known for having several onsens, so you’ll have an array to choose from. Try one that is outdoors, and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to glimpse Mount Fuji! Typically, onsens are separated by gender, but many guesthouses in the area have private ones that you can have all to yourself.

JRail+Pass+Japan+Train

We took a steamy dip in the private onsen at Fuji-Hakone Guest House, and relaxed with wine as snowflakes fell all around us. Pretty magical.

Afternoon: Use your Hakone Free Pass and hop on a bus to the cable car to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji (hopefully you’ll have better weather than we did!). At the top of the cable car don’t forget to try the black eggs. Legend has it that if you eat one, you’ll add 7 years to your life.

Evening: Have dinner at a local restaurant and relax in an onsen.

Hotels in Hakone

Luxury Hotels: Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU – Peace and harmony, traditional and Japanese style rooms available with some having an open-air bath on the balcony over looking the mountains. Spa and onsen on-site. Pure luxury. 

Couple Stay/Mid-range: Fuji-Hakone Guest House – Lovely staff, Japanese style ryokan rooms, close to everything in town, and an on-site private onsen you can reserve with your sweetie. 

Budget Friendly/Social Atmosphere: K’s House Hakone – Onsen Hostel – A little ways out of Hakone town, but close to public transport so no worries. On-site onsen and nice social areas with free WiFi.

Fuji-Hakone Guest House Japan Ryokan

Day 5: Morning in Hakone, Tokyo at Night

Morning: Head to Togendai to get another picturesque glance at Mt. Fuji while on Lake Ashi. This is probably the cheesiest boat ride in the world, but have fun with it! It’s a nice way to take in the landscape (and it’s included in the Hakone Free Pass).

Get off at the first stop, Hakone-machi Port and walk northeast heading towards Moto-hakone Port. Follow the road, but keep to the hill side and walk through the stunning Cedar Tree Forest.

Cedar Tree Forest Hakone Japan Rain

Afternoon: From Moto-hakone Port, travel back to Odawara and then on to Tokyo via JR Rail.

Evening: Travel by subway to your hotel or hostel. We recommend staying in the Shinjuku or Shibuya area. AirBnB is a great way to save some money while staying in Tokyo (Click here for $55 off your first stay on Airbnb).

Make use the place in Tokyo has Wi-Fi or rent a pocket Wi-Fi, because you do not want to be stuck in the technology capital of the world without internet access…like us.

A Pocket WiFi device allows you to bring a hotspot with you wherever you go so you can search for directions, get train schedules or look up restaurants in the area. Plus, you can connect up to 10 devices, which makes it superior to a SIM card, in our opinion. And they are pretty cheap to get, check out some prices

Hotels in Tokyo

Luxury Hotels: Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo – 5-star hotel that is luxury all the way. Stay in comfort with plush spacious rooms with top end amenities. You can’t bet the location near Tokyo Station that gives you access to the entire city. Perfect for a business trip or a honeymoon splurge. 

Couple Stay/Mid-range: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza – Great proximity to Tokyo Station, free WiFi and plasma TV screens in all rooms, on-site restaurant and massage services. 

Budget Friendly/Social Atmosphere: Bunka Hostel Tokyo – Located in the heart of the city, this award winning hostel has private and dorm rooms available, on-site restaurant, shared kitchen, and free WiFi in all rooms. Great place to meet other travelers in Tokyo. 

Planning to book on Airbnb? We have loads of info on how to book Airbnbs, red flags to watch out for when booking, and our favorite Airbnbs in our Airbnb article. Plus, we’ll give you our Airbnb coupon code for up to $55 off Airbnb.

Day 6: Jigokudani Yaen-koen Snow Monkey Park, Nagano 

Morning: Travel using your JR Pass to Nagano. From Nagano station, walk to the local station, Nagano Dentetsu station. Then take the Yudanaka line to Yudanaka station.

From there, hop on a bus to the entrance of the Jigokudani Yaen-koen Snow Monkey Park. The walk into the park may take 30 minutes, but if you’re any thing like us, it my be longer in order to take pictures of this fairytale forest. Spend the whole morning just monkeying around. This was one of our favorite things we did in Japan!

Jigokudani Yaen-koen Snow Monkey Park Nagano Japan

Afternoon and Evening: Head back to Tokyo and make your way to the Shibuya crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. Climb up to the Starbucks across from the train station to get a great view.

Shibuya Crossing Tokyo Japan

Helpful resource: If you find yourself in Tokyo and are in need of going to the doctor, Healthy Tokyo can help you find an English speaking doctor. You can browse their site to find other resources for staying healthy while traveling in Japan, like where to work out and where to find healthy food. 

Day 7: Explore Tokyo

Today, travel via metro and hit some of the major spots in in the city. Check out our huge list of Things to do in Tokyo to help you plan your time in this overwhelming, yet addictive, city!

The easiest and cheapest way to travel throughout Tokyo is get a Toei Line All Day Pass. You can use this pass on any Toei metro or bus lines in the city.

Tokyo Tower Japan
Tsukiji Fish Market Sushi Fresh Tokyo Japan
Japan Giant Red Paper Lantern

Morning: Head to Tokyo Tower, just off subway stop Akabanebashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line. After you get some cool pictures, enjoy a sushi lunch at the Tsukiji Fish Market (Toei Oedo Line Tsukijishijo Station). Make sure you get there early, because most of the restaurants close before noon. You will find some of the best and freshest sushi in your life! We still dream about it.

After lunch, head to Sensoji Temple and check out the massive red paper lantern at the Thunder Gate.

Evening: Go to the crazy, wild, sensory-overload Robot Restaurant show. This is the craziest show you will ever see! It’s a mixture of music, dance, lightshow, and robots fighting. You just have to experience it for youself. But make sure to eat beforehand, because even though it says restaurant, the food is not what you come for.

Helpful tip: If you are flying in and out of the Tokyo region (instead of Osaka, like we did), this article breaks down how to get to the city from Narita Airport.

Robot Restaurant Tokyo Japan Party Lights

Day 8: Meiji Shrine and Fly Home (via Osaka or Tokyo)

Morning: Before making your way out of Tokyo, visit Meiji Shrine. Although it’s just a few stops outside of the bustling center, you’ll feel like you’ve ventured out of the city and into nature.

Breathe the fresh air and wander the wide paths lined by towering trees as you make your way through the woodsy temple. If it happens to be a weekend, you’ll likely see a traditional wedding ceremony.

Meiji Shrine Tokyo Japan Wood

Afternoon: Fly out of Tokyo or head back to Osaka via JR Shinkansen to catch your flight home.

If time allows, wander around the Dōtonbori Area in Osaka and try Okonomiyaki – also known as Japanese pizza. This area is a foodie haven, so come hungry!

If you are spending the night, be sure to check out this guide that goes over where to stay in Osaka.

Dotonbori Area Osaka Japan

Other Tips for Traveling in Japan

Traveling for less than one week in Japan?

If you have less than one week, we’d recommend choosing to visit either Kyoto and the Osaka area, OR Tokyo and Hakone. There is simply not enough time to see them all without feeling too rushed. 

Traveling for more than one week in Japan?

There is so much to see in Japan. If we had to choose one city to spend more time in, it would be Kyoto. Take another few days there and possibly try out an onsen. If you still have extra days, you could spend more time in Tokyo and slow down your travels even more, or head to another region altogether.

Japan+Rail+Pass+Buy+Now

Are you planning a trip to Japan?

We have TONS of resources on travel in Japan and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

Save this article to Pinterest for later!

One Wild Week Traveling in Japan: A Complete 7-day Itinerary
One Wild Week Traveling in Japan: A Complete 7-day Itinerary

We want to hear from you!

Are you ready to book your tickets now? What are your must-do’s in Japan? Do you have any other tips on traveling this country? Share in the comments below.

Comments (70) on “One Week in Japan: Best Itinerary for Your First Visit

  1. milhi pincha says:

    Great blog! I am planning to travel solo to Japan. kindly share your thoughts on solo traveling through Japan and the experience of doing a homestay with a Japanese family

  2. Elizabethannevalle22@gmail.com says:

    I’m planning a one year anniversary trip for my husband and I and we absolutely love this post! Thank you for all the great info! I was wondering, what is the best time of year to go to Japan? And by best I mean most affordable time to go where we can still see everything without missing out!

  3. knlindsey2@usfca.edu says:

    Hi!

    I am looking at your itinerary and I feel a little silly asking but I wanted to check.

    You spent 2 nights in Kyoto
    1 night in Hakone
    2 nights in Tokyo
    and then how many nights in Osaka?

    Please let me know! 🙂

  4. leighsherling@gmail.com says:

    Hi! I’ve just booked my trip to Japan and I’m really excited! I’m following your route and a big thank you! Just wondering, do I definitely need the JR Pass? Im flying to Osaka and home from Tokyo and wondering will it be cheaper to buy the tickets to Kyoto, Hakone and Tokyo from the stations? Thanks, and best wishes from Ireland!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Leigh, sounds like you have a great trip planned in Japan! What we usually tell people is the JR Pass is cheaper than buying a round trip ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo and back. Since you’re only going one way, it might be cheaper to buy the tickets individually. But you do have to factor in the costs from Osaka Airport and the side trip to Hakone, so it might be a wash.

      You can use Hyperdia to find the times and costs of each leg of your trip and then compare it to the cost of a JR Pass. Just remember, with the JR Pass, you get to ride in the Shinkansen bullet trains, which are not only really nice, they get you to where you want to be faster. Where if you buy them individually those trains might not be available. Please let us know what you choose, we’re curious what you find out. Hope this helps.

  5. linda.mcmahon2@gmail.com says:

    Hi there! Really enjoy your travel blog, great tips! We’re going to Japan mid March. From Kyoto, we’re traveling to Fijikawaguchiko for two nights, and then to Tokyo. Would love advice on how to get from Kyoto to F! We’ll be using our JR passes..hopefully!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Linda, we recommend using the website Hyperdia to find the best routes for the JR Pass. It will show you the options for times and dates between the two cities. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  6. indri.anishvi@gmail.com says:

    I really like your trip. Because your trip is very interesting and very enjoyable for me. I am also interested in Japan because you are due. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  7. m.sibthorpe@gmail.com says:

    Thank you! I am just starting to research my trip and I hadn’t thought of flying into Kyoto and out of Tokyo. I will book that now. Can’t wait to take advantage of your other tips once I’m there.

    Quick question– if you had to choose between Kyoto and Hakone, which would it be? I plan on visiting Tokyo and just one other city so I am deciding between those two.

    Thanks again!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Manali, there is plenty to do in both cities, but we would choose Kyoto if it is your first time to Japan. There are so many things to do in Kyoto that you can’t miss. That’s just our opinion, hope that helps.

  8. Rori says:

    Got our JR passes, hopped a flight to Osaka and now on the train to Kyoto. Using your itinerary as our guide. Soooooo excited to be here. Thanks for all the great ideas and tips!
    Rori and Jake Miller
    Colorado USA

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      So happy to hear that Rori and Jake! I bet it is a beautiful time of year to be there too! Enjoy — we’d love to hear what you think!

    • Ssbigfish@hotmail.com says:

      Also went to a baseball game in Osaka and to the sumo wrestler practice stable to watch them practice. Amazing additions to an already incredible itinerary!

  9. Jimmystravelblog@gmail.com says:

    Great post. I’ve been to most of these places and agree with your suggestions. The JR pass is so crucial and a great bargain to be able to get around the country. I find your blog very inspirational. Great work!

  10. clc2ca@virginia.edu says:

    These are some great tips! A lot of people find Tokyo so daunting that they never even venture outside the city limits, but I’m glad you did! One of the best things I’ve ever done in Japan was a little outside of Tokyo. It was through a tour company called Japango–they basically set you up with a Japanese local ‘friend-guide’ to show you some of the things most tourists would miss on their own. The tour that I did was one where we got to harvest our own tea leaves, and it was by far the most memorable experience of my stay. Everyone knows Japan is famous for tea, but to go out into the plantations and actually see where some of the world’s highest quality tea comes from? Simply amazing. I recommend it to all my friends, so check it out if you’re interested. (their English site is japango-em2.com)

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Christopher, thanks for the tip – that sounds like such an incredible experience. We’ll definitely have to check them out next time we’re in Japan! Cheers!

  11. gould.rachel@hotmail.com says:

    Hi guys!

    Great post, nice and easy read and very informative.
    One thing I was going to add is that you can now buy the JR pass when you enter Japan in certain stations/airports it is just roughly 10-20 % more than buying in advance, which is a pain but if you’re doing this trip last minute and aren’t terribly organized (like myself) it’s a god sent. This has only been in effect since early March 2017.

    Cheers, Rachel

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Rachel, thanks for the kind words. Thanks for pointing it out – We just found that out as well. Our contact at Japan Rail said it is in a trial period for the next year, so it’ll be interesting to see if people utilize this. Definitely, a good thing for some, as you mentioned 🙂

      We recently created a post that explains exactly how to purchase a JR pass, and we included that info in that article.

      Thanks again for stopping by. We hope you have/had a wonderful time in Japan!

  12. Mark says:

    Thank you for sharing your itinerary as this helped me plan our trip to Japan where we did so many of the things you mention here. I’ve decided to start a blog as well to share some of these adventures and insights with others. Topics discussed are how I’ve been eating sushi wrong all my life, Japanese obsession with toilets and exploring the Kit Kat store.

  13. cpriya100@gmail.com says:

    Katie, I love your blog! I found it while trying to search must do/sees for Jeju and Japan I’m doing a 3 week trip(haven’t had a vacation in a long time!) to South Korea and Japan April end to May middle. I just subscribed, but I love everything about this. I have a blog myself, do you mind if I mention your blog when I’m writing during/after my trip?

    Priya

  14. jjohnsonco92@gmail.com says:

    So great reading your post! My husband and I are planning a trip to Japan in May and this itinerary has given me a lot of inspiration! When you stayed in the Santiago Guest House -or any guest house for that matter, do you stay in a mixed gender dorm? Or do you usually try to get a separate room together? It looked like Santiago was similar to a hostel which I didn’t mind when I was single, but I’d much prefer to spend my vacation with my husband!
    Thanks!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Jenny, thanks for the kind words. What a great time to visit Japan (after the crowds of Cherry Blossoms but before the summer heat!).

      I totally know what you mean about getting private rooms when you’re with your guy! We love meeting other travelers, so we like staying in hostels occasionally (for the common spaces to mingle). We prefer the private rooms to dorms now that we’re married, and have found that most hostels do actually have privates (some have shared bathrooms, and others are ensuite and just as nice as a hotel but usually cheaper and with a kitchen, common space, etc.).

      During our trip in Japan we stayed in all private rooms except for at Santiago. (Though I do believe they offer privates as well – they were just sold out by the time we booked). There are many cute guesthouses in Kyoto with private rooms, so I would recommend looking around a bit if that’s what you prefer. We love Agoda for finding accommodation in Asia:

      https://www.agoda.com/?cid=1740060

      I hope this is helpful. Have an amazing time in Japan. Let us know how it goes!

  15. andrewboyd575@gmail.com says:

    Hey Katie, My wife and I are traveling to Japan for 2 weeks, but we will be spending considerably more time in Tokyo. I understand traveling on a budget, esp for Japan, but I plan to eat all that I can, what is something you would recommend eating? Are they strict with tattoos in the Onsen? What is your strategy for navigating trains/buses? We have travel experience, but this will be our first Asian country… Thanks -Andrew

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Andrew, how exciting that you’ll be going to Japan so soon! Some onsens are strict about tattoos, but many of the onsens in Tokyo are much more lenient. Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, so it’s getting more acceptable in the bigger cities.

      And for your other question… Eat ALL the food. Haha! We traveled on a budget, but certainly didn’t hold back much when it came to eating. We have a whole article dedicated to Japanese Food.

      Fresh sushi is a must. There’s a ton of ramen shops to explore that are especially good in the colder months. Unagi is amazing. You could even try taking a cooking class!

      In the comment at the bottom of that post, someone suggested some other foods that we’re itching to try the next time we make it to Japan!

      Have a great time – I have a feeling you’ll love Asia 😉

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Suuuuper random question here… I’m going to Japan for the first time in March (cherry blossom season!) but I am TERRIFIED of earthquakes. I keep hearing they have many and are due for a "big one". Did you feel any rumblings on your visit there? I think they are prepared in most ways but still… super scary.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Elizabeth, that’s a great question! We didn’t feel any rumblings when we were in Japan. In most of the big cities, they are very prepared, and the chance of anything happening while you are there are very slim, so try not to let it scare you too much.

      That said, I know that fear isn’t always rational, and sometimes you just can’t get something out of your head 🙂 I think everyone knows this feeling!

      You’ll be there during such a beautiful time, and I hope you have a blast! Let us know how it goes – we’d love to see pictures!

      • carterelizabeth@att.net says:

        Thank you so much for your reply! I probably just need to chill and enjoy myself 🙂

        I’m glad to hear you guys didn’t feel anything…that makes me feel better. Well photography is my passion so I’m super excited to photograph Japan! Feel free to look me up on Instagram (@carterelizabeth) at the beginning of April and you will see my over-sharing! Haha 😉

        So happy I found your page…I’ve already been adding places to my list thanks to your article!

        • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

          Hi again Elizabeth, we started following your Instagram – you have an amazing feed! Can’t wait to see pictures from Japan this spring! Have the BEST time!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Happy to be helpful! Thanks for the comment, Serena! WE hope you stop by again. Wishing you very happy travels!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Serena, If you are just traveling a limited amount of time and are only staying in the Osaka/Kyoto region, it is possible to purchase a regional rail pass instead of the whole Japan 7-day JR Pass. They may even have 2- or 3-day tickets to make it cheaper.

  17. cassy@awaywestray.com says:

    I think this is a perfect tour of Japan. I lived there last year and was looking for a bit of a nostalgic kick <3 You certainly hit the nail on the head!!!

    The only thing I might recommend to add is a quick visit to the Rabbit Island, called Okunoshima- It’s located between Hiroshima and Osaka. I had such a wonderful time there feeding and petting the little fellas. I managed to go to every major animal attraction there was in Japan, from Nara Deer Park to the Fox Sanctuary in Sendai.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Cassy, Thanks for the additional tip! We heard of Rabbit Island but we couldn’t make it there in just 8 days in Japan.

  18. Laura says:

    Hey I’m planning a trip to Tokyo and the Philippeans in Feb. We’ve only got 3 days in Tokyo, and are pretty flexible when it comes to what to do. As long as we get to experience some good food, we’re easy. Do you have any definite ‘must sees’ for our short time there? Thanks!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Laura, lucky you! You get to see 2 great destinations! I think 3 days in Tokyo will be a good amount of time. Yes, you could always spend much more time there, but you’ll get a really good taste of the city!

      I would say to definitely get to the Tsukiji fish market (as early as you can) to have a sushi breakfast. Some other notable stops are: Sensoji Temple, Shibuya crossing (busiest intersection in the world), Meji temple is cool and feels like you’re far from the city.

      And just eat ALL the food! February is a great time for noodle shops! An onsen visit could be fun too! And if you’re up for something kind of quirky, the Robot restaurant show is a fun night out!

      Good luck and have a great time! Oh, and if you’re looking for ideas in the Philippines, we have a TON of info on it

      Cheers!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Japan certainly is a special place! I’m glad you enjoyed your time there! And thanks for sharing your 2-week itinerary. Looks great!

  19. jennympark91@gmail.com says:

    I am doing and similar trip with my mom this fall! Your itinerary definitely helps =]
    Do you think the Jrail is still worth it if we are flying out of tokyo and not going back to osaka?
    we are staying for a week and plan to do as much as you guys did but without the last trip back to Osaka. Your advise would help! Thank you !!!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      I’m so happy to hear this is helpful! We found this to be a great route for our first time in Japan, and I hope you do too! Let us know how you like Japan!

  20. desmondchoozx@gmail.com says:

    Hi, I am actually landing in Kansai and thought of heading to tokyo straight and back to osaka.
    Does the jr pass covers round trip back to Osaka ? (From osaka – tokyo and back to osaka)

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Desmond! There are JR Trains connecting Kansai Airport to Osaka. As long you’re within the 7, 14 or 21 days of your JR Pass, you’re covered. You’ll just have to get your pass printed at the JR Office once you land.

      Make sure you purchase your ticket at least 2 weeks before you leave. Japan Rail Pass is the best deal we have found, so just click on the ad off the article.

      • desmondchoozx@gmail.com says:

        Hi Katie, thanks for your prompt response. Reffering to your post, would you suggest to stay in Airbnb, hotel or guesthouse ? Or do Tokyo’s hotel price and Osaka price has big differences ?

        • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

          Great question, Desmond. We actually did all three types of accommodation while we were in Japan. We found that in Tokyo, the AirBnB was cheaper than some of the hostels (plus we had our own space). Just make sure that your host provides wifi (many we looked at gave their guests pocket wifi which would have been super useful!). Ours didn’t have internet at all, and it was kind of a hassle to have to go to a Starbucks to look things up. (And on that note, yes, we found Tokyo to be the most expensive city in terms of accommodation – at least at the time we were looking!)

          Good luck planning! Let us know what you think of Japan 🙂

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      I completely agree 🙂 Ben and I both said we could spend a month exploring and lazing around Kyoto! We’d love to make it back some day!

  21. clairemrankin@yahoo.com says:

    Did you buy the National JR Pass or the Regional JR Pass? It seems quite expensive for the National Pass but is it worth it? The cost is $262/person for Ordinary and $351 for the Green. The regional pass is quite cheap.Thoughts??

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Claire, We purchased the National Pass, and yes it’s expensive, but for us it was worth it. It really depends on where in Japan you plan to go. Since our flights were in and out of Osaka, and we wanted to get all the way up to Tokyo and Nagano while we were there, the Regional Pass wouldn’t have covered those long train rides (which Osaka to Tokyo alone cost about $180 each way). With Green Pass or the Ordinary Pass you ride on the same trains, but the Green Pass seats are a bit more posh with more leg room. We bought the Ordinary National Pass. Plus, our pass allowed us to take some of the subways in Tokyo at no extra charge. After living in Korea where the train fares are very cheap, it was hard for us to fork over so much money on transportation, but there’s really no way around it. Trains in Japan are just expensive! Good luck planning!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Yes, this is true, but from what we remember when we were there, the fast trains weren’t as frequent as the slower ones, and we would have had to wait for a while ,making our arrival time nearly the same. Plus, our JR pass didn’t start until a few days later, and that fast train seemed quite expensive (on our tight budget). We opted to save money, and make one transfer. It ended up not taking too much longer than the direct train anyway.

      But, yes, this is an option if your JR pass is valid the moment you arrive and/or you have a larger budget than we did. Thanks for the comment!

  22. Jax says:

    Great post! Thanks for the tips. 🙂 Looks like you may be in Cambodia? If you need/want any tips, let us know! We are happy to help out with spots in Phnom Penh.

    :0), Jax

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Thanks Jax! Looks like you guys are loving Phnom Penh! Too bad we missed you while we were there. Maybe we’ll cross paths sometime in the future!

  23. aevansb@gmail.com says:

    Thanks for this complete post (and subsequent posts) about your time in Japan! My wife and I are headed to Japan for the first time at the end of March, and we’re now basing our itinerary off of what you provided here. Super helpful and handy! Thanks for the tips!

    • aevansb@gmail.com says:

      And actually, a couple questions:
      1. Regarding the JR Pass – do you have to book travel ahead of time, or you can just board a train whenever you like?
      2. What time of year did you travel? We’ll be going the last week of March into the first week of April. I loved some of your snow pics. Did you find that a light jacket was sufficient for everywhere you went?
      3. Did you fly out of Tokyo? Any tips on getting to the airport? I’ve heard it takes up to two hours.

      Thanks in advance!

      • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

        Thanks for the nice comments, Adam. Japan in March will be great – it’s Cherry Blossom season (as I’m sure you know!). Here are answers to your questions:

        1. You do have to book/reserve seats on the train ahead of time. Sometimes we reserved seats a day in advance, and other times we booked them right before the train was leaving. We never had any issues and the cars were never full, but we were traveling during an off seasom (around Chrerry Blossom time it may be busier). Just go to the JR office at the station to make the reservations. For instance, when you arrive in Kyoto, you can book your seats for the time you’d like to leave 3 days later if you want to be sure to have a reservation.

        2. We traveled in mid-February. We each wore a medium jacket with some layers underneath. By late March/early April a light jacket should be perfect!

        3. We had a round trip out of Osaka, but I know you can take the train there. I believe that the Narita Express (NEX) takes between 60-90 minutes from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport. I also believe that this ticket is included in your JR pass, so it won’t cost extra!

        Hope this helps! Have a great time in Japan 🙂

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Thanks for the recommendations, Rashaad. There is so much to see and do in Japan, and one week certainly isn’t enough for everything! Hopefully we’ll get back soon!

  24. info@housetolaos.com says:

    I like it! But you guys missed the onsen experience – which was our favorite part of Japan 🙂 but of course, as you say, 8 days is just 8 days, you can’t possibly fit it all in. cheers, and happy travels!

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Jenia, thanks for the comment! We had a blast in Japan, and saw so much even though we were only there for a week! We did actually get to experience an onsen in Hakone. It was so relaxing, especially in February as snowflakes fell around us 🙂 I guess we didn’t describe the experience too much in this itinerary, but it’s in our list of Top Things to Do in Japan – no pictures, obviously! 🙂

      Cheers!

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