Authentic Japan Itineraries and Your Japan Trip Planner

By Abi King | Japan

Jan 27
Japan Itinerary Trip Planner

Japan Itinerary Trip Planner


Japan Itineraries: Your Japan Trip Planner

Planning your Japan itinerary and looking for guidance and inspiration? You've come to the right place! From the first time I went as a doctor who'd just handed my notice in to the last when I was broadcasting for Lonely Planet and all the times in between, I've loved travelling to this country. Here, I draw together my professional experience to create your Japan trip planner. Because despite the difference in language, it really is a great destination for independent, authentic travel.

How to Use this Trip Planner

Look at the Japan Itineraries At a Glance section first to get an idea of time and an overview of what's possible. There's plenty of practical advice throughout the article as well as links to more in-depth information both here and elsewhere. 

This five day itinerary for Tokyo is also a great place to start. Most travellers fly in and out of the capital but there are routes into other cities as well and it's certainly worth considering flying in to one and out of another if you wish to venture south to Kyushu or Okinawa.

I cover a lot of ground on this site, focusing wherever possible on unusual, authentic travel. So if you're feeling overwhelmed, go whelm yourself with this clear introduction to the classical highlights of Japan.

But don't stress. It's an amazing country with so much to see and do. But there aren't really "must-sees" like the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal. So, I suppose what I'm saying is: don't worry. You can't go wrong!

Japan Itineraries At A Glance

A WEEKEND BREAK

Head to the country's capital, Tokyo. Explore the traditional city on the east side with its history, temples and shrines, and modern Tokyo with its boutiques and department stores on the west. 

ONE WEEK

Spend a few days in Tokyo and make the day trip to Mt. Fuji. Visit the ancient capital of Kyoto, including the Tojo Temple. Visit Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Museum and stop by in the mountains on your way back to the capital.

TWO WEEKS 

Build on the classical route by heading north into Sendai or south to the tropical islands of Okinawa. Expand on Hiroshima by visiting Nagasaki, Japan's only contact with the outside world for centuries at a time. 

PRACTICAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR JAPAN

Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
Language: Japanese
Best way of getting around: Regional rail or the high speed ‘bullet’ trains. Ferry if you have time to spare. Car for less populated regions.
Travel tip: Take care before blowing your nose, it’s considered rude. 
Dress Code: Business suits for business, quite smart elsewhere. 
 

VISAS & SAFETY

Read up on Visa requirements and safety while in Japan. 

HEALTH ADVICE

View health information and advice for your time in Japan.

TRAVEL ADVICE

View helpful travel advice and tips for travelling in Japan.

TRAVEL RATINGS FOR JAPAN

Crime levels
Quality of sushi
Volcano spotting chances
Rich culture

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PLANNING A JAPAN ITINERARY

How long should I spend in Tokyo?

It's up to you. It's a fascinating city but (shh) I wouldn't put it in my top 10. I've written a 5 day itinerary to Tokyo here. You shouldn't really need longer than that and can easily cut down your time here if you want to see more of the country. 

How easy is it to climb Mt Fuji?

Ha! Easy and not so easy, I suppose. The hike itself is straightforward. You don't need specialist climbing skills or gear, just sensible hiking gear. At a stretch, you can do it in a day trip from Tokyo. However, most people climb at night and the mountain top is closed for most of the year. I've climbed it once but would not do so again!

How easy is it to travel around on your own?

Pretty easy, actually. Unlike most of Asia, Japan moves in a strictly regimented way. People tend to be incredibly polite, reserved, helpful and quiet and the public transport system is dazzlingly superb. You may struggle with language outside of the classical itineraries and the culture shock can be quite profound. But I've travelled as a couple, in a group and on my own and it's been a pleasure each time.

Should I travel around or take day trips from Tokyo?

First up, there are fantastic day trips you can take from Tokyo. These include Mt Fuji, smoking black eggs in Hakone and the cheery hot springs bathing monkeys at Jigokudani Yaenkoen.

At a push, you can get to Kyoto and back in a day on the shinkansen bullet train but only do that if you have to. I'd highly recommend taking your time to visit Kyoto, with maybe a stop in Hiroshima and the "Japanese Alps" on the way back as well. 


READ MORE ABOUT JAPAN

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Dang. Just Dang. The level of detail in this itinerary has us agape. So this is going to be a frame of reference for another trip back to Japan. We do need to have more focus time to Kyushu or Okinawa.

    • Abi King says:

      I LOVED Okinawa. So beautiful and a really different vibe to northern Japan. Highly recommended!

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