Thanks to Japan's efficient transportation, you can visit at least four regions in 10 days. First-timers will enjoy touring iconic sites in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. Foodies can feast on sushi, sample Osaka's street eats, and try their hand at making gyoza. Culture enthusiasts will appreciate a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto and an art tour of Naoshima island, while those eager to immerse in Japan's natural beauty can trek along the Nakesendo Trail, soak in natural hot springs, and bike Mount Aso.

Itinerary #1: Japan's Golden Route with Hiroshima

This well-rounded Golden Route itinerary is ideal for first-time visitors interested in hitting the highlights of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. You'll experience a balance of culture, history, and cuisine as you take a food tour in Shinjuku, interact with cosplayers in Akihabara, and visit the capital's landmarks. Observe a sumo wrestling practice and sample Japanese whisky near Mount Fuji, then it's on to Kyoto to attend a tea ceremony and ride a rickshaw through bamboo groves. End in Osaka, shopping for souvenirs, eating at street stalls, and paying your respects on a day trip to Hiroshima. 

Follow the Golden Route through three of Japan's major cities
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Shinjuku District Foodie Tour  Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo City Tour: Temples & Historic Sites, Visit the Akihabara District Tokyo
Day 3 Sumo Practice in Ryogoku & Wrestler Lunch, Self-Guided Visit to TeamLab Planets Tokyo
Day 4 Wonders of Mount Fuji & Lake Kawaguchi, Whisky Tasting Tokyo
Day 5 Train to Kyoto, Samurai Ninja Museum & Kimono Tea Ceremony  Kyoto
Day 6 Explore Kyoto's Most Historic Sites Kyoto
Day 7 Explore Arashiyama: Bamboo Grove, Monkey Park, & Tenryu-ji Temple Kyoto
Day 8 Train to Osaka, Visit Osaka Castle & Shinsaibashi, Neon Lights of Dotonbori  Osaka
Day 9 Day Trip to Hiroshima: Peace Memorial Park & Itsukushima Shrine  Osaka
Day 10 Depart Osaka  

Your adventure starts in Tokyo with a tasting tour through Shinjuku followed by visits to some of the city's most popular spots, including the Meiji Jingu temple and the Akihabara district, where you can interact with cosplayers and shop for animé merchandise. Head to Ryogoku Arena to observe sumo wrestlers practicing their sport, then try chanko-nabe, a hot pot packed with vegetables and protein that's part of the sumo diet. Next, your guide will take you to see Mount Fuji from various viewpoints, including from a boat on Lake Kawaguchi. Afterward, you'll sample whisky at Fuji Gotemba Distillery.

Your next stop is Kyoto, where you'll don a kimono and participate in a traditional tea ceremony before touring the golden Kinkaku-ji and other temples. Enjoy a rickshaw ride through Sagano Bamboo Grove, then meet the macaque residents of Iwatayama Monkey Park. From there, you'll continue to Osaka, where you can shop in the Shinsaibashi district and nibble on takoyaki (balls of fried octopus) and other local fare from the Dotonbori street stalls. Finally, you'll visit Hiroshima to learn about the impacts of the atomic bombing and take a ferry ride to Itsukushima-jinja, a shrine built over water. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Japan's Food & History Tour

Hop between four major cities as you visit historic sites and sample regional gastronomy on this Japanese culinary tour. You'll explore ancient temples and try your hand at gyoza making in Tokyo, then catch a train to Kyoto to attend a traditional tea ceremony, tour the atmospheric Gion district, and sample sweet treats in Nishiki Market. Learn to make perfect sushi and sip saké in Hiroshima, marvel at Shinto shrines on a boat tour of Miyajima island, and try okonomiyaki and other Kansai specialties in Osaka. 

Sample regional specialties on your culinary journey from Tokyo to Osaka
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Explore Tokyo
Day 2 Guided City Highlights Tour, Traditional Japanese Cooking Class Tokyo
Day 3 Nakameguro Neighborhood Foodie Tour, Sushi Making & Wagyu Beef Tokyo
Day 4 Train to Kyoto, Traditional Tea Ceremony, Visit Local Temples & Gion District Kyoto
Day 5 Bamboo Groves of Arashiyama, Dinner at Hiiragiya Ryokan Kyoto
Day 6 Nishiki Market, Sushi Class, Train to Hiroshima Hiroshima
Day 7 Hiroshima Gardens, Saijo Saké Brewery Tour Hiroshima
Day 8 Cruise to Miyajima, Train to Osaka, Gastronomical Adventures in Osaka Osaka
Day 9 Day Trip to Nara, Tour Osaka Restaurants Osaka
Day 10 Depart Osaka  

Get your first taste of Japan with some marinated tuna and yakitori (chicken skewers) at one of the many tucked-away restaurants in the Omoide Yokocho alleyways of Tokyo. The following day, you'll visit one of the city's oldest temples, Senso-ji, and then prepare gyoza dumplings and other Japanese dishes in the home of a local chef. Next, you'll taste saké and local sweets on a tour of the Nakameguro district before learning the art of sushi making in a hands-on workshop. Catch a train to Kyoto for a traditional tea ceremony followed by a tour of the Kiyomizu-dera temple and the Gion geisha district. 

While in Kyoto, you'll also sample nishin soba (noodles with dried herring) and other local specialties at Nishiki Market and enjoy free time to explore the city before boarding a train to Hiroshima. Here, you'll take a meditative walk in Shukkeien Garden, then head to Saojo to learn about saké making. Embark on a cruise to see Itsukushima-jinja and the Shinto shrines of Miyajima island, then continue to your final destination: Osaka. Cap off your culinary journey with a food tour that includes a chance to feast on Kobe beef and an option to join an okonomiyaki (regional savory pancake) cooking class. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Shikoku Highlights: Culture, Nature, and Art Island

Art, history, and outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate this off-the-beaten-path exploration of Japan's smallest major island. Highlights include tours of the feudal Matsuyama Castle and Edo-style Kochi Castle, a hike in Yasui Gorge, a walk along the vine bridges of the Iya Valley, and a tour of preserved temples along the Shikoku Pilgrimage route. Get a close-up look at the natural whirlpools on a Naruto Strait cruise, visit Japan's oldest kabuki theater, and spend an art-filled day amid world-class museums and installations on the islands of the Seto Sea. 

Visit Dogo Onsen on the island of Shikoku
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Matsuyama, Tour Matsuyama Castle & Ishite-ji, Dogo Onsen  Matsuyama
Day 2 Day Trip to Historic Ozu & Uchiko Matsuyama
Day 3 Bus to Kochi, Explore Kochi Castle & Chikurin-ji Temple Kochi
Day 4 Discover the Blue Waters of the Niyodo River, Hiking at Yasui Gorge Kochi
Day 5 Train to Iya Valley, Vine Bridges Tour, Train to Tokushima Tokushima
Day 6 Shikoku Pilgrimage Temples, Awa Odori Dance Performance Tokushima
Day 7 Train to Naruto, Whirlpools & Uzunomichi Walkway Tour, Train to Takamatsu Takamatsu
Day 8 Ritsurin Garden Tour, Cultural Visit to Kotohira Takamatsu
Day 9 Day Trip to Naoshima Island: Art & Museums Takamatsu
Day 10 Depart Takamatsu  

On arrival in Matsuyama, check out the feudal architecture of Matsuyama Castle, then spend some time soaking in the hot springs baths at Dogo Onsen. In the morning, your guide will take you back in time on a road trip to see the traditional merchant houses and samurai residences in Ozu, as well as the old kabuki theater in Uchiko. Then, you'll hop on a bus to Kochi, where you can tour the Edo-style Kochi Castle (if you're here during springtime, this is a great cherry blossom viewing spot!). Next, you'll hike to the Hiryu-no-Taki Waterfall in Yasui Gorge or opt to join a rafting tour on the Niyodo River.

Take a train to Oboke Station, where you'll transfer to the Iya Valley for a trek along the vine bridges. Continue to Tokushima for a tour of preserved temples along the Shikoku Pilgrimage route before you catch a train to Naruto. Here, you'll view the powerful Naruto Strait whirlpools, first from a boat and then from the Uzunomichi Walkway. A day trip to Kotohira offers the chance to hike to the observatory at Kotohiragu Shrine and tour Kanamaruza, the country's oldest kabuki theater. Spend your final full day admiring international and Japanese art on the islands of the Seto Sea. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Walking the Historic Nakasendo Trail 

Follow in the footsteps of those who've journeyed along the Nakasendo Trail on this gentle multiday hiking experience. The historic route, part of feudal Japan's original network of highways, will lead you through cedar and bamboo forests, along remote mountain passes, and into preserved Edo-style villages. You'll refuel with homecooked meals and overnight in traditional inns en route. You'll also have the chance to bookend your trek with temple visits and cultural activities, including a geisha performance in Kyoto and souvenir shopping and sightseeing in Tokyo.

Pass through historic Edo-era post towns along the Nakasendo Trail
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kyoto, Explore the City  Kyoto
Day 2 Guided Tour of Kyoto's Top Sights, Geisha Performance Kyoto
Day 3 Day Trip to the Peaceful Forests of Nara Kyoto
Day 4 Train to Nakatsugawa, Bus to Magone, Hike to Tsumago Tsumago
Day 5 Day Trek to Nojiri, Train to Kiso-Fukushima Kiso-Fukushima
Day 6 Train to Yabuhara, Traverse the Torii Pass  Narai
Day 7 Hike to Kiso-Hirasawa, Train to Karuizawa or Komoro via Matsumoto Karuizawa or Koromo
Day 8 Hike the Plateaus of Usui-toge Pass, Train to Tokyo Tokyo
Day 9 Self-Guided City Tour of Tokyo Tokyo
Day 10 Depart Tokyo  

Before setting off on the Nakasendo Trail, you'll spend time visiting historic temples and attending a geisha performance in Kyoto. You'll also have a chance to walk in the Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest and meet the deer of Nara Park before traveling by train and bus to Magome, the start of your hike. The first section will take you over the Magome Pass to the preserved Edo-style town of Tsumago, where you'll enjoy a homecooked meal and overnight at a family-run inn. In the morning, you'll trek through bamboo and cedar forests to Nojiri, where you'll catch a train to Kiso-Fukushima.

After a good night's rest in a ryokan (traditional inn) and a soak in the hot springs, you'll continue onward along the Torii Pass to Narai, another historic post town filled with preserved wooden houses. The following day, take a short hike to Kiso-Hirasawa and browse shops selling handcrafted lacquerware, then catch a train to Matsumoto for a tour of the 16th-century castle. The final leg of your trek leads you across the high plateaus of the Usui-toge Pass to Yokokawa, where you'll board a train to Tokyo. Spend your final day as you wish, perhaps shopping for souvenirs along Nakamise-dori. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Explore Nature on the Island of Kyushu 

Discover the natural beauty and temperate weather of the most southern of Japan's major islands with this active Kyushu adventure. You'll soak in the steaming hot springs and take a "sand bath" in Beppu, hike or bike up an active volcano at Mount Aso, and enjoy a sunset cable car ride to the summit of Mount Inasayama. Of course, there are also opportunities to indulge in local cuisine along the way, including hearty bowls of pork bone ramen in Fukuoka and regional snacks cooked over steam vents in Beppu. 

See the giant reclining Buddha in Fukuoka
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Fukuoka, Self-Guided City Tour Fukuoka
Day 2 Day Trip to the Canals of Yanagawa Fukuoka
Day 3 Transfer to Beppu, Explore the Seven Hells Hot Springs Beppu
Day 4 Beppu Beach Sand Bath, Visit Mount Tsurumi Beppu
Day 5 Visit the Hot Springs of Historic Kurokawa Onsen Beppu
Day 6 Transfer to Aso, Horseback Riding & Volcano Museum Kumamoto
Day 7 Hike the Volcanoes of Mount Aso Kumamoto
Day 8 Transfer to Nagasaki, Visit Peace Park, Cable Car to Mount Inasayama Nagasaki
Day 9 Tour the Abandoned Island of Gunkanjima Nagasaki
Day 10 Depart Nagasaki  

After touching down in Fukuoka, you'll have free time to see the reclining Buddha at Nanzo-in temple and sample hakata tonkotsu ramen (pork bone noodle soup). Then you'll day-trip to Yanagawa, the "Venice of Kyushi," for a canal cruise and a meal of freshly caught eel, a regional specialty. Moving on to Beppu, you'll have the opportunity to unwind in the hot springs and try a sand bath, an activity that involves burying your body in nutrient-rich sand. Fit in one last hot springs soak in the resort town of Kurokawa Onsen before your driver transfers you through volcanic landscapes to Kumamoto.

Kumamoto is your base for more outdoor adventures, including a trek (or bike ride, if you wish) up Mount Aso, a horseback ride along mountain trails, and a walk through the Kusa-Senrigahama grasslands where you can find horses and cattle grazing against a backdrop of mountain peaks. Your last stop is Nagasaki, where you'll learn about the events that took place here during World War II and take a boat tour to the island of Gunkanjima, home to an abandoned coal-mining town. End on a high note with a sunset cable car ride up Mount Inasayama and a seafood dinner before departure. Learn more

More Japan 10-day Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other Japan 10-day itineraries, with walking tours, cultural journeys, and best-of trips to hit the highlights. 


A note on diacritical and retroflex markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of 10 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 10 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas