Itinerary #1: Highlights of Japan
This classic itinerary is ideal for first-timers looking to explore cultural and historical sites, such as Fushimi Inari Taisha and Kinkaku-ji, in the famous cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. The nice pace, variety of activities, modes of transportation (including a boat tour with views of Mount Fuji), and the options to customize excursions also make this an excellent choice for families.
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Karaoke Clubs||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Tokyo Customized Private Tour||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Nikko National Park||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Hakone Bus Tour from Tokyo, See Mount Fuji||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Transfer to Kyoto, Visit Nishiki Market||Kyoto|
|Day 6||Hike at Fushimi Inari Taisha & Explore Kyoto||Kyoto|
|Day 7||Kyoto's Geisha District, Traditional Tea Ceremony||Kyoto|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Nara & Uji||Kyoto|
|Day 9||Transfer to Osaka, Tombori River Cruise, Night Food Tour||Osaka|
|Day 10||Explore Osaka, Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine||Osaka|
|Day 11||Depart Osaka|
Kick off your journey with a meal at Shinjuku Higashiguchi Yokocho food hall, karaoke, and a tour of Tokyo that includes the world-famous Tsukiji Market and Meiji Shrine with an option to add a calligraphy lesson in a local's home. Escape the city for some hiking in Nikko on Day 3, followed by a culinary tour back in Shinjuku in the evening. Spend Day 4 on a bus tour to Hakone that includes a cable car experience and a cruise on Lake Ashi with a view of UNESCO-listed Mount Fuji. Take the bullet train to Kyoto on Day 5 and sample local flavors such as nishin soba (noodles with dried herring) in Nishiki Market on arrival.
Walk through the 10,000 gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha and visit the temple of Kiyomizudera for views of the city. Take a Kyoto walking tour, stopping by the "golden pavilion" of Kinkaku-ji, the Gion geisha district, and Ninenzaka for a tea ceremony. Take a day trip to Nara and Uji on Day 8, paying a visit to Todai-ji and Byodo-in temples and sampling green tea treats in Omotesando. On your final days in Japan, experience a blend of old and new in Osaka with a Dotonburi River boat tour, a visit to the Cup Noodles Museum, and a food tour that includes local dishes such as okonomiyaki, a savory pancake. Learn more
Itinerary #2: Best of Japan: Tokyo to Osaka
Travelers interested in a classic tour with the addition of some unique activities, such as a gold leaf workshop in Kanazawa, will enjoy this Tokyo to Osaka itinerary. The inclusion of scenic experiences, such as the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and a private sailboat excursion to Miyajima island, make this an excellent option for couples and photographers.
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Explore Shinjuku & Watch the Sunset||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Explore Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Mount Fuji & Hakone Bus Tour from Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Train to Kanazawa, Discover the City, Optional Gold Leaf Workshop||Kanazawa|
|Day 5||Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go||Kanazawa|
|Day 6||Train to Kyoto, Hike at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Traditional Tea Ceremony||Kyoto|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Nara||Kyoto|
|Day 8||See Beautiful Landscapes in Arashiyama, Train to Hiroshima||Hiroshima|
|Day 9||Cruise Tour Around Miyajima||Hiroshima|
|Day 10||Train to Osaka, Explore & Optional Street Food Tour||Osaka|
|Day 11||Depart Osaka|
Experience some of Tokyo's most famous neighborhoods on arrival: wander around the eateries and alleys of Shinjuku, visit traditional shops and the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, and take in the modern vibes and playful fashion in Harajuku. Join a bus tour to view Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi on Day 3, then ride a train to Kanazawa on Day 4, a historic city known for its well-preserved Edo-era architecture and crafts, where you'll take a gold leaf workshop and create your own souvenir. Step back in time on Day 5 with a day trip to the traditional village of Shirakawa-go, home to the triangle-shaped gassho-zukuri farmhouses.
Board the bullet train to Kyoto and hike up Mount Inari before visiting Nijo Castle for a history lesson followed by a traditional tea ceremony. Then on Day 7, head to Nara, where deer roam and numerous museums and temples tell the story of Japan's first capital. Enjoy a meditative walk in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, then capture the beauty of the golden Kinkaku-ji temple before catching a train to Hiroshima. Experience Miyajima, the "Island of the Gods," and its many shrines—including Itsukushima—on a sailboat tour on Day 9. Spend your final day sightseeing in Osaka and end on a high note with a Kansai culinary tour. Learn more
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Itinerary #3: Historic Japan: Tokyo to Nagano
History buffs and art enthusiasts will love the UNESCO heritage sites, castles, and museums included in this Tokyo to Nagano itinerary. With stops in Himeji, Kyoto, and Kanazawa, it's also a great hanami (cherry blossom viewing) tour for those visiting Japan during cherry blossom season.
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo, Explore the West of Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Day Trip to Nikko||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Train to Kyoto, Discover Kyoto & Optional Tea Ceremony||Kyoto|
|Day 4||Fushimi Inari Shrine Hike, Geisha Photoshoot||Kyoto|
|Day 5||Visit Japan's Most Famous Castle in Himeji||Kyoto|
|Day 6||Train to Takayama, Explore Traditional Takayama||Takayama|
|Day 7||Bus to Shirakawa, Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-Go||Shirakawa|
|Day 8||Bus to Kanazawa, Day Out in Kanazawa||Kanazawa|
|Day 9||Discover Kanazawa, Japan's City of Art||Kanazawa|
|Day 10||Train to Nagano, Samurai History in Nagano||Nagano|
|Day 11||Train to Tokyo & Depart Japan|
On your first day, you'll hit some of the top spots in Tokyo, including Meiji Jingu shrine, Takeshita shopping street, and Tsukuji Market. Hike the Senjogahara Plateau Nature Trail on Day 2, and check out views of Kegon Falls on a day trip to Nikko. On Day 3, board the bullet train to Kyoto. Here, you'll spend two days immersed in the historic city—tasting your way around Nishiki Market, visiting Shinto shrines, and learning about geisha (and dressing in traditional attire for a photo shoot if you wish) in the Gion district. Head to Himeji Castle on Day 5; the area is especially picturesque during cherry blossom season.
Experience heritage sites and sake breweries in Takayama, then take the bus to Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO-listed village where you can see traditional farmhouse architecture. Immerse in the arts in Kanazawa on Day 8 with a gold leaf lesson and a visit to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, then enjoy a walk around Kenrokuen Garden. Spend your final day in Nagano, where you'll learn about Buddhism at Zenko-ji temple and ninjitsu (warfare and espionage strategies originally practiced by ninjas) at Togakushi Ninpo Museum before soaking in onsen (hot springs) at a traditional ryokan inn. Learn more
Itinerary #4: Japan's Culinary Heritage
This itinerary is packed with engaging and authentic Japanese culinary experiences, from sampling small plates at a cozy izakaya in Tokyo to foraging for ingredients in Gokayama, tasting sake in Osaka, and attending a fish auction on Awaji Island. The combination of food tours and historical and cultural experiences led by locals in popular destinations that include historic Kyoto and heritage villages (including Takayama and Shirakawa-go) makes this a fun option for foodies, solo travelers, and others that enjoy experiencing a place through its cuisine.
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Train to Kanazawa, Visit Omicho Market||Kanazawa|
|Day 3||Bus to Gokayama, Foraging Experience & Doburoku Sake Tasting||Gokayama|
|Day 4||Transfer to Takayama via Shirakawa-go||Takayama|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Hida Furukawa: Classic Earth Oven Cooking Experience||Takayama|
|Day 6||Train to Osaka, Sake Tasting||Osaka|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Asuka: Farm-to-Table Cooking Experience||Osaka|
|Day 8||Transfer to Awaji Island, Foodscape Experience||Awaji Island|
|Day 9||Train to Kyoto, Nishiki Market & Gion District||Kyoto|
|Day 10||Explore Kyoto & Kaiseki Farewell Dinner||Kyoto|
|Day 11||Depart Kyoto|
Start with a guided tour to Tokyo's best eateries, such as izakaya (small, casual bars), where you'll sample small plates and sake. Take the train to historic Kanazawa on Day 2 and choose lunch from the 200 stalls in Omicho market before visiting Kenrokuen Garden, then sit down to a dinner of regional dishes such as kabura-zushi (fermented yellowtail and turnips). Forage for seasonal plants and cook with a villager in Gokayama, a preserved Edo-era village, on Day 3. Feast on a kaiseki-style dinner, a highly ritualistic meal of small portions and seasonal ingredients thoughtfully presented at a traditional ryokan in Takayama.
Take the train to Hida Furukawa to tour small shops along the canal and cook river fish using earth oven techniques taught by a villager. On Day 6, enjoy a bento box on the train to Osaka, the "nation's kitchen," where you'll eat sakana (snacks paired with sake) at a specialty sake shop. Prepare a farm-to-table meal with an organic farmer in Asuka on Day 7. Attend a fish auction on Awaji Island and meet a foodscape artist who designs meals inspired by nature. Spend your final days in Kyoto sampling pickles, seafood, and sweets in Nishiki Market and indulging in one last private kaiseki meal. Learn more
More Great 11-Day Japan Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other 11-day Japan itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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