Thanks to efficient public transportation, you can fit a lot into 11 days in Japan. First-timers and families can take a Japan highlight tour that comprises Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka or opt for the faster-paced itinerary that includes a Hiroshima visit. History enthusiasts and cherry blossom chasers will enjoy scenic heritage sites, such as Takayama, on a history-focused trip, while foodies can sample local flavors in several cities, including Osaka, the "nation's kitchen," on the "Culinary Heritage" tour.

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. 

Paper lanterns light up a street in Kyoto
Day Highlights Overnight
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. 

Stroll the cherry blossom-lined streets of Kanazawa
Day Highlights Overnight
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

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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.

Check out historic Takayama
Day Highlights Overnight
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-Taisha 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-go, Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go Shirakawa-go
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  

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.

Traditional japanese place setting in ryokan
Sit down to a meal in a traditional Japanese ryokan
Day Highlights Overnight
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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Map of 11 Days in Japan - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 11 Days in Japan - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas