With 15 days in Japan, you can delight in a well-rounded introduction to Tokyo and Kyoto's rich history and culture on a highlights tour or include time in Kanazawa, Naoshima, and Hakone to immerse yourself in the country's art scene. Those looking to get off the beaten path can make their way north from Tokyo to Akita and back, while travelers seeking a relaxed trip will enjoy the gentle pace of a Golden Route tour.

Itinerary #1: Highlights of Japan

Experience the highlights of Japan, perfect for those who have never been to Japan and are interested in immersing themselves in the country's rich history and culture. You'll spend four nights in Tokyo and Kyoto, visiting their famous temples, learning about geisha customs, and embarking on day trips to forested valleys and an enchanting deer-filled town. Then, end your trip by traveling between Fukuoka, Fukuejima, and Nagasaki and visiting abandoned islands.

Explore Japan's Fukuoka, and sample Hakata tonkotsu ramen, the region's specialty
Explore Japan's Fukuoka, and sample Hakata tonkotsu ramen, the region's specialty
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Visit the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center Tokyo
Day 2 Kimono Experience, Evening Food Tour Tokyo
Day 3 Sumo Practice Viewing, Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, Shodo Experience in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 4 Day Trip to Kamakura Tokyo
Day 5 Free Day in Tokyo, Transfer to Izumo Izumo
Day 6 Countryside Homestay in Izumo City Izumo
Day 7 Transfer to Kyoto, Explore Arashiyama, Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 8 Hiking at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Geisha Tour Kyoto
Day 9 Scenic Train Ride to Mount Koya, Evening Tour in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 10 Day Trip to Nara & Uji Kyoto
Day 11 Train to Fukuoka, Explore Fukuoka
Day 12 Train to Fukuejima, Explore the Goto Islands Fukuejima
Day 13 Train to Nagasaki, Explore  Nagasaki
Day 14 Explore Nagasaki & Visit Hashima Island (Gunkanjima), Fly to Tokyo Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Welcome to Japan! Your adventure begins in Tokyo, where you'll spend your first five days getting to know this sprawling city's big personality. Highlights include a thrilling food tour in Shinjuku, a sumo training session in Ryogoku, and a day trip to Kamakura to admire its many temples and shrines. Then, after a free day in Tokyo exploring at your own pace, you'll hop aboard an overnight train westbound for Izumo. Spend the day with your Japanese host family and experience small-town life before continuing to Kyoto by bullet train.

You'll pack in numerous activities during your four-day stay in Kyoto, including a walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a visit to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a day trip to the tranquil forested valley of Mount Koya, and time admiring Nara's temples alongside free-roaming deer. Then, spend your final days on the move between Fukuoka, Fukuejima, and Nagasaki. En route, enjoy a day on the picturesque Goto Islands, visit a peace park that commemorates the victims of the atomic bomb attack, and explore the abandoned island of Hashima. Lastly, you'll return to Tokyo to catch your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Art, Culture & Cuisine: An Immersive Japan Experience

Immerse yourself in the rich culture of Japan on this 15-day journey that takes you from bustling Tokyo to picturesque Naoshima Island. You'll get hands-on with sushi-making, tour the art museums of Naoshima and Teshima Islands, and enjoy a scenic view of Mount Fuji from Hakone's Open-Air Museum. The itinerary also includes a traditional tea ceremony and a dinner with a geisha in Kyoto, promising a well-rounded experience of Japan's cultural highlights.

A woman wearing a kimono in the Higashi Chaya district of Kanazawa
A woman wearing a kimono in the Higashi Chaya district of Kanazawa
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Fine Dining Experience Tokyo
Day 2 Art & Culture Encounter: Senso-ji Temple & Tokyo National Museum Tokyo
Day 3 Visit the National Art Center, Hands-on Sushi-Making Class Tokyo
Day 4 Train to Kanazawa, Kenrokuen Garden & Museum of Traditional Arts & Crafts Kanazawa
Day 5 Traditional Crafts & Kimono Experiences Kanazawa
Day 6 Train to Kyoto, Zen Temples Tour: Kinkaku-ji & Ryoan-ji Kyoto
Day 7 Sanjusangendo Hall & Fushimi Inari Taisha, Reigen-in Zen Tea Ceremony  Kyoto
Day 8 Miho Museum, Free Time in Kyoto, Private Maiko Dinner Show Kyoto
Day 9 Transfer to Kobe, Saké Brewery, Kobe Harborland, Ferry to Naoshima Naoshima
Day 10 Art Museums of Naoshima Island Naoshima
Day 11 Ferry to Teshima Island, Self-Guided Art Museums Tour Naoshima
Day 12 Bullet Train to Hakone, Self-Guided Hakone Tour Hakone
Day 13 Open-Air Museum & Hakone Museum of Art Hakone
Day 14 Bullet Train to Tokyo, Free Time Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Begin your Japanese experience in Tokyo, savoring the city's rich flavors during a gourmet dining experience, followed by a culture tour complete with stops at the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo National Museum. Then, get hands-on during a sushi-making class before catching a train to Kanazawa. Here, you'll learn about traditional Japanese crafts while coloring a lacquer tray at NOSAKU Lacquerware and trying ceramics at Kutani Kosen Kiln. Afterward, travel by train to Kyoto to admire the famed Golden Pavilion and Fushimi-Inari Taisha and visit Miho Museum in nearby Koka city. 

Next on your itinerary is a drive to Kobe, where you'll visit the Hakutsuru Saké Brewery Museum before ferrying to the island of Naoshima. Over the following days, experience the rich art scene of the Seto Inland Sea while roaming the Chichu Art and Benesse House museums and embarking on a self-guided art museum tour on Teshima Island. Then, after catching a bullet train to Hakone, you'll explore nature trails, admire hot springs, and visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum. With your trip winding down, it's back to Tokyo for an evening of sightseeing until it's time to catch your flight home. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Ultimate Japan Tour: Tokyo to Hiroshima & Kanazawa

On this comprehensive ultimate tour, you'll go from Tokyo to Hiroshima, with stops in Kyoto, Takayama, and Kanazawa along the way. Ideal for those looking to split their time between traditional Japan and its modern delights, you'll get hands-on during Japanese calligraphy, dine at a traditional ryokan, and encounter free-roaming deer in Nara. The tour also includes hiking in Hakone and exploring the neon streets of Tokyo's Akihabara and Shinjuku districts.

Springtime cherry blossoms in Japan fram Kanei-ji pagoda in Tokyo's Ueno Park
Springtime cherry blossoms in Japan from Kanei-ji pagoda in Tokyo's Ueno Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Explore Shinjuku & Visit Memory Lane Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo City Tour, Optional Shodo Experience Tokyo
Day 3 Train to Hiroshima, Get to Know Hiroshima & Learn About Sake in Saijo Hiroshima
Day 4 Visit the Floating Shrine of Miyajima Hiroshima
Day 5 Train to Kyoto, Sightseeing in Gion Kyoto
Day 6 Hiking at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Optional Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 7 See Beautiful Landscapes in Arashiyama, Optional Geisha Photoshoot Kyoto
Day 8 Day Trip to Nara & Uji, Dinner at Hiiragiya Ryokan Kyoto
Day 9 Train to Takayama, See the Old City and Temples of Takayama Takayama
Day 10 Train to Kanazawa, Visit Kanazawa & Optional Gold Leaf Workshop Kanazawa
Day 11 Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go Kanazawa
Day 12 Train to Hakone, Explore Hakone Hakone
Day 13 Train to Tokyo, Explore Akihabara & Optional Kimono Rental Tokyo
Day 14 See the Bright Lights of Tokyo & Optional Nighttime Food Tour Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Your journey starts in Tokyo, getting to know the traditional side of the city while admiring Senso-ji, the city's oldest temple, and joining a shodo experience. Then, head up Tokyo SkyTree for a bird's-eye view before boarding a train bound for Hiroshima. During your two-day stay, there's plenty of time to visit the A-Bomb Dome and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and ferry to Miyajima to see the floating Itsukushima Shrine. Continue to Kyoto for four fantastic culture-filled days. Highlights include Fushimi Inari Shrine, a tea ceremony, and trips to the picturesque towns of Arashiyama, Nara, and Uji

Afterward, you'll travel to the historical city of Takayama to explore its many temples before moving on to Kanazawa. Step back in time as you wander among Kanazawa's buildings dating back to the Edo period and delight in a day admiring traditional-style zukuri farmhouses in Shirakawa. Then, switch gears and indulge your inner adventurer in Hakone, riding the cable car up the active volcanic area of Owakudani and embarking on a cruise on Lake Ashi. Next, speed back to Tokyo by train and spend your final days shopping in Akihabara, tackling the Shibuya Scramble, and joining a food tour of Shinjuku. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Off-the-Beaten-Path Japan: Tokyo, Nikko & Tohoku

Take the road less traveled on this off-the-beaten-path adventure, starting in Tokyo and ending in the Tohoku region. This itinerary is perfect for travelers seeking unique cultural experiences and natural beauty while staying well away from the crowds. Highlights include the high-altitude Lake Chuzenji in Nikko, a Matsushima Bay cruise, soaking in natural hot springs at Hanamaki Onsenkyo and Zao Onsen, and learning about samurai culture in Kakunodate.

Natural splendor at the Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko
See the natural splendor at the Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Izakaya Food Tour Tokyo
Day 2 Hidden Tokyo Tour Tokyo
Day 3 Edo Period Experience in Kawagoe Tokyo
Day 4 Train to Nikko, Toshogu Shrine, Kegon Falls & Lake Chuzenji Nikko
Day 5 Train to Sendai, Zuihoden Mausoleum & Whisky Tasting Sendai
Day 6 Matsushima Bay Cruise with Zuigan-ji Temple, Sendai Food Experience Sendai
Day 7 Train to Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi Temples & Gorge Tour Hiraizumi
Day 8 Train to Aomori via Hanamaki, Soak at Hanamaki Onsenkyo Aomori
Day 9 Aomori Art & Culture Tour Aomori
Day 10 Train to Akita via Hirosaki, Visit Hirosaki Castle & Park Akita
Day 11 Train to Kakunodate, Samurai Culture & Saké Tour of Kakunodate Kakunodate
Day 12 Train to Yamagata, Miso & Soy Sauce Experience, Yamadera Mountain Temple Yamagata
Day 13 Bus to Mount Zao, Okama Crater & Zao Onsen Stay Zao Onsen
Day 14 Bus to Yamagata, Train to Tokyo Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Starting in Tokyo, you'll steer clear of the crowds and focus on lesser-known attractions, including Jimbocho Book Town, the Yanaka district, and the old city of Kawagoe. Then, head to the lush forests of Nikko, where you'll marvel at the beauty of Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls. Continue to Sendai for an immersive day, checking out Zuihoden, a mausoleum complex, and learning about whiskey production at the Miyagikyo Distillery before cruising around Matsushima Bay. Another train journey awaits you on Day 7, this time to Hiraizumi for a memorable day touring the temple of Motsu-ji.

After another train journey brings you to Aomori, one of the northernmost cities on Honshu, you'll delight in a chance to experience the Nebuta Matsuri festival or learn about it at the Nebuta Museum Wa Rasse. Over the following five days, slowly return to Tokyo, stopping for overnights in Akita, Kakunodate, Yamagata, and Zao Onsen. En route, you'll learn the craft of saké brewing, discover how miso and soy sauce are made at the Ando Jozo Brewery, and take a cable car up Mount Zao to view the stunning Okama Crater. Then, board a train to Tokyo to catch your onward flight. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Japan's Golden Route: Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Perfect for those looking to delve into the highlights of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka while limiting travel time, this Golden Route itinerary offers modern attractions, historic sites, and cultural experiences. You'll attend a sumo wrestling practice, hike around Fushimi Inari Shrine, wander through the bamboo forest of Arashiyama, and taste your way around Osaka on a street food tour. With an additional full-day tour of Hiroshima, a cruise along the Tombori River, and time on the high-tech island of Odaiba, this itinerary promises a varied and exciting exploration of Japan.

Kyoto, Japan's historic capital
Kyoto, Japan's historic capital
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Optional Nighttime Food Tour Tokyo
Day 2 Explore Tokyo, Optional Visit to TeamLab Planets Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 Explore Ginza, Akihabara & Asakusa, Enjoy a Shodo Experience Tokyo
Day 4 See a Sumo Practice & Nakameguro Food Tour, Optional Memory Lane Visit Tokyo
Day 5 Train to Kyoto & Explore, Optional Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 6 Fushimi Inari Shrine Hike, Optional Geisha Photoshoot  Kyoto
Day 7 Day Trip to Japan's Famous Castle in Himeji, Dinner at Hiiragiya Ryokan Kyoto
Day 8 Explore Arashiyama, Optional Samurai & Ninja Experience Kyoto
Day 9 Nara Day Tour from Kyoto Kyoto
Day 10 Train to Osaka, Explore Osaka & Optional Night Food Tour Osaka
Day 11 Full Day Bus Tour of Hiroshima & Miyajima, Optional Tombori River Cruise Osaka
Day 12 Explore the Sacred Forest of Mount Koya (Koyasan) Osaka
Day 13 Train to Tokyo & Technology Tour, Optional Japanese Sword Museum Visit  Tokyo
Day 14 Day Trip to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, Optional Sword Shop Visit Tokyo
Day 15 Depart Tokyo  

Begin your trip with four days in Tokyo, which gives you ample time to explore the city's endless highlights. Spend your first evening joining a foodie tour of Shinjuku, then conquer the Shibuya Scramble, lose track of time at TeamLab Planets Tokyo, and admire the modern delights of the Akihabara neighborhood. You'll also have the opportunity to watch a sumo practice before speeding to Kyoto on a bullet train. While in Kyoto, you'll enjoy quieter days focusing on Japan's traditional culture. Memorable activities include a tea ceremony in Ninenzaka, a visit to Nijo Castle, and dinner at Hiiragiya Ryokan.

Before leaving Kyoto, you'll also head out on day trips to its surrounding charming towns, including Arashiyama, to admire Zen Tenryuji Temple and Nara, a famous deer haven. Then, hop on a train bound for Osaka and indulge in a three-hour street food tour. Over the following two days, you'll use Osaka as a base to take full-day trips to Hiroshima and Miyajima and explore the sacred forest of Mount Koya. After returning to Tokyo by train, spend your last days checking out Odaiba, an artificial island filled with high-tech attractions, and roaming the historic streets of this 15-. Learn more

More Great Japan Itineraries

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


Map of 15 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 15 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas