If you have just five days to spend in Japan, you could focus your energy on the ultra-modern city of Tokyo. Or you could divide your time between Tokyo and the more traditional Kyoto, taking the time to visit the most famous shrine in the country. A more ambitious itinerary takes you to several cities, including Hiroshima and Osaka, while a simpler trip plan focuses solely on the culture and history of Kyoto. Another alternative is to get away from the crowds and hike along the historic Nakasendo Trail, following the footsteps of feudal lords and samurai on the mountain path connecting Kyoto and Tokyo. Find out more about your options for five days in Tokyo by reading over the following itineraries.

Itinerary #1: Urban Adventure in Tokyo 

Sake, sumo wrestling, sacred shrines, neon lights, modern art: this exciting five-day urban adventure leads you through the top highlights of the buzzing city of Tokyo, finishing with an evening of bar-hopping in the famed Golden Gai district.

Tokyo lit up at night
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Visit the World's Tallest Tower Tokyo
Day 2 Enjoy Sumo & Sake  Tokyo
Day 3 Side-trip to Nikko's Temples & Shrines Tokyo
Day 4 Explore Futuristic Odaiba Tokyo
Day 5 Farewell Tokyo - End of Trip  

 

Welcome to Japan! Kick off the trip in Tokyo with a visit to the world’s tallest tower, the Tokyo Skytree, offering spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck. Then visit Sensoji, the city's oldest and most historically significant temple, before enjoying a night out on the town in Shibuya. On day two, witness sumo wrestlers in action, then go back in time at the Edo-Tokyo Museum before visiting a sake tasting center. 

Next, head to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. In the afternoon, you'll have fun at Edo Wonderland, a cultural theme park where you can take a samurai sword-fighting class and learn about old Japanese traditions. See futuristic art on the artificial island of Odaiba and test-drive a car in the Toyota City Showcase before attending one of Tokyo's wackiest shows at the Robot Restaurant. Bar-hop in the famous Golden Gai district on your last night in Tokyo. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Explore Japan's Cities 

Travel from Osaka to Hiroshima to Tokyo — and enjoy a break in the hot springs of Hakone, where you'll also get great views of Mount Fuji — on this five-day tour around Japan's urban centers.

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Dip in Hakone's Hot Springs & See Mt. Fuji Hakone
Day 2 Explore Osaka's Temples, Markets & Castle Osaka
Day 3 Go on a Guided Tour of Kyoto Osaka
Day 4 Visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima Hiroshima
Day 5 Sightsee in Tokyo - End of Trip  

 

The adventure begins in Hakone, located west of Tokyo inside Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This getaway is known for its onsen, resorts or traditional inns built around natural hot springs. Look for Mount Fuji in the distance! Then it's onward to the first city, Osaka, where you'll base yourself for the next two days. You'll sightsee in the city, visiting bustling marketplaces, the Osaka Castle, and various temples.

Then side-trip to Kyoto on day three and visit Fushimi Inari, a temple featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Return to Osaka for the night before continuing to Hiroshima the following day, the world’s first city destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. Stroll through the Peace Memorial Park, which features the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the only buildings that was left standing after the blast. Go out for Japanese food in the lively city center before the trip wraps up. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Discover Japanese Culture in Kyoto

Revel in the quiet scenery and traditional Japanese culture of Kyoto on this five-day immersive experience that includes visits to ancient forests, a boat cruise down a river lined with cherry blossoms, and the chance to learn about the traditional arts of calligraphy and flower arranging.

A bridge in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Garden 
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Discover Geisha Culture in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 2 Explore Bamboo Groves & Temples in Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 3 Learn About Meditation & Calligraphy Kyoto
Day 4 Walk Through Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest  Kyoto
Day 5 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

 

Welcome to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Start with a visit to what is arguably the most famous shrine in Japan – Fushimi Inari – before attending a traditional Japanese arts show to learn about geisha traditions and see the work of flower arrangers, puppeteers, and court musicians. On day two, you'll walk through the photogenic bamboo groves of Arashiyama and cruise down the Hozugawa River on a traditional Japanese boat. In season, you'll see cherry blossoms in bloom from the boat.

On day three, you'll learn about meditation with a Buddhist monk and learn how to write your own name, as well as various Japanese characters, in a special calligraphy class. Spend the last full day of the trip exploring the city of Nara, famous for its historic temples and resident herds of peaceful deer. Enjoy a quiet walk through Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest before you head back to Kyoto for the evening and enjoy one last meal of sushi and sashimi. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Tokyo & Kyoto Cultural Adventure

You'll learn about geisha culture, take a sushi-making class, explore the quiet temples of Kyoto, and see Tokyo's ultra-modern art spaces and nightlife scene on this short but sweet five-day cultural discovery of Japan.

Sampling sushi and sashimi in Tokyo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo & Sightsee Tokyo
Day 2 Explore Futuristic Odaiba Tokyo
Day 3 Take a Sushi Class & Tour Harajuku Tokyo
Day 4 Visit Kyoto's Shrines & Temples Kyoto
Day 5 Depart Japan - End of Trip  


Kick off the itinerary in Tokyo, where you'll do some sightseeing and shopping on day one. Then venture to the island of Odaiba on a cruise through Tokyo Bay or by crossing the colorful Rainbow Bridge. Explore TeamLab, a permanent interactive art exhibition that gives new meaning to the term "modern art." You'll catch a show at the Robot Restaurant to experience Japan's techno culture in the evening.

Learn how to make sushi at a dedicated class on day three. Then you'll go to the fashion mecca of Harajuku, stopping into quirky animal and character cafés like the world-famous Kawaii Monster Café. Visit another of the country's most famous sights, Shibuya Crossing, featured in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Lost in Translation. Stop into one of many nearby nightclubs to finish off the night. You'll spend the last full day of the trip touring Kyoto's shrines and temples — including the famous Fushimi Inari — a peaceful counterpoint to busy Tokyo before the trip ends. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Hike Japan's Nakasendo Trail 

Step back in time on this five-day hiking trip along the historic Nakasendo Trail, following the footsteps of feudal lords and samurai along the mountain path connecting Kyoto and Tokyo, stopping to sleep in traditional inns and relax in hot springs along the way.

Sunrise in the post town of Narai, Japan
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Walk from Magome to Tsumago Tsumago
Day 2 Hike from Tsumago to Nojiri Nojiri or Kiso-Fukushima
Day 3 Traverse the Torii Pass to Narai Narai
Day 4 Visit Matsumoto Castle Karuizawa or Komoro
Day 5 Hike the Usui-toge Pass - Depart Tokyo  

 

After traveling by the ultra-modern bullet train to the town of Nakatsugawa, take your first steps on the historic Nakasendo Trail with a walk from Magome to Tsumago. Spend the night at a minshuku, or family-run inn, and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal. Day two features the longest hike of the trip from Tsumago through bamboo and cedar forests to the post town of Nojiri. Sleep in a traditional inn, or ryokan.

Hop on the train to Yabuhara and continue on a three-hour hike through the forest to the village of Narai, another post town that marks the center of the Nakasendo Trail. On the last full day, walk to the nearby town of Kiso-Hirasawa and then continue to the 16th-century Matsumoto Castle. Hike over the Usui-toge Pass, with gorgeous mountain views, toward Yokokawa. Then make your way back to Tokyo, arriving in the early evening to catch a flight out. Safe travels! Learn more

More Japan Itineraries

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

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.

Map

Map of 5 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itineraries
Map of 5 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itineraries