You can visit at least two regions of Japan in six days, thanks to efficient transportation that includes high-speed trains. First-time visitors will enjoy a mix of tradition and modernity while experiencing Tokyo's nightlife and Kyoto's historic sites. Those keen on cuisine will try sushi-making in Tokyo and take a tasting tour of Osaka. Outdoor enthusiasts can immerse in nature and rural culture while hiking the Kumano Kodo Trail or opt for a winter adventure that includes snowshoeing in Nagano.

Itinerary #1: Best of Tokyo & Kyoto

This best-of itinerary is great for first-time visitors to Japan interested in an introduction to some of the cultural, culinary, and historical highlights of Tokyo and Kyoto. You'll engage with the blend of tradition and modernity in Tokyo as you visit the city's oldest temple and partake in nightlife and karaoke. Then, learn about geisha culture and experience a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, followed by a walking tour of the Tōdai-ji Temple and Nara Park. 

"Maiko" (apprentice geishas) walking through the streets of Kyoto
Observe maiko (apprentice geisha) in Kyoto
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Explore Tokyo
Day 2 Modernity & Tradition Tour Tokyo
Day 3 Day Trip to Lake Kawaguchiko for Mount Fuji Views Tokyo
Day 4 Train to Kyoto, Explore & Optional Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 5 Day Trip to Nara Day Kyoto
Day 6 Train to Tokyo, Depart Japan  

Start with some of the highlights of Tokyo, including a 360-degree panoramic view of the city from the observatory deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, followed by karaoke in the Kabukicho neighborhood. Take a guided tour to Asakusa and visit Sensō-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple, then stop by Tokyo SkyTree to experience a bit of nightlife. Catch a train on Day 3 to Lake Kawaguchiko, where you'll board the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway for views of the iconic mountain and visit the five-story Chureito Pagoda, a peace monument at the Arakura Sengen Shrine.

Ride the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, Japan's former capital known for its historic streets and traditional crafts. Then enjoy a traditional geisha performance and participate in a Japanese tea ceremony before taking a day trip to Nara for a guided walking tour of the Tōdai-ji Temple and Nara Park. Shop for souvenirs and taste some local foods at Nandaimon Gate before returning to Tokyo for your departing flight. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Foodie Tour of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka

Ideal for travelers who love food and culture, this foodie tour includes a sushi-making class in Tokyo, a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto, and a Kansai food tour in Osaka, where you'll sample regional favorites like Kobe beef. Further, visiting cultural landmarks such as Kinkaku-ji and Osaka Castle will complement your culinary journey.

Bowls of Japanese food for sale
Sample a wide selection of Japanese foods
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Optional Sushi-Making Class, Omoide Yokocho Food Tour Tokyo
Day 2 Visit Tsukiji Outer Markets, Nakameguro Food Tour Tokyo
Day 3 Train to Kyoto, Nishiki Market & Nijo Castle, Traditional Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 4 Shrines & Temples of Kyoto, Geisha & Maiko Performance with Dinner Kyoto
Day 5 Train to Osaka, Sightseeing & Food Tour of Osaka Osaka
Day 6 Depart Osaka  

Begin your culinary journey in Japan's capital, Tokyo, with a tasting tour of the famed Tsukiji Outer Markets. Then, learn the art of sushi-making in an interactive workshop and savor yakitori, ramen, and other traditional Japanese dishes on a night out in the Shinjuku district. Head to the historic city of Kyoto, where you'll shop and sample local flavors at Nishiki Market, marvel at the Nijo Castle, and gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture by participating in a traditional tea ceremony.

On Day 4, visit Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, then enjoy a geisha performance and traditional Japanese dinner before boarding the train to Osaka. Sample Kansai regional dishes, such as Kobe beef and takoyaki (fried, round octopus dumplings), on an Osaka food tour and gain an appreciation for the city's blend of history and modernity with visits to Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building. On your final day, head to the historic downtown area for souvenir shopping and your last Japanese meal before departure. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Sacred Japan: Temples & Shrines of Tokyo, Kyoto & Mount Koya

Discover Japan's spiritual side with this itinerary. Along the way, you'll tour Tokyo's oldest temple, stroll through the red torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha, marvel at the glittering Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, contemplate ancient Buddhist traditions in Mount Koya, and more. 

Konpon Daito Pagoda at Mount Koya
Visit Konpon Daito Pagoda at Mount Koya
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Senso-ji & Asakusa Tokyo
Day 2 Meiji Jingu & Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen Tokyo
Day 3 Train to Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha & Kiyomizu-dera, Tea Ceremony Kyoto
Day 4 Explore Kyoto's Kinkaku-ji & Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 5 Train to Mount Koya, Buddhist Temples of Koyasan Mount Koya
Day 6 Kongobu-ji Temple, Train to Osaka & Depart  

Your journey starts at Senso-ji in Tokyo's Asakusa neighborhood, where you'll peruse the craft stalls and tour the city's oldest temple. Delve deeper into Tokyo's spiritual roots with a meditative walk at the Meiji Jingu shrine and the adjacent Yoyogi Park. Then it's off to Kyoto, home to numerous significant spiritual sites, including the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine and the UNESCO-listed Kiyomizu-dera temple. Experience a traditional tea ceremony in Gion before taking a peaceful walk in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and visiting Tenryu-ji temple and the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji.

Make your way to Mount Koya (also called Koyasan) on Day 5 via a combination of bullet trains, local trains, and the subway. Mount Koya is one of the most spiritually significant places in the country and home to esoteric Shingon-shu Buddhism. Here, you'll learn about the region's history and spiritual significance, visit the largest cemetery in Japan, and tour the Danjo Garan complex, an important religious site housing a number of religious buildings and monuments. Stop by the Kongobu-ji temple to see Japan's largest rock garden, Banryutei, before transferring to Osaka to catch your departing flight. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Kumano Kodo Self-Guided Hiking Tour

Crafted for hiking and outdoor enthusiasts, experience Japanese nature and culture along several ancient pilgrimage routes of the historic Kumano Kodo Trail. On this itinerary, you'll trek through the lush forests of the Kii Peninsula, soak in hot springs, enjoy Japanese hospitality and local cuisine at a bed-and-breakfast in Chikatsuyu, and visit two out of three Grand Shrines—all in just six days. 

Tackle a section of the scenic Kumano Kodo Trail
Tackle a section of the scenic Kumano Kodo Trail
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kyoto or Osaka, Train to Kii-Tanabe, Hike from Takijiri to Takahara Takahara
Day 2 Hike from Takahara to Chikatsuyu Chikatsuyu
Day 3 Hike from Chikatsuyu to Hongu Hongu
Day 4 Hike from Ukegawa to Koguchi Koguchi
Day 5 Hike from Koguchi to Nachisan Nachisan
Day 6 Explore Kii-Katsuura, Train to Osaka or Kyoto & Depart  

Whether you arrive in Kyoto or Osaka, you'll board a train to the small town of Kii-Tanabe, the gateway to the Kumano Kodo Trail. Take a bus to Takijiri, where you'll begin the hike, making your way along the Nakachechi section of the trail to the ridgetop town of Takahara for an overnight in a Japanese-style hotel or opt for a traditional minshuku (family-run bed-and-breakfast) in the nearby village of Kurisugawa. After a hearty breakfast, follow the trail through small settlements, peaceful countryside, and Oji shrines en route to the village of Chikatsuyu, where you'll overnight in a minshuku.

On Day 3, wind your way into the mountains to Hongu, home to one of the three Kumano Sanzan or "Grand Shrines of Kumano." Then, board a bus to either Yunomine Onsen or Kawayu Onsen for a soak in the thermal waters. In the morning, take the bus to Ukegawa, where you'll hike on the Kogumotorigoe Path to the remote village of Koguchi. On your final full day, enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean along the Ogumotorigoe Pass before reaching Nachisan, where you'll find Nachi Taisha, another of the Kumano Sanzan. Finally, head to Osaka or Kyoto to catch your flight. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Discover Winter in the Japanese Alps

Suited to those that love cold weather activities, this winter discovery trip offers a mix of outdoor adventure, culture, and relaxation in the Japanese Alps. You'll journey through snow-covered alpine forests on a guided snowshoe tour near Nagano, take a cable car ride for panoramic views of Mount Okuhotaka, visit historic castles and sake breweries, enjoy rejuvenating stays at traditional inns, and prepare Japanese cuisine in a cooking lesson with a local expert in Hida-Furukawa. 

Explore several areas of the Japanese Alps in less than a week
Explore several areas of the Japanese Alps
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Matsumoto, Explore Matsumoto
Day 2 Transfer to Nagano, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan Nagano
Day 3 Snowshoe Tour in the Norikura Highlands Nagano
Day 4 Transfer to the Oku-Hida Mountains, Relax at an Onsen Ryokan Oku-Hida
Day 5 Cable Car Ride to Mount Okuhotaka, Transfer to Hida-Furukawa Hida-Furukawa
Day 6 Cooking Class, Transfer to Tokyo or Nagoya, Depart  

On arrival in Tokyo or Nagoya, take a train to Matsumoto, the gateway to the Japanese Alps. Explore the city at your own pace, touring Matsumoto Castle and the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum, which houses the world's largest collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Travel by train and bus to the northern Japanese Alps, where you'll enjoy the therapeutic waters of a hot spring ryokan (traditional-style inn) at a remote mountain village near the city of Nagano, surrounded by snow-covered peaks. Set off on a full-day guided snowshoe tour through snow-covered forests, passing frozen waterfalls and lakes.

Head to another village in the Oku-Hida Mountains, where you'll have a chance to warm up in the thermal pools and overnight at another ryokan. Next, take a bus to the Hotaka Mountain Range and ride a cable car to a viewpoint overlooking the northern Alps and Japan's third-highest peak, Mount Okuhotaka. Your journey continues to the castle town of Hida-Furukawa—known for its master woodworkers, carpenters, and local sake breweries. This is a great place to shop for artisan-made goods and sample sake. Cap off the trip with a cooking lesson and lunch in the home of a local resident. Learn more

More Great 6-Day Japan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other six-day Japan itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours 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 6 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 6 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas