Japan's efficient trains make it possible to see three regions in one week. First-time visitors will enjoy highlights that include futuristic museums in Odaiba, the temples and teahouses of Kyoto, and Hiroshima's memorials. Foodies and aspiring chefs will be delighted to craft noodles at a ramen factory, make (and eat!) sushi at the Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, and sample street eats in Osaka, while outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate Hokkaido's volcanic landscapes or a trek along the Nakasendo Trail.

Itinerary #1: Whirlwind City Tour of Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima - 7 Days

This three-city "whirlwind" tour is an excellent choice for first-time visitors interested in the highlights of modern Tokyo, historic Hiroshima, and the cultural hub of Kyoto. You'll have a chance to join the throngs of pedestrians at the frenetic Shibuya Crossing and shop for souvenirs along Nakamise-dori in Tokyo, experience futuristic exhibits on the human-made island of Odaiba, visit the famous red torii gates Fushimi Inari, learn about geisha culture at a show in Kyoto, walk the forested trails of Nara, and pay your respects at Horoshima's memorial sites.

Visit the lively streets of Tokyo
Visit the lively streets of Tokyo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Explore the City Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo Highlights: Odaiba District, Harajuku & Meiji Jingu  Tokyo
Day 3 Day Trip to Mount Fuji & Kubota Itchiku Art Museum Tokyo
Day 4 Transfer to Kyoto, Shrines & Temples Tour, Geisha Performance Kyoto
Day 5 Visit the Peaceful Forests of Nara, Transfer to Hiroshima Hiroshima
Day 6 Hiroshima's Historic & Cultural Sights Hiroshima
Day 7 Return Train to Tokyo, Depart   

Welcome to Japan! Start with some sightseeing in Tokyo that includes Senso-ji, the city's oldest temple, and a visit to the world's tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, offering views from the 360-degree observation deck as far as Mount Fuji. Then, cross the Rainbow Bridge to the manufactured island of Odaiba, where you can engage with futuristic exhibits at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. Hop on a train to Kawaguchi on Day 3, where you can buy artisan-made goods, and then continue to the Kubota Itchiku Art Museum to learn about kimono design.

Kyoto, a cultural hub and former capital, awaits on Day 4. Here, you'll visit the red torii gates at Fushimi Inari, featured in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" and learn about geisha culture at a show that includes performances by maiko (geisha in training) and koto (Japanese harp players). Next is a day trip to Nara, where you'll walk the trails of Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest and meet the resident deer. Finish up the adventure in Hiroshima and pay your respects at the Peace Memorial Park. Lastly, catch a ferry to Miyajima, an island in Hiroshima Bay, and enjoy sunset and panoramic views from Mount Misen. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Culinary Excursion Through Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 

On this culinary excursion, aspiring chefs and foodies can taste their way around Toyko, Kyoto, and Osaka. Highlights include a sushi-making workshop at Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, whisky tasting in Harajuku, a noodle cooking class at a ramen factory in Kyoto, sake tasting at Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and a street food tour in Osaka. 

Experience Japanese cuisine with market tours, street food walks, and hands-on workshops
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Shinjuku District Foodie Tour  Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo City Exploration with Whisky Tasting Tokyo
Day 3 Visit Tsukiji Outer Market, Sushi-Making Class Tokyo
Day 4 Train to Kyoto, Kyoto Sightseeing Tour with Saké Tasting Kyoto
Day 5 Ramen Factory Cooking Experience, Train to Osaka, Explore the City Osaka
Day 6 City Highlights Tour, Culinary Delights of Osaka Osaka
Day 7 Depart Osaka  

On arrival, get your first taste of Japan with a yakiniku (thinly sliced and grilled meat) experience in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. Your guide will show you how to grill so you can savor the delicate tastes and textures. After a good night's rest, meet your guide for a city tour that includes spiritual traditions at Senso-ji temple, a visit to the forested area around Meiji Jinju, and whisky tasting in Harajuku. Then, learn the art of sushi-making in a workshop at Tsukiji Outer Fish Market. You'll also have a free evening to choose a gastronomic adventure, perhaps dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or joining a food tour.

Take the train to Kyoto on Day 4 and hit some of the sites, including the golden Kinkaku-ji temple, before heading to Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum to learn about brewing techniques and sample locally-produced sake. Next, you'll craft noodles in a cooking class at a ramen factory. And with full bellies, say sayonara to Kyoto and board a train to Osaka, where you'll taste tender Kobe beef in Tsurugyu or a similarly popular restaurant and stroll the gardens at Osaka Castle. On your final full day, you'll learn about the city's culinary history and try takoyaki (ball-shaped octopus bites) and other local street eats at Kuromon Market. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Japan Cities & Countryside Tour: Tokyo, Kanazawa & Kyoto

Grab your camera—this cities and countryside tour takes you to some of Japan's most photogenic spots, from the technicolor Harajuku district of Tokyo to the preserved Edo-period Kenroku-en Garden of Kanazawa, traditional wooden farmhouses of UNESCO-listed Shirakawa-go, and historic streets of Kyoto.

See the ancient Asakusa Shrine in Tokyo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Self-Guided City Tour Tokyo
Day 2 Highlights of Tokyo: Odaiba District, Harajuku & Meiji Jingu  Tokyo
Day 3 Transfer to Kanazawa, Kenroku-en Garden & Omicho Market Kanazawa
Day 4 Day Trip to Historic Shirakawa-go Kanazawa
Day 5 Transfer to Kyoto, Gion District, Yasaka Pagoda & Geisha Performance  Kyoto
Day 6 Explore the Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari, Nishiki Market & Nijo Castle Kyoto
Day 7 Return Train to Tokyo, Depart  

Kick off your journey in Tokyo by taking in historic sights like Asakusa Shrine by day and experiencing the city's bright lights and buzzing bars of Shibuya at night. If you're into animé, be sure to spend some time mingling among cosplayers and shopping in the boutiques of Harajuku. Then, your driver will transfer you to Kanazawa on Day 3, a center of art and culture famous for gold leaf production. Nicknamed "Little Kyoto," it's home to a range of museums and monuments, like the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the Kenroku-en Garden, constructed in the Edo period and preserved to this day. 

Take a day trip to UNESCO-listed Shirakawa-go to see the gassho-zukuri (traditional farmhouses) with steeply angled roofs designed to weather heavy snow. You'll spend the last part of your trip in Kyoto, attending a traditional tea ceremony in a wooden teahouse in the Gion district and tasting nishin soba (noodles with dried herring) and other regional specialties at Nishiki Ichiba Market. Cap off your journey with a sunset at historic Kiyomizu-dera temple, built in 780 and offering views of the city, before boarding the Shinkansen (commonly referred to as a bullet train) back to Tokyo for departure. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Discover Hokkaido: Cuisine, History & Culture in Northern Japan

Nature enthusiasts who like to pair outdoor adventures with urban exploration will appreciate this tour of Hokkaido. You'll spend your first few days in Sapporo, dining in Michelin-starred restaurants, visiting Sapporo TV Tower and other city sites, and scouring the stalls for souvenirs at Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade. The second half of your trip is dedicated to experiencing natural beauty and volcanic landscapes with a walk in Hell Valley, a hot springs soak in Noboribetsu, a cruise on Lake Toya, a bike ride around Lake Onuma, and an optional hike to see the impacts of an eruption near Mount Usu. 

Take a cruise across Lake Toya in Hokkaido
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sapporo, Self-Guided Culinary Tour of Michelin Restaurants Sapporo
Day 2 Discover Sapporo City: Historic Sites, Parks & Shopping Sapporo
Day 3 Day Trip to Otaru, Mount Tengu Observatory Sapporo
Day 4 Transfer to Noboribetsu, Hot Springs of Hell Valley  Noboribetsu
Day 5 Scenic Cruise on Lake Toya, Explore Mount Usu Noboribetsu
Day 6 Transfer to Hakodate, Visit Onuma Quasi-National Park Hakodate
Day 7 Depart Hakodate  

After your flight to Sapporo, you'll restaurant-hop around this city that's home to more than 50 Michelin-starred restaurants, stopping by Hyousetsu No Mon for crab and Sushi Miyakawa for a high-end sushi experience, ending with a bowl of miso ramen at Ramen Shingen. Join a guided tour of the city's popular sites, including the observation deck at Sapporo TV Tower, then find souvenirs in the maze of stalls at Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade. Afterward, your guide will take you to Otaru for a stroll along the canal, followed by a glass masterclass or shopping for music boxes along Sakaimachi Street

Your next stop is Noboribetsu, where you'll observe steam vents and other geothermal activity while walking the Hell Valley trails, then soak in the hot springs at your ryokan (traditional inn). Continue to Shikotsu-Toya National Park for a Lake Toya cruise and take a deep dive into the region's geological history at the Toyako Volcano Science Museum. You can also hike near Mount Usu to see how the 2000 eruption impacted the area. Spend your last full day in Hakodate, where you can enjoy a nature walk between the lakes, bike around Lake Onuma, or (in warmer months) go sightseeing by boat. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Relaxed Hike Along Japan's Nakasendo Trail: Mountains, Forests & Historic Sites

This Nakasendo Trail itinerary is ideal for avid hikers and those looking to get off the main tourist track. You'll trek through valleys and traditional villages, passing shrines, rice paddies, and the Torii Pass (the highest point on the trail) on your journey from Magome to Kamikochi. You'll also have the chance to learn the history of points along the trail with visits to the Wakihonjin Museum, Kiso-Fukushima Historical Museum, and the preserved wooden houses of Narai. This trip involves buses and trains, so it's best for those comfortable navigating public transportation. 

Trek through the plateaus of Japan's Kamikochi Valley
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo, Bus to Magome, Explore Magome
Day 2 Hike the Villages & Forests of Tsumago  Tsumago
Day 3 Day Trek to Nojiri, Train to Kiso-Fukushima  Kiso-Fukushima
Day 4 Train to Yabuhara, Hike the Torii Pass to Narai  Narai
Day 5 Kiso-Hirasawa Hike, Train to Matsumoto, Castle Tour, Bus to Kamikochi Kamikochi
Day 6 Morning Excursion to Kamikochi Alpine Valley, Visit Daio Wasabi Farm Kamikochi
Day 7 Bus to Matsumoto, Train to Tokyo, Depart  

After landing in Tokyo, catch a bus to Magome, the starting point for your Nakasendo Trail hike. If you've got the energy, take a walk along the stone streets and learn about the area's history through exhibits at the Wakihonjin Museum and other local museums. On the morning of Day 2, set off with your guide on a 5.5-mile (9 km) hike through forests and past shrines and rice paddies to Tsumago. On arrival, enjoy the car-free streets and the Kotoku-ji temple that was built in the 1500s. The following day, trek 11.5 miles (17 km) through bamboo and cedar forests, then hop on a train to Kiso-Fukushima.

Explore artifacts at the Kiso-Fukushima Historical Museum, then soak your feet in a natural foot bath. Catch a train to Yabuhara, where you'll make an uphill hike to Torii Pass and continue down to Narai to admire the Nakamura Residence and other preserved wooden houses. The next day, make a quick 2-mile (3.3 km) jaunt to Kiso-Hirasawa and shop for lacquerware keepsakes before it's time to board a train to Matsumoto for a castle tour. Finally, take a bus to Kamikochi, where you'll round out the trip with a hike in the Kamikochi Alpine Valley and sample wasabi ice cream on a tour of Daio Wasabi Farm. Learn more

More 1-Week Japan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other one-week Japan itineraries, with culinary tours, cultural journeys, and best-of trips 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 1 Week in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 1 Week in Japan - 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas