With a week to spend in Japan, some travelers choose to focus on Tokyo, adding in side trips to Hiroshima and Mount Fuji. If you're eager to get away from the crowds and neon lights and experience a more traditional side of Japanese culture, consider a weeklong itinerary that takes you to Osaka, Kyoto, the shrines of Nara, and the sacred temples of Koyosan. Photographers love a 7-day adventure that focuses on scenic Japan, from charming villages and quiet gardens to gorgeous natural landscapes. And if you're lucky enough to visit in spring, consider a cherry blossom tour through various destinations where you'll have ample opportunities to see the famed pink flowers in bloom. Find out more about your options by reading over the following itineraries.

Itinerary #1: Discover Japan's Cities

Explore ultra-modern Tokyo, historic Hiroshima, and shrine-filled Kyoto on this weeklong tour around Japan's cities that also includes detours to Mount Fuji and the traditional village of Nara.

Street scene in Tokyo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Japan! Tokyo
Day 2 Sightsee in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 Side-trip to Mount Fuji  Tokyo
Day 4 Explore the Shrines & Temples of Kyoto Kyoto
Day 5 See Native Deer at Nara Hiroshima
Day 6 Get to Know Hiroshima's History Hiroshima
Day 7 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

 

Welcome to Japan! Spend the first few days sightseeing in Tokyo. Highlights include the world’s tallest tower, the Tokyo Skytree, offering spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck, and Sensoji, the city's oldest and most historically significant temple. See modern art on the artificial island of Odaiba after taking a cruise across Tokyo Bay or by crossing the colorful Rainbow Bridge. Side-trip to a traditional village on day three to learn about the art of kimono design.

Then it's onward to Kyoto, the former capital, to visit the most famous shrine in Japan – Fushimi Inari, featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. You'll learn more about geisha culture at a fine art show before continuing to the scenic gardens, parks, temples, and shrines of Nara. Finish up the adventure in Hiroshima, the world’s first city destroyed by an atomic bomb, where you'll visit the Peace Memorial Park and the beautifully landscaped fortress of Hiroshima Castle. Catch a ferry to the island of Miyajima for lovely sunset views on the last evening of the trip. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Explore Old & New in Japan 

Balancing ancient traditions and contemporary life, this 7-day journey introduces travelers to Japanese culture, from sacred temples and tea ceremonies to street food, instant ramen, and artisanal sake.

Autumn colors in Kyoto
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Osaka  Osaka
Day 2 Tour Osaka with a Local Guide Osaka
Day 3 Discover the Temples of Koyasan  Koyasan
Day 4 Walk Along the Canals in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 5 Sightsee in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 6 Day-trip to Nara Kyoto
Day 7 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

 

Slow down and savor traditional elements of Japan on this weeklong trip. You'll start by sampling regional street food in Osaka, nicknamed "the kitchen of Japan." Sightsee around town, visiting Osaka Castle and the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, dedicated to the art of instant ramen. Then you'll travel to the holy temple complex of Koyosan, where you'll have the opportunity to observe monks during their early morning prayers. This is the center of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most important spiritual centers in Japan, comprising over 100 temples and the renowned Okunoin Cemetery

The trip continues in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of Japan, where you'll learn about tea ceremonies, geisha culture, and flower arranging. Walk along the quiet canals and stop in some of Japan's most beautiful and historic temples and shrines with a local guide. Enjoy the forest trail through Mount Kasuga Primeval Forest and the UNESCO-honored temples of Nara, watching native deer walking around historic shrines, before the trip comes to an end. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Scenic Japan

Grab your camera — this weeklong adventure takes you to some of Japan's most photogenic spots, from snow-covered farmhouses in Shirakawago to the landscaped gardens of Kanazawa to the geisha-filled side streets of Kyoto.

The traditional farmhouses of Shirakawago in winter
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo & Get Oriented Tokyo
Day 2 Sightsee in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 3 View Art in Kanazawa Kanazawa
Day 4 Day-trip to Historic Shirakawago Kanazawa
Day 5 Learn About Geisha Culture in Kyoto Kyoto
Day 6 Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto
Day 7 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

 

Kick off your journey in Tokyo, taking in the sights by day and experiencing the city's vibrant nightlife in the happening district of Shibuya, home to the famed Shibuya Crossing. On day three, you'll be off to Kanazawa, a center of art and culture that's 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 lovely Kenroku-en Garden, considered one of the most beautiful in all of Japan. 

Detour for the day to Shirakawago, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, to see its collection of gassho-zukuri (traditional farmhouses) with steeply angled roofs designed to weather heavy snow. It's particularly scenic in winter! You'll spend the last part of the trip in Kyoto, attending a fine arts show, visiting shrines and temples, and making the obligatory pilgrimage to the famed Fushimi Inari. At sunset, take in spectacular views from Nijo Castle or Kiyomizudera Temple. You'll take the bullet train back to Tokyo to end the trip. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Japanese Cherry Blossom Tour

See the sakura, or cherry blossom, in full bloom on this 7-day springtime trip that leads you around the most vibrant flower-spotting destinations in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Cherry blossoms outside Osaka Castle
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Osaka Osaka
Day 2 Sightsee & Sample Street Food Osaka
Day 3 Explore Beautiful Kyoto Kyoto
Day 4 Forest-Bathe in Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 5 See Cherry Blossoms Illuminated at Night at Odawara Castle Hakone
Day 6 See Mount Fuji & Cherry Blossoms Around Tokyo Tokyo
Day 7 Depart Japan - End of Trip  

 

Spring, according to many, is the best time of the year to visit Japan! Begin your cherry blossom tour in Osaka, where you'll keep your eyes open for pink flowers outside Osaka Castle and other points of interest while sightseeing. On day two, you'll go on a street food tour, sampling the specialties of the Kansai area, sipping sake at a sake brewery, and trying whiskey at a local distillery. By day three, you'll be exploring Kyoto, seeing cherry blossoms blooming along the Kamogawa River and enjoying a tea ceremony with a geisha. 

Stroll through the towering bamboo groves of Arashiyama — you'll break frequently for photo ops — on day four, then continue to Hakone, located west of Tokyo inside Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. In the evening, after exploring the lake, head to nearby Odawara Castle. You'll find over 300 cherry blossom trees that are illuminated by paper lanterns throughout the evening. Spend the last full day of the trip looking for cherry blossoms in Tokyo with a private guide. At Shiogama Shrine and Chureito Pagoda, you can snap classic photos of Mount Fuji framed with cherry blossoms. Maizuru Castle Park offers hundreds of cherry trees. Don't miss Yamataka Jindai Sakura, the oldest cherry tree in Japan: it's believed to be 2,000 years old! Learn more

Itinerary #5: Cycling Trip Around Lake Biwa

Take in the natural beauty of Lake Biwa on this light 7-day cycling tour that leads you through historic villages, picturesque forests, and coastal paths. The relaxed pace allows for plenty of stops along the way to sample regional cuisine, snap photos and ride a cable car to the top of Mt. Shizugatake.

Reflections on Lake Biwa
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Moriyama & Explore Lake Biwa  Moriyama
Day 2 Cycle to Hikone via the Merchant Town of Omi-Hachiman Hikone
Day 3 Discover "Mirror Lake" on Your Way to Nagahama Nagahama
Day 4 Ride a Cable Car to Mt. Shizugatake & Cycle to Sugaura Nishiazai
Day 5 Boat to Chikubushima Island & Cycle to Takashima Takashima
Day 6 Discover Sustainable Villages While Cycling to Omi-Takashima Adogawa
Day 7 Visit Shirahige Shrine - Depart Japan  

 

Start in Moriyama with some sightseeing. Then test out your e-bike with a short ride to Ukimido Temple Hall, known as the “floating temple” on Lake Biwa. It was famously drawn in the early 19th century by renowned Ukiyo-e Japanese printmaker Utagawa Hiroshige. Continue to Omi-Hachiman, a picturesque old merchant town, then continue along Hachiman-bori Canal and onto an extended coastal loop to Lake Nishinoko to see the ruins of Azuchi Castle on your way to Hikone, where you'll spend the night.

Highlights of the next day include a stop at the Hikiyama Float Museum and a cycle past Kagami-ko, also known as "Mirror Lake." Finish in Kinomoto, an old post town along the ancient Hokkoku Road. The next day, you'll ride a cable car to Mount Shizugatake and cycle to Sugaura. Enjoy a boat ride to Chikubushima Island the following day, then cycle onward to Omi-Takashima. You'll visit Shirahige Shrine before the trip comes to a close. 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. 

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Map of 7 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itineraries
Map of 7 Days in Japan - 5 Unique Itineraries