This short but wide-ranging tour of Japanese cities takes you to Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo—not to mention the mountainous resort town of Hakone. In just five days, you'll see the tallest building in Japan, gaze at Mount Fuji in the distance, go on a guided tour of the historic temples and shrines of Kyoto, and learn about the devastating World War II bombing of Hiroshima before exploring the city's contemporary downtown. Dip in the natural hot springs of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, tour Osaka Castle, and appreciate the refinement of traditional Japanese arts.


  • Dip in traditional Japanese baths in Hakone, famous for its hot springs
  • Learn about Hiroshima's history at the city's Peace Memorial and Museum
  • Enjoy views of Mount Fuji on a walk around Lake Ashi
  • Tour Osaka's towering castle and quiet temples
  • Learn about Kyoto's ancient history on a guided tour

Brief Itinerary

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  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Dip in Hakone's Hot Springs & See Mt. Fuji

A view of Mt. Fuji rising up behind the lake in Hakone

Welcome to Japan! Your journey begins in Hakone, located west of Tokyo inside Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This is a quiet and relaxing getaway known for its onsen, resorts or traditional inns built around the region's naturally occurring hot springs. If you're weary from travel, you can go for a dip in the thermal waters on arrival. Or go out for a walk around Lake Ashi — a boat tour can be arranged on request — and look for Mount Fuji in the distance. On a clear day, you'll enjoy wonderfully clear views. Rest at your hotel in the evening before the adventure continues.

Day 2: Explore Osaka's Temples, Markets & Castle

The grand Osaka Castle

After breakfast, move on to Osaka. You'll have the day to explore the city at your own pace. The superb Osaka Castle is a must-see, along with Shitennoji Temple, a center of spiritual life for the people of Osaka. But the city's modern attractions are just as worthwhile, including bustling markets, the colorful district of Dotombori, the landmark Tsutenkaku Tower, the futuristic aquarium, and Abeno Harukas, currently the tallest building in Japan. Foodies won't want to miss a visit to the Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, dedicated to the art of instant ramen. Go out for modern or traditional Japanese cuisine in the evening before resting at your hotel in Osaka, where you'll spend tonight and the following night.

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Day 3: Go on a Guided Tour of Kyoto

A bridge in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Garden 

Today, you will travel to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Overflowing with history, it's best enjoyed on a guided tour. While here, a visit to what is arguably the most famous shrine in Japan – Fushimi Inari – is an absolute must. Featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, this shrine has more than 10,000 picturesque red torii gates. They were all donated by Japanese individuals and businesses as a sign of appreciation to the god Inari for blessings received. 

Your visit to Inari perfectly sets the tone for your next stop: a traditional Japanese arts show. As well as offering a chance to see a performance by a maiko (geisha in training), this hourlong theatrical experience also introduces you to various skilled artists, including ikebana (flower arrangers), puppeteers, koto (Japanese harp players), and court musicians. In the evening, talk a walk through the bustling streets of Pontocho. Right next to the Kamogawa River, this area is home to a wide range of restaurants and bars. If you prefer, you can also request a private dinner or tea ceremony with a geisha. 

Day 4: Visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

The itinerary takes you to Hiroshima on day four, a modern city of wide boulevards, flowing rivers, and a lively downtown. Of course, it's a tragic legacy that sets this city apart: Hiroshima was the world’s first city destroyed by an atomic bomb during World War II. (The second was Nagasaki.) You'll learn about this 1945 event at the Peace Memorial Park, which features the ruins of Genbaku Dome, one of the only buildings that was left standing after the blast. Stroll through Shukkei-en, a Japanese garden, and stop by the beautifully landscaped fortress of Hiroshima Castle. Then go out for Japanese food in the city center before heading to your hotel.

Day 5: Sightsee in Tokyo - End of Trip

Tokyo by Night

The neon lights of Tokyo at night

You'll fly out of Japan in the evening. But first, take some time to sightsee in Tokyo. Start with a visit to the world’s tallest tower. At 2,080 feet (634 meters), the Tokyo Skytree offers spectacular views as far as Mount Fuji from its 360-degree observation deck. Afterward, take a walk through the grounds of Sensoji, the city's oldest and most historically significant temple. Legends say it was founded when two brothers fished a statue of the goddess Kannon out of the Sumida River. The neighboring Asakusa Shrine also highlights the stark differences between Shinto and Buddhist belief systems. Later, you'll head to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

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 Explore Japan's Cities - 5 Days
Map of Explore Japan's Cities - 5 Days