On this scenic trip, you'll visit two of the largest cities in Japan: Tokyo and Osaka. However, your itinerary will mostly focus on some of the lesser-known islands surrounding the mainland. Hachijojima has some of the best stargazing in the country, Aogashima is a tiny, beautiful volcanic island, and the Goto islands have an impressive history with stunning beaches. Discover a side of Japan most visitors never get to see!

Highlights

  • Visit Aogashima, a volcanic island village in Tokyo
  • Explore Hachijojima on go-karts and visit breathtaking falls
  • Go surfing and diving at Takahama Beach
  • Take a food and beverage tour of Osaka 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 2 Hachijojima - Tokyo's Hidden Island  Hachijojima
Day 3 Aogashima - A Volcano at Sea Aogashima
Days 4-5 Osaka - Food and Drink Tour Osaka
Days 6-7 Goto Islands - A Hidden Gem Fukuejima
Days 8-9 Nagasaki - Tour the Historic Port City Nagasaki
Day 10 Depart Japan  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo!

Welcome to Tokyo! When you arrive at the airport, you can request to have a driver pick-up take you to your hotel. Then, you will meet your travel representative, who will get you acquainted with your trip, and organize your train passes and any tickets needed for the duration of your stay.

Depending on your time of arrival, your trip representative will arrange for you to explore Tokyo, the largest city in the world!

First, you can visit the Tokyo Skytree to get the big picture of Tokyo from more than 2,000 feet high. Take advantage of the 360° observation deck. On a clear day, you may even get a glimpse of the famed Mt. Fuji at a distance. 

Next, take a stroll through the grounds of the city’s oldest and most historically significant temple, Sensoji. Said to have incepted when two brothers fished a statue of the goddess Kannon out of the Sumida River, this is a great way to learn about the Buddhist culture in Japan. The neighboring Asakusa shrine also highlights the differences between Shinto and Buddhist belief systems.

For dinner, head to Shibuya, where you will have your pick of restaurants and can try some of the city’s best cuisine. Some suggestions include Shibuya Ugadawacho no Himono-ya, Kobe Yakiniku Kanteki, and Shibusan Uokin.

End the night at the Golden Gai, where you can bar-hop between the many Izakaya pubs and taste different kinds of Japanese spirits, including shochu, sake, and umeshu.

Day 2: Hachijojima - Tokyo's hidden island

Hachijojima
Views of Hachijojima

You will take the overnight ferry to the island of Hachijojima, and will wake up surrounded by the stunning blue sea. Prepare for some of the best views in Japan–especially in Hachijofuji!

Begin your day with a nice hike to Karataki, where you can enjoy the beautiful streaming falls. To get around town, you can rent scooters, or you can ride in the go-karts, which, according to the locals, are a must. (Keep in mind you cannot rent helmets, though, so proceed with caution.)

Depending on the season, you can take a short trip to the nearby island of Miyakejima, where you can go swimming with dolphins in the sea. When you're ready to kick back and relax, take advantage of a scenic soak in the Sueyoshi Hot Spring overlooking the ocean. You can also visit Uramigataki Hot Spring, which is coed and swimsuit-friendly and is home to a soothing waterfall. 

Day 3: Aogashima -  A volcano at sea

Aogashima

Today, you will explore Aogashima, one of Japan’s smallest waterside villages.

Located out in the middle of the sea, it is a small and peaceful island community that has been constructed inside of a volcano. (Don’t worry; the last eruption was more than 230 years ago.) The ideal way to reach it is by helicopter! Some visitors make the trip just to take the helicopter ride. 

Since the village is so small, you can walk around it in its entirety in just a few hours. Take a short hike up Mt. Maruyama, to the rim of the interior volcano, which will offer exceptional views of the entire island. If you’re hungry, you can even cook your own food by the use of the volcano’s natural steam pockets (a popular item to cook is eggs).

The star-filled sky makes this destination an amazing place to be at night. Without the light pollution of Tokyo, you can rest assured that the stargazing will be a spectacular sight. 

Days 4-5: Osaka - Food and drink tour

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle illuminated at night

You will travel back to city life at this juncture of your trip. Next on your itinerary is Osaka, which is famous for its exceptional cuisine. 

You can experience the delicious fare by taking a street food tour. If you choose this option, you can look into requesting an English-speaking guide to take you around for the best food and drink the city has to offer. Some areas you should make sure to explore include Tenjimbashisuji, Ogimachi Park, Kyobashi Bridge, and Pulala Tenma.

You can also take a tour of a sake brewery to experience the local rice wine flavors of the region, as well as a whiskey distillery tour, so you can compare the Japanese variety to your other preferences.

After you have had your fill of food and beverages, make a pitstop at Osaka Castle, where you can capture breathtaking panoramic views of the city. To end the night, head to the Dotonbori area for a taste of Osaka nightlife, from nightclubs to karaoke bars.

Days 6-7: Goto Islands

Goto Islands
The Goto Islands offer plenty of outdoor exploration

Today, you will travel back toward the sea to the Goto Islands, a collective of five islands, where the history is deep and the stories are telling.

Goto used to be the site for Christians fleeing Japan, and you can find tons of fascinating churches on the main island of Fukue, which is the largest in the collection. Additionally, you can take some time to visit Fukue Castle and the Goto Tourist and History Museum, as well as explore an island-based samurai neighborhood.

Although there are several, hidden interior islands, the additional four main islands of the Gotos include Hisaka, Naru, Wakamatsu, and Nakadori.

If you are a sushi lover, you have come to the right place! In the Goto Islands, the delicacy is fresh-caught daily and never frozen. You will taste some of the best-quality sushi filled with deep flavor. You can indulge in bluefin tuna and fresh sea urchin over rice, along with plenty of udon noodles topped with locally raised Goto steak.

On your second day in the Goto Islands, set aside some time to relish Takahama Beach in Fukue, which is one of the most spectacular beaches in the world–not just Japan! The crystal-clear water and white sands provide a fantastic setting to soak in the rays and relaxation. You can also go diving, fishing, and surfing among the warm and friendly locals.

Outdoor activities are abundant here, which means there is plenty to do. In Onidake, you can soak in the natural, reddish-brownish hot springs at the base and go stargazing at night. In addition, you can take a boat trip over to the small island of Oushima for some exploration.

Days 8-9: Nagasaki - Tour the Historic Port City

Peace Park - Nagasaki
Peace Park in Nagasaki

Your final stop on this island journey is in the port city of Nagasaki.

Located in the Kyushu region, Nagasaki has an international community and multicultural influence. This lends to the varied cuisine. Here, you can feast on Chinese dumplings, Turkish rice, and chanpon (which is the local noodle dish), along with treating yourself to some of the best caviar and karasumi, a mullet-based delicacy.

While there is a feast of delicious food to eat, there is still plenty to do! On your first day, take the trip to Mt. Inasa. You can access the peak of the mountain by ropeway, bus, or car. It is best to visit at night, so you can enjoy one of the best views in all of Japan after sundown from the observation deck. You can also plan to have dinner at the restaurant at the mountain’s summit.

On your last day, begin by touring two nearby islands. 

You can start at Dejima, formerly a Dutch trading post, and the only open port in the country when Japan was formerly cut off from the international world. Here, you can explore the Dejima Bridge, the Dejima Theater, which is located inside the New Stone Warehouse, and several 19th century buildings that are under reconstruction.

Next, you will visit Gunkanjima, which means “Battleship Island,” and earns its name due to its shape. Once a densely populated city and a former active coal mine run by Mitsubishi, the island is now only accessible by organized tours.

When you return to the Nagasaki, take a trip over to the Atomic Bomb Museum, where you can access the underground museum, which aims to teach visitors the important history and horrors of war. Across the way sits Peace Park, where you can view a large fountain and other memorials, including those erected to honor the Korean and Chinese victims who also perished in the tragic World War II bombing.

After a day filled with Nagasaki history, make sure to enjoy your last night in Japan with a nice meal and toast to your wonderful trip.

Day 10: Depart Japan

Farewell Japan!

Today you will bid farewell to Japan and reflect on all the fantastic memories you've made during your trip!

Map

Map of Explore Japan's Islands - 10 Days
Map of Explore Japan's Islands - 10 Days