- See Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple
- Ride a bike around Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji
- Stand next to Kamakura's towering Great Buddha
- Pass through Fushimi Inari Shrine's 10,000 red torii gates
|Day 1||Arrive in Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 2||Explore Tokyo||Tokyo|
|Day 3||Nikko Hiking & Lake Chuzenji Trails||Tokyo|
|Day 4||Lake Kawaguchi Mount Fuji Trails & Views||Tokyo|
|Day 5||Day Trip to Kamakura||Tokyo|
|Day 6||Train to Kanazawa, Kanazawa Arts & Gardens||Kanazawa|
|Day 7||Transfer to Takayama, Takayama Cycling & Temples||Takayama|
|Day 8||Train to Kyoto, Kyoto Walking Tour||Kyoto|
|Day 9||Arashiyama Forest & Kyoto Landscapes||Kyoto|
|Day 10||Fushimi Inari Shrine||Kyoto|
|Day 11||Train to Osaka, Osaka Free Day||Osaka|
|Day 12||Depart Osaka|
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
Welcome to Japan! At Tokyo's Narita or Haneda Airports, meet your guide, who will help you reach your hotel. You'll also get your Japan Rail pass to use during your trip. As you approach Tokyo—a sprawling 845 square mile (2,189 sq km) city of nearly 14 million people—it's time to begin your Japan adventure.
After getting settled into your hotel, you may want to explore Shinjuku with its multiple shops and restaurants or go for a walk around your hotel. Go to sleep early or stay out late and explore—tomorrow morning, a guided tour awaits to help you get acclimated to the city.
Day 2: Explore Tokyo
Today, begin to see Tokyo's unique combination of modernity and tradition. In the morning, visit Tsukiji Fish Market, with its many stands to buy fresh seafood and food to eat on the go. From the market, go to Hamarikyu Gardens, a 61-acre (24 ha) respite in the middle of the city on the Sumida River with a seawater moat filled by Tokyo Bay. After your stroll in the park, stop in a tea house for a cup of matcha.
Travel back in time when you take a ferry to Asakusa. Discover Senso-ji temple, Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple, and maybe hop on a rickshaw to explore the area more. End the day watching the sunset from Tokyo Skytree, the city's tallest building, with skyline views from an observation and broadcasting tower reaching more than 2,000 feet (634 m). Fully immerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture, trying on a kimono and wearing it outside the store for fun. At the end of the day, go to a sushi or shabu-shabu restaurant for dinner.
Day 3: Nikko Hiking & Lake Chuzenji Trails
Take a day trip outside of the city to Nikko in Tochigi prefecture, about two hours north of Tokyo. You'll find many trails to explore at Nikko National Park, which covers three prefectures: Tochigi, Gunma, and Fukushima. More than a chance to see Japan's natural beauty, as you hike in the park, see the area's Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, including Nikko Tosho-gu and Rinno-ji.
Follow trails to Senjogahara plateau and Lake Chuzenji as you wind your way through the forest, hiking or walking for as long as you'd like. At the end of your hike, take the train back to Tokyo and spend the evening exploring a new area and trying a different restaurant for dinner.
Day 4: Lake Kawaguchi Mount Fuji Trails & Views
Today, get an up-close view of Mount Fuji at Lake Kawaguchi—one of the Fuji Five Lakes near the mountain located about one hour west of Tokyo. The lake is an ideal place to go for a walk, bike ride, or to relax and sip a cup of tea while enjoying the views.
From the lake, you can rent a bike and follow easy trails. Or, for a moderate hike of about two hours, head toward Chureito Pagoda. As you reach the pagoda, prepare to climb its 398 steps for the reward of panoramic views of the entire area. At the end of your adventure outside the city, go back to Tokyo by train and rest at your hotel.
Day 5: Day Trip to Kamakura
Breathe in ocean air in the seaside town of Kamakura, about two hours south of Tokyo. Besides its waterfront location and popular beach and surfing spots at Yuigahama Beach on Sagami Bay, Kamakura has many temples and shrines to visit. Learn about the city's past as one of Japan's political centers from a guide and then visit some of its religious sites. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu is the city's main shrine, and Kotoku-in has the city's most well-known symbol, the Great Buddha. Marvel at this 42-foot (13 m) bronze statue from the 13th century and take photos of one of Japan's most famous landmarks.
In downtown Kamakura, go shopping for gifts to take home or try local dishes such as fish cakes or shrimp dumplings. Stay in Kamakura for dinner, or return to Tokyo and prepare your bags for a departure tomorrow morning to your next destination.
Day 6: Train to Kanazawa, Kanazawa Arts & Gardens
Kanazawa, on Japan's west coast, is known for its art museums and gold leaf workshops. In the morning, travel from Tokyo to Kanazawa by train, about 3.5 hours north. Leave your luggage at your hotel and wander through the city's Edo district and art museums, including a 21st-century Museum of Contemporary Art. In a gold leaf workshop, see chopsticks and other homewares crafted for everyday use and special occasions. Continue with a walk through Kenrokuen Garden, among the Three Great Gardens of Japan, created by daimyo (feudal lords) during the Edo period.
For dinner, try traditional Kaga province dishes such as Kanazawa curry. Spend the rest of the evening seeing more of the city, or at your hotel.
Day 7: Transfer to Takayama, Takayama Cycling & Temples
In the morning, meet a driver for a private transfer from Kanazawa to Takayama, traveling about two hours south. Then, get a bicycle and helmet to ride through Takayama, cycling among the Hida mountains in the Gifu prefecture on a full-day tour. Take a break for lunch when you return to the center to learn about the history of Takayama. Your tour of Takayama's temples and museums will start on Sanmachi Street, nicknamed "Little Kyoto" for its Edo-period buildings.
In the afternoon, travel outside the city to Hida no Sato, where you can see more than 30 traditional houses in an open-air museum. Explore the houses and see how homes were organized and maintained during the Edo period. Visit Takayama Jinya, a former government building, where you can learn more about the history of the area. At night, return to your Takayama hotel.
Day 8: Train to Kyoto, Kyoto Walking Tour
The wonder and beauty of Kyoto, Japan's former capital city, is your destination today. In the morning, catch a train from Takayama to Kyoto, traveling about four hours south. Get settled into your hotel and then meet a local guide who will explain the city's history and show you some of its most picturesque areas, including Shinto shrines, palaces, and gardens.
Visit the temples of Kinkaku-ji ("Golden Pavilion") and Ryoan-ji—known for its Zen garden. You'll also walk in Gion, a geisha district, where you may spot ladies in beautifully-patterned kimonos. Ask your guide for a recommendation for dinner, for kaiseki (a multicourse meal), ramen, sushi, or whatever you are in the mood for.
Day 9: Arashiyama Forest & Kyoto LandscapesToday, experience the stillness of Japan's natural beauty. After breakfast, catch a train west to Arashiyama, traveling for about one hour. With its bamboo groves and forests that change colors with the seasons, take your time going for a walk in Arashiyama, seeing where the paths lead you. Walk along the stream over Togetsukyo Bridge, and climb a mountain that leads to a monkey park and a Kyoto viewpoint. In the afternoon, or before lunch, go back to Kyoto for a rest or to explore more of the city.
In Kyoto, you may want to return to Gion, stop in a restaurant for dinner, and explore a new area before going back to your hotel.
Day 10: Fushimi Inari Shrine
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Get your camera ready today because you are visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine with its 10,000 red torii gates—best known from the film "Memoirs of a Geisha." Start early to avoid the crowds as you hike up stairs on the 3-mile (5 km) trail. The full hike will take approximately two to three hours, following the shrine's sacred path. Stay as long as you'd like, and then return to Kyoto for lunch.
Nishiki Market is busy at lunchtime as you get in line to try street food. The market, which spans five blocks, is also known as "Kyoto's Kitchen," with fresh produce, seafood, teas, herbs, spices, pickled vegetables, and sweets. With endless options, you might try yu dofu (boiled tofu) and nishin soba (noodles with dried herring) or see what intrigues you. After lunch, go to Nijo Castle to learn more about Kyoto's history, and stop by the temple of Kiyomizudera for panoramic city views. Spend the afternoon sipping warm matcha in a tea ceremony, and eat dinner at your hotel or a restaurant.
Day 11: Train to Osaka, Osaka Free Day
With a speedy bullet train, travel south to Osaka today in just 15 minutes. After checking in at your hotel, spend the day exploring Osaka or hire a guide to show you some of its most intriguing spots. At Osaka Castle, walk through the grounds, which span 15 acres (6 ha). Then, see the castle by boat, traveling around its moat to step inside the castle to learn about Japan's unification.
To see more of Japan's past, go to Sumiyoshi Taisha, one of the country's oldest shrines, and walk around its carefully maintained grounds. Follow that with a look at Osaka's modern side, heading for the top of Tsutenkaku Tower and its observation deck at 298 feet (91 m), or Abeno Harukas, one of the tallest buildings in Japan at 984 feet (300 m).
Day 12: Depart OsakaIn the morning, pack up your bags and get ready to leave Osaka. Your private driver will pick you up from the hotel lobby to take you to Kansai International Airport. Safe travels!
More Great Japan Itineraries
A note on diacritical markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.