This trip will take you to all the places you shouldn't miss on your first trip to Japan. Discover the traditional and modern sides of Japan at shrines and temples, witness technological innovation at a digital art exhibition and a crazy robot cabaret, and get involved in hands-on cooking and craft classes.


  • Make your own sushi under the guidance of a trained chef
  • Travel back in time to Edo-era Japan at Edo Wonderland
  • Enjoy a barbecue in the shadow of Mount Fuji
  • Explore the deer-filled island of Miyajima

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 2 Eat Sushi at Tsukiji, Visit Harajuku Fashion District Tokyo
Day 3 Future of Technology Odaiba Experience Tokyo
Day 4 Sumo Training Session & Sake Tasting Tokyo
Day 5 Day Trip to Nikko, Explore Tokyo
Day 6 Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko, See Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi Fujikawaguchiko
Day 7 Explore Fujikawaguchiko Fujikawaguchiko
Day 8 Transfer to Kyoto, Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine & Geisha Experience Kyoto
Day 9 Open-Air Train Ride Through Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 10 Day Trip to Nara Kyoto
Day 11 Transfer to Hiroshima, Explore Hiroshima
Day 12 Day Trip to Miyajima Island Hiroshima
Day 13 Depart from Hiroshima  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Explore

Tokyo's shinjuku park
Tokyo's Shinjuku Park

Welcome to Tokyo! After transferring from the airport to your accommodations, you'll meet your local representative, who will orientate you to your trip as well as organize any train passes and tickets you may need for the duration of your time in Japan. Depending on when you arrive, you might like to get an idea of how big the city is with a visit to Tokyo SkyTree. At 2,080 feet (634 m), it's the world's tallest tower and offers spectacular views of Tokyo, with a 360-degree observation deck and a sky-high restaurant. On a clear day, you may even glimpse Mount Fuji in the distance!

Alternatively, take a walk through the grounds of the city's oldest and most historically significant temple, Senso-ji. Said to have been 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. Then head to Shibuya for your pick of restaurants, and try some of the city's best cuisine. Finish off the evening with a trip to a Japanese izakaya (bar) to get a taste of all of the different kinds of shochu, sake, and umeshu on offer.  

Day 2: Eat Sushi at Tsukiji, Visit Harajuku Fashion District

Make your own sushi
Make your own sushi at famed Tsukiji Fish Market with a masterful chef

Home to the world's largest fish market, you'll venture to Tokyo's lively Tsukiji Fish Market for fresh sushi. Take a guided tour of Tsukiji and/or the Toyosu Fish markets. After selecting your own fresh cuts of fish, use your hand-picked fish to make your own sushi under the guidance of a trained chef.

In the afternoon, you'll head to the trendy fashion hub of Harajuku. As you walk down famous Takeshita Street, be sure to stop by the rainbow candyfloss and crepe stands, as well as the fascinating costume galleries and character cafés. Visit the world-famous Kawaii Monster Cafe to glimpse Japan's kawaii culture. The brightly colored food, live performances from waitresses dressed like cartoon characters, and vibrant decor make it a memorable experience.

For a brief respite from the neon and busyness, check out Meiji Jingu Shrine, one of Tokyo's most spiritually significant religious structures. Take a leisurely stroll through its forested grounds for a respite in the middle of the city. You'll then walk across to Shibuya to enjoy another one of the country's most famous sights, Shibuya Crossing. Featured in several films, there can be as many as 2,500 people crossing the road at a time! The area is also packed with dozens of great restaurants, as well as nightclubs if you want to extend your exploration into the night. This neighborhood never sleeps!

Day 3: Future of Technology Odaiba Experience

A room full of lanterns
A room full of lanterns

The artificial island of Odaiba has many futuristic things to see and do. Board a cruise through Tokyo Bay to get there or cross the Rainbow Bridge. TeamLab has a permanent interactive art exhibition on the island that gives new meaning to the term "modern art." Be prepared to color in, follow art along the walls, gasp in awe, and take many photos.

As an optional extra, you can visit the Toyota City Showcase. Car enthusiasts won't want to miss this. Check out the latest innovations in the technology zone, reminisce about the old days as you wander through the vintage car collection rooms at the history garage, or test-drive your favorite car on their private track (an international driving license is necessary).

In the evening, get ready to experience one of Tokyo's wackiest shows at the Robot Restaurant. Less of a culinary experience and more of a theatrical one, this 90-minute show is packed with neon lights and vibrant music and is a great way to experience Japan's wild techno culture. At night, weave in and out of the alleys surrounding the famous Golden Gai district, and enjoy choosing from 200-plus bars. Some bars only offer 3-5 seats, making for an intimate and memorable experience.

Day 4: Sumo Training Session & Sake Tasting

Barrels of sake
Barrels of sake

Today you'll get a deeper insight into some traditional and spiritual aspects of Japanese culture. Did you know that sumo wrestling is less of a sport and more of a spiritual ceremony? It began centuries ago as a ritual to entertain the gods and is all about purifying one's heart and mind. you'll learn all this and more as you observe a morning sumo training session in Ryogoku and witness the pure skill and power of these athletes.

A short walk will take you to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, where you'll discover what it was like to live in Edo-period Japan. Learn about how the residents worked together to build and protect their communities while traversing the halls of a replica Edo-era town. Later, visiting one of Tokyo's sake-tasting centers is a fun way to learn how to pair sake with food. Drink as much or as little as you want at this center, which offers more than 80 kinds of Japanese sake and shochu.

Day 5: Day Trip to Nikko, Explore

The carvings of Toshogu shrine
The carvings of the Toshogu Shrine

Just north of Tokyo lies Nikko, home of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Toshogu Shrine, also the mausoleum of Japan's last shogun. The shrine is one of the most beautiful in Japan and is in marked contrast to the typically simple Shinto structures. It's impossible not to be amazed at the sheer detail of the hundreds of intricate and carefully painted figures, which seem to grow out of the shrine itself.

Also in the area is Rinnoji, Nikko's most important temple. On the grounds, you'll find a treasure house displaying fascinating exhibits from both shogun and Buddhist history, a small yet charming Japanese garden, and a shrine that is said to house Nikko's three mountain gods.

No visit to Nikko is complete without a trip to its recreated Edo-era town, Edo Wonderland. It's a great place for some light-hearted fun. Dress up in traditional Edo attire, and choose from a variety of activities like hariko-doll painting, makeup artistry, samurai sword fighting, and archery, to name but a few. The fantastic ninja and magic shows, mazes, and ninja trick house are also worth some time.

Plan your trip to Japan
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Transfer to Fujikawaguchiko, See Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji can be quite shy at times. On a clear day, you can see it from Tokyo, but on a cloudy day, it's hard to see it from just a short distance away. The best place to see it is from across Lake Kawaguchi. Right at the base of the iconic mountain, the town offers a great choice of ryokan inns for those looking for a traditional experience. There are also multiple onsens, which offer outdoor hot springs baths with a perfect view of Mount Fuji.

Today you'll take a trip to the picturesque crafts village of Iyashi no Sato. This is an open-air museum on the edge of Lake Saiko, which used to be a small farming village. The thatched-roof houses have been converted into workshops, restaurants, and small shops. Dress up in a traditional kimono or yukata and choose from various fun and creative activities, including ceramic pottery painting, glass kaleidoscope and metal work, soba noodle making, fabric ornament crafting, and incense making.

Stroll around the northern border of the lake as you watch the sunset over the mountain before calling it a day with a mouth-watering traditional Japanese meal before bed.

Day 7: Explore Fujikawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji from Chureito Pagoda

There are so many things to do in the Lake Kawaguchi area. Today, the choice of what to do is up to you. Perhaps visit the Narusawa Ice Caves. These 501-foot (153 m) long caves are a lava tunnel formed from Fuji erupting centuries ago and are filled with ice pillars all year long. There's the Chureito Pagoda, offering one of the most iconic views of Mount Fuji and is particularly stunning during the spring and autumn months, when the trees turn pink and gold, respectively.

Alternatively, you could visit the Fuji-Q Highland, one of Japan's most popular theme parks. It offers rollercoasters (one of which is the steepest in the world) as well as several anime-themed attractions based on popular films and TV series. Or, if you have kids with you, head to the Shinobi no Sato Ninja Village to get the chance to try being a ninja. It's a ninja-themed town designed for children, with ninja shows and the opportunity to perform stunts, throw ninja weapons, and anything else you need to turn into a stealthy ninja warrior.

Day 8: Transfer to Kyoto, Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine & Geisha Experience

A 'maiko' walking the streets of Kyoto
A "maiko" walking the streets of Kyoto

Japan's former capital, Kyoto, is bursting with history and is much more traditional than Tokyo. Things here move at a much slower pace, and the people tend to be much more laid back. One of your first stops in Kyoto will be one of the most famous shrines in Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Featured in the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha," this shrine has over 10,000 picturesque red torii gates donated by people and businesses from all over Japan.

Your next activity is a traditional Japanese art show. As well as offering a chance to see a performance by a maiko (trainee geisha), this 60-minute theatrical experience also introduces you to other skilled artists such as ikebana flower arrangers, puppeteers, Japanese harp players, and court musicians. In the evening, take a walk through the bustling streets of Pontocho. Right next to the Kamogawa River, this area is packed with restaurants and bars. You can also request for a private dinner or tea ceremony to be arranged if you wish.

Day 9: Open-Air Train Ride Through Arashiyama

Arashiyama bamboo grove
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Just outside Kyoto is the tranquil area of Arashiyama. you'll start your day with a ride on an open-air train (this doesn't operate in winter). You'll get amazing views of the river and surrounding forest. Then, travel down the Hozugawa River on a traditional Japanese boat. Depending on the season, you could be floating past banks lined with white and pink cherry blossoms in March, the deep green leaves of a warm summer in July, or the brilliant and fiery colors of autumn trees in November.

Take a tour of some of Arashiyama's must-see sites, including Tenryuji Temple, a World Heritage Site that houses one of the most picturesque and ancient landscape gardens in the entire country, including the otherworldly bamboo grove. Also, in the area, you'll find Nonomiya Shrine and the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where macaques roam freely. If you're up for a walk, there is a special temple housing hundreds of statues, all carved by different people. If you look closely, you'll find some of these Buddhist statues sporting glasses and carrying cellphones.

If you wish, you can choose an optional activity in Arashiyama. There's a place here where you can not only watch a swordsmith forging Japanese steel but actually forge your own kogatana, like a mini samurai sword. Travelers who want to try this creative hands-on experience can easily replace the open-air train ride for this activity.

Day 10: Day Trip to Nara

A lone deer on the grounds of Nara
A lone deer on the temple grounds of Nara

Nara is famous for having the largest Buddha statue in Japan, an impressive sight to behold. The deer that roam freely around the temple grounds of Todaiji are also an amazing sight, and they have no fear of humans! Today will be a free day for you to spend exploring Nara at your leisure.

Day 11: Transfer to Hiroshima, Explore

A monument at Hiroshima Peace Park
A monument at Hiroshima Peace Park

Hiroshima is a special place in Japan for many reasons. While visiting Hiroshima today, you'll learn about the events of World War II at the Atomic Dome Museum and the Hiroshima Peace Park, but also how the city built itself back up again. Hiroshima has other attractions besides those related to the war. Hiroshima Castle was an important seat of power in this part of Japan. Like much of the city, it was destroyed during World War II, but visitors can see the rebuilt castle.

After a meal of Hiroshimayaki, a popular dish in the area, you'll have the evening to relax.

Day 12: Day Trip to Miyajima Island

Red torii in the waters of Miyajima
Red torii in the waters of Miyajima

Today you'll visit the island of Miyajima, a rare location in Japan that has never experienced an earthquake. This means that many temples and shrines are original and centuries old.

Travel there via a short ferry ride; be sure to stand on the deck to get a good view of the giant red torii gate of Miyajima rising out of the sea. During your time on the island, you'll visit Daisho Temple, Itsukushima Shrine, and Mount Misen via a scenic ropeway. The view from the top of the mountain, across the inland sea dotted with islands, is superb. The island is also populated with friendly deer, which kids and even adults really enjoy.

Day 13: Depart from Hiroshima

Japanese shrine
Japanese shrine

Your Japan tour has ended, and it's time to return to the airport for your onward travels. You'll be transferred in good time to check in for your flight. Sayonara!

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A note on diacritical markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Discover Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima - 13 Days
Map of Discover Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto & Hiroshima - 13 Days