Immerse yourself in Japanese culture as you explore some of the highlights of this fascinating country. Start in Tokyo, where you'll visit Asakusa District and discover Senso-ji Shrine. Get zen as you spend time in the historic gardens of Kanazawa, then visit Shirakawa-go to see villages of 250-year-old thatched-roof houses. Head to Kyoto to wander the streets of the Gion District, stroll under 10,000 red torii (gates) at Fushimi Inari Shrine, and get lost in a maze of bamboo at Arashiyama.


  • Explore Asakusa to see Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest shrine, and Kappabashi Street
  • Visit Kanazawa, famous for its gold leaf production, and take a gold leaf workshop
  • Wander the ancient streets of Kyoto to visit its historic temples and shrines
  • Head to Arashiyama and get lost in its alluring forests of towering bamboo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tokyo Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo Modernity & Tradition Tour Tokyo
Day 3 Transfer to Kanazawa, Explore the City Kanazawa
Day 4 Day Trip to Shirakawa-go Kanazawa
Day 5 Transfer to Kyoto, Historic Neighborhoods & Temples Kyoto
Day 6 Discover Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto
Day 7 Day Trip to the Bamboo Forests of Arashiyama Kyoto
Day 8 Transfer to Osaka, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

Private Airport Transfer to Your Tokyo Hotel
Night view of Tokyo

Welcome to Japan! Upon arrival at Narita Airport, your greeter will be waiting to give you a train pass and a helpful WiFi pocket device you can use during your trip. You'll then make your way to your hotel in Tokyo by private transfer. Once you've checked in, get out and explore the city. Start in Shinjuku with a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for fabulous panoramic city views. There's access to two observatory decks, so it's an excellent place to get a sense of this massive metropolis.

In the evening, head to Shinjuku Golden Gai made up of six tightly-packed alleys, and wander this maze for food and drinks. If you'd like to mingle with the locals and visit small-owned bars, this is the place. Looking for karaoke? Tokyo's favorite pastime is always on offer, with some of the best options in the Kabukicho area. 

Day 2: Tokyo Modernity & Tradition Tour

Explore Modernity & Tradition in Tokyo
Explore modernity & tradition in Tokyo

Your guide will be waiting for you in the hotel lobby this morning to begin today's tour. The first stop is Asakusa, where you'll experience Japanese culture by visiting the traditional side of Tokyo. See the famous Senso-ji, Tokyo's oldest temple, dedicated to the bodhisattva (enlightened being) Kannon. More than a temple or a shrine, Senso-ji is so big that it can be considered a neighborhood of its own. Beside the temple, you'll find a five-story pagoda and Asakusa's Shinto Shrine. The Nakamise-dori shopping street, located in front of the temple, is home to 90 shops selling crafts and traditional goods.

If you want to buy traditional knives and katanas, the historic Kappabashi Street is located near the temple and shrine grounds. In the evening, explore the modern aspects of the city by heading to Tokyo SkyTree to admire the night view. This tower offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views in the city. It became the tallest tower in Japan in 2010 and is 2,080 feet (853 m) tall, offering two observatory decks with a section of glass flooring in the tallest one. Once you've come down from the Sky Tree, explore Tokyo Solamachi, with over 300 shops and restaurants at the ground level.

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

Day 3: Transfer to Kanazawa, Explore the City

Kanazawa: the City of Art Of Japan
Kenroku-en Gardens in Kanazawa

Make your way to the station this morning, where you'll take a train to Kanazawa, a charming city on the west coast of Japan. Upon arrival, leave your luggage at the hotel, and head out to start discovering the many districts and modern art museums at your own pace. Don't miss the inspiring 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the contemplative D.T. Suzuki Museum

Kanazawa is also famous for its gold leaf production, and you can join one of the many gold leaf workshops in the city and create keepsakes like your own golden chopsticks. Continue your explorations with a stroll through Kenroku-en, considered one of Japan's most beautiful traditional gardens. 

Day 4: Day Trip to Shirakawa-go

Snow Rooftops in Shirakawa
The traditional houses of  Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go, nestled in the Ono district of Gifu prefecture, is easily accessible from Kanazawa and perfect for a day trip. Travel back in time today with a visit to the rustic village of Ogimachi. Surrounded by the imposing Hida Mountains, the town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. It's home to many gassho-zukuri (a traditional building style) houses, some of which are 250 years old. These large wooden dwellings have a steep, thatched roof design to withstand heavy snow.

Wander around the Myozen-ji Temple Museum and the temple, founded in 1748, located on the north side of Shirakawa-go village. The village's main attraction lies in its gassho-zukuri farmhouses, whose roofs are made without nails, providing ample attic space for cultivating silkworms. After your visit, head back to Kanazawa and enjoy an evening out at the many bars, restaurants, and clubs in the city.

Day 5: Transfer to Kyoto, Explore Historic Neighborhoods & Temples

Welcome to Beautiful Kyoto
Kyoto's Gion District

This morning starts with a short trip to the train station on your own. Once there, take the three-hour bullet train west to Kyoto. Explore the ancient streets and jump into traditional Japanese culture. You will see the clear difference between a modern city like Tokyo and a more preserved traditional city like Kyoto. Once checked in at your hotel, get to know the Gion neighborhood first to observe colorful geisha wearing kimonos as they walk to their next appointment. Wander through its streets, and find many shops selling sweets and Japanese crafts. Be on the lookout for restaurants for lunch. 

Later, see some of Kyoto's most beautiful and historic temples and shrines in the district of Higashiyama. Head to Sanjusangen-do Temple, the most extended wooden structure in Japan and home to 1,001 life-size Kannon statues. If you're looking to shop for souvenirs, Kyoto is famous for its crafts, including unique textiles, kimonos, and pottery. Another good option is to visit the Yasaka Pagoda for beautiful views in the afternoon or evening. Near this shrine, you can enjoy a traditional geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) performance which is the best way to start your journey in Kyoto.

Day 6: Discover Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Temple in Kyoto
Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto

Start your day early this morning by visiting the famous and beautiful Fushimi Inari Shrine with a guide. Dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, you'll find it at the end of a vermillion-colored walkway composed of 10,000 torii (gates). Expect incredible Kyoto views as you climb farther up this winding passage. If you wish to walk the whole trail, it will take around three hours. Going as early as possible is recommended to get the best photos without tourists. After your visit, head to the Nishiki Market, the perfect spot for a break to sample Kyoto's distinctive traditional cuisine.

Finish your day visiting Nijo Castle for a bit of history about this former capital of Japan. Once an imperial palace, it has the best-preserved castle palace architecture of Japan's feudal era. Or, you could head to Kiyomizudera Temple "Pure Water Temple"), a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site and one of Japan's most celebrated temples. Constructed on the site of the Otowa Waterfall, you'll enjoy splendid views of the numerous cherry and maple trees and Kyoto below.

Day 7: Day Trip to the Bamboo Forests of Arashiyama

Beautiful Landscapes in Arashiyama
The bamboo groves of Arashiyama

Today you'll step back in time with a visit to Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, located in the northwestern area of Kyoto. With a guide, stroll through this alluring forest with thousands of tall bamboo plants to reach Tenryu-ji Temple, where you can immerse yourself in its rich history. Afterward, wander through other well-known spots in Saga-Arashiyama. Cross the Togetsukyo Bridge, then climb the nearby mountain that leads to a monkey park and a bird's eye view of Kyoto. 

Afterward, visit more UNESCO World Heritage-listed temples before heading north to Kinkaku-ji ("The Golden Pavillion"). This Zen temple in northern Kyoto, whose top two floors are covered in gold leaf, is known for its scenic view. You can admire this glimmering temple and the lake surrounding it throughout the different seasons of the year, marveling at the stunning panoramic views, which are some of the best in Kyoto.

Day 8: Transfer to Osaka, Depart 

Goodbye Japan!
Goodbye Japan!

Bid farewell to Kyoto today as your private driver picks you up from the hotel lobby and takes you to Kansai International Airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Japan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other Japan itineraries, explore other ways to spend eight days in Japan, and discover the best time to visit Japan.


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 Traditional Japan: Tokyo, Kanazawa & Kyoto - 8 Days
Map of Traditional Japan: Tokyo, Kanazawa & Kyoto - 8 Days