Japan is made up of hundreds of islands that extend for nearly 2,000 miles. How many days should you spend exploring, and where should you focus your time? From an action-packed four days in Japan to a leisurely three week itinerary, here are some suggestions for making the most of your time in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Make the Most of Your Time in Japan
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Over 900 miles southwest of Tokyo, Okinawa-hontō—Okinawa's main island—anchors the lesser-known string of islands straddling Japan's two southernmost prefectures. For those who fancy a beach holiday on their grand tour of Japan, its tropical climate and unique Ryūkyūan culture are just a two-hour flight from Tokyo.
If you have just five days to spend in Japan, you could focus your energy on the ultra-modern city of Tokyo. Or you could divide your time between Tokyo and the more traditional Kyoto, taking the time to visit the most famous shrine in the country. A more ambitious itinerary takes you to several cities, including Hiroshima and Osaka, while a simpler trip plan focuses solely on the culture and history of Kyoto. Another alternative is to get away from the crowds and hike along the historic Nakasendo Trail, following the footsteps of feudal lords and samurai on the mountain path connecting Kyoto and Tokyo. Find out more about your options for five days in Tokyo by reading over the following itineraries.
With a week to spend in Japan, some travelers choose to focus on Tokyo, adding in side trips to Hiroshima and Mount Fuji. If you're eager to get away from the crowds and neon lights and experience a more traditional side of Japanese culture, consider a weeklong itinerary that takes you to Osaka, Kyoto, the shrines of Nara, and the sacred temples of Koyosan. Photographers love a 7-day adventure that focuses on scenic Japan, from charming villages and quiet gardens to gorgeous natural landscapes. And if you're lucky enough to visit in spring, consider a cherry blossom tour through various destinations where you'll have ample opportunities to see the famed pink flowers in bloom. Find out more about your options by reading over the following itineraries.
With ten days in Japan, travelers can choose from a great range of options. Those interested in urban life and Japanese culture might opt for a tour of Japan's major cities — Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima. Or get away from the bright lights and big crowds, choosing a trip through Japan's natural wonders, from towering bamboo groves to mountain peaks to rivers lined with cherry blossom trees. If you're traveling with children, consider a family-friendly journey that includes a visit to a ninja theme park and a ride on one of the world's steepest roller coasters. Adventure seekers should not miss the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of samurai on a self-guided walking tour of the Nakasendo Trail. Learn more about your options by reading over the itineraries below.
With two weeks to spend in Japan, you can go on a classic tour around the country's highlights—including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima—or opt for an itinerary that focuses specifically on culture and history. Travelers with children love a family-oriented tour featuring hands-on activities, like sushi-making classes and a samurai sword-fighting course, plus visits to two major theme parks. Adventurous visitors opt for an off-the-beaten-path journey around Japan's hidden gems or an active trip around the country's wintry landscapes.