2 Week Japan Itinerary in 2024: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Visitors

2 week japan travel itinerary

Are you considering a trip to Japan for two weeks? Look no further! This efficient and easy-to-follow two-week Japan itinerary will show you how to make the most of your first visit to the land of the rising sun. Japan is a country full of rich history, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. It’s no wonder that it’s a dream destination for many travelers.

As an avid traveler and blogger, Japan has always been my favorite destination. Ever since I was 13 years old, I have had a strong desire to visit this beautiful country. When I finally had the opportunity to visit Japan 10 years later, it exceeded all of my expectations. The unique blend of tradition and modernity, the kindness of the people, and the incredible sights and experiences made me fall in love with Japan even more.

However, planning my first trip to Japan was a bit overwhelming. I wanted to make the most out of it because I didn’t know when I would have the chance to visit again. If you’re feeling the same way, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! I have crafted this two-week Japan itinerary specifically for first-time visitors who want to make the most out of their time in Japan.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into this incredible journey!

Two Weeks in Japan Overview & Map

Spending two weeks in Japan is the perfect amount of time for first-time visitors. This itinerary is based on my personal experience and recommendations. It loosely follows the famous Golden Route, with some personal alterations that I believe are 100% worth it. The itinerary includes Tokyo (3 days), Mount Fuji (1 day), Hakone, Nikko, or Kamakura (2 days), Kyoto (3 days), Osaka (1 day), Nara (1 day), Himeji (1 day), Hiroshima (1 day), and Miyajima (1 day).

While this itinerary includes quite a few places, you don’t have to drag your luggage around every day. I have carefully selected the cities where you should book your hotels, including some of my favorite hotels and areas. Most of the locations can be visited as day trips, so you’ll only have to change hotels a couple of times. This allows you to have a great first impression of Japan without feeling rushed.

Along with all the highlights mentioned in this itinerary, I have also included some of my favorite photo spots, coffee shops, restaurants, and stores in the interactive Google Maps below. This will ensure that you don’t miss out on anything during your trip.

Where to Stay in Japan for Two Weeks

To avoid the hassle of dragging your luggage around every single day during your two weeks in Japan, it’s best to book a few “home” bases and take day trips from there. Public transport in Japan is very reliable and easy to use, so let’s make the most of it.

The locations included in this itinerary are well-connected, so I’ll highlight any discount passes for public transport that you can buy to make your day trips even easier to navigate.

Based on the itinerary, I recommend booking accommodation in the following places for the set days:

Area Best For Hotel Book Now
Tokyo First-time visitors Recommended Hotel Book Now
Kyoto Cultural experiences Recommended Hotel Book Now
Osaka Nightlife and shopping Recommended Hotel Book Now
Hiroshima History and peace Recommended Hotel Book Now

For a more detailed breakdown of each area and recommendations for different types of travelers, you can check out our full guide on where to stay in Japan.

Looking for More Japan Guides?

If you want more ideas for your itinerary, here are some additional guides that you can check out:

  • 3 Week Japan Itinerary: If two weeks in Japan are not enough for you, this guide will help you add another week to your trip.
  • 10 Day Japan Itinerary: If two weeks is a bit too long, this compressed version of the two-week Japan itinerary is perfect for you.
  • 7-day Kyushu Itinerary: If you want to see a more unique side of Japan, this itinerary shows you a whole different side of the country.
  • Cost Breakdown of a Two-Week Trip to Japan: If you want to plan your budget for this two-week trip to Japan, this guide provides a detailed breakdown of the costs, from flights to souvenirs, down to the penny!

Two Week Japan Itinerary

Here is the detailed two-week Japan itinerary that you can use as a reference. Feel free to follow it exactly or make any changes to match your travel style:

Tokyo (Day 1 – 3)

We start our Japan itinerary in the capital city: Tokyo. Most international travelers arrive at one of Tokyo’s two airports – Haneda or Narita. This makes it a great place to start your Japan trip.

From both airports, you have various transportation options, such as public transport, airport transfers, or taxis. While it may seem a bit intimidating, using public transport is the most cost-effective and convenient option. I highly recommend getting a Suica or Pasmo card, which are pre-paid e-money cards that allow you to use public transport all across Japan.

Since the first six days of this trip are in and around Tokyo, it’s best to book your hotel in Tokyo for the first six days. This way, you can avoid carrying your suitcases around and instead bring a backpack for day trips.

Tokyo is a vast and bustling city, so it can be overwhelming to choose where to stay. For first-time visitors, some recommended areas include Minato, Asakusa, or Roppongi. These areas offer convenient access to popular attractions and have a range of accommodations to suit different budgets.

Here are some recommendations for hotels in Tokyo:

Area Best For Hotel Book Now
Minato Central location and convenience Recommended Hotel Book Now
Asakusa Traditional atmosphere and historic sites Recommended Hotel Book Now
Roppongi Nightlife and shopping Recommended Hotel Book Now

Day 1 – Tokyo

Tokyo is a city that could easily occupy an entire month of exploration, but since we have just two weeks, we’ll make the most of our three days here. Here are some recommendations for your first day in Tokyo:

  • Visit Meiji Shrine: Start your day by visiting Meiji Shrine, a beautiful shrine located in a vast park. As you walk through the forest of over 100,000 trees, you’ll experience a sense of tranquility and spirituality. Don’t miss the iconic wall of traditional sake barrels near the shrine.
  • Shop in Harajuku: After visiting Meiji Shrine, head to Harajuku, a popular shopping district known for its trendy and unique fashion. Takeshita Street is a must-visit, with its vibrant stores and colorful street art. Walk a bit further to Omotesando for even more shopping and upscale boutiques.
  • Try Purikura: Experience the fun and colorful world of Purikura, a Japanese photo booth that allows you to take cute and customizable pictures. Add filters, stickers, and text to your photos, and take home printed copies as unique souvenirs.
  • Walk across Shibuya Crossing: Shibuya Crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world and an iconic sight in Tokyo. Take some time to observe the organized chaos as pedestrians cross in all directions when the traffic lights turn red. Don’t forget to visit the Hachiko Statue, a heartwarming tribute to the loyal dog.

meiji shrine tokyo

Day 2 – Tokyo

On your second day in Tokyo, we’ll explore the neighborhoods of Asakusa, Ueno, and Akihabara. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Explore Senso-ji Temple: Start your day in Asakusa with a visit to Senso-ji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Marvel at the beautiful architecture and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere. Don’t forget to explore Nakamise Street, a bustling shopping street filled with traditional snacks and souvenirs.
  • Visit Ueno Park: Ueno Park is one of the best places in Tokyo to experience cherry blossoms during the spring season. Even outside of cherry blossom season, the park offers beautiful green spaces, museums, and a zoo. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the peaceful ambiance.
  • Discover Akihabara: Known as the “Electric Town,” Akihabara is a haven for anime and gaming enthusiasts. Explore the countless shops selling retro video games, anime figures, and manga. Don’t forget to try out the arcades and indulge your inner gamer.
  • Try Karaoke: Wrap up your day in Tokyo by experiencing the unique Japanese tradition of karaoke. Rent a private booth and sing your heart out to your favorite tunes. Enjoy the lively and fun atmosphere of the karaoke parlors.

tokyo imperial palace

Day 3 – Tokyo

As we approach our last day in Tokyo, we’ll visit a few more iconic attractions. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Visit Tokyo Imperial Palace: Take a guided tour of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. Marvel at the grand architecture and beautiful gardens surrounding the palace. Guided tours provide insight into the history and significance of this cultural landmark.
  • Explore the Zōjō-ji Temple grounds: Make a quick stop at Zōjō-ji Temple while heading towards Tokyo Tower. This temple offers a peaceful atmosphere and great views of Tokyo Tower.
  • Snap a picture of Tokyo Tower: Tokyo Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Take a memorable picture of this towering structure, and enjoy the surrounding area. Consider visiting nearby observation decks for even more stunning views of Tokyo’s skyline.
  • Visit one of Roppongi’s museums/art galleries: Roppongi is known for its vibrant art scene, with numerous art galleries and museums. Explore the Roppongi Art Triangle, which includes Mori Art Museum, The National Art Gallery, and the Suntory Museum of Art. Immerse yourself in modern Japanese art and enjoy breathtaking views of Tokyo from the observation deck.
  • Try Japanese Karaoke: After a day of sightseeing, unwind with some Japanese-style karaoke. Rent a private booth, choose your favorite songs, and enjoy a fun-filled evening of singing and laughter.

meiji shrine tokyo

Mount Fuji (Day 4)

Now it’s time to experience the majestic beauty of Mount Fuji. While it’s possible to climb Mount Fuji during the hiking season (July to September), for a day trip, it’s best to enjoy the surrounding areas and take in the breathtaking views.

To reach Mount Fuji, take a bus or train to Lake Kawaguchiko. From there, you can explore the area and capture stunning photos of Mount Fuji. Don’t forget to check the interactive Google Maps for the best photo spots.

Alternatively, you can book a fully guided day tour from Tokyo. This option ensures that you visit all the main points of interest without worrying about transportation or navigation.

mount fuji with autumn leaves

Hakone, Nikko, or Kamakura (Day 5 – 6)

For the next two days, you have the option to choose between visiting Hakone, Nikko, or Kamakura. Each destination offers its unique attractions and experiences. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do in each place:

Hakone Day Trip

Hakone is a personal favorite of mine. It’s known for its incredible views of Mount Fuji, relaxing hot springs, and beautiful shrines. From Tokyo, it takes about 1-1.5 hours to reach Hakone, making it a perfect day trip destination.

When in Hakone, be sure to:

  • Soak in an onsen: Experience the soothing hot springs of Hakone. Onsens are an essential part of Japanese culture and offer relaxation and rejuvenation.
  • Visit Hakone Shrine: Explore the stunning Hakone Shrine, which features a torii gate overlooking Lake Ashi. Take your time to admire the beautiful architecture and serene surroundings.
  • Explore Owakudani (Boiling Valley): Take a gondola ride to Owakudani, a volcanic area with hot springs and sulfur vents. Try a black egg boiled in the volcanic water, said to add seven years to your life.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine: Indulge in the local delicacies of Hakone, such as black pork, hot spring steamed dishes, and traditional sweets.

hakone shrine lake ashi

Nikko Day Trip

Nikko is a little further from Tokyo compared to Hakone but remains one of the best day trips from the capital. It is a mountain town with a rich history and stunning natural beauty. To reach Nikko, take the JR Nara Line or the Kintetsu Line. The journey takes about 2-3 hours.

When in Nikko, make sure to:

  • Visit Toshogu Shrine: Explore the iconic Toshogu Shrine, the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Admire the intricate architecture, elaborate carvings, and beautiful natural surroundings.
  • Discover Rinnoji Temple: Pay a visit to Rinnoji Temple, a Buddhist temple founded in the 8th century. Immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere and learn about its history.
  • Explore the Kanmangafuchi Abyss: Take a walk through the stunning Kanmangafuchi Abyss, a valley created by a volcanic eruption. Admire the 74 statues wearing red crocheted hats and bibs, each with its own unique expression.
  • Shop and dine in Nikko: Explore the local shops and restaurants in Nikko. Sample traditional Japanese cuisine and find unique souvenirs to take home.

toshogu shrine Nikko

Kamakura & Enoshima Day Trip

Kamakura and Enoshima are two beautiful seaside towns near each other, making them a popular day trip destination from Tokyo. Both towns can be reached within an hour from Tokyo by train.

When in Kamakura and Enoshima, be sure to:

  • Explore Enoshima: Begin your day trip by exploring Enoshima, a small island near Kamakura. Visit Enoshima-jinja, enjoy the beautiful Samuel Cocking Garden, and stroll along Nakamise Street.
  • Visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura: Marvel at the Kamakura Daibutsu, a towering bronze Buddha statue that stands over 13 meters tall. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Kamakura.
  • Stroll around Komachi Street: Walk along Komachi Street, a lively area filled with restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a meal or pick up unique souvenirs.

kamakura statue

Kyoto (Day 7 – 9)

After spending six wonderful days in and around Tokyo, it’s time to make our way to Kyoto. Kyoto is known as the cultural capital of Japan, with its numerous shrines, temples, and historic districts.

For accommodations, you have two options:

  • Stay in Kyoto for five nights.
  • Stay in Kyoto for three nights and in Osaka for two nights.

Your choice won’t impact the places you’ll visit in this itinerary, but it will provide a different atmosphere. Kyoto is known for its traditional charm, while Osaka offers vibrant nightlife and shopping experiences. I have a full Kyoto and Osaka comparison guide to help you decide what’s best for your trip.

To get from Tokyo to Kyoto, take the Shinkansen, or bullet train. The journey takes approximately two hours and 15 minutes. You can purchase individual tickets for the Shinkansen at the train station or book them online in advance.

For your time in Kyoto, I recommend the following areas and hotels:

Area Best For Hotel/Ryokan Book Now
Kyoto Area 1 Exploring temples and shrines Recommended Hotel Book Now
Kyoto Area 2 Traditional atmosphere and Geisha districts Recommended Hotel Book Now
Kyoto Area 3 Local experiences and convenience Recommended Hotel Book Now

Kyoto (Day 7)

On your first day in Kyoto, take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and check into your hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your own pace. Use the interactive map to discover additional sights and hidden gems.

Kyoto offers a wide range of attractions, and here are some highlights for your day in Kyoto:

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha: Start your day at Fushimi Inari Taisha, a famous shrine known for its thousands of torii gates. Take a hike up and down Mount Inari while enjoying the peaceful surroundings. Try to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds.
  • Geisha Districts: Kyoto is famous for its traditional Geisha districts, such as Higashiyama and Gion. Take a leisurely walk through these neighborhoods, visit Kiyomizudera Temple, and soak in the atmosphere. Don’t forget to try out a traditional tea ceremony.
  • Kinkaku-ji Temple: Visit the Golden Pavilion, one of Kyoto’s most iconic landmarks. This stunning Zen temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden, offering a tranquil and picturesque setting.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Travel to the western part of Kyoto and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Take a peaceful walk through the towering bamboo stalks and enjoy the serenity of nature.
  • Wear a Kimono: To fully immerse yourself in the traditional culture of Kyoto, consider renting a kimono and walking through the streets in traditional attire. Capture some beautiful photos and create lasting memories.
  • Dine on Pontocho: End your day in Kyoto by exploring Pontocho, a narrow atmospheric alleyway known for its traditional restaurants and tea houses. Enjoy a delicious meal and soak up the vibrant nightlife.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Osaka (Day 10)

On Day 10, take a day trip to Osaka from Kyoto. Osaka is known for its vibrant culinary scene, friendly people, and modern attractions.

From Kyoto, you can reach Osaka within 15 minutes by Shinkansen or 30-40 minutes by train. Once in Osaka, here are some must-see sights:

  • Osaka Castle: Begin your day by visiting Osaka Castle, one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Explore the park surrounding the castle and learn about its historical significance. Don’t forget to take in the panoramic views from the top floor.
  • Shinsekai: Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of Shinsekai, an area developed during the National Industrial Explosion. Visit the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower, modeled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Enjoy the lively street food scene and savor local delicacies.
  • Namba Shrine: Pay a visit to Namba Shrine, a unique shrine known for its 12-meter tall lion-head-shaped building. According to legend, the lion’s head swallows the evil spirits of visitors.
  • Nipponbashi Den-Den Town: If you’re a fan of retro video games, Den-Den Town in Osaka is a paradise. Explore the countless shops dedicated to video games, anime, and electronics.
  • Dotonbori: End your day in Dotonbori, the heart of Osaka’s nightlife. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of neon lights, music, and mouthwatering street food. Don’t miss the iconic Glico Man sign.

osaka castle at dusk

Nara (Day 11)

On Day 11, take a day trip to Nara from Osaka. Nara was once the capital of Japan and is famous for its historic temples, shrines, and Nara Deer Park.

To reach Nara, you can take the JR Nara Line or the Kintetsu Line, with travel times ranging from 35 to 70 minutes.

In Nara, make sure to explore the following sights:

  • Nara Deer Park: Start your day by visiting Nara Deer Park, home to more than 1,200 Sika deer. These friendly creatures roam freely and bow to visitors in exchange for deer crackers.
  • Isuien Garden: Explore the beautiful Isuien Garden, located near Kofuku-ji Temple. This Japanese-style garden offers a tranquil oasis with ponds, traditional teahouses, and meticulously manicured landscapes.
  • Todai-ji Temple: Visit Todai-ji Temple, one of Japan’s most famous temples and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the grandeur of the temple complex and the awe-inspiring Daibutsu (Great Buddha) statue inside.
  • Kasuga-Taisha: Explore Kasuga-Taisha, another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its 3,000 stone lanterns lining the entrance. The shrine is particularly stunning during the Setsubun Mantoro festival, when all the lanterns are lit.

todaiji temple in nara

Himeji (Day 12)

On Day 12, make a stop at Himeji on your way to Hiroshima. Himeji is famous for its stunning castle and is conveniently located on the way to Hiroshima.

To reach Himeji, store your luggage at the train station and explore the city’s highlights. Here’s what to do in Himeji:

  • Visit Himeji Castle: Explore the iconic Himeji Castle, often referred to as the White Heron Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the few castles in Japan that has never been destroyed or burnt down. Climb to the upper floors for panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
  • Explore Himeyama Park: Next to Himeji Castle, you’ll find Himeyama Park, a beautiful park with small shrines, a pond, and a castle moat filled with koi carp. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
  • Stroll through Kōko-en Garden: Pay a visit to Kōko-en Garden, a compound featuring nine different Japanese-style gardens. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of these meticulously designed landscapes. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit a tea house and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony.

himeji castle at dusk

Hiroshima (Day 13)

As Hiroshima will be your base for the next few days, take this day to explore the city’s history and culture. Hiroshima is mostly known for the atomic bombing in 1945, but it has since rebuilt itself into a bustling city that embraces peace and welcomes visitors.

During your day in Hiroshima, make sure to visit the following sights:

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: Begin your day by paying your respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Learn about the tragic events that took place in 1945 and the lasting impact of the atomic bombing. It’s a somber but important reminder of the consequences of war and the importance of peace.
  • See the Atomic Bomb Dome: Visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few buildings that survived the atomic bombing. This poignant symbol of hope stands as a reminder of the city’s resilience and its commitment to peace.
  • Hiroshima Orizuru Tower: Head to the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower and enjoy breathtaking views of the Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome. Take in the panoramic vistas and reflect on the city’s journey towards peace.
  • Explore Hiroshima Castle: Discover Hiroshima Castle, also known as Carp Castle, which played a significant role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century. Explore the castle and its surrounding park, and learn about its history and architectural significance.
  • Visit Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine: Take a short walk from Hiroshima Castle to Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine. Marvel at the impressive stone torii gate and immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere of this local shrine.

Miyajima (Day 14)

On your last day in Japan, take a day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima. Miyajima is a sacred island known for its iconic torii gate, stunning temples, and natural beauty.

To reach Miyajima, take a short ferry ride from Hiroshima. The journey offers beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea.

When on Miyajima, be sure to:

  • Climb the staircase to Senjōkaku Pavilion: Take a leisurely hike up the hill to Senjōkaku Pavilion and enjoy a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea. While there, don’t miss the Five-Storied Pagoda of Miyajima and the Senjōkaku Pavilion itself.
  • Explore Itsukushima Shrine: Visit Itsukushima Shrine, famous for its red floating torii gate. This iconic shrine appears to float on the water during high tide and is a must-see attraction in Japan. Be sure to explore the Treasure Hall and admire the grand torii gate from the main hall.
  • Enjoy the view from Mt. Misen: Take the Miyajima Ropeway to Shishiiwa Station and hike to the Mt. Misen Observatory. While the trail can be a bit steep, the breathtaking view from the top makes it worth the effort.

meiji shrine tokyo

Is 2 Weeks Enough to See Japan?

Two weeks is a sufficient amount of time to see some of Japan’s main highlights. This two-week Japan itinerary covers the key attractions in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and other beautiful destinations. While there is so much more to see and explore in Japan, this itinerary provides a great first impression of the country. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to return to Japan for another adventure!

If you have more time to spare, you can check out my 3 week Japan itinerary or consider exploring Kyushu for an additional week of adventure.

Do You Need a JR Pass for 2 Weeks in Japan?

No, for this two-week Japan itinerary, you don’t need a JR Pass. The recent price increase of the JR Pass in October 2023 made it less cost-effective for this itinerary. It is cheaper to purchase individual tickets for the Shinkansen and use a Suica/Pasmo card for travel within cities. You can buy Shinkansen tickets at the train stations or book them online in advance.

How Much Money Do You Need for 2 Weeks in Japan?

The amount of money you’ll need for a two-week trip to Japan can vary depending on your travel style and preferences. Based on my experience, I recommend budgeting around £2,500 per person for a mid-range Japan trip. This includes flights, accommodations, food, activities, and any additional expenses. It’s important to note that prices for flights and the JR Pass have increased significantly, so plan your budget accordingly.

In Conclusion

And that concludes our recommended two-week Japan itinerary. This itinerary offers a fantastic introduction to the beautiful country of Japan, allowing you to explore its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. While there is so much more to see and do in Japan, this itinerary ensures that you make the most of your time and create unforgettable memories.

Whether you’re mesmerized by the neon lights of Tokyo, captivated by the peaceful shrines of Kyoto, or moved by the resilience of Hiroshima, Japan has something for everyone. We hope this itinerary helps you plan an amazing journey and inspires you to embark on your own adventure in the land of the rising sun.

Happy travels, and enjoy your time in Japan!

If you need more information about each day or more detailed recommendations, please refer to our full article on themedipia.com.

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