10-Day Japan Itinerary

Last Updated on January 31, 2024 by Sarah Puckett

Are you dreaming of exploring the fascinating country of Japan? Look no further! In this 10-day Japan itinerary, we will take you on a journey through the main island of Honshu, where you will experience the perfect blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations that make Japan truly unique. Get ready to immerse yourself in stunning temples, indulge in delicious noodles and sushi, and be amazed by the incredible infrastructure that makes traveling through Japan a breeze. Whether it’s your first time visiting or you’re a seasoned traveler to Japan, this itinerary is sure to captivate and inspire you.

Getting Around Japan

To make the most of your 10 days in Japan, I highly recommend traveling by train. The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is an excellent option, offering flexible travel for 7 to 21 days depending on the pass you choose. I suggest purchasing your JR Pass online before your trip to ensure a smooth experience. Once you arrive in Japan, you can exchange your voucher for the actual pass. For more information and to purchase your pass, visit the official Japan Rail Pass website.

How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Japan?

Japan is known for its high cost of living, and traveling there is no exception. Compared to other Asian destinations, prices in Japan can be quite high, especially for travelers from Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. On average, you can expect to spend around $120 USD per person per day for a midrange travel experience. However, budget travelers can cut costs down to around $50 USD per person per day with careful planning and budgeting. Keep in mind that these estimates do not include international travel to Japan. To get a more accurate breakdown of anticipated costs, I recommend checking out Budget Your Trip’s website. During our 10-day Japan itinerary, we spent approximately $1300 per person.

10-Day Japan Itinerary Day-by-Day

Day 1 – Fly to Tokyo

Kickstart your adventure by flying into Tokyo, Japan’s bustling capital. You have two airport options: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). While Haneda is closer to the city, it has fewer international connections compared to Narita. Choose the airport that works best for your travel plans.

After arriving in Tokyo, make your way to your accommodation. We stayed at the luxurious Tokyo Marriott Hotel, which not only offered a prime location but also treated us to a decadent breakfast filled with local food options. The highlight of our stay was the breathtaking view of the iconic Tokyo Tower from our room. Click here to book your stay at the Tokyo Marriott Hotel!

Days 2-3 – Explore Tokyo’s Highlights

Tokyo, a city of endless wonders, deserves your undivided attention for the next two days. To make the most of your time, consider joining a walking tour. Tokyo Localized offers free walking tours that cover the city’s highlights, making it an efficient and educational way to explore. We recommend starting with their flagship Free Walking Tour Tokyo in the morning, followed by the Meiji Shrine and Harajuku afternoon tour, and ending with the Shinjuku Night tour.

During your time in Tokyo, don’t miss the chance to explore the vibrant district of Akihabara, known as the center of anime and gaming culture. Immerse yourself in the electric atmosphere, with animated characters adorning billboards and countless pachinko casinos lining the streets.

Another must-visit is the majestic Meiji Shrine, one of Japan’s most impressive shrines. As you walk along the serene wooded path leading to the shrine, you’ll encounter beautiful paper lanterns and barrels of sake wrapped in colorful paper, offering a glimpse into Japan’s rich traditions.

Harajuku is a paradise for fashion enthusiasts, especially for those who appreciate elaborate and whimsical outfits. Take a stroll through Takeshita Street and witness the unique culture of dressing in outlandish fashion. The vibrant energy of Harajuku is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Make your way to Senso-Ji Temple, Tokyo’s most visited temple. Legend has it that two fishermen discovered a golden image of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, in the nearby river over a thousand years ago. Since then, the temple has become a symbol of faith and devotion. Walk through the bustling Nakamise-Dori shopping street, filled with a variety of food and authentic handmade crafts, before reaching the temple’s entrance.

For a taste of the local culinary scene, visit the Tsukiji Outer Market, where you can sample a range of delicious treats such as dried fish, whole crabs, and wasabi sesame seeds. While the inner Tsukiji Market has moved to Toyosu Fish Market, the outer market still offers a vibrant and authentic experience.

Day 4 – Day Trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji and/or Aokigahara Forest

Escape the bustling city and embark on a day trip to Mount Fuji, Japan’s iconic snow-capped peak. Depending on the season, you can hike various trails in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Please note that some trails may be inaccessible during the winter months.

Alternatively, head to Aokigahara Forest, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and explore ice caves formed by lava tubes. This unique experience allows you to witness the natural beauty of the forest and get up close with the remnants of volcanic activity. Don’t miss the chance to book a tour to the Aokigahara Forest for an unforgettable adventure.

Day 5 – Day Trip from Tokyo to Nikko

Nikko, a charming town just an hour away from Tokyo, offers a delightful escape from the bustling city. Known for its scenic bridge and well-preserved shrines, Nikko showcases the rich history of the Edo period. To make the most of your day, be prepared for some walking as the main sights require a few miles of exploration. Alternatively, you can opt for a cab to navigate the town.

Visit the picturesque Shin-kyo Bridge, an iconic red footbridge with a fascinating legend behind it. Explore the beautiful Tosho-gu Shrine, dedicated to the Buddhist priest Shodo Shonin. Take a stroll along the Kanman-ga-Fuchi Abyss, a trail adorned with stone Buddhas that symbolically protect children and travelers. These figurines, with their red woven hats and capes, create a truly enchanting sight.

Day 6 – Hakone

Hakone, a small mountain town known for its hot springs and stunning views of Mount Fuji, is an ideal destination for relaxation. While it is possible to visit Hakone as a day trip from Tokyo, I highly recommend spending at least one night, if not two, to fully experience its magic.

One of the highlights of Hakone is the opportunity to witness the beauty of Mount Fuji. Although the view may appear more distant and hazy compared to other locations like the Aokigahara Forest, it is still a sight to behold. If you plan to stay longer in Hakone, you can incorporate your Mount Fuji hiking plans into your itinerary. However, be prepared for the complexities of navigating public transportation in Hakone, as it can be a bit confusing. Consider researching transportation options or joining a day tour to make the most of your time.

Immerse yourself in the traditional Japanese experience by staying at Ashinoko Ichinoyu, a ryokan (Japanese-style guesthouse) located near the town center. Indulge in a multi-course dinner featuring local delicacies, and don’t miss the opportunity to relax in a private onsen (hot spring). This traditional ryokan experience is a true delight for the senses.

Day 7-8 – Kyoto

Catch a train from Hakone to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Kyoto boasts the highest concentration of temples and shrines in the world, making it a must-visit destination for every traveler.

During your time in Kyoto, we recommend staying at the Westin Kyoto. This hotel offers a comfortable and luxurious experience, with a wide selection of local food options available for breakfast and in the concierge lounge. Click here to book your stay at the Kyoto Westin Hotel.

In Kyoto, be sure to visit Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. This iconic temple, originally built as a retirement home in the late 14th century, is an architectural marvel. Adorned in gold leaf, Kinkaku-ji is truly a sight to behold.

Take a stroll through the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, where tall bamboo stalks create a serene and otherworldly atmosphere. While it can be crowded at times, the beauty of the grove is well worth a visit.

Fushimi Inari Taisha, known for its mesmerizing thousand vermillion torii gates, is a sight that should not be missed. Walk through the gates as you cleanse your soul and witness the sacred beauty of this Shinto shrine.

Day 9 – Day Trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima

From Kyoto, hop on the shinkansen bullet train and embark on a day trip to Hiroshima. Just under two hours away, Hiroshima offers a profound and moving experience that is well worth the visit.

Start your day by exploring Shukkei-en, a small garden that showcases the beauty of nature with its lakes, hills, and picturesque bridges. Take a moment to admire the koi fish gracefully swimming in the ponds.

Pay homage to Sadako Sasaki at the Memorial to Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was a young girl who tragically died as a result of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Her story, immortalized in the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of war.

Visit Hiroshima Castle, a reconstructed medieval castle that now serves as a museum. Explore its exhibits and learn about the city’s pre-war history.

The Atomic Bomb Dome stands as a haunting reminder of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima. This poignant symbol of resilience and peace is a must-visit attraction.

End your day at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, a powerful memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb. Take your time to explore the museum’s exhibits, which offer a glimpse into the tragic events of that fateful day. The memorial serves as a plea to the world to end all nuclear weapons programs.

Day 10 – Osaka

Take the train from Kyoto to Osaka, a vibrant city known for its modern architecture and lively atmosphere. Spend the day exploring the city’s unique neighborhoods, indulging in delicious street food, and immersing yourself in the local culture.

Conclude your 10-day Japan itinerary by either spending a few more days in Osaka or catching an international flight from one of Osaka’s two international airports: Kansai International Airport (KIX) or Osaka Itami International Airport (ITM).

This 10-day Japan itinerary covers Tokyo, Nikko, Hakone, Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Osaka, offering a diverse range of experiences that showcase the best of Japan. Let your senses be captivated by the beauty of ancient traditions and the wonders of modern innovations. Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

Click here to read our 5-Day Tokyo Itinerary for more details on how to spend 5 days in Tokyo, Japan!

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