Planning Your Dream Vacation to Japan

japan itinerary 7 days

Are you dreaming of an unforgettable trip to Japan? Look no further! Japan is a country filled with breathtaking natural landscapes, historic temples, and the vibrant energy of bustling cities. Planning a trip to Japan may seem overwhelming, but fear not! In this article, we will provide you with a 7-day itinerary that will help you make the most out of your time in this unique country.

7 Day Japan Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1-2: Tokyo
  • Day 3-4: Hakone
  • Day 5-7: Kyoto
  • BONUS: Niseko itinerary (if you have more than 7 days in Japan and are visiting in winter!)

Japan Trip Overview

Before we dive into the details of the itinerary, let’s go over some essential information.

  • PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 7-9
  • Currency: Yen
  • Airport to Fly In To: HND or NRT
  • Cost: $$$

Best Time to Go to Japan

Cherry Blossoms

Japan is a year-round destination, but there are certain times that are considered ideal for visiting. If you want to avoid extreme weather conditions, it’s best to avoid the summer months (June-August) when it can be hot and crowded. The optimal time to visit Japan is during the Spring and Fall seasons (March-May and September-October) when the temperatures are mild. Keep in mind that the peak season is during Cherry Blossom season in mid-March, which is undoubtedly beautiful but also means higher prices. If you’re interested in skiing or snowboarding, plan your trip for January or February when Japan is known for having some of the best powder in the world.

How to Get Around Japan – Japan Rail Pass

Japan Rail Pass
Shinkansen Bullet Trains

Getting around Japan is a breeze thanks to its well-connected and efficient train system. To make your transportation experience even smoother, we highly recommend getting a 7-day Japan Rail Pass. This pass grants you unlimited access to all trains on the JR Line, including the famous Shinkansen Bullet Trains. For adults, the 7-day pass costs approximately $220. While it may seem a bit pricey, it’s actually a cost-effective option considering the relatively high individual ticket prices in Japan. Additionally, having the pass eliminates the need to buy tickets for each journey, saving you time and hassle. It’s important to note that you must purchase the JR Pass at least 14 days before your trip. Once you’ve bought it online, a voucher will be mailed to your house. Remember to bring the voucher with you to Japan and exchange it for the JR Pass at the airport upon arrival.

7-Day Japan Itinerary

Day 1-2: Tokyo

7 day japan itinerary

Begin your adventure in Japan by spending the first two days in Tokyo, the vibrant capital city. Tokyo can be overwhelming due to its size and endless attractions, so don’t stress about seeing everything. Instead, focus on a few highlights and take the time to soak in the city’s unique atmosphere. We recommend staying in the Shinjuku neighborhood, known for its towering skyscrapers and neon signs. Shinjuku is also home to the famous “Golden Gai” bars, which are definitely worth a visit. The Park Hyatt is a luxurious hotel option in Shinjuku that offers incredible rooftop views and even appeared in the movie “Lost in Translation.” For a more budget-friendly stay, check out Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. If you’re traveling with a large group, consider the Zukiya Shinjuku Vacation Home, which provides ample space and a central location.

When it comes to getting around Tokyo, the city has an extensive train system that can be easily navigated using your JR Pass. Don’t miss the chance to experience Shibuya Crossing, known as the busiest crosswalk in the world. For a breathtaking 360-degree view of Tokyo, head to the Shibuya Sky Observation Deck. Tokyo is famous for its themed cafes, so why not try visiting one during your stay? Cat Cafe Mocha in Shinjuku is a popular option where you can enjoy a cup of coffee surrounded by adorable cats. Exploring the Harajuku neighborhood is also a must, with its unique fashion culture and trendy shops. Immerse yourself in the local music scene by visiting a Tokyo Listening Bar, where vinyl records are exclusively played to create a serene atmosphere.

Of course, you can’t visit Tokyo without indulging in the incredible cuisine the city has to offer. From authentic ramen at Hakata Tenjin in Shinjuku to Michelin-starred ramen at Ichiran, there is something for every food lover. Make sure to also try udon at Udon Shin, a popular spot that tends to have long lines, but the wait is well worth it.

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the Park Hyatt Rooftop Bar for a drink at sunset. This is the bar featured in the movie “Lost in Translation” and offers stunning views of the city.

Day 3-4: Hakone

7 day japan itinerary

Escape the bustling city of Tokyo and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Hakone for the next two days. Known for its natural hot springs and stunning views of Mount Fuji, Hakone offers a serene environment that will leave you rejuvenated. While many visitors choose to do a day trip to Hakone from Tokyo, we recommend spending at least one or two nights in this mountain town to fully experience its beauty.

Before heading to Hakone, make sure to purchase the Hakone Freepass, which covers transportation in Hakone, including a cable car ride and a pirate ship cruise on Lake Ashi. The pass costs approximately $45 and provides convenience and cost savings during your stay.

To reach Hakone, take the Odakyu Line “Romance Car” from Shinjuku Station directly to Hakone-Yumoto Station. The ride takes around 85 minutes, and while there is an additional fee for the Romance Car, it is worth it for the time saved. Consider staying at a traditional Japanese inn, called a Ryokan, to fully immerse yourself in the Japanese experience. These Ryokans offer tatami mats to sleep on, multi-course dinners served in your room, and often have natural hot springs, known as onsens, for guests to enjoy. Yaeikan is a highly recommended Ryokan in Hakone, known for its mid-tier pricing, excellent location, and private onsens.

During your stay in Hakone, be sure to visit the Hakone Shrine, a beautiful shrine located on the shores of Lake Ashi. Take a pirate ship cruise across the lake to enjoy stunning views of Mount Fuji. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore Owakudani, a volcanic valley famous for its active sulfuric land and black hard-boiled eggs. Legend has it that eating one of these eggs adds seven years to your life! Take a ride on the Ropeway to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Take your time in Hakone to relax, unwind in hot springs, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. Wander around the town and enjoy the local shops and restaurants, and don’t forget to try some delicious Japanese cuisine.

Day 5-7: Kyoto

7 day japan itinerary

End your 7-day Japan itinerary with a visit to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. Kyoto is a city full of historical charm, with ancient temples, shrines, and imperial palaces at every turn.

For the best experience in Kyoto, we recommend staying in the Gion district. This area showcases quintessential Kyoto, with its traditional cobblestone streets, kimono-clad locals, and numerous temples and shrines. Consider staying in a traditional Japanese house to enhance your cultural immersion.

While in Kyoto, take a leisurely stroll through the Gion District, starting at the iconic Yasaka Pagoda. This will lead you to charming streets filled with sweet street food desserts, shops, and people dressed in traditional kimonos.

Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Camellia Flower Teahouse. This cultural experience will introduce you to the history and art of the tea ceremony, allowing you to make and enjoy matcha tea. Visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its iconic red gates, and take a walk through the stunning bamboo grove of Arashiyama.

Explore the majestic Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), a temple covered in gold leaf situated in a beautiful park. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Yasaka Shrine, located in the Gion district itself, and the Ryozen Kannon, home to a massive Buddhist statue.

While in Kyoto, indulge in the local cuisine. Try Izakaya Koharuya for delicious chicken skewers or Niseko Sanroku Jingisukan for a Japanese barbecue experience. For a unique dining experience, make a reservation at Rakuichi, a renowned soba restaurant that only seats 12 people. End your day with a visit to the lively bars in the area, such as Bar Gyu or The Baddie’s.

If time allows, consider taking a day trip to Nara, a city known for its temples and shrines, as well as its famous wild deer. You can reach Nara in 45 minutes by taking the JR Nara Line express train from Kyoto.

As your 7-day Japan itinerary comes to an end, take the Shinkansen bullet train back to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station and then the Tokyo Monorail to HND airport for your departure.

Bonus Itinerary: Niseko in Winter

japan itinerary winter

If you have more than 7 days and are visiting Japan during the winter, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Niseko. Located in the Hokkaido region, Niseko is renowned for its exceptional powder snow, making it a paradise for skiers and snowboarders.

To get to Niseko, take a short 1-hour flight from Tokyo to New Chitose Airport (CTS). From there, arrange a private transfer to Niseko, which takes approximately 2 hours.

Stay in the Hirafu area, as it offers easy access to bars, restaurants, and lifts. Cecuko Apartments is a recommended option that provides a convenient location in the heart of Hirafu.

Spend your days skiing or snowboarding in Niseko’s vast ski resort, which consists of four interconnected resorts: Annupuri, Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu, and Hanazono. The Ikon Pass covers access to these resorts, saving you the cost of lift tickets. If you don’t have the Ikon Pass, lift tickets in Niseko are relatively affordable compared to US ski resorts.

For a thrilling experience, consider booking a private cat skiing tour with companies like Iwanai. This unique adventure takes you to an abandoned ski resort overlooking the Sea of Japan, where you’ll have the whole mountain to yourselves. Enjoy the pristine powder snow and breathtaking nature.

When it comes to food in Niseko, it offers a more “westernized” dining experience compared to other parts of Japan. Izakaya Koharuya is a cozy spot known for its delicious chicken skewers. Niseko Sanroku Jingisukan is a Japanese barbecue restaurant where you can grill your own meats at the table. Make sure to reserve a spot at Rakuichi, a famous soba restaurant that only accepts reservation and was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show.

After a day on the slopes, unwind in one of the lively bars in Hirafu, such as Bar Gyu, known for its speakeasy vibes.

If you have extra time, visit one of the public onsens (natural hot springs) in the Niseko area for a relaxing experience. Onsen access can be a bit challenging due to limited transportation options, so plan accordingly.

Whether you choose to bring your own ski/snowboard gear or rent, Niseko offers an incredible winter experience. If you bring your gear, you can easily store it in lockers at the airport or your accommodation.

Other Unique Things to Note About Japan

  • Japan is known for its cleanliness, so expect pristine streets and immaculate bathrooms.
  • Trash cans are not commonly found in public places since Japanese culture discourages eating on the go.
  • Toilets in Japan often have bidets and heated seats for a luxurious experience.
  • Japanese outlets are the same as those in the US, so no need for an adapter.
  • It is considered rude to be loud or talk loudly on metro trains.
  • Don’t miss out on trying the popular “egg sandwich” from Lawsons, a pre-packaged egg salad sandwich that is surprisingly delicious.

We hope this comprehensive 7-day Japan itinerary helps you plan your dream vacation. Japan is a diverse and fascinating country that offers something for every traveler. Enjoy your adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Related Posts

© 2024 themedipia - WordPress Theme by WPEnjoy