8 Days in Japan – 5 Unique Itinerary Ideas

japan travel itinerary 8 days

Itinerary #1: Japan’s Highlights: Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara & Osaka

Ideal for first-time visitors looking to immerse themselves in Japanese experiences, this fast-paced highlights tour covers numerous top sights in central Japan. Starting in Tokyo and ending in Osaka, you’ll get to explore the vibrant city of Tokyo, witness the elegance of Kyoto, discover the cultural heritage of Nara, and indulge in the culinary delights of each city.

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
Upon arrival in Tokyo, you can dive right into exploring the city. Begin by visiting the iconic Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. In the evening, head to Shinjuku Golden Gai and wander through its labyrinthine alleyways. To experience a quintessential Japanese pastime, don’t miss the opportunity to sing your heart out at a karaoke bar in Kabukicho.

Day 2: Tokyo Customized Private Tour
Take advantage of a customizable tour to visit Tsukiji Market in Toyosu or explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Harajuku and Roppongi Hills. For a panoramic view of Tokyo, climb to the top of Shibuya Scramble Square and witness the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing below.

Day 3: Transfer to Kyoto, Visit Nishiki Market
Catch the bullet train to Kyoto and kick off your exploration with a visit to Nishiki Market. Indulge in the local cuisine and sample various traditional dishes.

Day 4: Discover Fushimi Inari Shrine, Explore Kyoto
Immerse yourself in the cultural wonders of Kyoto by exploring the districts of Higashiyama, Gion, and Kinkaku-ji. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine and the stunning Kiyomizudera Temple.

Day 5: Transfer to Nara, Explore its Temples & Gardens
Embark on a journey to Nara and spend a day exploring its temples and gardens. Highlights include Nara Park, Todai-ji Temple, and Kasuga-Taisha Shrine.

Day 6: Transfer to Osaka, Evening Foodie Tour & Tombori River Cruise
Head to Osaka and embark on a delightful food tour, experiencing the diverse and delicious Japanese cuisine. Conclude the day with a relaxing river cruise along the Tombori River.

Day 7: Explore Osaka: Castles, Museums & Nightlife
Take a full day to explore Osaka at your own pace. Visit Osaka Castle, explore the Osaka Aquarium, and pay a visit to Sumiyoshi Taisha, one of the oldest shrines in the country.

Day 8: Depart Osaka
Say goodbye to Japan as you depart from Osaka, taking with you unforgettable memories of your journey through the highlights of central Japan.

Itinerary #2: Best of Tokyo, Hakone & Kyoto

This eight-day itinerary is the perfect introduction to Japan, covering the bustling city of Tokyo, the tranquil hot springs in Hakone, and the cultural treasures of Kyoto.

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo, Explore the City
Upon arrival in Tokyo, embark on a whirlwind exploration of the city. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, discover the Tokyo Edo Open Air Architectural Museum, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Shibuya district.

Day 2: Explore Asakusa & Akihabara
Immerse yourself in the traditional atmosphere of Asakusa by visiting the iconic Senso-ji Temple. In the afternoon, dive into the lively and tech-savvy world of Akihabara, known as the electronics district of Tokyo.

Day 3: Tour the West of Tokyo & Odaiba
Discover the modern side of Tokyo by exploring the western part of the city. Visit popular attractions such as Tokyo Tower, the Odaiba waterfront area, and the teamLab Borderless digital art museum.

Day 4: Train to Hakone, Enjoy an Onsen, Ryokan & Mt. Fuji Experience
Take a scenic train ride to Hakone and indulge in the soothing hot springs of an onsen. Enjoy stunning views of Mount Fuji while staying at a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Day 5: Train to Kyoto, Visit Nishiki Market & Nijo Castle, Optional Tea Ceremony
Travel by train to Kyoto and embark on a cultural adventure. Begin with a visit to Nishiki Market, famous for its fresh produce and local delicacies. Explore Nijo Castle and, if desired, participate in a traditional tea ceremony.

Day 6: Day Trip to Nara
Take a day trip to the charming city of Nara, known for its rich cultural heritage and friendly deer population. Visit Todai-ji Temple, home to a massive bronze Buddha statue, and explore the beautiful Nara Park.

Day 7: Day Trip to Arashiyama
Discover the natural beauty of Arashiyama by visiting the famous Bamboo Grove and exploring the scenic surroundings. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, and admire its stunning architecture.

Day 8: Depart Kyoto via Osaka
Conclude your journey in Kyoto and depart via Osaka. Take one last stroll through the vibrant streets of Osaka before bidding farewell to Japan.

Itinerary #3: Japan Cherry Blossom Tour

For photography enthusiasts and nature lovers, this eight-day cherry blossom tour in Japan is a dream come true. Witness the mesmerizing beauty of cherry blossoms while exploring Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo.

Day 1: Arrive in Osaka, Explore Osaka
Begin your cherry blossom journey in Osaka. Take a stroll along the Tombori Riverwalk or enjoy a scenic Tombori River Cruise. Explore the bustling shopping district of Shinsaibashi-suji and experience the vibrant nightlife of Soemoncho.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Osaka, Nighttime Foodie Tour
Discover the must-see sights of Osaka, including Osaka Castle, Shin-Sekai, and the Umeda Sky Building. In the evening, embark on a food tour and savor local delicacies such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

Day 3: Train to Kyoto, Explore Kyoto
Take a train to Kyoto and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Explore the historic neighborhoods, visit iconic temples, and stroll through the elegant streets adorned with cherry blossoms.

Day 4: See Magnificent Views in Arashiyama
Visit the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and marvel at the serene beauty of this natural wonder. Explore the stunning Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and Ryoan-ji Temple.

Day 5: Train to Hakone, Ryokan Experience in Hakone
Travel by train to Hakone and indulge in a traditional ryokan experience. Relax in the hot springs and admire the cherry blossoms surrounding the area.

Day 6: Train to Tokyo, See Cherry Blossoms in Tokyo
Embark on a train journey to Tokyo and witness the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Visit popular cherry blossom spots such as Nakameguro, Chiyoda, Chidorigafuchi Green Way, and Rikugien Garden.

Day 7: Spot Cherry Blossoms Around Mount Fuji
Enjoy the breathtaking views of cherry blossoms around Mount Fuji. Explore Shiogama Shrine and Chureito Pagoda, both offering picturesque scenes of cherry blossoms in the backdrop of the iconic mountain. Visit Yamataka Jindai Sakura to admire the oldest cherry tree in Japan.

Day 8: Depart Tokyo
Say goodbye to Japan as you depart from Tokyo, cherishing the memories of the enchanting cherry blossoms that adorned your journey.

Itinerary #4: Traditional Japan: Tokyo, Kanazawa & Kyoto

For those seeking an authentic and local experience, this traditional Japan itinerary is the perfect choice. Explore the historic districts of Tokyo, visit Kanazawa’s famous garden, and immerse yourself in the cultural wonders of Kyoto.

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
Upon arrival in Tokyo, dive into the historic district of Asakusa and visit the iconic Senso-ji Shrine. Explore the bustling Kappabashi Street and marvel at the Tokyo SkyTree for panoramic views of the city.

Day 2: Tokyo Modernity & Tradition Tour
Discover the harmonious blend of modernity and tradition in Tokyo. Visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, known for its impressive modern art collection. Stroll through the beautiful Kenroku-en garden and admire its classic beauty.

Day 3: Transfer to Kanazawa, Explore the City
Travel to Kanazawa and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage. Wander through the charming streets and visit historic attractions such as Kanazawa Castle and Higashi Chaya District.

Day 4: Day Trip to Shirakawa-go
Embark on a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go. Marvel at the traditional gassho-zukuri houses and soak in the picturesque views of the Hida Mountains.

Day 5: Transfer to Kyoto, Historic Neighborhoods & Temples
Take a train to Kyoto and explore the historic neighborhoods of Higashiyama and Gion. Visit renowned temples such as Sanjusangen-do Temple and Yasaka Pagoda, and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Day 6: Discover Fushimi Inari Shrine
Dedicate a day to exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its thousands of vibrant torii gates. Take a leisurely hike through the enchanting trails and discover hidden treasures along the way.

Day 7: Day Trip to the Bamboo Forests of Arashiyama
Spend a day surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Explore the iconic Tenryu-ji Temple and cross the scenic Togetsukyo Bridge. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby monkey park for a unique wildlife experience.

Day 8: Transfer to Osaka, Depart
Conclude your journey in Japan by departing from Osaka. Take one final stroll through the vibrant streets of Osaka before bidding farewell to this traditional and captivating country.

Itinerary #5: Winter on the Nakasendo Trail: Kyoto, Kiso Valley & Tokyo

For adventurous travelers seeking a unique winter experience in Japan, this eight-day itinerary on the Nakasendo Trail offers a magical journey through snowy landscapes, picturesque villages, and vibrant cities.

Day 1: Arrive in Kyoto
Begin your winter adventure in Kyoto, the starting point of the Nakasendo Trail. Explore the historic city and immerse yourself in its cultural treasures.

Day 2: Trek from Nakatsugawa to Magome
Embark on the Nakasendo Trail, starting from Nakatsugawa and trekking to the charming village of Magome. Experience the beauty of the snow-covered forests along the Magome Pass.

Day 3: Magome to Tsumago
Continue your hike along the Nakasendo Trail from Magome to Tsumago. Enjoy the stunning scenery as you walk through picturesque villages and traditional Japanese houses.

Day 4: Tsumago, Nagiso & Kiso-Fukushima
Visit the historic village of Tsumago and explore its well-preserved Edo-era buildings. Take a train to Kiso-Fukushima and relax in a traditional ryokan, indulging in the soothing hot springs.

Day 5: Kiso-Fukushima to Narai
Resume your hike from Kiso-Fukushima and make your way to the charming village of Narai. Immerse yourself in the tranquil winter scenery as you traverse the Nakasendo Trail.

Day 6: Narai, Kiso-Hirasawa & Asama Onsen
Experience the unique atmosphere of Narai before hiking to Kiso-Hirasawa. Take a train to Matsumoto and visit the famous Matsumoto Castle. Indulge in some relaxation at the Asama Onsen.

Day 7: Train to Tokyo
Travel by train to Tokyo and conclude your winter adventure with a night in the vibrant city. If you have the energy, explore the beautiful Hama-Rikyu Gardens.

Day 8: Depart Japan
Bid farewell to Japan as you depart from Tokyo, carrying the memories of your incredible winter journey along the Nakasendo Trail.

More Great Japan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Japan? Check out these other Japan itineraries, offering outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to highlight the diverse aspects of Japan.

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