JAPAN ITINERARY 14 DAYS
Japan Itinerary 14 Days - Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Himeji and Hiroshima. This Japan itinerary will let you experience the best of Japan.
Focus on the
highlights of Japan including traditional Japan with its temples, shrines,
gardens, castles and geisha plus modern Tokyo with its shopping and fashion. A 14 day trip to Japan
will allow you time to see many of Japan's highlights without being too
It is best if you can fly into Japan via Narita Airport and then depart via Kansai Airport (Osaka). Using this route (or the reverse) will save you half a day of travel and potentially significant savings on train or air fares.
Most flights arrive in the late afternoon or evening into Narita Airport. After clearing customs head to the station at Narita Airport to catch the JR Narita Express to Shinjuku Station. We recommend staying in Shinjuku as it is centrally located, close to most of the highlights of Tokyo and has excellent transport links. From Shinjuku Station either walk or catch a cab to your hotel. There is a full range of Tokyo Hotels with guarantee lowest rates on our Tokyo page.
Day 1: Self Guided Tour of Shibuya
Shibuya is the trendy and fashionable shopping district of Tokyo. Ideally this tour should be on a Sunday as this is when you can see the best of the Harajuku fashion, which normally appears in the afternoon. You can continue to explore the shops, restaurants and cafes into the evening.
In the morning start you exploration of Shibuya from Shibuya Station and work your walk towards Harajuku. There are many major shopping centre buildings and department stores around the Shibuya Station area. Use our Shibuya Map to help plan your walk. Some of the key highlights not to miss are:
Shibuya 109 Building, Omotesando and Takeshita-Dori, Meiji Jingu shrine and the Harajuku fashion (mainly weekends, particularly Sunday afternoon) on the bridge across to Meiji Jingu shrine.
Meiji Jingu shrine is a popular and picturesque Japanese Shinto Shrine set in a forest of 120,000 evergreen trees which block out the noise of the city. If you are lucky you may see a traditional Japanese wedding, but you should at least see some of the Shrine maiden walking through the shrine complex.
Day 2: - Mt Fuji and Hakone Day Tour
Mt Fuji is very difficult to access via public transport and while there are locations such as Hakone that can be accessed easily via public transport the views of Mt Fuji will still be quite distant. The best option is take an organised tour such as Mt Fuji and Hakone Day Tour from Tokyo: Return By Bullet Train.
On this tour you'll enjoy lunch on Mt Fuji, cruise Lake Ashi and ride the aerial cableway at Mount Komagatake for sweeping views of the celebrated Hakone National Park. You will need to book this tour at least four days in advance.
Day 3: Self Guided Day Tour - Ueno Park
If you are in Tokyo in Cherry Blossom season (end of March through early April) then you will be delighted to visit Ueno Park. In other seasons it is still worth visiting, but you may choose to spend less time there. Ueno Park includes the following attractions:
Toshogu Shrine was built in 1617 is considered to be valuable for its historical architecture, Grand Oishi Torii Gate and bronze garden lanterns. It is open every day of the year.
Bentendo Hall Temple
Bentendo Hall Temple is a Benzaiten Temple on an island in the the middle of Shinobazu Pond.
Tokyo National Museum
National Museum of Western Art
Tokyo National Science Museum
In the evening you can stay on to enjoy the party atmosphere or head back to the bright lights and night life of Shinjuku or Roppongi.
Day 4: Nikko World Heritage Day Tour
This is an organised day tour to Nikko World Heritage, Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Kegon Waterfall.
Day 5 Shinjuku, Ginza and Akihabara
This self guided day tour takes in some of the key modern parts of central Tokyo.
First thing in the morning go to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which is the best observation deck in Tokyo. Going early in the morning gives you the best chance of seeing things in the distance including Mt Fuji. If you are staying in Shinjuku it may be easiest to walk to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, otherwise the closest station is normally Shinjuku Station.
If you have been staying in Shinjuku you may have already seen many of the highlights of Shinjuku, otherwise in Cherry Blossom season or if you like gardens head to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden via train. Get on at Shinjuku Station (Chuo Main Line) and get off at Sendagaya Station. While Shinjuku Gyoen may look close to Shinjuku Station, there are no entrances on that side and it will take a some time to walk around to the entrance. I would allow a minimum of one hour to walk around the key parts of the garden, but you could easily spend many more hours. It just depends on what your really want to get done in the day.
If you depart via the Shinjuku Gyoenmae Station (northern) side, then it is easy to take the train from there via the Marunouchi Line to Ginza. The key highlights of Ginza are all the buildings and shops along the two main intersecting streets, Chuo-dori and Harumi-dori. To walk the main parts of these streets would require around 60 to 90 minutes on foot. Allow more time then if you want to go into any of the stores or galleries; see Ginza Shopping for more details. Those who are particularly interested in fashion style shopping may prefer to finish their day in Ginza and then return to their hotel.
When you have finished in Ginza take the Ginza Line (subway) to Suehirocho Station which is located in Akihabara. There are two key aspects to Akihabara; high technology shopping and maid cafe (also called maido cafe). I suggest you read our Akihabara shopping to guide you on what is worth buying in Japan. If you walk around to Akihabara Station you will find several maid's standing there promoting their cafe. Pick up some of their flyers and go to the one(s) you like the best. This is a really fun part of modern Japanese culture.
Day 6: Tokyo to Hiroshima
You can travel to Hiroshima via Shinkansen or via train and plane. The travel times are similar. Most people travel via Shinkansen. The Shinkansen Nozomi service takes 242 minutes and the standard Shinkansen takes around 300 minutes. You cannot use the Nozomi service with a Japan Rail Pass.
Day 7: Hiroshima
Catch tram from your hotel or walk to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome, which is just a short distance from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Walk along the path next to the river and cross the bridge into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Alternatively you can go directly to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and observe the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome from the park.
You can spend your time exploring the park and viewing the monuments, then move on to the Shukkeien Garden by tram and/or walk to Hiroshima Castle.
Alternatively you can include the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum which is within the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Be warned, this museum presents some very confronting images that some may find disturbing or distressing. If you tour the museum, allow enough time to go to Shukkeien Garden by tram or walk to Hiroshima Castle. You will more than likely need an alternative environment to spend some time reflecting.
Day 8: Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)
Miyajima and its Itsukushima Shrine are one of the truly magical places in Japan. The Itsukushima Shrine Torii is also one of the most photographed sights in Japan. You can get to Miyajima Island via various routes including tram & ferry, train & ferry or ferry directly from the Peace Memorial Gardens. See Miyajima page for details.
In the afternoon return to your hotel to pick up your luggage or from Hiroshima Station if you left it in a locker. Then catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto Station, this should take around 110 minutes.
If you want to stay in the Cherry Blossom season (end of March through early April) then you should book at least three to four months in advance. The later you book, the fewer your options you will have and the higher the cost is likely to be. If you find that Kyoto is fully booked then you will still be able to stay in Osaka which is only 30 minutes away by express train.
Kyoto Highlights Day Tour
This organised tour allows you to see some of Kyoto's most popular attractions in one day. There is simply no way you could get to all these places in one day on public transport. The disadvantage is the tour will seem be a bit rushed. Detailed information on each of the attractions:
Kinkakuji - Golden Pavilion, The most famous temple in Kyoto and probably Japan. The temple is literally covered in gold!
Heian Jingu Shine, reflecting the elegance of daily life in the ancient Japanese court
Kiyomizu-dera Temple, with sweeping views of Kyoto from its lofty 13m high veranda and pure water fall.
Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho), the residence of the Imperial family until the capital was relocated to Tokyo in 1868
Sanjusangendo Hall, a long wooden hall housing 1,001 statues dating back to the 13th century
Nijo Castle, the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shogun
Day 10: Self Guided Day Tour
Catch train to Fushimi Inari Taisha as seen in the "Memoirs of a Geisha" movie. Then return via train to central Kyoto go up Kyoto Tower (near Kyoto Station) Then go to Ryoan-ji Temple via public bus. Ryoan-ji Temple is famous for its Zen garden.
In the evening go to Gion for dinner and explore the narrow streets lined with traditional Japanese tea house. Stay on the lookout for the Geisha and Maiko.
Day 11: Gion in the morning and Nara in the afternoon
Explore Kyoto by foot or bus in the morning: In the Gion region there are several parks and temples including: Yasaka Shrine in Maruyama Park.
Organised Afternoon Tour Nara Afternoon Tour - Todaiji, Deer Park, Kasuga Shrine
In the evening you might like to go to one of the theatres in the Gion district to see a performance traditional Japanese dance and music.
Day 12: Self Guide Tour of the Philosopher's Walk
Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk is the name given to a 2km-long path through north-eastern Kyoto. Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk covers five significant temples and two shrines.
Highlights of Kyoto's Philosopher's Walk in order heading south:
Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion) was built in the style of the Golden Pavilion. It features both a dry landscape garden and a lush moss garden.
Honen-in Temple is a beautiful secluded temple with a thatched gate.
Anrakuji Temple is very popular in cherry blossom season, early summer for its azaleas and late autumn for its leaves of red and orange.
Otoyo-jinja Shrine is listed as a Place of Scenic Beauty among the ancient temples and shrines gracing the Kyoto.
Nyakuoji Jinja Shrine is particularly popular in late autumn (fall) when the leaves of the surrounding trees have turned various shades of orange and red.
Eikan-do Zenrin-ji Temple is famous for its fall foliage and for its prominence in the past as a center of learning.
Nanzenji Temple is popular temple complex with a distinctive two-storey entrance gate (sanmon) and aqueduct.
While the path between the sites is only 2Km, you will walk significantly more than this as you explore the temples and shrines. There are several small Japanese cafes along the path where you can purchase lunch. The temples normally close around 5pm.
Day 13: Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is a World Heritage listed traditional Japanese castle. Himeji Castle is the best example of a Japanese castle as it is in near original condition, whereas almost all other castles are modern concrete reconstructions.
You can visit Himeji Castle as either:
An organised day tour from Kyoto or Osaka which includes a visit to the historic Hakutsuru Sake Brewery, or
Catch the train to Himeji, walk or catch the bus to Himeji Castle, have lunch in Himeji, then catch the train back to Osaka. Explore Osaka including Umeda and the Umeda Sky Building, working your way through Shinsaibashi to Namba and particularly Dotonbori in the evening for dinner.
Day 14: Departure Day
Alternative Day 2, 3 or 4: Kamakura and Yokohama
You can substitute this day trip for one of the tours from Day 2, 3 or 4.
This is a self guided one day tour. From Shinjuku Station take the Shonan-Shinjuku line to Ofuna Station, change to the Yokosuka line to Kamakura Station, change to Enoshima Dentetsu line to Hase Station. This trip takes about 77 minutes and one way is 1080 Yen. From the Hase Station it is about a 500m walk to Kotokuin Temple.
The Kotokuin Temple is renowned for the Great Buddha (大仏, daibutsu), a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amida Buddha which is one of the most famous icons of Japan. The statue stands at 13.35 meters high and weighs approximately 93 tons.
Kaikozan Hase-dera - Hase Kannon Temple
Head back towards Hase Station, half way along the path to on the right hand side is the path and entrance to Kaikozan Hase-dera (also known as the Hase Kannon Temple). Kaikozan Hase-dera is one of the great Buddhist temples in the city of Kamakura, famous for housing a massive wooden statue of Kannon (Goddess of Mercy). The temple is the fourth of the 33 stations of the Bandō Sanjūsankasho pilgrimage circuit dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten.
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Then return to Hase Station and catch the train back to Kamakura Station. From there head to the western side of Kamakura Station, pass the bus station, to the Komachi Shopping Street. Here you can either stop for lunch or head along the street heading north west to the entrance of the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most significant shrine in Kamakura
Now head back to Kamakura Station and take the Rapid Airport Narita train to Yokohama Station, then change to the Minatomirai Line and get off at the Minatomirai station. From there you will be able to see the Yokohama Landmark Tower, Yokohama Museum of Art and the Ferris Wheel at Yokohama Cosmo World. As you walk closer to the Yokohama Landmark Tower you will also see the Nippon Maru - Sail training Ship and the Yokohama Maritime Museum.
Yokohama Landmark Tower
Yokohama Landmark Tower is the tallest building in Japan. On the 69th floor there is an observatory, Sky Garden, from which one can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city, and on clear days Mt Fuji. From here it is about a 400m walk to Bashamichi (subway) Station along the way you will get to view and photograph the buildings and ships from a different angle. From Bashamichi Station take the Minatomirai Line two stops to Motoachichukagai Station.
Yokohama China Town
Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in Japan and one of the largest in the world featuring over 200 Chinese restaurants. You can choose to eat dinner here or at the next stop. Return to Bashamichi (subway) Station, take the the Minatomirai Line back to Yokohama Station. Change to the Yokohama City Blue line and get off at Shin-Yokohama Station. From there walk NW 300m then turn right into the side street and you will find the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum.
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum
Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is a ramen theme park devoted to Japanese ramen noodle soup. The museum/theme park is devoted to the Japanese ramen noodle soup and features a large recreation of Tokyo in 1958, the year instant noodles were invented. Within the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum are branches of famous ramen restaurants from Kyushu to Hokkaido.
Return to Shinjuku
From Shin-Yokohama Station take the Yokohama line to Kikuna Station change to the Tokyu-Toyoko Line (Commuter Limited Express) to Shibuya Station, change to the Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station.