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    Japan Itinerary 14 Days including Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Himeji and Hiroshima. This 14 day Japan itinerary will let you experience the best of Japan visiting many of the most famous historic sites along with beautiful Japanese gardens. This itinerary has a strong focus traditional Japan with its temples, shrines, gardens, castles and geisha plus modern Tokyo with its shopping and fashion. This 14 day Japan itinerary is designed to allow you time to see many of Japan’s highlights without being too rushed.

    Day 1 – Tokyo – 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 then walk towards Harajuku. There are many major shopping centre buildings and department stores around the Shibuya Station area.

    Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko Statue

    The famous scramble crossing outside of Shibuya Station, where the famous Hachiko (dog) statue stands.
    Allow: 15 minutes
    Access:

    A taxi in the middle of Shibuya Crossing

    A taxi in the middle of Shibuya Crossing

    Shibuya – Shopping

    Have lunch and shop at the famous stores in Shibuya including the 109 Building. See Shibuya Shopping Guide.
    Allow: 60 to 120 minutes or days if you have time.
    Access: Cross the scramble crossing and you are there.

    Meiji Shrine

    Most popular shrine in Tokyo.
    Allow: 60 to 120 minutes
    Access: 2 minutes walk to the surrounding park land from Harajuku Station (JR)

    Takeshita Dori

    Famous street for youthful fashion
    Allow: 20 to 60 minutes
    Access: 2 minutes walk back to Harajuku Station (JR), then just cross the road.

    Omotesando

    Day 2 – Mt Fuji & Hakone

    Visit and experience this most famous icon of Japan on our most popular organised tour: Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi and Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo (see linked page for more details). Weather permitting, there will be many chances to see Mt Fuji on the drive to the mountain and from some of the locations that you will stop along the way. During this time you will have a chance to see Mt Fuji from different angles and with different cloud formations in the scene. The tour includes the following:

    Mt Fuji - 0648

    Mt Fuji

    Day 3 – Tokyo – 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:

    Tokyo National Museum

    Open: 9:30am-5pm close on Mondays
    Fee: 620 Yen
    Allow: 1 to 2 hours.
    Access:  to Ueno Station, which in the corner of the park.

    Cherry Blossom over Shinobazu Pond - Ueno Park Tokyo - 0841

    Cherry Blossom over Shinobazu Pond Ueno Park

    Return to Shinjuku

    During cherry blossom season eat dinner for a cafe in or opposite Ueno Station. Otherwise return to Shinjuku to eat dinner from one of the many restaurants and cafes in the area.

    Day 4 – Nikko

    The fourth day of this 4 Day Tokyo Itinerary is the Nikko National Park Day Trip from Tokyo (see linked page for more details). The UNESCO World Heritage listed Toshogu Shrine is a large complex which contains the famous carvings of the three wise monkeys who hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. The tour includes the following:

    From Ginza Station or Shinjuku Station, assuming you aren’t staying in Shinjuku, you can go out on your own and explore these amazing areas. Ginza with its streets lined with the who’s who of international fashion brands along with cream of the Japanese fashion brands. While the stores are unlikely to still be open, they still present an impressive view including some areas with neon signage.

    Yomeimon Gate, Nikko Toshogu Shrine - 0575

    Yomeimon Gate, Nikko Toshogu Shrine

    Day 5 – Shinjuku, Ginza and Akihabara

    This self guided day tour takes in some of the key modern parts of central Tokyo.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observation Deck

    First thing in the morning go to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which is one of the best observation decks in Tokyo. Going early in the morning gives you the best chance of seeing things in the distance including Mount 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.

    Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

    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.

    Cherry Blossom next to lake - Shinjuku Gyoen 1916

    Cherry Blossom next to lake Shinjuku Gyoen

    Ginza

    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.

    Wako Department Store Ginza

    Wako Department Store Ginza

    Akihabara

    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

    The best way to travel to Hiroshima from Tokyo is via Shinkansen (bullet train), but the total travel times by plane 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, but you can use the standard Shinkansen.

    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.

    Hiroshima Peace Memorial also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome

    Hiroshima Peace Memorial also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome

    Day 8 – Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine

    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.

    Miyajima Torii Itsukushima Shrine

    Miyajima Torii Itsukushima Shrine

    Kyoto

    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.

    Day 9 – Kyoto Highlights Day Tour

    This Kyoto Highlights Day 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 may seem be a bit rushed. Detailed information on each of the attractions:

    Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

    Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

    Day 10 – Kyoto Geisha and Zen

    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.

    A straight section Vermilion Torii along a stone path at Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto

    A straight section Vermilion Torii along a stone path at Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto

    Day 11 – Gion in the morning and Nara in the afternoon

    Explore Kyoto by foot or bus in the morning: In the Gion district 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 theaters in the Gion district to see a performance traditional Japanese dance and music.

    Great Budda Hall (Daibutsuden) Todaiji Temple Nara

    Great Budda Hall (Daibutsuden) Todaiji Temple Nara

    Day 12 – Kyoto 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-story 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.

    Nanzenji Temple Kyoto - 6642

    Nanzenji Temple Kyoto

    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.

    Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Day 14 – Departure Day

    What you can do on this last day will depend on where you are departing Japan from and what time.

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