The 7 Day Japan Travel Itinerary
Best of Japan in Just 7 Days
If you’re on the hunt for a 7 day Japan itinerary, I have good news and I have better news. The good news? It is absolutely possible to get a taste of Japan in just a week.
The better news? When you follow the recommendations I’m about to set forth, you can focus less on the nuts and bolts of traveling, and more on experiencing Japan.
Whether it’s your first trip to Japan and you want to focus on destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto, or you’re coming back and want to zero-in on somewhere more obscure, you’ll definitely want to continue reading.
The Reality of a Week in Japan
Let’s start with a dose of reality: A 7 day Japan itinerary isn’t enough to see everywhere in the country, or even close to it.
However, its DOABLE.
You’ll need to choose a limited range of destinations, and be as efficient as possible in the way you explore them, and how you travel between them. You won’t have a great deal of room for error.
Another thing that’s important to consider, particularly if you’re coming from Europe or North America, is the timing of your flights to Japan. Since you’re looking at a minimum of 12 hours in transit each way (plus a time change), you’ll need to devote at least 8-9 days of your life to enjoy 7 days on the ground in Japan.
Where to Go With a Week in Japan (if It’s Your First Time)
Not counting the day you land, I recommend you spend only your first two days in Japan in Tokyo. Spend one full day enjoying Tokyo’s tourist trail, from ancient Asakusa to futuristic Shibuya and everywhere in-between. On day two, you can either visit secondary attractions like eclectic Odaiba and hip Setagaya, or taking day trips to spots like Kamakura and Nikko.
PS – Tokyo is also one of the best places to visit during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan !
Continue your 7 day Japan itinerary by heading west toward Mt. Fuji. Note that I don’t (necessarily) mean climbing Fujisan, which requires at least part of two days. Rather, spend a night in either Kawaguchiko (in the Fuji Five Lakes region) or the hot springs town of Hakone, both of which offer phenomenal views of Japan’s tallest and most famous mountain.
After two days in the Tokyo area and one in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji, spend a day (preferably) two ticking off things to do in Kyoto. I recommend focusing on the temples of historical Higashiyama on day one, then visiting Sagano Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama and/or Fushimi Inari Shrine (which you can combined with a half-day trip to deer-filled Nara) on day two. Both, the Sagano Bamboo Grove and the Fushimi Inari Shrine are some of the most Instagrammable locations in Japan. Yes, they will be crowded, but if you are smart, you will manage to get a few Insta Worthy shots.
If you decide to spend just one full day in Kyoto, you can add a one-day trip to underrated Osaka to you 7 day Japan itinerary. Whether you come here for the day (Kyoto is just 30 minutes by train each-way) or get a hotel, divide your time between ancient attractions like Osaka Castle and Shi-tenno-ji temple, and the neon lights and street food of modern Dotonbori pedestrian street.
Is Hiroshima worth visiting? Yes, and not just for the reasons you imagine. After riding a Shinkansen bullet train from Kyoto or Osaka to Hiroshima, pay your respects at the Hiroshima Peace Park and A-Bomb Dome. Before sunset, ride a local train to Miyajimaguchi, where you can take a ferry to Miyajima island and its famous, “floating” Itsukushima Shrine.
The 7 Day Japan Travel Itinerary
Day 1 and 2 – Tokyo
Day 3 – Fuji Five Lakes Region
Day 4 and 5 – Kyoto – Higashiyama | Sagano Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama | Fushimi Inari Shrine
Day 6 – Osaka – Osaka Castle | Shi-tenno-ji temple | Dotonbori pedestrian street
Day 7 – Hiroshima | Miyajimaguchi | Miyajima island | Itsukushima Shrine.
A Week in Japan for Returning Travelers
If you’ve traveled to Japan in the past and want to spend another week there, you’ll likely want to jettison the tourist trail entirely. The most manageable option for doing this would be traveling off the main island of Honshu. This could involved visiting balmy Kyushu or Shikoku (Japan’s most spiritual island), skiing for a week in Hokkaido, or beaching it up in the Okinawa archipelago.
Return visitors can also devote their 7 day Japan itinerary to exploring a lesser-visited region. Tohoku north of Tokyo is a veritable winter wonderland, while a trip to San’in in Japan’s far west is like a trip back in time. Hokuriku, on the Sea of Japan coast, centers around Kanazawa, i.e. the “Kyoto of the North.”
Longer Trips to Japan
As a general rule, I do recommend spending at least two weeks in Japan—especially if this is your first time. For travelers who plan to stay along the tourist trail, this allows you to spend more time both in Tokyo and Kyoto, and prevents you from having to choose between Mt. Fuji, Osaka or any other number of destinations between Tokyo and Hiroshima.
More broadly I’d say the answer to how long to spend in Japan is “as long as possible,” even if you’re on a return trip and want to explore off the beaten path. While you can discover aforementioned Shikoku in just a week, for example, having two weeks (or longer) allows you to dig deeper into its nooks and crannies, and to attune yourself to its famously slow pace of life.
The Bottom Line
Whether you need a 7 day Japan itinerary for a first-time trip or to come back and dig deeper, you’re in the right place. On one hand, a week isn’t very long to explore a huge, diverse, rich country like Japan. On the other hand, if you’ve got a good plan and a commitment to execute it, you can cover more ground than you expect. Japan, after all, is as much about the experiences you have as it is the destinations you visit. You’re just as likely to find magic strolling down a random street as watching the sunset behind Fujisan.
We hope you found this 7 Day Japan Travel Itinerary, to be of help to you, as a reliable Travel Resource for planning your Trip to Japan. Don’t forget to Pin these images, and save this One Week Japan Travel Itinerary, for future travel planning.
If you enjoyed reading this 7 Day Japan Itinerary and Travel Guide, you might want to check out some other 7 Day Travel Guides and Itineraries, for other Asian / South East Asian destinations as well.
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Robert Schrader created Japan Starts Here in 2018, in order to de-mystify the country to an English-speaking audience. Since then it’s become a popular source of Japan travel information, both for first-time visitors and seasoned veterans. Once you’re done checking out the site, make sure to follow Japan Starts Here on Instagram.