Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.
During the Jomon period, which began around 10,000 BC, the inhabitants of Japan lived by fishing, hunting, and gathering. The period is named after the cord-markings (jomon) on the pottery they produced. In the Yayoi period, beginning around 300 BC, rice cultivation was introduced from the Korean Peninsula.
Day 1-2: TOKYO
Arrive in Tokyo. While you could easily spend 7 or more days just in Tokyo, you’ll have to do the abbreviated version in order to see more of the country. Follow this 3-day Tokyo itinerary for food lovers.
Day 3: HAKONE/MT. FUJI
Transfer to Hakone. This is the place to go if you want to experience a traditional onsen (hot springs). The onsens are separated by gender and are a “no bathing suit” style traditional bath. You can also take the cable car to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Day 4: KYOTO
Transfer to Kyoto. You’ll want to see the temples of Kyoto, including the Fushimi Inari Shrine and Golden Temple, visit Nishiki Market, see the geishas walking around the city center, and go to a traditional kaiseki dinner.
Here’s a 3-day Kyoto itinerary that will get you to all the major sights in the city. When you’re done with those, you can expand your trip with these day trips from Kyoto.
Day 5: KYOTO
If you’re happy to keep hanging out in Kyoto, you can spend the full day. Another option is to take a midday JR train to Nara Park to feed the roaming deer, see the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, and one of the tallest pagodas in Japan.
In the evening, whether you’re in Kyoto still or in Nara, take the JR train onward to Osaka.
Day 6: OSAKA
In Osaka, be sure to visit Dotonbori Street to try all the Japanese specialties, like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Visit Osaka Castle and Park, and check out the Instant Ramen Museum. If you have time, visit the food-focused Kuromon Ichiba Market.
Here’s a 2-day itinerary for Osaka that you can mine for ideas of how to spend your time in this fun city.
Day 7: KOBE
You may have to fly or take the train back to Tokyo on your 7th day in order to fly back home, but if you have one more day to spend, we recommend taking the 30-minute train ride to Kobe to try the famous Kobe beef, then stop off in Kobe’s Nada district for a tasting at a few sake breweries.
Fly out or take the train from Osaka.