The Ideal Japan Itinerary 14 Days
UPDATED September 2019!
The IDEAL Japan Itinerary 14 Days
If you have 2 weeks in Japan to spare, consider yourself pretty lucky. The country is filled with so many different cities, activities and attractions, and 14 days is a great amount of time to spend exploring it all. This Japan itinerary will take you to several different cities throughout the country – both major ones like Tokyo and smaller ones like Takayama. That is just one reason why Japan is such a great country – there is a little bit of everything for everyone. I am hoping this Japan 2 week itinerary will help you out with planning your trip and answer any questions you may have along the way!
Before jumping into the itinerary itself, I wanted to list out some helpful tips to know about Japan and this itinerary in particular:
» Assume that day 1 and day 14 are full days. That means you should plan to arrive the night before or early on day 1 and head out later on day 14 or sometime on day 15.
» You can go about the trip in a few different ways – either starting and ending in Tokyo, starting and ending in Osaka, or starting in one of the two and ending in the other. I will go about the itinerary as if you would be flying into and out of Tokyo as that is one of the more popular options out there.
» Japan is super connected by high speed bullet trains and you will be utilizing them (and other trains) during your time in the country. It is most useful to purchase a 14 Day JR Pass before heading out to Japan. Essentially a JR Pass gives you unlimited travel travel on JR specific trains, subways and busses throughout the country. The JR Pass can be used on many of the more expensive routes in the country and will save you some money along the way. It should be noted though that not all trains are included with the JR Pass, especially when dealing with travel within cities. I will talk about that more in the next few bullet points. Check out in the chart below how much you can save with the JR Pass if you follow along with this itinerary (15,660 JPY or $145 USD!!) and that doesn’t even include travel within cities:
» When looking at train schedules to travel between cities, head on over to Hyperdia, the Japan train website. On the left hand side of the page you can browse different route options by day and time. If you decide to get a JR Pass, you will want to uncheck the “NOZOMI / MIZUHO / HAYABUSA (SHINKANSEN)” and “Private Railway” boxes under the “More options” section. These trains ARE NOT covered with the JR Pass.
» When looking at train schedules to travel within cities, it may be difficult to stick to JR specific routes (if you have the JR Pass) as many subways, busses, etc, are run by private railway companies. So if looking for routes on Hyperdia, I would advise not to uncheck the “Private Railway” box as that would vastly limit your options (although you could give it a try and see what comes up). Instead I would just head to Google Maps, input your destination, and go from there. Usually trains and busses within cities cost somewhere around 200 JPY or $2 USD.
» Another popular way to travel is to purchase an IC Card (these can be in the form of Pasmo, Suica, ICOCA). An IC card is just a reloadable card that can be used on almost all trains, subways, and busses around the country. So, instead of purchasing individual train tickets each time, just swipe your IC card and be on you way. If you have a JR Pass, you can use that for your longer more expensive routes and you can also get an IC card for your travel within cities.
» Since this is a longer itinerary you will need to book a few different hotels during your time in Japan. If you follow the exact layout below, you will be staying 4 nights in Tokyo, 2 nights in Takayama, 1 night in Kanazawa, 4 nights in Kyoto, and 2 nights in Hiroshima. Based on preference there are also several day trip options that you can visit which I will go into more detail throughout the itinerary.
» Check out the Japan Helpful Tips Guide that goes into more detail about the JR Pass, how to go about buying it and plenty more helpful things to know before heading to Japan.
Japan Itinerary 14 Days Map View
Take a look at the map below which shows you where each city that is part of this itinerary is located throughout the country. You will start the journey at the northern most point (Tokyo) and begin the journey south to Hiroshima. The itinerary also adds in several day trips along the way – including Kamakura, Nara and Miyajima (starred). Once the trip is complete you will then take one last train back to Tokyo or depart from Osaka.
A Detailed Japan Itinerary 14 Days
Below you will find a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this Japan 2 week itinerary. The itinerary as a whole is a combination of several different guides I currently have up on the site – these include 5 Days in Tokyo, a Tokyo to Kamakura Day Trip, a Tokyo to Hakone Day Trip, What to do in Takayama, Things to do in Kanazawa, a Shirakawago Day Trip, 3 Days in Kyoto, a Nara Day Trip from Kyoto, and guides to Hiroshima and Miyajima.
Yes, I know it is a lot of additional information but by taking a look at those guides, you should spend much less time running around the internet figuring it all out. In the itinerary below I will not go into too much detail about each and every attraction or activity, so if you do want to learn more about something in particular feel free to click on the more in depth posts along the way.
Table of Contents
- Where to Stay in Tokyo
- Where to Stay in Kyoto
- Where to Stay in Takayama
- Where to Stay in Kanazawa
- Where to Stay in Hiroshima
- Day 1 – Tokyo
- Day 2 – Tokyo
- Day 3 – Tokyo
- Day 4 – Kamakura Day Trip
- Day 5 – Hakone / Travel to Kyoto
- Day 6 – Takayama
- Day 7 – Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa
- Day 8 – Kanazawa / Travel to Kyoto
- Day 9 – Kyoto
- Day 10 – Kyoto
- Day 11 – Nara Day Trip
- Day 12 – Kyoto / Travel to Hiroshima
- Day 13 – Miyajima
- Day 14 – Hiroshima
Over the course of the trip, the itinerary runs through 5 different places that you will be staying .- Tokyo (4 nights), Takayama (2 nights), Kanazawa (1 night), Kyoto (4 nights) and Hiroshima (2 nights). Below you will find some accommodation recommendations for each one of those places.
Where to Stay in Tokyo
Since Tokyo is such a large city with so many distinct neighborhoods, it can get confusing to understand where the best places to stay are. In my eyes there are a couple of neighborhoods that stick out to me when it comes to the most convenient (and fun!) options.
A) Shinjuku: #1 on my list is the area of Shinjuku. You will have Shinjuku station nearby when traveling to other parts of Tokyo (and day trips), a ton of nightlife and restaurant options, as well as many of the activities mentioned in this itinerary not too far away. There is always something going on in Shinjuku and it will definitely not disappoint.
B) Shibuya: not too far away from Shinjuku is the Shibuya neighborhood. Famous for the Shibuya Crossing, it is also filled with plenty of shops and restaurants all around its streets.
C) Tokyo Station: moving a bit to the east of Shinjuku and Shibuya is the Tokyo Station area. It is centrally located right nearby the main transport hub making it super easy to get everywhere, and you will also be in walking distance to some of the city’s main attractions.
Of course there are plenty of other neighborhoods to choose from but I think that should be a great starting point to help you out.
Where to Stay in Kyoto
While there are many different neighborhoods to choose from I would recommend staying near the downtown Kyoto area. Here you will find plenty of accommodation options at various price points alongside all the restaurant and shopping you can imagine. It also offers easy accessibility to visit all other parts of Kyoto either by bus or by subway. Below are some mid range and luxury options all within walking distance from downtown (a few being a 20 minute or so walk).
Where to Stay in Takayama
The main tourist area of Takayama is not that large and you should have no trouble getting a hotel for a night or two within a 10-15 walk of it all. Being close to the train station is a good idea too as both the trains and busses leave from there. Below are some different places to take a look at when planning a trip to Takayama.
Hostel / Budget Options
2. Relax Hostel
Where to Stay in Kanazawa
Kanazawa has plenty of accommodation options to choose from and many of them are right nearby the attractions listed below. Staying nearby the train station can also be a good idea so you won’t need to worry much about getting from the station to your accommodation. Below are some options to choose from alongside some top budget picks too.
5. UAN Kanazawa
Where to Stay in Hiroshima
If you do opt for an overnight in Hiroshima, here is a list of some highly recommended hotel options around the area. Feel free to check out Booking.com for plenty more.
5) Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima (farther out near train station)
Day 1 – Tokyo
The first four days of this itinerary will have you based in Tokyo (3 days in the city & a day trip to Kamakura). With that said, feel free to move around days as you see fit. The attractions and activities on the days themselves are easiest done in the order mentioned (i.e. Shibuya to Meiju Jingu to Shinjuku) but it doesn’t matter much if you switch the order of the days. You can also move around the day trip to Kamakara earlier on as well.
Below I will just list out the different places to visit on a day to day basis. If you want a more detailed approach to your time in the city, head on over to the comprehensive Tokyo Itinerary I have up on the site
You will start off the two week trip in the capital city of Tokyo. For the next three days you will explore the city hitting a variety of attractions along the way. On your first day in Tokyo you can head off to several of the city’s main attractions including:
1. Ueno Park
2. Ameyayokocho Street
3. Senso-ji Temple
4. Tokyo Skytree
Take a look at some Japan travel guides to better prepare you for your trip:
Day 2 – Tokyo
On your second day in Tokyo it is time to focus in on the Shibuya and Shinjuku neighborhoods. If you are staying in either one, all you need to do is walk out your door and start off your day. I will list out the attractions starting in Shibuya and ending in Shinjuku but you can easily go about the day the other way around as well.
1. Shibuya Crossing
4. Harajuku / Takeshita Dori
5. Meiji Jingu Shrine
6. Tokyo Metropolitan Building
Day 3 – Tokyo
On your last full day in Tokyo itself, you can head to a famous fish market, check out the Imperial Palace and Gardens, and then visit any other attractions you may not have had time for previously.
1. Tsujiki Market
2. Imperial Palace & East Gardens
3. Remaining Attractions
Odds are you may have other places you want to visit during your time in Tokyo. You should have some time on day 3 to add anything else you want to experience. If you were not able to complete any other activities from day 1 or 2, you can add them in here as well.
Day 4 – Kamakura Day Trip
On day 4 you can take a great day trip from Tokyo to the beachside town of Kamakura. Now there is A LOT more to Kamakura than just the beach though – temples, hiking, and of course the famous Great Buddha. It is an easy day trip to take part of with plenty of trains going in either direction multiple times per hour. Simply head to Tokyo or Shinjuku Station and be on your way. A day trip to Kamakura will include:
1. Engaku-ji Temple
2. Jochi-ji Temple
3. Daibutsu Hiking Trail
4. Kotoku-in Daibutsu Great Buddha
5. Hase-dera Temple
6. Yuigahama Beach
7. Kamakura Shopping Street
Note that I started my trip by getting off at Kita-Kamakura station (one stop before Kamakura Station) as that stop is closer to the hiking trail I mention in the guide. If you do not want to take part of the hiking trail, then you can get off at Kamakura Station instead.
Take a look at the Tokyo to Kamakura Day Trip Guide for more!
Day 5 – Hakone / Travel to Kyoto
Day 5 of your 14 day trip to Japan will have you on the move. Starting in Tokyo you will head on over to the beautiful city of Hakone for the day before heading off to Takayama later in the evening. Since this will be a travel day you will need to figure out luggage logistics and there are two ways to handle that – 1) Store the luggage in lockers at either Odawara or Hakone-Yumoto Station or 2) Send your luggage ahead to your Takayama hotel using the efficient Takuhaibin luggage forwarding service. Your hotel should be able to help out with this and for about $20 a piece, your luggage will be waiting for you in your Takayama hotel when you arrive.
You will start the day at either Tokyo or Shinjuku Station, make your way all the way to Hakone-Yumoto and begin the famous Hakone Round Course Circuit. This will take you on trains, cable cars, ropeways, boats, and busses as you complete one of the most scenic routes that Japan has to offer with Mount Fuji right nearby.
Travel Tip: This is the exact travel day I had when visiting Japan. I left Tokyo EARLY in the morning to get the most out of Hakone. I then stored my luggage at the station, headed off on the circuit, and picked up my luggage at day’s end. I then took the 6:08PM train with a switch in Nagoya, that got into Takayama at 10:49PM. Below is a screenshot from the Hyperdia website of the train details.
Head on over to the Tokyo to Hakone Round Course Guide to learn more
Note: if you do not want to make this a travel day (Tokyo – Hakone – Takayama), you also have the option to make this a day trip to Hakone on days 1-4 (Tokyo – Hakone – Tokyo). That way you will not need to worry as much about your luggage.
Take a look at some Japan travel guides to better prepare you for your trip:
Day 6 – Takayama
Today will be a full day of exploring everything that the city of Takayama has to offer. Takayama is a not as big as some other cities in Japan, but it does have a more historic and unique feel to it. You can spend the day walking from one site to the next as you get a good sense of the city and take in all the different sites and sounds. Below are the main places you can make your way to during your time in Takayama:
1. Miyagawa Morning Market
2. Kusakabe Heritage House
3. Yoshijima Heritage House
4. Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine
5. Sanmachi Old Town
6. Sake Breweries
7. Takayama Jinya
Read up on the What To Do in Takayama Japan Guide for everything you need to know about exploring the city
Day 7 – Shirakawa-go & Kanazawa
It is now time to head out of Takayama and onto the next couple cities as part of this 14 day Japan itinerary. Day 7 will bring you on a Shirakawa-go day trip before making your way to Kanazawa later in the afternoon. If you are not familiar with Shirakawa-go, it is a small village that lays in the middle of a valley with the Japanese mountains surrounding it. The village is full of these traditional styled thatched roof houses spread throughout the land, and it is definitely one of the most unique places that you will visit during your trip.
To get to Shirakawa-go from Takayama, all you need to do is hop on a Nohi Bus from Takayama station that will bring you straight to Shirakawa-go in less than an hour. Once there, simply drop your luggage off at the bus station lockers, and spend the next few hours exploring all that Shirakawa-go has to offer.
To learn more about Shirakawa-go, what to do there, and travel logistics, take a look at the Shirakawa-go Day Trip Guide up on the site
Once all finished up with Shirakawa-go, head back to the bus station, where you will catch another Nohi Bus to Kanazawa.
You should be in Kanazawa sometime in the mid afternoon, which should give you time to explore some of the city before day’s end. The rest of day 7 as well as most of day 8 will be spent heading to Kanazawa’s main attractions all around the city. Take a look right below for what to do in Kanazawa over your 1.5 days there. Feel free to split up the activities over days 7/8 as you see fit.
Day 8 – Kanazawa / Travel to Kyoto
When I visited Kanazawa, I made my way to 9 different attractions all throughout the city. It included everything from gardens to markets to castles and much more! Feel free to check out any and all of the below:
1. Tsuzumi-mon Gate
2. Omicho Market
3. Kazuemachi District
4. Higashi Chaya District
5. Kenrokuen Gardens
6. Kanazawa Castle Park
7. Museum of Contemporary Art
8. Oyama Shrine
9. Nagamachi Samurai District
Learn more about the city in the 9 Things To Do in Kanazawa Guide
At day’s end, head back to your hotel, grab your stuff, and make your way to Kanazawa Station. You can hop on the 2 hour train directly to Kyoto, where you will be spending the next several days.
Day 9 – Kyoto
Now that you are in Kyoto, it is time to explore the city and the vast amount of attractions that it has to offer. This itinerary goes over 3 days in the city itself and then takes you on a day trip to Nara. Similar to Tokyo – feel free to move things around in whichever way you see fit.
Head on over to the 3 Day Kyoto Itinerary for all you need to know about the city
Your first day in Kyoto will have you seeing some of the best that the city has to offer. It will be a full day of sightseeing as you make your way down the east side of the city, stopping by plenty of temples and attractions along the way including:
1. Ginkaku-ji Temple
2. Philosophers Path
3. Nanzen-ji Temple
4. Chion-in Temple
5. Marayuma Koen Park
6. Kodai-ji Temple
7. Ninen and Sannen zaka
8. Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Day 10 – Kyoto
It is time to continue exploring all that Kyoto has to offer. Day 10 will bring you some of the most well known spots in Kyoto (do be prepared for the crowds!). These will include:
1. Kinkaku-ji Temple
2. Ryoan-ji Temple
3. Tenryu-ji Temple
4. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
5. Arashiyama Monkey Park
Day 11 – Nara Day Trip
On your third day in Kyoto, you can make the day trip to Nara. If you have not seen the pictures or read about Nara before, imagine a town with thousands of deer roaming all around. Heading to the park, checking out temples, going on a hike – well you are sure to pass deer everywhere you go. And there is much more to Nara than just the deer. During your time in Nara be sure to check out:
1. Sanjo-dori Street & Nakatanidou Mochi Shop
2. Kofukuji Temple
3. Nara Park
4. Yoshikien or Isuien Garden
5. Todaiji Temple Complex
6. Nigatsudo and Hokkedo (part of Todaiji)
7. Mount Wakakusayama
8. Kasuga Taisha
Be sure to read through the Nara Day Trip Guide for everything you need to know about the day
Day 12 – Kyoto / Travel to Hiroshima
Your last day in Kyoto itself will take you to some more of Kyoto’s main attractions as well as one of the best food markets out there. You can follow this route for the day before heading to Hiroshima:
1. Nishiki Market
2. Nijo Castle
3. Imperial Palace
4. Fushimi Inari
Travel Note: your next stop on this 2 week Japan itinerary will be the Hiroshima / Miyajima area. At day’s end you can hop on a train to Hiroshima from Kyoto. The train ride should take about 2-2.5 hours as you make your way to your final stop of the trip.
–> Don’t forget to head to the Gion area one night – maybe you will be lucky enough to spot a geisha!
Take a look at some Japan travel guides to better prepare you for your trip:
Day 13 – Miyajima
Although you will be staying in Hiroshima, your first day around the area will take you to the island of Miyajima. You can start the day by taking a train to Miyajimaguchi (30 minutes), and then take the ferry from there to Miyajima (10 minutes).
In Miyajima, you can see the famous Itsukushima Shrine complex and its massive torii gate, check out some other temples such as Senjokaku and Daisho-in Temple, and then make your way to Mt. Misen by cable car or by hiking. After seeing everything you would want to see in Miyajima, head back to the mainland by ferry, take the train to Hiroshima, and then head back to your hotel for the night.
The Things To Do in Miyajima Guide up on the site has more helpful info to get you prepared for your time there
Day 14 – Hiroshima
On your last day in Japan, head on over to the main area of Hiroshima. Many of the city’s attractions are not too far apart from one another so you should have no problem visiting all the sites in a day. You can visit things such as the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Peace Memorial Park, the Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Castle.
Read up on the One Day Hiroshima Itinerary for everything you need to know about the city
Once done in Hiroshima, you can make your way back to Tokyo (or Osaka) to catch your flight out, either sometime on day 14 or in the morning on day 15. The train ride to Tokyo is a long one (4+ hours) so do consider that when planning out your logistics.
If you are traveling back to Osaka or Tokyo on day 15 be aware of when you activate your JR Pass, since it is only valid for 14 days. You will be better off waiting an extra day at the beginning to activate it so it will cover your more expensive train ride on day 15.
I hope that this itinerary has helped you out a bit more to prepare you for 14 days in Japan. The country is filled with just so much to see and do, and I am hoping this guide has made it a bit easier for you to figure it all out. Head over to the Japan itineraries and guides page to check out some more helpful posts, and feel free to comment below with any questions! Have fun out there and safe travels!