Japan Two Week Itinerary
Welcome to the Japan Two Week Itinerary!
Japan is truly one of the most unique countries to visit in the world. If it’s the temples, culture, food, people, architecture, or natural beauty, Japan has all of that and more. This Japan two week itinerary has you covered as you experience the best that this incredible country has to offer! Two weeks is a good amount of time to spend in Japan and you will get to see explore cities all throughout the country during your trip. This itinerary starts in Tokyo before making the journey south with stops at Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and ending at Hiroshima and Miyajima before turning back around. There will be no shortage of things to do throughout your time in Japan.
Before diving into the itinerary be sure to check out the Helpful Tips section to get you prepared for your trip.
Need a place to stay in Japan? Browse through some hotel options by city:
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 all the way to Hiroshima. There will also be a couple day trips thrown in there such as Kamakura (from Tokyo), Nara (from Osaka), and Miyajima (from Hiroshima). The itinerary will walk through it all and more. Once the trip is complete you will then take one last train back to Tokyo, where you will end your trip.
Japan Two Week Itinerary
Now lets get on to the actual trip! The following is a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this two week itinerary. Feel free to scroll through and click on any more in depth posts along the way.
An important note before getting into the itinerary itself – it is in your best interest to purchase a 14 Day Japan Rail (JR) Pass prior to your trip. This pass will get you tickets to trains throughout the trip and is sure to save you some money along the way. In the helpful tips article I go into more detail about purchasing the pass.
Day 1-3 – Tokyo
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. For an in depth review of what three days in Tokyo have to offer check out our Three Incredible Days in Tokyo guide. For a quick recap here is a list of the main highlights of what you will be able to see for the next three days:
(1) Metropolitan Government Building
(2) Imperial Palace
(3) Robot Restaurant
(4) Piss Alley
(5) Golden Gai
(1) Shibuya Crossing
(2) Shibuya Sightseeing
(3) Meiju Jingu Shrine
(4) Takeshita Dori
(1) Tsukiji Fish Market
I have highlighted a few top rated options for your stay in Tokyo:
Day 4 – Day Trip to Kamakura
After spending a few days in the city, it is time to take a quick day trip to Kamakura – a quick 1-hour trip on a JR train. Here you will be able to take part of a great hike that passes through the greenery of Kamakura and ending by the beach, where you can spend the rest of the afternoon. Take the train to the Kita-Kamakura station (not Kamakura station) as the start of the hike is only about 10 minutes away.
The hike itself is called Daibutsu and starts at the Jochi-ji Temple. Once you pass by the temple you will see the start of the path. It is quite a nice walk as you make your way though the forests and pass by parks and shrines along the way. You are also sure to see some great viewpoints as you continue along. The hike should be approximately an hour or so as you end up by the huge bronze Buddha statue at the Kotoku-in Temple. After the Big Buddha you can stop by the Hase-dera Temple – another great spot to check out with its hundreds of small statues.
After your hike is complete spend the rest of the day walking along and lounging by the beach. You can have some lunch nearby and just walk around the area before calling it a day. Hop back on the train (Kamakura station would be closest now) and head back to Tokyo.
Take a look at some Japan travel guides to better prepare you for your trip:
Day 5 – Hakone Round Course
It is now time to pack your bags and head out of Tokyo to the city of Hakone. You can use your JR pass to get to Odawara station before getting on a local train. For a detail review of Hakone check out The Hakone Round Course Circuit post I put up to get a better understanding of everything to do there.
After completing the circuit you can then head back to your hotel in Gora, where you will be able to relax and take part of some hot springs for the night.
A quick note here: you have the option to send your luggage straight to Kyoto (your next stop after Hakone) or to your hotel in Hakone instead of bringing it with you. It can be annoying traveling and switching trains with luggage so it definitely is a good option if you opt for it. You can really send your luggage everywhere each time you move around if you would like and never worry about dragging it along with you. Hotels can set this up for you but make sure you let them know when you arrive.
A few great ryokan options include:
4) Gora Tensui
Day 6 – Hakone Part II
After exploring all the different areas of Hakone the previous day and taking advantage of all the different transportation options, you can relax a bit more on your second day here before heading off to Kyoto later on. Your day can be a combination of relaxing at your hotel/hot springs and visiting the Hakone Open Air Museum. Here you will find a beautiful outdoor museum with different types of artwork throughout. There are various large sculptures that you can enjoy and some that you can even interact with. Take some time to walk throughout the museum from the Picasso Pavilion to the Symphonic Sculpture, there is just so much to see. You can end your time here by taking a nice warm foot bath using water directly from a hot spring.
Once you are all relaxed up and spent some time outdoors you can take the train from Gora back down towards Odawara, where you can take a JR train to Kyoto.
Day 7-9 – Kyoto
You have made it to the city of Kyoto – full of more beautiful temples, shrines and gardens. Over the next three days you will be exploring it all. Take a look at our Three Days Exploring Kyoto guide for a full itinerary of things to do. A quick overview:
(1) Nijo Castle
(2) Imperial Palace
(4) Philosopher’s Path
(1) Fushimi Inari
(3) Ninen-zaka / Sannen-zaka / Gion
(4) Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
(5) Arashiyama cont’d
Day 10 – Travel to Osaka
After some time exploring the temples and scenery of Kyoto, make your way to the second largest city in Japan – the port city of Osaka. Using your JR pass, hop on the train for a quick and easy 30-45 minute journey. Once you have arrived in Osaka and checked into your hotel take the quick metro ride to the historical Osaka Castle. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park, which is filled with a variety of trees and flowers. Also around the park you will find moats surrounding the castle with huge stone walls. You can then make your way inside the castle itself, which is now a museum. Spend some time walking the rooms here before heading up to the top of the castle. Up top you will be able to take in some amazing views of the city that surrounds this compound.
After spending some time at the castle head on over to one of the main streets of Osaka – Dotonbori. Along this canal area you will find various unique eateries, huge neon signs, and even some small temples. Whatever type of local food you are in the mood for they will have it here – gyoza, crab, ramen and octopus balls just to name a few. The huge neon and moving signs will take up the entire façade of a buiding – one of the most famous being the Glico Man. Right nearby Dotonbori you will find one of the main shopping streets of Osaka at Shinsaibashi. Here you will pass by hundreds of different stores with everything you can think of. As it gets later on these areas get even more filled up during the night as the neon signs and lights are in full effect.
Note: depending on what time you arrive in Osaka you might have some time to explore a couple more temples and shrines if you would like after the castle and before you make your way to Dotonbori – the first being Sumiyoshi Shrine and the second Shittenoji Temple.
Day 11 – Day Trip to Nara
On your second day in Osaka you can take a short day trip to Nara, the first capital city of Japan, which is only about an hour train ride away. The great thing about Nara is that once you get off the train most of the attractions are all around the same area, so no need to take a cab at all – you can just walk around on your own. You can make your way on foot to Nara Park, where you will find most of these temples and shrines. The first thing you will notice when you enter Nara Park is the amount of wild deer running around freely in the park. Go ahead and buy some crackers nearby to feed the deer as they take the food directly from your hand.
As you first enter the park you will most likely first pass the Kofuku-ji Temple, famous for its five-story pagoda. Then continue on your way to the Todai-ji Temple – the world’s largest wooden building! As you enter the grounds you pass through a huge gate with plenty of deer nearby. Within the temple itself you will find a 50 foot bronze Buddha statue. The architecture inside and out is incredible with great wooden detail throughout.
As you leave the main temple complex area you will also pass a couple temples in Nigatsudo and Sangatsudo. You can walk around and through these as you make your way around the park. Next up is Kasuga Taisha Shrine known for its stone and bronze lanterns. Approaching the shrine you are sure to pass the thousands of lanterns along the way. Once inside you will see thousands more. The complex is full of other shrines, temples and even a botanical garden. At some point during the day you will want to grab some food. There are some places to eat within the park but many restaurants will be found right around the vicinity.
Before you head out for the day you can also hike up to the top of Nara Park to Wakakusa Mountain. You can find the north or south entrance near Todai-ji and Kasuga Taisha. The hike should take about 40 minutes or so to get up and 20 or so minutes down with some great view points of the temples and greenery surrounding you. After a day exploring Nara Park, its shrines, temples, mountains, and deer it is time to hop back on the train to Osaka, where you can enjoy another night in the city.
Day 12 – Travel to Hiroshima
After wandering Osaka & Nara hop onto a train further south to Hiroshima. There should be a few trains covered by the JR pass that can take you this route. Once you arrive in Hiroshima and check into your hotel you will have the rest of the day to explore the city. This will include visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome, the various sites within the Peace Memorial Park, and the Peace Memorial Museum. Head on over to our Day in Hiroshima Guide to learn more about this incredible day.
5) Sheraton Grand Hotel Hiroshima (farther out near train station)
Day 13 – Miyajima
Getting to Miyajima is pretty straightforward traveling from Hiroshima. First hop on the train headed towards Miyajimaguchi and once there walk to the pier where you will take a ferry to the island (both the train and ferry are covered with the JR pass). Once there you can start to explore everything that Miyajima has to offer. The Incredible Miyajima Day Trip guide goes over it all.
Day 14 – Travel to Tokyo
Your time in Japan is sadly coming to an end. You can hop on a train from Hiroshima all the way back to Tokyo, where you can either head directly to the airport or have some time to just grab some food and walk around a bit before your depart.
That about it does for two weeks exploring Japan. Hope you enjoy it!
Head over to our Japan itineraries and guides page to check out some more helpful posts, and feel free to comment below with any questions!