14-Day Itinerary in Japan – Highlights of the Golden Route of Japan

14 days header Itinerary in Japan

When traveling to Japan for the first time, two weeks tends to be the sweet spot for most people. In two weeks you can travel to most of the highlights without feeling too rushed. But there are so many places to see and deciding on where to go and which places to leave out this time around might seem impossible. Don’t worry and let us help you with our suggested Japan itinerary over 14 days so that you can see and feel Japan to the fullest!

Suggested 14-Day Itinerary in Japan

This travel plan covers all major spots in Japan, from historical highlights to modern hotspots, and buzzing city life to serene rural areas, you will discover all the different experiences Japan has on offer.

Start your trip to Tokyo, the current capital of Japan. Get an introduction to Japanese culture and learn about modern Japanese life. Then make your way to the mountainous rural area of Takayama, a small traditional town with a beautifully preserved center. From Takayama, continue west to Shirakawago, a well-preserved old folk village famous for its iconic houses before heading to Kanazawa. Kanazawa is known as a samurai city with one of Japan’s most beautiful Japanese gardens and lots of history.

After Kanazawa continue to Kyoto to discover more Japanese culture. Kyoto is often described as the “authentic” Japan because here you have an opportunity to visit many old temples and shrines that were spared by the earthquakes and bombings of WWII. After discovering Kyoto for two full days, make a trip to Nara, the famous park with free-roaming deer. From Nara continue to Osaka, the second biggest city in Japan. Osaka is famous as a street food paradise and known for its’ open-mind & friendly locals! Geographically, Osaka is very close to Kyoto, but you will find a huge difference between the two cities.

From Osaka make a day trip to Hiroshima and visit the two most important sites: Atomic Bomb Dome & Itsukushima Shrine with the famous floating torii gate. Lastly, visit the Hakone area where you can have fantastic views of Mt. Fuji. After these 13 days, head back to Tokyo for some last-minute souvenir shopping before you return home after two wonderful weeks in Japan.

How does this sound? We will tell you more about all of these great destinations but first, some important information before you go!

Planning your trip to Japan

Before you come to Japan, there are some things we recommend you take care of first. The following things can be arranged in Japan too, but it makes things easier (and cheaper in some cases) when you have prepared this beforehand.

Cherry Blossom Tokyo

Japan Rail Pass

First of all, we highly recommend you purchase the Japan Rail Pass, also known as the JR Pass, if you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling. With this pass, which is only available to international tourists, you will be able to ride all the JR trains, most shinkansen, and other forms of transportation from the Japan Rail Group, within the dates of the pass you decide to buy. The Japan Rail Pass will save money on your transportation costs when traveling through Japan. The rule of thumb is: when you travel between a minimum of two cities in one week or 3 cities in two weeks, it is almost always worth buying the JR Pass. While it is possible to buy the pass in Japan, it is best to buy your Japan Rail Pass before coming to Japan, to save you some extra money.

Japan Rail Pass Prices

DurationOrdinaryGreen Car
7 consecutive days¥ 29,650 ¥ 39,6007-day-ticket
14 consecutive days¥ 47,250¥ 64,12014-day-ticket
21 consecutive days¥ 60,450¥ 83,39021-day-ticket
The price above will change in October 2023

Entrance tickets to popular attractions/places

Some of the events or museums are very popular, not only among tourists but also among locals, and sometimes tickets sell out (very) fast. For example, tickets for the Grand Sumo Tournaments sell out within the hour! Not to worry, most of the tickets are available online and you can buy them beforehand. Or you can book our guided tour!

Tickets you should arrange as early as possible:

Day 1 – Welcome to Japan!

After your arrival at the airport, it will take you about one hour to go through customs and get your luggage. The next thing to do is activate your JR Pass! When you purchase the pass online, you’ll receive instructions on how and where to do so at the airport.
After activating your JR Pass, it’s time to head to the center of Tokyo! Read our article on how to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport or Haneda Airport.

Tip: the Narita Express to central Tokyo is included in the JR Pass.
Depending on which area you are staying in, plan for at least another hour or two for traveling.

Tokyo Tower by night

You may be tired from the long flight over here. If this is the case, it might be best to head to bed early and rest up for the next day. But if you want to start exploring Tokyo immediately we recommend you travel to one of the places that are buzzing at night like Shinjuku or Shibuya Crossing. Or get some fantastic panoramic views to truly get an idea of the size of the city and observe the city’s skyline!

Unsure of how to best explore Tokyo in your first couple of days? Book a private tour with us to get the hang of things, see all of the best highlights in an efficient way, and learn everything you need for the rest of your trip!

Tokyo 8h Private Custom Highlight Tour with Licensed Guide
Explore the city highlights on our Tokyo private walking tour! We'll take you to the lively Tsukiji Fish Market, traditi...
Tokyo Panorama

Day 2 – Explore East Tokyo

After getting a good night’s rest, it’s time to explore the eastern part of Tokyo. This part of the city has a more traditional atmosphere than the western side of Tokyo.

Imperial Palace

Suggested areas to visit in East Tokyo

We recommend starting your day at Tsukiji fish market where you can feel the local Japanese atmosphere and try lots of Japanese food such as sushi, tamagoyaki, and dashi. You can also try Japanese tea and sake! To get a proper introduction to Japanese cuisine and culture, watch the video below about our Tsukiji Food Tour.

From Tsukiji Fish Market, you can easily walk to the Imperial Palace. Even though you cannot actually enter the emperor’s residence, it is still worth going and visiting the beautiful palace grounds!

The next stop is Asakusa. You have probably seen pictures of the famous Kaminarimon Gate that is also known as the thunder gate; the huge red gate with a giant red lantern hanging. After passing through the gate, you’ll find yourself in a traditional shopping street that will lead you to the famous Sensoji Temple. Enjoy the local shops and atmosphere!

From Asakusa, make your way to Akihabara, also known as an electric town, famous for its anime culture.

asakusa sensoji

Recommended hotels in East Tokyo

Day 3 – Discover West Tokyo

Compared to the east, west Tokyo has a much more modern vibe. It really gives you the chance to enjoy pop culture and the futuristic part of the city. In these two days, you will get a feeling of the uniqueness of the mixture of traditional and pop culture in Tokyo.

Suggested areas to visit in West Tokyo

Start the day at Meiji Shrine, the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Here you can feel a sacred and Japanese traditional atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you might even witness a traditional wedding ceremony! Next make your way to Omotesando, through Harajuku‘s famous Takeshita Street. This area is known for its many shops, both luxury shops as well as famous second-hand stores. For a more detailed, ready-made itinerary please read our 1-day itinerary blog in the Shibuya area.

If you want to really experience some of the best nightlife that Tokyo has to offer, Shinjuku is the place to go. With endless delicious restaurants and fun bars, you can’t go wrong. Discover some of the best spots on our thrilling bar-hopping tour!


Recommended hotels in West Tokyo

Day 4 – Head to Takayama

After 3 days of immersing yourself in the city life of Tokyo, let’s move to a more rural part of Japan: Takayama. Take the bullet train to Nagoya (free with JR pass) and then take a local line to Takayama, the trip will take about 4.5 hrs total from Tokyo. Takayama has an extremely well-preserved and beautiful old town and you can go hiking in the amazing scenery. This area is great for learning more about the Japanese local and traditional culture. The rural scenery is a sharp contrast to the city life of Tokyo! Here you will feel calm and it will help you get to know the Japanese way of living. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious Takayama beef too!

Recommended ryokan in Takayama

Day 5 – Head to Kanazawa via Shirakawago

From Takayama continue your way east to Shirakawago, one of the most famous UNESCO world heritage sites of Japan. Shirakawago is famous for its iconic rural housing with a steep rafter roof designed so the snow won’t pile up in the winter. Spend a few hours in Shirakawago, see some unique photogenic houses and enjoy the beautiful rural views that are unlike anywhere else in Japan.


After enjoying Shirakawago in the morning, head to Kanazawa. Kanazawa is an old traditional city like Kyoto, Takayama, and Nara. But the atmosphere is different from any other city due to its size, climate(lots of snow in the winter), and also because it was ruled by one of the biggest Samurai families for 300 years. The most famous destination is Kenrokuen Garden, but there are so many other great places to check out such as traditional samurai houses, a seafood market, and a castle among other things. Getting around the city is very convenient as most sites are within walking distance or a short bus ride from Kanazawa Station. We highly recommend you stay in Kanazawa.

Tip: It’s easiest to take a bus to get around in this area.

Recommended hotels in Kanazawa:

Day 6 – Explore Kanazawa and head to Kyoto

In the morning explore more of Kanazawa. Have a stroll through Kenrokuen, one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens in the country, or discover the Higashi Chaya District, the traditional district where geisha perform in traditional teahouses. We recommend you to try the local ice cream covered with gold! And if you are interested in museums, the 21st-Century Contemporary Art Museum that exhibits unique works from all over the world is a great stop as well.

With so many things to see in such a limited amount of time, why not join our private tour in Kanazawa? A local guide will show you around and explain all there is to know about this historical highlight!

After exploring Kanazawa, let’s make our way over to Kyoto. From Kanazawa, it takes about 2.5 hours by train.

Day 7 – Highlights of Eastern Kyoto

Kyoto is a completely different city from Tokyo. Where Tokyo is known as a modern city, you can really feel the history and traditional side of Japan in Kyoto. The city was one of the lucky places that wasn’t bombed during WWII, hence you can see many old shrines and temples here!

Kyoto Gion

Suggested areas to visit in East Kyoto:

See more details about exploring in Kyoto 2 Days Kyoto Suggested Itinerary

Want to see everything that Kyoto has to offer in the most efficient and timely way? Book a private tour with our knowledgeable English speaking guide!

Kyoto 8h Private Custom Highlight Tour with Licensed Guide
Experience the beauty and culture of Kyoto on our Kyoto private tour! We can tailor your itinerary to meet all your pref...

Day 8 – Highlights of Western Kyoto

In the western part of Kyoto, there are plenty of sightseeing spots too that include beautiful nature and architectural masterpieces among other things. To make the most of your visit, we recommend exploring the area with a local guide who will show you everything you are hoping to see.

Ryoanji Temple rock garden

Suggested areas to visit in West Kyoto

Recommended Accommodation in Kyoto

Day 9 – Day trip to Nara 

Nara was the ancient capital of Japan back in the 8th century, and is very famous for the deer that walk around freely. From Kyoto, it takes about 40 minutes by JR train (included with your JR Pass). In Nara, you can see a huge Buddha statue among the local deer walking around(not something you see everyday). Also, there are a number of UNESCO World-Heritage sites such as the Todai-ji Giant Buddha Hall. You will surely not be disappointed by the impressive size of the Buddha statue.

After discovering the famous deer park, make your way to Osaka – the food capital of Japan!

Day 10 – Explore Osaka

Osaka is a cosmopolitan city not too far from Kyoto and a must-visit place in Japan. The city is best known for its dynamic food and drinking culture. Long before Edo (Tokyo) became the capital of Japan, Osaka was the capital (7th century, even before Nara), but nowadays it is more known for its great nightlife and amazing food. It is also seen as the birthplace of Japanese comedy and the people of Osaka are well-known for being cheerful and outgoing. Osaka has an interesting and distinctive atmosphere of its own, making it a fun place to explore!

Recommended Hotels in Osaka

Day 11 – Day trip to Hiroshima

Next morning take the early shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima for a day trip to the city of peace. Depending on which train you take you will reach Hiroshima in 1.5 – 2.5 hrs (be careful as your JR Rail Pass isn’t valid on all shinkansen trains).

hiroshima peace memorial park

Hiroshima is a beautiful city of great historical importance. As you know, it was the first city on which an atomic bomb was dropped during WWII. You will see traces of this tragic moment in history that are honored throughout the city. There are 2 famous UNESCO world heritage sites in Hiroshima that you should visit:

  1. Atomic Bomb Dome
    Visit the Peace Memorial Park and learn about the tragedy of history in Peace Memorial Museum
  2. Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima
    Itsukushima, also known Miyajima (Japanese for shrine island) is a beautiful island located in Hiroshima bay, famous for floating Torii gate in the sea.

As always, the best way to discover any place is with a local guide that can show you the most interesting places and explain the historical value of each spots. Especially in Hiroshima we highly recommend you join a guided tour, this way you will be able to learn the full story of Hiroshima!

Hiroshima 7h Private Custom Highlight Tour with Licensed Guide
Itsukushima Shrine, in Miyajima Island. Hiroshima, Japan

Day 12 – Head to Hakone 

Hakone is a famous onsen area near Mt. Fuji that is about 3.5 hrs away from Osaka. You can take the shinkansen to Mishima, Atami or Odawara Station and continue from there to Hakone by bus. We recommend purchasing the Hakone Free Pass that will cover your transportation in the area and gives you a discount on some museums, restaurants, and shops.

Hakone Shrine Ashinoko

Hakone is part of the Hakone-Fuji-Izu National Park. Here, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery with superb views of Mt Fuji. Explore the nature views of Hakone from land, air, and/or lake. You can also enjoy a scenic ride on the ropeway up Owakudani and a cruise ship on Lake Ashi.

Owakudani Hakone

Recommended hotels in Hakone

Day 13 – Head to Tokyo 

If you haven’t seen enough of Mt.Fuji yet or would like to add one more destination to your list before heading back to Tokyo, making a stop at Lake Kawaguchi in the morning is a great option. You can easily get there by bus. It will be about an 80 minute bus ride and on the way, you will have another chance to see some of the beautiful nature and mountains of Japan.

Koichi Hayakawa, (CC BY-SA 2.0), via flickr

Read more about what you can do around Lake Kawaguchi, besides admiring the magical view of Mt Fuji.

Then lastly, head back to Tokyo and spend your last night in Japan! Read more about the different ways of how to travel to Tokyo from Kawaguchiko. Also if you’re still up for a fun last night in Tokyo, you can never go wrong with checking out some izakaya and bars in the city center. Book our bar hopping tour to check out some of the best hidden spots!


Day 14 – Fly out of Tokyo

All good things come to an end and unfortunately so will your trip to Japan. But if you have a late flight, you can still discover some of Tokyo’s many fun areas and do some last-minute souvenir shopping before you make one last trip to the airport and have to say goodbye to Japan.

With this 14 day Japan itinerary, you will be able to see most of the must hit highlights of Japan. We hope we gave you an idea of what you can do and see here. Of course, there is much much more to discover, but with this trip, you’ll get a good understanding of the versatility of Japan! We hope your trip to Japan is wonderful!

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

mount fuji chureito pagoda

Kyoto Private Full Day Walking Tour
On this full-day private tour of Kyoto, you will be able to see the highlights of Kyoto in just one day and at the same time develop a deeper understanding of both the culture of the area and Japan as a whole.

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Happy traveling!

Stay informed of the best travel tips to Japan, the most exciting things to do and see, and the top experiences to have with the Japan Wonder Travel Newsletter. Once every two weeks we will introduce you to our latest content.

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  1. clemente says:

    about october 2018
    7 days grup 10 person
    14 day grup 10 personj
    at price total air – hotel breakfast – jr passrailwas – dinner
    wait thanks

  2. Robert K Pyle says:

    I would like to consider your 14 day suggested tour, arriving Tokyo March 22 and departing April 4. I would like to arrange the hotels separately. What would the cost be for this itinerary as a private tour for 4 people and guides?

    Thank you

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