Two Week Itinerary in Japan – Highlights of the Golden Route of Japan

14 days header Itinerary in Japan

When travelling to Japan, two weeks is the perfect duration of your holiday. 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 might seems impossible. Let us help you with our suggested itinerary for travelling through Japan in 14 days so that you could see and feel Japan deeply!

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

Start your trip in Tokyo, the current capital of Japan. Get an introduction to the Japanese culture and learn about the modern Japanese life. Then make your way to the mountainous rural are of Takayama, a small traditional town with a beautifully preserved centre. 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 Japans’ the most beautiful Japanese garden.

After Kanazawa continue to Kyoto to discover more of the Japanese culture. Kyoto is often described as the “real” Japan, because here you have to opportunity to visit many old temples and shrines that are spared by the earthquakes and bombings of the WOII. After discovering Kyoto for two full days, make a trip to Nara, the famous park with free-roaming deers. From Nara continue to Osaka, the second biggest city of 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 the 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 Mount Fuji. After you have 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 something important to start with before you go!

Planning your trip to Japan

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

Mount Fuji Shinkansen Sakura
Mount Fuji

Japan Rail Pass

First of all we recommend you to purchase the Japan Rail Pass, also known as JR Pass. With this pass you will be able to ride all the JR trains, most Shinkansen and other forms of transportation from the Japan Rail Group, within the chosen period of time. With this pass you can safe money on your transportation costs. The rule of thumb is: when you travel between minimum two cities in one week or 3 cities in two weeks, it is worth buying the JR Pass,

Costs Japan Rail Pass

DurationOrdinaryGreen Car
7 consecutive days¥ 29.650 ¥ 39.600Get your 7-day-ticket
14 consecutive days¥ 47.250¥ 64.120Get your 14-day-ticket
21 consecutive days¥ 60.450¥ 83.390Get your 21-day-ticket

Read more about the JR Pass in our blog a complete overview of the Japan Rail Pass

Entrance tickets to popular attractions / places

Some of the events or museums are very popular, not only amongst tourists but also for 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 just ask us.

Tickets you should arrange as early as possible:

Airplane

Day 1 – Welcome to Japan!

After your arrival at the airport, it wil take you about one hour to go through customs and get your luggage. The next thing to do is activating your JR Rail Pass. When you purchase the pass online, you’ll receive instructions on how and where to do so on the airport. Most likely you’ll fly into Tokyo, read about how to get to and from Narita Airport and Haneda Airport. Tip: the Narita Express to central Tokyo is included in the JR Pass. Depending on which area you are staying, reserve at least another hour or two for travelling.

Maybe you are tired from the trip, in this case please have a rest in your hotel. But if you want to start exploring Tokyo immediately we recommend you to travel to one of the places that is buzzing at night like Shinjuku or Shibuya crossing. Or get some fantastic panoramic views to grasp in the size of the city and observe the city’s skyline!

Tokyo Panorama

Day 2 – Explore East Tokyo

After a good nights rest, let’s explore the eastern part of Tokyo. This part of the city has a more traditional atmosphere than the western side of Tokyo.

Suggested areas to visit in East Tokyo

  • Tsukiji fish market
  • Imperial Palace
  • Asakusa
  • Akihabara

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

#1 Foodie Tour in Tokyo, Japan – Tokyo Food Tours

From Tsukiji Market you can easily walk to the Imperial Palace. Even though you cannot the the emperor’s residence, it is still worth to go and visit the palace grounds!

Next stop is Asakusa, you probably have seen pictures of the Kaminarimon gate also known as the thunder gate; the huge red gate with a big red lantern hanging. After passing the gate, you’ll find yourself in an 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 electric town, famous for its anime culture. Read more about what you can do in Akihabara.

Day 2 – Discover West Tokyo

Compared to the eastern part, the western Tokyo has a much more modern culture! Let’s enjoy pop culture and futuristic city. In these two days, you will get to know the uniqueness of mixture of traditional and pop culture in Tokyo!

Suggested areas to visit in West Tokyo

  • Shibuya scramble crossing
  • Meiji shrine
  • Takeshita street
  • Omotesando
  • Shinjuku (Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, Kabukicho and Robot restaurant)

Start the day at the 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 you way to Omotesando, through Harajuku’s famous Takeshita street. This area is known for its many shops, both luxury shops as well as the famous second hand stores. For a more detailled, ready-made itinerary please read our 1 day itinerary blog.

Day 4 – Move to Takayama

After 3 days 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 rail pass) and then take a local line to Takayama, the total trip takes about 4.5 hrs from Tokyo. Takayama has a beautifully extremely well-preserved 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 are a sharp contract to the city life of Tokyo! Here you feel calm and helps you get to know Japanese way of living. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious Takayama beef!

Recommended ryokan in Takayama

Day 5 – Move 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. Stay some hours in Shirakawago and see some unique photogenic houses and enjoy the beautiful rural views.

Read more about the fairytale village of Shirakawago

Shirakawago

After enjoying the Shirakawago in the morning, head to Kanazawa. Kanazawa is also an old traditional city like Kyoto, Takayama, and Nara. But the atmosphere is different from any other city due to its’ size, the climate, much 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 a lot more places to visit, such as traditional samurai houses, a seafood market, a castle, and so on. Getting around the city is very convenient as most sites are within walking distance from Kanazawa Station. We would recommend you to 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 move to Kyoto

In the morning explore some more of Kanazawa city. Have a stroll in Kenroku-en, one of the most beautiful Japanese garden in the country or discover the Higashi Chaya district, the traditional district where geisha’s perform in the teahouses. We recommend you to try the local ice cream covered with gold! If you are interested in museum, there is 21st century contemporary art museum which exhibits unique works from all over the world.

With some many things to see in limited 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!

Kenroku-en Garden

After exploring Kanazawa, let’s move 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, Kyoto show the history and traditional aspects of Japan. The city was very lucky to be largely spared of bombings in the WOII. Hence you can see many old shrines and temples here!

Suggested areas to visit in East Kyoto:

  • Fushimi inari shrine
  • Ginkakuji temple
  • Kiyomizu temple
  • Ninenzaka & Sannenzaka traditional town
  • Gion

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

Day 8 – Highlights of Western Kyoto

In the western part of Kyoto, there are a lot of sightseeing spots! You can visit nature spots and artistic architectures.

Suggested areas to visit in West Kyoto

  • Kinkakuji Temple 
  • Ryoanji Temple 
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
  • Japanese activities (Ninja experience or tea ceremony)

If you are interested in joining a private guided tour, please check our private tour. We are happy to customise any tour for you!

Day 9 – Day trip to Nara 

Nara is an ancient capital of 8th century, very famous for the deers walking around freely. From Kyoto it takes about 40 minutes by JR train (included with your JR Pass)
You can see a big great Buddha and some deer walking around! Also, there are some World-Heritage sites such as the Todai-ji Giant Buddha Hall. You will be amazed by the large size of the Buddha statue!

See more details about exploring in Nara day trip to Nara from Kyoto suggested itinerary

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 near the ancient capital of Kyoto, best known for its dynamic food and drinking culture. Long before Edo (Tokyo) became the capital of Japan, Osaka was the first true capital city (7 century, even before Nara) and it is seen as the birthplace of Japanese comedy. The people of Osaka are well-known for being cheerful and outgoing. Osaka has an interesting and distinctive character of its own.

Day 11 – Day trip to Hiroshima

Next morning take an early Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima. Depending on which train you take you will reach Hiroshima in 1.5 – 2,5 hrs – your JR Rail Pass isn’t valid on all Shinkansen!

Hiroshima is a beautiful city of great historical importance, it was the first city that was was targeted by the atomic bombs of WOII. Traces of this tragic moments in history are found and honoured everywhere in the city centre. 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.

Read more about a day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka or Kyoto

If you are interested in a guided tour in Hiroshima or any other tour, please contact us!

Itsukushima Shrine, in Miyajima Island. Hiroshima, Japan

Day 12 – Move to Hakone 

Hakone is a famous onsen area near Mount Fuji 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 to purchase the Hakone Free Pass that will cover your transportation in the area and gives you discount on some museums, restaurants and shops.

Hakone Shrine Mount Fuji

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

Read more about Hakone in our blog or about our private Hakone tour

Recommended hotels in Hakone

Day 13 – Move to Tokyo 

If you haven’t seen enough of Mount Fuji yet or would like to add one more destination to your list, before heading back to Tokyo, head to Lake Kawaguchi in the morning. They are conveniently connected by bus. This bus ride takes about 80 minutes and on the way you have another chance to see some of the nature and mountains of Japan.

Kawaguchiko Asama Shrine Mount Fuji

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

Then lastly, head back to Tokyo and spend the last night in Japan! Read more about the different ways of how to travel to Tokyo from Kawaguchiko.

Day 14 – Fly out from Tokyo

All good things come to an end and so if your trip to Japan. If you have a late flight, discover some of Tokyo’s many districts 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 days itinerary you will be able to see most of the highlights of Japan and we hope we gave you an idea of what you can do and see here. Of course there is much more to discover, but with this trip you’ll get a good understanding of the versatility of Japan! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we would be more than happy to give you advice, help you make reservations or arrange a tour for you!

*If you already live in Japan, you can travel cheap with Go to Travel Campaign
How to Travel Cheap with Go to Travel Campaign

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Happy travelling!


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Comments

  1. clemente says:

    about october 2018
    7 days grup 10 person
    or
    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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