Japan is one of the enigmatic countries in the world. In the olden times, when the world was not as well connected as it is today, Japan was isolated for a long time owing to its geographical location. These conditions helped Japan develop a distinct culture and way of living, which is extremely fascinating to witness.
Japan is a potent blend of traditional Pagoda architecture to modern skyscrapers. It is here that your experience the peaceful zen from temples to a jam-packed street of Shibuya crossing. From sushi, tempura to sashimi and nori Japanese cuisine satiates our taste buds like never before. In short, this Asian country is worthy of being in your wishlist and should be ticked off at the earliest.
P.S. Time your visit to Japan around April to view the gorgeous cherry blossoms which will warm the cockles of your heart!
Here is a 10-day itinerary for you to explore Japan to the fullest
Day 1: Tokyo (West side)
Tokyo is a large metropolis and crowded too (It is the world’s most populated metropolitan area) and needs a lot of time to explore. On day 1, get ready to explore the modern side of Tokyo, namely Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku. Head to Shibuya, the major corporate hub of Japan and see throngs of crowd cross ‘Shibuya crossing’ at the same time. Shibuya is the ‘Times Square’ of Japan with a similar setting and charm. You can also shop at the Tokyu Hands for unique handicrafts.
After an eventful morning head to the Harajuku to spend your afternoon. Spend some peaceful moments at the Meiji Shrine and the surrounding park. Visit Takeshita Dori shopping street to view the most colorful dresses and shop for some too. Do explore the delectable street food here, our recommendation is the lovely crepes available with infinite stuffings.
Head to Shinjuku and visit Shinjuku Gyoen Garden which a perfect place to view the cherry blossoms although you will see them lined up all over the country. End your day at Piss alley (a strange name, we know!) that is home to small eateries and restaurants that serve delicious local food.
Day 2: Tokyo (East side)
Get ready to be mesmerized by the traditional side of Tokyo. Start by visiting the oldest temple of Tokyo, Sensoji Temple. The temple has a giant lantern at the entrance and has a beautiful traditional architecture. Spend time leisurely exploring the temple and its gardens.
Head to Nakamise Dori Street if you wish to shop for some more souvenirs. If you still want to enjoy the picturesque cherry blossoms again visit Sumida Park or you can head to Ueno to visit the Tokyo National Museum that houses an impressive art and archaeological collection.
The next location is Akihabara (the electric town), and it should definitely be on your itinerary for anime and manga fans as the streets don magnificent posters of your favorite icons. You will spot many cosplayers handing out advertisements as well. You can also shop for your favorite electronic devices at Yodobashi Akiba, a sizeable electronic shop here.
Day 3: Tokyo (Imperial Tokyo)
Start your day by visiting the Imperial Palace, which is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. The Palace and its gardens are a vital part of Japanese culture and history. The Palace is generally closed for public except for the guided tours on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so plan your visit accordingly. However, the palace gardens are open for the people and are worth exploring.
If you are an art enthusiast or not, do not miss the teamLab Borderless Art Museum, which is a digital art museum that has interactive and immersive artistry.
In the evening head to the Mori tower to view the breathtaking views of Tokyo from the sky deck. End the day at an upbeat Roponggi Hills with a delicious dinner.
Day 4: Hakone
On Day 4 take a short train or bus journey to Hakone, a place famous for its view of Mt. Fuji, the highest volcano of Japan. Take the Hakone Ropeway ride from Sounzan to Togendai with a stop at Owakudani. The ropeway offers astonishing views of Mt. Fuji about halfway to Owakudani. You will also see the geothermal area of Owakudani. The ropeway has to be switched at Owakudani, and you can also have your lunch here as well as buy the famed ‘black eggs.’ In the second leg of the ropeway journey, you will see Mt. Fuji for the most part of the way.
The other activities at Hakone include:
- Visiting an Open Air Museum which has a collection of 190 sculptures
- Visiting Pola Art Museum that houses almost 9500 works
- Lake Ashi
- Hakone Shrine
You can also take other one-day trips to Nikko or Kamakura.
Day 5: Kyoto
Kyoto is also known as the ‘100-year capital city’ as it was the imperial capital before Tokyo. It showcases the traditional side of Japan to the fullest. It has around 2000 temples and each one of them unique its own way.
Take a bullet train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto and explore Kyoto for the rest of the day.
Visit the Tenyru-Ji Shrine and its zen garden to view myriad of flowers which are found only in Japan. Just outside the garden is the bamboo grove, which is excellent for photography, so do not miss it.
After spending a reasonable amount of time here head to Golden Pavilion, which is a Zen Buddhist temple made entirely of gold.
Around evening head towards Gion and wander around the Nishiki Market and the Teramachi Shopping Arcade. If you are lucky, you may spot Geishas around here. You can eat your dinner at multiple options available in Gion.
Day 6: Kyoto – Silver Pavilion, Kodaiji temple, Kiyomizudera temple, Higashiyama District
Start early on Day 6 and visit the Silver Pavilion which is not made of silver, unlike Golden Pavilion. The crisp reflection of Silver Pavilion in water and the surrounding greenery make the whole scene picture-perfect. There are several temple building and well-manicured gardens.
Next, walk down the philosopher’s path to reach the Honen-in temple, which is skippable.
Head to the Kodaiji temple, which is one of the famous temples in Kyoto due to its Yasaka Pagoda. The temple premises are beautiful with Tsukiyama style garden, a serene pond and bamboo grove.
Make your next stop at Kiyomizudera temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This iconic temple of Kyoto has a main hall, pagoda, shrines, waterfall, plus stunning views of the city and mountains and lives up to the expectations of a heritage site to the fullest.
End your second day in Kyoto by exploring the ‘old Kyoto’ in Higashiyama District. The streets are lined with beautiful buildings that exude old city charm.
Day 7: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari Shrine (Taisha) and Manga Museum
Visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto should be on your must-visit list. It has around 10000 orange colored tori gates lined on a scenic walking trail.
Next head to downtown Kyoto to visit Manga museum, which also is a library. Manga and comic books are a vital part of Japanese pop-culture.
Day 8: Naro and Osaka
On Day 8, reach Naro, which should take about 1 hour’s journey from Kyoto. Once here, visit the deer park and spend some time marveling at them. Next, head to the Todaiji temple, another UNESCO World Heritage Site which houses a huge Buddha statue.
After spending half a day at Naro, make a quick trip to the food capital of Japan, Osaka. First, pay a visit to Osaka Castle, which is one of Japan’s famous landmarks. Then head to Dotonbori street to try the myriad of dishes.
Day 9: Miyajima and Hiroshima
Take a bullet train to Hiroshima, which is around 2 hours from Kyoto. In Hiroshima, you can spend half a day seeing Hiroshima Castle, A-Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument, and Peace Memorial Museum and Park.
From Hiroshima take a ferry to Miyajima to view the fascinating floating shrine. You can take the Miyajima ropeway’s round trip to enjoy spectacular views from the top of Mt. Misen.
Day 10: Kyoto – Nijo castle
You can plan this day as per your return journey plans. If you have time, you can cover Nijo castle in Kyoto, which is popular due to its impressive sights, beautiful moat, and garden.