I wrote this up for a friend who wanted some ideas for travelling to Japan. In reality, this is a pretty standard itinerary for anyone looking to make their first trip to Japan. Enjoy 🙏
- The thing that I want to call out is that Japan isn't so much of a place where you see things, as much as it is a place where you experience a different way of living. Don't worry much about where you go.
- Although I think a roadtrip around Japan is the best thing I've done, it's better if you want to visit mountains. But for your first time to Japan, it's probably best to go with trains.
- Japan is food. Food is Japan. 🍜=🇯🇵
The Itinerary – map
- Tokyo (3-4 days) – big city with a range of distinctly different neighbourhoods. It's a mix of craziness and quietness. My favourite place in the world.
- Shinjuku – It's the unofficial centre of Tokyo. It's a mix of touristy and local. Prepare for the craziness.
- Shinjuku Gyoen Park – My favourite park in the world. Get a cheap picnic rug nearby and bring some beer and food for a nice lunch.
- Asakusa – A cool (slightly touristy) suburb of Tokyo famous for this shrine. Lots of good food and interesting shops in the area.
- Ginza – Shopping district of Tokyo but really cool to explore even without buying anything. Park nearby.
- Meiji Jingu – A beautiful and slightly less touristy shrine in Tokyo that is in a nice part/forest. While there you can visit the street that has popularized Japan worldwide.
- Mt Takao – Day hike. Easy to get to from Tokyo. It's the most hiked mountain in the world. Easy walk.
- Mt Mitake – Day hike. More beautiful than Mt Takao but a little longer to get to from Tokyo.
- Tsukiji Fish Market – The infamous fish market of Japan. Interesting, if you're into sushi 🤷♂️
- Fuji (1-2 days) – Seeing fuji is more impressive than hiking it. Hiking it is 9-12 hours return journey. Choose when you visit carefully as in some months she is mostly hidden by clouds. There are some beautiful lakes around Fuji to view her from.
- Rent a car? – driving around the fuji area is nice. Exploring the lakes and doing some smaller walks in the forest.
- Onsen – Onsens are Japanese bath houses. This is a must do. They are absolutely amazing, unless you can't stand the thought of nudity with other people of your own sex. In which case, stay at a Ryokan (Inn) which has private onsen.
- Kyoto (3 days) – temple town. This also means a lot of tourists. The trick with Kyoto is going to some of the lesser known temples to avoid the crowds and actually getting lost in the quiet tranquility.
- Rent bicycles – as they there are plenty of cheap daily rentals and make getting around easy.
- Osaka (2 days) – Similar to Tokyo just a bit more westernized. Things to see nearby and a slightly different style of Japanese culture.
- Shimanami Kaido (2 days) – Rent bicycles to ride along this 70km stretch of bicycle lane that goes over 7 insanely long bridges connecting Honshu and Shikoku. You do it over two days and stay at a Ryokan (Inn) overnight. Lots of beautiful islands and scenery.
- Hiroshima (1 day) – The peace museum is moving and there is obviously a lot of history here which I'm sure you will enjoy.
- Peace Museum – it's very moving. Reminded me of visiting Auschwitz in Poland.