21 Days In Japna

TRIP OVERVIEW:

TIME OF YEAR: May

This is the itinerary we created and followed for our Japanese vacation in May 2018, it is fast paced and packs a lot into the 21 days. We absolutely loved this trip and wanted to share the highlights with you. A trip to Japan should be on everyones travel bucketlist.

Essentially this itinerary allows for 5 days in Tokyo, 5 days in the Japanese Alps, 2 days in Kanazawa, 4 days in Kyoto/Osaka, 2 days in Hiroshima, 2 days at Tokyo Disneyland and travel home on day 21.

And includes the highlights of Mt.Fuji, Japanese Snow Monkeys, Alpine Route/Snow Wall and Miyajima island.

WHY TRAVEL TO JAPAN:

Japan is one of the places we have always wanted to visit but have changed our plans numerous times for various reasons. We were originally planning to go when we took our first sabbatical but changed our minds fairly last minute when the Tsunami hit. Since then we have mostly chosen other locations for the fear that Japan would just be too expensive.

However, I am very pleased to say this time we just jumped right in with an action packed and full 21 day itinerary. There is so much we wanted to see coming up with an itinerary was trickier than we thought.

We decided to visit in May, knowing the weather would be great but we would probably just miss cherry blossom season, However we would be able to include the Alpine Route and a trip to see bioluminescent squids.

What we loved the most about our visit was the mix of ultra modern futuristic transport, technology and the ancient past all at the same time. The quirkiness of the culture and the obsession with cartoon characters. Fantastic food from Kobe beef to sushi to ramen. The politeness of the people. Neon cities, Robots, Arcades, Ancient Temples, Sumurai, Geishas & Ninjas. The best Disney theme part in the World (Tokyo Disneysea). Need we go on, probably not.

Below is our 21 day itinerary for Japan, if you have any thoughts, questions or comments please use the comments form at the bottom of the page to share.

WHAT WE LOVED:

  • You can travel everywhere in Japan by train
  • Everyone is super polite and friendly

  • The clash of Ancient culture & the ultra modern

  • Great food: Kobe beef, Sushi, Ramen

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FULL ITINERARY:

Day 1: Arrival in to Tokyo

HOTEL:E Hotel Higashi Shinjuku
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Arrived in to Haneda
  • Picked up our Japan RailPass / Alpine Route tickets & the pocket wifi
  • Take the skyrail and metro to Shinjuku

Day 2: Shibuya & Harajuku

  • Take a 15min metro journey to Shibuya
  • Pay homage to the faithful dog Hachiko
  • See the world famous Shibuya crossing stopping for a coffee at Starbucks to get the view over the busy intersection from their window on the second floor.
  • Listen to some JPOP at Tower records
  • Walk Cat Street for the quirky and cool boutiques
  • Head to Harajuku to see where the cool kids hangout

Read our walking guide to Shibuya and Harajuku

Day 3: Akihabara and Asakusa

  • Visit the technology stores to be mesmerised by the gismos and latest technology
  • Take on the locals at the arcades from dancing to drumming
  • Experience the fear with a VR head set on.
  • Stop for coffee and desert at the famous @homecafe for maid service
  • Head for peace and tranquillity in the temples of Asakusa
  • See couples dressed up in traditional outfits.

Read about our day exploring Akihabara and Asakusa

Day 4: Shinjuku

  • Hit the shops & malls – especially Muji
  • Head to the free view over Tokyo from the observation deck of the Government Building
  • See the craziness of the Robot Show
  • Step back in time and eat Yakatori in Omoide Yokocho
  • Drink in Golden Gai where you will find the tiniest bars in Toyko

Read about our night out in Shinjuku

Day 5: Hakone & Mt Fuji

  • Take a coach trip up Mt Fuji & Try the Fuji melon cake (Book with viator)
  • Eat a traditional bento box
  • Explore the scenic Hakone area
  • Travel by boat across the Hakone Lakes
  • Take the Bullet train back to Tokyo.

Read about our day trip to Mt Fuji and Hakone from Tokyo

Day 6: Tokyo > Nagano

HOTEL:Nagano Tokyu REI Hotel
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Day 7: Alpine route > Toyama

HOTEL:Toyama Manten Hotel
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Day 8: Toyama > Takayama

HOTEL:Hidatakayama Futarishizuka Hakuun
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Head to Namerikawa to see the bioluminescent firefly squid
  • Take the scenic train route with the locals to Takayama

Read our guide on how to see Firefly Squid

Day 9 : Takayama

  • Stay in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn)
  • Explore the wooden merchants houses in the historic district
  • Eat delicious Ramen
  • Dress up in Kimonos & enjoy Sake

Day 10: Takayama

  • Visit the nearby Hida Village to see the preserved thatch roof houses
  • Take a trip to the UNESCO Shirakawago (if you have time)
  • Enjoy a dip in an Onsen
  • Head to Souchonzan Gyoza for the best food in town and meet the chef!! (Tripadvisor)

Read about our excellent stay in Takayama

Day 11: Kanazawa

HOTEL:Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kanazawa
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Take the train to Kanazawa
  • See the magnificent Kanazawa castle

Day 11: Kanazawa

  • Walk the most beautifully landscaped gardens in Japan
  • See the local food market
  • Enjoy the Edo-era districts with traditional houses, regional handicrafts and local food
  • Stop at a Tea House

Day 12: Kyoto

HOTEL:Sakura Terrace
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Travel Day take the shinkansen to Kyoto

Day 13: Kyoto

  • Walk the path of Philosophy in Northern Higashiyama region of Kyoto
  • Visit the temples Nanzenji, Ginkakuji & Heian Shrine
  • Explore the historical distict of Gion.
  • Stop at old school Jazz café
  • Try on Kimonos in Harajuku Chicago

Day 14: Kyoto

  • Start early and see the famous Bamboo Forest
  • Stop for Japanese Siphon Coffee in the local town
  • Escape the crowds by walking the scenic route in Arashiyama.
  • Visit Adashino-Nembutsu Ji Temple where you will find 8000 moss covered buddha statues
  • Eat Kobe Beef in the Higashiyama district
  • Drink in the Rock Bar ING & meet the owner, & check out L’EscaMoteur Bar

Day 15: Kyoto

  • Head to the Higashiyama district to experience old traditional Kyoto

Day 16: Kyoto & Osaka

  • Beat the crowds & get up early to climb the wooded forest trail of the sacred Fushimi Inari Shrine.
  • Take the train to Osaka
  • Head to universal studios & see the matching outfits of the families visiting the park.

Day 17: Hiroshima

HOTEL:Grand Prince Hotel
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Travel to Hiroshima
  • Take the tram and see the peace park
  • See the Genbaku done one of the few building still standing at ground zero
  • Visit the Museum and learn about the Atomic bombings

Day 18: Hiroshima

  • Take the ferry to Miyajima Island
  • Feed the local wild deer.
  • Climb the peaks to get spectacular views
  • Watch sunset over the floating Itsukushima Shrine

Day 19: Tokyo

HOTEL:E Hotel Higashi Shinjuku
LINKS:Book hotel on Booking.com | Read reviews on TripAdvisor

  • Fly back to Tokyo
  • Head straight to Disneyland Tokyo from the airport (you can leave your luggage in lockers at the park entrance)

Day 20: Tokyo

  • Tokyo Disney Seas – by far the best Disney Theme Park in the world.

Day 21: Fly Home

  • Take the bus from Shinjuku to Narita Airport.
  • Fly home