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Beautiful landscapes, interesting history with amazing traditions, and the most advanced technology are how you can describe Japan the best in a few words. In this itinerary for Japan, I will take you on my journey through this amazing country with the best tips and useful information.
I visited the most awesome places like Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka, and some traditional villages such as Takayama during these 3 weeks in Japan and it was just incredible!
This Japan itinerary contains a map of Japan with my route, all the hotels where I stayed, where to eat, and extra information on how to get around.
READ ALSO: The best 5-day Tokyo itinerary – Tokyo guide
Flights to Japan?
The easiest way to get into Japan is to fly to one of the many international airports such as Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagasaki.
For this amazing trip, I choose to travel from Tokyo to Osaka and bought a ticket with Singapore Airlines to Tokyo from Kuala Lumpur as I was traveling around Asia.
If you travel from other continents you might have a layover in cities like Hong Kong, Bangkok, or even Hawaii depending on where you are coming from.
A flight ticket to Japan is pretty affordable if you buy it in advance and rates are mostly between 650€ – 1000€ for a return flight from Europe.
TIP: You NEED a return flight or outbound flight before flying to Japan. I ended up buying a ticket to the Philippines at the check-in (luckily, it was pretty cheap and I was very excited to explore the Philippines again)
How to travel around Japan?
Travelling around the country is very easy as the trains and especially the Shinkansen trains are very fast, comfortable, and reliable. You can travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima in less than 5 hours, which is almost 1000km, or from Osaka to Tokyo in just 3 hours. Crazy!
The best thing to do before you arrive in Japan (2 weeks in advance) is to buy a JR Rail Pass, which is only for foreigners who travel around Japan for less than 90 days.
With this JR Rail Pass, you save a lot of money on separate train tickets and you can travel almost everywhere for 7, 14, or 21 days depending on which Pass you buy.
Best time to visit Japan
Japan is an all-year-round destination and there is something to do in the country every month of the year. The most popular month is March, as this is the period that the cherry blossom trees will bloom.
Although, Japan is beautiful in every season, expect beautiful orange, red and Yellow colors during Autumn or snow during winter, which makes it also the perfect destination for winter sports.
The best months to visit Japan and explore most of the country will be March/April or October/November, while January is a great month for skiing or snowboarding.
Try to avoid August/September as these are the months with the most rainfall and typhoons.
Visa for Japan requirements
As a Belgian citizen, the visa requirements for Japan are very easy as you don’t need to apply for a visa before arrival. You’ll get a Visa on Arrival and you can stay up to 90 days.
NOTE: Please make sure you check all visa and passport requirements in your own country before booking your tickets or via the search box below. iVisa can help you out with all your questions regarding visas.
Useful apps for Japan
When you travel around the country it is sometimes easy to already have some websites or apps for Japan ready on your mobile phone. One of the best apps in Japan that helped me a lot was google translate as not many locals can speak English, especially in a mountain -and rural areas.
- Google Translate – I couldn’t live without this app during our Japan itinerary! The instant camera translation helped us translate literally everything from food in the supermarket, and choosing on a menu in a restaurant to asking directions from local people.
- Booking.com – my most favorite app to find accommodations worldwide
- Maps.me – the best offline mapping app on the planet. Download the map, choose your route, save your favorite places, and explore the country without using the internet. (money saver!)
- Currency XE – calculates currencies on the go. With the app, you can access live exchange rates and calculate prices on your smartphone super easily.
- HappyCow – my favorite app to find the best vegan & vegetarian food around you.
- Japan Travel by Navitime – the best and most downloaded app to help you travel around Japan like a local. The app navigates you from point to point and helps to find offline Wi-Fi spots, ATMs, and train stations.
- Japan Official Travel App – the official tourist app for finding the best information about public transportation in Japan, sightseeing, free Wi-Fi services, and more.
- Hyperdia – This is not a real app, but a great website to navigate all the trains in Japan if you have a JR Railpass.
- Rakuten is the best and biggest travel agency in Japan with hundreds of different tours and services across the country.
Map of Japan
WHERE DID I START: Tokyo
WHERE I ENDED: Osaka
HOW LONG DID I TRAVELLED: 19 days
WHEN DID I GO: October
BEST TIME TO VISIT: October/November – March/April
The perfect itinerary for Japan
Recommended stay: 4-6 nights
Where to stay in Tokyo: The Knot Tokyo Shinjuku
I lived in Kuala Lumpur for 2 months and booked a flight with Singapore Airlines, where I spent the first 6 days. The city has so many things to do that you can easily spend 1 or 2 weeks here.
From vibrant neighborhoods, maiden shows, robot cafes, and traditional ramen shops to exciting shrines and temples around the whole city.
Make sure you cross the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world at Shibuya, wander around in the electric city of Akihabara and explore the countless parks in the city.
However, if you only have time to explore Japan in 2 weeks, you don’t have to spend 6 days in Tokyo as you can see the most popular highlights in 3 to 4 days.
READ ALSO: The best 5-day Tokyo itinerary
Kawaguchiko (Mount Fuji)
Recommended stay: 2 nights
Where to stay in Kawaguchiko: Kagelow Mt.Fuji Hostel Kawaguchiko
On the last day in Tokyo, I decided to take a bus to Lake Kawaguchiko and stay in the town of Fujikawaguchiko next to the lake. It is the easiest accessible town near Mt. Fuji and it was definitely my favourite place in Japan!
Lake Kawaguchiko is the second largest of the 5 lakes around Mt. Fuji and it offers many awesome things that you can do. Rent a bike and explore the area, discover the best viewpoints on Mount Fuji or relax at Lake Kawaguchiko during a boat cruise.
It is a small cozy town with a peaceful atmosphere where you will have an amazing time for sure!
Recommended stay: 2 nights
Where to stay in Takayama: Cup of Tea Guesthouse
The trip from Kawaguchiko to Takayama was relatively easy with the Nohi bus (I used only busses during my trip in Japan) and glad I visited this beautiful town.
Strolling around the town and visiting the morning markets, exploring the many temples and shrines, and having dinner in the cutest Japanese restaurant made my stay in Takayama so memorable.
Don’t forget to visit the Hida Folk Village and when you visit Takayama during Autumn or Spring you can see the maple and cherry trees changing colours.
Recommended stay: 4 nights
Where to stay in Kyoto: Hotel Anteroom Kyoto
Known as the historical and cultural heart of the country, Kyoto is a place where you’ll fall in love as has many lovely neighborhoods, beautiful castles, and even seventeen UNESCO Heritage sites.
I spend 5 days in the city to explore everything at an easy pace and visited amazing places during the day such as Fushimi Inari, the popular bamboo forest, and I jumped on the Sagano scenic train, while at night you can wander around the Gion district to spot Geisha’s.
READ ALSO: 18 x the best things to do in Kyoto
Recommended stay: 1 night or day trip from Osaka or Kyoto
Where to stay in Nara: Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi
While most people come to Nara on a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto as it is only 30-45 min. with the train to get here, I decided to stay in Nara for a night and discover more amazing places in this wonderful town.
The village has many beautiful parks where hundreds of deer are roaming free, however, some locals try to sell you food so you can feed them and take some photos with them (which I do not recommend).
Although it is lovely to see all the deer, there are other great places you have to see in Nara such as the Kōfuku-Ji, a massive temple, the famous Higashimuki Shopping Street, and many other beautiful gardens.
Recommended stay: 3 nights
Where to stay in Osaka: Hotel Noum OSAKA
Osaka is a foodie’s dream come true! Plenty of good restaurants, delicious street food, and regional specialties like takoyaki (octopus balls) or Okonomiyaki (legendary savory pancakes).
Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan and one of the best cities for foodies all over the world. So if you’re craving some good Japanese food we highly recommend adding Osaka to your Japan travel route.
But besides the huge food scene, the city has many more amazing things to offer
Photogenic streets filled with beautiful neon lights, cute little alleys to get lost in, lots of shopping districts, peaceful parks, and temples. One of our absolute highlights was Osaka Castle, which is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan and has a super fascinating history.
READ ALSO: 17 Awesome things to do in Osaka
Recommended stay: 2 nights
Where to stay in Hiroshima: Nest Hotel Hiroshima Hatchobori
Although I decided to skip Hiroshima this time as most sights were closed or under renovation for the Olympic games, I still suggest visiting Hiroshima as this city should be included on your bucket list (yeah, I know but will visit it someday soon as it is still on my list)
The city is known worldwide as it was destroyed and wiped out by an atomic bomb during World War II in 1945. However, these days the city has become a bustling city with many amazing things to do such as the Peace Memorial Park and the popular Itsukushima Shrine.
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READ MORE ARTICLES ABOUT JAPAN
Plan your itinerary for Japan with my favorite travel apps
To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly.
- Trip – Flight deals
- Booking.com – Hotels and accommodation
- TourRadar – Group trips
- TripAdvisor – Reviews and activities
- HostelWorld – Hostels
- GetYourGuide – Activities and excursions
- RentalCars – Car rental
- Omio – Transport
- iVisa – Travel documents
- Wise – Money transfer
- InsuredNomads – Travel Insurance
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.