Embarking on a one-week in Japan Itinerary offers a captivating blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge modernity. This itinerary is designed to guide travelers through iconic landmarks, vibrant cities, and serene landscapes, ensuring a memorable and diverse experience of Japanese culture and beauty.
Days 1, 2 & 3: Tokyo
Spending a whole week in Tokyo, Japan is a great idea, but if you have only seven days for your Japan trip, spending two days in Tokyo can still let you see the main attractions. First, I explored Shinjuku, a bustling part of the city. Then, I went to Roppongi Hills, a well-known area where many foreigners live, to enjoy a fantastic view of Tokyo from Tokyo City View. This was my first visit there, and seeing the city from high up was amazing. I highly recommend visiting this spot on a clear day in Tokyo; the view is unforgettable.
There’s also a café called Gorilla Coffee in the building. Here, you can sit and enjoy a coffee while looking around the city. I got a coffee and felt like a local, working and enjoying the incredible view as if it were a normal day.
Other Tokyo suggestions
If it’s your first time in Tokyo and you want a quick overview of the city, try the open-top Hato Bus tours. They offer a fun way to see the city. I took one and it helped me understand Tokyo’s layout, especially since I usually travel by subway.
If the Hato Bus tour isn’t available, consider these options:
- Half-day Sightseeing Tour: This 4-hour trip takes you to famous spots like Tokyo Tower, Asakusa Kannon Temple, and the Imperial Palace. You can find more details and book tickets online.
- Private Tour: For a personalized experience, try a private tour. Check online for prices and availability.
- Cycling Tour: Biking around Tokyo is a fun and active way to explore. Look online for more information.
After your Hato Bus tour, grab lunch at Sushi Ikki near the bus stops. They serve delicious sushi with generous fish portions and even offer matcha ice cream for dessert.
Shibuya is another must-visit area, known for its famous pedestrian crossing and great shops and restaurants. I like to stay here when I’m not in Shinjuku. You can find unique tours of Shibuya online.
For dinner, try Kyuemon, a cozy izakaya (Japanese pub) in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area. If you prefer something more modern, Kujira Entertainment in the same area is a popular choice.
You can stay at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo, which is quite large. Getting a room on a higher floor lets you experience something special, similar to a movie scene. This hotel is a great choice for several reasons: it’s centrally located, convenient for reaching Haneda Airport, and offers a variety of room types, including unique Hello Kitty themed ones. It’s a top pick for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Additionally, there’s a complete guide available online on where to stay in Tokyo. It includes the best areas and a range of accommodation options suitable for all budgets, providing you with helpful insights for your trip planning.
Day 4: Iwakuni, Yanai, and Yamaguchi
Many people think of trains when they think of traveling in Japan, but flying can be easier and often cheaper, especially if you’re on a tight schedule and want to visit different regions. For example, if you’re planning to explore Yamaguchi, a morning flight to Iwakuni City is a good starting point.
In Yamaguchi, renting a car is the best option because train lines don’t reach all areas and buses aren’t very frequent. This is important if you’re only in Japan for a week and don’t want to waste time waiting for buses.
If you’re not used to driving on the left side of the road, there’s no need to worry. It’s something you can get used to quite quickly. Driving in rural Japan is manageable even for those who aren’t very confident drivers, though driving in busy cities like Tokyo might be more challenging.
The Kintaikyo Bridge is one of Yamaguchi’s most famous landmarks. This wooden arch bridge, first built in 1673, has been rebuilt several times to ensure that the knowledge of its construction and maintenance is passed down through generations.
Near the bridge, there’s the Iwakuni Art Museum, which showcases a remarkable collection of samurai armor and swords, providing a glimpse into the area’s rich samurai history.
For those interested in learning more about the samurai heritage of Yamaguchi, there’s an opportunity to have a samurai experience in Shimonoseki, which can be a unique and intriguing part of the visit.
For lunch, a stop at Irori Sanzoku is a great choice. This is a huge roadside restaurant complex with at least three different dining areas, including some with outdoor seating. The outdoor seats have kotatsu tables, which are covered in thick blankets and equipped with heaters underneath, making for a very cozy dining experience.
Irori Sanzoku is well-known for its delicious grilled chicken and the enormous Sanzoku musubi rice balls. These rice balls are famously large, supposedly the same size that bandits in the past would order when they visited this restaurant.
Downtown Yanai is home to Shirakabe No Machi, a beautifully preserved neighborhood from the Edo Period, featuring old family homes and warehouses. Yanai is also known for its unique goldfish lanterns. Visitors often take part in workshops at Yanai Nishigura to learn how to make these lanterns.
A stroll down the old Edo Period streets of Yanai offers a chance to imagine life in 17th century Japan. With its peaceful atmosphere and few tourists, it’s easy to feel transported back in time, getting a sense of what life might have been like hundreds of years ago.
Ruriko-ji Temple Pagoda
The last stop of the day, Ruriko-ji Temple, is a highlight of the trip. Recognized as a Japanese National Treasure, Ruriko-ji Temple is as impressive as the most magnificent temples in Kyoto. The advantage here is the absence of tourist crowds and streets lined with souvenir shops, allowing visitors to enjoy the temple’s beauty in peace.
For those seeking a complete Japanese experience, the nearby Yamaguchi City Saiko offers an opportunity to dress up in traditional kimonos or warrior outfits. Visitors can then take photos dressed in these outfits, either in the gardens or elsewhere, embracing the cultural heritage of the area.
The night was spent at Hagihonjin Hotel, which is an experience in itself. Located atop a hill overlooking Hagi, it offers stunning morning views. The hotel features both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths, providing a quintessentially Japanese way to unwind after a day of traveling.
Dinner and breakfast at the hotel included traditional Japanese cuisine, which was very tasty. Additionally, the hotel owner’s son, who studied in California, ensures that English-speaking guests can easily communicate.
For other accommodation options around Hagi, Airbnb offers various choices. These include a room just a 5-minute walk from Kintai Bridge, a room in a welcoming home, or a private room in a centrally-located hostel.
Day 5: Hagi, Nagato, and Shimonoseki
Hagi stands out as a favorite city in Yamaguchi, and it’s highly recommended to prioritize visiting it if time is limited. The city, nestled in the mountains and along the seaside, is steeped in history and tradition.
A visit to the Hagi Uragami Museum is worthwhile, as it displays both traditional and modern art. The Meirin School Building, now a museum, showcases Yamaguchi’s significant role during the Meiji Period, which marked Japan’s transition from a feudal society to a modern nation. This setting, being an old school building, adds to the richness of learning about Japanese history.
For dining, there’s a small restaurant inside the school building that serves delightful set lunches. It’s a great spot to try the local cuisine.
Exploring Hagi Castle Town is also a treat, with its traditional homes and Japanese gardens. This experience is reminiscent of Kyoto but without the crowds, offering a more serene exploration.
Tsunoshima Bridge is often listed among the most beautiful bridges in Japan, making it a highly anticipated sight. The bridge stretches over a mile and offers stunning ocean views, highlighting one of Japan’s gems: its amazing beaches. Known for their beauty and often found deserted, these beaches are considered some of the best, with ideal water temperatures in the summer.
Although it was too cold for swimming in October, the water around Tsunoshima Bridge still appeared incredibly inviting, showcasing the natural beauty of the area.
Dinner and overnight stay were at Yamamura Annex, a traditional Japanese ryokan, which also featured hot spring baths. Before dinner, a peaceful walk along the town’s river offered a serene experience, showcasing the tranquility found outside Japan’s major cities. Along the river, free hot spring foot baths are available, and it’s said that the sight of fireflies there in the summer is spectacular.
While it’s possible that not all staff at the ryokan speak English, Yamaguchi prefecture provides a free 24/7 telephone service in several languages to assist visitors in communicating with Japanese speakers. This service can be very helpful for travelers needing language support.
Day 6: Akiyoshidai, Shimonoseki, and Ube
Karato Market in Shimonoseki is renowned for being a large fish market, so much so that even residents of Tokyo, like Noam, compare it favorably with the famous Tsukiji fish market. Visitors can select their own sushi from various stands by filling a box with their choices. The sushi here is notable not only for its quality but also for the generous size of the fish portions, making it a memorable culinary experience. The thought of it alone is enough to make one’s mouth water.
Nagayama-honke Shuzo Sake Brewery
On the way to the airport, a stop was made at a sake brewery in Ube. Even for those not particularly fond of sake, this visit could be quite interesting. The tour included a walkthrough of the brewery, observing the sake fermentation process, and concluded with a tasting session featuring various types of sake. For those with extra time and an interest in sake, this stop is definitely worth considering.
Following the brewery visit, the journey continued with a flight from Yamaguchi Ube Airport back to Tokyo. Due to an early morning flight, a stay at the Keikyu Ex Inn near Haneda Airport was arranged. The hotel’s convenience is enhanced by its free shuttle service to and from the airport.
Day 7: Return home
You move to the airport and come back home!
How Much Does It Cost For One Week in Japan Itinerary?
The cost of a one-week itinerary in Japan varies widely based on several factors, such as your travel style, accommodation preferences, and activities. Here’s a general breakdown:
- Accommodation: Budget options like hostels can cost around $20-$50 per night, while mid-range hotels might be $60-$150, and luxury hotels can exceed $200 per night.
- Food: Daily meals can range from $20 for budget dining (convenience stores and fast food) to $50 or more for mid-range restaurants, and much higher for fine dining experiences.
- Transportation: A Japan Rail (JR) Pass for unlimited travel can cost around $280-$450, depending on the duration and type of pass. City transportation (subways, buses) might add up to $10-$20 per day.
- Attractions: Entry fees for various attractions can range from $5-$30 each, depending on the site.
- Miscellaneous: Additional expenses like souvenirs, snacks, and occasional splurges should also be considered.
Concluding a one-week journey in Japan, this itinerary offers a rich tapestry of experiences, from the neon-lit streets of Tokyo to the historic charm of Kyoto, and the poignant history of Hiroshima. Whether it’s exploring vibrant cities, serene countryside, or indulging in exquisite local cuisine, a week in Japan balances a glimpse of its futuristic urban centers with the tranquility of its traditional past. This one-week itinerary in Japan is not just a trip; it’s a journey through a unique culture, rich history, and breathtaking landscapes, leaving travelers with memories to cherish for a lifetime
FAQs: One Week in Japan Itinerary
Is 1 week enough in Japan?
The amount of time you need in Japan depends on your travel style and what you expect to see. If you have one week, that’s plenty if you stick to popular tourist spots or choose to explore just one less-known region. This approach works well for those who either want to see the famous places or experience a more unique, off-the-beaten-path part of Japan without rushing.
How much does it cost to go to Japan for 1 week?
The cost of spending one week in Japan, excluding international flight expenses, can range from $700 to $2,100 USD per person. This estimate is based on the assumption of two people sharing accommodation and other expenses.
What can you do in Japan for 7 days?
In one week in Japan, you have two main options. You can either take a fast trip along the popular tourist route, visiting cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, and Hiroshima. Or, you can choose to discover a less-known area like San’in, or spend your time on a secondary island such as Kyushu or Shikoku. This plan allows you to either see the well-known sights or explore unique, less crowded areas within your week-long itinerary.