To be honest, one week in Japan is quite a short time to visit this interesting and dynamic country. If possible, I wish I could spend a whole month exploring all corners, small villages and islands of this island nation. However, we didn’t have much time and could only spend 7 days in Japan. In this 7-day itinerary, we have packed the main tourist destinations and a few little tips to help make your trip easier and more wonderful. So, what to do in Japan for 7 days? Let’s check out our suggestion for 7 days in Japan (Japan itinerary 7 days) to visit some most famous destinations in Japan: Kyoto, Hakone, Tokyo and Osaka from how to travel, best places to visit, where to stay… to find out the answer!
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What to do in Japan for 7 days: Japan itinerary 7 days
- Kyoto: Culture, cuisine, temples, history, cooking classes
- Hakone: Mount Fuji, onsen bath, village, nature
- Tokyo: Explore Tokyo by night, architecture, food, pop culture
- Osaka: Street food, Osaka by night and surrounding areas
This itinerary is actually ideal for 8-10 days range. However, we want to explore Japan as much as possible within a limit of 7 days so there will be a bit more schedules for a day.
Before coming to Japan …
Buy a JR Pass and you’ll never regret buying it. This JR Pass includes round-trip train tickets from Kyoto to Tokyo (and of course, you will have the opportunity to sit on the most modern bullet train in the world. Super cool! This is one of the must-experience things in Japan).
Tips: You should book your JR Pass before coming to Japan. You can make your purchase a week or two prior to your trip with just a simple mouse click. See instructions for booking and how to get a JR Pass here.
You can also order a Wifi router here. It is also extremely helpful for searching the route, checking the train timetables or finding restaurants. In addition, with this Wifi router, you can connect up to about 10 devices. If you go in a small group of friends, you can buy a SIM card here.
Japan 7-day itinerary detailed schedule: What to play, what to eat, where to go
7 days in Japan — Day 1: Osaka – Kyoto
Welcome to Japan – The land of the rising sun and miracles. Your dream journey is about to begin. However, before going to the interesting things such as where to eat and what to play, let’s talk about logistics.
In our opinion, the cheapest flight tickets to Japan are probably to Osaka, so this will be the starting point of our Japan 7-day travel itinerary (If you fly to Narita Airport, maybe you will have to adjust the schedule a bit, but not too much so rest assured).
- The advantage of flying to Osaka Kansai Airport is that it is really affordable.
- The downside: it’s located on an island, so it takes you 30-45 minutes on the train to get to downtown Osaka (but don’t worry, we already have a JR pass).
You can explore this lovely city from the moment you set your feet on it, or like us, save the last day on your schedule to discover it later, and prepare to take the train to Kyoto.
For the first night, just take your time to get rest after a long flight. If feeling hungry, you can pay a visit to the ramen shops around the neighborhood. Guaranteed that it will light up your mood and increase your strength significantly, and help you get ready to explore Japan in the most incredible way.
Where to stay in Kyoto? You can choose among a variety of motels/hotels in the South Higashiyama area during your stay in Kyoto. We chose the Santiago Hostel and loved the amazing space here, and the rooms were clean for an extremely good price.
Alternatively, you can also choose Piece Hostel Kyoto – ideal location in a modern neighborhood with private or dorm room and a rooftop flower garden. (You can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
What to do in Japan for 7 days — Day 2: Explore the ancient city of Kyoto
Kyoto is the 1000-year-old capital of Japan. This is a true old city because you will not see a skyscraper or any modern buildings at all. In return, the ancient city still preserves many historical and cultural relics both material and spiritual of the Japanese people together with a peaceful setting and a slow pace of life. It is estimated that more than half of all Japanese temples, shrines and palaces are situated in Kyoto.
The low houses are hidden and interwoven with the green trees on clean, narrow streets where there are very few cars. I feel like I can spend a month in Kyoto and still have not discovered much here.
The easiest and cheapest way to visit this city is to buy an all-day bus card of around 500 yen at your hostel, or you can buy one directly on the bus.
Head west to the Arashiyama area and explore the old town. Take a stroll through the magical Sagano bamboo forest (one of the must-experience things when visiting Kyoto). As one of the most beautiful natural scenes in Japan, Sagano not only attracts tourists for its original beauty but also for the sound of the wind blowing through the thick bamboo forest.
If you have more time, try going to Kameyama–koen Park to see … monkeys. Have lunch at one of the ramen shops along the way.
Afternoon: Travel north by bus to Kinkaku-ji, the famous golden temple. This entire temple is inlaid with gold and recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1950. The sunset here is extraordinary, make sure you get the photos. However, this point is a bit crowded, so hopefully you will find a nice view.
Evening: Walk on Pontocho Street and “hunt” geishas. Not only being the only geisha area remaining in Japan, Pontocho is also a collection of streets with old wooden houses, teahouses and exclusive restaurants that have become famous worldwide.
Japan itinerary 7 days — Day 3: Discover Kyoto and more
Morning: Get up early and head south to Fushimi Inari Shrine – the famous shrine with orange gates. Take the JR Nara Line to JR Inari Station. As soon as you exit the station, you will see the temple entrance.
This temple is quite crowded with tourists, so remember to go as early as possible. Take your time to get a few poses. If it is too crowded, go up to the hill a little, you can take photos without any other tourists interrupting.
Afternoon: Join a cooking class at Cooking Sun School. There are a lot of options, but we recommend taking a sushi making class.
Afterwards, return to downtown Kyoto and explore the Nishiki Market. Make sure you try the octopus cake there.
Sunset: Climb a little to Kiyomizu-dera temple to admire the whole city view. After sunset, walk through Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zka – the streets are well preserved and you will feel like going back in time.
Japan itinerary 7 days — Day 4: Travel to Hakone
Morning: Use your JR Pass and transfer to the Shinkansen (bullet train), then to Odawara and buy the Hakone Free Pass for 4000 yen. Transport by bus to the Hakone area and stay at one of the ryokan-style guesthouses here.
We stay at Fuji-Hakone, one of the most affordable motels in the area. Or explore more motels/hotels in Hakone here.
If you really want to experience the culture of Japan, then let’s try onsen bath. Hakone is famous for onsen bath and there are many options to choose from. You can try taking a bath outdoors while watching Mount Fuji (Woww!!!). Usually the onsen baths here are separated by gender, but many motels in the area have personal bathing room.
We had a great time at a private onsen in Fuji-Hakone, relaxing with a bit of wine and watching the snow falling around. An absolutely wonderful experience.
Afternoon: Use the Hakone Free Pass and hop on a cart to arrive at the cable cars for Mount Fuji sightseeing. (Hopefully the weather is nice). While on the cable car, don’t forget to try green tea eggs. People say that if you eat one, you will live another extra 7 years.
Evening: Dinner at a local restaurant and relaxing in onsen bath.
Japan itinerary 7 days — Day 5: Morning in Hakone, Evening in Tokyo
Morning: Travel to Togendai for Mount Fuji sightseeing from another viewpoint, Lake Ashi. Sailing on the lake is quite interesting and you can take lots of beautiful photos here (tickets are included in the Hakone Free Pass).
Get off at the first stop at Hakone-machi Port and then head northeast to Moto-hakone Port. Follow this path along the hillsides and through the beautiful cedar forest.
Afternoon: From Moto-hakone Port, return to Odawara and then travel to Tokyo by JR Rail.
Evening: Arrive at the hotel by subway. You can either stay in Shinjuku or Shibuya area and book a room via Airbnb to save money.
In the technology capital of this world, living without Wifi is totally unacceptable. Therefore, you should rent a Wifi router or take advantage of several places in Tokyo with Wifi connection to search your way. Traffic in Japan is quite troublesome, so traveling without Wifi is a disaster.
Where to stay in Tokyo?
- Couple Stay/Mid-range: Daiwa Roynet Hotel Ginza – Close to Tokyo Station, free Wifi and Plasma TV screens in all rooms, restaurants and other services are quite good. (You can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Budget Friendly/Social Atmosphere: Bunka Hostel Tokyo – Located in the heart of the city, this hostel has won many awards with private room or dorm room besides a restaurant and a shared kitchen for cooking, full Wifi connection. (You can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
7 days in Japan — Day 6: Jigokudani Yaen-koen snow monkey park, Nagano
Morning: Use the JR Pass to arrive in Nagano. From Nagano Station, walk to the local station called Nagano Dentetsu Station. Then take the Yudanaka line to Yudanaka Station.
From here, take the bus going straight to the gate of the Snow Monkey Park. Walk for about 30 minutes into the park, but if you’re like us, it may take longer because there are so many beautiful scenes for photos in this fairy forest. Spend the morning walking around like monkeys. This is probably one of my most enjoyable experiences when traveling to Japan.
Afternoon: Return to Tokyo and go straight to the intersection of Shibuya – the most bustling intersection in the world with bright neon lights, giant screens and 2,500 pedestrians going back and forth. Chaotic but extremely orderly. From the train station, go up to the Starbucks in the Tsutaya building. The second floor of the coffee shop has floor-to-ceiling windows for a comfortable watch of people passing by. This is a very popular viewing spot of the intersection, so please wait patiently for your photo taken from the shop window.
7 days in Japan — Day 7: Explore Tokyo
Explore Tokyo by subway and visit the most famous attractions in the city. Check out some of the must-experience things in Tokyo to plan the most reasonable schedule.
The easiest and cheapest way to get around Tokyo is buy a Toei Line All Day Pass. You can use this card to take any Toei train or any bus routes in the city.
Morning: Go to Tokyo Tower by Toei Oedo Line via Akabanebashi Station. After checking in and taking photos here, you can have some sushi at Tsukiji fish market (Toei Oedo Line via Tsukijishijo Station). Make sure you come here early because most restaurants here are closed before afternoon. Here, you will find the freshest and most delicious sushi in the world. I am still craving for sushi now.
Next, go to Sensoji Temple and see the red giant lantern at the Thunder Gate.
Evening: Frenzy with Robot Restaurant show. This is the craziest, funniest show I’ve ever seen. We got a 30% discount for our booking. It should be worth the money.
Day 8: Fly back to your country
Morning: Visit Meiji Shrine, which is considered to be the most famous temple in Tokyo greater area, located in the middle of a huge park with thousands of trees from all over Japan. And this is also the temple of Emperor Meiji – the first emperor after the Shogun Tokugawa government collapsed. Due to a lot of spiritual elements, this temple always has annual festivals and weddings held in a tranquil atmosphere despite the high number of visitors.
Breathe in the fresh air and walk on the wide roads with towering trees when you come to the wooden temple. On the weekend, you may also see a traditional wedding here.
Afternoon: Head back home.
- If you have less than 7 days in Japan: If you have less than 7 days in Japan, then I recommend choosing to visit either one between Kyoto or Osaka, and Tokyo or Hakone.
- If you have more than 7 days in Japan: There are so many beautiful things in Japan. If I had more time, I would definitely stay in Kyoto.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in Tokyo and from Tokyo you can refer to
- Tokyo Amazing Sightseeing Bus Day Tour
- Tokyo Highlights Private Day Tour
- Dynamic Tokyo
- Nikko Day Tour from Tokyo
- Mt Fuji & Hakone Day Tour: Lake Ashi & Ropeway Day Trip from Tokyo
- Nikko Cultural Day Tour from Tokyo
- Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, or 72 Hours)
- Tokyo Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Ticket
Are you looking for more Japan travel guide and top things to do in Japan: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Check out here.