The ten day Japan itinerary is ambitious: filled with great food, amazing sights, and experiences you will never forget. If you’re looking for a wild week immersed in a country and culture much different than your own, you’ve come to the right place.
In my opinion, the best part of traveling is immersing yourself in a new and different culture. Japan is an amazing place to have this kind of experience with so much to see, do, learn, AND EAT! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a trip planner and a month free to do it! Traveling to Japan is easy, and you can have the trip of your lifetime with just one week off of work/school. In fact, it made the perfect spring break off of college for myself and 4 great friends.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Grab a JR Pass – this is Japan’s magical golden ticket giving you unlimited JR train rides for $250. One way from Tokyo to Kyoto will run you at least $140, so you see how the math works out in your favor! However, YOU MUST BUY THIS BEFORE ENTERING JAPAN. I suggest ordering from jrpass.com who will ship it via FedEx priority right to your door. You can then exchange the paper you receive your JR pass when you arrive at Narita airport.
- Stay in Airbnbs and hostels – Airbnb is highly affordable (as low as $28/night) in Japan and will consistently undercut hotels. But, be sure to message your host confirming your check-in information 1-2 days in advance of your stays to avoid confusions. Especially with a language barrier.
- Don’t withdraw cash in the states – The best way to get your hands on some Yen is once you reach Japan. When you arrive, you can withdraw money from a Seven-Eleven ATM for an ideal conversion rate and minimal added fees. Be sure to notify your bank that you are traveling!
Day 1: You’re Off
The flight is long, but you can still get a great quality flight for cheap if you buy at the right time! Hopper is the magical app that will figure out when to buy and when to fly for you, saving you time and money!
PRO TIP: Look to fly ANA or JAL. These Asian airlines are top notch and the in-flight cuisine is delicious. I even got a carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dessert!
Day 2: Hello Japan – Night in Tokyo
Welcome to Tokyo! Chances are your flight landed in the late afternoon/night. After you arrive, take the JR Narita Express (included in the JR pass) into Tokyo.
Drop your bags off, and grab your first bite of Japanese cuisine! Explore the bar scene and head back to get some sleep for tomorrow. Shake off some of that jet lag for an early start tomorrow!
WhERE TO STAY?
I highly recommend staying in Shinjuku, close to the Shinjuku or Shin Okubo station. This is a highly central location within walking distance of Kabukicho, Golden Gai, the Shinjuku gardens, and is a short ride from any other key landmarks in Tokyo (Meiji Shrine, Ueno Park, etc.). They trick is to stay as close to the subway station as possible.
Day 3: Tokyo Day 1
Day 4: Tokyo Day 2
Day 5: Nagano & Jigokudani
Day 6: Hakone
Day 7: Kyoto Day 1
Day 8: Kyoto Day 2
Day 9: Kyoto Day 3 or Osaka & Night in Tokyo
Day 10: Tokyo
Some Final Tips
Food to Try