Only have one week in Japan? Here’s how to make the most of it.

Japan is the kind of country you could spends month exploring.

With so many different regions, Japan is a country of diverse experiences and unique destinations. 

If you only have 7 days in Japan, though, don’t worry! This easy-to-travel Asian country is perfect for a short trip, too.  

When you’re planning your trip to Japan, the new good news is you have a whole lot of amazing places and experiences to choose from.

There are so many unique and interesting things to do in Japan, that you certainly won’t be bored!

The only tricky part will be narrowing down your options. There are so many things to do in Japan that it’s hard to choose between them!

Luckily, this Japan travel itinerary will help you maximise your time in Japan and see all the best bits in just seven days.

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7 day Japan itinerary

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Is 7 days in Japan enough?

Although 7 days in Japan isn’t enough to see more than a handful of Japan’s best bits, it’s more than enough time to get a taste for Japanese culture and all of its quirks.

You’ll also probably be able to fit in more than you think because Japan is one of the easiest countries to travel around.

With a Japan Rail Pass, you’ll be able to cover more ground than in almost any other country. 

Thanks to Japan’s amazing transport links, it’s very possible to explore Kyoto, Tokyo and more in just one week. 

If this is your first time in Japan, the Japan itinerary for 7 days below will give you a great insight into this unique part of Asia and show you some of the country’s highlights.


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Day trips from Tokyo to Nara with the JR Japan Rail pass


How to plan one week in Japan

If you only have 1 week in Japan, using your time wisely is going to be crucial.

There’s simply too much to see and do in Japan to fit it all into one week. But you might be surprised by just how much you can do in Japan in 7 days.

I’d recommend trying to fly in to Tokyo and out of Osaka (or vice versa).

Flying in and out of different airports will maximise your Japan travel time, but it’s not the end of the world if that isn’t possible.

After all, you’ll want to take the most convenient (or best value!) flight to Japan.

If you plan to fly in and out of the same airport, you can adjust this Japan travel itinerary to fit your flights.  


TRAVEL TIP

Stay connected throughout your trip with SkyRoam pocket WiFi.

This handy little device will give you unlimited data so you’ll never be without maps, emails and a way to contact home.


The high-speed bullet trains – or Shinkansen – mean you can travel between Tokyo and Osaka in less than three hours. So, the extra journey won’t steal too much of your time in Japan.

With that in mind, I’ve planned this Japan travel itinerary to start in Tokyo and end in Osaka, but you could easily reverse the order and do it the other way around.

Or, you could tag the journey back to Tokyo on to the end to suit your own flights and preferences.


RELATED READ: Why you should consider visiting Japan in winter.


One week in Japan itinerary Tokyo Harajuku


An adaptable Japan Itinerary for 7 Days in Japan

About this Japan itinerary

This Japan travel itinerary by no means covers all of the best things to do and see during your trip, but it’s a good start for your first time in Japan (or even your second, if you didn’t get to see much the first time around!).

It covers a fair amount of distance while wasting as little time as possible travelling.

Whether you spend one week in Japan or one year, it’s the kind of country where there will always be more to see.

My advice would be to not worry about missing things and enjoy the things you do see!


How much can you see during one week in Japan?

This 7 day Japan itinerary doesn’t include some of the most famous places in Japan, such as Hiroshima, Hakone or Kobe.

That said, it should be easy enough to switch one or two of the days if you do wish to visit any of these cities.

If you plan on venturing further afield or visiting the Hokkaido area, I’d recommend spending longer than one week in Japan.

In fact, I’d always recommend spending more than 7 days in Japan (if you can). But if that’s all you have, you’ll still be able to see the highlights with this one week Japan itinerary.


One week in Japan itinerary Tokyo Harajuku

How to spend 7 days in Japan

This Japan itinerary fits in a lot of the best things in Japan in 7 days.

But don’t worry – there’s still a little time for spontaneity, flexibility or some much-needed downtime!


Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo.

Book a hotel in either the Shinjuku or Shibuya district. Both neighbourhoods are centrally located, full or things to see and have great connections both within and out of Tokyo.

The Narita Express stops at both and is the best way to get from Narita International Airport to downtown Tokyo.

It’s also available on the Japan Rail Pass, so it’s worth buying yours in advance (plus it’s cheaper if you do this!)

Stay somewhere central: The Bespoke Hotel in Shinjuku is perfectly located for exploring Tokyo. It’s also super easy to get to – something to keep in mind when you only have 1 week in Japan. 

Try something new: Pod hotels are popular in Japan, and staying in one promises an authentic way to experience the city.  

The Millennial Hotel in Shibuya has both single sex and mixed pods. It even has “art capsules” if you fancy an upgrade! 


Tokyo Itinerary Harajuku
Harajuku is Tokyo’s most colourful neighbourhood!

Head to Harajuku

Once you’ve checked in and freshened up, head to Harajuku.

Nestled between Shinjuku and Shibuya, it should be no more than a 30-minute walk from your hotel.

If you don’t fancy the walk, you can also take the metro to Harajuku station. Takeshita Street is right next to Harajuku station, so immerse yourself in the brightest, boldest part of Tokyo.

Tuck into an oversized, rainbow-coloured crepe or simply stare in awe as girls in brightly coloured outfits stroll pass, a candyfloss bigger than their heads in hand.

If you need a break from the crowds and colourful shops, take a caffeine break in Reissue Café. The only thing to order is a 3D latte.

This cute little bunny-loving café takes coffee art to a whole new level and you can order any picture you like as 2D or 3D coffee art – just show the waiter a photo on your phone.

1,000 Yen ($10) may sounds like a lot for a coffee, but once you see the coffee artist work his magic, it’ll feel like a great deal (even if it is too pretty to drink!).


One week in Japan itinerary Tokyo Harajuku
The colourful Takeshita Street in Harajuku, Tokyo

Tuck into some Japanese food

Harajuku is a great place to stop for food, too.

One of the best things about Japan is that the quality of everything is very high, so you never have to worry about looking for a good restaurant.

Nearly every restaurant is a good restaurant!

There are lots of amazing Japanese foods, but the two you’ll probably eat most often are sushi and ramen – and Tokyo has plenty of both.


Sip on a drink in a tiny bar

Once you’ve had your first taste of Japanese food, head to Shinjuku to experience the unique Tokyo nightlife unwind with a drink.

Golden Gai is a small area of even smaller bars, most of which can hold fewer than eight people.

It’s a really intimate way to relax and enjoy a local whiskey or beer, so step into a bar and get to know your waiter or your fellow patrons. You never know who you might meet!

If you want to learn more about this unique area of Tokyo, join a guided food and drink tour.


Day 2: Take a day trip from Tokyo.

There are loads of easy day trips from Tokyo with the JR pass, so make the most of it!

Japan is one of the easiest countries to travel around and, even though somewhere may look kind of far on the map, you can bet it’s surprisingly easy to get to.

Hitachi Seaside Park is one of the easiest day trips from Tokyo as it’s just a short ride away. It’s a uniquely beautiful park where the flowers change with the seasons.

A bit like a changing piece of natural art.

If you don’t mind getting up a little earlier and travelling a little further, my number one recommendation would be to go and see the Japanese snow monkeys bathing in hot springs.

Make sure you buy your 7-day Japan Rail pass before you arrive in Japan to save time, money and a whole lot of hassle at the station.  

And if you’re still suffering from jet lag or just want to spend more time in Tokyo, there are still plenty of things to do there in two days.


One of the best things to do during a 7 day trip to Japan: visit the Japanese snow monkeys bathing in hot springs

Day 3: Transfer to Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is on almost every visitor’s list when they travel to Japan – and for good reason.

And, if the 3,776 metre-high volcano isn’t enough of a draw, don’t worry. The number of things you can tick off your Japan bucket list while you’re there should be.

Jump on a bus from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station and you’ll arrive at Mount Fuji in around two hours.

The journey will cost around 1,750 Yen (just under $16) and is the best way to get from Tokyo to Mount Fuji.

It is possible to take a JR train to Hakone and Lake Ashi, but the bus is easiest and the most direct route.

If you only have 7 days in Japan, it’s a great way to save a little time, even if it does mean spending a little more money.

Mount Fuji is a great place to experience staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Stay in a multi-purpose room with sliding doors and have an amazing night’s sleep on a floor mattress (way more comfy than it sounds, I promise!). 

Then, wake up to a view of the famous active volcano.

Staying in a ryokan can be a little pricey but it was definitely one of my highlights from my trip to Japan. For me, it’s an absolute must if you only have one week in Japan. 

At Mount Fuji, you can also experience a traditional Japanese onsesn (hot spring). These natural baths are swimsuit-free zones open to the public, and are still very common all over Japan.

Shuhokaku Kogetsu has both outdoor hot springs and epic views of Mount Fuji, so you can tick off both at once.


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Day 4: Transfer to Kyoto

After enjoying a relaxing onsen and a restful night, wake up bright and early to watch the sun rise on Mount Fuji.

Make sure you pack a camera so you can capture some beautiful photos, too!

After breakfast, it’s time to use the Japan Rail pass again. Take the Shinkansen Kodama bullet train from Shin-Fuji(Shizuoka) to Kyoto. 

When you arrive, check in to a hotel in the Nijo area of town and drop off your bags. The Machiya Shinsen-En Hotel combines modern decor with traditional Japanese living for a luxuriously comfortable stay.

Kyoto is a fairly large city but a lot of the best bits are within walking distance of the centre. From Nijo, it will be easy to explore.

Some of the best things to see in Kyoto include Toji temple, Kinkaku-ji temple, Maruyama Park and Nijojocho Park. If you want to make the most of your day in Kyoto, sign up for a tour. A walking tour like this one will teach you about the former Japanese capital’s rich history.

Spend the day discovering some of Kyoto’s temples and parks, then sample some of the local sushi and ramen houses when it’s time to eat. 

When the sun sets, don’t rush back to your hotel too quickly.

There are lots of unique things to do in Kyoto at night, and you’ll see a totally different – yet equally authentic – side of this city.


Day 5: Visiting the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine

If there’s one photo you’ve seen of Kyoto, it’s almost definitely the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

This shrine of orange torii gates stretches 4km across Kyoto’s mountainside and has become a popular Instagram spot for tourists.

Despite its popularity on social media, however, it’s not as crowded – or hard to get your own shot – as you might think. And that’s mostly due to the sheer size of it.

Walking directly to the peak of the mountain will take you two hours. You might want to double that, though, to factor in some extra time for photo opportunities and stops. There’s a lot of them!

You’ll probably want to spend some time taking in the views of Kyoto along the way, too.

I could have spent all day here – and next time I go back to Japan, I plan to. Even if you only have a week in Japan, I recommend doing the same.


One week in Japan itinerary Tokyo Harajuku

Day 6: Get up early for Arashiyama bamboo forest

The other classic Instagram shot from Kyoto is the Arashiyama bamboo forest.

Unlike the Fushimi Inari Shrine, which was much larger than we had anticipated, the bamboo forest is tiny.

Seriously – it’s nothing more than a single path surrounded by towering bamboo. That said, it’s still more than impressive enough to warrant a visit.

And an early visit, at that. If you really want to make the most of a visit to the Arashiyama bamboo forest, get there as early as possible. It’s open 24 hours, after all.

I’d recommend hopping on the first train out of Kyoto and getting to the forest as close to sunrise as possible.

Not only will you have more chance of having it to yourself (yes, it is possible!) but you’ll be able to get some amazing photos.

After getting up early for the bamboo forest, you’ll have plenty of time left to explore for the rest of the day.


RELATED READ: Check out this list of exciting things to do in Kyoto.


After a couple of days based in Kyoto, pack your bags, check out of your Kyoto hotel and hop back on the JR train.

This time you’ll want to take the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Himeji, a journey which takes just under two hours.

When you arrive at Himeji station, leave your suitcases in one of the lockers at the station and head directly out.

You won’t be able to miss the castle in the distance and you’ll be at its gates after a 15-20 walk. Allow around two hours to explore the castle grounds and, if you’re feeling active, climbing to the top.

Before you jump back on the bullet train, stop for some bullet train sushi at a restaurant called Rikimaru.

You’ll find it tucked away just outside Himeji station. Here, the sushi is delivered on a real train – a Shinkansen train! Prices are very reasonable, too.

After enjoying the bullet train sushi, it’s time to ride the bullet train yourself. Shin-Osaka station is just a 30-minute ride from Himeji – and that’s our stop for tonight. 

Check into a hotel near to the station. Check out my guide to where to stay in Osaka to make your decision. The Karaksa Hotel Grande is just 0.3 miles away and makes an ideal base for exploring Osaka.

End the night with a trip to the Umeda Sky Building, where you can take the sky escalator. Here, you will enjoy an amazing panoramic view of Osaka’s bustling streets and lights from 173m above.


One week in Japan itinerary Tokyo Harajuku

Day 7: Explore Osaka or head back to Tokyo

Depending on when – and where! – your flight departs, spend some time exploring Osaka or head back to Tokyo in time for take-off.

If you’re heading back to Tokyo, the Nozomi train takes just 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. There are also regular bullet trains between the two cities, but it’s best to book in advance to be safe.

If you have a whole day left to explore Osaka, why not try one of these easy day trips out of the city? Or, if you’d rather take it easy, here are some of the best things to do in Osaka:


Tips for spending one week in Japan

If you only have 7 days in Japan, you’ll want to make the most of them.

These tips will help you arrive prepared so you can enjoy your week in Japan to the full, but check out my post packed with 37 tips for your first trip to Japan for even more tips.


While in Tokyo, stay in Shinjuku or Shibuya

These are two of the best areas in Tokyo for tourists, with lots of restaurants, shops and things to see.

They’re also both centrally located within easy access of the JR train lines.

They’re also near the Narita Express train that runs between the airport and downtown Tokyo.


Buy a 7-day JR rail pass

I know it might seem pricey, but I promise it will be worth. Unless you want to spend the whole week in Tokyo, it will makes any day trips or travel to Kyoto, Osaka and beyond much cheaper.

Buy your Japan Rail pass before you go to save even more money (and lots of time!).


first trip to Japan
Layering is key in Japan!

Pack layers

The weather in Japan can vary just as much as it does in the UK. Locals tend to dress in layers and it’s wise to do the same.

Pack a mix of loose-fitting but tailored trousers, smart jeans and tops/jumpers than you can layer. And don’t forget a waterproof jacket and a scarf!


Carry an umbrella

It rained for about 4 of our 9 days while we were in Tokyo. Pack an umbrella if you can.

Most locals will carry a dome-shaped clear umbrella.


Stay near stations to save time

When you only have 7 days in Japan, you don’t want to waste time travelling.

Japan’s cities are well-connected but large, and it can take a long time to travel between areas.

Staying somewhere central or near to a JR line station will help a lot, even if it does cost a little bit more.


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Alajode UK travel blog and vlog by a female digital nomad
Jodie Marie Dewberry

Jodie has been travelling the world full time since 2017, sharing the most unique places in the world along with tips for living as a digital nomad. She is a passionate wildlife photographer and has worked with a number of prominent travel brands, including airlines, tourism boards, hotels and tour operators.

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