Last Updated on April 4, 2021 by Helen E. White
Route Through 21 Days in Japan: Japan is a unique country in the world, and I would even say out of this world. After spending more than a month in Japan, we have found that traveling on the go is somewhat difficult and you can miss out on many things if you don’t plan your trip well. That is why we have created for you this route through Japan in 21 days to help you in planning your trip to Japan.
On the route through Japan in 21 days, we suggest you discover the basics of the country of the rising sun with an exciting and balanced itinerary. Knowing Japan is a unique and shocking travel experience for any traveler. It does not matter if you go for the first time or that you repeat it, it always surprises you.
Feeling lost with its language, hallucinating with its shopping centers, understanding its social codes and enjoying its freakiness are just some of the things that you are going to enjoy in the Asian country.
Also, you can read our latest post about Best Things to Do in Japan here.
- 1 Route Through 21 Days in Japan
- 1.1 1. Tokyo – Days 1-8 (8 Full Days, 7 Nights + 1 Night in Fujikawaguchiko)
- 1.2 2. Fujikawaguchiko – 2 Days Tour From Tokyo (1 Night)
- 1.3 3. Nikko – 1 Day Tour From Tokyo
- 1.4 4. Disney Tokyo – 1 Day Tour From Tokyo
- 1.5 5. Kyoto – Days 9-15 (7 Full Days, 7 Nights)
- 1.6 6. Nara – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
- 1.7 7. Osaka – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
- 1.8 8. Kobe – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
- 1.9 9. Takayama – Days 16-18 (2 and a Half Days, 3 Nights)
- 1.10 10. Matsumoto – Day 19 (Half-day, 1 Night)
- 1.11 11. Nakasendo Route – Day 20 (half-day)
- 1.12 12. Tokyo – Days 20 and 21 (Half-day, 1 Night)
- 2 Route Through Japan in 15 Days
- 3 Conclusion
Route Through 21 Days in Japan
The route through Japan that we propose focuses on the main and central island, called Honshū. Here are Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the main cities.
1. Tokyo – Days 1-8 (8 Full Days, 7 Nights + 1 Night in Fujikawaguchiko)
In Tokyo, you are going to have a great time. It is a constant stimulus for the senses. Despite being a huge city with the largest metropolitan area in the world (13 million inhabitants), it is very comfortable to travel around. Everything is very well connected with subways, trains, buses and bicycles without being excessively expensive.
You can choose between green areas, large shopping centers, temples and palaces, restaurants and cafes, arcade machines, karaoke … it’s endless! We recommend that during this time, you visit the neighborhoods of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Chiyoda, Minato and Chūō. Here we tell you the excursions to do from Tokyo and that you can intersperse as it suits you during your stay.
2. Fujikawaguchiko – 2 Days Tour From Tokyo (1 Night)
Knowing this town was one of the pearls of the trip. It is the best place to see Mount Fuji and the feeling of walking through its streets and enjoying the lakes and temples with this giant mountain always in the background is amazing. We recommend booking a hotel night and choosing the days based on the weather (if we can) to make sure you get a good view of Mount Fuji.
3. Nikko – 1 Day Tour From Tokyo
This small mountain town is beautiful for all the natural and green environment that surrounds it. It also has a natural world heritage park with lots of beautiful temples. Try not to go on the weekend to avoid crowds. It is a typical day trip from Tokyo for both tourists and locals.
4. Disney Tokyo – 1 Day Tour From Tokyo
If, like us, you know that there is a Disney nearby and you cannot resist … attention! Just half an hour outside of Tokyo is Japan’s Disney Park. You can arrive calmly on the Tokyo subway and enjoy a day feeling like a child.
In Disney Tokyo, there are two parks, Disneyland and Disney Sea. If you are going to travel in the high season we recommend two things.
5. Kyoto – Days 9-15 (7 Full Days, 7 Nights)
On the 9th of the trip, we moved to the immortal Kyoto by train (3h) or by bus (8h). We will use 3 days of the trip to get lost in its temples, its shopping streets and its traditional neighborhoods.
The Gion neighborhood is one of our favorite corners of the trip to Japan and it is here in a blast! Day 9 of the itinerary is to travel to Kyoto and rest and the other three to tour the city. The next three days are excursions from Kyoto so you can intersperse them during your stay in Kyoto as you wish.
6. Nara – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
The idea is that you start the day around 6/7 in the morning discovering the Fushimi Inari, the most visited temple in Japan. The reason why we recommend you go so early is that there are far fewer people and because that way you can take advantage of the day. Once you finish around 9, you can take the train there to Nara. After stopping for lunch and having toured the parks and temples, around 5 o’clock, you will be ready for the return to Kyoto.
7. Osaka – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
Osaka is an hour’s train ride from Kyoto. In it, we can do many fun and varied activities, such as visiting Osaka Castle or taking a selfie with the Glico. We recommend that you return to Kyoto at the last minute to enjoy its nightlife and colorful posters.
8. Kobe – 1 Day Tour From Kyoto
Knowing the essential places in Kobe can take you about a day. The idea is to see a few things in the morning, stop to eat and see some more during the afternoon.
You don’t have to get up very early, just being there at ten is enough. The train ride from Kyoto will take you about an hour and a half. Once there it is not necessary to take any internal transport, everything is done on foot. What we liked the most was the area of the memorial of the earthquake that hit the city a few years ago, with an interesting open-air museum and an extensive park in front of the sea.
9. Takayama – Days 16-18 (2 and a Half Days, 3 Nights)
On the 16th of the trip, we left for Takayama by direct bus or by train via Nagoya with the JR Pass. The journey will take you all morning. We were amazed by this small city: it is located in the Japanese alps area, it has beautiful and curious places and you will discover the peculiar traditional Japanese high mountain houses.
Day 14 of the itinerary is to travel to Takayama and rest, and the other two to see the city and surroundings and visit the town of Shirakawago if desired.
10. Matsumoto – Day 19 (Half-day, 1 Night)
We arrived at this zero tourist city after 3 hours of a bus during the morning of the 19th of the trip. Take the opportunity to eat in a good restaurant and visit the beautiful castle of Matsumoto.
11. Nakasendo Route – Day 20 (half-day)
We get up early and travel by train to Tsumago to make the section that joins the old Nakasendo route between Tsumago and Magome. Around 10 in the morning, we will have finished the route and seen both towns, so we head to Tokyo by direct bus or train via Nagoya (it will take about 5 hours in total).
You can still take advantage of the afternoon in Tokyo! If you don’t feel like doing this route, you can go directly to Tokyo and enjoy this full day there.
12. Tokyo – Days 20 and 21 (Half-day, 1 Night)
You arrive in Tokyo late so you can still have a night tour and a good dinner. The next day, take advantage of your last hours in Japan to finish shopping. Don’t forget that there are lockers at all stations where you can leave your luggage.
Route Through Japan in 15 Days
If you need to make a tighter trip, we suggest a route through Japan in 15 days. Just remove the last part from Kobe (included) from the itinerary and you’re done. So you have a shorter trip of exactly 15 days visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and the surroundings of both.
What do you think of this possible route through Japan in 21 days? If you have any questions about the budget or about this itinerary to travel to Japan, leave us a comment.
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