Japan is a wonderful country, with a culture so unique and traditional that everyone should have seen this so-called land of the rising sun at least once in their life if they get the chance to. As you may have already seen in other posts from us, we were fortunate enough to travel in Japan for an entire month and to meet many wonderful and hospitable Japanese who brought us closer to their country and their culture.
Since not everyone has that much time, we would like to introduce you to what we consider the best Japan Itinerary 14 days. You can travel without any problems to discover these wonderful Japan travel destinations. Furthermore, you will find below a few important Japan travel tips to help you plan your Japan 2 week itinerary.
Two weeks in Japan are not nearly enough to marvel at all the fantastic sights Japan has to offer. That’s why in our Japan travel Itinerary, 14 days, we give you various options to tailor your trip to your wishes and interests.
What to find out in this post
2 weeks in Japan – The Planning
If you want to travel to Japan, you should start planning early. You need to decide on various factors before the trip. In this section, we would like to introduce you to the essential aspects you need to consider to plan your 2-week trip to Japan.
Japan – The best time to travel
Firstly, you have to decide when your trip should take place. Would you like to visit the country during the cherry blossom season? Then, of course, you should drive in the spring. Do you prefer to experience snow? Then you probably might want to visit the country during the winter months.
Japan is a suitable destination for any travel time and has a lot to offer all year.
We found May / June a great time to travel to Japan. The cherry blossom season was just over, so there were not too many tourists. Despite everything, the temperatures were already pretty summery, but it was not too hot.
How would you like to get from A to B in Japan? The arguably most popular means of transport in Japan is the train. Many travelers opt for a Japan Rail pass (You can find more information here). With this, you can use all the JR trains throughout the country. However, you must purchase the pass before (!) your arrival in the country.
If you prefer to save some money and don’t mind long travel times, you can also take the bus. You can get around with several bus companies at a relatively affordable price.
Japan – What to see
Of course, the most important thing about your trip around Japan is knowing where to go. If you have a lot of time, you can explore many beautiful places in the whole country. The following locations are designed for a Japan travel itinerary 2 weeks.
2 weeks Japan costs
Especially if you have a limited trip budget, you should consider the holiday cost in Japan before you travel.
The average traveler spends about €115/$135 per day in Japan. Accordingly, you should expect to pay around €1,610/$1,890 for a two-week trip to Japan. In addition, the average traveler spends about €1,100 on their flight to Japan from Europe and about $900 from the US. However, if you plan ahead and book smartly, you can also find flights for around €500 from Europe and $500 from the US.
Making plans well and cleverly and using a few simple tricks can really save some money on his trip to Japan. On average, during our trip through Japan, we spent only $43.92 per day, resulting in a 2 week Japan budget of at least $ 614.88 (excluding flights). Find out how we did it in our Ultimate Japan Travel Cost Guide.
Japan Information & travel tips
If this is your first trip to Japan, you should first learn a bit about the culture and customs of the country, some of which are very different from ours.
For this, we have summarized all the things I wish I had known before traveling to Japan. You can find them in our Japan Travel Tips article here.
Your Ultimate Japan Itinerary 14 days
Day 1-4 Tokyo
Tokyo is probably the most popular destination in Japan and most likely your first destination in the country.
Like most, you will probably land at Narita airport. But do not worry, it’s easy to get to downtown Tokyo from here. Just take one of the Keisei buses.
Tokyo is an exciting and unique city unlike any other in the world. The Japanese capital is enormous, the largest in the world to be exact, so you need plenty of time to explore all corners of Tokyo.
Tokyo is perfect for getting the first glimpse into Japanese culture and learning more about the locals and the history of this exciting country.
Shibuya is an absolute must-do for every visitor to Tokyo, the famous intersection comparable to Times Square in New York.
Because Tokyo is so huge, it can make a big difference in what neighborhood of Tokyo you spend the night in. That’s why you will find detailed information about all important areas in our comprehensive Tokyo neighborhood and accommodation guide.
Highlights in Tokyo
- Shibuya Crossing
- Tokyo Skytree
Day 5 + 6 in Japan
For the next few days, we would like to give you a few choices from which you can choose a destination. So you can customize your 14 days in Japan even more individually according to your interests.
Option 1 Hakone
About 100 km from Tokyo, you can find the small town of Hakone. It is considered a popular tourist destination and is for many an absolute Highland on a trip to Japan.
Hakone is located in the middle of Fuji Hakone-Izu National Park, where Mount Fuji and Ashi Lake are located.
On clear days you have a fantastic view of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest and probably most famous mountain.
Hakone Japan’s be used both as a place to stay and as a visiting the mountains or as a day trip from Tokyo. For those who are into nature and mountains or even planning to hike Mt. Fuji, Hakone is the perfect destination.
From Tokyo to Hakone
With its relative proximity to Tokyo, Hakone is easy to reach from the Japanese capital. By train, the trip takes about an hour, depending on the train you choose. The journey is even cheaper by bus. In this case, the trip takes just under 2 ½ hours.
Option 2 Matsumoto
Matsumoto is a less crowded city, about 136 miles from Tokyo. It is the perfect destination for those who want to recover from Tokyo’s bustle and are interested in Japanese history, castles, and samurai culture.
In Matsumoto, you will find the so-called crow castle, which is definitely worth a visit. At the entrance, volunteers are waiting for you to give you a free tour (even tipping is not accepted here).
However, we strongly recommend you choose a guide. He can tell you many details about the history and the castle itself. Our guide could speak English and Spanish and was more than happy to practice a little Spanish with us. He knew everything about the castle and its exhibits, making the tour a great experience.
From Tokyo to Matsumoto
If you want to visit Matsumoto from Tokyo, you have several options. You can either take the bus (Around 3 hours ride: 3,800 yen/approx. 30 €/$35) or one of the following train options: JR Azusa Limited Express (Around 2 ½ hour ride: 6,620 yen/approx. 50 €/$60 or JR Pass); Shinkansen via Nagano (Around 2 ½ hour ride including connecting time: around 10,000 yen/76 €/$92 or JR Pass) or Local Train (Around 5-hour ride: around 2,500 – 4,070 yen/19 – 31€/$23 – 37).
Option 3 Kanazawa
Another excellent option if you are interested in Japanese culture, architecture and history is Kanazawa. Compared to Japanese destinations such as Osaka and Kyoto, this city is relatively unknown and still worth a visit. Although Kanazawa Castle is rather unspectacular compared to Matsumoto Castle, Kanazawa offers many other attractions, such as the traditional Geisha District or some beautiful parks and gardens.
Anyone coming in June should not miss the Hyakumangoku Matsuri Festival, when the whole city seems to be on its feet, dancing and singing through the streets of Kanazawa.
Option 4 Magome
Japan is famous worldwide for its unique and diverse nature. If you are looking for nature and traditional Japanese villages, you should not miss Magome. We immediately fell in love with this small village in the Japanese Alps.
You can use the day you arrive in Magome to take a look around and let your gaze wander over the beautiful nature. We definitely recommend spending a night here as Magome is even more beautiful once the day-trippers have left the village and the tranquility has returned.
The next day you can continue on foot to the village of Tsumago, about 4,3 miles away, which is also a traditional Japanese village in the Alps. You can have your luggage delivered to Tsumago for little money. Although the so-called Magome – Tsumago Trail is not only for hiking professionals, it is still a great way to get to know the beautiful nature of the Japanese Alps.
Day 7 & 8 Kyoto
Whichever option you choose before, a city no one visiting Japan should miss is Kyoto – even if you can just spend one day in Kyoto, I can’t recommend you enough to go. Kyoto is considered Japan’s cultural capital and is full of ancient architecture and traditional temples. You could probably spend many days or even weeks in Kyoto without getting bored.
In addition to the famous Arashiyama bamboo garden, you will also find the unique Fushimi Inari-Taisha temple in Kyoto, with the orange gates (Toriis), which you may have already seen in many photos.
While we stayed 4 days in the city to discover as much as possible, we have summarized the best 5 attractions that you should not miss during your visit.
Highlights in Kyoto
- Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
- Fushimi Inari-Taisha
- Kinkaku-Ji Temple
- Sagano Arashiyama Bamboo Groove
Day 9 Nara + Osaka
When staying in Kyoto or Osaka, don’t miss a day trip to Nara. It is a wonderful little town full of deer. Although the deer are wild animals, you might be able to pet them in exchange for a few cookies. Note, however, only to feed the deer’s cookies, which you can buy at the park’s entrances.
Nara is located directly between Kyoto and Osaka, making it a perfect stopover when traveling between those famous Japanese cities.
Definitely take some time to watch the lively animals, which are an essential part of Japanese culture.
Later, you can take a train to Osaka and end the day with a delicious Okonomiyaki or popular karaoke.
Highlights in Osaka
- Osaka Castle
Day 10 Osaka
Osaka became our favorite city in Japan, even though we are actually not huge fans of big cities. But Osaka somehow has its own extraordinary vibe. Our friend Kana took us to areas where few tourists go to get to know the authentic and non-touristy Osaka.
Of course, we also spent time looking at tourist attractions such as the famous castle of Osaka.
Option: Day Trip to Himeji
For true fans of Japanese architecture, a visit to Himeji, or more precisely to Himeji Castle, is an absolute must. Admittedly, Himeji Castle, known as Himeji-jō in Japanese, is considered one of the most imposing castles in all of Japan.
It is hardly surprising that the castle has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the early 1990s. The oldest parts of this impressive structure date back to the 17th century and have been continuously expanded over the years. Today, Himeji Castle consists of 83 individual buildings.
Fun Fact: Due to its idyllic white exterior, the castle is also often referred to by the Japanese as Shirasagijō, which translates as White Heron Castle.
Other Highlights in Himeji
- Koko-en Garden
- Engyo-ji Temple
- Himeji Central Park
How to get there
From Osaka, you can reach Himeji quickly and easily by train. Depending on your budget, you can choose the Shinkansen train (about 30 minutes travel time) or the regular train (about 70 minutes travel time). From Himeji Station, you can follow the signs to the castle.
Alternative: The day trip is also easily doable from Kyoto.
Day 11 + 12 Hiroshima & Miyajima
If you are interested in the history of Japan, Hiroshima is definitely a must-do for you.
A real highlight is a day trip to Miyajima, a small island just a few minutes’ boat ride from Hiroshima. Even if you’ve never heard of this island before, I’m sure you’ve already seen pictures of it. Because here stands one of the most famous sights of Japan: The Torii in the water. At high tide, its feet are always covered with water, but at low tide, you can walk to Torii and take a look at the most famous Japanese gate from a different angle.
But the island also offers other attractions that can fill a whole day on the island. Similar to Nara, there are also free-roaming deer walking around. Take good care of your bags, especially if you have something to eat with you.
Day 13 + 14 Tokyo
Author’s note: If you have booked your return flight from Osaka, you can simply spend a day more in Tokyo at the beginning of your trip and now return to Osaka.
Has it already been 2 weeks? Probably your time in this fascinating country goes by in the blink of an eye, and it’s already time to return to Tokyo, where your adventure began.
Spend your last days in the colorful metropolis of Tokyo and try all the yummy delights that Japan’s capital has to offer. If you are not sure yet what you should definitely try, you will find our top 10 Japanese dishes here.
FAQ about Japan travel
A better question would be, “How much time do you have?”. There are so many beautiful places to see in Japan that you could continue your trip endlessly without getting bored. It is recommended to travel in Japan for at least two weeks to see the highlights of the country.
Japan has excellent transport links, and public transport is well developed and of excellent quality. In addition to the train and express train transportation network, there are also relatively affordable bus connections in all parts of the country.
The Japanese cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are considered absolute must-sees. In addition, many other cities in Japan are also worth visiting, such as Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Matsumoto, Koyasan, and many more.
Your packing list should be based on the places you are visiting and the season. Definite must-haves are comfortable shoes, a daypack, an emergency first-aid kit, hygiene and cosmetic products for daily use, and clothes that can be worn in a layer-look.
Which vaccinations you need for your trip to Japan depends on your previous vaccinations and your state of health. It is best to consult your doctor about this. It is recommended to keep all your essential vaccinations up to date before traveling abroad.
In Japan, the so-called yen is used. One dollar is currently about 137 yen. You should exchange some money at the latest after you arrive in the country. Check the current exchange rate before you decide on an exchange office.
In Japan, they use plugs of type A. If you are visiting from the US, you most probably won’t need to use an adapter for your devices.
Any more questions or comments? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!