Japan had been one of my top travel goals since I was a kid. Growing up with half-Japanese cousins, it was impossible not to dream about one day finding myself in the land of the rising sun.

I finally mustered enough courage to apply for a Japan tourist visa and enjoyed my first visit to the country on a memorable trip with my family. Wish come true indeed!

I traveled to some of Japan’s top places to visit including Tokyo, Mount Fuji area, Osaka & Kyoto. I loved that traveling around the country is very easy, safe and most definitely worthwhile. The hard part is choosing where to go considering the huge list of beautiful destinations in Japan, and of course, saving up as travel costs are higher compared to most countries.

Don’t worry though. Japan is worth every yen and multiple trips are better as each season offers different experiences and changing natural scenery.

Traveling to Japan for the first time? Scroll down to get started on planning your trip. I’ve included a sample itinerary, places to visit/things to do, list of expenses/budget breakdown and extra travel tips.

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Japan Itinerary

What to do in Japan in two weeks? Here’s a sample 14 days & 13 nights itinerary for your do-it-yourself (DIY) trip.

This 2 weeks itinerary is inspired by the typical Japan “golden route” from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka (I did it route in reverse starting in Osaka and ending in Tokyo). On my way between these two cities, I visited Shirakawa-go (traditional Japanese village) as well as the Mount Fuji area including Lake Kawaguchi, Hakone and Shiraito Waterfall.

Feel free to tweak the activities & timings below based on your traveling style, schedule, & attractions that interest you the most.

Leg 1: Osaka

Time Activity
Day 1

Flight to Osaka

Osaka-Kansai International Airport Airport (KIX) Arrival

Airport to Osaka city center/hotel transfer

Osaka hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Day 2

Himeji Castle & Kobe side trip

Dotonbori shopping & food district

Day 3

Osaka Castle

Universal Studios Japan

Umeda sightseeing & nightlife – Umeda Sky Building, Help Five Ferris Wheel

See more

Leg 2: Kyoto

Time Activity
Day 4

Osaka to Nara train

Nara sightseeing – Nara Park & temples

Nara to Kyoto train

Kyoto hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Kyoto sightseeing – Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine), Kyoto tower

Day 5

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove & Tenryuji Temple

Continue Kyoto sightseeing – Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple), Nijō Castle (optional), Kiyomizudera Temple, Sanneizaka & Nineizaka streets, Kodaiji Temple, Yasaka Shrine & Gion District

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Leg 3: Shirakawa-go & Takayama

Time Activity
Day 6

Kyoto to Takayama bus

Takayama hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Takayama Old Town sightseeing

Day 7

Shirakawa-go village tour from Takayama

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Leg 4: Mount Fuji View

Time Activity
Day 8

Takayama to Kawaguchi bus

Kawaguchi hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Lake Kawaguchi sightseeing

Day 9

Chureito Pagoda

Shiraito Falls

Kawaguchi to Hakone or Gotemba Bus

Hakone or Gotemba hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Gotemba Premium Outlets (if staying in Gotemba)

Day 10

Hakone sightseeing – Mishima Sky Walk, Hakone Shrine, Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Ropeway, Owakudani geothermal valley

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Leg 5: Tokyo

Time Activity
Day 11

Train to Tokyo

Tokyo hotel check-in

Cheapest ratesBest reviews

Tokyo sightseeing

Day 12

Tokyo Tower

Continue Tokyo sightseeing – Meiji Jingu, Takeshita Street & Harajuku district; Shibuya Crossing & Hachiko Memorial; Shinjuku shopping & nightlife district

Day 13

Continue Tokyo sightseeing – Asakusa district & Sensō-ji temple; Tokyo Skytree

Day 14

Tokyo to Narita Airport or Haneda Airport train

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The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is typically recommended if you’re following the Japan “golden route” itinerary. Instead of the Whole Japan JR Pass, I booked the local passes — JR West Kansai Pass, Hakone Free Pass (non-JR) and traveled by bus on the Kyoto-Takayama & Takayama-Kawaguchi routes (skipping Nagoya).

I did not get the Whole Japan Rail Pass firstly because I wasn’t able to book it well ahead. You’ll need to book 1 week before your trip (or earlier) to grab cheaper rates online. Also, I was joining my parents on the latter part of the trip and they preferred a leisurely pace (not fitting too many destinations in a short time).

Had I gotten a JR Pass, I would have easily traveled to more destinations. For example, replacing Takayama with Nagoya & going on a day trip to Shirakawa-go from there. Then, adding stopovers along the Shinkansen line (perhaps places farther south of Osaka or north of Tokyo). I’ll update the suggested itinerary in a future update.

Japan Budget

Your travel expenses will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the two weeks (14 days & 13 nights) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Transport expenses breakdown
JPY 6,300 JR West Kansai Pass — Per person price online. Includes 4 days unlimited rides on JR trains in West Kansai area.Book here
JPY 2,199 SUICA IC Card — Per card price online. Pre-loaded with an initial JPY 1,500 credit. Use this card to pay for trains & buses not covered with transport passes.Book here
JPY 500 Kyoto Bus Pass — Per person. Includes 1 day unlimited rides on Kyoto buses. Buy at Kyoto train station or from your hotel (if available).
JPY 4,200 Kyoto to Takayama bus — Nohi bus company one-way fare per person.Book online
JPY 5,000 Takayama to Kawaguchi bus — Nohi bus company one-way fare per person.Book online
JPY 1,480 Tokyo Subway Pass — Per person. Includes 72 hours unlimited rides on Tokyo subway/metro lines. Discount price online, per person.Book discount here
JPY 2,200 Tokyo Airport skyliner train — One-way fare per person from Tokyo City Center to Narita AirportBook discount here
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
JPY 7,400 Universal Studios Japan — Per person discount price online. Includes 1-day admission ticket/entrance fee. Must book this early to grab cheaper price online, at least 2 weeks ahead of travel date.Book discount here
JPY 7,776 Mt. Fuji Pass — Per person discount price online. Includes 2 days unlimited rides within Mount Fuji area on selected bus/train lines & free access to selected attractions.Book discount here
JPY 5,140 Hakone Free Pass — Per person price online. Includes 2 days unlimited rides within Hakone area on selected bus/train lines, free access to selected attractions & train to Shinjuku.Book discount here
JPY 600 Osaka Castle — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 400 Kinkaku-ji (Golden Temple), Kyoto — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 600 Kodaiji Temple, Kyoto — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 500 Tenryuji Temple, Kyoto — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.
JPY 150 Kyoto Tower — Admission ticket/entrance fee per person.Book discount here
JPY 6,690 Shirakawa-go Tour — Per person tour price. From Takayama. Including lunch & stopover at Gokayama Ainokiura villageBook discount here
JPY 3,090 Tokyo Skytree — Per person price online. Must book this early. Includes admission ticket/entrance fee to Tembo Deck and Tembo Galleria.Book discount here
Budget Trip – Backpacker expenses
JPY 21,879 Transport — Includes selected train/bus fares or passes listed above.
JPY 32,500 Accommodations — JPY 2,500 average price per night in a budget hostel dorm/bed x 13 nights
JPY 35,000 Food — JPY 2,500 per day inexpensive meals budget x 14 days.
JPY 89,379 Sub-total — Including accommodations, food & transport. Excluding attractions/activities & flights. Approximately PHP 42,699 / USD 806 / SGD 1,106. Or, a daily budget of JPY 6,384 / PHP 3,050 / USD 58 / SGD 79.
JPY 32,346 Activities — Admission tickets/entrance fee on selected activities above.
JPY 121,725 Total — Including activities & 14 days expenses above. Approximately PHP 58,152 / USD 1,097 / SGD 1,506. Or, a daily budget of JPY 8,695 / PHP 4,154 / USD 78 / SGD 108.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can do the trip. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Other expenses
JPY 1,450 Japan local SIM card (3GB for 8 days) — Japan airport pick-up.Book discount here
JPY 500 Japan pocket WIFI hotspot — Per day device rental.Book discount here
Japan travel insuranceBook online

Japan Itineraries & Travel Blogs

More travel tips coming once the detailed Japan travel guide is out. In the meantime, feel free to check out my Pinterest board and list of helpful Japan travel blogs below for inspiration.

Follow updates on Pinterest@detourista.

3 Days Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 3 Days.

Visit The perfect itinerary for Osaka and Kyoto – iWander

4 Days Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 4 Days.

Visit Sample 4-day Tokyo itinerary for first-timers – Tripzilla

5 Days Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 5 Days.

Visit What to do In Tokyo (5-day itinerary) – Nerd Nomads
Visit Osaka Kyoto Narra 5 days itinerary – The Pinay Solo Backpacker

6 Days Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 6 Days.

Visit Tokyo on a budget (6 days) – The Poor Traveler
Visit Tokyo itineraries with budget (6 days) – The Pinay Solo Backpacker
Visit 6 days in Tokyo – The Invisible Tourist

1 Week Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 1 Week (7 days or more).

Visit Tokyo and Kyoto 7 days itinerary – You Could Travel
Visit 7 Days in Japan – Ala Jode
Visit One Wild Week Traveling in Japan – Two Wandering Soles
Visit 7 Days in Nagoya & beyond – JW Web Magazine
Visit 7-day Tokyo itinerary – You Could Travel
Visit Tokyo & Mount Fuji itinerary 7 days (1 week) – Asia Travel Bug

2 Weeks Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 2 Weeks (14 days or more).

Visit How to spend 2 weeks in Japan – Never Ending Footsteps
Visit The best of Japan in two weeks – Nerd Nomads
Visit Two Weeks in Japan: Our hits and misses – Travel Yes Please

3 Weeks Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 3 Weeks (21 days or more).

Visit How to get the best out of a first trip to Japan: a 21-day itinerary – To Europe And Beyond
Visit Japan travel tips: Everything you need to know + 3 weeks itinerary – 22 Places

1 Month Itinerary

What to do in Japan in 1 Month (30 days or more).

Visit 1 month in Japan: a complete itinerary – Phenomenal Globe
Visit Ultimate one month Japan itinerary – Willow In Wanderland
Visit Travel tips to fully experience Japan in one month – See Her Travel

Don’t Stop Here

Did you find this travel guide helpful? Share your Japan experience & tag #detourista. Follow trip updates on: Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest.

See more Japan blog tips & travel guides: