Japan, a country rich in culture, tradition, and natural beauty, is a dream destination for many travelers. With its bustling cities, serene countryside, ancient temples, and delicious cuisine, Japan offers a diverse range of experiences that can be explored within a week.

Here’s a detailed itinerary for the best way to spend 7 days in Japan, ensuring you make the most of your trip.

How To Spend 7 Days In Japan

Day 1: Tokyo – A Glimpse of Modernity and Tradition

Start your day by heading to the iconic Tokyo Tower, an iconic symbol of the city’s skyline. Take the elevator to the observation deck for breathtaking panoramic views of Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis. Admire the urban landscape dotted with skyscrapers, bustling streets, and pockets of greenery.

Next, make your way to the historic Asakusa district, where you’ll find the Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple. Enter through the majestic Kaminarimon Gate, adorned with a massive red lantern, and follow the lively Nakamise Shopping Street leading up to the temple. Explore the street filled with shops selling traditional snacks, souvenirs, and crafts. Take a moment to soak in the atmosphere and observe locals and tourists alike enjoying the vibrant ambiance.

Upon reaching the main temple complex, marvel at the intricate architectural details and serene atmosphere. Inside the temple, offer a prayer and experience the mystical aura surrounding the area. Don’t forget to try omikuji, a fortune-telling paper strip, and tie an omamori (protective charm) to bring luck and blessings during your travels.

For lunch, indulge in a traditional Japanese meal at one of the nearby restaurants. Sample tempura, sushi, or ramen, and savor the flavors of authentic Japanese cuisine.

Cherry blossom tree, Tokyo - How To Spend 7 Days In Japan
Cherry blossom tree, Tokyo | @tokyo_streets_shots

In the afternoon, venture to the Shibuya district and immerse yourself in the bustling energy of Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world. Stand at the pedestrian scramble and witness the mesmerizing choreography of thousands of people crossing the street from all directions when the traffic lights change. This iconic Tokyo experience perfectly captures the city’s vibrant and fast-paced atmosphere.

Afterward, explore the surrounding shopping streets, where you’ll find a mix of international brands, trendy boutiques, and department stores. Discover unique fashion, technology, and quirky goods as you wander through the vibrant streets. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Tokyu Hands store, known for its extensive selection of creative and innovative products.

Conclude your day with a visit to the Meiji Shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya district. As you enter the tranquil forest surrounding the shrine, feel the calm and serene atmosphere envelop you. Take a peaceful stroll through the forested pathways, admiring the towering trees and traditional torii gates. Reach the main shrine and witness the grandeur of this Shinto religious site. Take a moment to offer a prayer and experience a sense of spiritual tranquility.

In the evening, explore the nearby Harajuku district, known for its vibrant street fashion and unique subcultures. Walk along Takeshita Street, lined with quirky shops selling colorful clothing, accessories, and delicious street food. Indulge in crepes filled with various sweet or savory toppings, a popular treat among locals and tourists alike.

As the day comes to an end, savor a delightful dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area, offering a range of cuisines from traditional Japanese to international fare. Reflect on the contrasting experiences of the day, from the ancient temples of Asakusa to the modern energy of Shibuya and Harajuku, as you prepare for the adventures that await you in the following days of your Japanese journey.

Day 2: Kyoto – Ancient Temples and Traditional Charm

Catch an early morning bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, a city known for its rich cultural heritage. Upon arrival, start your exploration by heading to Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. This stunning Zen Buddhist temple is covered in gold leaf, and its reflection on the surrounding Kyoko-chi Pond creates a mesmerizing sight. Take your time to appreciate the temple’s intricate architecture and serene surroundings.

From Kinkaku-ji, make your way to the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Walk through the towering bamboo stalks that create a serene and otherworldly atmosphere. As you stroll along the pathway, listen to the rustling sound of the bamboo leaves swaying in the breeze, immersing yourself in the tranquility of this natural wonder.

Afterward, visit the nearby Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Kyoto’s most important Zen temples. Explore the temple’s beautifully manicured gardens, featuring a large pond and picturesque landscape design. Take a moment to meditate or simply find peace in the harmonious surroundings.

Ninnaji Temple, Kyoto - How To Spend 7 Days In Japan
Ninnaji Temple, Kyoto | @kyotophotograph

For lunch, sample traditional Kyoto cuisine at a local restaurant. Try kaiseki, a multi-course meal that showcases seasonal and beautifully presented dishes, providing a culinary experience that reflects the city’s refined gastronomy.

In the afternoon, discover the historic streets of the Higashiyama District. Stroll along the preserved narrow lanes lined with traditional machiya houses, quaint shops, and small temples. Visit the Yasaka Pagoda and the nearby Maruyama Park, where you can relax under the shade of cherry blossom trees during the springtime or enjoy the vibrant colors of autumn foliage in the fall.

As the evening approaches, head to the iconic Gion district, known for its geisha culture. Take a leisurely walk through Hanamikoji Street, where you may catch a glimpse of geiko (the term used in Kyoto for geisha) or maiko (geisha apprentices) dressed in traditional attire. Experience a traditional tea ceremony at one of the teahouses, where you can savor the art of preparing and drinking matcha (powdered green tea) while gaining insights into the geisha world and its customs.

End your day with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant, savoring Kyoto’s specialties such as kaiseki or yudofu (tofu hot pot). Consider exploring Pontocho Alley, a narrow lane flanked by traditional wooden buildings, offering a variety of dining options, including traditional Japanese cuisine, modern fusion dishes, and lively izakayas (Japanese pubs).

Reflect on the cultural wonders you have experienced throughout the day, from the opulence of Kinkaku-ji to the tranquil beauty of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and the timeless charm of the Higashiyama District. Kyoto’s rich history and traditional atmosphere will leave you with a deep appreciation for Japan’s cultural heritage.

Day 3: Nara – Historic Treasures and Friendly Deer

Embark on a day trip from Kyoto to Nara, a city renowned for its rich history and friendly deer. Start your day by visiting the Todai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the Great Buddha, one of the largest bronze statues in the world. As you approach the temple, you’ll be awestruck by the immense scale of the Daibutsuden Hall, which houses the statue. Step inside and marvel at the serene presence of the Great Buddha, an iconic symbol of Buddhist artistry and craftsmanship.

After exploring the temple, take a leisurely walk through Nara Park, a vast green space that stretches from the temple’s grounds. Nara Park is famous for its population of over 1,000 freely-roaming deer, considered sacred messengers of the gods. Purchase some shika senbei (deer crackers) from local vendors and experience the joy of feeding these gentle creatures. Watch as they bow their heads in anticipation and interact with visitors in a friendly and playful manner.

Continue your exploration by visiting the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, a Shinto shrine known for its vermilion-colored buildings and thousands of stone and bronze lanterns. Walk along the path leading to the shrine, lined with lanterns that create a magical atmosphere, especially when they are illuminated during special festivals. Take time to appreciate the intricate craftsmanship of the lanterns and the tranquil ambiance of the shrine’s surroundings.

Giant Buddha, Nara - How To Spend 7 Days In Japan
Giant Buddha, Nara | @leapoffaithchloe

In the afternoon, venture into the historic Naramachi district, located near Nara Park. This well-preserved area offers a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of Nara’s merchant class during the Edo period. Wander through the narrow streets, lined with old wooden houses that have been converted into shops, cafes, and museums. Visit the Naramachi Koshi-no-Ie Museum, housed in a restored merchant residence, to gain insights into the daily life of Nara’s townspeople in the past.

As you explore the district, discover local crafts such as traditional lacquerware, ceramics, and textiles. Take a break at a charming teahouse and savor a cup of matcha while enjoying the tranquil surroundings. If you’re interested in history, consider visiting the Nara National Museum, which exhibits a wide range of Buddhist art and artifacts.

Before leaving Nara, visit the Isuien Garden, a Japanese garden known for its harmonious blend of natural and man-made elements. Take a leisurely stroll through the garden’s meticulously designed landscapes, featuring ponds, tea houses, and scenic viewpoints. Admire the seasonal beauty of the garden, whether it’s cherry blossoms in spring or vibrant foliage in autumn.

In the evening, return to Kyoto and enjoy a delightful dinner at a local restaurant, savoring Kyoto’s culinary specialties such as yudofu (tofu hot pot) or kaiseki. Reflect on the unique experiences of the day, from encountering the awe-inspiring Great Buddha and friendly deer in Nara Park to immersing yourself in the traditional ambiance of Naramachi. Nara’s historical treasures and natural beauty will leave a lasting impression on your journey through Japan.

Day 4: Hiroshima – Peace and Resilience

Set out on a meaningful day trip to Hiroshima, a city that carries a significant historical legacy. Board an early morning train from Kyoto to Hiroshima, and as you arrive, prepare to delve into the city’s profound past.

Begin your day at the Peace Memorial Park, a poignant and serene space dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing in 1945. Walk through the park’s expansive grounds and reflect upon the memorials and monuments that honor the lives lost and promote peace. Visit the Peace Memorial Museum, located within the park, to gain a deeper understanding of the events surrounding the bombing and its aftermath. The museum showcases artifacts, personal testimonies, and exhibits that convey the devastating impact of nuclear weapons and advocate for a peaceful future.

Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle | @ohhelloyoubeauty

From the park, take a short ferry ride to Miyajima Island, known for its iconic Itsukushima Shrine and its famous floating torii gate. As you approach the island, be greeted by the majestic sight of the vermilion torii gate standing in the sea. Explore the shrine’s complex, which includes several buildings connected by elevated boardwalks, allowing visitors to appreciate its beauty and serenity. Depending on the tide, you may have the opportunity to walk up close to the torii gate, making for a memorable photo opportunity.

While on the island, enjoy the scenic beauty by taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade or hiking up Mount Misen. The summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding islands and the Seto Inland Sea. Consider taking the ropeway or hiking trail to reach the top, where you’ll be rewarded with a sense of tranquility and natural splendor.

Indulge in the island’s culinary delights, including fresh seafood and local specialties such as momiji manju, a maple leaf-shaped sweet filled with various flavors like red bean or custard. Explore the charming streets of Miyajima town, lined with shops selling souvenirs, traditional crafts, and delicious treats.

Return to Hiroshima in the late afternoon and take the opportunity to explore the city further. Visit Hiroshima Castle, a reconstructed castle that offers a glimpse into the city’s feudal past. Climb to the top of the castle’s keep for panoramic views of the cityscape and the surrounding gardens.

In the evening, savor a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, a savory pancake-like dish prepared with layers of batter, cabbage, noodles, and a variety of toppings. Head to the lively Okonomimura, a multi-story building housing numerous okonomiyaki restaurants, each with its own unique twist on the dish. Engage with the local chefs as they prepare your meal on teppanyaki grills right in front of you.

Reflect on the day’s experiences and the resilience of Hiroshima as you make your way back to Kyoto. The journey to Hiroshima is a humbling reminder of the importance of peace, and the city’s commitment to remembering the past while striving for a better future serves as an inspiring example for generations to come.

Day 5: Osaka – Culinary Delights and Urban Excitement

Travel from Kyoto to Osaka, a vibrant city known for its lively atmosphere and mouthwatering street food. Prepare for a day filled with culinary delights and urban excitement.

Begin your exploration by visiting Osaka Castle, an iconic symbol of the city’s past. Immerse yourself in history as you wander through the castle grounds, surrounded by beautiful gardens and moats. Explore the castle’s interior to learn about its rich history through informative exhibits and artifacts. Ascend to the top floor for panoramic views of the city skyline, offering a unique perspective on Osaka’s modern landscape.

Afterward, make your way to the vibrant Dotonbori district, famous for its neon lights, entertainment, and local cuisine. Stroll along the bustling canal, adorned with giant illuminated billboards and captivating signage. Be sure to snap a photo with the iconic Glico Running Man sign, an emblem of Osaka’s energetic spirit.

Himeji Castle, Osaka
Himeji Castle, Osaka | @tokyo.ig

Indulge in the local street food scene, renowned for its delicious flavors and variety. Try Osaka’s beloved dish, takoyaki, bite-sized octopus-filled balls covered in savory batter and drizzled with tangy sauce and mayonnaise. Sample the flavors of the city by feasting on other popular street food such as okonomiyaki (savory pancake), kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers), and yakitori (grilled skewered chicken). Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as you explore the street’s vibrant restaurants and food stalls.

In the afternoon, consider exploring the Universal Studios Japan theme park, where you can immerse yourself in movie-themed attractions, thrilling rides, and live shows. Step into the world of Harry Potter at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, or experience the excitement of Jurassic Park or Spider-Man. Enjoy the energetic ambiance and entertainment options that cater to visitors of all ages.

Alternatively, if you prefer a more serene experience, visit the Osaka Castle Park. Take a leisurely walk through its vast green spaces, admire the seasonal flowers and trees, and find a peaceful spot to relax. Rent a bicycle to explore the park’s extensive trails and discover hidden corners.

In the evening, head to the vibrant and trendy neighborhood of Umeda. Explore the vast underground shopping complexes such as HEP Five, Grand Front Osaka, and Osaka Station City, offering a wide range of fashion, electronics, and gourmet food. Enjoy a memorable dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants, where you can indulge in the local delicacies or savor international cuisine.

For a unique and memorable experience, consider watching a live performance at one of Osaka’s theaters. The city is known for its vibrant theatrical scene, including traditional Japanese kabuki or modern musicals and stage plays.

Reflect on the day’s experiences, from the historical charm of Osaka Castle to the lively culinary scene of Dotonbori and the exciting entertainment options in the city. Osaka’s energetic and dynamic atmosphere is sure to leave you with a sense of urban excitement and a taste of its distinct gastronomic offerings.

Day 6: Hakone – Nature’s Serenity and Hot Springs

Embark on a journey to Hakone, a picturesque town renowned for its hot springs and stunning views of Mount Fuji. Prepare for a day of natural beauty, relaxation, and cultural experiences.

Start your day by taking a scenic boat ride on Lake Ashi, a tranquil lake nestled amidst verdant mountains. As you glide across the serene waters, marvel at the panoramic vistas of Mount Fuji, weather permitting. Enjoy the fresh mountain air and the tranquility of the surroundings, capturing memorable photos of this iconic landmark.

After the boat ride, explore the Hakone Ropeway, a cable car system that takes you on a breathtaking journey above the volcanic Owakudani Valley. As you ascend, marvel at the picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes, including the volcanic peaks, lush forests, and cascading rivers. Arriving at Owakudani, you’ll be greeted by sulfurous fumes rising from the volcanic vents, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Take a walk along the trails, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try the famous black eggs, boiled in the hot springs and said to extend your life by seven years.

The view of Mount Fuji from Hakone
The view of Mount Fuji from Hakone | @sugoiiijapan

Indulge in a traditional Japanese kaiseki meal for lunch, a multi-course feast that showcases the region’s seasonal ingredients and refined culinary techniques. Delight in the artful presentation and exquisite flavors of each carefully crafted dish.

In the afternoon, relax your body and mind in an onsen (hot spring). Hakone is famous for its rejuvenating hot spring baths, which offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Choose from various public baths or unwind in the onsen of your ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). Immerse yourself in the healing waters, surrounded by the lush natural beauty of Hakone. Allow the therapeutic properties of the hot spring to soothe your muscles and rejuvenate your spirit.

After enjoying the onsen, consider visiting the Hakone Open-Air Museum, an outdoor museum showcasing contemporary sculptures and artwork in a beautifully landscaped setting. Explore the vast grounds adorned with sculptures by renowned artists from Japan and around the world. Admire the interplay of art, nature, and the scenic Hakone backdrop.

In the evening, indulge in a traditional kaiseki dinner at your ryokan. Delight in the intricately prepared dishes, each reflecting the season’s bounty and showcasing local flavors. Experience the attentive hospitality and cultural traditions associated with staying at a ryokan, such as sleeping on futon bedding and wearing yukata (lightweight kimono).

As the day comes to a close, spend a quiet evening enjoying the tranquility of Hakone. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets, browse local shops for souvenirs, or simply relax in the peaceful ambiance of your ryokan. Reflect on the day’s experiences, the breathtaking natural landscapes, the healing powers of the hot springs, and the immersive cultural encounters that Hakone has provided.

Allow the serene beauty of this town to envelop you, leaving you with a sense of tranquility and rejuvenation as you prepare for your final day in Japan.

Day 7: Tokyo – Modern Marvels and Farewell

Return to Tokyo for your final day in Japan, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the city’s modern marvels and bid farewell to this captivating country.

Begin your day by visiting the futuristic neighborhood of Odaiba, located on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. Marvel at the innovative architecture and modern landmarks that dot the area. Explore the teamLab Borderless digital art museum, an immersive and interactive exhibition that merges art, technology, and creativity. Step into a world of mesmerizing visuals and sensory experiences as you wander through the captivating exhibits that blur the boundaries between art and reality.

Afterward, immerse yourself in shopping and entertainment at the Palette Town complex. Ascend to the observation deck of the giant Ferris wheel, known as the Daikanransha, for breathtaking panoramic views of Tokyo’s skyline and the surrounding bay area. Enjoy the thrilling rides and attractions at Tokyo Joypolis, an indoor amusement park that offers a wide range of games and entertainment for all ages.

A typical street scene in Tokyo
A typical street scene in Tokyo | @kick_777

In the afternoon, make your way to the trendy neighborhoods of Harajuku and Omotesando. Stroll along Takeshita Street in Harajuku, known as the epicenter of youth fashion and culture. Explore the vibrant shops selling unique clothing, accessories, and trendy goods. Indulge in colorful and Instagram-worthy treats like crepes, cotton candy, or soft-serve ice cream. Immerse yourself in the vibrant street style and lively atmosphere, observing the latest fashion trends.

From Harajuku, walk along Omotesando Avenue, a tree-lined boulevard filled with high-end fashion boutiques, stylish cafes, and architecturally stunning buildings. Admire the innovative and avant-garde architectural designs that make this area a showcase of contemporary architecture.

End your day with a visit to the iconic Tsukiji Fish Market, one of the world’s largest seafood markets. Although the famous inner market has moved to Toyosu, the outer market is still bustling with shops and stalls selling fresh seafood, produce, and culinary delights. Savor a delicious sushi meal at one of the sushi bars or seafood restaurants in the market, indulging in the finest and freshest seafood Japan has to offer.

As the sun sets, take a moment to reflect on your incredible journey through Japan. Capture the memories by snapping photos of Tokyo’s illuminated cityscape from one of the city’s observatories, such as Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower. Absorb the vibrant energy of the city one last time before bidding farewell.

Conclude your trip with a final dinner, choosing from a wide range of options that cater to every palate, from traditional Japanese cuisine to international flavors. Raise a glass of sake or green tea as you reminisce about the captivating moments, the cultural encounters, and the unforgettable experiences you have had in Japan.

As you depart, carry the memories of Japan’s rich heritage, breathtaking landscapes, warm hospitality, and vibrant cities with you. Say “sayonara” to this captivating country, knowing that the spirit of Japan will always remain in your heart, awaiting your return for another unforgettable adventure.