Short on time and want to pack in as much of the sights, sounds and flavours of Japan as possible? With so much to see and do you’re going to want to hit the ground running but as always, where there is a will there is a way! Here’s how you can pack in all the highlights of Japan in a one week itinerary.
First things first: you can’t travel to Japan and not visit the quirky capital and one of my all time favourite cities to explore; Tokyo! This city has so much to offer if you’re looking for entertainment – from karaoke bars to robot restaurants and everything in between, the best way to see this city is in a whirlwind 24 hours and look back on the train and say “wow, what just happened”.
Don’t miss: Harajuku, Shibuya
Stay 1 night: Claska Design Hotel
Jump on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and you will arrive in Japan’s third largest city in just two hours and thirty minutes. This is by far my favourite metropolitan city in Japan – mostly due to its smaller nature (compared to Tokyo) and it has a much more friendly/approachable vibe going on. The street food is a out of this world if you like all things fried.
Stay 1 night: Yamatoya Honten (Ryokan)
Next stop is Kyoto which can be reached in just one hour by regional train or a mere 15 minutes by bullet train. This is my favourite destination in Japan thanks to its endless array of sites and attractions, from temples to shrines and even an ethereal bamboo grove. I would recommend to stay two nights in Kyoto to allow time to see it all as many of the attractions are spread out and poorly connected by public transport (it is possible, but patience is required!)
Stay: 2 nights Cross Hotel Kyoto
From Kyoto make your way to the misty mount Koya for a stay inside a Buddhist temple. You can get here by regional train and cable car in around a couple of hours and the journey itself is a great insight into regional life in Japan. The mountain is a huge settlement filled with religious sites, making for the perfect local homestay with the local monks who are extremely welcoming.
Stay 1 night: Jofukuin Temple (Ryokan)
My final stop on this whirlwind tour of Japan was an unexpected favourite when I boarded a traditional boat tour in Shiga and the next morning woke to watch the sun rise at Shirahige Shrine.
Stay 1 night: Racine Home Harie (Ryokan)