Japan has long been on my list of places to explore. In fact, it was a trip that started being planned back in 2015 although I only ever got round to visiting the year after. Filled with ancient traditions, picturesque locations and a culture that is so unique to the East, it’s hard not to fall in love with such a timeless place. The weeks leading up to my trip were filled with endless changes to my itinerary because there really was just so much to cram into the seven days that I was going to spend there. I knew I wasn’t going to tick everything of my Japan bucket list but I was determined to see as much as I could with the time I had. After researching for many nights, I finally came up with an itinerary that worked for me. So should you also somehow find yourself trying to cram as much of Japan as I did into just seven days, then hopefully my seven day Japanese itinerary will help you.
Day 1: Tokyo
My trip started in the Japanese metropolis of Tokyo which forms the gateway to Japan. Filled with unlimited choices of shopping, dining and entertainment, it’s easy to see why one can spend close to a week just exploring Tokyo alone! I landed at Haneda International Airport and spent my first night exploring the streets of Tokyo before heading out of the city the next morning.
I stayed at Hotel Vista Kamata in Tokyo which is a small yet cozy hotel that I would highly recommend for budget travelers.
Day 2: Hiroshima (Route: Tokyo – Osaka – Hiroshima)
Since I landed in Tokyo close to the weekend, I chose to head out of the busy capital and explore other quieter cities first. Day two began with a day trip to Hiroshima using the Shinkansen and Hikari trains to get there. While it would have been quicker to fly, I had purchased a JR Pass because I had heard the views from the train were particularly beautiful.
It takes approximately 5 hours to get from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Using the JR Pass, take the Hikari bullet train from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka. From here, change over to the Sakura train which will take you directly to Hiroshima. After a day of exploring Hiroshima and tasting traditional okonomiyaki, I headed back to Osaka for the night.
Here I stayed at the APA Villa Hotel (Yodoyabashi), Osaka.
Day 3: Dotonbori and Universal Studios, Osaka
The next day I spent the morning exploring at the food district of Dotonbori. Here I tried local delicacies like takoyaki. I then headed on to spend the rest of the day at Universal Studios.
Day 4: Kyoto (Route: Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo)
The next day I checked out of my hotel in Osaka and did a day trip to Kyoto. I used the JR Shinkansen bullet train to get from Shin-Osaka station to Kyoto Station in around 15 minutes. Since I had my luggage with me, I chose to lock them in one of the many luggage lockers at Kyoto Station before heading out to explore.
The great thing about Japan is that every train station has a variety of lockers in different sizes so should you just be passing through, you can leave you luggage at the train station, spend a few hours exploring the city and then collect your bags and move on.
I spent the day exploring the famous bamboo forest at Arashiyama and hiking amongst the red Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha. While it may seem impossible to do in this one day, believe me, it can be done provided you start early. Sure, it will be rushed but if one day is all you have, it is possible.
From here, I made my way back to Tokyo in the evening.
Day 5 and 6: Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland
The next few days were spent exploring Tokyo! Since I was working for The Walt Disney Company at the time, I naturally devoted one day to Tokyo Disneyland and another to Tokyo DisneySea. Even with a separate day to explore each park, there still wasn’t enough time to see and try everything.
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Day 7: Explore Tokyo
The last day was spent exploring the streets of Tokyo. The morning began with a wander around Akihabara. This is the best street in all of Tokyo to experience everything gaming, anime and electronic. From here I went in search of the biggest Pokemon Center in all of Tokyo – The Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo. Next I headed over to Harajuku Street, known for showcasing some of Tokyo’s best street art and quirky fashion styles before ending the night going in search of the famous Shibuya crossing! after wandering at the crossing for a bit, I headed up to grab a coffee at the Starbucks above and watch one of the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world.
After an hour or two, it was back to my hotel room for some last minute packing, rest and an early morning flight back to Beijing.
Seven days in Japan well spent.