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The perfect 14 day Japan travel itinerary for first timers

Are you planning a 14 day trip to Japan? You came to the right place. Japan is a fascinating destination that has much to offer.  But when you have just 2 weeks in Japan you will have to make choices.  

That’s why we compiled this 14 days Japan travel itinerary based on the highlights and the things we loved the most during our Japan itinerary.

We want to inspire you with this 2 week Japan itinerary and hope you will love your Japan trip as much as we did.

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Tip: Be sure to become a member of our brand new Japan Travel Planning and Tips Facebook group. The purpose of this group is to help you plan an amazing vacation to Japan.  You can ask questions and exchange tips with fellow travelers.

Japan Essentials 

Here you will find cheap flights to Tokyo or Osaka.


Don’t lose time upon arrival at the airport and order your Japan travel SIM or portable WiFi device in advance so that it’s ready and waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.

Having a Japan Rail Pass is often the cheapest way to travel around Japan.

Japan has a lot of good hotels but you can also stay in an Airbnb. If this is the first time you will be staying in an Airbnb, you can enjoy a great discount by signing up through this link.

Check out our ultimate Japan travel guide where you can find all our Japan articles.

Here you find a step by step guide on how to plan your Japan vacation.

Eikan-do temple Kyoto, Japan

The Eikan-do Temple is a must-visit during your 14 day Japan itinerary.

Japan travel tips

Is this your first Japan trip and are you feeling a bit overwhelmed about planning this trip, what to see and to do in Japan. Check out our Japan travel planner. This document will help you plan your trip smoothly. 

Best time to visit Japan

It is difficult to specify one particular season as the best to visit all of Japan. The best season will depend on the region you’re going, the activities you want to experience and the things you want to see.

But in general spring and autumn come to mind for a trip through Japan.

There is little rainfall, overall pleasant temperatures, and clear skies.

The stunning cherry blossoms are a real tourist attraction in spring and the vivid hues of the autumn leaves ensure a colorful experience in autumn.

Here is some more information about the different season and some specific regions.

Read also: Our ultimate Japan travel guide where you can find all our Japan articles.


Spring is an excellent season to visit Japan as early in spring the cherry blossoms (Sakura) will start appearing in Southern Japan.

They start blossoming in the South and gradually make their way Northwards.

It is a natural event so the exact blossoming period is different each year but the Japanese tourist board keeps predictions on its website.

Spring is also the most touristy season.

The Sakura not only draws tourists from all over the world but also Japanese go crazy over this yearly event.

Late April and early May also mark the “Golden Week”, a week with 4 Japanese holidays in which many Japanese take a local trip.

We found it was still OK in terms of crowds but we definitely advise to book your accommodation well upfront because the prices go through the roof.


Over summer the temperatures can rise up to 35 degrees Celsius but it may feel even hotter due to the humidity.

Big cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka become uncomfortably hot.

June and July is also the rainy season.

The rainy season ends by the end of July but the days continue to be hot and humid and generally unpleasant if you’re not used to this kind of weather.

“To Travel is to Live”

During August and September, you also have the biggest risk of seeing (part of) your travel plans ruined by a typhoon.

Hokkaido is the only region in Japan that escapes the stifling heat. Here you have mild temperatures all summer long.

During summer Japanese organize a number of popular festivals (called ‘Matsuri’). Each festival is different but they’re all very brisk and impressive.

Japan Matsuri festival

Japan Matsuri festival


Autumn is another lovely option to discover Japan. Colorful autumn leaves, known as Koyo in Japanese, draw just as many visitors in autumn as the cherry blossoms do during spring.

The best time to view the colorful foliage is subject to weather conditions and, as Japan is surprisingly vast, it also differs greatly between the various regions. 

The Japanese tourist board has an overview of the best times to visit the popular Koyo spots.

It starts to get cooler by the end of September.

October offers pleasant temperatures slightly above 20 degrees Celsius.

November tends to be somewhat cooler but thanks to the clear blue and sunny skies it is still a lovely month to travel.


Winter in Japan is a time for snow sports in Hokkaido but it is low season in most other regions in Japan. 

Temperatures range from cool to cold, there may be some snowfall in and around Tokyo in January and February but the snow usually melts as soon as it falls.

Japan top sites

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji, one of the most beautiful natural places in Japan and Japan’s highest mountain, can be best viewed on a clear day from Hakone.  The cooler months offer the best chance of seeing the volcanic mountain. 

The biggest chance to see the mountain in all its glory is from November to February. March, April, and October also offer reasonably good chances of a complete view but during the other months, your chances are slim.

The season to climb Mt. Fuji is July to mid-September when the mountain is generally snow-free.

The easiest way to see Mount Fuji is with a day tour. Here is a complete overview of the Mount Fuji day trips from Tokyo. 

Yudanaka Snow Monkey

Seeing the snow monkeys was a highlight of our 14 days in Japan.

Yudanaka Snow Monkeys

The Yudanaka Snow Monkeys are so cute if you can see them bathe in their hot springs.

They take these baths to warm up which means you have to plan your visit during the colder months.

Winter is without any doubt the best season but early spring is still OK as long as you make sure you go early in the day.

We went late March, first thing in the morning, and could still catch a few monkeys in the hot springs.


Okinawa has a subtropical and humid climate.

Summers are hot and wet with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius, in the winter months, the day temperature on these islands still reaches a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius.

Often called the Hawaii of Japan this place is popular for snorkeling.

The water temperatures range from about 18 degrees Celsius in winter to 29 degrees during summer.

Cheap flights to Japan

If you want to score cheap flights to Japan we advise you to have a look at Momondo and Skyscanner.  

Both are flight aggregators that compare several hundreds of booking sites and give you an overview of the best flights and the cheapest sites to book them. 

Momondo and Skyscanner are both very good at finding good deals, of the two, Momondo is probably the one with the most intuitive user interface.

Read our full review about 10 booking sites here. 


Those who are always on the lookout for the best deals should join the Dollar Flight Club.  Joining is free and once you’ve joined you will get alerts in your mailbox whenever cheap flights out of your home airport have been found. 

I recently joined the club and already saw some incredible deals.  Joining is free and it can literally save you thousands of dollars.

Going independent or joining an organized tour

We found it easy and straightforward to create our own travel itinerary.  It was also fairly easy to travel through Japan independently. Despite the fact that the Japanese don’t always speak English very well, they are enormously helpful.

But if you want the company of a group, don’t have the time to create your own itinerary or just don’t want to go independent, you could also join an organized tour. Tourradar is a trustworthy company where you can book an organized tour to Japan to make it easy on yourself. 

Here you can find all organized tours to Japan: Organized Tours Japan 

If you are looking for the best Japan package tours, click here. Looking for  5-day tour of Japan, click here.  Here you can find an overview of 7 days Japan tours. 

Do I need travel insurance for Japan

Travel Insurance is something that can be overlooked when you prepare for your vacation.  Certainly when you’re traveling to a safe and civilized country. 

We didn’t get travel insurance for our first holidays. 

A few years later we both took out new credit cards that came with travel insurance and relied on those.  We know better now…

Overall, chances are slim that you will encounter any problems while traveling through a civilized country such as Japan. But when things go wrong in civilized countries, the medical costs can be high.  We learned it the hard way when we once had to visit the hospital in the United States.  The medical care was excellent but we had high out-of-pocket expenses as it turned out the insurance that came without credit cards didn’t cover these costs.  It turned out we were underinsured.

Drawing up a travel insurance policy may seem expensive at first but it can potentially save you a significant sum, significantly more than the small insurance fee. 

Good travel insurance covers things like medical expenses, trip cancellation, overseas medical costs, evacuation, baggage damage or loss, and theft.

Best way to pay in Japan

We took a little bit of cash with us but most things we paid with our credit card.

Expenses abroad can be seriously inflated by fees from your bank or credit card.  That’s why I’m a huge fan of my N26 account. 

The account is available to most EU residents. 

The checking account is free as well as the associated Mastercard and there’s no exchange rate provision when you use to card for payments abroad. 

There’s a 1,7% exchange rate provision when you withdraw money abroad but even that is free with the premium Black Mastercard. 

The app is another great feature of the card, you can follow your expenses in real-time and instantly block your card if you see any signs of fraud.

Local SIM card or a pocket WiFi device

A local SIM card or pocket WiFI device comes in handy. We have often used Google Maps to find our way around major cities.

When looking for a Japanese SIM card, there are so many options that you cannot see the forest for the trees, therefore we created this useful article so you can choose the best Japanese SIM card for you. If you prefer a pocket WiFi device, you can read our detailed post about the best WiFI pocket device here. 

Luggage forwarding service

When you’re traveling by train it’s also a good idea to forward your baggage.  You can read these tips and much more in our separate article about traveling to Japan for the first time.

From May 2020 you can only take large suitcases on the train if you have a reserved ticket. 


Traveling around Japan

We traveled around Japan by train and could save a few bucks by buying a Japan Rail Pass in advance.

Get more information on the Japan Railpass here:  Japan Railpass

Or read this article in which we describe how you can find out whether you would also benefit from a Japan Rail Pass.

Japan train public transport

During your 14 day Japan itinerary you will take public transport a lot.

General Japan travel tips

Wondering what to wear in Japan? Take a look at our complete Japan packing list. 


If you are looking to buy some souvenirs? These are the best Japanese souvenirs. 


If you have less than 2 weeks to spend in Japan, take a look at this 5 day Japan itinerary or at this ultimate Japan bucket list to get inspiration for your trip.

Our Japan itinerary for 14 days

Event iconDay 1-2: Tokyo

Most international flights will take you to Tokyo so this is where you’re 2 weeks in Japan adventure starts.

Read also: 3 weeks in Japan, the perfect itinerary for first-time visitors. 

Getting from the airport to Tokyo

When somebody is referring to Tokyo International Airport they refer to Haneda airport but in reality, Tokyo has 2 international airports: Haneda and Narita airport.

Haneda International Airport

Haneda International Airport is located 14 kilometers south of Tokyo Station. It is the oldest of the two airports. 

It used to mainly handle domestic flights after Narita airport opened but with the addition of a new international terminal in 2010, it now handles most business routes while Narita focuses more on leisure routes.

The two main ways to reach central Tokyo from Haneda Airport are the Keikyu Line and the Tokyo Monorail. Both require a transfer to the JR Yamanote Line to reach major stations in central Tokyo.

Depending on the location of your hotel and the length of your flight (and the amount of sleep you could get) you might not be looking forward to train and subway rides in your first hours in Tokyo.

After a long flight, a direct transfer from the airport to your hotel will be a lot more comfortable.

You can find more information about a shared transfer here: Shared Transfer
or you can opt for a private transfer here: Private Transfer
Narita Airport

Narita is the smallest of the 2 airports but does serve as the international hub of both major Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines, and ANA. 

It lies 60 km east of central Tokyo. Although it is located further from central Tokyo than Haneda it is actually better connected to the city. 

There are plenty of public transportation options to reach central Tokyo from the airport. You could take the JR Narita Express, the Keisei Skyliner, buses and taxis.  Those who like to make a grand entrance can even choose for a helicopter transfer.

The JR Narita Express

The JR Narita Express, abbreviated as N’EX, is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.  This makes N’EX your best option if you have a JR Pass. 

To use this train with your Japan Rail Pass you need to exchange your voucher for the actual pass at the airport.

Once exchanged you will also need to reserve seats as N’EX is one of the few trains that only has reserved cars.

Read also: Japan Rail Pass is it worth it?

The Keisei Skyliner

The Keisei Skyliner is a good alternative to N’EX if you have no Japan Rail Pass. 

The prices, the comfort and the train schedule of both trains are comparable.

The main difference is that N’EX will take you to Tokyo station, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro & Yokohama.  The Keisei Skyliner heads to Nippori station and Keisei Ueno (close to Ueno station). 

Both trains offer easy transfer to the JR Yamanote Line, the main loop line in Tokyo.

As with Haneda, you can also book private or shared transfers from Narita to central Tokyo.

After a long flight, a direct transfer from the airport to your hotel will be a lot more comfortable.

Find more information about a shared transfer here: Shared Transfer
or you can opt for a private transfer here: Private Transfer
SensoJi temple Tokyo

SensoJi temple Tokyo

Getting around in Tokyo

If you have a Japan Rail Pass

If you have a Japan Rail Pass you can use this pass on the JR trains that run on the inner-city network in Tokyo, a very extensive network that can be compared with a metro network.

If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass

If you don’t have a Japan rail pass or you choose to activate your Japan rail pass after your visit to Tokyo, a Tokyo subway pass might be a good alternative. You can buy this pass at tourist information centers, BIC camera shops, and certain hotels.

There’s a list of selling points on the Tokyo Metro website. Be sure to bring cash as credit or debit cards are usually not accepted.

The pass can also be bought online which is even more convenient.

When you buy your pass online you will receive a voucher that you can use to quickly and easily collect your pass at the airport and seconds later you will be on your way to your hotel.  Your pass can be used immediately, so you can use it if you would have to change to the metro en route to your hotel.

Click here to read reviews and buy your Tokyo public transportation pass here:  Tokyo Metro Pass   or read our full article about Tokyo’s public transport.

Things to do in Tokyo

If you visit Tokyo during the cherry blossom season it may be tempting to spend 2 days visiting the parks. There’re many great parks to see the cherry blossoms. We wrote a separate article about the best places to see the cherry blossoms.

The parks are great but there’s so much more to see and do in Tokyo…

Out of all the highlights in Tokyo, we visited the busiest intersection in the world at Shibuya as well as the Imperial Palace, Harajuku, Yoyogi Park, the Sensoji temple, the Asakusa district, the neighborhood around the Skytree and much more.  Here you will find our detailed Tokyo 2-5 itinerary.

Organized tours in Tokyo 

Here is an overview of the best-organized tours in Tokyo  An organized tour saves you time and, moreover, the tour guide will enlighten you about the different sights you visit.

We partnered up with GetYourGuide or Klook for these activities. 

We love GetYourGuide because they’re flexible.  Sometimes your plans change last minute and then you want to be able to cancel your tickets and get your money back.  It’s also good to know that GetYourGuide has your back when the local tour operator doesn’t show up or cancels your trip.

Klook is a trustworthy travel company headquartered in Hong Kong that teams up with local operators to offer all kinds of travel experiences.

We selected 3 excellent tours in Tokyo just for you.

Robot show at Robot restaurant 
Robot Restaurant

The crazy robot show in Tokyo.

The Robot Show is touristy, expensive and the food isn’t so great so you might wonder why you need to visit it.  Well, it’s something you can only experience in Japan.  The show is grotesque and completely over the top like one can only experience in Japan. 


Read reviews and book: Robot Restaurant Tickets or read our article to find out of Robot Restaurant Tickets are worth it.


Tokyo Skytree skip the Line Tickets

Tokyo SkytreeThe Tokyo Skytree is, with a height of 634 meters, the highest building in Japan. It’s also the highest free-standing tower in the world. The tower houses 2 observation platforms that offer a fantastic view of Tokyo. They are respectively at a height of 350 and 450 meters and are amongst the highest in Japan. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Tokyo. An absolute Tokyo must visit when you want to see Tokyo from above.

The lines are often very long so we recommend you to book skip the line tickets. 

Read reviews and book: Tokyo Skytree Tickets

If you are looking for a free alternative, you should head to the  Metropolitan Government Building. This building has 2 towers that each offer a viewing platform at a height of 202 meters. The northern tower stays open until 11 p.m. and ‘Tokyo By Night’ is really spectacular.

Day trip to Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji

Seeing Mount Fuji is on most travelers’ wish list when visiting Japan.

This is the perfect excursion if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. You will travel by coach to enjoy Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes. Enjoy a Japanese lunch and see Mount Fuji in all seasons at the 4D Fuji Airways flight simulator.

An amazing tour with lots of activities.



Read reviews and book: Mount Fuji Day Tour

Where to stay in Tokyo

When you only have 2 days in Tokyo we recommend that you stay centrally in Shinjuku where the Shinjuku train station offers you quick access to all places in Tokyo and even throughout Japan.

Hotel icon Hilton Tokyo

Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku

The Tokyo Hilton is situated in lively Shinjuku. From the hotel, it’s about a 15-minutes walk to Shinjuku train station.  You can also make use of the free hotel shuttle which can take you to the station every 20 minutes. The airport limousine bus has a stop at this hotel.  There’re multiple restaurants and supermarkets in this area. Last but not least, after a busy day exploring this vibrant city you can relax in the indoor pool or sauna.  Highly recommended if you are looking for a good hotel in the vicinity of public transport.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING  AGODA
If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Shinjuku hotels on Check prices and availability here: BOOKING or read our where to stay in Tokyo for the first time article. If you are looking for the best Airbnb’s in Tokyo, click here. If you are traveling with your family take a look at our list of the best Airbnb’s in Tokyo for families.

Event iconDay 3: Matsumoto

Things to do in Matsumoto

We continued our 14 day Japan itinerary in Matsumoto.

There’re many Samurai Castles scattered across Japan and you should visit at least once during your 14 days in Japan. We opted for the castle in Matsumoto as it is one of the few remaining original castles.  Most other castles you will see are reconstructions.

Guides are available at the entrance of the Matsumoto castle.  They provide free tours and will share interesting stories about how life used to be in the castle as well as about the different wars that prevailed over Japan.

If you’re short on time you could consider skipping Matsumoto and visit Osaka castle or Hiroshima castle. (both are reconstructions)

All castles are similar so there’s no reason to visit more than one, certainly not if you’re short on time.

Where to stay in Matsumoto

Hotel icon Hotel Kagetsu


This hotel more than exceeded our expectations.  Hotel Kagetsu is situated 20-minutes by foot from the train station and really close to Matsumoto Castle and the small but picturesque old town.  The hotel offers free bicycles to explore the area.  The hotel also has a good restaurant but you will also find other restaurants within walking distance.  You get a comfortable and spacious room, certainly by Japanese standards, and your Yukata and slippers will be waiting in your room if you want to use the onsen.  A great option in this charming city.

Check prices and availability on BOOKING
If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Matsumoto hotels on  Check prices and availability here: BOOKING

Event iconDay 4-5: Yudanaka

Things to do in Yudanaka

Yudanaka was one of the highlights of our 14 days Japan itinerary.  We visited the snow monkeys and, just like the monkeys, we also took some time ourselves to relax in one of the many local onsens.  Yudanaka is in the countryside.  Here you see a different side of Japan, different from the crowds in the mega-cities.

We spend about half a day with the monkeys. Not because the park was that big, but it was very cute to see the monkey’s doing their thing.

The best time to visit the snow monkeys is, of course, the winter. During other periods it’s best to head to the park very early when it’s not yet too warm. The colder it is, the more likely you will see the monkeys warming themselves in the natural onsen.

The best place to relax in the Onsen yourself is Shibu Onsen. You should head to Shibu onsen in the evening.

This is a village a few minutes’ walk from Yudanaka.

In the picturesque car-free high street you will find 9 public onsens that are supplied by the hot springs. You can wander from one bathhouse to another in your Yukata and on your traditional wooden sandals.

Where to stay in Yudanaka

Hotel icon Shimaya Ryokan 

Yudanaka Onsen Shimaya

Shimaya Ryokan is not a hotel that we typically would recommend. To start with it’s not a hotel but a Ryokan which is more like a B&B. 

The rooms are very simple, typical for a Ryokan, and look a bit dated. But the hospitable owners of this Ryokan made up for all of this. 

The owner picked us up at the train station, offered us a ride to the monkey park and back, and gave us tons to tips about all the places we would visit next during our trip.

 Sleeping in a traditional ryokan is something you should do at least once when you’re in Japan, so why not do it here with these friendly hospitable owners.

Check prices and availability on BOOKING
If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Yudanaka hotels on  Check prices and availability here: BOOKING

Event iconDay 6: Kanazawa

Kanazawa charmed us enormously during our 14 day trip to Japan.  This city seemed less touristy and that might have something to do with it.

Things to do in Kanazawa

A visit to Kanazawa is not complete without a visit to the Kenrokuen Garden.  The garden is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Japan and it is also one of the best places to see the cherry blossoms.

The weather was a bit disappointing during our visit so we couldn’t fully appreciate the park. We certainly thought it was beautiful, but not better than what we already saw in Tokyo. Still, we could not get enough of the cherry blossoms.

Right next to the Kenrokuen garden is the reconstructed Kanazawa castle.  Visits are free and can easily be combined with a visit to the Kenrokuen Garden.

Another highlight of a visit to Kanazawa is a stroll through the old Geisha district Higashi Chaya, often just called: “Old Town”.

The old town of Takayama is more often mentioned but we found the old city in Kanazawa to be much more charming. Besides, it was also a lot less crowded.

You could take a quiet stroll, look around, and enjoy the beautiful old houses.

A walk through the geisha district in the evening, where you learn more about the mysteries and intrigues of this old neighborhood, was an unforgettable experience.

We also went to take a look at Nagamachi, the old Samurai district. There’re some really spectacular villas in this district, but Higashi Chaya impressed us more.

You can enjoy a nice meal, both lunch or dinner, in the Omicho market.


Here you can find a complete Kanazawa itinerary.


Where to stay in Kanazawa

Hotel icon Holiday Inn ANA Kanazawa Sky

The Holiday Inn ANA Kanazawa Sky is centrally located within walking distance of the station and just across the Omicho fish market.  The Kanazawa castle and Kenrokuen Garden are just a few minutes’ walk away.  You have spectacular views on Kanazawa from the lobby and the restaurant.  We couldn’t have imagined a better hotel in Kanazawa.




Check prices and availability: BOOKING IHG

If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Kanazawa hotels on  Check prices and availability here: BOOKING


Event iconDay 7-8-9: Kyoto

Things to do in Kyoto

Gion is an upscale neighborhood of Kyoto and is the oldest Geisha district of Japan.

The first evening we went to explore this neighborhood together with Guenda, from HihiGuide.  We still have fond memories of our hike. 

It was cool to spot geishas and it was fun to learn how Europeans who live in Japan look at the difference in culture.

Here you can read the story of our evening walk in the Gion district.

The Inari Shrines where you will find thousands of Torii gates are very touristy but definitely worth a visit. It’s enough to move further away from the entrance, higher up the mountain, to escape the crowds.

The philosopher’s path is known as a place to see the cherry blossoms.  But a walk along the path also pays off outside this season You come across plenty of temples along the path. Unlike Tokyo where all temples are free, there is an entrance fee for all temples in Kyoto. Most of them are however not that different from temples that you will find elsewhere in Japan.

One temple that is certainly worth visiting in Kyoto is Kinkakuji or the Golden temple. This is probably the most beautiful temple we saw in Japan. (Kinkakuji is not situated along the philosopher’s path.)

We also made a trip to Arashiyama, a district at the outskirts of Kyoto that is well known for its bamboo forests. Expect a big crowd! Fortunately, it immediately becomes a lot quieter as soon as you make your way away from the center. We discovered some charming quiet spots in Arashiyama. 

You can go to the park around the Jojakkoji temple from where you have a stunning view. From there, you can walk further north to the Saga-Toriimoto Street.

This is a picturesque street lined with preserved, traditional houses. Best of all, we had the street to ourselves while we were wandering through it.

When you reach the end of the street, you will reach the Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple and adjacent you will find a bamboo forest that is just as beautiful as the one close to the center where all the tourists are.

When we just got off the train and ended up in the crowd, we were afraid it would be an unpleasant day because of the bustle.

But in the end, we did have a really enjoyable day as we have discovered some pleasant quiet spots in and around Arashiyama. 

The bus tours seem to limit their visit to the Togetsukyo bridge and the nearby Tenryuji temple and bamboo groves.  Other places were not nearly as crowded.

Take a look here for more must-see places in Kyoto or read our detailed 2-day itinerary here. Here you find some fun things to do in Kyoto at night.

Where to stay in Kyoto

According to the statistics, Kyoto is the most touristic city in Japan. According to the prices for a hotel room that might be correct.

We were confronted with prices upwards of € 800/night during the cherry blossom season.

Because of these high prices, we started looking at alternatives and we decided to book a stay at the Marriott lake Biwa. 

This is a nice hotel that is located 20 minutes outside Kyoto by train, but it meant a serious difference to our wallet.

Hotel icon Marriott Lake Biwa

Marriott Lake Biwa KyotoThis Marriott hotel is located alongside the coast of beautiful Lake Biwa, an ideal setting if you want to escape busy Kyoto at night.  The hotel offers a free shuttle service to the train station where you can catch the train to Kyoto station.  As Marriott Rewards Platinum members we enjoyed an upgrade to a suite with a private onsen and a fabulous view of the lake. As platinum members, we also had access to a lounge area in the lobby where we could enjoy free breakfast, snacks, cocktails and a small buffet in the evening. The only drawback of this hotel is that you have to take into account the schedule of the shuttle which only runs once every hour. But considering what we got in return and the tremendous difference in price this is no big deal.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING  Marriott
Hotel icon Royal Park Hotel Kyoto

The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo

If you have only 3 days in Kyoto it might be better to stay in the center of Kyoto.   In that case, the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto is an excellent choice. It is within walking distance of the Gion district, two metro stations, and various temples. The rooms are neat and the bathroom is fully equipped. You can enjoy a nice breakfast at the bakery next to the hotel.

Check prices and availability on : BOOKING

If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Kyoto hotels on  Check prices and availability here: BOOKINGor read our full guide about the best places to stay in Kyoto. If you prefer staying in Airbnb, take a look at our list with the best Airbnb’s in Kyoto.


Event iconDay 10-11: Hiroshima and Miyajima

Things to do in Hiroshima and Miyajima

We visited the peace park in Hiroshima and made a small detour to take a peek at the castle.

There is a special atmosphere about the peace park. In the park, you will find an interesting museum about the atomic bomb and touching stories about how the survivors had to rebuild their city and their lives.

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can make free use of the hop-on-hop-off bus operated by JR. When you arrive at the station, just drop in with the tourist office. They have route maps of the buses and will be able to explain to you which bus to take and which stop to get off to get to your hotel.

You can get from Hiroshima to Miyajima in about half an hour both by tram or by  JR train. The latter is, of course, the cheapest option if you have a Japan Rail Pass. Once you arrive at the train station in Miyajima, it is nothing more but a short 5-minute walk to the harbor where you then take the ferry to Miyajima island.

On Miyajima island or rather just in front you will find the photogenic Torii gate which seems to float on the water during high tide.

The times of high and low tide are signposted at the entrance of the ferry terminal. The Torii gate is the tourist attraction of the island, but also the colorful Daisyoin Temple is worth a visit.

We took the time to wander around this temple and it seemed like we found a hidden gem on this island.

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can make free use of the Hiroshima hop-on-hop-off bus operated by JR. When you arrive at the station, just drop in with the tourist office.

You can choose from 2 ferries to go to Miyajima island, one is operated by JR. This JR ferry is also free for the owners of a Japan Rail Pass.

Here you can find our detailed Hiroshima itinerary. 

Where to stay in Hiroshima

Hotel icon ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima

Crowne Plaza Ana HiroshimaThe Ana Crowne Plaza is within walking distance of the peace park and near shops and restaurants. The rooms are not too big but clean and fully equipped. The staff also speak good English.


Check prices and availability: BOOKING IHG

If you aren’t convinced of this hotel, you will find a lot of other Hiroshima hotels on  Check prices and availability here:BOOKING

Event iconDay 12-13: Osaka

Back in Osaka, you’re once again in a metropolis.  This was probably our favorite city during our 14 days in Japan.

Things to do in Osaka

The Namba district is alive day and night but is probably at its best at night. The least you can say about this district is that it is simply spectacular. You can find our complete article on the best things to do in Osaka at night here. 

We also went to the Osaka Castle. This is a restored castle. 

The castle is also a very good spot to witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

From here we took a walk along the river to the Kema Sakuranomiya Park, another beautiful park with lots of cherry trees.

Shinsekai is another district worth a visit and you consider attending a cooking class in Osaka.

We also visited Nara from Osaka.

In the Todaiji Temple, you will find the largest wooden building in the world, the Daibutsuden (“big Buddha hall”).

As its name says inside the building you will find a gigantic Buddha. Don’t limit yourself to this temple only. Venture up the mountain to “Nigatsu-do” for a breathtaking view.

 Nara was the original capital of Japan but once Buddhism became too powerful in the country the government decided to move the capital.  You can still see traces of this as Nara is literally littered with temples. 

Lastly, a visit to Nara is also fun because of the deer that roam freely in the park and no doubt will come begging for cookies.

You can read our full 2 days Osaka itinerary here. 

Where to stay in Osaka

Hotel icon Holiday Inn Osaka Namba

Holiday Inn Osaka NambaThis Holiday Inn is close to Namba station and just a few minutes by foot from the famous Glico bridge, probably the most famous sight in Dotonbori.  This neighborhood is alive day and night and as a result, the rooms can be somewhat noisy at night.  The rooms offer all comfort but are rather small.  The biggest asset of this hotel is its superb location.

Check prices and availability: BOOKING  Holiday Inn

If you want to know more about how to find the best place to stay in Osaka based on your own preferences, then take a look at our detailed where to stay in Osaka article. If you prefer an Airbnb, take a look at our list of the best Airbnb’s in Osaka.

Event iconDay 14: Tokyo

We end our Japan itinerary back in Tokyo.

If you would end your trip on a Sunday you could head to Akihabara. The main street that runs through the Akihabara district is closed for cars on Sundays.

This makes a visit to Akihabara much more fun. Foresee enough time. Browsing through the shops like Mandarake is what makes a visit to Akihabara worthwhile but you will quickly spend several hours snooping around these stores, looking at all the curiosities.

If you’re looking for something completely different then we recommend a relaxing day in Tokyo DisneySea. Next to Tokyo DisneySea is Tokyo Disneyland but we recommend the first because Disneyland is a sort of replica of all the other Disneyland Parks in the world. And above all, DisneySea won an award for its design.

The park can be busy at times but it is possible to visit the majority of the attractions on one day by using the Fastpass system.  We visited the park during the “Golden week” and we could do all the major attractions.  If we can do that during the Golden Week, so can you at any other time of the year. 🙂

We loved the design of the park and there were some great attractions.  It was also fun to see how some Japanese completely dress-up in the Disney-magic.

Click here to get more information about the Disney tickets: DisneySea Disneyland


We hope we have inspired you with this 14 day Japan travel itinerary.  Japan has a lot to offer and unfortunately, there’re a number of things we had to omit in this Japan in 14 days itinerary but this trip takes you along the highlights and the things we loved most.

Are you ready to discover the best of Japan in 14 days?

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Japan 2 week itinerary



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