My two week trip to Japan last year was by far my
Day 0 – Arrive in Tokyo
After arriving in Tokyo, you’ll most likely to be super excited but also super tired. Don’t plan too many things for your first day. You’ll want to pick up your Pocket Wifi from the airport after arriving, get a Suica card and make your way to the hotel. Depending on what time of day you’ll arrive, you can always go for a stroll around the area near your hotel. But believe me, you’ll also want to make sure you get a good night’s sleep! We’ll start this two week Japan itinerary with some basics for when you arrive in Japan:
Hotel: Our first hotel was located in Shinjuku, right next to one of the metro stations, Hotel Sunroute Higashi Shinjuku. It was our most expensive hotel but worth every penny considering the location and the convenience of having a metro station right outside our door.
Pocket WiFi: One of the best tips for Japan that I can give you is getting pocket WiFi! This little device gives you access to the internet literally everywhere – it is an absolute lifesaver on a trip like this. We got ours from Japan Wireless (16 full days for just over £60).
Suica Card: Using the metro in Tokyo is a lot easier than you might expect, you just need to make sure you get a Suica card. This little card can be bought and topped up at any train station (we got ours at the airport). You simply tap in when entering a station and you tap out when leaving. It then automatically takes the number of yen needing to be paid. It’s super easy and saves you so much time and hassle of having to buy separate tickets. (You can use the same card in other cities too!)
Day 1 – Shibuya Crossing and Harajuku (Tokyo)
AM – Shibuya
On our first full day in Tokyo, we dove straight into the busy Tokyo lifestyle. Our first stop was Shibuya Station. Not far from Shinjuku, Shibuya is mainly known to be the busy entertainment, business and shopping area. It is also home to the famous Shibuya Crossing. This crossing is
One of the must-sees in Shibuya is Hachiko’s statue. If you’re not familiar with the story, here’s a little background information: Hachiko was a dog that came to meet his master every day at Shibuya Station after he’d finished work. After his master died, Hachiko continued to show up at the station waiting for him. The statue is located right outside the station.
Shibuya Crossing (coffee at Starbucks with a view)
Walk across the famous Shibuya Crossing and make your way to the Starbucks right across the road. You can order on the ground floor, get your drink and make your way upstairs. Get yourself a seat near the window and watch hundreds of people cross this famous crossing while sipping on your coffee.
Shopping in Shibuya
If you’re looking for some good shopping, Shibuya has tons of shops! Some of our favourites were Vanguard Village (tons of pop culture items) and Shibuya 109 (filled with cute little shops).
Check out this guide for more things to do in Shibuya!
PM – Harajuku
After finishing your morning (or early afternoon) in Shibuya, you can walk to Harajuku in about 10-15 minutes. You can take the metro, but we loved walking across the Japanese streets and soaking in the sights. When arriving near Harajuku, walk through Takeshita Street. This is the main shopping street in Harajuku, filled with cute shops! There are some things to try and see whilst in Harajuku:
One of the many things Harajuku is famous for is its crepes. There are quite a few different crepe shops on Takeshita Street and they’re hard to miss! Most of them have tons of different fillings to choose from, so there’s something for everybody.
Harajuku is mainly known for its fashion boutiques, shops and the quirky fashion popular among many Japanese teenagers. There are tons of cute shops to explore, even if you’re not planning on buying anything. Make sure to walk through Takeshita Street and Omotesando Street to find tons of hidden gems.
Another must-do in Harajuku is Purikura! Purikura basically means “Print Club” in Japanese and is very popular in Harajuku. It’s a photo booth where you can take pictures with your friends and then edit them. You can make yourself look more kawaii and add text, emotes and drawings.
Dinner in Shinjuku
After visiting Harajuku, we walked back to Shinjuku. You can use public transport to get back to Shinjuku, but walking didn’t take too long and we loved exploring the city on foot. We decided to have dinner at a small family run restaurant in a backstreet of Shinjuku, where we had some amazing ramen for as little as ¥300 each. We then spent the night walking around Shinjuku (filled with tons of bars, restaurants
Day 2 – Ikebukuro and Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)
AM – Ikebukuro + Pokemon Mega Store
In the morning we got on the metro from Shinjuku to Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro is one of the leading commercial and entertainment districts in Tokyo. Walking through the busy streets really makes you feel like you’re in Tokyo! We spent the morning of our second day in Japan in Ikebukuro, exploring all the shops.
Pokemon Centre The main reason we went to Ikebukuro was the Pokemon Mega Store Tokyo in Sunshine City Mall. This is the biggest Pokemon Centre in Tokyo and 100% worth visiting if you’re a fan of the franchise. There are tons of plushies and Pokemon-related souvenirs.
Co-Co Curry Inside Sunshine City Mall, we had our first Co-Co Curry meal. If you’ve been following me on social media, you might know that we fell in love with Co-Co Curry in Japan. This restaurant chain serves the best Japanese curries at a very affordable price.
PM – Meiji Shrine + Karaoke
In the afternoon, we got a train back to Harajuku to visit the Meiji Shrine. This is a large Shinto Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife. It’s in the middle of Tokyo and once inside the gates, it’s surprisingly peaceful and quiet. There is such a big contrast between the busy Harajuku streets and the shrine, but I think it gives a great impression of Japan as a whole. In Japan, there is a thin line between the more traditional parts and the hypermodern parts and I think this illustrates that perfectly.
Once arrived at the main shrine, we bought a ¥500 wooden wish plaque and wrote down our wishes. I’m not religious, but it was really nice and calming to pray at the shrine. The Meiji Shrine is the first shrine we visited and it was definitely one of our
Renting a Karaoke booth is such a fun and unique experience in Japan. We were lucky enough to have a friend with us that spoke fluent Japanese, because I wonder how much of a hassle it would’ve been without her. We rented a both for an hour and a half, sang some songs and drank a beer and had a really good time! They’re a bit pricy, but I think they’re worth the money for the experience.
Day 3 – Senso
ji and Akihabara (Tokyo)
AM – Sensoji Temple
In the morning we made our way to Asakusa, where Tokyo’s oldest Buddist temple is located: Sensoji Temple. Sensoji is very popular by both locals and tourists, so prepare for a crowd. Nonetheless, it’s a must-see while in Tokyo. In the temple, we tried O-mikuji. It’s a form of fortune-telling. Unfortunately, I got a bad fortune. But by folding the fortune and tying it to the shrine, I have left the bad fortune there (hopefully!)
After visiting the temple, we walked down Nakamise. This is the street that leads to the second gate of Sensoji. It has tons of little shops and eateries. If you’re looking for some nice souvenirs to take home, this is a great place to browse.
PM – Akihabara
After lunch near Senso-
- Retro Game Camp
- Don Quijote
- Yodobashi Akiba
I’d recommend taking the whole afternoon to wander around and go to all the shops that catch your eye. There is so much to see! Akihabara was by far our favourite place in Tokyo – we even went back on our last day in Japan to have another wander around.
TIP: If possible, try to visit Akihabara on a Sunday. They stop vehicles from accessing the streets on Sundays so people can walk freely wherever they want. It adds so much to the atmosphere and we were lucky enough to be there on Sunday!
Day 4 – Teamlab Planets and Gundam Base (Tokyo)
AM – Teamlab Planets
On day 4, we visited Teamlab Planets. This is probably the coolest art exhibition I’ve ever been to. You become part of the art. You walk, barefooted, through special rooms. Each room has its own piece of art in it, and you’re part of it. My
Teamlab Planets runs until Autumn 2020. Tickets cost between ¥2000 and ¥3200 per person. You can find more information on Teamlab’s website.
PM – Gundam Base
Not far from the Teamlab Planets exhibition (only a couple of stops on the metro), you can go to the Gundam Base. Here you can find hundreds of figurines from the famous anime series. There are also tons of other shops in the shopping
Day 5 – Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto
AM – Bullet Train
After four full days in Tokyo, we took the bullet train to Kyoto. We went to Tokyo Central station to activate our JR Passes and book seats on the bullet train to Kyoto. After that, we had about an hour to spare before the bullet train would leave. This gave us some time to grab some food and snacks for on the train. To find out if a Japan Rail Pass if worth the money for your itinerary, check out this JR Pass blog post.
Note: In Japan, it’s very rude to eat on public transport, with the exception of the bullet train because it’s a long journey.
TIP: On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Fuji on your train journey from Tokyo to Kyoto. Make sure to sit on the right-hand side of the train for the best view.
PM – Explore Kyoto Central
After a 2.5 hour journey on the Shinkansen, we arrived in Kyoto. Firstly, we made our way to the hotel. Our hotel was close to Fushimi Inari Taisha, mainly because we wanted to go there as early as possible the next day. It’s located a bit outside the city
We checked into our hotel, had a little rest and made our way to the city
Hotel in Kyoto: We spent four nights in Kyoto Urban Hotel. It’s a little train ride outside the city
Day 6 – Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama (Kyoto)
AM – Fushimi Inari Taisha
One of the things I was looking forward most in Japan was Fushimi Inari Taisha. The shrine known for the hundreds of torii gates lined up towards the summit of Mount Inari. Because this place is a very popular tourist spot, we decided to go very early and avoid the crowd. This is one of the reasons we booked a hotel a bit further from the city
We arrived at around 7:30 AM, early enough to avoid the massive crowd that starts to pour in at around 9 AM. It took about 2-3 hours to hike up the mountain, but the hike was very doable. The walk through the torii gates was magical and was by far one of my
After coming back down at around 11 AM, we had a little walk over the food market that was located right outside the shrine. We tried some fresh mochi,
PM – Arashiyama Monkey Park and Bamboo Grove
After getting some food for lunch, we got on the train to Arashiyama. It’s quite far from Fushimi Inari, because it’s almost on the other side of Kyoto. But because we only had a limited time in Kyoto, we decided to combine these two on one day.
After getting to Arashiyama, we walked to the Iwatayama Monkey Park. There is ¥550 entree fee per person and you can buy little bags of food to feed the monkey for ¥100.
When we finished visiting the monkeys, we made our way to the Bamboo Grove. It’s about 10-15 minutes by foot from the monkey park. There are tons of shops and street foods all around Arashiyama, making it a very enjoyable walk.
The Bamboo Grove is amazingly pretty – unfortunately, it was a little busy when we got there in the late afternoon (which is understandable), but we still really enjoyed it.
Day 7 – Kimono rental in Higashiyama and Gion (Kyoto)
AM – Renting a Kimono
In the morning, we made our way to Kiyomizu-Gojo to put on our rented kimonos. Before going to Japan, we booked a kimono rental with Yumeyakata. We were able to keep them on all day. Due to our busy schedule, we decided to only wear them for half a day.
As mentioned in my Kyoto Travel Guide, I had a wonderful experience at Yumeyakata. They made me feel super comfortable and wearing a real kimono was like a dream come true. I’d highly recommend them if you’re looking at doing the same thing.
PM – Higashiyama and Gion
After returning our kimonos, we made our way to Higashiyama and Gion. These districts are both part of the best preserved historic districts in Kyoto, formerly known as the Geisha districts. If you forget about the tourists, it feels like you are transported back in time. The history is so rich!
We started our walk from Kiyomizu-Dera temple in Higashiyama and made our way to both districts towards the Kodaji temple. The streets were filled with little shops and places to try different kinds of food.
Many women wore their kimonos, but I was kinda glad we returned them before the walk. We spent about 3 hours walking around, and there is no way I could’ve done that on those tiny Japanese slippers!
Day 8 – Nintendo HQ, Kinkaku-ji and train to Osaka
AM – Nintendo HQ
Not many people know this, but the Nintendo Headquarter is actually based in Kyoto! It’s not a touristy place at all, it’s actually where people from Nintendo… do their job. That’s why you shouldn’t really hang around and be one of that kind of tourist. Even though it’s just a big white building, walking passed the real Nintendo HQ was secretly very awesome. Especially since both my boyfriend and I grew up playing tons of Nintendo games.
PM – Kinkaku-Ji
In the afternoon, we made our way to Kinkaku-Ji. It’s not the easiest place to get to (even when using public transport), but it’s a must-see for first time Kyoto visitors. The beautiful Buddist temple is covered in gold leaf, which is why Kinkaku-Ji is also known as the Golden Palace. Entree price is ¥400 per person and also gives you access to the beautiful Japanese gardens that surround the palace.
PM – Train to Osaka
In the evening, we picked up our luggage at the hotel and made our way to Kyoto Central Station. We booked our places for the shinkansen to Osaka and got on. Osaka is very close to Kyoto and it only took about 25-30 minutes to get to Osaka Central.
Our hotel in Osaka was very close to the station, which made it easy for us to carry our luggage to the hotel. Even though we were very tired, we couldn’t help but have a quick evening walk around the hotel to get a first impression of Osaka.
Hotel in Osaka: We stayed in the Sonezaki Luxe Hotel for three nights. Even though this was the cheapest hotel we stayed at, it was by far our
Day 9 – Osaka Castle and Dotonbori (Osaka)
AM – Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle has to be one of Japan’s most famous landmarks. We were incredibly lucky with the weather on the day we visited the castle. The temperature was lovely and the sun was shining through the beautifully
It costs ¥600 yen to go inside the castle. Once inside, you can enjoy the museum that’s located on every floor. You can climb all the way to the top and enjoy a gorgeous view
PM (4PM-10PM) – Dotonbori
Dotonbori, the bright heart of Osaka. If you’ve been looking for things to do in Osaka, you must have come across the famous dotonbori. Bright lights, restaurants, a 6 meter crap and the glico man. This is the fun nightlife you have to experience when in Osaka. We decided to spent a little more time at the castle before heading to Dotonbori, so we could enjoy all the neon lights after dark.
There is so much amazing food to try in Dotonbori, and I’d recommend you try as much as possible. The best sushi I had in Japan, I had in Dotonbori. Another must-try in Osaka: Takoyaki! This is a famous Osaka dish, made from a special dough and octopus.
And then there is the famous Glico man. Probably one of the most famous sights in the whole of Osaka. The sign was first installed in 1935 and has been altered 6 times since.
Drinks in Aquarium Bar Kind
After visiting Dotonbori for a taste of Osaka’s nightlife, we headed back to the hotel. On our way back, we stumbled upon a cute little bar filled with fish tanks. We kinda had to check it out…
The owner was absolutely amazing. He showed us tons of his fish, explained a lot about the different kinds and showed us how to properly drink Japanese Sake. If you’re ever in Osaka, I’d highly recommend you visiting this bar and supporting the local community!
Day 10 – Day trip to Nara (Nara)
From Osaka, it only takes about 40 minutes by train. Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan, which has left the city filled with beautiful historical treasures. Nara is mainly known for the hundreds of deer that roam freely in between the temples and parks.
You can walk around the parks and temples for free. Sometimes they ask you to pay an entree fee to see some of the temples up-close, but you can get a good impression of what it’s like from afar. The deer aren’t shy at all, they can get a little bit aggressive when you hold the deer crackers they sell. It’s fun to feed them, but one of them bumped my hip to get some food!
One of my favourite parts of Nara was Todai-ji Temple. This temple is the largest wooden structure in the world. It’s insanely beautiful to see in real life. Inside, the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue is housed. Together with the beautiful scenery, this place really feels out of this world.
Nara had such a peaceful atmosphere. It is very traditional, pretty much what I expected Kyoto to be like. I absolutely loved it and would love to come back some day.
Day 11 – Train from Osaka to Tokyo
AM – Exploring Osaka
After such a busy few days, we took the morning to relax. We slept in, had a shower and check out of our hotel. The hotel staff was super friendly and allowed us to leave our luggage behind the desk. This way we didn’t have to drag them around until we were heading back to Tokyo later that day. We spent a couple of hours walking around Osaka, window shopping and having one more Taiyaki.
PM – Bullet train to Tokyo
After we were done exploring, we picked up our suitcases again and made our way to the train station. We booked in our seats for the bullet train back to Tokyo, grabbed some food and boarded the shinkansen. Once arrived in Tokyo, we checked into our hotel and rested some more.
Hotel in Tokyo: For our last few days in Tokyo, we booked a room in the Belken Hotel Tokyo. The room was a little small, but the hotel was very affordable. Especially for its location! It was basically located right
Day 12 – Tokyo Disney Sea (Tokyo)
We got up bright and early, raided the Family Mart for tons of drinks and snacks and made our way back to Tokyo Central Station. It was surprisingly easy to get to Disney Sea by public transport and it didn’t take too long.
Disney Sea was a very cool experience, but definitely different from what we expected. We went to Disneyland Paris in 2017, and we were kinda expecting something similar. I think that in Japan people are more focussed on the full experience, rather than just the rides. It was something we noticed whilst at Disney Sea. Even though the rides were quite good, there weren’t many. The decor was amazing, though. And the animatronics were on a whole new level (go, Japan!). Especially the end shows were absolutely amazing. Just for the end show, I would recommend you going!
Another theme park I’d love to check out when returning to Japan is the Ten Bosch Dutch theme park.
Day 13 – Tokyo Tower and Roppongi (Tokyo)
AM – Tokyo Tower
In the morning, we made our way to Tokyo Tower. One of the last things we really wanted to see before our Japan trip was over. At 332 meters, it’s the second tallest building in Japan. There are some shops near (and inside the first few levels of) the tower, which are worth checking out. We got some more souvenirs and presents for friends and family before heading over to roppongi.
PM – Roppongi
That evening, we had a concert planned in Roppongi. If you’ve been following me for a LONG time (I’m talking 2010), you know that I used to be a really big fan of Owl City. Richard and I even met because of his music and it has had such a big, possitive impact on my life. After booking our trip to Japan, we found out tht Owl City was playing a show in Tokyo. We had to be there!
It turned out to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. There was so much emotional connection to the songs, the vibe and the artist on stage. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I feel so grateful that I got the change to see him play live in Tokyo together with Richard.
Day 14 – Free day! (Tokyo)
The last day of this two week Japan itinerary. Instead of filling this day with another plan, we decided to leave this one open. We were sure to come across places we loved so much, we wanted to go back to. Which is why a free day is always a good idea.
Because Akihabara and Ikebukuro were probably our favourite places in Tokyo, we spent the morning and most of our afternoon shopping in Akihabara. We then took the metro to Ikebukuro for dinner, some arcade games and another walk around. We bought most of the souvenirs for our friends and family that day, basically buying the entire inventory of Don Quijote.
Day 15 – Flying back home
And suddenly the trip of my dreams was over. Even though I absolutely fell in love with Japan, its people and its culture, after two busy weeks I was ready to relax. I wasn’t ready to leave Japan, but a 48 hour nap had never sounded better.
I feel incredibly fortunate that I was in the position to go to Japan for two full weeks. It did take some saving up and planning, but it turned out even more amazing than I could’ve ever hoped for. I hope this two week Japan itinerary helps you plan your own trip. If you have more time, maybe consider spending 3 weeks in Japan instead. For more tips on how to plan the perfect holiday to Japan, check out my How To Plan A Trip To Japan post and my Japan Trip Budget post.
If you’re stopping in Nagoya on the way to Kyoto from Tokyo, please check out this travel guide to Nagoya!