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Sunset over the floating Torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima

3 Week Japan Itineraries

Are you looking to book a three-week holiday in Japan? Here are the best travel itineraries covering everything from the most popular destinations to off the beaten path experiences. 

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Our top three-week Japan itineraries

We've picked three of the best itineraries that will take you through Japan's most spectacular destinations in roughly three weeks. These longer itineraries are perfect if you're looking to explore beyond the popular destinations, covering everything from the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to street food in Osaka and the moss-covered mystic forest of Yakushima. 

ITINERARY 1
 

  • Tokyo - Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market area, the location of the largest wholesale fish market in the world until it was relocated in 2018. The area is still a lively retail market with plenty of hustle and bustle. Then move on to view the Imperial Palace and head to Meiji Shrine. 
  • Kamakura - Marvel at the Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, the second-largest bronze statue in Japan. Then, visit a beautiful Zen garden set within a bamboo forest.
  • Hakone - Hop on a lake cruiser on Lake Ashi for scenic vistas of the surrounding mountains. If the weather permits, you can admire fantastic views of Mt Fuji.  
  • Takayama - Head to the Hida Folk Village, where you’ll see unique gassho-zukuri houses, which feature wooden beams and a steep thatched roof that resembles two hands clasped in prayer.
  • Kyoto - Visit Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, before heading to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion — one of Japan's most famous architectural and historical icons.
  • Nara - See the Great Buddha of Todai-ji Otera, the largest bronze statue in the world, tipping the scales at over 500 tonnes. Nara Koen, Japan's largest park, is home to the sacred deer of nearby Kasuga Taisha.
  • Nagasaki - Highlights in Nagasaki include the city’s Chinese Confucian Temple, as well as its vibrant Chinatown. And, of course, the compelling Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum can’t be missed.
  • Fukuoka - Fukuoka is a city blessed with a beautiful climate and a seaside location. Embark on a city tour to visit the Kanzeonji Temple, Dazaifu and Temmangu Square.

Discover the full itinerary here: Japan-by-rail with Kyushu Island Extension

ITINERARY 2
 
  • Tokyo - Walk through the peaceful Hama-Rikyu Gardens before visiting the National Sumo Museum, housed inside the Kokugikan Sumo Hall in the Ryogoku district. 
  • Hakone - Venture into the countryside on your drive to Hakone and study the artworks and sculptures at the Hakone Open Air Museum.
  • Takayama - Discover the historic farmhouses and mountain villages in Shirakawa-go, now a World Heritage-listed site. Back in Takayama, enjoy a sake tasting and learn about Japan’s favourite alcoholic beverage at a sake museum.
  • Kyoto - Begin with a visit to the Golden Pavilion before wandering through the classical Zen Garden at Ryoanji Temple. Then, walk through the surreal Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. 
  • Nara - Take an excursion to Nara to visit Todaiji Temple and Nara Park. 
  • Hiroshima - Experience an emotional visit to the Peace Park and Museum before visiting Orizuru Tower to create your own special origami donation.
  • Miyajima - Sail by ferry to Miyajima Island to visit Daisho-in Temple and the iconic floating torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine.
  • Osaka - Marvel at the size of the city from Sky Garden before seeing how beer is produced at the Asahi factory.

Discover the full itinerary here: Essential Japan 

ITINERARY 3
 
  • Fukuoka - Visit Shofuku-ji, the oldest Zen Temple in Japan and the sixth-century Kushida Shrine. 
  • Hiroshima - Experience an emotional visit to the Peace Park and Museum before visiting Orizuru Tower to create your own special origami donation. In the afternoon, see the industrial robots at work at the Mazda car factory.
  • Miyajima - Take the ferry to Miyajima Island to visit Daisho-in Temple and the iconic floating torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine.
  • Kyoto - Visit the Silver Pavilion and then stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk. Alternatively, visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, featured in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha and marvel at the architecture of the Nijo Castle.
  • Kanazawa - Wander around Kenroku–en Garden, one of Japan’s three great gardens located across from Kanazawa Castle Park. 
  • Takayama - Participate in Sarubobo mascot-making at the Hida Folk Village. 
  • Hakone - Cruise on Lake Ashinoko before enjoying a short stroll along the heritage trail.
  • Tokyo - Wander through the Tsukiji old outer market, which still remains in business, to see the morning’s catch being distributed by a range of retail shops, restaurants and street food stalls.

Discover the full itinerary here: Treasures of Japan

Explore more three-week Japan itineraries on TourRadar.

Budget-friendly three-week Japan itinerary ideas

If you’re looking to explore Japan on a backpacker's budget, the itinerary suggestions below will let you visit some of the country’s most iconic and must-visit sites without breaking the bank. Planning on visiting multiple cities in a short period of time? Consider getting the JR Pass which gives you unlimited train travel on Japan’s railway network. 

ITINERARY 1
 

  • Tokyo - Bursting with contemporary urban culture, there are many sides of Tokyo to explore, from fascinating museums and world-class shopping to neighbourhood backstreets lined with hole-in-the-wall eateries and bars. 
  • Nikko - Visit Toshugu Shrine, the resting place of a Tokugawa shogun who was one of the most powerful rulers of the country. The opulent shrine contrasts with the traditional minimalist style commonly used throughout Japan.
  • Hakone - Hop on a boat across Ashinoko and then take a cable car ride to the top of the surrounding mountains. Spend the afternoon exploring Hakone’s spectacular mountain scenery and volcanic sites.
  • Takayama - Takayama is a charming Edo period town located in the Japanese Alps, famous for its traditional inns, sake breweries and the Hida Folk Village. 
  • Kotohira - Popular with pilgrims, Konpira-san (Shikoku's most celebrated shrine) is dedicated to seafaring. Climb the 785 steps to the main hall and take in views overlooking Kotohira Town and the Inland Sea far below. 
  • Matsuyama - Visit Matsuyama Castle, one of Japan's finest surviving castles located right in the middle of this lovely provincial capital. 
  • Nagasaki - Nagasaki is a delight to explore, with its hills and harbour, shrines and temples, churches and other remnants from its long involvement with Asian and European traders.
  • Yakushima - The forests of Yakushima are said to have inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki's film ‘Princess Mononoke’, and it's easy to see why. Its ancient cedar trees and shady green splendour are a delight to behold, and at times give the feeling of walking through another world.

Discover the full itinerary here: Ultimate Japan

ITINERARY 2
 
  • Shibuya - Explore the centre of shopping, nightlife, and restaurants, along with the world-renowned Shibuya Crossing. Finish the night with dinner at the restaurant that was featured in the famous film "Kill Bill".
  • Asakusa - Visit Asakusa and the famous Sensoji temple. End the day at the Anime and gaming mecca known as Akihabara. 
  • Kamakura - Explore ancient Japan and go temple-hopping away from the hustle and bustle in Kamakura, a popular seaside location with a quaint village feel and stunning Zen temples. Then, make your way to Enoshima Island catch a great view of the majestic Mt. Fuji from the beach.
  • Odaiba - One of the most interesting places in Tokyo, this man-made island in the middle of Tokyo Bay is home to a range of unique and futuristic attractions.

Discover the full itinerary here: Nippon

Check out more three-week Japan budget itineraries on TourRadar.

Traditional thatched roof houses in Gifu Prefecture
Traditional thatched roof houses in Gifu Prefecture
Cherry blossoms in Asakusa, Tokyo
Cherry blossoms in Asakusa, Tokyo

Japan Glossary

Most popular destination
Kyoto
Currency
JPY
Capital city
Tokyo
Inhabitants
126 million
Safety level
High

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