18 days in Japan Itinerary

18 days in Japan Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: Los Angeles
Fly + train:  14​h 30​min
1
Kyoto
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h
2
Ise
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 45​min
3
Nachikatsura-cho
— 2 nights
train + Fly:  6​h 45​min
4
Miyakojima
— 1 night
ferry:  4​h
5
Iriomote-jima
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
6
Ishigaki
— 2 nights
Fly:  5​h 15​min
7
Tokyo
— 2 nights
Fly:  15​h 30​min
End: Los Angeles

3
nights
Kyoto

Kyoto ©
The national capital for over a thousand years, Kyoto retains much of the charm of old Japan, boasting numerous temples and shrines that seem completely untouched by the modern world.
Get some cultural insight at Dotonbori and Nijo Castle. Explore hidden gems such as Tofuku-ji Temple and Chion-in Temple. And it doesn't end there: take in the spiritual surroundings of Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, contemplate the long history of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, make a trip to Eikando Zenrinji Temple, and take a stroll through Gion.

For photos, reviews, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Kyoto travel route planner .

Los Angeles, USA to Kyoto is an approximately 14.5-hour combination of flight and train. You can also fly; or do a combination of train and flight. Traveling from Los Angeles to Kyoto, you'll lose 17 hours due to the time zone difference. Prepare for little chillier weather when traveling from Los Angeles in December: high temperatures in Kyoto hover around 52°F and lows are around 39°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 31st (Tue) so you can go by car to Ise.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites Neighborhoods Shopping

Side Trip

Dotonbori
Find places to stay Dec 28 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Eikando Zenrinji Temple ©
Eikando Zenrinji Temple
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine ©
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
Kiyomizu-dera Temple ©
Kiyomizu-dera Temple

2
nights
Ise

Ise ©
A spiritual center of Shintoism, Ise stands as a traditional city where visitors can see the roots of Japanese culture in a number of well-preserved natural and historic sites.
Kick off your visit on the 1st (Wed): contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Sarutahiko Shrine, contemplate the long history of Oharai-machi, take an in-depth tour of Sengukan, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Aramatsurinomiya, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Ise Grand Shrine, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Ise Shrine Geku. On the next day, look for gifts at Hakutaka Miyake Shoten, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Yamato-hime Shrine, then make a trip to Hinjitsukan, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Tsukiyomi-no-miya Shrine, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Matsuo Kanonji Temple.

For photos, where to stay, maps, and other tourist information, go to the Ise online trip planner .

Traveling by car from Kyoto to Ise takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or take a bus. Plan for a bit warmer nights when traveling from Kyoto in December since evenings lows in Ise dip to 47°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to Nachikatsura-cho.

Things to do in Ise

Historic Sites Shopping Museums
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 2:
Highlights from your plan
Oharai-machi ©
Oharai-machi
Ise Shrine Geku ©
Ise Shrine Geku
Sarutahiko Shrine ©
Sarutahiko Shrine

2
nights
Nachikatsura-cho

Nachikatsura-cho ©
The town of Nachikatsuura-cho wows visitors with its superlative landscape and impressive cultural attractions.
On the 3rd (Fri), contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Kumano Hayatama Taisha, take in the spiritual surroundings of Kamikura Shrine, take in the dramatic scenery at Nachi Mitaki Falls, then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Hirou Shrine, and finally make a trip to Daimonzaka. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: tour the pleasant surroundings at Hashigui Rock, then take some stellar pictures from Ichimai-iwa, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Seigantoji Temple, and finally contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Kumano Nachi Taisha.

To see ratings, reviews, other places to visit, and other tourist information, refer to the Nachikatsura-cho day trip website .

Traveling by car from Ise to Nachikatsura-cho takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train. In January in Nachikatsura-cho, expect temperatures between 50°F during the day and 41°F at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 4th (Sat) early enough to travel to Miyakojima.

Things to do in Nachikatsura-cho

Historic Sites Parks Nature

Side Trips

Shingu, Hashigui Rock, Ichimai-iwa
Find places to stay Jan 2 — 4:
Highlights from your plan
Kumano Nachi Taisha ©
Kumano Nachi Taisha
Kamikura Shrine ©
Kamikura Shrine
Kumano Hayatama Taisha ©
Kumano Hayatama Taisha

1
night
Miyakojima

Miyakojima ©
A city jurisdiction formed after the merger of several towns in 2005, Miyakojima spans six linked-up islands.
On the 5th (Sun), tour the pleasant surroundings at Sunayama Beach, snap pictures at Irabu Bridge, then take in the views from Kurima Bridge, and finally kick back and relax at Yonaha Maehama Beach. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 6th (Mon): make a trip to Boraga Limestone Cave, then see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and then stroll through Aragusuku Beach.

To see where to stay, more things to do, photos, and more tourist information, you can read our Miyakojima journey planner .

You can do a combination of train and flight from Nachikatsura-cho to Miyakojima in 7 hours. Traveling from Nachikatsura-cho in January, things will get somewhat warmer in Miyakojima: highs are around 69°F and lows about 61°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 6th (Mon) to allow time to ride a ferry to Iriomote-jima.

Things to do in Miyakojima

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Jan 4 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Yonaha Maehama Beach ©
Yonaha Maehama Beach
Sunayama Beach ©
Sunayama Beach
Aragusuku Beach ©
Aragusuku Beach

2
nights
Iriomote-jima

Iriomote-jima ©
Taketomicho Iriomote-Jima stands as the second largest island in Okinawa.
On the 7th (Tue), skim along the rocks with a canyoning and rapelling tour and then take a tour by water with Boat Tours & Water Sports. Here are some ideas for day two: admire the sheer force of Mizuochi Falls, then make a trip to Funauki Village, then step off the mainland to explore Iriomote Island, and finally take in the dramatic scenery at Pinaisara Falls.

For photos, reviews, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Iriomote-jima online day trip planner .

Traveling by ferry from Miyakojima to Iriomote-jima takes 4 hours. Expect a daytime high around 70°F in January, and nighttime lows around 62°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 8th (Wed) early enough to catch the ferry to Ishigaki.

Things to do in Iriomote-jima

Outdoors Tours Parks
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Iriomote Island ©
Iriomote Island
Pinaisara Falls ©
Pinaisara Falls
Funauki Village ©
Funauki Village

2
nights
Ishigaki

Ishigaki ©
Ishigaki, the most populous island in the chain, features the country's southernmost city and acts as a transport hub for exploring the landmasses that surround.
Start off your visit on the 9th (Thu): enjoy the sand and surf at Yonehara Beach, then get outside with Cape Hirakubozaki, and then take in panoramic vistas at Tamatorizaki Observatory. On the 10th (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: find your balance on the water with some of the best stand-up paddleboarding in the area, then look for gifts at Pinion Direct Shop, and then kick back and relax at Kondoi Beach.

For ratings, maps, photos, and more tourist information, you can read our Ishigaki trip planner .

Getting from Iriomote-jima to Ishigaki by ferry takes about an hour. Expect a daytime high around 70°F in January, and nighttime lows around 62°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 10th (Fri) to allow time to travel to Tokyo.

Things to do in Ishigaki

Outdoors Parks Beaches

Side Trip

Kondoi Beach
Find places to stay Jan 8 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Cape Hirakubozaki ©
Cape Hirakubozaki
Kondoi Beach ©
Kondoi Beach
Stand-Up Paddleboarding

2
nights
Tokyo

Tokyo ©
Tokyo holds the status of most populous metropolitan area in the world--a fact you'll find tangible as you walk the bustling streets and explore its diverse neighborhoods and cultures.
Get a sense of the local culture at Sensō-ji and Takeshita Street. For shopping fun, head to Ginza or Art Jeunesse Akihabara. Go for a jaunt from Tokyo to Yokohama to see Minato Mirai 21 about 44 minutes away. The adventure continues: take a stroll through Odaiba, admire the masterpieces at Tokyo National Museum, don't miss a visit to Meiji Jingu Shrine, and admire the striking features of Tokyo Tower.

Plan a Tokyo trip in moments using our itinerary builder.

Getting from Ishigaki to Tokyo by flight takes about 5.5 hours. In January, Tokyo is cooler than Ishigaki - with highs of 50°F and lows of 35°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Mon) to allow time to travel back home.

Things to do in Tokyo

Neighborhoods Shopping Historic Sites

Side Trip

Minato Mirai 21
Find places to stay Jan 10 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Ginza ©
Ginza
Tokyo National Museum ©
Tokyo National Museum
Minato Mirai 21 ©
Minato Mirai 21

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