18 days in Japan Itinerary

18 days in Japan Itinerary

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Route & dates

18 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: Tokyo
1
Tokyo
— 5 nights
+2
train + bus + ferry:  6​h
2
Naoshima-cho
— 2 nights
+2
ferry + bus + train:  3​h 30​min
3
Osaka
— 2 nights
train:  1​h 45​min
4
Hiroshima
— 1 day
train:  1​h 45​min
5
Kyoto
— 3 nights
train:  4​h
6
Nagano
— 3 nights
train:  1​h 30​min
7
Tokyo
— 2 nights
End: Tokyo

5
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.
Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Samukawa Shrine and Izusan Jinja Shrine. Step off the beaten path and head to Hozomon and Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center. Explore Tokyo's surroundings by going to Omiya Bonsai Village (in Saitama), Kodokan Park (in Mito) and Oyama Afuri Shrine (in Isehara). There's lots more to do: admire the masterpieces at Tokyo National Museum The Heiseikan, take in nature's colorful creations at Kyu Iwasakitei Teien, take in the pleasant sights at Demboin Temple Garden, and contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Kakuonji Temple.

To find maps, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our Tokyo trip itinerary builder app .

If you are flying in from United Kingdom, the closest major airports are Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Narita International Airport and Hyakuri Airport. December in Tokyo sees daily highs of 14°C and lows of 4°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 19th (Thu) so you can travel to Naoshima-cho.

Things to do in Tokyo

Historic Sites Parks Neighborhoods

Side Trips

Oyama Afuri Shrine, Kodokan Park, Kakuonji Temple, Omiya Bonsai Village, Marufuji Winery
Find places to stay Dec 14 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Samukawa Shrine ©
Samukawa Shrine
Hozomon ©
Hozomon
Izusan Jinja Shrine ©
Izusan Jinja Shrine

2
nights
Naoshima-cho

Naoshima-cho ©
On a vacation in Naoshima-cho, a charming island town in the Seto Inland Sea, you can discover its numerous contemporary art museums, sculptures, installations, and galleries.
Kick off your visit on the 19th (Thu): make a trip to Shimacoya, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Gokuraku-ji Temple, examine the collection at 007 Museum, then admire the landmark architecture of Naoshima Hall, then take in the exciting artwork at Miyanoura Gallery Rokku, and finally don't miss a visit to Subaru Ishikawa Art Series. On the next day, kick back and relax at Shibukawa Coast, get outside with Shibukawa Camp Site, admire the striking features of Naoshima port terminal, take in the spiritual surroundings of Hachiman Shrine, then don't miss a visit to Naoshima Pavillion, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Sumiyoshi Shrine.

To see traveler tips, other places to visit, ratings, and more tourist information, go to the Naoshima-cho online driving holiday planner .

Getting from Tokyo to Naoshima-cho by combination of train and ferry takes about 6 hours. Other options: do a combination of flight and ferry; or do a combination of bus and ferry. Expect slightly colder weather when traveling from Tokyo in December: highs in Naoshima-cho hover around 11°C, while lows dip to 3°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 21st (Sat) to allow enough time to travel to Osaka.

Things to do in Naoshima-cho

Beaches Outdoors Parks

Side Trip

Tamano
Find places to stay Dec 19 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
007 Museum ©
007 Museum
Naoshima Hall ©
Naoshima Hall
Naoshima port terminal ©
Naoshima port terminal

2
nights
Osaka

Osaka ©
Proud of their hometown's distinct culture and dialect, many natives of Osaka describe their city as "Japan's anti-capital." An antidote to Tokyo's hectic energy, Osaka marches to the beat of its own drum, serving as the country's longtime commercial and industrial hub.
Start off your visit on the 21st (Sat): appreciate the extensive heritage of Osaka, take in the spiritual surroundings of Namba Yasaka Shrine, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Yasui Shrine, explore the different monuments and memorials at Isshinji Temple, then pause for some serene contemplation at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and finally contemplate the long history of Tekijuku. Here are some ideas for day two: take a stroll through Kitashinchi, then make a trip to Orange Street, and then indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas.

To find maps, traveler tips, photos, and more tourist information, read our Osaka online visit planner .

Traveling by combination of ferry, bus, and train from Naoshima-cho to Osaka takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and bus. In December in Osaka, expect temperatures between 13°C during the day and 4°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Hiroshima.

Things to do in Osaka

Historic Sites Spas Neighborhoods
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Yasui Shrine ©
Yasui Shrine
Isshinji Temple ©
Isshinji Temple
Kitashinchi ©
Kitashinchi

1
day
Hiroshima

Hiroshima ©
Grapple with history and appreciate modernity in Hiroshima, a city known around the world for its tragic past and inspiring rebirth.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Mon): contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Kinkoinari Shrine, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Shirakami Shrine, see the interesting displays at Fukuromachi Elementary School Peace Museum, then examine the collection at Honkawa Peace Museum, then relax and rejuvenate at some of the best spas, and finally engage your brain at Hiroshima City Ebiyama Museum Of Meteorology.

To see photos, more things to do, maps, and other tourist information, go to the Hiroshima travel route builder site .

You can take a train from Osaka to Hiroshima in 2 hours. Other options are to drive; or do a combination of flight and train. In December, plan for daily highs up to 13°C, and evening lows to 4°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) to allow enough time to take a train to Kyoto.

Things to do in Hiroshima

Museums Historic Sites Spas
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Kinkoinari Shrine ©
Kinkoinari Shrine

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.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Jojakkoji Temple and Honen-in. Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple and Yasakanoto. There's still lots to do: contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Myoshinji Temple and contemplate the long history of Genkoan.

For where to stay, reviews, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Kyoto journey maker site .

Getting from Hiroshima to Kyoto by train takes about 2 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. In December, daytime highs in Kyoto are 13°C, while nighttime lows are 4°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) so you can take a train to Nagano.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites

Side Trip

Mii-dera Temple (Onjo-ji Temple)
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Mii-dera Temple (Onjo-ji Temple) ©
Mii-dera Temple (Onjo-ji Temple)
Jojakkoji Temple ©
Jojakkoji Temple
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple ©
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

3
nights
Nagano

Nagano ©
Near the confluence of the Chikuma and Sai rivers, Nagano combines historic sites with nearby forested alps dotted with shrines.
Start off your visit on the 27th (Fri): tour the pleasant surroundings at Yamada Farm, Yamaboku Wild Snow Park, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Daihonzan Daihongan, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Zenkoji Sesonin Shakado Temple. On the 28th (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: test the waters at a local thermal spa, don't miss a visit to Teramachi Shoka (Former Kanehako Residence), then contemplate the long history of Old Mejima Residence, then examine the collection at Mizuno Museum, and finally contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Saiho-ji Temple.

To find where to stay, other places to visit, maps, and tourist information, read our Nagano road trip planning site .

Traveling by train from Kyoto to Nagano takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Kyoto in December, things will get slightly colder in Nagano: highs are around 7°C and lows about 0°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sun) to allow enough time to take a train to Tokyo.

Things to do in Nagano

Outdoors Winter Sports Parks

Side Trip

Takayama-mura
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Saiho-ji Temple ©
Saiho-ji Temple
Daihonzan Daihongan ©
Daihonzan Daihongan
Mizuno Museum ©
Mizuno Museum

2
nights
Tokyo

Tokyo ©
Explore hidden gems such as Chichibu Shrine and Kasamori-ji Temple. Get some historical perspective at Fukagawa Edo Museum and Kuhombutsu Joshin-ji Temple. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Tokyo: Soji-ji Temple (in Yokohama) and Kirin Beer Yokohama Factory (in Tsurumi). Enjoy Tokyo some more: examine the collection at Fire Museum and take in the spiritual surroundings of St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo.

To see photos, reviews, ratings, and more tourist information, read Tokyo holiday planning site .

Getting from Nagano to Tokyo by train takes about 1.5 hours. Other options: drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Nagano in December, things will get a bit warmer in Tokyo: highs are around 14°C and lows about 4°C. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 31st (Tue) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Tokyo

Historic Sites Breweries & Distilleries Museums

Side Trips

Yokohama, Kasamori-ji Temple, Chichibu Shrine
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo ©
St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo
Chichibu Shrine ©
Chichibu Shrine
Fire Museum ©
Fire Museum

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