21 days in Japan Itinerary

21 days in Japan Itinerary

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Route & dates

21 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: San Francisco
Fly:  14​h 30​min
1
Miyakojima
— 3 nights
Fly:  2​h
2
Ishigaki
— 2 nights
ferry:  1​h
3
Iriomote-jima
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  16​h 30​min
4
Yakushima-cho
— 2 nights
taxi + Fly:  6​h
5
Tokyo
— 2 nights
train + bus:  3​h 30​min
6
Hakuba-mura
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h
7
Kyoto
— 4 nights
train + Fly:  14​h 15​min
End: San Francisco

3
nights
Miyakojima

Miyakojima ©
A city jurisdiction formed after the merger of several towns in 2005, Miyakojima spans six linked-up islands.
Get in touch with nature at Sunayama Beach and Toguchi no Hama. Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Aragusuku Beach and Ikema Ohashi Bridge. Next up on the itinerary: see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, snap pictures at Irabu Bridge, make a trip to Boraga Limestone Cave, and enjoy the sand and surf at Yonaha Maehama Beach.

For maps, other places to visit, traveler tips, and tourist information, read our Miyakojima day trip planning site .

San Francisco, USA to Miyakojima is an approximately 14.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight. Traveling from San Francisco to Miyakojima, you'll lose 17 hours due to the time zone difference. Expect somewhat warmer temperatures when traveling from San Francisco in December; daily highs in Miyakojima reach 71°F and lows reach 64°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 13th (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Ishigaki.

Things to do in Miyakojima

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Dec 10 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Sunayama Beach ©
Sunayama Beach
Aragusuku Beach ©
Aragusuku Beach
Toguchi no Hama
Toguchi no Hama

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.
Kick off your visit on the 14th (Sat): tour the pleasant surroundings at Kondoi Beach, then explore the fascinating underground world of Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave, and then kick back and relax at Yonehara Beach. Here are some ideas for day two: enjoy breathtaking views from Tamatorizaki Observatory, then enjoy the sea views from Cape Hirakubozaki, and then stroll around Kabira Park.

To see where to stay, photos, ratings, and tourist information, go to the Ishigaki travel route planning app .

You can fly from Miyakojima to Ishigaki in 2 hours. In December, daytime highs in Ishigaki are 72°F, while nighttime lows are 64°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 15th (Sun) to allow time to ride a ferry to Iriomote-jima.

Things to do in Ishigaki

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trip

Kondoi Beach
Find places to stay Dec 13 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Kondoi Beach ©
Kondoi Beach
Yonehara Beach ©
Yonehara Beach
Cape Hirakubozaki ©
Cape Hirakubozaki

2
nights
Iriomote-jima

Iriomote-jima ©
Taketomicho Iriomote-Jima stands as the second largest island in Okinawa.
On the 16th (Mon), take in the dramatic scenery at Pinaisara Falls and then scramble along the landscape with a canyoning and rapelling tour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 17th (Tue): admire the sheer force of Mizuochi Falls, enjoy the sand and surf at Ida no Hama Beach, and then head off the coast to Iriomote Island.

To find traveler tips, reviews, where to stay, and tourist information, use the Iriomote-jima journey planner .

You can ride a ferry from Ishigaki to Iriomote-jima in an hour. In December, daytime highs in Iriomote-jima are 72°F, while nighttime lows are 64°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 17th (Tue) early enough to travel to Yakushima-cho.

Things to do in Iriomote-jima

Parks Outdoors Nature
Find places to stay Dec 15 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Iriomote Island ©
Iriomote Island
Pinaisara Falls ©
Pinaisara Falls

2
nights
Yakushima-cho

Yakushima-cho ©
A popular destination for Japanese tourists, Kumage-gun Yakushima-cho is a true paradise for nature lovers, with over 1,900 species and subspecies of plants.
Explore hidden gems such as Yakusugi Land and Oko no Taki Fall. Step out of the city life by going to Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley and The Yakushima World Heritage Conservation Center. There's still lots to do: don't miss a visit to Taikoiwa.

For other places to visit, maps, photos, and tourist information, read our Yakushima-cho itinerary planner.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Iriomote-jima to Yakushima-cho. Traveling from Iriomote-jima in December, expect Yakushima-cho to be a bit cooler, temps between 60°F and 51°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 20th (Fri) early enough to travel to Tokyo.

Things to do in Yakushima-cho

Parks Nature Wildlife
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Yakusugi Land ©
Yakusugi Land
Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley ©
Shiratani Unsuikyo Valley
Oko no Taki Fall
Oko no Taki Fall

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.
You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at Tokyo National Museum and Samurai Museum. Do some cultural sightseeing at Odaiba and Sensō-ji. Next up on the itinerary: examine the collection at Edo-Tokyo Museum, get a sense of history and politics at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings, make a trip to Meiji Jingu Shrine, and have some family-friendly fun at Owl cafe Akiba Fukurou.

For maps, reviews, traveler tips, and other tourist information, use the Tokyo trip itinerary website .

You can do a combination of taxi and flight from Yakushima-cho to Tokyo in 6 hours. Other options are to do a combination of taxi, flight, and train; or do a combination of car, ferry, and flight. Traveling from Yakushima-cho in December, things will get little chillier in Tokyo: highs are around 54°F and lows about 39°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Mon) so you can travel to Hakuba-mura.

Things to do in Tokyo

Neighborhoods Museums Historic Sites
Find places to stay Dec 20 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Odaiba ©
Odaiba
Tokyo National Museum ©
Tokyo National Museum
Sensō-ji ©
Sensō-ji

2
nights
Hakuba-mura

Hakuba-mura ©
Skiing enthusiasts traveling in Japan should consider a trip to Hakuba-mura: tucked away in the Northern Alps, this village hosted several competitions during the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics.
On the 24th (Tue), hit the slopes at Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort. Here are some ideas for day two: fly down the slopes at Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort / Alpine Garden and then contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Togakushi Shrine Okusha.

For where to stay, more things to do, photos, and tourist information, you can read our Hakuba-mura online tour itinerary planner .

Traveling by combination of train and bus from Tokyo to Hakuba-mura takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a train. Plan for a bit cooler temperatures traveling from Tokyo in December, with highs in Hakuba-mura at 43°F and lows at 32°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Kyoto.

Things to do in Hakuba-mura

Winter Sports Parks Outdoors

Side Trip

Togakushi Shrine Okusha
Find places to stay Dec 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort ©
Hakuba Happoone Ski Resort
Hakuba Goryu Ski Resort / Alpine Garden ©
Togakushi Shrine Okusha ©
Togakushi Shrine Okusha

4
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.
Step off the beaten path and head to Tofuku-ji Temple and Eikando Zenrinji Temple. Get some cultural insight at Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kinkaku-ji. Get out of town with these interesting Kyoto side-trips: Osaka (Dotonbori & Osaka Castle). There's much more to do: steep yourself in history at Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, take in the spiritual surroundings of Sanjusangendo Temple, explore the historical opulence of Nijo Castle, and wander the streets of Gion.

To find more things to do, maps, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read Kyoto travel planning site .

Getting from Hakuba-mura to Kyoto by car takes about 5 hours. Other options: take a train; or do a combination of train and bus. Prepare for somewhat warmer weather when traveling from Hakuba-mura in December: high temperatures in Kyoto hover around 52°F and lows are around 39°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 29th (Sun) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites Neighborhoods Shopping

Side Trip

Osaka
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine ©
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
Kiyomizu-dera Temple ©
Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Eikando Zenrinji Temple ©
Eikando Zenrinji Temple

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