42 days in Japan Itinerary

42 days in Japan Itinerary

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Route & dates

42 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: Chicago
Fly:  15 h 15 min
1
Tokyo
— 6 nights
Drive:  2 h
2
Fujikawaguchiko-machi
— 4 nights
Drive:  2 h 15 min
3
Matsumoto
— 5 nights
Drive:  2 h 45 min
4
Kanazawa
— 5 nights
Fly:  4 h 15 min
5
Naha
— 5 nights
+2
Fly + Subway + Train:  4 h
6
Hiroshima
— 5 nights
Train:  1 h
7
Himeji
— 4 nights
Train:  45 min
8
Kyoto
— 6 nights
Train + Fly:  17 h 30 min
End: Chicago

6
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 find plenty of places to visit near Tokyo: Tokyo DisneySea (in Maihama) and Kamakura (Hase-dera Temple & Kōtoku-in). There's lots more to do: make a trip to Tokyo Tower, examine the collection at Edo-Tokyo Museum, tour the pleasant surroundings at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, and ponder the world of politics at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings.

For where to stay, reviews, ratings, and other tourist information, you can read our Tokyo road trip planning site .

Chicago, USA to Tokyo is an approximately 15.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight. The time zone difference when traveling from Chicago to Tokyo is 15 hours. Plan for a bit warmer temperatures traveling from Chicago in November, with highs in Tokyo at 62°F and lows at 49°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Wed) early enough to drive to Fujikawaguchiko-machi.

Things to do in Tokyo

Neighborhoods Historic Sites Museums

Side Trips

Kamakura, Urayasu
Find places to stay Nov 21 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Owl cafe Akiba Fukurou ©
Owl cafe Akiba Fukurou
Meiji Jingu Shrine ©
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Tokyo Tower ©
Tokyo Tower

4
nights
Fujikawaguchiko-machi

Fujikawaguchiko-machi ©
A resort town located in the foothills of Mount Fuji, Fujikawaguchiko-machi acts as a base for many who plan to take one of the trails up the iconic volcano.
Get out of town with these interesting Fujikawaguchiko-machi side-trips: Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine (in Fujinomiya), Hakone-machi (Hakone Shrine / Kuzuryu Shrine Singu, The Hakone Open-Air Museum, & more) and Ikeda museum of 20th century art (in Ito). Spend the 30th (Sat) exploring nature at Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The adventure continues: make a trip to Mount Fuji and contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Kawaguchi.

To see reviews, traveler tips, other places to visit, and more tourist information, go to the Fujikawaguchiko-machi travel planner .

Traveling by car from Tokyo to Fujikawaguchiko-machi takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus. While traveling from Tokyo, expect slightly colder days and about the same nights in Fujikawaguchiko-machi, ranging from highs of 52°F to lows of 50°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 1st (Sun) early enough to go by car to Matsumoto.

Things to do in Fujikawaguchiko-machi

Parks Nature Museums

Side Trips

Hakone-machi, Ikeda museum of 20th century art, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Mount Fuji, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine
Find places to stay Nov 27 — Dec 1:
Highlights from your plan
Mount Fuji ©
Mount Fuji
The Hakone Open-Air Museum ©
The Hakone Open-Air Museum
Lake Kawaguchi ©
Lake Kawaguchi

5
nights
Matsumoto

Matsumoto ©
A castle town, Matsumoto possesses one of the best-preserved feudal structures in the country, and maintains its historical attractions and traditions while simultaneously exuding a modern, cosmopolitan charm.
Get out of town with these interesting Matsumoto side-trips: Suwa (Kirigamine Marshland & Maihime Breweries), Jinchokan Moriya Archives (in Chino) and Azumino (Horigane Bussan Center & Mt. Nagamine). There's lots more to do: explore the historical opulence of Matsumoto Castle, admire the striking features of Takayama Jinya, take in the spiritual surroundings of Zenko-ji Temple, and explore the world behind art at Hida Takayama Museum of Art.

For photos, reviews, more things to do, and tourist information, you can read our Matsumoto trip itinerary planner.

Drive from Fujikawaguchiko-machi to Matsumoto in 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and train; or take a train. Expect little chillier evenings in Matsumoto when traveling from Fujikawaguchiko-machi in December, with lows around 32°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 6th (Fri) so you can drive to Kanazawa.

Things to do in Matsumoto

Museums Historic Sites Parks

Side Trips

Takayama, Azumino, Suwa, Omachi, Zenko-ji Temple
Find places to stay Dec 1 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
Matsumoto Castle ©
Matsumoto Castle
Takayama Jinya ©
Takayama Jinya

5
nights
Kanazawa

Kanazawa ©
An old castle town largely unspoiled during World War II, Kanazawa features well-preserved architecture spread across a range of districts.
Get out of town with these interesting Kanazawa side-trips: Ishikawa Jumoku Park (in Hakusan), Tateyama-machi (Mt. Tateyama, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, & more) and Shirakawa-mura (Tenshukakau Observatory, The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go Gassho Style Houses, & more). The adventure continues: take in nature's colorful creations at Kenrokuen Garden, examine the collection at Ishikawa Prefectural Museum for Traditional Products and Crafts, don't miss a visit to Kanazawa Station, and wander the streets of Higashichaya Old Town.

For other places to visit, where to stay, photos, and tourist information, read Kanazawa trip planner .

Traveling by car from Matsumoto to Kanazawa takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or do a combination of train and bus. While traveling from Matsumoto, expect a bit warmer days and about the same nights in Kanazawa, ranging from highs of 49°F to lows of 37°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 11th (Wed) so you can travel to Naha.

Things to do in Kanazawa

Historic Sites Parks Museums

Side Trips

Shirakawa-mura, Tateyama-machi, Ishikawa Jumoku Park, Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Find places to stay Dec 6 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Kenrokuen Garden
Kenrokuen Garden
Shirakawago Gassho Zukuri Minkaen ©
Shirakawago Gassho Zukuri Minkaen

5
nights
Naha

Naha ©
Naha, the capital of Okinawa, has deep roots: Stone Age relics have been found in the city, and through the Middle Ages it rose in importance in the Ryukyu Kingdom.
You'll find plenty of places to visit near Naha: Motobu-cho (Okichan Theater, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, & more), Nakijin-son (Akabaka Beach, Kouri Ohashi, & more) and Onna-son (Scuba & Snorkeling & Cape Manzamo). There's still lots to do: explore the historical opulence of Shurijo Castle, step off the mainland to explore Hanari Island, head outdoors with Gahijima Sand Dune, and enjoy breathtaking views from Amagusuku Observatory.

For reviews, ratings, traveler tips, and other tourist information, refer to the Naha online holiday planner .

Fly from Kanazawa to Naha in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of train and flight; or do a combination of train and ferry. Plan for warmer temperatures traveling from Kanazawa in December, with highs in Naha at 70°F and lows at 62°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Mon) early enough to travel to Hiroshima.

Things to do in Naha

Parks Wildlife Outdoors

Side Trips

Nakijin-son, Motobu-cho, Onna-son, Zamami-son, St. Clara Church
Find places to stay Dec 11 — 16:
Highlights from your plan
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium ©
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
Shurijo Castle ©
Shurijo Castle
Scuba & Snorkeling

5
nights
Hiroshima

Hiroshima ©
Grapple with history and appreciate modernity in Hiroshima, a city known around the world for its tragic past and inspiring rebirth.
Explore Hiroshima's surroundings by going to Washibara Hachiman Shrine (in Tsuwano-cho), Hatsukaichi (Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, & more) and Mt. Misen (in Miyajima). The adventure continues: examine the collection at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, steep yourself in history at Atomic Bomb Dome, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Kosanji Temple, and admire the masterpieces at Hiroshima Museum of Art.

For where to stay, other places to visit, maps, and more tourist information, you can read our Hiroshima online travel route planner .

Traveling by combination of flight and train from Naha to Hiroshima takes 4 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or do a combination of ferry and train. Traveling from Naha in December, you will find days in Hiroshima are little chillier (52°F), and nights are cooler (39°F). Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Sat) so you can catch the train to Himeji.

Things to do in Hiroshima

Historic Sites Museums Parks

Side Trips

Hatsukaichi, Onomichi, Yamato Museum, Washibara Hachiman Shrine
Find places to stay Dec 16 — 21:
Highlights from your plan
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum ©
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Peace Memorial Park - Hiroshima ©
Peace Memorial Park - Hiroshima
Atomic Bomb Dome ©
Atomic Bomb Dome

4
nights
Himeji

Himeji ©
The castle around which the city of Himeji has developed represents one of the best preserved in the country, and has been designated as a national treasure and a World Heritage Site.
Get out of town with these interesting Himeji side-trips: Kunimi no Mori Park (in Shiso), Ohara Museum of Art (in Kurashiki) and Okayama Korakuen Garden (in Okayama). There's much more to do: step into the grandiose world of Himeji Castle, admire the natural beauty at Koko-en, don't miss a visit to Daisen Outlook, and get engrossed in the history at Shikoku Mura Village.

To find ratings, where to stay, photos, and other tourist information, go to the Himeji road trip planning tool .

Traveling by train from Hiroshima to Himeji takes an hour. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. In December in Himeji, expect temperatures between 52°F during the day and 42°F at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Wed) so you can take a train to Kyoto.

Things to do in Himeji

Parks Nature Museums

Side Trips

Yoneda Taishiji Temple, Kunimi no Mori Park, Mt. Kuma, Mt. Takamikura, Ohara Museum of Art
Find places to stay Dec 21 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Okayama Korakuen Garden ©
Okayama Korakuen Garden
Himeji Castle ©
Himeji Castle
Ohara Museum of Art ©
Ohara Museum of Art

6
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.
Venture out of the city with trips to Osaka (Dotonbori & Osaka Castle), Universal Studios Japan (in Konohana) and Nara (Todai-ji Temple & Nara Park). There's still lots to do: contemplate the long history of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, make a trip to Eikando Zenrinji Temple, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Heian Shrine, and take a stroll through Gion.

To see more things to do, where to stay, maps, and tourist information, you can read our Kyoto trip itinerary maker site .

Getting from Himeji to Kyoto by train takes about an hour. Other options: drive; or take a bus. In December, daily temperatures in Kyoto can reach 52°F, while at night they dip to 39°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 31st (Tue) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites Theme Parks Neighborhoods

Side Trips

Osaka, Nara
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Kiyomizu-dera Temple ©
Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine ©
Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
Universal Studios Japan ©
Universal Studios Japan

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