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If you think you can’t travel to Japan and spend just two weeks in Japan, think again! Thanks to Japan’s fast railway system and the fact that many of the most popular places to visit in Japan are Cities and therefore easy to get to and get around, it is possible to see a lot of Japan in just 2 weeks.
I visited Japan for 2.5 weeks and the route I did was perfect for my first time in Japan. So I have condensed the best of my trip and the things I learned into this 2 week Japan Itinerary and Japan travel guide so you can see as much of Japan as possible during just 2 weeks annual leave.
This itinerary is perfect for people visiting Japan for the first time as you’ll visit all of the iconic and popular places that I think you need to visit on your first trip to Japan.
2 Weeks in Japan
Day 1 – Arrive in Osaka
How To Get from Kansai Airport to Osaka:
Buy a train ticket in Kansai Airport Station for the train that goes to Namba Train Station which is in the Centre of Osaka.
I got the 1000Yen ticket which covered my train from Kansai Airport to Namba plus one subway ride which took me to my hostel. This is the most budget-friendly way to get from Kansai Airport to Osaka and means you do not need to worry about getting an additional Metro ticket at this stage.
Day 2 – Explore Osaka
Things To Do in Osaka:
- Osaka Castle and Castle Grounds
- Abeno Harukas Observation Deck (Free View of Osaka)
- Walk around the cool and unique areas of Shinsekai and Dotonbori.
- Dotonbori Ferris Wheel
Where To Stay in Osaka:
The Best Area of Osaka to stay in is Central Osaka I think. Accommodation near Namba Station is perfect as Namba is very central making it easy to get around Osaka as well as leave Osaka, and it’s next to the neighbourhood of Dotonbori which has a lot going on for tourists.
There are lots of hostels in Osaka close to Namba Station, have a search on Hostelworld here.
(I use Booking.com and Hostelworld for all of my bookings and I did whilst I was in Japan so I am recommending these two sites to you in this post.)
Day 3 – Train to Hiroshima & Explore Hiroshima
How To Get to Hiroshima from Osaka:
A Bullet Train / Shinkansen Train leaves from Shin Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station regularly throughout the day taking just 2 hours. This Train is included in your JR Pass if you have one (and I recommend you do, here’s my full blog on the JR Pass.)
Things To Do in Hiroshima:
Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Orizuru Tower (View of Hiroshima)
Eat Okonomi Yaki (it was created in Hiroshima!)
Where to Stay in Hiroshima:
I stayed at Kawate Ya Hostel in Hiroshima which I enjoyed, it’s in a great location just a few stops on the tram from Hiroshima Station. The dorm rooms are big but it’s well designed and because the rooms are so big it’s a budget-friendly place to stay in Hiroshima for backpackers.
If you want a Hotel in Hiroshima, look for one close to the Peace Park and you’ll be in a good central location.
Day 4 – Go to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima
How to get to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima:
If you have a JR Pass, from Hiroshima Station take JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station which leaves regularly and takes about 30 minutes, you don’t need to buy a ticket, just show the inspectors your JR pass at the gate. Then head towards the Ferry Port and get on the JR Ferry, again no need to buy a ticket, just show your pass.
Alternative ways to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima which are not included in the JR Pass, are to get a boat from the Peace Park in the Centre of Hiroshima or take Tram / Streetcar 2 to Miyajimaguchi.
Things To Do on Miyajima Island:
See the Great Torii Gate
Hike or Get the Cable Car to Mount Misen
Five Story Pagoda
Taste all of the local Street Food
Make sure you’re fully prepared for your trip to Japan by reading this great post on Essential Travel Tips for Japan.
Day 5 – Train to Kobe via Himeji Castle
How to get from Hiroshima to Himeji Castle:
Book or get on a train from Hiroshima Station to Himeji Station.
Visiting Himeji Castle is a popular thing to do on the way to or from Hiroshima seen as it’s on the route there and there is nothing else (touristy) to do in this area. For more details on how to visit Himeji Castle on a stopover on the train including what to do with your luggage, have a read of this post I wrote with all the details.
Things To Do in Himeji:
Tea Ceremony in Koko-en Gardens Cafe
How to get from Himeji to Kobe:
Get on the next train to Kobe after seeing the Castle.
Where To Stay in Kobe:
I stayed in Maya Guesthouse in Kobe which I really liked. It has private rooms and dorm rooms and a very personal feel to it. It’s in the neighbourhood of Nada just outside of Central Kobe and it was so nice being able to experience a quiet Japanese neighbourhood that I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for this hostel.
For more Hotels and Hostel in Kobe have a look on Booking.com here. Keep in mind that there is not a huge amount of accommodation in Kobe so I recommend booking in advance.
Day 6 – Explore Kobe
Kobe is a great city to visit in Japan as it’s not visited by as many tourists yet but it offers so much as the City is sandwiched between the Ocean and Mountains which means you can see all 3 sides in just one day in Kobe.
Things To Do in Kobe:
Eat Street Food in Chinatown
Go down to Kobe Harbour
Go on a Sunset Cruise
See Views of Kobe and the Kansai Region from Mount Maya
Related Post: My Complete Guide to Kobe & Why You Should Visit!
Day 7 – Explore Kobe & Train To Kyoto
Finish off exploring Kobe during the morning before going to Kyoto.
How to get from Kobe to Kyoto:
Get the Shinkansen Train from Shin Kobe to Kyoto Station, or get a local JR line train from one of Kobe’s many JR Stations to Kyoto Station.
Where To Stay in Kyoto:
Accommodation in Kyoto will probably be your most expensive accommodation on this trip as Kyoto is a very popular place to visit. Kyoto’s attractions are all very spread out too so there’s not one central area that is best to stay in.
If you cannot find accommodation to suit your budget in Kyoto you could choose to stay in Osaka and do a day trip to Kyoto instead which is what I did.
Related Post: If you want to spend longer in Kyoto here’s a full Kyoto Travel Guide.
Day 8 – Explore Kyoto
Things To Do in Kyoto:
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Geisha Spot in Gion
Walk along the Canal’s & River’s
Kyoto Castle and Palace
Day 9 – Day Trip to Nara from Kyoto
From Kyoto or Osaka if you decide to stay in Osaka, head to Nara for the day or for a few hours which is one of the most popular day trips to do in Japan.
Things To Do in Nara:
Walk around Nara Park
Feed the Deer
Visit the Temples in Nara Park
Day 10 – Train from Kyoto to Hakone
How To Get From Kyoto to Hakone:
There is not a direct route from Kyoto to Hakone but you can get there by getting on 2 or 3 trains. I suggest using HyperDia to check train times in advance.
Where To Stay in Hakone.
Accommodation is quite spread out in this area but it is well connected by train. The main train station is Odawara, so this is a good area to stay, or you can stay in Hakone town.
Day 11 – Day Trip to See Mt Fuji
The reason for going to Hakone is because it’s a great place to see Mount Fuji from. You can do a day trip from Tokyo to Hakone but it does involve quite a journey to get there and if the weather isn’t good you have today and tomorrow as chances for a clear day to see Mount Fuji.
There is a Hakone Freepass which gives you access to all sorts of transport in this area including a boat, ropeway, cable car and the trains so you can do the full Hakone loop and this pass is valid for 2 days.
Day 12 – Train from Hakone to Tokyo
How to get from Hakone to Tokyo:
There are several trains which can take you from the Hakone area to Tokyo. Be sure to look into where you are staying in Tokyo so you go to the right area of Tokyo. Many trains from Odawara go to Shinjuku but if you are not staying near in West Tokyo you may want to go to Tokyo Station in the Centre of Tokyo.
Where To Stay in Tokyo:
I stayed at Grids Hostel Nihombashi East which I recommend. The dorm rooms are big but it’s very well set up.
There are so many hostels and hotels in Tokyo. Many of them are in the East however if you can, I suggest staying in West Tokyo as you’ll be closer to more of the area’s you’ll probably spend a lot of your time in like Shibuya and Shinjuku.
Day 13 – Explore Tokyo
Things To Do in Tokyo
Explore the cool area’s of Harajuku, Shibuya & Shinjuku
Eat Cool food in Harajuku
Play in the Arcades in Shinjuku
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for a Free Observation Deck
Walk around the many Parks in the City
Day 14 – Leave Japan from Tokyo
This is the perfect 2 week Japan itinerary for those visiting Japan for the first time as you’ll visit all of the most popular places and you can see a lot in this time too because of how good the trains are.
To SEE Japan and follow my route around Japan, have a look at my YouTube videos here.
For more of my posts on Japan see:
Remember you’ll need a 14 Day JR Pass and you need to get it in advance, you can purchase it here!