Plenty of traditional Japanese gates to see on your one month holiday in Japan
Japan is a country rich in history, culture, and unforgettable landscapes. It’s impossible to see everything in just a week or even a month – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a glimpse of what this unique country has to offer. If it’s your first time in Japan, this one month Japan itinerary for first timers, featuring some of its most memorable sites and attractions, is a great place to springboard your own holiday. I say one month, but if you add up all the days, there are 28 days covered. This will give you time to arrive from overseas and to leave at either end of the itinerary and gives you the flexibility to spend an extra day or two once you know your arrival and departure.
Best time to Visit Japan
The best time to travel to Japan is either autumn or spring (particularly late March and early April so that you can catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms). Winter is also beautiful but can be rough in some areas due to snowfall. While summer is known for its heat and humidity. So if you are visiting Japan during those times, be sure to prepare for the weather accordingly! Not only prepare for the weather, be prepared for the whole Japan trip with travel insurance.
TIP: You will be doing a lot of walking on this one month in Japan itinerary so I highly suggest you have comfortable shoes and clothes for the climate you will be visiting in.
How to Travel During Your Month Holiday in Japan
Japan has a number of different options available to travel in and around Japan. From buses to car rentals to taxis, but unless you have a decent grasp of the Japanese language, most of these options will give you a rough time. Airplanes are also an option, but they’re expensive and the waiting time at the airport will be longer than some of the flights to get you to the places on this one month Japan travel itinerary. Fortunately, Japan has some of the most efficient public transportation in the world with its Shinkansen Bullet Trains and train systems. You might still encounter some difficulty with language but the train stations are standardized and easier to navigate. Plus the Japanese have designed the fabulous Japan Rail Pass to make your travels in Japan efficient and enjoyable. This Japan itinerary I have designed would suit a 14 day Japan Rail Pass.
Japanese Accommodation – Where Will You Stay in Japan?
Japan offers some great accommodation for your holiday. It ranges from westernised hostels and hotels to compact but cheap capsule hotels to traditional ryokans for a taste of authentic Japanese culture. The accommodation suggested in this Japan itinerary is mostly westernised hostels and hotels. Options are listed under each town/city where you will require accommodation.
Here is a Quick Summary of Your 1 Month in Japan
1-4: Arrive and enjoy Tokyo
5: Day trip to Yokohama
6: Day trip to Mt Fuji & Hakane
30: Return to Tokyo to depart Japan
One Month Japan Itinerary
Tokyo (Day 1-4)
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
Recommended Stay in Tokyo: 3-4 days
As the most well-known metropolis in the country, it’d practically be a crime not to visit Tokyo for at least a few days during your month-long holiday in Japan. The number of things to see is almost limitless – but you can still pack the most “essential” sightseeing spots into a few days. Some of these include the Sensō-ji Temple, the Meiji Shingu Shrine, and Shinjuku for its popping city life. Odaiba Seaside Park also has a lot of one-of-a-kind museums, art galleries, and other attractions. If you’re a fan of anime, Akihabara District and Nakano Broadway are some other places you might want to visit. The Ghibli Museum is also located in Tokyo and is a definite must-see if you’re a fan of Ghibli movies like Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Totoro. Plus there is the Imperial Palace and the Observation Deck of the Tokyo Tower for panoramic views of Tokyo. Make time to shop till you drop in the shopping emporiums in Ginza.
READ MORE: How to Spend 3 Days in Tokyo
Where to stay in Tokyo
I suggest you book 6 nights accommodation in Tokyo. This will cover your arrival, 4 days of sightseeing in Tokyo, plus 2 day trips. One to Yokohama and the other to Mt Fuji. Tokyo is home to all styles of accommodation from traditional Japanese style to modern western style. Read my post on different styles of Japanese accommodation here. If seeking a hostel stay for your time in Tokyo check out Imano Tokyo Hostel. Only 1.5km from the city centre and not only has bunks for single travellers available but rooms for families and groups of 2-4 people. Get pricing and to book here for a stay at Imano Tokyo Hostel. Looking for a budget hotel check out the Ibis Styles or for a medium price hotel check out the Mitsui Gardens in Tokyo Bay. As you are staying in Tokyo close to a week, you may be interested to rent a small apartment. One such apartment is the one-bed T-Home. For more hostel, hotel and apartment options check out Booking.com.
Day 5 – Day trip to Yokohama from Tokyo
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance Tokyo to Yokohama: As Yokohama is only an 18 minute train trip (and the leave every 15 to 20 minutes) from Tokyo, Yokohama is being done as a day trip from Tokyo on this one month itinerary of Japan.
Yokohama began as a small fishing village. It’s willingness to open its arms to foreign trade from the 17th century onward – during which most of Japan wanted to keep closed off from the rest of the world – has led Yokohama’s growth into the second biggest city in the country today. It is the capital of the Kanagawa Prefecture and lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo. While in this major commercial hub, soak in some of the sites with a stroll through Yamashita Park or Minato Mirai 21. Both of these have stunning scenery and attractions aplenty. You may also want to swing by Chinatown. Built from the ground up by immigrants who were welcomed into this port city these past centuries. Maybe a visit to the free Nogeyama Zoo is on the cards.
Day 6 – Day trip from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance Yokohama to Mt Fuji: 120km, taking just over 2 hours by train and is an easy day trip from Tokyo.
Mt. Fuji is the most iconic landmark in Japan, bar none. It offers a beautiful view both from the top of its peak and from the ground below. In July and August, you can hike up one of the many trails. Or you can catch a glimpse of this picturesque volcano by visiting or staying at one of the many nearby camping grounds. There are lakes at the bottom of the volcano known as the Five Lakes which offer many things to do. Read my post Day Trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo, it provides loads of options of how to spend your day visiting Mt Fuji. Something not to miss during this 1 month Japan itinerary.
Day 7-8 – Nagoya
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance Tokyo to Nagoya: 350km or about 4.5 hours
After a week spent exploring Tokyo, it is time to hit the road or Shinkansen for a trip to Nagoya. Though not as well-known as some of Japan’s other major cities, Nagoya and its surrounding areas were the heart of Japanese culture and politics around 500 years ago. For a taste of some of that history, you need look no further than the Tokugawa Art Museum, which displays an array of artifacts from samurai armor to kimonos to ceramics, bequeathed by the descendants of one of Japan’s most famous warlords. The Railway Museum is also a worthwhile stop if you’re curious about one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the world.
If you want to squeeze a little more out of your stay, take a bus tour up to Takayama and Shirakawago to get an up-close look at a traditional farmhouse village designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Where to stay in Nagoya
Nagoya has a number of comfortable accommodation options for your short stay. Nagoya Cafe Restaurant and Guest House offers pod style and dormitory rooms for travellers. There is a cafe restaurant on the ground floor and accommodation on the second floor. Meet other travellers while travelling on this 1 month Japan itinerary. Check out availability and rates for Nagoya Cafe Restaurant and Guest House here. For a comfortable hotel room check out the Hotel Unizo. More hostel and hotel options in Nagoya can be found here.
Day 9-11 – Kyoto
Recommended Stay: 2-3 days
Distance Nagoya to Kyoto: just under 130km taking just under 2 hours by train
To learn more about Japanese history and culture, there is no better place than Kyoto. The city is filled to the brim with temples, Zen shrines, tori gates and beautiful gardens and there is hardly a dull one amongst them. Whether you decide to go to Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, Kinkakuji Temple, Tofuku-Ji Temple, or one of the many other beautiful religious and historic sites in Kyoto, you’re guaranteed an awe-inspiring look at architecture and the traditional Japanese way of life. Maybe discover a traditional teahouse here.
That’s not all Kyoto has to offer, though; you can take a stroll through Arashiyama, a bamboo forest unlike any other, book a seat at an authentic Japanese tea ceremony, or buy a ticket to see a live samurai performance. There’s even a mountain park filled to the brim with monkeys called Iwatayama Monkey Park – though note that these are wild monkeys and it’s quite a hike, so you want to be sure you’re prepared for an adventure.
Where to stay in Kyoto
For hostel accommodation in Kyoto check out Ryokan Hostel Gion and for a budget hotel option see Kamoya Ryokan and for a medium priced hotel see Ibis Styles Kyoto Station. More options can be found here.
Day 12-14 – Osaka
Recommended Stay: 2-3 days
Distance Kyoto to Osaka: 56km taking about 55 minutes
Osaka rests in the heart of the Kansai region of Japan and is a huge economic center in the country. Some of the main highlights include Osaka Castle, which is not just gorgeous and extensive but filled to the brim with Japanese history; Kuchu Teien Observatory, a very cool-looking building with a design like no other boasting a panoramic view from its rooftop; and the National Bunraku Theatre, a puppet theatre that uses a traditional Japanese style of performance (and no worries, an English translation is available via rented headset). For the nightlife, check out Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street for a little bit of excitement and some photo-worthy illumination.
If you’re not all shrined out after Kyoto, there is one shrine you might want to take a gander at. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, is one of the oldest shrines in Japan from before Buddhism came to the country. Sumiyoshi doesn’t suffer from Kyoto’s heavy crowds, and as such, you’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous grounds and unique architecture in relative peace. Maybe try local delicacies of okonomiyaki (savoury pancake) and takoyaki (fried octopus ball) at the Kuromon Ichiba Market.
Where to stay in Osaka
For a bed in a hostel in Osaka check out Osaka Guesthouse HIVE and for a budget hotel option see APA Hotel Shin-Osaka-Ekiminami and for a medium priced hotel see Hotel Route-Inn Osaka Honmachi. More options can be found here.
Day 15-17 – Kobe
Recommended Stay: 2-3 days
Distance Osaka to Kobe: is only 34km so only half an hour or so
One of the great things about Kobe is that much of its city life can be experienced in one location, Kobe Harborland. Not only do you get a great view of the harbor, you get access to great shopping and restaurants where you can sample some world-famous Kobe beef. If you’re too much of an animal lover to indulge in that, though, you’re in luck because Kobe Animal Kingdom is just a hop, skip and a jump away. It’s especially perfect if you have kids. In addition to a petting zoo, there’s a hawk show, a camel ride, and a chance to feed penguins.
For a peaceful retreat from the city, take the Nunobiki Ropeway to the top of one of hilly Kobe’s mountains. Here, you can spend a relaxing afternoon visiting various attractions, including Kobe Nunobiki’s expansive and fragrant Herb Gardens, Monkey Kazura Bridge, and Nunobiki Falls.
Where to stay in Kobe
Staying in Kobe for a couple of nights so for a bed in a hostel in Kobe Guesthouse Maya. For a budget hotel option see Hotel Monte Hermana Kobe Amalie and for a medium priced hotel check out The Royal Park Canvas – Kobe Sannomiya. More options can be found here.
Day 18–19 – Hiroshima
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance: Kobe to Hiroshima: 300km or just over 4 hours by train – your morning will be all travelling
Though most well-known for being bombed at the end of the last world war, Hiroshima is a beautiful city in its own right. You can pay tribute to the lives lost with a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, featuring the hollowed shell of a building at ground zero and a gallery talking about the lives of people in Hiroshima before the bombing. Take a breath of fresh air through Shukkei-en Garden or stop at Orizuru Tower for a gorgeous view of the city.
If you have time, take a day trip to Itsukushima Shrine, the “floating” shrine. It is an expansive complex built on the water of the coast of Miyajima Island where you can learn about different traditional deities and (if you’re visiting from May to November) may even get a chance to ride a boat under the floating red O-Torii, a traditional wooden Shinto gate built in 1875 and is the eighth such gate since the shrine was originally built.
TIP: take the streetcar to get around in Hiroshima. The city is quite big, but the trains and streetcars will take you to every corner of Hiroshima. The streetcar costs a flat rate of ¥180 within the inner city and ¥280 beyond the city.
Where to stay in Hiroshima
For a bed in a hostel only .7km to the centre of Hiroshima check out WeBase Hiroshima. For a budget hotel option see Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hiroshima. And a medium priced hotel see KIRO Hiroshima by THE SHARE HOTELS. More options can be found here.
Day 20 – Fukuoka
Recommended Stay: 1 day
Distance Hiroshima to Fukuoka: 282km just under 3 hours travel
Fukuoka is a city set right on the water and is a perfect place to get some fresh seafood, whether at a sit-down restaurant or one of the many outdoor stalls set up within the city. The trip starts right at Hakata Station, which is both the main means of transportation and a bustling mall chock full of great shopping opportunities. Not too far away is Ohori Park, which is a great place to rent a paddleboat so you can see the ducks and seagulls up close and personal. If you have time, stop at the local aquarium, Marine World Umino-Nakamichi, which has many glowing reviews about the aquarium’s focus on making the visitors’ experience as fun and memorable as possible.
Where to stay in Fukuoka
it’s only a one night stay in Fukuoka. A hostel close to the centre of town is Fukuoka Guesthouse HIVE. For a comfortable hotel option see Best Western Plus Fukuoka Tenjin-minami. More options can be found here.
Day 21-23 – Nagano
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance: Fukuoka to Nagano is a long trip of about 8 hours so day 21 mostly spent in transport.
After such a long trip you may not wish to start sightseeing straight away but there is plenty to see and do if you do. The first stop in Nagano is Zenko-Ji Temple, which includes not only the temple itself but a history museum and many Buddha statues. Another great place to visit is Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, where you can see the Japanese macaques bathing in the hot springs of the mountains. If you’re up for a little adventure, you may want to spend an extra day in Nagano in order to explore the Togakushi Folk Museum, particularly their Ninja Trick Mansion that is built like a maze with narrow hallways, hidden passages, and an entire room set at an angle. Nagano was the scene of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games held February 7-22 1998. If you are visiting during the winter months you may want to ski or snowboard for the day.
Where to stay in Nagano
For a hostel stay in Nagano city check out 1166 Backpackers. Seeking a hotel room check out Comfort Hotel Nagano. If wanting to do a bit of skiing you are best to look at the ski resort of Hakbua. A great option on the mountain is the Hakuba Matata Lodge.
Day 24 – 25 Fukushima
Recommended Stay: 1-2 days
Distance: Nagano to Fukushima is a few hours away, not direct by train you will need to go back to Tokyo to change.
Stepping into Fukushima is like taking a step back in time; it is a place overflowing with stunning landscapes and historic buildings. One great place to start is castle town Aizu-Wakamatsu, which has attractions ranging from its impressive Tsuruga Castle to hot springs to Ōchijuku, a former post town along a once-popular trade route. To take in some of its natural beauty, take a day trip to the Bandai region where you’ll get a chance to hike amongst the dormant volcanos, such as Azuma Kofuji – or, if you’re around in wintertime, a chance to ski down the slopes. In springtime, a visit to Hanamiyama Park is also an absolute must to see the ethereal spread of cherry blossom trees spanning the mountainside.
Where to stay in Fukushima
Day 26-29 – Find the Heart of Hokkaido in Sapporo
Recommended Stay: 3-4 days
Distance: Fukushima to Sapporo is a good 8 hours on the Shinkansen, but well worth it.
Sapporo is located on Hokkaido, which is a separate island to the north of the main island (called Honshu by the Japanese). Hokkaido honestly deserves a week-long trip all to itself, but since this itinerary is dedicated to Japan as a whole, you can cut down on the time by focusing your attention on Sapporo and its surrounding areas. Some highlights include Mt. Moiwa, where you can take a ropeway to one of the best views of the city; Moerenuma Park, an artistically designed area that includes bike rentals and a pyramid-shaped museum; and the Historical Village of Hokkaido, a beautifully preserved area where you can learn a ton about Hokkaido’s history and culture.
If you’re planning your holiday during the winter, be sure to stop by the Sapporo Snow Festival as well, where people come from all across Japan to create truly astounding ice and snow sculptures. It is one of the most famous attractions in Japan for a reason and is certainly not to be missed.
Where to stay in Sapporo
The stay in Sapporo is longer than some of the other cities, and there are plenty of comfortable and central options. For a bed in a hostel see Untapped Hostel. Hotel options to check out are Quintessa Hotel Sapporo or Tokyu Stay Sapporo. For more accommodation options in Sapporo visit here.
Leave Sapporo and travel back to Tokyo (about 9 hours on the train). Depart Japan.
What to do Now? Make a Japan Bucket List
My one month Japan itinerary is just the start of your own trip to Japan. There may be things you want to do apart from sightseeing. These could include taking part in a tea ceremony. Enjoy being pampered in a onsen (traditional Japanese bath). See a sumo wrestling match. Discover the art of Geisha. Maybe take a Japanese cooking class. Stay in a Ryokan (traditional Japanese accommodation). Hike to the top of Mount Fuji. If you have specific things you want to see and do while in Japan ensure you include them on your Japan bucket list and then slot them into your itinerary.
Extend Your Stay Longer than 1 month in Japan
If a month in Japan isn’t long enough and you have more time to explore it, by all means, please do. There are a number of visas available that allow you to have an extended stay in Japan. A tourist visa will allow a stay of up to 90 days. There is the Working Holiday Visa and the Work Permit allowing stays of one year and longer. With one of these you can work and travel in Japan and get a job such as Teaching English in Japan.
My top tips for your Japan Holiday
- Etiquette is a wonderful quality to have in Japan. Manners are very important and you should be aware of some basic rules.
- Don’t eat in public, particularly while walking.
- Wear a mask if you get a cold.
- Keep conversations quiet while on public transport and never put your feet on the seats.
- Follow rubbish separation laws. TIP: Always have a plastic bag with you to put your rubbish in as bins are not easily found.
- Always use an umbrella when raining.
- Travel by train. Japan has one of the best train systems I have ever used. They are fast, reliable, comfortable and JapanRail has great rail passes.
- Stand to the left on escalators.
- Purchasing items. When making a purchase, put your money on the tray.
- Tipping and Bargaining. Tipping is not required in Japan and tips maybe given back to you. It is also considered rude to bargain.
- Buying snacks and light meals is easy in the Konbini (convenience store). There will be many in most cities from 7/11, Family Mart to Lawson. You can stock up on snacks, or eat in the cafes and restaurants.
Final Words on this One Month Japan Travel Itinerary
All good things must come to an end. And this is the end of my one month Japan travel itinerary. I hope my sample Japan travel itinerary helps you plan and tailor a dream trip to Japan. It is not difficult at all visiting Japan as a solo travellers, with another person or your family. Let me know in the comments if you have tried my one month in Japan itinerary or if you have any suggestions on other things a first time traveller must do and see in Japan.