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8 Days in Japan: Top 5 Itineraries for First Visit 2024/2025

8 Days in Japan: Top 5 Itineraries for First Visit 2024/2025

By Vicky LengUpdated Jan. 26, 2024

Eight days are enough for you to visit the major cities of Japan — Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka — while also allowing you to have the flexibility to dedicate 1–2 days for enriching day trips to nearby destinations, such as Hakone, Mount Fuji, Nara, or Hiroshima.

In this article, we've selected five wonderful 8-day Japan itineraries to help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime, beautiful, and stress-free journey. You could choose one of them as a starting point or we could customize your own unique itinerary, maybe based on the inspiration they provide.

8 days in Japan

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Itinerary 1: Classic Japan (Most Chosen)

Tokyo-Hakone-Kyoto-Hiroshima-Osaka
  • 2 nights in Tokyo
  • 1 night in Hakone
  • 2 nights in Kyoto
  • 2 nights in Osaka

This 8-day itinerary is ideal for your first trip to experience the best of Japan in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Moreover, you could experience abundant authentic hands-on activities to create an unforgettable Japan trip.

Tokyo is the top city for entering Japan as it offers most international flight options. Immerse yourself in the ambiance of the Edo era (1603–1868) at Tokyo's oldest Buddhist temple, Senso-ji, walk along the wide stone paths adorned with towering trees at the downtown Meiji Shrine, experience a sushi-making class, and enjoy what you make as your lunch.

Hakone is an attractive small town known for its onsens (hot spring baths). Spend a traditional Japanese-style night at a ryokan (inn) with an onsen, where you could sleep on tatamis and unwind in the hot springs while admiring picturesque countryside views. A ryokan usually has only 5–15 rooms and they easily become fully booked. You're advised to make reservations at least 3 months in advance to ensure that more options are available. Your personal Japan travel advisor would help you to select a family-friendly or couple-friendly ryokan.

Take a comfortable Shinkansen to the traditional city of Kyoto. Stroll through Fushimi Inari Shrine to see its thousands of orange-red torii gates, admire the gold-leaf-covered Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) to gain an insight into Japanese history, and make Kyoto pottery as a unique souvenir.

Take a day trip to Hiroshima from Osaka to visit the site of the atomic bombing and explore the museum. This would allow you to witness the collection of items left behind after the attack and cherish the post-war peace.

Complete your trip in flourishing Osaka. Experience unique ukiyo-e printmaking to immerse yourself in the charm of Japanese culture, and feel the excitement of a classic Japanese sport — a sumo wrestling match.

Just let us know your interests and requirements, and our Japan travel expert can help make it happen.

Itinerary 2: A Japan Tour for a Family with Teenagers

Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Tokyo
  • 2 nights in Osaka
  • 2 nights in Kyoto (side trip to Nara)
  • 3 nights in Tokyo

This 8-day Japan itinerary is perfect for families, especially those with teenagers. It caters to kids' love for animation and games, and provides a wealth of family-friendly activities that every member could participate in and enjoy. Plus, you won't have to switch hotels frequently.

In Osaka, your whole family would wear ninja outfits to learn about ninja weapons and techniques from a skilled ninja master. Or you and your kids could have an amazing day as you embark on an extraordinary adventure in the magic world of Mario at Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan.

Kyoto is a medieval capital city that's rich in culture. Experience wearing kimonos as you explore Gion district and feel like you're traveling back in time, feed friendly deer in Nara, and enjoy a night's stay at a traditional ryokan with a family room (accommodating 3–5 people).

Travel to Tokyo by Shinkansen. Tokyo is an exciting city offering anime elements for families. Explore the most popular anime shops, such as the Pokémon Center, to buy Japan-exclusive products, enjoy coffee and desserts at an anime café themed around your kids' favorite cartoon characters, and dive into a fun-filled world in Tokyo Disneyland at your own relaxed pace.

You can just tell us your preferences and requirements and our Japan travel consultant will customize a tour for you.

Itinerary 3: Japan Cherry Blossom Tour (in March or April)

Tokyo-Mount Fuji-Kyoto-Nara-Osaka
  • 3 nights in Tokyo
  • 3 nights in Kyoto (side trip to Nara)
  • 1 night in Osaka

March to April is the cherry blossom season in Japan. You could admire the beautiful cherry blossoms almost everywhere in Japan, making it one of the best times to visit due to the stunning scenery and pleasant weather.

In this well-planned 8-day cherry blossom itinerary, you would enjoy the breathtaking beauty of cherry blossoms, witness attractions adorned with delicate pink petals, and experience authentic activities to enrich your trip.

Staying at a ryokan with an onsen could be a memorable experience for you. Relax in an open-air hot spring while watching the cherry blossoms dance in the spring breeze. However, traditional ryokans are almost entirely booked up for the 2024 cherry blossom season.

By starting to plan for the 2025 cherry blossom season now, you could make a wise decision that grants you a broader selection of hotels and ryokans, along with the possibility of taking advantage of early bird deals. This proactive approach also ensures a higher chance of securing a more experienced and knowledgeable guide with an early booking.

Itinerary 4: Japan Off-the-Beaten-Path

Osaka- Kyoto - Koyasan
  • 2 nights in Osaka
  • 3 nights in Kyoto
  • 1 night in Koyasan
  • 1 night in Wakayama

This 8-day itinerary not only allows you to visit two top cities, Kyoto and Osaka, but also it allows you to explore two off-the-beaten-path places near these cities. It provides you with the chance to experience the lifestyle of monks while enjoying a vegetarian meal in the mountains, to explore an exclusive traditional Japanese village, and to relax on a sandy beach.

Kyoto and Osaka are two major cities in the western region of Japan. Both cities offer plenty of awesome highlights and authentic activities for you to enjoy. Take a day trip to Kobe to sample the best high-quality wagyu — prepare to be amazed by the incredibly tender and juicy meat.

Koyasan is a significant holy site for Buddhists in Japan. You could spend a night at a well-equipped temple to experience Japanese accommodation, indulge in a healthy vegetarian meal, and immerse yourself in a serene Zen atmosphere to relax your mind and body.

End your trip in Wakayama, a city boasting the best western region beach. Leisurely stroll along the sandy beach to relieve your travel fatigue, take a glass-bottom boat trip to discover the wonders of the clear sea, and sample the exquisite culinary delight of fugu ryori, a Japanese pufferfish delicacy.

We'd like to create a wonderful trip based on your needs and interests, whatever the weather.

Itinerary 5: Get Involved with the Ainu Aboriginal People in Hokkaido

itinerary in Hokkaido
  • 3 nights in Sapporo
  • 2 nights in Furano
  • 2 nights in Noboribetsu

If you are interested in the aboriginal culture of Japan, then this 8-day Japan itinerary is suitable for you. You could gain more insights into how the Ainu aboriginal people impacted Hokkaido's history and culture. Furthermore, you would be able to try traditional crafts and observe wildlife up close.

Sapporo is the main city of Hokkaido. From there, you would observe Ainu artifacts, such as tools and weapons, at the Historical Village of Hokkaido to learn about the Ainu aboriginal people and their way of life. What's more, you could make chocolate cookies at the renowned Shiroi Koibito Park, and savor unique and refreshing beer at the Sapporo Beer Museum.

For a more immersive encounter with the aboriginal culture, visit an Ainu village in Noboribetsu. Besides watching traditional Ainu dance performances and tasting authentic Ainu cuisine, you could engage in traditional handicraft activities, such as weaving bamboo baskets and making traditional Ainu dolls.

In Furano, you could experience yet more hands-on experiences, such as making cheese and candles, which could add more fun to your trip. Asahikawa boasts Hokkaido's best Asahiyama Zoo, where you could closely observe animals and learn about unique habitats specific to Hokkaido's diverse wildlife population, such as Sakhalin foxes and sika deer.

How Much Does 8 Days in Japan Cost?

cost of Japan

US$350-500 per person per day is the typical cost for a private tour with 4-star hotels, based on a family of 3–5 people. This includes a private guide, private car, full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, all intercity transport within Japan, and hand-picked 4-star hotels. Thus, the total cost for 8 days in Japan is about US$2,800-4,000 (international flights not included).

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