How to Plan an Incredible Family Trip to Japan in 2024/2025. Learn more.
8-Day Japan Itineraries: 4 Ultimate Top-Theme Ideas

8-Day Japan Itineraries: 4 Ultimate Top-Theme Ideas

By Vicky LengUpdated Nov. 24, 2023

Japan is a vibrant and energetic country that offers abundant attractions and unique experiences for everyone to enjoy. From the graceful geisha and charming cherry blossoms to relaxing ryokans (time-honored inns) with onsens (hot spring baths) and exquisite cuisine, as well as the fun of Disney Sea and majestic Mount Fuji, Japan has a lot to offer visitors from around the world.

8 days is enough for you to visit the major cities of Japan — Tokyo and Kyoto, while also allowing you to spend 1–2 days on day trips to nearby areas such as Hakone, Nara, and the Fuji Five Lakes.

In this article, we've described four wonderful 8-day itineraries based on Japan travel's most popular themes to help you get some ideas for your Japan trip.

China Highlights, Asia Highlights, and Global Highlights collaborate to provide families and couples with personalized and stress-free experiences in diverse destinations.

1. 8-Day Japan Classic Itinerary (Most Chosen): Major Highlights of Japan

  • Tokyo–Hakone–Kyoto–Osaka
japan travel guide

For first-time visitors to Japan, this itinerary is perfect for experiencing "the best of Japan" in its "golden triangle" cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Moreover, we can arrange plenty of hands-on experiences for you to create an unforgettable trip. Just contact us, and our expert travel consultant will customize a tour based on your requirements.

Here is a most-chosen-Japan-highlights itinerary:

  • Days 1–2: Tokyo (Meiji Shrine, sushi-making, samurai museum, anime center)
  • Days 3–4: Hakone (ryokans with onsens)
  • Days 5–6: Kyoto (geisha, tea ceremony, try on kimonos, feed deer)
  • Day 7–8: Osaka (Osaka Castle, Cup Noodle Museum, Super Nintendo World)

Begin your trip in Tokyo, the energetic capital of Japan. You can feel the old vibe by visiting Meiji Shrine and Asakusa District, enjoy a cup of matcha at an Edo-era Japanese garden, and participate in sushi-making and samurai armor experiences. If you have an interest in anime, head to the anime district as well.

Next, you'll head to Hakone, the home of onsens. Spend a night at a cozy ryokan and relax in an onsen. Take a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi, and on a clear day, you can even see Mount Fuji towering over the backdrop.

Continue your wonderful trip with tradition-filled Kyoto. See geishas in Gion district, participate in a traditional tea ceremony, visit famous Kinkaku Temple, stay at a traditional ryokan for a night, try on kimonos for a memorable photo, and feed lovely deer in Nara.

Finally, you would end the trip in the prosperous trade city of Osaka. View outstanding Osaka Castle, make your own woodblock print at Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, and enjoy a charming night view from the Umeda Sky Building.

2. 8-Day Japan Cherry-Blossom-Season Itinerary: Best of Spring

  • Tokyo – Fuji Five Lakes – Kyoto
Japan tour route map

Needless to say, the best experience of spring (March to May) is to stand under Japan's cherry trees and appreciate the blossom in the spring breeze. Our itinerary allows you to catch the most attractive cherry blossoms in the best places and enjoy hand-picked activities.

Here is the well-planned cherry blossom itinerary:

  • Days 1–3: Tokyo (Tokyo Tower, Sumida River, Asakusa district)
  • Days 4–5: Fuji Five Lakes (Mount Fuji, ryokans with onsens)
  • Days 6–8: Kyoto (geisha, Nijo Castle, sake, Arashiyama district)

Start your spring journey in Tokyo, a lively city with a perfect blend of history and modernity. Take a river boat ride on Sumida River for a great view of cherry blossoms along the riverside, sample freshly-prepared sashimi at the largest market — Tsukiji, and take a rickshaw to experience the Edo (1603–1867) vibe in Asakusa district.

In the next two days, head to the Fuji Five Lakes, the best places to view spectacular Mount Fuji. Enter Sengen Shrine to enjoy both cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji, and bike around Lake Kawaguchiko to view picturesque natural scenery with a Mount Fuji backdrop.

Finish your trip in Kyoto to get a deeper understanding of Japan's past. Visit historic Nijo Castle and Fushimi Inari Shrine, see geishas in kimonos in Gion district, participate in a classic tea ceremony, and enjoy a cup of steaming Japanese tea, feed friendly deer in Nara, and wander through the lush avenues of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

3. 8-Day Japan Rural-Style Itinerary: Explore Scenic Countryside Views

  • Tokyo – Takayama and Shirakawa-go – Kyoto
Japan tour map

Wondering how to explore picturesque and less-crowded small towns and how to enjoy Japan's charming countryside views? If so, you should check out this itinerary. You can view Japan's unique gassho-zukuri ('praying hands') farmhouses and well-preserved townhouses, indulge in Nippon's natural beauty, and sample delicious Hida beef.

Here is a well-organized Japan countryside itinerary:

  • Days 1–3: Tokyo (Hamarikyu Garden, making sushi, Tsukiji Market)
  • Days 4–5: Takayama and Shirakawa-go (well-preserved townhouses, unique farmhouses, picturesque countryside views)
  • Days 6–8: Kyoto (geisha, ryokan, matcha, Fushimi Inari Shrine, feed deer)

Your first 3 days in Japan would be spent in incredible Tokyo, visiting its highlights. Wander amongst the Edo vibe of Meiji Shrine and Hamarikyu Garden, have a charming city-wide view from Tokyo Tower, and experience sushi making plus samurai armor and weapons.

Immerse yourself in picturesque Takayama and Shirakawa-go over the next 2 days. Explore well-preserved townhouses, unique gassho-zukuri farmhouses, and sample delicious Hida beef and traditional sake.

End your trip perfectly in the medieval capital of Kyoto, enjoying the top experiences the city has to offer, including having afternoon tea with geishas, sleeping on a tatami at a traditional ryokan, sampling acclaimed Japanese sake and matcha, visiting famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, and feeding the lovely deer in Nara.

4. 8-Day Japan Snow-Season Itinerary: Best Winter Experiences

  • Sapporo–Tokyo–Nagano–Kyoto
Snow Monkeys are bathing in a hot spring. Snow Monkeys are bathing in a hot spring.

Winter in Japan transforms the country into a picturesque, white, fairy-tale world, making it an ideal destination to celebrate Christmas and New Year with family. Traveling to Japan during winter offers a multitude of benefits: much less crowding, lower costs, and ample opportunities for unique experiences.

Here is a Japan winter itinerary for your inspiration (contact us for further details):

  • Days 1–2: Sapporo (skiing, local chocolate factory, Sapporo Ice Festival)
  • Days 3–5: Tokyo (samurai museum, ninja crafts, Ginza shopping district, Pokémon Center)
  • Day 6: Nagano (monkeys soaking in hot springs)
  • Days 7–8: Kyoto (snow-covered shrines, geisha, ryokan with an onsen, sake)

Land in Sapporo in Hokkaido to begin your winter tour. Explore the most famous local chocolate factory and take a day trip to Otaru to enjoy a snowy view around the Otaru Canal. For skiing lovers, adding a few extra days to your itinerary allows you to enjoy some of the best ski resorts in Sapporo, which offer high-quality powder snow and stunning surroundings.

Fly to Tokyo to spend 3 days in this amazing city. Experience sushi-making and put on samurai armor for a deeper understanding of Japan. Visit the famous Meiji Shrine and modern Ginza district, or head to the Pokémon Center to fulfill your childhood dreams. A day tour of Hakone, home of onsens, is a must-try in winter. Relaxing at a ryokan with an onsen for a night is definitely one of Japan's top experiences.

On day 6, you'll have the opportunity to witness a unique spectacle in Nagano: the sight of snow monkeys soaking in onsens. This picturesque scene can only be witnessed in Nagano, a small town that's easily accessible from Tokyo.

Spend your last 2 days in the impressive city of Kyoto, where you can visit snow-covered shrines and temples, indulge in a cup of steaming matcha in a traditional tea house, and see beautiful geishas dressed in kimonos in the charming Gion district.

How Much Does 8 Days in Japan Cost?

Japan cost

Japan rivals Europe both in terms of facilities and service standards, which means that travel in Japan costs more than in China or in Southeast Asian countries.

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).

Why Travel with Asia Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)

  • Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
  • Hassle-free travel and peace of mind: Every aspect of your trip will be carefully planned and organized by your 1:1 travel consultant.
  • Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
Popular tours
Make the most of your time
Choose the best time to visit

Get Inspired with Some Popular Itineraries

At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.

More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create My Trip
4.9 ExcellentTrustPilot rating TrustPilot Logo

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

The Asia Highlights Experience

1-to-1 Expert Planning

1-to-1 Expert Planning

Your tour will be tailor-made to suit you by a destination expert. Your personal travel advisor will always reply within 24 hours.

Personal Journeys

Personal Journeys

Enjoy having your own personal local guide and ride. Explore destinations at your own pace. Have as much flexibility as possible.

Authentic Experiences

Authentic Experiences

Go beyond the sightseeing. Understand the destinations by practicing the local culture and interacting with local people.

One-Stop Service

One-Stop Service

Leave all the booking work to us, including international and internal transportation, visas, hotels, meals, and activities.

Where Can We Take You Today?

About Us
At Asia Highlights, we are committed to providing you a premium, quality private tour, whether it's a milestone trip, family trip, or bucketlist trip — your planning will be made easy with just one specialist throughout. Know more ...
Rated 4.9 out of 5 | Excellent
China Highlights International Travel Service Co., LTD
Corporate Number: 914503003486045699
Featured on