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How Long to Spend in Japan: From 1 week to 4 weeks

By Vicky LengUpdated Dec. 14, 2023

How long to spend in Japan depends on your vacation time and the experiences you are interested in. Our past Japan clients have mainly been couples and families with teenagers. Most families spend 10–14 days in Japan, 30s–50s couples generally spend 1–2 weeks, 50s and above couples generally have longer vacations, so they usually spend 2–3 weeks for a more thorough Japan travel experience. We have also had some business clients who only stay for 3–5 days.

See what we'd recommend for each stay length below…

  • We generally recommend 1 or 2 cities for a 5-day vacation, such as a Tokyo in-depth tour or Tokyo + Kyoto or Tokyo + Osaka.
  • 1 week gives you time to explore the top 3 destinations in Japan, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.
  • If your vacation is about 10 days long, consider taking a trip to Hakone (famous for onsens — hot spring baths) or Hiroshima (Peace Memorial City)
  • 2 weeks in Japan is ideal for an additional side-trip to see one of Japan's interesting small cities, towns, and villages, like Takayama.
  • 3 weeks is long enough for an in-depth and off-the-beaten-track route or two, like going to see monkeys soak in onsens in Nagano.
  • 4 weeks could allow you to have a thorough exploration of Japan to fully experience the country and its culture, from Hokkaido in the very north to Okinawa in the extreme south.

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Japan?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter Japan, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers can stay in Japan without a visa for 90 days.

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Top Destinations to Visit in Japan

Top Destinations to Visit in Japan
  • Tokyo is the capital of Japan, an international city with a good combination of history and modernity. Seeing Mount Fuji, making sushi, and exploring anime, samurai, Disneyland, and the Science and Technology Museum represent the variety that is the essence of the city.
  • Kyoto is Japan's ancient capital with geishas in kimonos, shrines, ryokans (traditional inns), sake, and tea ceremonies making up key features of this incredible traditional city.
  • Osaka is the flourishing trade city of Japan. Have a family fun time at Cup Noodle Museum or Universal Studios, and sample authentic street food in Dotonbori.
  • Hakone is Japan's home of onsens (hot springs). Don't miss the top experience of relaxing in an onsen at a ryokan. On a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji from some hot spring baths.
  • Takayama and Shirakawa-go allow you to get in touch with the rural life of Japan. See for yourself unique and traditional Hida folk village.
  • Hiroshima, where the world's first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II, calls on everyone to love peace.
  • Hokkaido is the northernmost main island of Japan. The best ski resorts, freshest seafood, and a famous chocolate factory are some of its highlights that you can enjoy.

5 Days in Japan

  • Tokyo–Kyoto/Osaka

Spending 5 days in Japan usually includes Tokyo and another city. The usual choices are Kyoto or Osaka. Tokyo is the ideal first stop in travel Japan as plentiful international flights land there. You can get some deep insights into Japanese culture in Tokyo at its Imperial Palace, samurai experiences, and traditional Japanese gardens.

For the rest of the trip, You are recommended to choose the ancient capital of Kyoto or the trading city of Osaka as your next stop. Visit old shrines, explore Gion District, and see geishas in kimonos in Kyoto, or walk through the flourishing downtown area in Osaka, discovering its street food and more-modern attractions. 

1 Week in Japan

  • Tokyo–Kyoto–Osaka

1 week in Japan would allow you to cover the most popular cities in Japan, including feeling the old vibe and samurai history in Tokyo, see geishas in kimonos and ancient shrines in Kyoto, and experience the lively downtown of Osaka.

A hand-picked classic 1-week Japan itinerary:

  • Days 1–3 Tokyo (sushi, samurai, anime center)
  • Days 4–5 Kyoto (geishas, stay at a ryokan, feed deer in Nara)
  • Day 6–7 Osaka (taste street food in Dotonbori, visit outstanding Osaka Castle)

If you don't want to change hotels, you can stay in Kyoto for days 6 and 7. It only takes 30 minutes to get to Osaka from Kyoto, and it's quite convenient to get to Osaka International Airport from Kyoto.

Read more detailed week-long itineraries here >>>The Top 5 Itineraries for One Week in Japan,which satisfy various interests for famous attractions, cherry blossoms, Japanese food, and anime. Or just let us know your interests and requirements, and we can help make it happen.

10 Days in Japan

  • Tokyo–Hakone–Kyoto–Osaka

With 10 days in Japan, you can not only explore the classic triad of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, but also you can visit Hakone or Hiroshima. This is an excellent choice for first-timers.

Our well-received 10-day itinerary:

japan travel guide
  • Days 1–3 Tokyo sightseeing (Meiji Shrine, Pokémon Center, Japanese gardens)
  • Days 4–5 Hakone (soak in onsens)
  • Days 6–8 Kyoto (geisha, sake, try on a kimono)
  • Days 9–10 Osaka (Osaka Castle, sample street food in Dotonbori)

Hakone, home of onsens, is one of the popular destinations near Tokyo: it is about 1½ hours from Tokyo. The top experience in Hakone is to stay at a ryokan with an onsen. On a clear day you can even see Mount Fuji.

Hiroshima, notoriously, was the first of two Japanese cities bombed with an atomic bomb at the end of World War II. It's easy to get there from either Kyoto or Osaka, being about 1½ hours by JR (Japan Rail). Visit its Peace Memorial Park and cherish the post-war peace.

Suggested reading: 10 Days in Japan: Top 5 Itineraries>>>. Or you can just tell us your preferences and requirements, and we will customize a tour for you.

2 Weeks in Japan

  • Tokyo–Takayama–Hiroshima–Osaka–Kyoto

2 weeks is an ideal length of time for a relaxed and balanced Japan trip: you could see its small cities and towns, experience more interesting things, and you wouldn't need to rush. All the cities in the following itinerary are conveniently connected by Shinkansen.

A well-proportioned 2-week Japan itinerary:

japan travel guide
  • Days 1–4 Tokyo (make sushi, visit Tsukiji Market, Disneyland)
  • Days 5–6 Takayama (picturesque towns, well-preserved Hida folk village, sample Hida beef)
  • Days 7–8 Hiroshima (Peace Memorial city)
  • Days 9–10 Osaka (Universal Studios, "Japan's culinary center")
  • Days 11–14 Kyoto (geisha, try on kimono, a ryokan stay, tea ceremony, deer in Nara)

Read more about our2-Week Japan Itineraries for inspiration. Or you could see our popular 2-week family itinerary, which is full of family-friendly activities such as making sushi at a local home, staying at a ryokan with an onsen, having an afternoon tea with geishas, trying on kimonos for family photos, feeding friendly deer, and having fun in Disneyland or Universal Studios.

Contact us if you want to make some adjustments or have any questions. We will create a trip based on your needs.

3 Weeks in Japan

  • Tokyo–Nagano – Kanazawa, Takayama, and Shirakawa-go – Kyoto–Hiroshima–Osaka
Japan tour map

For first-time visitors to Japan, 3 weeks allows a deeper travel experience at a slow pace. You could spend time on off-the-beaten-track locations like Nagano, or even have a cross-border trip visiting China or Singapore.

We recommend spending 2 days in Nagano, a small city surrounded by mountains. Watching snow monkeys soak in the hot spring is a new experience. It also has one of the best ski resorts in Japan, and in winter you can experience the charm of skiing there.

Snow Monkeys are bathing in a hot spring. Snow Monkeys are bathing in a hot spring.

Kanazawa, Takayama, and Shirakawa-go are three rural towns with picturesque natural views that are worth spending 3 days on discovering.

Farmhouses in Shirakawa-go Farmhouses in Shirakawa-go
  • Kanazawa: appreciate local gold-leaf products, sample sake at a brewery.
  • Takayama: Visit well-preserved townhouses, stay at a ryokan with an onsen, taste delicious Hida beef.
  • Shirakawa-go: View traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. If you go in January or February, you can see their beautiful wintry lighting.

Spending some of your 3 weeks to generate a cross-border trip is also a great idea. You can consider Japan and South Korea or Japan and China. Check out more details on 3-Week Japan Itineraries

4 Weeks in Japan

With 4 weeks in Japan you could have a comprehensive visit to fully experience Japanese culture, including Japan's southernmost island, Okinawa, and northernmost main island, Hokkaido.

Hokkaido has the freshest seafood and best ski resorts in Japan. Not only is the winter snow beautiful from December to February, but also the cherry blossoms in May, the lavender from July to August, and the red maple in autumn (September to November) are all worth seeing. We suggest you spend 5–6 days in Sapporo and Otaru on Hokkaido.

Okinawa has the best beaches on Japan, and it is known as the "Hawaii of Japan". Clean water, white sandy beaches, and enjoyable water sports are attractions for families or couples. In January and February, Okinawa is also the first place in Japan where cherry blossoms bloom. You are recommended to spend 3–4 days in Okinawa.

Whether your available time is long or short, you can just tell us your preferences and requirements, and we will customize a tour to suit you.

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