When I was planning our trip to Japan I really didn’t quite know where to start! There were so many amazing things we wanted to do I didn’t know how to plan a 10 day Japan itinerary to fit it all in.
But I did it, and we ended up having the most incredible holiday. We managed to do everything we wanted but also had some downtime as well which for us was so important.
So if you’re planning a 10 day Japan itinerary and want to strike the same balance, here’s ours. Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for your trip of a lifetime!
Our 10 Day Japan Itinerary
Arrive in Narita: Check into your hotel and explore the local area.
It’s your first day, you’re let lagged and planes arrive into Japan at all times of the day – sometimes even with delays! Don’t plan too much for your arrival day.
Give yourself time to adjust, dump your luggage, grab a shower and wander around. Have your first taste of the local food, get a vibe for this new country and people watch, we have 9 days ahead of us for all the rest!
Where To Stay in Narita:
We stayed in the Meet Inn in Narita which was SO handy for the airport. About 5 minutes walk away from the train station, comfortable beds and they even give you Japanese skincare to use including sheet masks during your stay!
Take part in a Japanese Cooking Class!
Pack up those suitcases and leave Narita at 8:30am. We got a train to Omori station to meet our amazing cooking class host Junko. We left our suitcases in the station lockers for around ¥700 – a top tip when moving around a lot. Use them.
After our AMAZING cooking class (check out my blog for that here) we hopped on a train to Shinjuku. We checked into our hotel at around 5pm and had a wander around the area, grabbed some dinner and a couple of beers too.
Where to stay in Skinjuku:
For our few days in Shinjuku we stayed in an apartment at Hotel Shu. It was amazing, so clean, modern and walking distance form temples, restaurants and the station. Highly recommended indeed.
Explore the colourful ares of Harujuku and Visit the Robot Restaurant!
After a bit of a lie in we got up and out for breakfast. A cinnamon yum yum and large coffee from Tulley’s gave me life when in Japan! We then hopped on the subway to Harajuku to explore this colourful and fun area of Tokyo Check out this blog to see some of the amazing things to do when you get there – spoiler alert it involves adorable puppies and giant candyfloss!
In the evening head to the famous Robot Restaurant for a bizarre and wild night out in the city!
Take a Day to People Watch and Wander.
Visit the imperial gardens, find a local temple, eat your weight in sushi, sleep. It’s ok to take time to rest – you’re on holiday after all! Use this day to experience the true feel of the city, eat, drink and chill out. You’ll thank me later for this one.
Travel to Kyoto.
Check out of the hotel by 10am and head to the train station. It’s time to ride the bullet train to Kyoto which is around 3 hours away from Tokyo.
JR RAIL PASS:
Buying a JR Rail Pass is an excellent way to save money on your trip to Japan. Bullet trains are the fastest way to get across the country and they’re incredibly comfortable too so if you’re planning to head outside of Tokyo then investing in a JR Rail Pass is a really good idea. We got a 7 day pass and activated it on day 5 – this allowed us to travel on our passes for the rest of our trip.
It’s not possible to buy a JR Rail Pass in Japan – you must purchase your pass before you leave.
Buy Your JR Rail Pass Here
We arrived in Kyoto for around 3pm and went straight to our accommodation to drop off the bags. From here we were then free to explore Kyoto and get a feel for this new place. Kyoto is so different to Tokyo, it’s quite amazing to see. Have a stroll around the Geisha district and maybe catch a Maiko show!
Where to stay in Kyoto – RYOKAN:
For our first night we decided to book into a traditional Ryokan – Kyo-no-yado Kagihei – to experience what they were like. It’s basic and not the most luxurious of Ryokans, but it was in budget and right next to the famous Nishiki Market. Great location and purse friendly way to experience a traditional Japanese Inn.
The Red Temple…and NINJA SCHOOL!
Enjoy breakfast at your Ryokan or in the surrounding area – Micasadeco & Cafe is ADORABLE and right across the street. We only had one night in our Ryokan so we checked out at 10am and made our way to our next hotel.
Where to stay in Kyoto – HOTEL:
For our other two nights in Kyoto we booked into the Almont Hotel right next to Kyoto station – so handy. It was comfortable and clean, and even had it’s own onsen that was free for guests to use. A super handy hotel to use as a base for your Kyoto adventures
After dropping off our bags at the hotel we hopped on the train to Fujima Inari Shine – otherwise known as the red temple. It’s free to enter but if you want to go to the top, be prepared for a 3 hour hike! It was very hot on this day so we had a wander around the lower levels before making our way across town to Ninja School!
This was so good it made it onto my top 10 list of things to do in Japan! We learnt all about the history of the Ninjas and were taught how to walk and breath like one. There were secret trick doors to sneak behind, samurai swords to wield and even blow darts to fire! This was another one of our favourites from the trip – check out my blog for more details, it’s not one to miss!
After ninja school we went back to the hotel, checked in, enjoyed the onsen and had dinner from the 7/11 down the street in bed!
Day Trip to Osaka for a traditional tea ceremony and a food tour!
We got up bright and early for our train to Osaka to make the most of our day. You guessed it, a cinammon yum yum and a coffee to go from Tulley’s…well it has been a few days!
The trip to Osaka from Kyoto on a bullet train takes about 30 minutes so it’s easy to do a day trip from either. Once there we had a nice slow wander to our tea ceremony at Mai-ko Osaka. This is another experience I urge you to book onto while in Japan, it’s so beautiful and calming to be a part of. They dressed us up in full kimono, and as you can see, the photo opps are amazing!
After the tea ceremony we were going to book onto a guided food tour, but our tea master gave us an insider tip instead – Umeda Shin Shokudogai.
Underneath the train station, Umeda Shin Shokudogai is filled with a schmorgasboard of Japanese delicacies, bars, sit down restaurants, stand up restaurants and not a tourist in site! It’s where all the locals go to eat and you can so easily walk from place to place trying out all the local food without a guide!
This is the perfect place to try Oknomiyaki a local dish cooked in front of you on a hot plate. It’s like meat (or veg) topped omlette smothered in sweet oknomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise and sprinkled with dried seaweed. It sounds bizarre but tasted amazing – like a Japanese maple bacon pancake!
Another must is Takoyaki – Deep fried octopus balls. Kind of like a yorkshire pudding batter filled with squid. Weird but strangly satisfying!
We hopped on a train back to Kyoto at around 8pm, very full and happy after our day in Osaka!
Before our trip we were umming and ahhing over whether to make Kyoto or Osaka our base for the trip and I think we made the right choice with Kyoto. It may be a bit more touristy in places but its also more beautiful. Take a wander across the bridge at sunset.
Real Life Mario Kart on the streets of Tokyo!
Check out at 10am and hop on a bullet train back to Tokyo (around 3 hours). Leave luggage at the station and make your way over to Akihabara for an hour of go karting on the streets of Tokyo! This was SO much fun and not as scary as I thought it would be. Just don’t forget to bring your international drivers license with you.
After our Mario Kart Tour we grabbed our luggage and checked into our hotel. We then hopped on a train to the famous Shibuya crossing for the evening where we had a lovely dinner and lots of local beer – bliss!
Where to stay in Asakusa:
We actually checked into a Hostel for the night in Asakusa called the Mustard Hotel 2! Comfortable, clean, right next to sensoji temple and so cheap! We had a private room with en suite and were more than happy. Don’t count on the breakfast though, it’s literally just a hot dog. Seriously!
Sensoji Temple and A Pod Hotel!
By this point we were getting pretty tired and our trip was coming to a close, so we took it nice and easy. We checked out of the hotel in the morning, but we were able to leave our bags and explore. Two minutes round the corner you’ll find Tokyo’s oldest temple Senso-ji! It’s beautiful to wander around and the best time to do that is in the morning before the crowds.
One of the things we wanted to do whilst in Japan was stay in a pod hotel, so we found a boutique one nearby and checked ourselves in! We had another wandering day (and a little nap!) finding a lovely tempura restaurant nearby and some delicious ramen for lunch too.
Where to stay in Tokyo – POD HOTEL:
Our pod hotel – Hotel Zen – was amazing. So stylish with all the mod cons in the shared bathrooms. It’s also one of the only pod hotels I found with a mixed gender floor so if you’re in a couple you can be near one another.
Such a cool experience, definitely one for the list!
Explore Ueno and head back to Narita.
On our final day we checked out of our little pod hotel and put the luggage in lockers at the station. We then took the subway to Ueno to explore Ueno Park and the famous Ameyoko street!
If you haven’t bought your friends and family souvenirs yet, Ameyoko street is the place to do it. There’s everything from Japanese skincare to kimonos, street food and nik naks. It’s all here and it’s such a fun place to walk around.
If zoos are your things Ueno zoo is inside the park and costs around £6 to get in. It wouldn’t be my personal recommendation as I feel the enclosures are a little on the small side (and I’m still not sure how I feel about zoos in general) but it’s famous for it’s panda exhibit and successful breeding programme there.
As we has an early flight we made our way back to Narita in the afternoon and treated ourselves to a giant room in the Hotel Nikko – just a 15 minute free shuttle bus ride from the airport.
That night we ate some epic sushi in their restaurant and took the evening off together in the room – enjoying bubble baths and a bit of Netflix in bed. You can’t beat it, no matter where you are in the world!
Travel For Your 10 Day Japan Itinerary
We’ve already talked about the benefits of buying a JR Rail Pass Here in our 10 day Japan itinerary, but one more thing you’ll need is a pasmo card to help you on the subway! It’s basically like an oyster card for the tube but it can also be used at vending machines and some shops too.
Top up your pasmo card at one of the kiosks at the majorty of stations to load it with money, and then swipe in and out with it as you travel on the subway system. It’s the easiest way to get around in the city!
So there you have it, our 10 day Japan Itinerary with everything from ninjas to robots, temples and squid on a stick! I hope this helps you with some inspiration for your trip and you have the BEST time. I loved Japan and can’t wait to go back and explore even more!
10 Day Japan Itinerary