18 days in Japan Itinerary

18 days in Japan Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Japan trip builder

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Route & dates

18 days in Japan Itinerary

Start: Tokyo
1
Tokyo
— 3 nights
train:  3​h
2
Kyoto
— 3 nights
3
Hiroshima
— 1 night
+2
train + bus + ferry:  3​h
4
Naoshima-cho
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h
5
Shodoshima-cho
— 2 nights
+2
Drive + Fly + Drive:  6​h 30​min
6
Kitayama-mura
— 1 day
Drive:  2​h 30​min
7
Osaka
— 2 nights
train:  30​min
8
Kobe
— 2 nights
Fly:  3​h 30​min
End: Tokyo

3
nights
Tokyo

Tokyo ©
Tokyo holds the status of most populous metropolitan area in the world--a fact you'll find tangible as you walk the bustling streets and explore its diverse neighborhoods and cultures.
Eschew the tourist crowds and head to Chidorigafuchi and Yanaka. Omoide Yokocho and Asakusa are good opportunities to explore the local culture. Go for a jaunt from Tokyo to Mitaka to see Ghibli Museum Mitaka about 44 minutes away. And it doesn't end there: explore the activities along Meguro River, wander the streets of Ueno, enjoy breathtaking views from Tokyo City View Observation Deck (Roppongihills), and make a trip to Shibuya Crossing.

For reviews, other places to visit, traveler tips, and other tourist information, read Tokyo visit planner.

If you are flying in from United Kingdom, the closest major airports are Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Narita International Airport and Hyakuri Airport. In December, plan for daily highs up to 14°C, and evening lows to 4°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Sun) so you can travel to Kyoto.

Things to do in Tokyo

Neighborhoods Parks Historic Sites

Side Trip

Ghibli Museum Mitaka
Find places to stay Dec 18 — 22:
Highlights from your plan
Yanaka ©
Yanaka
Omoide Yokocho ©
Omoide Yokocho
Ueno ©
Ueno

3
nights
Kyoto

Kyoto ©
The national capital for over a thousand years, Kyoto retains much of the charm of old Japan, boasting numerous temples and shrines that seem completely untouched by the modern world.
Discover out-of-the-way places like Sannenzaka Ninenzaka and Tofuku-ji Temple. Satisfy your inner culture vulture at Kyoto Tower and Sanjusangendo Temple. Next up on the itinerary: admire the masterpieces at Kyoto Shibori Museum, take in the pleasant sights at Arashiyama, step into the grandiose world of Nijo Castle, and get to know the resident critters at Monkey Park Iwatayama.

For ratings, where to stay, maps, and other tourist information, go to the Kyoto trip itinerary builder .

Traveling by train from Tokyo to Kyoto takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can fly; or drive. In December, daytime highs in Kyoto are 13°C, while nighttime lows are 4°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 25th (Wed) early enough to take a train to Hiroshima.

Things to do in Kyoto

Historic Sites Shopping Neighborhoods
Find places to stay Dec 22 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
Sanjusangendo Temple ©
Sanjusangendo Temple
Sannenzaka Ninenzaka ©
Sannenzaka Ninenzaka
Kyoto Tower ©
Kyoto Tower

1
night
Hiroshima

Hiroshima ©
Grapple with history and appreciate modernity in Hiroshima, a city known around the world for its tragic past and inspiring rebirth.
Kick off your visit on the 26th (Thu): catch a live event at MAZDA Zoom-Zoom Stadium Hiroshima, explore the world behind art at Hiroshima Museum of Art, appreciate the history behind Ground Zero, get engrossed in the history at Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, then appreciate the history behind Peace Bell, and finally steep yourself in history at Peace Memorial Park - Hiroshima.

To find ratings, photos, more things to do, and other tourist information, use the Hiroshima driving holiday planner.

Traveling by train from Kyoto to Hiroshima takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. December in Hiroshima sees daily highs of 13°C and lows of 4°C at night. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Naoshima-cho.

Things to do in Hiroshima

Museums Historic Sites
Find places to stay Dec 25 — 26:
Highlights from your plan

3
nights
Naoshima-cho

Naoshima-cho ©
On a vacation in Naoshima-cho, a charming island town in the Seto Inland Sea, you can discover its numerous contemporary art museums, sculptures, installations, and galleries.
Museum-lovers will appreciate Benesse House Museum and Okayama Astronomical Museum. Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Kinojo Castle and Shiromineji Temple. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Naoshima-cho: Takahashi (Raikyuji Temple & Takahashi City Old Samurai Residences), Play Park Gold Tower (in Utazu-cho) and Yakage-cho (Yakage Post Station & Old Yakage Honjin Ishii Family Residence). The adventure continues: admire the landmark architecture of Art House Project, relax in the rural setting at Michi-no-Eki Kasaoka Bay Farm, meet the residents at Shibukawa Marine Aquariums (Tamano City Marine Museum), and stroll around Miyama Park.

For more things to do, other places to visit, photos, and tourist information, read Naoshima-cho vacation planner.

Traveling by combination of train, bus, and ferry from Hiroshima to Naoshima-cho takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and ferry. Expect a daytime high around 11°C in December, and nighttime lows around 3°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Sun) to allow time to drive to Shodoshima-cho.

Things to do in Naoshima-cho

Parks Historic Sites Nature

Side Trips

Tamano, Takahashi, Yakage-cho, Kasaoka, Play Park Gold Tower
Find places to stay Dec 26 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Shiraishi Island ©
Shiraishi Island
Benesse House Museum ©
Benesse House Museum
Shiromineji Temple ©
Shiromineji Temple

2
nights
Shodoshima-cho

Shodoshima-cho ©
On an island famed for its gorgeous landscapes and seaside vistas, the town of Shodoshima-cho serves as the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Japanese city life.
On the 30th (Mon), get engrossed in the history at Kokonoura Museum of History and Culture, stop by Hinase Fishermens's Market, take in panoramic vistas at Kankakei Summit Observation, then appreciate the views at Kankakei Gorge, and finally take an in-depth tour of Marukin Soysouce Memorial. On the 31st (Tue), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in nature's colorful creations at Olive Garden, then step off the mainland to explore Hinase Islands, and then take in nature's colorful creations at Ushimado Olive Garden.

For other places to visit, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, use the Shodoshima-cho attractions planner .

You can drive from Naoshima-cho to Shodoshima-cho in 3 hours. In December in Shodoshima-cho, expect temperatures between 11°C during the day and 3°C at night. Cap off your sightseeing on the 31st (Tue) early enough to travel to Kitayama-mura.

Things to do in Shodoshima-cho

Parks Nature Museums

Side Trips

Bizen, Ushimado Olive Garden
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 31:
Highlights from your plan
Ushimado Olive Garden ©
Ushimado Olive Garden
Yama-Roku Shoyu ©
Yama-Roku Shoyu
Olive Garden ©
Olive Garden

1
day
Kitayama-mura

Kitayama-mura
On the 1st (Wed), look for gifts at Michi-no-Eki Okutoro, see the interesting displays at Kiwacho Mine Museum, then make a trip to Maruyama Senmai Rice Field, and finally admire the verdant scenery at Doro River Valley.

To see where to stay, maps, and tourist information, use the Kitayama-mura road trip planner.

Explore your travel options from Shodoshima-cho to Kitayama-mura with the Route module. Plan for somewhat warmer nights when traveling from Shodoshima-cho in January since evenings lows in Kitayama-mura dip to 5°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) to allow time to travel to Osaka.

Things to do in Kitayama-mura

Parks Nature Shopping

Side Trips

Kumano, Doro River Valley
Find places to stay Dec 31 — Jan 1:

2
nights
Osaka

Osaka ©
Proud of their hometown's distinct culture and dialect, many natives of Osaka describe their city as "Japan's anti-capital." An antidote to Tokyo's hectic energy, Osaka marches to the beat of its own drum, serving as the country's longtime commercial and industrial hub.
Get a sense of the local culture at Hozenji Yokocho and Minami (Namba). You'll discover tucked-away gems like PC and Retro Bar Space Station and Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Change things up with these side-trips from Osaka: Nara (Nara Park & Todai-ji Temple). There's lots more to do: steep yourself in history at Osaka City Central Hall, observe the fascinating underwater world at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, explore the historical opulence of Osaka Castle, and make a trip to Kuromon Market.

To find reviews and other tourist information, go to the Osaka day trip planning site .

The Route module can help you plan travel from Kitayama-mura to Osaka. Traveling from Kitayama-mura in January, plan for little chillier nights in Osaka, with lows around 1°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Fri) early enough to take a train to Kobe.

Things to do in Osaka

Historic Sites Shopping Neighborhoods

Side Trip

Nara
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Todai-ji Temple ©
Todai-ji Temple
Hozenji Yokocho ©
Hozenji Yokocho
Osaka City Central Hall ©
Osaka City Central Hall

2
nights
Kobe

Kobe ©
Walkable, small, and aesthetically charming, Kobe has served as Japan's first and premier international trading outpost since opening to trade with China in the mid-19th century.
On the 4th (Sat), take in nature's colorful creations at Kobe Oji Zoo, take in the views from Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, take in panoramic vistas at Kobe Port Tower, examine the collection at Kawasaki Good Times World, then wander the streets of Kitano-cho, and finally steep yourself in history at Kobe Kitano Museum (Ijinkan-gai). Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: walk around Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park.

For maps, traveler tips, more things to do, and other tourist information, read our Kobe online vacation builder .

Kobe is just a short distance from Osaka. In January, daily temperatures in Kobe can reach 10°C, while at night they dip to 3°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Sun) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Kobe

Parks Neighborhoods Museums

Side Trips

Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Find places to stay Jan 3 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Kobe Kitano Museum (Ijinkan-gai) ©
Kitano-cho ©
Kitano-cho

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