Although 7 days is definitely not enough to see all of Japan, you can get a good taste of what it’s like there and see some amazing highlights! With this 7-day Japan Itinerary, you can choose to follow it directly and visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, or I’ve added options where you can change your plans and day trip elsewhere!
As always, it’s your trip and you should do what you want to do (not what everyone tells you you HAVE to do!), but this 7-Day Japan Itinerary will definitely show you all different sides of Japan: a bustling and bright city, a historic and more laid-back town & a small nature-filled town overrun by deer!
If you would rather travel in a group and have a tour guide for your travel to Japan then check out these 7-day group tours of Japan.
Day 1 of the 7-Day Japan Itinerary: Tokyo
You can do this Itinerary forwards or backward, depending on where you fly into. Generally, the cheapest airport to fly to is the Narita Airport or Haneda Airport in Tokyo, but if you fly into Osaka, then this 7 days itinerary will still work for you. Just backward. (:
Check out this post to find out how we find our cheapest flights ever from the US! If you’re already in Asia though, use these tips instead.
First stop: the busiest street crossing in the world! About 2,500 people cross at one time, and it’s definitely something you don’t want to miss!
Mag’s Park (If open)
Of course, you’re going to want to see that chaos from above, right?! There are a few places that you can spot Shibuya crossing from above:
- Starbucks (free)
- From inside the metro station (free)
- Mag’s Park (600 Yen)
- Cafe’s on the highest floor of the Magnet Building (Inflated Price of 1 Item from the Menu)
Unfortunately, when we went, Mag’s Park was closed and wasn’t allowing any tourists to enter. There’s no real way to know whether it will be open or closed when you go since it depends on the weather, wind speeds, construction, etc.
Instead, we went to the floor right below Mag’s Park and paid about $13 for one Diet Coke so we could sit at the window with this view:
You bet we drank that Coke real slow. We also were taking these pictures up against the glass of the window, which meant there was a glare on some parts of the photo.
The best way to fix this is to cover yourself with a jacket or have the person you are traveling with hold a jacket in just the right spot so that there isn’t a glare. The things we do for pictures lol.
For Mag’s Park, make sure to bring cash! Here’s a screenshot from their website that will help you plan:
Travel Tip: If you want, you can change your itinerary so that you go to Shibuya on a super busy day so you can see more people at the crossing. Usually, Fridays & Saturdays around 5 pm would be the busiest!
By far the COOLEST thing in Tokyo is how freaking cheap the sushi is! And it’s SO GOOD! In fact, I wrote a whole blog post just dedicated to my recommendations on where you can find the best & cheapest sushi in Tokyo.
Don’t go without marking every single one of them on Google Maps first! And the two best ones are right outside Shinjuku station, so don’t miss them!
After you’ve had your fill of the craziest cross-walk in the world, head over to Harajuku! I recommend walking since there’s so much to see on the way and it’s very close.
I dropped a pin at the start of a super cute street that will lead you all the way through Harajuku just for you guys!
If you don’t want to walk, you can take the subway straight to the Harajuku station, although you’ll miss quite a bit of Harajuku itself! There are tons of adorable stores and cafes to see on the way.
Word of Caution: If you type in “Harajuku” on Google Maps, there are tons of different places. Jake and I ended up walking around a residential neighborhood for a while since I didn’t know exactly where Harajuku was.
Turns out the whole area is Harajuku! So make sure to follow the spots I’ll have you mark on your Google Maps so you don’t get too tired from walking around aimlessly!
Harajuku Gyoza Lou
Wander around the cute area of Harajuku as much as you want, but make sure that the next stop you have marked on Google Maps is this Gyoza restaurant! Gyoza (or pot-stickers) were made in Japan and are one of the 5 Cheap Japanese foods that I recommend you try on your trip!
It opens at 11:30 and for both of us to get our own plate of 6 pieces of gyoza, it cost 626 Yen or $5.89.
Your next stop is Takeshita Street! From the Gyoza place, the fastest way is to head to Santa Monica Crepes. From there, you head up the street and should end only one block away from the Harajuku Metro Station.
Meiji Jingu Shrine
Around the corner from the Harajuku Metro Station is the Meiji Shrine! It starts at the first Torii gate and then leads through a large park until you reach the shrine.
It’s amazing that in the middle of such a big city that there is a giant park that makes you feel like you’re nowhere near Tokyo.
Shibuya at Night
After the Meiji Shrine, your feet might be super tired, but if you’re up for it, you can head back to Shibuya (either by walking or by metro) for more sushi and.. LIGHTS!
This is the Times Square of Japan and if you’re really lucky (like we were!!) you can be there when it’s raining and see the reflection of the lights in the puddles. It was absolutely gorgeous and soon enough we had completely forgotten how much we had already walked that day!
Day 2 of One Week Japan Itinerary: Tokyo
Tsukiji Fish Market/ Toyosu Fish market (Tuna Auction & Good Sushi)
If you stayed up late to see the lights in Shibuya, you might not want the early morning wake-up call for the Tsukiji Market. We decided to skip it since we were pretty exhausted, but my uncle tells me that he had the best (obviously fresh!) sushi there.
Check out this blog that can help you figure out whether you’d like to go!
The Red Eiffel Tower! Like all things in every city you go to, you can pay to go to the top of it lol. But for us, the view IS the tower!
So we spent an hour or so running around the outside of it and trying to find cool angles. If you’d like to go to the top, this website will tell you all you need to know!
A few other places to visit if you have more time:
- Tokyo Skyview
- Imperial Palace
Night at Shinjuku
I could not wait to finally see the neon lights at night in Tokyo, it turns out the best place to see them is in Shinjuku!
We took this picture at Kabukicho Ichibanyai street which I’ve marked the 7/11 next to it on Google Maps below since it can be hard to find. However, this whole area is GLOWING and worth walking around!
Besides that street here are a few other places to see in Shinjuku:
- Omoide Yokocho (alley filled with stores)
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Free Observation Deck)
- The Robot Restaurant
Since we are always looking to stay on a budget and want to save our money for experiences, we read a ton of reviews about the Robot Restaurant and were unimpressed.
It’s extremely expensive (I think about $80 per person) and most people say that it wasn’t worth the money. But it’s still cool to go see the outside of it!
Day 3: Tokyo
Nakamise Shopping Street & Senso-ji Temple
This whole area is just JAM PACKED with things to do. From shopping streets to temples to even a river close by with a view of Tokyo Tower! The subway station closest to the area is Asakusa Station.
I suggest just showing up with only these two things marked on your Google Maps and then walking around and seeing what else you can find. The first stop is Nakamise Shopping Street which is lined with hundreds of street vendors.
Then keep heading down that same street towards the Hozoman Gate, which will lead you directly to the Senso-ji Temple. You can easily spend a whole day in this area shopping and hopping from street vendor to street vendor.
You can also walk to the river and get a beautiful view of the city from there!
Night at Akihabara
Back to wanting to see as many of the bright lights of Tokyo as possible, you don’t want to miss this video game capital. It’s called Akihabara Electric Town:
You can hop from video game stores to stores completely filled with claw machines to even the largest s*x store in all of Japan (it’s not for the weak of heart!! It’s called Pop Life Department M’s if you want to go!).
More Places to Go if you have time:
- Ueno Park
Day 4: Travel to Kyoto
Since this itinerary only includes Tokyo, Kyoto, and a small day trip to Nara (which is very cheap on public transport!) it doesn’t make sense to buy a Japan Rail Pass for a 7-day trip to Japan unless you plan to visit other cities that are included in the pass.
The cheapest option is to take a night bus from Tokyo to Kyoto which should be bought at least a week in advance.
But since we had such little time and wanted to get better sleep, we decided to buy a roundtrip pass from Tokyo to Kyoto on the bullet train (non-reserved seat), or the Shinkansen.
It cost us $387 Roundtrip (for both of us), which was CRAZY expensive, but the best option for us at the time. Had we had more time and planned a little better, we definitely would have changed to the bus instead.
We used Japanican.com to get the tickets discounted 22%. We bought the tickets the night before, but I recommend buying them a bit more in advance if possible.
Optional: Depending on the season, you can choose to make a stop at Mount Fuji on your way to Kyoto. During the time we were there, it was so cloudy that we couldn’t even see Mt. Fuji as we passed it on the bullet train.
If you do plan to stop at Mt. Fuji, here are some places you shouldn’t miss:
- Chureito Pagoda
- Lake Kawagachi
Where to Stay in Kyoto
We stayed at a budget-friendly Airbnb in Kyoto that was right in the center of everything we wanted to do (read more about why this place was perfect in my post about spotting Geisha in Kyoto!) It cost about $39 a night.
Day 5: Day Trip to Nara
Nara Deer Park
I was worried that this place might not live up to the hype, but it definitely did. A free park with the most Disney-perfect deer you’ve ever seen?!
Japan seriously has it all. The whole park is free, but if you want to feed the deer you can buy “deer crackers” from people around the park.
Travel Tip: Make sure to go to the deer park in the morning. Jake and I got there around 11 am and by the time we walked around the park, got pictures and then bought crackers, the deer were no longer interested in eating.
They had already eaten too much! We actually left the park with the crackers we couldn’t get any deer to take from us lol.
My husband and I set up a tripod and a timer and somehow this shot worked out!
Mochi Place – Nakatanidou
On your way in or out, don’t miss eating traditional Japanese mochi at Nakatanidou. Although it wasn’t my favorite treat, it’s important to try new things while traveling!
AND after you watch the “performance” of the men yelling and whacking at the mochi to prepare it, you can’t help but want to try one! Especially since it only costs about $1.50!
Optional: If Osaka is somewhere you definitely want to see on this 7-day trip, then this is your perfect chance!
Nara is about halfway between Kyoto and Osaka, so you could keep going from Nara and spend the night in Osaka and then come back to Kyoto the next day once you’ve seen everything you wanted to see.
Geisha Spot in Gion, Kyoto
If you decide to skip Osaka and get the most out of Kyoto, then you definitely need to get back from Nara by 4 pm so you can be ready to go Geisha spotting at 5 pm!
Read this blog post where I go into full detail about where & when to see a Geisha in Kyoto (It’s one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had!)
Day 6: Kyoto
Early Morning: Ninenzaka & Sanneizaka Streets
Depending on the type of travel you like to do, this could be an early morning day or just a regular day. Jake and I like to get up early (about 30 minutes before the sun rises) and see the most popular places before anyone else gets there.
Then we usually take a nap in the afternoon or just head in after dinner.
One downside to going in the morning is that none of the shops are open yet, but they were walking distance from our Airbnb, so if you stay there you can head back to see what it looks like with or without people.
The two streets are right next to each other as well:
After those two streets, head up the hill a bit to the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, but it is also set up on a hill so it has one of the best views of Kyoto!
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha)
Probably one of the most Insta-Famous locations on Earth, and totally worth going if you go early like we did! What a lot of people don’t realize by just seeing these pictures on Instagram is that these go on for about 3 miles and that it’s actually about 20 minutes outside of Kyoto itself.
Although we did the whole thing, if you don’t want to, you definitely don’t need to. The first 10 minutes or so is basically the same as the rest of the hike, and the views don’t really get that much better.
Save your energy for the rest of the day and don’t worry about missing out!
A Quick Photo Tip: It’s totally possible to get a picture alone here, especially if you go in the morning! By about 10:30, it is already getting pretty packed with people. Bring a tripod or a friend and be patient, it’s all about timing!
Also, the higher up you go, the fewer people there are, however, the torii gates might also be further apart and less “insta-perfect.”
A few more places in Kyoto
We didn’t get to do everything in Kyoto since we were short on time and it was my birthday so all I wanted to do was go Geisha spotting one more time before we left!
But if you have time to fill here are the places we skipped but that are definitely worth visiting:
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove/ Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
- Nijo Castle
- Higashiyama Jisho-ji
- Nishiki Market
- Kyoto Imperial Palace
- Philosopher’s Path
Since we both loved Kyoto SO much more than we imagined we would, we agreed that it would be worth coming back to (especially during cherry blossom season!)
Day 7: Kyoto & Tokyo
Depending on the time of your flight, you might be able to fit in a few of the “extra” things I listed in the last section before you hop on your train back to Tokyo. If not, then I hope you had a wonderful 7-day tour of Japan and hopefully realized that Japan is NOT as expensive as everyone says it is!
Don’t forget to pin this for future trip planning!