Travelling to Japan is a staple dream destination in most people’s bucket list. There are plenty of reasons to visit Japan from its historic landmarks and beautiful sceneries. Filled with flavorful cuisines and unique experiences, this Japan 3 week itinerary will surely be an unforgettable trip.
Others might think that three weeks in another country might be too long. But in Japan, you might even wish to stay longer. Deeply rooted in tradition and culture, but also modern in technology, you will never run out of exciting activities to do here.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS TO REMEMBER
When travelling to a different country, especially for the first time, it is best first to research the country’s ways and norms. This will help make your trip more enjoyable and help you maximize your time and lessen your expenses. Here are some things to remember when travelling to Japan:
- Have enough yen in your wallet because cash is the usual mode of payment. Cards may be accepted in hotels and big stores, but this is not always the case. If you run out of cash, you may find ATMs in 7Eleven stores.
- Tipping is not practised in Japan. If you feel the need to express your appreciation for an excellent service, small tokens in kind such as trinkets or keychains from your country will be accepted.
- Tattoos, while they show your artistic side, are not highly regarded in Japan. These are usually associated with law-breakers so you might want to hide yours if you have one.
- Menus and signs in less touristy spots may not have English translations; hence it is better to know a few Japanese words or have a translation app on your phone or have a translation book at hand
- Buy a Rail Pass and rent a pocket WIFI to make navigating Japan easier.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO
The best time to go to Japan will depend on where you want to go, and what you want to do because the different regions have unique experiences to offer during Japan’s various times of the year. But generally, most people would rank Cherry Blossoms season as the best time to visit Japan. This occurs from late March until early May depending on the location or region.
- When is the summer: June to September
- When is the typhoon season/winter season: December to February
- Biggest national holiday: New Year (Shogatsu) when businesses are usually closed until January
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For American and British citizens, a Japan Visa is not required if staying for less than 90 days. But passports should be valid during the whole period of stay in Japan, and a return or onward ticket should be presented upon entry.
This “Visa-free” arrangement is granted to more than 50 countries. If your country is not included in the list, then you may visit your nearest Japanese embassy for the Visa application.
AVERAGE COST PER DAY (per person): $80 USD/€70
Known for its superb quality of goods and services, it is often a misconception that Japan is an expensive travel destination. But in reality, most foreign tourists who visited the place find it inexpensive.
You may buy Bus and Rail Passes to lessen your transportation expenses. Opting for dormitories, hostels, and budget business hotels is also good to cut costs on accommodation. But if you have the money for it, then this is also a great place to splurge.
- On the budget: 54-96 USD or 49-87 Euro
- On the mid-range: 96-167 USD or 87-151 Euro
- On luxury: over 167 USD or 151 Euro
- What’s the most expensive cost: Accommodation
- What’s the cheapest price: Transportation
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE TRIP
Pack as lightly as possible and bring only the essentials because most trains and buses don’t have enough rooms for bulky luggage. Plus, Japan has plenty of great shopping hubs.
Thus, you surely would want to have more space for your new items. Aside from your Visa, Passport, Tickets, toiletries and comfortable shoes, here are some of the essentials that you should bring:
- translation book/ebook
- bank cards
- winter clothes – if coming this season
WHERE TO GO: JAPAN 3 WEEK ITINERARY
Visiting different places in Japan can be surprisingly easy. They have a fantastic transportation system, and its islands are well connected by ferries, bus services, and railways. You may want a refreshing onsen bath and explore authentic shrines.
There are also temples and castles to explore as you walk the busy Shibuya crossing. Surely, you are amazed at what Japan’s cities/towns have to offer.
As Japan’s capital, Tokyo is a mix of modernization and tradition. Here you can find busy shopping districts, skyscrapers, top-rated restaurants, entertainment centres as well as historical landmarks, museums, temples and beautiful landscapes.
You may also have day trips to popular destinations nearby such as Kamakura and Nikko. Both places have temples and shrines, but Kamakura has the beach while Nikko is home to hot springs, lakes, and waterfalls.
Day trips to Hakone from Tokyo are also available, and this is one of the best spots to view Mt. Fuji.
- Location (address if applicable): Tokyo Prefecture, Kantō Region
- How to get there: Take the JR Narita Express from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station or a book an airport pick up
- What to see: Tsukiji Market, Akihabara, Digital Art Museum, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo DisneySea
- How many days to stay: 7 days
The fourth most populous city in Japan, Nagoya is known as a world-class manufacturing and industrial district. This is where you can find the giant Toyota Motors Corporation.
You may also want to visit the very famous Asahi Beer Factory. It is home to museums, shrines, and well-maintained parks. And the beautiful Nagoya Castle is one of its prominent landmarks.
- Location (address if applicable): Aichi Prefecture, Chūbu Region
- How to get there: Take a Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Nagoya for a faster trip.
- What to see: Railway Museum, Tokugawa Art Museum, Nagoya Castle, Atsuta Shrine
- How many days to stay: 2 days
As the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa is home to historical landmarks. It is also unparalleled to the Kenrokuen, one of the most beautifully landscaped gardens in Japan.
- Location (address if applicable): Ishikawa Prefecture, Hokuriku Region
- How to get there: Take the Limited Express Shirasagi from Nagoya to Kanazawa
- What to see: Kenrokuen, Ninjadera, 21st Century Museum, Kanazawa Castle, Omicho Market
- How many days to stay: 2 days
Used to be Japan’s capital, Kyoto is an ancient city with exceptional historical value. Here you can find samurai castles, world heritage sites, and the serene Zen gardens.
Get the chance to spot real Geisha and Maiko in real life. Side trips to Mount Koya and Nara are also highly recommended if you will be visiting Kyoto.
- Location (address if applicable): Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai Region
- How to get there: Take the Limited Express Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Kyoto
- What to see: Nijo Castle, Sento Palace, Nishiki Market, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Pontocho, Higashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Daigoji Temple, Arashiyama, Katsura Villa, Geisha District
- How many days to stay: 6 days
Known as the “snack capital of Japan,” Osaka should be on your list of cities to visit for mouthwatering Japanese food. In addition to being known for its culinary treats, Osaka also boasts of its unique form of entertainments such as spa theme park and eating street with gigantic neon lights, and an alive music scene.
- Location (address if applicable): Osaka Prefecture, Kansai Region
- How to get there: Take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Osaka
- What to see: Universal Studios, Osaka Aquarium, Osaka Castle, Minami, Sumiyoshi Taisha, Shinsekai, Spa World, get a Hop-on, Hop-off pass
- How many days to stay: 4 days
WHAT TO EAT
Japanese cuisine is one of the best in the world. You would probably say “Oishi” (meaning delicious) several times during your stay here. Here are some of the food that you should not miss while in Japan for an amazing gastronomic experience.
The best way to try out all the must-eat Japanese dishes is to book a food tour.
One of the most popular Japanese dishes, ramen is made of wheat noodles in a flavorful broth. It can be topped with thinly sliced pork, corn, preserved bamboo shoots, seaweeds, chopped green onions, marinated hard-boiled or soft-boiled egg, and many more. Depending on your preference, vegetarian ramen is also widely available in Japan.
- Where to try: Ramen restaurants, also known as ramen-ya, are located everywhere in Japan. You may also head over T’s Tantan in Tokyo Station if you prefer a vegan ramen shop.
- How much does it cost (typically): 500-1200 Yen
Known as deep-fried seafood or vegetables which are smothered in a light batter, Tempura is sometimes paired with a light dipping sauce. This staple dish can be eaten on its own or as toppings in rice meals.
- Where to try: This dish is widely available, but it is best to try it in a Tempura-ya, which is a restaurant that specializes in this dish.
- How much does it cost (typically): 100-400 Yen per piece
This dish is pan-fried and is made with cabbage and batter as the base. Then, you get to choose the toppings that you like, hence the name “okonomi” (to one’s liking).
Toppings can range from meat, seafood, vegetables, and seaweeds, then zigzagged with mayonnaise on top for a filling snack that you will surely love.
- Where to try: Available everywhere in Japan, but best to try in Hiroshima and Osaka
- How much does it cost (typically): 300-600 Yen
With all the attractions, exciting activities and delectable cuisines, Japan is indeed a dream destination. But what you will love more is the friendliness of the Japanese people. Plus, you will surely be in awe of how safe it is to walk its clean streets.