Here are some potential itineraries for 2 weeks in Japan. After a few trips there, I’ve become a self-confessed Japan geek and so now I’m always answering questions for friends planning their own Japan trips. So I thought it was about time I wrote something like this.
Your plans will of course depend on which airport you fly into: one of the Tokyo ones or Kansai (in Osaka Bay) or another. But these itineraries might be a starting point for you. They’ll give you a rough idea of where to start and how long you’ll want to spend in each place. Hint: there are very few places in Japan you won’t want to spend weeks in.
Anyway, onto the Japan itinerary options…
Planning your first trip to Japan involves lots of practical things like booking accommodation, sorting an itinerary and organising transport. But there are also lots of useful things about stuff like toilets, nudity and hairdryers that you need to know before you go too.
Just being in Japan is so, so different to anywhere else so it’s worth putting the time in with your planning to get the most of of your trip. Japan is a brilliant country that’s hard to do justice to. Bonkers, but brilliant. I’m willing to bore people with how much I love Japan at any opportunity (soz about that).
So here’s a huge brain dump of everything we tell people when they ask us about planning their first trip to Japan…
Japan’s trains are a cut above anywhere else in the world. No one in Japan has ever been reduced to tears by the words ‘rail replacement bus service.’ Because of this, they’ve become quite a cult thing to obsess over and Japan is an absolute goldmine of brilliant and hilarious train-based stuff. We knew we’d have to write up our top five things to do in Japan for railfans, and we’ve not even scratched the surface yet.
Watching sumo in Tokyo was not on our ‘must-do’ list of things for our first trip to Japan back in 2015. We didn’t really know anything about it and it seemed a bit weird and didn’t interest us. But we did it anyway and LOVED it. For our second trip, in January this year, we knew we wanted to go again. And after that, we seem to have become actual sumo fans. Who’d have thought it?
So we thought we’d share what it’s like going to watch it for the day and some useful things you need to know before you go.
Here’s my selection of 20 unique things to do in Tokyo, Japan.
Tokyo is vast and ever-changing. It has been done to death on travel blogs and in guidebooks but you can never quite capture it. For that reason, I didn’t want to write down what we think you ‘shouldn’t miss’ or ‘must see’ places. But here are 20 things I really enjoyed on my last two visits that aren’t your generic big sights.
We’re lucky enough to have friends in Tokyo, so we try to stay near where they live in Ogikubo. This gives us a unique insight into local life there every time we visit. Here’s a brief summary of things we love about Tokyo off the beaten track. It covers: Kōenji, Asagaya, Ogikubo, and Kichijōji. This area is basically a western section of the Chūō-Sōbu line: one of the most crowded commuter train lines in Japan (which is really saying something).
If you want to visit somewhere in Tokyo without the tourists, where normal people live, and where the huge 20-storey buildings give way to low-rise winding streets, this area is perfect.