Are you thinking about spending 10 days in Japan and worried you won’t have enough time? While 10 days is never enough to fully appreciate any country, it will allow you to get a taste of modern cities, ancient temples, cherry blossoms, and the iconic Mt. Fuji. If it’s long enough to try all the delicious food on offer is another question, but it’s always good to have something to return for!
The best time to visit Japan
There are two distinct tourist seasons in Japan, charmingly based around the spring blossom and autumn color of the trees. This is also when the temperature is comfortable, there is little rainfall and skies are usually clear.
Sakura (spring cherry blossom season)
From late March to the end of April Japan is covered in the soft pinks, whites and purples of the country's famous Sakura trees. People hold Hanami (blossom viewing) parties with drinks and bento box picnics and the most popular spots are bagged the night before to ensure the best view! Read more about this festive time here
Koyo (fall foliage season)
While the Sakura are better known, Japan's spectacular autumn colors are one of its best kept secrets. November is the best month but the show lasts from September to December and it's no surprise it's so spectacular as 70% of Japan is covered in deciduous forest. People head to temples, mountains and gorges to indulge in Momijigari- the act of seeking out and admiring the beautiful leaves.
The best way to get around Japan
If you are spending 10 days in Japan, the most cost effective and convenient way to travel is to buy a Japan RailPass. It’s a multi-use ticket that allows you to travel between cities, to all the main attractions and includes airport connections keeping things simple and (relatively) cheap. You must order it before you arrive in Japan and exchange your voucher once you arrive.
How much does 10 days in Japan cost?
Average cost: $3000
Flights can range from $500 to $1000 depending on where and when you want to go. The Japan rail pass costs $228 per person.
An average budget for 10 days in Japan staying at a mix of Airbnbs, western style hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese guesthouses - more expensive but include dinner and breakfast - that should definitely be experienced if possible) would be around $900. Prices compare to Western Europe and you can find much cheaper and more luxurious options.
Depending on your attitude you can blow your budget on high end sushi or you can get a fresh, delicious bento box from a corner convenience store for around $7. An average budget for 10 days would be around $500 but you might not be able to resist going higher.
Visits and Wifi
It is very useful to get a portable wifi device in Japan so you can stay connected and use your phone to find your way around on the go. They cost about $5 a day. Budgets for attractions will depend on what museums/attractions you choose to visit.
10 days in Japan: an itinerary
Days 1-3 Tokyo
Tokyo deserves at least three days of your time. You could spend weeks in this eclectic city, discovering traditional neighbourhoods, restaurants, museums or just people watching. But with just three days we suggest you follow this itinerary for a mixture of frenetic modern city and traditional, shrine-filled neighbourhoods. If you do go during the sakura season check out Ueno Park and Sumida Park.
Day 4 Hakone
About an hour and half from Tokyo, Hakone is a place of nature trails, hot springs, mountains, lakes and cracking views of Mt. Fuji. The incredible open air museum allows you to view artworks by Picasso and Henry Moore with a backdrop of mountains.
Day 5-7 Kyoto
Kyoto is the Japan of your imagination, brimming with temples, shrines, historical sites and beautiful nature. It is an amazing place to be for either the sakura or koyo season as it has many temple gardens with lakes that reflect the leaves and flowers. Here you’ll also find a modern city, student cafes, Geisha culture, Japanese haute cuisine and the Philosopher’s Path- a stone path by a canal lined with hundreds of cherry blossoms.
Day 8 Nara
A must-do trip from Kyoto, Nara is another beautiful and ancient city with Buddhist buildings, temples and pagodas 45 minutes away by train. It is surrounded by tranquil countryside and has a deer park where you can meet the famous deer who have been known to bow to respectful visitors.
Day 10 Back to Tokyo or fly from Osaka
You can catch the bullet train back to Tokyo or head to the closer Osaka if you’d like to squeeze in one more sight seeing day in a city before flying home.
Although you’ll probably be planning a return visit as soon as possible, as you can see 10 days in Japan allows you a varied trip where you can take in the modern, ancient, rural and urban in this captivating country.
Written by Laura Sedlak