"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." -Susan Sontag
With the organisation of the Olympic Summer Games in 2020, the Japanese government hopes to attract 40 million foreign visitors to its country. Although Tokyo is the host city, a significant wave of tourism is expected in all major cities. Being chosen to host the Olympic Games is a great responsibility but also a way in which travellers from various distinct countries will value the Nippon's most spectacular treasures.
From the must-see temples, Japanese cuisine, and observing the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Fuji, Japan has a lot to offer first-time visitors.
However, many may pose the question: how long shall one stay in the land of the rising sun? A week? Two weeks? A month? Three months? Superprof will provide curious travellers with the answer!
How Much Time Should be Spent in Japan's Major Cities?
To thoroughly prepare for your stay in Japan, it is essential to know how many days are necessary to visit the most touristic sites in the country. We will now consider how many days should be spent visiting Japan's busiest cities from a tourist point of view.
Explore Tokyo in Five Days
Boasting the reputation of being the world's most populous city, Tokyo is the capital of Japan and a must-see on a trip to Japan. Most seasoned travellers would tell you that five days is not enough to get the true essence of Tokyo life; however, it is incredibly possible to visit the grand majority of touristic places in five days or less.
It is essential to state that by spending less than five days in Japan's capital, many important aspects are missed. Therefore, five days would be the minimum recommended by travellers.
Some travellers dedicate the entire duration of their trip, three or four weeks, to visiting Tokyo and continually find new things to explore and do.
Some Tokyo highlights include Tsukiji Fish Market, Meiji Shinto Shrine, Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing, Senso-Ji Temple, Edo-Tokyo Museum, the Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and a day-trip to Mount Fuji; it's impossible to get bored in Tokyo!
Discover good Japanese lessons here.
Dedicate Five Days to Exploring Kyoto
The former historic capital, Kyoto, is almost as impressive as Tokyo by its sheer size. With over 827 square kilometres of space, the city of Kyoto has plenty to occupy tourists.
Known for its countless amount of temples, Kyoto is a staple for Instagrammers looking to spice up their feed with traditional Japanese pictures. In Kyoto, tourists flock to the famous sanctuary of Fushimi Inari or the majestic bamboo forest of Arashiyama. Visitors also enjoy strolling through the traditional district of Gion to discover old Japan and catch a glimpse of a few geishas.
Five days is a minimum amount of time that should be spent in Kyoto to discover the most remarkable tourist attractions; less time would mean missing some spectacular sights.
Two Days in Osaka
Two days are more than enough to visit the city of Osaka, and its surroundings Visitors can spend sufficient time observing Osaka's castle and its large aquarium; two must-see tourists attractions. The city is well-known for being quite lively at night, especially in some neighbourhoods.
Two days allows you to step out and enjoy a night on the town to discover Japanese nightlife while at the same time allowing adequate time to recuperate the following morning. Explore illuminated department stores, casinos, and larger than life nightclubs; the choice is yours!
Spend the Day in Hiroshima
Recognised internationally from history books explaining tragedies from the Second World War, Hiroshima is a city that has had a rough history and is a symbol of the fight against nuclear weapons. Now rebuilt and home to over 3 million inhabitants, Hiroshima must be visited on a first-time trip to Japan; at least for a day!
The Peace Memorial Park can be toured in a few hours and is indispensable to understanding the emotions that the Japanese people felt during wartime.
The four cities mentioned above, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima, are only a few that we could say. The choice of destinations when visiting Japan depends on the interests of each; nevertheless, we guarantee that the cities we mentioned will please all types of tourists and are highly recommended for a person's first trip to Japan.
Want to learn more about basic things to know before travelling to Japan? Click this link.
How to Determine the Duration of Your First Trip to Japan
Travelling to Japan is not a decision one makes on a whim without previous planning and savings as one might do for closer destinations such as France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain or Portugal.
Flights to Japan are somewhat costly and lengthy; therefore, previous scheduling needs to be done.
So how does one choose the ideal time for a trip to the land of the rising sun? What factors affect the duration of the trip?
The duration of a trip to Japan is often constricted by a person's work schedule and the number of holidays permitted per year. Nevertheless, other factors may come into play for those who have a flexible work schedule.
Factors such as a child's school holidays, a tight budget, or university class schedules all play an essential part. Although there are practical solutions that exist not to spend too much money such as Couchsurfing or preparing your meals, the time spent in the country is still limited if a strict budget exists.
When planning a vacation to Japan, it is also very wise to consider the time difference between Europe and Asia; in many cases, a few days of recuperation are needed before heading back to work.
It would be unwise to book a flight that arrives from Tokyo to London at 1 am and then start to work at 7 or 8 am the next day!
Also, an essential factor to consider before leaving is to list the places and cities you want to visit to establish a coherent program where everything is included. If you're going to visit three, four, or five cities that are quite far apart from each other you will have to think about travel time; if this is your case, a week is too short of time to effectively visit different parts of Japan.
The duration of travel also much depends on how you move from one place to another. For example, many like to get an early start and visit monuments, museums, and gardens from 8 am to 8 pm. However, on the other hand, some want to take their time when travelling and visit only a few things per day after having a coffee and late breakfast.
Finally, it is essential to mention that if you are a fan of Japan, and after a first trip decides to return every year, you will not be so stressed about the idea of not doing everything on the same journey.
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A Week in Japan: Is It Possible?
It is almost impossible to take a weekend trip to Japan from the UK as is familiar with destinations that are closer to home. Many consider taking a week-long trip for the first time, but is that enough?
Yes and no.
To thoroughly enjoy a week in Japan, it is highly recommended to choose a city of reference and get to know the metropolis in depth. By choosing too many towns to visit, travellers spend the majority of their time in transportation than touring.
For an unforgettable experience of Japanese culture, the ideal situation would be to stay in Tokyo or Kyoto and visit the heart of the city and its surroundings. These two big cities are enough to fill a whole week or more of tourist activities. Fans of traditional Japanese culture will fall in love with Kyoto's picturesque streets while technology admirers will favour the bright lights and modernity of Tokyo.
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Two Week Trip Through Japan
Going to Japan for two weeks is often the recommended time to avoid leaving frustrated from only having visited a small part of Japanese cities. In two weeks, travellers have more than enough time to explore the touristic cities of Tokyo and Kyoto while at the same time making day trips and detours to other famed places such as Osaka, Kobe, or Mount Fuji.
On a two-week itinerary, you will have the time to enjoy the temples, shrines, and breathtaking cherry blossoms while at the same time relaxing at an onsen without having to hurry. A change of scenery from one place to another is guaranteed on a two-week trip through Japan.
Using a few vacation days before and after your trip to the land of the rising sun allow for adequate preparation beforehand and some time to recover from all the emotions and jet lag.
How much should be spent in Japan?
Choose to Visit Japan for Three Weeks
Planning a three-week-long trip to Japan is ideal for people who always have the travel bug, but it can be quite long for someone who is a homebody and doesn't like an adventure. Three weeks of travelling through Japan allows visitors to tour more cities and take transportation to move around the country effectively; though this can quickly become tiring.
For a three-week stay, a Japan Rail Pass is a smart investment to take advantage of all forms of public transportation and voyage from one part of the country to the other in style.
The following is a list of estimated travel time between main cities that should be noted:
- 3.5 hours between Tokyo and Kyoto,
- 5 hours between Tokyo and Hiroshima,
- 2 hours and 40 minutes between Kyoto and Hiroshima,
- 2 hours and 20 minutes between Hiroshima and Fukuoka.
And if you finally decide to extend your Japanese adventure for more than three weeks, why not attend some Japanese lessons or participate in a volunteer mission to truly immerse yourself in Japanese culture and traditions?
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Conclusion: The Ideal Duration of a Visit to Japan
After glancing through this article, two things have become obvious to readers: 1) A weekend trip to Japan is strongly discouraged, and 2) there is no perfect amount of time to visiting Japan. While three weeks may be complete for some travellers, one week may prove to be an outstanding sampler of Japan for others.
The duration of a trip to the land of the rising sun dramatically depends on the desires of each traveller and their budget. For example, the way a person travels considerably depends on how much can be seen and discovered while in Japanese territory.
Are you ready to book your plane ticket yet?