Japan

10 day itinerary Japan – how to get the most out of Japan in 10 days

Japan is a nation of contrasts – where thousand-year-old temples stand in the shadow of twenty-first-century towers, and where natural beauty garners deep respect from old and young alike. Sophisticated, authentically traditional, and yet also somehow futuristic, there’s nowhere quite like the land of the rising sun.

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Photo: Masaaki Komori

The LGBT+ situation in Japan

Japan is a rare example of a country that has never criminalised homosexuality. However, same-sex relationships have never been positively represented either, creating a society where sexuality is rarely discussed. The momentum for shifting the status quo – to incorporate sexual orientation into civil rights law or legalise gay marriage – is still lacking as a result. Not that you’d probably notice from Japan’s big cities, which have thriving LGBT+ scenes, and the idea of encountering homophobia while enjoying 10 days in Japan is pretty much an anathema.

When to go to Japan

Japan has a four-season climate just like Europe, meaning hot and humid summers, snowy winters (especially in the north), and mild spring and autumn temperatures. While there’s no bad time for planning a trip to Japan, we think the best time to go to Japan are the months of April and November, which see plenty of sun, decent temperatures, and the chance to catch either the cherry blossom or colourful autumn foliage.

Photo: Yu Kato

Do I need travel insurance for Japan?

Although Japan is widely regarded as one of the safest places on the planet, whatever your sexual orientation, the short answer remains yes. A good policy will cost very little but will cover you for eventualities from cancelled flights to lost iPads. More importantly, to receive any medical treatment during your trip to Japan, you’ll need proof you can cover costs that can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Getting connected in Japan

Japan is one of the most widely connected countries in the world, with hotels, restaurants, railway stations and tourist sights all offering free WiFi. All the same, if you don’t want to have to find a reliable network, you can easily get a 4G data SIM or even rent a portable router.

Photo: Bantersnaps

Photo: Yoav Aziz

Japan rail pass: The best way to move around Japan 

As the home of the superfast bullet train, travelling by rail should be your preferred method of transport for your Japan itinerary. Pre-purchasing a seven or 14 days Japan Rail Pass not only takes the stress out of buying tickets on route but saves a bit of cash too!

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Japan itinerary 10 days long is more than enough time to explore Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka

How to get the best out of Japan in 10 days

With a 10 day itinerary, Japan will open up before you like a newly unfurled chrysanthemum flower. Though cities like Tokyo are some of the biggest in the world, their major attractions tend to be close together, which alongside the phenomenally efficient rail network means a Japan itinerary 10 days long is more than enough time to explore Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, with some day-trips thrown in besides.

Should you be wondering what the best places to go in Japan might be, or what to do in Japan, stay tuned for our recommendations for Japan in 10 days!

Kyoto | Photo: Sorasak

Days 1 to 4 - Tokyo, Nikko, and Kamakura

There’s no doubting you’ll experience some degree of culture shock in beginning your Japan travel itinerary in Tokyo, the nation’s capital since 1868. A well-ordered symphony of wood, neon lighting, crowded subway trains, and enchanting sights, it’s sometimes best to think of Tokyo as a series of individual mini-cities. There’s trendy Shibuya, contemporary Ginza, green Ueno, and entertaining Odaiba, as Mr Hudson’s dedicated Tokyo Travel Guide divulges.

Having bedded down in the capital for a couple of nights, jump on a train – destination Nikko, an attractive small city in the mountains north of Tokyo that’s the site of various important historical attractions, including the Futarasan Shrine, dating back to an incredible 767 AD.

Then, before you continue your Japan trip by leaving Tokyo for good, head to coastal Kamakura, a medieval city that has replaced preening shoguns with visiting tourists but has lost none of its ancient spirit in the dozens of shrines and Buddhist temples that adorn its pretty streets.

Photo: Thomas Marban

Photo: Chris Yang

Days 5 to 8 - Kyoto and Nara

The Japanese capital for more than a thousand years, Kyoto was largely unaffected by the destruction of World War Two, meaning its one of the best places in Japan to explore Japanese heritage. The unofficial cultural capital, Kyoto is where geisha girls walk along cobbled streets beside low-slung timber izakaya bars, temple pagodas rise mysteriously out of perfectly-manicured parks, and a long list of museums explore everything from ancient archaeology to modern manga.

The Mr Hudson Kyoto Travel Guide has all you need to know, but when planning a trip to Japan don’t forget to leave time for the day-trip to Nara, another former capital, whose impressive collection of surviving religious structures is nothing compared to the bowing sika deer who have made their home in the exquisitely beautiful Nara Park, one of the oldest in Japan.

Nara | Photo: Timo Volz

Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyōto-shi | Photo: Bantersnaps

Days 9 and 10 - Osaka

Perhaps because of its mercantile past, Osaka, with complete self-awareness, has shaken off many of the cultural shackles that can leave Tokyo and Kyoto seeming rather staid in contrast. Make for the river that glides through the centre of town and here you’ll uncover a treasure trove of Insta-friendly bright lights, extraordinary cuisine, and locals queuing up to be your new best mates. No wonder our Osaka Travel Guide is so popular!

Photo: Tianshu Liu

More time in Japan?

Thinking that Japan’s a long way to travel for 10 days? Why not tack on some extra dates? There’s more than enough to entertain you for a day or two more in each of the cities we’ve recommended, while other intriguing destinations include glitzy Yokohama, the hills of Kobe, and hot springs of Hakone. Visible from Tokyo, the snowy peak of Mount Fuji will tempt many, while the lesser-visited islands of the far south are subtropical wonderlands sure to be hitting the travel hotlists anytime now.

Expert Trip planning Japan

If the very idea of connecting up all these destinations is making your head spin, then have no fear. The Mr Hudson Trip Design service can create an itinerary to your personalised specifications, including holiday type and budget, in just a few days and a lot less hassle!

Photo: Louie Martinez

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