Japan Itinerary – Popular Routes To Take

Singaporeans definitely have the hots for the Japanese way of life. Singapore is in the top 10 countries sending the most number of visitors to Japan! Whether we go there for the delicious Japanese food, the historical sights, or the kawaii culture, there is no denying we love holidaying in Japan.

Colourful as it is, there are so many wonderful places to visit in Japan. Where to start? To help you figure that out, we’ve tailored a map to show you some popular Japan itineraries. These are popular routes that visitors take when making their way across Japan. Plus we’ve included a special routes for Singaporeans favourite – food 😉 Each route offers a slightly different way to experience Japan. Want to see as many top sights as possible on a big first-time trip? Obsessed with onsens and want to pamper your way across Japan, pairing daytime sightseeing with a relaxing soak every evening? Or are you a serious foodie who plans your trips around the best food in the city?

The interactive map below gives you an easy overview of popular Japan itineraries. From there, you can plan your own dream trip. No fixed routes! Stay as long as you want in each city, fly where you want, choose only hotels in your budget, stay close to the attractions you’re most interested in. Konichiwa!

Top Attractions Tour – 8 days – Japan Itinerary

Great for first time visitors, this route takes you through the most popular cities in Japan. All rich with history, attractions and entertainment, these cities will keep you plenty busy and a very good taste of Japan. You can easily spend a week in each of these cities and still have covered only a fraction of things to do there. This Japan itinerary is the most popular choice for travellers who want to see a little bit of everything on their first trip to Japan.

Take a Flight from Singapore (SIN) to Tokyo (HND)

1) Tokyo – 3 Days

The capital that offers overall modern day Japan in a nutshell. Visit the famous Shibuya crossing, shop at Harajuku, geek out at Akihabara, and get blown away by the bizarre lights and dancing show at the Robot restaurant!

Option: Day Trip to Shizuoka

The prefecture of green teas, Izu peninsula for beautiful ocean getaway, hot springs, and most importantly, Mt. Fuji.

Take a Flight from Tokyo to Osaka

2) Osaka – 2 Days

Traditional food market street, Osaka castle, and vibrant character of people in the town gives excitement of West Japan.

Take a train or JR Line from Osaka to Nara

3) Nara – 1 Day

Filled with shrines, temples, and castles, Nara offers many attractions for the first time tourist. But let’s be honest, you’re really here for the deers! Tame and very accustomed to humans, these deers can get a little aggressive when you bring food. Nonetheless, it’s recommended to buy a pack of deer biscuits for the full experience!

Take a train or JR Line from Nara to Kyoto

4) Kyoto – 2 Days

Although located right next to Osaka, Kyoto has a vastly different atmosphere. Best known for their breathtaking temples, imperial palaces and shrines, it is also home to Gion, the famous geisha district.

Take a train from Kyoto to Tottori

Option: Day Trip to Tottori

On the coast of Japan sea is the prefecture that boasts Japan’s largest sand dunes, which offers magnificent views. Visitors can also enjoy Sand Museum, camel ride at the sand dune.

Fly home from Osaka (KIX) to Singapore (SIN)

Foodie Trail – 9 days – Japan Itinerary

Mmm oishi. Singaporeans do love to plan their travels stomach-first, so this one’s for you foodies. In the land of endless ramen, sushi, soba and sake, here’s how to combine sightseeing with feasting.

Take a Flight from Singapore (SIN) to Asahikawa (AKJ)

1) Hokkaido – 2 Days

Seafood, seafood and more seafood! Surrounded by cold sea all around, this island is THE place to indulge in the seafood of your dreams. The must try food in Hokkaido includes their Crabs (Kani), Sea Urchin (Uni), Scallops (Hotate) and Kaisen-don.

Take a train from Asahikawa to Sapporo

2) Sapporo – 1 Day

Synonymous with Sapporo region is the Sapporo Ramen. You can find this dish in any of its thousands of ramen bars. Made from pork stock, lard and miso, this ramen dish is loved all over the world. Also, don’t leave this city without trying the soft serve made fresh from the dairy on the island!

Take a train from Sapporo to Iwate-Numakunai

3) Iwate – 2 Days

Iwate is the home of Wanko Soba, translated to mean Small Bowl Soba. What’s great about Wanko Soba is that it is served in a buffet/all-you-can-eat style. Free flow soba noodles… what’s not to love?

Take a train from Iwate to Aichi

4) Aichi – 2 Days

This prefecture has a passion for all things miso. Taste the world famous miso soup from its very origin as well as many other dishes made with traditional red miso like the Gohei Mochi, Miso-Katsu and Miso Nikomi-Udon. Another must-try dish is the Miya-Kishimen, which is made from the domestic flat noodles of Aichi.

Take a train from Aichi to Kagawa

5) Kagawa – 2 Days

Also known as the udon prefecture, Kagawa is a must visit for udon lovers. Famous for their Sanuki Udon, you can knock yourselves out trying a myriad of different udon styles such as the Kake udon, Bukkake udon, Zaru udon, Kamaage udon and Kamatama udon.

Take a Flight from Takamatsu (TAK) to Singapore (SIN)

Onsen Trail – 7 days – Japan Itinerary

#treatyourself. The hot spring baths in Japan reward your body with lots of relaxation after sightseeing and time on the road. The onsen experience is very Japanese so technically even if you wander about in your Japanese slippers, shuffle from onsen to tatami-mat for a bit of sushi, you’re still experience the culture. Here’s how to trailblaze through Japan from onsen to onsen.

Take a Flight from Singapore (SIN) to Tokyo (HND) then take a train from Tokyo to Kawasaki

1) Kanagawa – Hakone Onsen – 1 Day

Located just 1.5 hours from Tokyo, the Hakone region has one of Japan’s most popular hot spring resorts for both tourists and locals alike. This region boasts a variety of styles of accommodations ranging from traditional to luxurious, coupled with magnificent views of Mount Fuji.

Take a train from Yokohama to Maebashi

2) Gunma – Kusatsu Onsen – 1 Day

Situated at an altitude of 1200 meters above sea level within the mountainous regions of Gunma, you can enjoy picturesque views while bathing in high quality hot springs waters at the Kusatsu Onsen.

Take a train from Maebashi to Takasaki
Transfer to Tokyo then to Shin-Kobe, to Kenchomae(Hyogo)

3) Hyogo – Arima Onsen -2 Days

This hot spring town lies behind Mount Rokko in the Kobe city. It is one of Japan’s oldest onsens with a history of over 1000 years. This town features 2 types of onsen waters; Kinsen and Ginsen which is said have different healing properties.

Take a subway from Kenchomae(Hyogo) to Shin-Kobe
Then a bus from Hakata to Yufuin

4) Oita – Yufuin Onsen – 2 Days

Yufuin lies on a flat river basin surrounded by mountains and offers a distinctive view of the twin-peaked Mount Yufu. This onsen has a particularly misty climate thanks to its proximity with Lake Kinrinko. Travelers to Yufuin can also enjoy a scenic trail across rice paddies and farmhouses.

Take a train from Oita to Kokura, and then to Kumamoto

5) Kumamoto – Kurokawa Onsen – 1 Day

Located in the middle of Kushu prefecture, this town preserves a traditional and peaceful atmosphere free of commercialized concrete buildings. Surrounded by majestic mountains and beautiful gorges, this is the perfect spot for you to relax and relieve your weariness.

Take a Flight from Fukuoka (FUK) to Singapore (SIN)

Winter Tour – 8 days – Japan Itinerary

With the lovely weather in Singapore giving us the full variety of hot to hotter, it’s pretty darn exciting to see a bit of snow isn’t it? One of the closest places to Singapore for a winter white experience is in the north of Japan. Follow this route to see Japan with the glee of a kid having his first snowball fight.

Take a Flight from Singapore (SIN) to Sapporo (CTS)

1) Sapporo – 1 Day

Sapporo Snow Festival is easily one of Japan’s most well-known winter festivals. During the festival, watch international teams congregate to showcase their snow sculptures and ice sculptures at Odori Park.

Take a ski bus from Sapporo to Niseko

Option: Day trip to Niseko

The hub for all your winter sports, Niseko attracts adventurers for its myriad of activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobile adventures, snowshoeing, snow rafting and reindeer sledding, among others. Snowfall here averages a whopping 18 metres yearly, making the champagne powder perfect for all your snow sports.

Take a train from Sapporo to Niigata

2) Niigata – 3 Days

In a town of Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture transforms into a haven for ski-lovers to spend their winter vacation. The ski resorts have everything from beginner slopes to advanced skiing and snowboarding.

Take a bus or train from Niigata to Nagano

3) Nagano – 1 Day

You can opt to take a bus or train from Niigata to Nagano. 3 hours away, only at Nagano’s Jigokudani Monkey Park can you experience the unique sight of wild monkeys frolicking in a natural hot spring. This park is a sight to behold especially during winter when the surrounding valleys are covered in snow.

Take a train from Nagano to Nagoya, then transfer to Kyoto

4) Kyoto – 2 Days

At the North of Kyoto Prefecture lies a sandbank that is constructed by nature’s forces over thousands of years. Amanohashidate, which translates to ‘bridge to the heavens’, is dubbed one of Japan’s Three Famous Sights, the other two being Matsushima and Miyajima. The sight is most spectacular come winter, with its winter fireworks.

Fly home from Osaka (KIX) to Singapore (SIN)

Japan Itinerary – 12 days – Chasing Cherry Blossoms

What’s Japan without its cherry blossoms? Highly raved worldwide when spring arrives, these cherry blossoms paint the cities in Japan with pastel colours, adding the already picturesque backdrop of shrines, temples and snow-capped mountains with an extra touch of beauty.

Chase Japan’s cherry blossoms with this itinerary that follows the cherry blossom forecasted bloom dates!

Fly from Singapore (SIN) to Fukuoka (FUK)

1) Fukuoka – 2 Days

Ideal for families, the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park is an extensive park packed with attractions for all ages. Come spring, there are over 2,000 cherry blossom trees planted on either side of the trails, naturally forming a cherry blossom tunnel. There’s no time to lose after you land in Fukuoka from Singapore. Park-hopping begins now!

With so much to cover on foot, you can opt to hop on a rental bike to give you more accessibility to explore the park on the bike trails. Alternatively, you can opt for the bus pass to get on the bus that will brings you to the major attractions within the Uminonakamichi park. Have a leisurely ride under gorgeous pink clouds of cherry blossom along the bike trails or have a picnic in the sprawling lawns found in the park. After you’re done flower-viewing, you can visit the many attractions within the park, such as the amusement park, water park and zoo.

Cherry Blossom Forecast Dates 2018: 25 March – 10 April

Take a train from Fukuoka to Osaka

2) Osaka – 1 Day

A 2.5-hour train by Japan Railways Shinkansen, arrive at Osaka. Don’t miss the Japan Mint, as it opens its grounds to the public for one week only during the cherry blossom season! Located along the riverbank and offers spectacular views of both the city and the trees, the Japan Mint makes for an ideal backdrop for a picnic. All you need is picnic blanket, a bottle of sake and tree to call your own.

The Kema Sakuranomiya Park, aptly named for the cherry blossom trees planted there, stretches along both banks of the Okawa River. There are over 4,000 cherry blossom trees planted on either side, making for breathtaking river views. Locals are often seen jogging or strolling along the banks. During full bloom, you’ll see the river banks spotted with picnickers underneath the many cherry blossom trees. While there are no “bad spots”, you might want to get there earlier in the day to snag yourself a comfortable area and to spread out your picnic mat.

Take a train from Osaka to Nara

3) Nara – 1 Day

Make a quick stop to Nara via a 30-minute train ride to arrive at Nara. Apart from its deer, Nara is widely regarded as the most beautiful cherry blossom location in all of Japan. Nara Himuro-jinja Shrine, across the street from Nara National Museum, has some lovely trees and it’s right on the way to Nara Park. A Nara Park, you can find about 1700 cherry blossom trees, on top of the 500 deer roaming around. The backdrop of Koriyama Castle’s ruins is another attractive setting for viewing cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Forecast Dates: 20 March and 14 April

Take a train from Nara to Kyoto

4) Kyoto -2 Days

Your next destination is Kyoto, again by train. During the cherry blossom season, a special ceremony is held on the second Sunday of April at the Daigoji temple. Participants dress in traditional period costume and recreate a cherry blossom party from 1598.

Next to the Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park is a popular cherry blossom viewing spot in Japan for both locals and tourists. The park gets crowded with viewers during the full bloom, so rise and arrive early to avoid the crowds! Within the park, spot the gigantic weeping cherry tree, measuring 12 meters high. Come by the park in the evening to see the magnificent tree being illuminated, creating a hauntingly beautiful scene.

Cherry Blossom Forecast dates 2018: 25 March – 12 April

Take a train from Kyoto to Tokyo

5) Tokyo – 3 Days

The train journey to Tokyo involves 2 hours, so leave ample time for commuting! Frequented by locals throughout the year, the Yoyogi public park is one Tokyo’s largest city parks. The park features many ponds and greenery, offering a great escape from the bustling metropolitan life. With over 600 cherry blossom trees in Yoyogi, it has comparatively less trees than the other Tokyo hanami sites. However, the gorgeous sprawling park still offers picnickers great viewing spots underneath the trees, with a significantly smaller crowd. Furthermore, you can find food stands within the park selling seasonal treats such as sakura flavored dango (rice balls) or soft-serve ice cream.

Another park widely regarded as having one of the most picturesque location to experience the cherry blossoms is Ueno Park. More than 1200 trees are located throughout the parklands and surrounding museums. If your schedule allows you to travel outside of the capital, the castle town of Hirosaki is renowned for its natural beauty as well as its cherry blossoms.

Cherry Blossom Forecast dates 2018: 25 March – 12 April

Take a train from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko

6) Lake Kawaguchi – 1 Day

A day trip from Tokyo, Kawaguchiko, one of the 5 lakes of the Fuji Five Lakes, is the biggest and most accessible of them all. You can easily arrive with the local Tokyo metro or by JR train. This region lies close to the northern base of Mount Fuji. The other 4 lakes are Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko.

Kawaguchiko has a wealth of natural resources, and is a sight to behold, with stunning autumn leaves, cherry blossoms and flower festivals throughout the year. Along the lakeside, visit popular tourist attractions such as Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum, Mount Kachi Kachi Ropeway that leads to Mount Tenjo, Kawaguchiko Monkey Showman Theater and Aokigahara Forest.

Cherry Blossom Forecast dates 2018: 25 March – 12 April

Take a train from Isawa-Onsen to Matsumoto

6) Matsumoto – 2 Days

Again by train, reach Matsumoto by taking the train to Omiya, then changing to Nagano. From Nagano, it’s a 1-hour journey to Matsumoto. The second largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is well-known for Matsumotojo, one of Japan’s most beautiful original castles. The city is also a popular stop for trips into the Japanese Alps. In spring, watch cherry blossoms complement the stunning Matsumotojo castle, with a backdrop of snowy mountains. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss.

From Matsumoto, return to Tokyo to catch your flight back to Singapore.

Cherry Blossom Forecast dates 2018: 25 March – 12 April

Fly home from Tokyo (HAN) to Singapore (SIN)