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Japan 3-Week Itinerary: The Ultimate Japan Itinerary

Planning a Japan 3-Week itinerary might seem daunting but do not worry—I have got your back!

So take a deep breathe, sit back, and just relax because I have done the hard work for you.

Main highlights ranging from 400-year old Nijo Castle to IG-famous Sagano Bamboo Groves to snow monkeys in Jigokudani Monkey Park, there are countless fascinating places to visit in this historically and culturally rich Asian country.

Make sure to read this detailed 3 weeks Japan itinerary until the end to learn more about the must-explore places, must-try food, the breakdown travel budget, and crucial tips when visiting Japan. 

So let’s dive right in!

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Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links and I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you.

what should I do 3 weeks in japan: summary

Day 1-5: Tokyo

Day 6: Nagano

Day 7: Matsumoto

Day 8-9: Takayama

Day 10-11: Kanazawa

Day 12-14: Kyoto

Day 15: Nara

Day 16: Hiroshima

Day 17: Miyajima

Day 18: Kurashiki

Day 19: Himeji

Day 20-21: Osaka

Here are the shortcuts to the links of useful resources for your upcoming Japan trip:

Day 1-5: Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan—and also the most populous prefecture in the country.

A city that never sleeps, Tokyo is easily accessible thanks to its convenient and advanced public transportation systems.

Start Day 1 to Day 5 of your Japan 3-week itinerary by exploring Tokyo and its vicinity. 

Getting To Tokyo From Airports

To get to Tokyo city from Haneda Airport, take: 

  1. Tokyo Monorail
  • Line: Via JR Yamanote Line to Hamamatsucho Station in Tokyo
  • Fare: US$5 (500 yen) one way
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 
  1. Limousine Bus
  • Fare: US$9 (950 yen) one way
  • Duration: 55 minutes

To get to Tokyo city from Narita Airport, take: 

  1. Train
  • Operator: JR Narita Express
  • Fare: US$28 (3000 yen) one way
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 
  1. Limousine Bus
  • Fare: US$26 (2800 yen) one way
  • Duration: 100 minutes

Things To Do In Tokyo

Here are some of the major highlights in this metropolitan city that you can visit during your Japan 3-week itinerary:

  • Visit Tsukiji Outer Market – Explore the local market that sells various fresh and processed seafood. You can also get the freshest sushi for breakfast here as the fish products are sent directly from Toyosu Market. 
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  • Watch the live tuna auction at Toyosu Market – Wake up early to participate in the live tuna market auction from the observation deck in this newly built building. You will need to apply it here at least 1 month in advance. 

Note: The old Tsukiji Inner Market (where the tourist-flock tuna auction market was in operation until 2018) has moved its base to Toyosu Market since 2019. 

  • Have an Instagrammable photo-taking session at teamLab Borderless – Immerse yourself into the fascinating artistic lights and other captivating artwork exhibition in this intriguing museum. 
  • Visit Sensoji Temple – Admire the intricate architecture of Tokyo’s oldest temple. You can also get some local souvenirs from Nakamise, a 200-metre shopping street within the temple compound.  
  • Admire the city panoramic view at Tokyo Skytree –  Enjoy the stunning panoramic view from one of the world’s highest observation decks.
  • Have a stroll at Ueno Park – If you are looking to visit Tokyo’s popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spot donning kimono, Ueno Park is one of the top options. This enormous park also houses several national museums.
  • Have a blast at the Robot Restaurant – Have the time of your life by watching the wacky and entertaining robot performances in the Robot Restaurant. This is one of Tokyo’s tourist bucket lists that you need to cross out! 
  • Explore Kabukicho (Shinjuku) – Explore this neon-filled, lively entertainment district at night to experience the city nightlife. 

Note: Kabukicho is also Japan’s largest red-light district.

  • Wander around Shibuya – Your Japan itinerary will not complete without a trip to the Shibuya Crossing—one of the busiest pedestrian crossings. Wander around this district featuring shopping outlets and entertainment hubs. Make your way to Hachiko Statue too, a loyal dog that waited for his demised master every day for 9 years at Shibuya Station. 

Check out my comprehensive 4 Days Tokyo Itinerary to know more in-depth about unmissable things to do in Tokyo!

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  • Have a drink at the maid cafe in Akihabara – If you would like to get into Japan’s manga culture, make sure to head over to Akihabara’s maid cafes where the waitresses dress up as maids or anime (Japanese animated works) characters.  
  • Explore Harajuku – Harajuku is the teenage and cosplay fashion centre in Tokyo. There are 2 shrines in this district that you can visit—Meiji Shrine and Togo Shrine.
  • Visit Ghibli Museum – If you are a big fan of Studio Ghibli’s films, getting to Ghibli Museum is a big must. The museum consists of a small theatre, exhibition, cafe, rooftop garden, and a souvenir shop. Any Spirited Away fan here? 

Guided Tours In Tokyo

If you would like to opt for some extraordinary experiences while in Tokyo, you can consider signing up:

Day Trips From Tokyo

Here are some of the popular day-trip destinations from Tokyo:

1. Mount Fuji

Your Japan 3-week itinerary will not complete without a trip to Mount Fuji

One of the great spots to enjoy the mesmerising view of Mount Fuji is Five Fuji Lakes

Note: Mount Fuji visibility is at its best during autumn and winter. 

If you want to include the stunning red pagoda in your photo with Mount Fuji as the backdrop, head over to Chureito Pagoda

To save yourself the hassle of planning, you can opt for this private bus tour with a local guide to Mount Fuji

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2. Hakone

Hakone is one of the famous day trip destinations from Tokyo. 

There are so many things to do in Hakone, including taking a dip in the hot spring, enjoying the beautiful view of the misty volcanic zone, visiting famous shrines and temples, and museum-hopping

You can book this Hakone private day tour for a short break from the vibrant metropolitan city.

Where To Stay In Tokyo

With millions of visitors travelling to Tokyo annually, there are plenty of types of accommodations available in this lively metropolitan. 

Nevertheless, it is still best to book your hotel early especially during peak seasons such as spring and autumn. 

 Here are some recommended places to stay in Tokyo during your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

What To Eat In Tokyo

  • Sushi

Of course, you can’t miss out on sushi from your to-eat-list in this capital city!

You can enjoy eating sushi at standup stalls, fish markets, conveyor belt restaurants, or even Michelin star awarded premium eateries—depending on your budget!

Kura Sushi is one of the popular places in Tokyo to have sushi.

  • Ramen

Another food that you need to try before leaving Tokyo is none other than the slurpy, chewy noodle ramen!

This dish can be found in almost every corner of the streets in Tokyo, and there is a great variety of ramen available over here. 

If you are keen to try this soupy dish, head over to AFURI.

Day 6: Nagano

After spending 5 days exploring Tokyo, it is time to travel to the charming city around the mountainous Japanese Alps on Day 6 of your Japan itinerary 3 weeks—Nagano. 

Apart from being a popular destination among tourists for its natural hot spring and onsen during the cold season, there are also fascinating temples and interesting museums that you need to visit in Nagano. 

Things To Do In Nagano

Below are some of the must-do activities in Nagano during your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

  • Explore Zenkoji Temple – This famous Buddhist temple is the first temple to receive a Buddhist statue in the 7th century. Spend at least 2 hours exploring the temple grounds where you get to visit some major monuments, including the Main Hall, Zenkoji History Museum, Sanmon Gate and Niomon Gate. 
  • Admire Togakushi Shrines – You can visit 3 main shrines at Mount Togakushi. Each shrine is located about 2km away from each other so you can expect some hiking here, or you can opt for a bus service to get to the shrines. 
  • Learn more about ninja’s history at local museums – If you are intrigued with ancient Japanese ninja skills and equipment, you can head over to Togakure Ninpo Museum. Alternatively, you can visit Kids Ninja Village for some interesting ninja obstacles training. 
  • Visit the snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park – Watch the wild snow monkeys playing around and soaking in the hot spring all year round. If you prefer to explore the park with a great snowy mountainous backdrop, it is best to visit the snow monkeys during winter (January to February).  
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  • Soak up the Olympic vibes at the remaining Olympic Winter 1998 – These world-class sports facilities are located sparsely around Nagano city where you can reach them conveniently by bus.
  • Have a stroll at Gondo Covered Shopping Arcade – If you are looking for things to do at night in Nagano, you can have a walk along Gondo Covered Shopping Arcade. You can also shop for souvenirs or try delicious local street food here. 

Guided Tours In Nagano

Here are some recommended tours you can sign up for in Nagano: 

Where To Stay In Nagano

Here are some recommended places for a night stay at Nagano

What To Eat In Nagano

  • Oyaki Dumplings

Invented in Nagano, Oyaki Dumplings are the must-eat food when you are in this beautiful city. 

The dumplings are mainly made with vegetables such as pumpkin, eggplant, or radish and you can have it either steamed or fried!

You can get this delicious snack at Nagano’s Oyaki Shichifuku Inshokuten.

  • Basashi

Basashi is a unique type of sashimi. But instead of indulging in seafood, it is prepared using horse meat

If you are up for the unusual food challenge, head over to Nihommatsu for a plate of basashi. 

How To Get To Nagano

To get to Nagano from Tokyo, you can take:

  1. Shinkansen 
  • Operator: Hokuriku Shinkansen 
  • Fare: US$73 (8000 yen) one way
  • Duration: 80 to 100 minutes
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 

Day 7: Matsumoto

On Day 7 of the 3 week Japan itinerary, it is time to travel to Matsumoto—located 50 minutes away from Nagano by train. 

Home to one of the remaining original castles in Japan, Matsumoto offers a unique, harmonious blend of both historic and modern travel experiences to visitors.

Things To Do In Matsumoto

Here are some of the main highlights that you can visit in Matsumoto for a day: 

  • Visit Matsumoto Castle This ancient castle has an observation deck on its sixth floor, providing a great scenic view of the city against the backdrop of the grand Japanese Alps. 
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  • Explore Daio Wasabi Farm – If you are a big fan of Japanese wasabi, make sure to make your way to Daio Wasabi Farm. Remember to get your own share of wasabi ice cream before leaving the farm! 
  • Enjoy Kusuma Yayoi’s colourful sculpture at City Art Museum – This art museum has a showcase of stunning artworks of the local-born artists. And one of these artists is none other than the bold-looking Kusuma Yayoi.
  • Mingle with local farmers at Nakamachi Street – A former merchant district, you can visit the bustling farmers’ market from May to December. Over here, you get to see the local crops, mingling with the farmers, or even asking for a tip or two for cooking Japanese dishes. 
  • Stroll along Nawate Street – A pedestrian-only street filled with cafes and local shops, you can find an interesting Shinto deities shrine in this street. Yohashira Shrine is exceptionally packed on New Year as it is believed to grant the people wishes and make them come true. 
  • Fill up your bottle with the natural groundwater from the city’s wells – The locals have been drinking the well water for years. Some cafes are serving their customers with this water source too. 

Some of the wells that you can find in Matsumoto city include Genchi Well and Iori Reisui Well

Guided Tours In Matsumoto

If you would like to understand Matsumoto’s rich history and culture, you can consider signing up:

Where To Stay In Matsumoto

Here are some of the recommended places to stay in Matsumoto

What To Eat In Matsumoto

  • Sanzokuyaki

Sanzokuyaki is a native dish to Matsumoto. This special fried chicken is prepared by marinating the chicken breast meat with garlic and other spices before getting deep-fried. 

You can have a taste of sanzokuyaki at Karaage Centre Matsumoto.

  • Shinshu Salmon

This reared salmon is among the popular foods to try when you are in Matsumoto. 

You can order this dish at any izakayas (Japanese tavern), such as Sakaba Yamazato

How To Get To Matsumoto

To get to Matsumoto from Nagano, you can take: 

  1. Train
  • Operator: JR Shinano Limited Express 
  • Fare: US$30 (3100 yen) one way
  • Duration: 50 minutes
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 

Day 8-9: Takayama

Located at Gifu Prefecture, Takayama is among the fascinating rural cities of Japan that you need to go to break away from the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Spend Day 8 and 9 of your itinerary Japan 3 weeks exploring Takayama’s old town and surrounding highlights to experience the beauty and calm side of this Japanese rural city. 

Things To Do In Takayama

Here are the main activities that you can do during your 2-day stay in Takayama in your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

  • Get your breakfast at local asaichi – Start your day at Takayama by visiting the asaichi (morning markets)—Miyagawa Market and Jinya-mae Market. Over here, you get to see local fresh produce, handicraft, street foods, and snacks. 
  • Enjoy sake tasting at sake breweries – Takayama is famous for the sake and you ought to visit one of the old sake breweries when you are in the city. You can easily identify a sake brewery by looking for the presence of sugidama (cedar branches made balls) at the store entrance.
  • Learn more about Takayama’s history at local museums – If you are a history buff, then you must make your way to Fuji Art Gallery and Takayama Museum of History and Art

Some of the old artefacts that you can see here include precious paintings, brushes, and household items. 

  • Temple-hopping along Higashiyama Walk Course – About a dozen temples, shrines, and Takayama Castle ruins are found within this 3.5 km long walking course. You can spend about 2 hours strolling along this peaceful trail while visiting some of the old temples, such as Hokkeji Temple. 
  • Participate in the captivating Takayama Festival – Held on 14-15 April and 9-10 October annually, about 11 to 12 beautifully decorated festival floats are paraded around the Old Town and eventually stored in museums for public view. 
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  • Admire the delicate festival floats replica at Matsuri no Mori – This museum contains both miniature and life-sized replicates of festival floats with intricate designs that took part in the grand Takayama Festival. 
  • Be blown away by real-life festival floats at Matsuri Yatai Kaikan – Some of the Takayama Festival’s festival floats are kept in this museum. The great, detailed craftsmanship shown on the floats will definitely leave you in awe. 
  • Explore Hida Folk Village – This fascinating open-air museum showcases 30 traditional houses that are at least 150 years old. Get ready to be blown away by the impressive wooden architecture and the great condition of the century-old exhibits. 
  • Create your own souvenir at Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Centre – To learn more about the local culture, you can also learn to make the local handicraft at Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Centre.

Guided Tours In Takayama

Here are some of the interesting Takayama local tours that you can opt for: 

Where To Stay In Takayama

Here are some places that you can consider staying at during your Takayama visit: 

What To Eat In Takayama

  • Mitarashi Dango

This local traditional savoury snack made from mashed rice balls is first grilled and glazed with sauces, such as sesame or soy sauce. 

One of the best places to get Mitarashi Dango in this city is Jinya Dango

  • Hida Beef Sushi

Raised in Gifu prefecture, Hida beef is one of the top premium wagyu beef choices in Japan. 

Check out Sakaguchiya for a sushi beef treat in Takayama!

How To Get To Takayama

To get to Takayama from Matsumoto, you can take: 

  1. Bus
  • Operator: Nohi Bus 
  • Fare: US$32 (3500 yen) one way
  • Duration: 2.5 hours

Day 10-11: Kanazawa

Next, spend Day 10 and 11 of your 3 weeks itinerary in Japan exploring another charming cultural city of the country—Kanazawa.

Highlights ranging from beautiful gardens, ancient samurai residences, contemporary art museums to scrumptious local food, be prepared to experience another mesmerising part of Japan in Kanazawa. 

Things To Do In Kanazawa

To fully make use of your time in Kanazawa during Japan 3-week itinerary, here is the list of recommended things to do: 

  • Have a nice walk around Kenrokuen Garden – This tranquil garden is one of the country’s most beautiful landscape gardens. If you are looking to enjoy the cherry blossom and autumn foliage while donning a kimono in Kanazawa, Kenrokuen Garden is the place that you need to be at. 
  • Explore Seisonkaku Villa – Head over to one of the few remaining well-preserved samurai villas in the country and admire the ancient building structure and interior design.
  • Immerse yourself into the enchanting streets of Higashi Chaya District – Wander around this famous geisha district and visit the old teahouses to learn more about geisha performance and tea ceremonies. 
  • Learn more about samurai’s lifestyle in Nagamachi Samurai District – Spend some time exploring this former samurai district where few museums showcase the historic samurai residence and their precious exhibits. 
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Guided Tours In Kanazawa

To explore Kanazawa with the help of local guides, you can consider signing up:

Day Trips From Kanazawa

It is also possible to have a day trip to Shirakawago or Noto Peninsula from Kanazawa on Day 11 of this 3 weeks Japan itinerary.

1. Shirakawago

Shirakawago is a tourist-flocking UNESCO World Heritage site attributed to the traditional farmhouses called gassho-zukuri. Some of these farmhouses are at least 350 years old

Apart from observing the unique, sturdy architecture of gassho-zukuri, you can also admire the mesmerising remote mountainous scenery. 

You can sign up for this half-day Kanazawa to Shirakawago tour where transportation and an English speaking guide are included—which means more relaxing time and less stress planning!

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2. Noto Peninsula

If you would like to enjoy the coastal view, then it is recommended to have a day trip to the Noto Peninsula. This less touristy site of Japan offers an interesting glimpse into a slower pace of rural resident life. 

Some of the things that you can do in the Noto Peninsula are having an onsen session while looking out on the blue sea, besides experiencing the magnificent view of rice fields during sunset. 

You can sign up for this Noto Peninsula Day Tour from Kanazawa that includes stops at several other major highlights in this picturesque peninsula. 

Where To Stay In Kanazawa

Here are some recommended accommodations in Kanazawa that you can consider in your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

What To Eat In Kanazawa

  • Kabura Zushi

Kabura Zushi is made from a salted turnip, salted buri (yellowtail fish), and koji (fermented rice). Some even come with carrot slices. 

Among all the stalls in Kanazawa, Shijimaya Honpo is the place that you should go for a piece or more of Kabura Zushi!

  • Jibuni

This signature dish of Kanazawa is a thick, brothy soy-based dish cooked with sliced duck meat, mushroom, and carrots and topped with wasabi for additional flavours. Can you imagine the richness of the dish already? 

To have the authentic taste of Jibuni, make sure to head over to Yoshihisa.

How To Get To Kanazawa

To get to Kanazawa from Takayama, you can take: 

  1. Train
  • Operator: Limited express trains and shinkansen  
  • Fare: US$60 (6500 yen) one way
  • Duration: 2 hours (Change station at Toyama)
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 

Day 12-14: Kyoto

Your Japan 3-week itinerary will not be complete without a trip to Kyoto, a fascinating city filled with ancient temples, beautiful shrines, and picturesque scenic views of nature. 

Make sure you rest your legs well because there is lots of walking and sightseeing involved from Day 12 to 14 when exploring Kyoto! 

Things To Do In Kyoto

Kyoto is home to 1600 ancient temples so you can expect some popular temple-hopping within three days. 

For a more in-depth post on how to navigate around this beautiful city wearing kimono, places to visit, and useful tips when exploring Kyoto, you can check out this comprehensive Kyoto 2-day itinerary

Here are the major highlights to visit when you are in Kyoto: 

  • Visit Kitano Tenmangu Shrine – This ancient wooden shrine is popular among students particularly during the examination period as this famous landmark is dedicated to Shinto God for education.

If you are visiting Kitano Tenmangu Shrine on the 25th of every month, you will get to experience the local flea market known as Tenjin San’s festival too! 

  • Marvel at Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji – These two stunning temples are among the few temples that you need to visit in Kyoto.

Apart from having impressive building architecture, you can wander around their respective lovely gardens to enjoy the beautiful view and have a peaceful zen moment. 

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  • Explore Fushimi Inari Shrine – Get your phone ready by taking countless pictures with the orange torii gates at this IG-famous site in Kyoto. 
  • Wander around Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Expect to spend 30 minutes in this dreamy bamboo forest in Kyoto for photo taking and complete the walking trail.  
  • Explore Nijo Castle – Walk around Nijo Castle’s complex grounds and admire the stunning architecture of Karamon Gate.

If you can’t get enough of Japanese gardens, you will be delighted to know that Nijo Castle has two gardens that offer lovely scenic views of trees and ponds. 

  • Geisha spotting at Gion District – Gion is the one place in Kyoto that you need to head over to meet a geisha. To increase the geisha spotting probability, make sure you are in Gion by 5.45 pm. This is the time where geisha will be leaving their home to local tea houses for work. 

Guided Tours In Kyoto

To learn more about the city’s history and culture during your visit to Kyoto, you can consider signing up:

Where To Stay In Kyoto

It is recommended to stay near Kyoto Station or Gion District during your visit to Kyoto as these strategic places are within walking distance to the major highlights mentioned in this article. 

 Here are some of the accommodation options located near Kyoto Station for your Japan 3-week itinerary:

What To Eat In Kyoto

  • Kaiseki 

Kaiseki strives for perfect and elegant food presentation and offers a Japanese fine dining experience with multiple small dishes served across a meal. 

If you would like to opt for an affordable kaiseki meal in Kyoto, make sure you visit Kawamura Ryori Hei

  • Wagashi

In Kyoto, wagashi is usually paired with a cup of thick matcha tea to balance the tea bitterness. 

To enjoy the wagashi-matcha tea session with a beautiful garden view, you will need to visit Toraya Karyo Ichijo.

How To Get To Kyoto

To get to Kyoto from Kanazawa, you can take: 

  1. Train
  • Operator: JR Thunderbird Limited Express train
  • Fare: US$64 (7000 yen) one way
  • Duration: 2 hours 
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered 

Day 15: Nara

On Day 15 of the Japan 3-week itinerary, it is time to visit the first ancient capital of Japan—Nara!

I think most of us think of those free-roaming wild deer when Nara is mentioned. 

Nevertheless, you will find that there are stunning temples and shrines to explore in this ancient city, besides offering impressive sights of cherry blossoms and autumn foliage at local parks and Japanese gardens. 

To know more things to do in Nara, how to navigate around, and local food to try, you can read on my jam-packed and detailed Day Trip to Nara Itinerary.  

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How To Get To Nara

To get to Nara from Kyoto, you can take: 

  1. Train
  • Operator: Miyakoji Rapid Train (JR Nara Line) and limited express train (Kintetsu Kyoto Line)
  • Fare: US$7 (720 yen) vs US$11 (1160 yen) one way
  • Duration: 45 minutes vs 35 minutes
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered for JR Nara Line

Day 16: Hiroshima

It is time to move on to Hiroshima on Day 16 of the Japan 3-week itinerary. 

Exploring Hiroshima will bring a sense of new hope and great resilience to any visitors after knowing that this historic city was once in severe ruins due to the World War II atomic bombing that took place about 76 years ago. 

Things To Do In Hiroshima

Here are some of the main highlights to visit in Hiroshima during your Japan 3 weeks itinerary: 

  • Visit Peace Memorial Museum Over here you will get to see the chronology of the bombing and the devastating effect of this significant event on the city and human lives back in 1945. Some of the exhibits and recordings from the atomic bomb survivors might be upsetting to the visitors.  
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  • Visit Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims – This arched monument serves as the tomb for the demised atomic bomb victims. You can find more than two hundred thousand victim’s names on the register of the chest stone beneath the arch.  
  • Have a stroll at Shukkeien Garden If you can’t get enough of another tranquil Japanese landscape garden, you will have to make your way to Shukkeien Garden. Tea houses are built around the pond allowing visitors to admire the calm, serene view that this unique garden offers.  
  • Enjoy the stunning city view at Hiroshima Castle Hiroshima Castle was recently rebuilt as it was thoroughly destroyed during World War II. You can enjoy the scenic panoramic city view from the castle’s top floor. 

Where To Stay In Hiroshima

Here are the recommended accommodations in Hiroshima during your Japan 3-week visit: 

What To Eat In Hiroshima

  • Hiroshima Okonomiyaki

This savoury dish is native to Hiroshima. It might look similar to Osaka’s version of okonomiyaki but with 2 major differences.

Instead of mixing all the raw ingredients in a batter, the ingredients are fried in layers. Plus, you can find yakisoba noodles in Hiroshima Okonomiyaki.

Of course, you will need to head over to Okonomimura Building to enjoy this local delicacy!

  • Tsukemen

Instead of being served in a hot bowl of soup, Tsukemen is the dry version of ramen.

The noodle is eaten with a spicy dipping sauce on another bowl and you get to choose your preferred spiciness level. 

Bakudanya is the place that you need to visit for a bowl of Tsukemen in Hiroshima. 

How To Get To Hiroshima

To get to Hiroshima from Kyoto, you can take:

  1. Shinkansen
  • Operator: JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Fare: US$100 (11000 yen) for Hikari, Kodama, Sakura trains vs US$105 (11500 yen) for Nozomi train
  • Duration: 2 hours (Indirect) vs 95 minutes (Direct)
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered only for Hikari, Kodama and Sakura trains

Day 17: Miyajima

Make your way to this small yet fascinating island, Miyajima, on Day 17 of Japan 3-week itinerary.

Apart from being one of the IG-famous areas in Japan attributed to the giant floating torii gate, Miyajima has several historical highlights to boast to fellow visitors too—not to forget its local appetising cuisine!

Things To Do In Miyajima

These are the popular places to visit in Miyajima:

  • Visit Itsukushima Shrine and its floating torii gate – Head over to this century-old Shinto shrine and visit its famous torii gate. Remember to check on the sea tides timing if you plan to admire the torii gate up close.

Note: The floating torii gate is under renovation from 2019 and set to complete in 2022. 

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  • Enjoy the high-up view at Mount Misen – Hike up to the highest mountain in Miyajima to enjoy the magnificent view of the sea and part of Hiroshima. If you are not into hiking, you can also board the ropeway to get to the observation platform for the sea view. 
  • Explore Daisho-in Temple – Make your way to one of the important Buddhist temples in the country. You can perform an easy Buddhist ritual by turning the inscription-filled wheels when walking up the stairs. 
  • Admire the wooden structure of Senjokaku Hall – Admire the ancient wooden architecture of 400-year old Senjokaku Hall. Its five-storey pagoda is even more stunning, with at least 600 years of history. If you love looking at centuries-old monuments, you will need to visit Senjokaku.  

Guided Tours In Miyajima

To have an additional layer of extraordinary Miyajima travel experience, you can sign up: 

Where To Stay In Miyajima

You can choose to have a day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima or stay for a night on this beautiful shrine island to experience its peaceful nightlife. 

Here are some recommended places to stay in Miyajima in your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

Note: If you are interested in watching the dazzling daily illumination of Itsukushima Shrine from a boat cruise, approach your ryokan for reservation. Alternatively, you can enjoy the view by having an evening walking along the trails.  

What To Eat In Miyajima

  • Anago

This saltwater eel is one of the seafood that you need to try in Hiroshima. It is usually grilled and served with rice (anago-meshi) and soy sauce. 

You can get a bowl of freshly prepared anago-meshi at this traditional restaurant, Ueno

  • Oyster

Oysters are a big deal in Miyajima. Thanks to the many oyster farms on this island, you can see stalls selling grilled, fried, or fresh oysters literally everywhere. 

One of the best places in Miyajima to get your hands on oyster meals is Yakigaki No Hayashi.

How To Get To Miyajima

To get to Miyajima from Hiroshima (pier nearby A-Bomb Dome), you can board: 

  1. Ferry
  • Operator: Aqua Net 
  • Fare: US$33 (3600 yen) two-way
  • Duration: 45 minutes

Day 18: Kurashiki

It is time to travel to Kurashiki on Day 18 of your Japan 3-week itinerary

This hidden gem is characterised by the presence of white walls of the traditional houses and a row of gracefully flowing willow trees lining along the canal that has been built since the Edo Period.  

If you prefer to explore less touristy yet highly cultural places in Japan, you will be glad to include Kurashiki in your Japan itinerary. 

Things To Do In Kurashiki

Here are the main highlights to visit in Kurashiki: 

  • Have a boat cruise along Kurashiki River – This iconic landmark of Kurashiki is unmissable. You can enjoy a traditional wooden boat cruise along the river with a picturesque view of willow trees and traditional residences. Head over to the Kurashikikan Tourist Information Service to get the boat ticket. 
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  • Admire magnificent artworks at Ohara Museum of Art – Being the first Western art museum in the country, you will get to see numerous priceless European artworks including Picasso’s.

You can easily distinguish this extraordinary museum from other buildings by looking at its cross-culture architecture between Grecian and Japanese styles.  

  • Museum-hopping around the city – Depending on your preference, there are lots of museums to visit in Kurashiki exhibiting different and unique items, such as rural Japanese toys, prehistoric artefacts, and folk crafts.
  • Get your sake dose at century-old Jizake Dotemori – Head over to this historical liquor store specialising in sake and beer in Kurashiki since the 1920s. 
  • Explore Kurashiki Ivy Square – Visit Japan’s first cotton mill in this square. You can also visit the Kurabo Museum that maps out the mill history and related artefacts that are collected over the years since 1888.
  • Denim shopping at Kojima Jeans Street – Explore Japan’s jeans capital birthplace for some jeans related apparel shopping—even international designers visit this place to get a piece of the denim too! 

Where To Stay In Kurashiki

Here are some recommended places to stay for a night in Kurashiki during your Japan 3-week itinerary: 

How To Get To Kurashiki

To get to Kurashiki from Hiroshima, you can board:

  1. Shinkansen and transfer to the local train
  • Operator: JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen & Sanyo Line 
  • Fare: US$79 (8650 yen) & US$3 (330 yen)
  • Duration: 1.5 hours & 20 minutes 
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered only for Sakura trains

Day 19: Himeji

The Japan 3-week itinerary has almost come to an end. Spend Day 19 of your Japan itinerary at Himeji! 

Himeji is home to UNESCO site Himeji Castle, a spectacular 400-year old Japanese castle that survived any natural or man-made catastrophes. 

Nevertheless, there is more to this culturally rich city than the beautiful white castle—including breathtaking scenic views of mountains and scrumptious dishes that are native to Himeji.

Things To Do In Himeji

Here are several main highlights in Himeji that you can include in your 3 weeks Japan itinerary: 

  • Explore Himeji Castle – Admire this White Heron Castle’s ancient architecture and interior design. You can also enjoy the beautiful panoramic view of the city from the top floor of one of the most celebrated castles in Japan. If you are looking for a great hanami spot, Himeji Castle is going to be your best bet. 
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  • Have a stroll in Kokoen Garden while enjoying the garden view – Have a stroll in Kokoen Garden located next to Himeji Castle. You can also enjoy having a tea session in one of the garden’s teahouses while admiring the view of the trees, flowers, and the fish pond. 
  • Wander around picturesque Mount Shosha – You can visit some of the historical, intricate wooden temple halls such as Maniden (Engyoji Temple) and Mitsuno Do in Mount Shosha.

If the Mitsuno Do halls look familiar to you, that’s because Mount Shosha is a famous shooting location for both local and international films—The Last Samurai was shot over here too!

  • Museum-hopping at Himeji – If spending time inside a museum admiring the artist’s artworks and unusual collection is more like your thing, head over to Himeji City Museum of Art and Japan Toy Museum. The toy museum has an impressive collection of over ninety thousand toys. 

Guided Tours In Himeji

If you would like to learn Himeji’s interesting history and culture in depth under national-licensed local guide, you can consider signing up:

Where To Stay In Himeji

Here are some recommended places for a night stay in Himeji

What To Eat In Himeji

  • Chanpoyaki

Chanpoyaki is Himeji’s version of okonomiyaki

The base ingredients of this local dish are yakisoba and yaki udon. It is cooked with soy sauce before topped with a generous amount of spring onion on the dish. 

You can head over to Tonton to try on this unique version of okonomiyaki. 

  • Takoyaki 

Himeji also has its own version of takoyaki.

Apart from drizzling the sauce on the takoyaki, you will be given a bowl of dashi soup too to dip on! 

To get a taste of this unique dish, head over to Himeji Tacopy located inside Himeji Grand Festa.

How To Get To Himeji

To get to Himeji from Hiroshima, you can take: 

  1. Shinkansen
  • Operator: JR Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Fare: US$73 (8000 yen) one way
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered only for Kodama and Sakura trains

Day 20-21: Osaka

Now you have come to the last leg of the Japan 3-week itinerary. 

Spend Day 20 and 21 of your Japan itinerary at this dazzling, neon light-filled metropolitan city—Osaka! 

A modern city that has its own charm, Osaka boasts its ancient historical monuments, appetising local cuisines, vibrant nightlife, and friendly locals—making it a must-visit city for any first-time international visitor.

Things To Do In Osaka

To know more in-depth about things to do and navigating around the city, you can check out my detailed 1 Day Itinerary Osaka

Here are some of the main highlights to go when you are in Osaka: 

  • Explore Osaka Castle – Learn more about this ancient castle’s history where it was first built in 1583. It is also a popular hanami spot in Osaka. 
  • Admire the panoramic city view at Abeno Harukas – Enjoy the unobstructed panoramic view of this megalopolitan city at the top of the tallest skyscraper in the country. 
  • Visit Shitennoji Temple – Explore one of the oldest temples in Japan and admire the beautiful traditional temple architecture. 
  • Have a feast at Kuromon Market – Immerse yourself into the local culture by trying out the scrumptious street foods and delicacies sold by local vendors in Kuromon Market. 
  • Explore Shinsekai – One of the best places to enjoy cheap kushikatsu and beer in Osaka. You can also visit Tsutenkaku Tower to enjoy the city view from another different angle. 
  • Wander around Amerika-Mura – Check out Osaka youth’s fashion culture and apparel in this youth-inspired shopping district.
  • Experience the nightlife at Dotonbori – This is where you get to see the IG-famous neon-lighted Glico Running Man in Osaka! Make sure you fill your tummy with the mouth-watering Japanese cuisine in Dotonbori before concluding your Japan itinerary. 
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Guided Tours In Osaka

If you would like to explore Osaka with the help of friendly and knowledgeable local guides, consider signing up:

Where To Stay In Osaka

Here are some recommended accommodation places to stay during your visit to Osaka:

What To Eat In Osaka

  • Kushikatsu

Kushikatsu is the local’s favourite skewered deep-fried food. There are different types of kushikatsu options available, such as prawns, mushrooms, or even strawberries!

To get your fair share of kushikatsu in Osaka, head over to Kushikatsu Daruma.

  • Fugu

Fugu or Japanese blowfish is one of the top dishes that you need to try in Osaka.

Only prepared by a licensed fugu chef, you can enjoy fugu as sashimi or being deep-fried or grilled. 

Guepin Fugu is the place that you need to visit for a fugu delicacy in this bustling city. 

How To Get To Osaka

To get to Osaka from Himeji, you can take: 

  1. Shinkansen
  • Operator: JR Sanyo Shinkansen
  • Fare: US$32 (3500 yen) one way
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Japan Rail (JR) pass: Covered only for Hikari, Kodama, and Sakura trains (Not Nozomi)

So here you go—an exciting city-hopping across the country and a fun-filled Japan 3-week itinerary! 

On the next day, you can choose to fly out of the country from Osaka’s international airports or board a shinkansen to Tokyo’s airport instead. 

Is 3 Weeks Enough In Japan

If you are planning to explore and immerse yourself into the different unique cultures of Japan, staying 3 weeks in Japan is definitely enough to do so.

As shown in this article, you can visit up to 12 equally mesmering Japanese cities and visit their respective highlights, including century-old temples, beautiful castles, tranquil natural splendours, mouthwatering cuisines, and so much more—there is always something pleasant for everyone!

How Much Money do i need For 3 Weeks In Japan

There is no doubt that Japan is among the most expensive South Asian countries to travel around. 

Nevertheless, you can still travel to Japan with a minimal or mid-range budget—provided that you have done the price comparison and pre-book the accommodation and train tickets before reaching Japan. 

Here is the estimated average daily budget for low budget, mid-range, and luxury travellers for 21 days in Japan:

RangeAccommodationTransportationFoodActivitiesAverage Daily Budget
Low Budget$20-$45$29$15$0-$5$85
Mid-Range$70-$90$32$25$10$170
LuxuryAbove $150$50$50Above $15$340

Note: All the estimated prices are in USD currency and for 1 person expenditure only. The figures shown do not include flight tickets, souvenirs, and other miscellaneous spending. 

So in short, you can expect to fork out at least US$1800 for a Japan 3-week itinerary trip.

1. Accommodation

You can find a hostel for as low as US$20 per night in a smaller city or rural town or US$45 per night in a metropolitan city such as Tokyo. 

If having a good night sleep is what you prefer when travelling, you can easily find a mid-range budget private room for about US$70 to US$90 per night

For better hotel amenities with bigger room space, expect to spend at least US$150 per night

You can also get a futon bed at the Japanese styled inn or ryokan, for as low as $45 per night to a whopping US$500 per night. Most of the ryokans offer breakfast and dinner to their guests. 

Note: To check on the different types of accommodation that suit your travel budget, you can surf Booking.com. 

Alternatively, you can also opt for shukubo (temple lodgings) where you get to stay at the temple ground and experience the simple life of Buddhist practitioners. 

Typically, a night at shukubo will cost around US$60 to US$100

2. Transportation

One of the money-saving travel passes you need to get for your Japan 3-week itinerary is the JR pass. This pass will save you at least US$150 as compared to getting individual train tickets. 

JR pass allows international visitors to travel between cities at a shorter time interval by boarding shinkansen—which means more time to cover the visiting areas!

Note: The pass is also valid on JR buses and JR ferries. 

A 3-week JR pass will cost around US$564. To put your mind at ease, you can book the pass before flying into the country and get it directly at the JR Rail Office once you land. 

Allocate another US$100 for other modes of transportation such as public buses and subways

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3. Food

Japan is a food haven even if you are not a foodie. 

If you plan to indulge in the local cuisine without breaking the bank, you can visit the local food markets and neighbourhood restaurants

A serving of takoyaki is typically sold at US$5 whereas a bowl of ramen will cost about US$9

Of course, you can splurge on trying premium food such as Kobe beef or for the great ambience in a fancy restaurant during your 3 weeks Japan visit. 

As such, expect to fork out at least US$200 in exchange for the unique dining experience. 

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4. Activities and Entrance Fees

If you are on a low travel budget exploring Japan, you can visit the free entrance attractions such as temples, museums, and gardens. 

You can allocate at least US$250 for this category for your upcoming Japan 3 weeks trip if you want to delve into the fascinating Japanese culture and history through local guided tours. 

Best Time To Visit Japan

Japan has 4 seasons, offering distinct and unique travel experiences to visitors. 

Each season has its pros and cons. Depending on your travel budget and individual preference, you can refer to the season guide below before planning a trip to Japan: 

Spring (March to May)

If you plan to admire the beautiful pink blossoms of cherry trees while exploring Japan, you will need to visit the country in the spring season. 

However, Japan’s travel in this season is also the busiest and the most expensive month to be. 

Most of the accommodations will be fully booked and some popular hanami spots will be overcrowded with local and international tourists too. 

Summer (June to August)

Summer in Japan is hot and humid, not to forget it is a rainy season too. 

Typhoons are also prevalent in the summer. 

If you prefer to visit the major attractions with lesser crowds, you can consider travelling to Japan in the summer. 

Autumn (September to November)

Another stunning and peak season to visit Japan is during the autumn—to watch the mesmerising fall foliage with the bright red, orangey maple leaves view spanning across the street or park. 

So get your room and entrance tickets booked (to save yourself time from queuing) in advance before visiting Japan. 

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Winter (December to February)

Winter is the least touristy season in Japan due to its low temperature and cold weather. 

Accommodation is also the cheapest in winter and you get to visit the major attraction places without large crowds. 

Remember to have a fantastic onsen session at a local ryokan or public onsen during this chilly season in Japan.

Unique Tips You Should Know When Visiting Japan

Language 

Japan’s official language is Japanese. Most Japanese people do not speak fluent English. 

Nevertheless, there are plenty of signs available in the major places of attractions making navigating around the places or getting around are less of a hassle.

Internet Connectivity 

Getting a local SIM card might come in handy when you need Google Translate or looking for directions to explore outside of the city. 

Alternatively, you can rent a portable wifi device that can be connected to up to 5 mobile phones at the same time—a better option if you are travelling to Japan in a group of people. 

Plug Socket Type 

Bring along a universal adapter before visiting the country. You can get the travel adapter here

Tipping Etiquette

It is not compulsory to tip in restaurants or eateries in Japan. 

Eating Etiquette

Remember to have a seat when you are having any meal, regardless of the meal size. It is deemed rude in Japanese culture to move around or stand while eating.

Also, it is prudent not to shove your chopsticks upright into the bowl of rice. 

Brace yourself to explore some of Japan’s famous iconic landmarks with hundreds of tourists flocking to the same place. 

If you would like to skip the crowd, you can plan your visit either in the early morning or late evening. 

Body Tattoos

Body tattoos are still a sensitive subject and taboo to date in Japan. 

Certain ryokan and public bathhouses refrain entry to tattooed visitors, including the locals.

Fret not—you can still look for the bathhouses or hot springs that allow the entry of visitors with tattoo(s). 

Toilets In Japan

Toilets in Japan’s major cities are so advanced and hi-tech that you might find it overwhelming looking for the correct flushing button on the panel.

To prevent you from hyperventilating and freaking out in the washroom, here are some crucial Japanese toilet vocab to get familiar with: 

  • 小 : refers to the “small” flush
  • 大 : refers to the “big” flush
  • 音 : a rhythm or music will be played when this button is pressed (to create a sound distraction so that you can answer the nature’s call freely in the cubicle without feeling embarrassed) 

Travel Insurance 

Get travel insurance for yourself before leaving for Japan. You can buy one from World Nomads. 

Additional Resources For Planning Japan Itinerary 3 Weeks

If you would like to know more on how to plan a trip to Japan or study its culture before flying over, below are some recommended books for you:

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Conclusion: 3 Weeks Itinerary Japan 

Here you go—a comprehensive Japan 3-week itinerary that you can rely on for your upcoming Japan trip. 

Japan is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. 

Filled with stunning temples and shrines, lovely Japanese gardens, mesmerising sights of magnificent mountains and hot springs, and not to forget a wide range of mouth-watering local cuisine, there are plenty of interesting things to do within 3 weeks in Japan that you might want to extend another week to continue exploring the country!

Let me know in the comment section below if you have been to Japan, or if you have any recommendations in terms of attractions that I missed out on; I would love to hear from you. 

And remember to save this article or share it with your loved ones who are planning a trip to this fascinating country!

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