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Japanese Places To Visit For First-Timers in Japan | One Week Japan Itinerary For First Timers!

Top Cities To Visit In Japan

Are you planning a trip to Japan for the first time? We have curated a one week Japan itinerary for first timers along with some additional Japanese places to visit for an extended trip for first timers. Check it out!

Japan is an island country in the northwest Pacific ocean and is one of the most beautiful places in East Asia. The country has a lot to offer like food, culture and definitely the city life experience. Japanese cities are similar to any other city but different in their own graceful way. 

With a great number of skyscrapers, neon street lighting and the livewire crowd, Japanese cities find their ways in their rich cultural heritage, food, experiences, technology as well as pop culture. 

You’ll find numerous temples, shrines, high-end restaurants, Izakaya, tech buildings and a lot more in different Japanese cities. Each city has its own way of culture, food and experiences which is literally the best part about visiting these Japanese places. I’ve added all these great places in the One Week Japan Itinerary For First Timers below!

I have been in Japan for a good part of my life and I’ve never been tired of exploring these unique places to visit in Japan. I was taken aback while exploring these cities and experiencing so many different experiences that are a part of one entity. 

The most famous city that’s known around the world is definitely, Tokyo which is the capital of the country. But there’s so much more to Japan that is yet to be explored by normal tourists. So, the next time you visit Japan, don’t just stop in Tokyo. 

Here is the list of the best Japanese city to visit that you’d absolutely love!

Best Japanese city to visit: Quick Summary

Best Japanese city to visitBest For
Tokyounique pop culture, historic remains, fashion sense, Izakayas and high-end restaurants
KyotoHistorical sites, zen gardens, traditional teahouses, cafes and bars
HiroshimaWWII bombing site, gardens and castles, Miyajima island
OsakaTakoyaki and okonomiyaki food, Osaka castle, Osaka History Museum, Osaka aquarium 
KobeReligious buildings, mountain as well as water view, nightlife, cafe, bars
YokohamaForeign crowd, port city, jazz music, uncrowded city
SendaiSendai castle, tanabata matsuri, badlands, gardens

One Week Japan Itinerary For First Timers

Are you ready to explore everything that Japan has to offer? Make your first trip to Japan an unforgettable experience with this one-week itinerary! Whether you’re interested in the imposing skyscrapers of Tokyo or the ancient temples of Kyoto, you’ll discover plenty of interesting places as you make your way through the country.

Spend Days 1 and 2 in Tokyo

To kick off your journey, spend your first few days in the bustling city of Tokyo. No doubt, you’ll be mesmerized by its endless attractions, from the sprawling Shibuya shopping district to the stately Meiji Shrine. 

One Week Japan Itinerary For First Timers
Meiji Shrine

Along the way, sample some of the world-renowned Japanese cuisine, like tempura and sushi. While you’re there, be sure to check out the observatory decks of the imposing Tokyo Skytree which provides stunning views of the city.

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Tokyo Sky Tree

Once you’ve explored the lights of Tokyo, move on to Kissho-in, with its impressive Nikko National Park and numerous temples. Enjoy the captivating scenery of the forested mountains, hike up along the trails, and take a dip in the hot springs. 

Spend Day 3 in Osaka

After spending several days outdoors in nature, fly south to Osaka, a city with a unique blend of culture, shopping, and entertainment. 

When in Osaka, explore the vibrant Dotonbori area for food, shows, and nightlife or take a leisurely stroll along the quaint streets of Minami. Don’t forget to drop by the famous Shuri Castle too!

Spend Days 4 and 5 in Kyoto

From Osaka, make your way west to Kyoto and its myriad of delights. Revel in the beauty of the Fushimi Inari Shrine and its hundreds of majestic red gates, or explore the many attractions around the Philosopher’s Path. 

Philospher’s path in Kyoto

Visit the cobblestoned streets of Gion—the city’s historic geisha district—and witness the stunning architecture of the stunning Kiyomizu-dera Temple. 

Spend Day 6 in Nagasaki 

After a few days of sightseeing, take the bullet train to Nagasaki, the charming harbor city in the southwest of Japan.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of its cobbled streets, unspoiled coastline, and the imposing mountains of the Shimabara Peninsula. While you’re there, marvel at the colorful mosaics of the Dutch Slope, which provides a glimpse of the city’s historical heritage.

Spend Day 7 in Okinawa Islands

Last but not least, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the deep blue depths of the world-renowned Okinawa Islands. Whether you opt to go diving among the colorful marine life or taking a leisurely walk through the tropical jungle, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. 

This one-week itinerary through Japan is sure to leave you with a plethora of unforgettable memories. Explore the bustling cityscapes, breathtaking natural beauty, and fascinating culture.  To make sure you never forget your first visit to Japan, be sure to pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

More Japanese Cities and Places To Visit For An Extended Trip

Tokyo 

Best Japanese city to visit for unique pop culture

best Japanese city to visit
Source: Unsplash

Tokyo is definitely the best Japanese city to visit if you wanna experience a city full of skyscrapers, unique pop culture, historic remains, admirable fashion sense and definitely the most number of Japanese restaurants and Izakayas. 

Tokyo is an expensive city but worth it as the lifestyle is quite different from other cities in the world. There are almost 40 million people living in the city making it one of the best cities in Japan to live in. 

You can get the old styled vibes here when you go visit Izakayas. There are various Michelin star restaurants that you can try the best Japanese cuisine at. There are also a lot of shopping malls and streets where you can shop your heart out. Tokyo has my heart for what it is!

Related: Japan Love Hotels

Kyoto

Best Japanese city to visit for historical sites

Source: Shutterstock

Kyoto was the capital of Japan before Tokyo and is definitely the best Japanese city to visit because of its rich cultural history. Kyoto is extremely modern yet has the most beautiful historic sites in Japan. 

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Kyoto doesn’t only have cultural sites but also is a hub for all the spiritual places. You’ll find over two thousand shrines and temples in this city. There are also many Zen gardens located in this area. One of the most amazing things to visit in Kyoto is the traditional teahouses. 

Not only that, Kyoto has the most amazing cafes and bars. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Japan that I’ve visited!

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Hiroshima

Best Japanese city to visit for atomic bombing remains from WWII

Source: Shutterstock

Hiroshima is one of the most popular cities in Japan because of the infamous atomic bombing from World War II. You can visit the memorial and learn about the history. There are also old-styled gardens and castles to explore. 

Hiroshima brought back a lot of memories when I visited the place as I had only heard stories from my grand dad earlier. You can also visit Miyajima, a neighbouring island that is very beautiful. 

Hiroshima is the best Japanese city to visit if you’re interested in history and cultural heritages. 

Related: Best Things To Do In Saitama, Japan

Osaka

Best Japanese city to visit for Japanese food

Source: Shutterstock

Osaka is the best Japanese city to visit if you’re a foodie. Osaka used to be the first capital of Japan and is the third largest city as well. The city is nicknamed as Tenka no Daidokoro which means nation’s kitchen.

In Osaka, you can try the authentic takoyaki as well as okonomiyaki which is nothing less than delicious. It has a population of 2.7 million people. Do visit Osaka aquarium which is one of the best sites in the city. It falls in one of the top 15 places to visit in Japan.

Osaka History Museum is also one of the top places to visit in the city which offers great learning about Osaka and it’s cultural significance. Osaka Castle has a mesmerizing view that’s located near the museum itself. 

Related: 15 Best Things To Do In Kochi, Japan

Kobe

Best Japanese city to visit for religious affairs

Source: Shutterstock

Kobe is the best Japanese city to visit that has both a hillside as well as water view. It’s located between Mount Rokko and the port of Kobe. Kobe has religious buildings of all the important religions in the area. 

Kobe also has one of the most exciting nightlife in Japan with numerous cafes and bars to explore. It’s one of my favorite places as I’m a religious person who loves cafes and bars. The view of the city is another great thing about it. 

Yokohama

Best Japanese city to visit for foreign crowd

Source: Shutterstock

Yokohama is just about thirty minutes away from Tokyo and is one of the most amazing places to visit in Japan. Yokohama’s bay is one of the most touristy spots in the city. You can take a train from Tokyo station and reach in about 20 minutes. 

Yokohama is also home to a huge foreign community and you can definitely find cuisines from around the world here. Yokohama is not crowded and is a very well maintained place. It’s the best Japanese city to visit and is also one of the American friendly places in Japan.

Sendai

Best Japanese city to visit for Tanabata Matsuri festival

japan places
Source: Shutterstock

Sendai is one of the amazing places to visit if you like cultural festivals. The annual festival of Tanabata Matsuri is one of the main reasons why people visit this city in the month of July. You can also visit Sendai for it’s enormous castles and gardens. 

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Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region that will make you experience the badlands of the city. It’s culture is very significant and is one of the best places to settle in Japan. Sendai is located in Miyagi prefecture. 

The 17th century historic remains in Sendai castle are worth visiting. Do visit Sendai if you’re interested in Samurai history as it’s perfect for that. 

Sapporo

Best Japanese city to visit for Tanabata Matsuri festival

Best Japanese city to visit
Source: Shutterstock

Sapporo is located on Hokkaido island and is one of the coolest cities in Japan to visit. It has laid back European style architecture. It’s extremely popular for skiing and the annual Sapporo Snow Festival that takes place in the month of February over a seven days time period. 

Sapporo is also very famous for beer and has a lot of cool bars to explore. Sapporo Odari Park and TV tower are one of the main tourist attractions here. I loved this city as it’s well planned, has a great nightlife and amazing shopping malls for shopaholics. 

Which is the best Japanese city to visit?

I’ve visited many Japanese cities but the best Japanese city to visit is Osaka because of its cultural heritage, food as well as the city view. 

Osaka is known to be a foodie’s town. Osaka used to be the first capital of Japan and is the third largest city as well. The city is nicknamed as Tenka no Daidokoro which means nation’s kitchen. In Osaka, you can try the authentic takoyaki as well as okonomiyaki. Do visit Osaka aquarium as well as Osaka History Museum which offers great learning about Osaka and it’s cultural significance. Osaka Castle has a mesmerising view that’s located near the museum itself. 

Things To Keep In Mind When Planning Your Trip to Japan

When it comes to planning a trip to Japan, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • First and foremost, it is important to be prepared for the culture shock you might experience. People from around the world flock to Japan’s modern cities and experience the many facets of its culture, from the traditional tea ceremonies to the classic sushi bars. There are plenty of unique experiences to be had, so it’s important to remember to keep an open mind and be willing to explore. 
  • When it comes to budgeting for your trip, it’s always wise to do some research beforehand. Japan’s cities are expensive and can strain a budget, so check online for budget-friendly accommodations and sites. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, for example, look for hotels that are closer to train stations or away from the bustling downtown area. Also, try to find discount coupons for local attractions and restaurants to keep your spending in check. 
  • Transportation is another factor to consider when planning a trip to Japan. The country has numerous well-connected railways, making it easy to get around the major cities. Some trains have both regular and reserved seats, so be sure to reserve the seats you need in advance. Additionally, consider buying a Japan Rail Pass, which allows you to use all types of JR trains including shinkansen (bullet trains).
  • Additionally, make sure to pack the proper attire for your trip. Different cities will require different kinds of attire, so be mindful of the local customs. For example, walking around in shorts and flip-flops are not acceptable in some cities, especially Kyoto and Osaka. Usually, conservative clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and trousers are best for most places. 
  • Before you go, it’s also important to brush up on local etiquette. Depending on where you go, you’ll find different customs and manners. Japanese people place a great deal of emphasis on politeness and respect, so make sure to demonstrate proper respect and deference. That means removing your shoes in someone’s house, offering and receiving things with both hands, and bowing upon introduction. 
  • Japan can be a truly enjoyable and enriching experience. As long as you prepare yourself and come with an open mind, you’ll have a great time visiting the cities of Japan. Remember to be mindful of the local customs and etiquette, budget accordingly, and you’ll be sure to have a fantastic time exploring the wonders of this country.

Best Japanese City to Visit: FAQs

What is the most visited city in Japan?

The most visited city in Japan is definitely Tokyo as it’s the capital of the country. Tokyo also has popular destinations to explore. You can also visit Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku which are the most famous districts in Tokyo. 

What is the coolest city in Japan?

Sapporo is a laid back city that has European styled architecture. Kamakura is another cool city with a modern metropolis and has an old charm.

Amazing Japanese Cities 

The above listed Japanese cities to visit are the best of Japan’s tourism and a must visit for different reasons. You should definitely put them in your list if you’re looking for a worthy tour of Japan. 

Happy Holidays, cheers!

Written by Ava Sato

Hiya! I'm the main author of Japan Truly. I love everything Japan and love testing out Japanese products, be it skincare and makeup or gadgets! You'll find reviews of some of the best selling Japanese products (tried and tested) right here!

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