First time Japan itinerary 12 days - Strolling Adventures
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First time Japan itinerary 12 days

First time Japan itinerary 12 days

First time Japan itinerary 12 days

 Planning our first time Japan itinerary 

Our flights were booked to arrive in Kansai and depart from Tokyo. For our first time Japan trip itinerary, we decided on 12 days. We split the time into Kyoto 4 nights, Tokyo 5 nights and our last night at an airport hotel. We left 2 nights to explore somewhere in between the two cities. Eventually, we decided to rent a car in Nagoya and drive into the mountainous region, spending the 2 nights in Takayama.

12 day Japan itinerary

We researched and made a list of everything that interested us, then separated it into must-see places and if there’s time. This way we got to see the places that were most important to us. There was only one planned sight we didn’t get to and it was due to me putting it on our arrival day. We did a lot of walking which allowed us to see lots of things along the way. Often we would be in the car or walking with the stroller and Fletcher would be sleeping, meaning we would just have to keep going in order for him to get the rest he needed. I think when travelling with children it’s important to plan ahead, but also be flexible and willing to just go with the flow. 

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Our final first time Japan itinerary for 12 days looked like this:

Each link will take you to that day’s trip report. View our other Japan itineraries 2014 trip and our 2016 trip.

Day 1: Kyoto

Arrival at Kansai International Airport and Haruka express train to Kyoto Station. After checking in at The Citadines Hotel, we walked to Nishiki Market. First time Japan itierary

Day 2: Kyoto and Nara

In the morning we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine and did the full loop up the mountain. The rest of the day was spent in NaraFirst time Japan itinerary

Day 3: Kyoto

A full day of walking in Kyoto. From the Citadines we walked to Kiyomizudera and then along the Philosophers Path to Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion). First time Japan itinerary Kyoto

Day 4: Kyoto

We got a bus to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and then took a tram to the Arashiyama area. In Arashiyama we visited Iwatayama Monkey Park, Tenruji Temple and the Bamboo Groves. Read full day 4 post here. First time Japan itinerary

Day 5: Rental car pick up & driving to Takayama

From Kyoto we got a shinkansen to Nagoya Station and picked up our rental car. We drove from Nagoya to Inuyama Castle and then onto our ryokan in Takayama. Japan itinerary Kyoto

Day 6: Driving to Shirakawa-go and a scenic road trip.

From Takayama, we drove to the world heritage village of Shirakawa-go.
After visiting the village and museum we drove along a nearby scenic road the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road.Japan itinerary shirakawago

Day 7: Takayama and onto Tokyo

After breakfast at the ryokan, we strolled around Takayama and went to the morning markets. We returned the rental car in Nagoya, then rode a shinkansen to Tokyo Station. From there we made our way to our hotel in Shinjuku. Japan itinerary Takayama

Day 8: Tokyo

We visited Tsukiji fish market at about 9 O’clock in the morning. From the market, we walked through Ginza and entered the showroom at the Sony building. We then visited areas Akihabara, Shibuya and Harajuku. Read full day 8 post here. Japan itinerary Tokyo

Day 9: Tokyo

It was Culture day in Japan. We went to the Odaiba area and had a bad lunchtime experience. A ride on the Ferris wheel lifted our mood and by the time we left Odaiba, it was getting dark. Odaiba Tokyo

Day 10: Tokyo

This day was a National holiday in observance for Culture Day. We visited Meiji shrine in the morning and then rested a little at the hotel as I wasn’t feeling well. In the afternoon we went to Sensoji temple and the National Science Museum in Ueno Park. Read full day 10 post hereFirst time Japan itinerary

Day 11: Tokyo

We had pre-booked tickets and spent the day at Tokyo Disneyland. Tokyo itinerary disneyland

Day 12: Tokyo and onto Narita

Our Last day in Tokyo was mostly spent in Akihabara and then rushing to get the Narita Express to stay in an airport hotel for the night before our morning flight out.

Japan itinerary Tokyo


Want to know everything we booked for our first family trip to Japan?

A list of all the things we booked for this first time Japan trip. Accommodation, Train cards, Disney Tickets, Rental Car and WiFi. Read it here.

  • Lynn Tan
    Posted at 03:11h, 12 February Reply

    hi! Was parking easy around Takayama? Which hotel/ ryokan did you stay in Takayama?

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