Ten days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Japan. Here’s a great Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka itinerary that will allow you to see the best places efficiently and easily.
Osaka and Kyoto 1-Week Itinerary Summary
- A good breakdown is 2 days in Tokyo, 4 in Kyoto, and 2 in Osaka, plus two travel days.
- You’ll probably fly via Tokyo (NRT or HND airports) but it’s also possible to do this via Kansai (KIX), with some minor reorganization.
- A 1-week Japan Rail Pass will save you money on this itinerary, especially if you use it correctly.
See below for full details.
- The biggest decision you must make is which city to visit first: Osaka or Kyoto? Here, we’ll suggest visiting Osaka first, but you could easily switch them around.
- Note that the two Osaka days here are a summary version of our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary. Visit our Osaka 2-Day Itinerary page for full details on those two days.
Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo
- You’ll most likely fly into either Narita International Airport (NRT) or Haneda International Airport (HND). See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for full transport details.
Day 2: Tokyo: Modern Tokyo/West Side
- 8:30am: Travel to Harajuku, using the JR Yamanote Line to Harajuku Station or the Chiyoda subway line to Meiji-Jingumae/Harajuku Station.
- 9:00am: Arrive in Harajuku and visit Meiji-jingu Shrine. Explore the shrine and then return to Harajuku Station then walk east on Omotesando. Continue east all the way to the superb Nezu Museum and do not forget to explore the sublime garden.
- 11:00am: Walk back to the intersection of Omotesando and Aoyama-dori and take the Ginza subway line west to Shibuya.
- 11:15am: Arrive in Shibuya and exit the station via the Hachiko exit and then cross the famous Shibuya Crossing. Explore the big department stores and boutiques of Shibuya.
- 1:00pm: Eat lunch somewhere in Shibuya. Don't forget that all the department stores in Shibuya have huge restaurant floors.
- 2.30pm: Take the Yamanote Line one stop south from Shibuya to Ebisu Station, then switch to the Hibiya Line subway and take that two stops east to Roppongi.
- 3:00pm: Arrive in Roppongi and walk west from Roppongi Station to the Roppongi Hills complex. Refuel with a cup of coffee there. Then, head up to the 52nd floor Tokyo City View observation deck of the Mori Tower to see the city.
- 6:00pm: Eat dinner in Roppongi.
- 8:00pm: If you still have any energy left, have a drink in one of Roppongi's many bars.
Day 2: Tokyo: Traditional Tokyo/East Side
- 9:00am: Head up to Asakusa. The Ginza subway line is a good way to get there from many parts of Tokyo. Asakusa is the spiritual heart of Tokyo and a good place to start your day. Visit Senso-ji Temple and nearby Asakusa-jinja Shrine.
- 10:30am: Take the Ginza subway line three stops west to Ueno.
- 11:00am: Arrive in Ueno. Take the exit for Ueno-koen Park and walk north across the park to the superb Tokyo National Museum. After visiting the museum, walk south to Tosho-gu Shrine and then make your way back to the station. As on Day 1, try to avoid eating lunch between noon and 1pm. Have a snack or a coffee to get your through.
- 1:00pm: Take the JR Yamanote Line south to Tokyo Station. Eat lunch in or around Tokyo Station. See the Tokyo Station Area Places to Eat section for my recommendations.
- 2:00pm: Check with the tourist information office in the basement of the Kitte Building to see what's on at the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum or the Bridgestone Museum of Art. If neither look good, walk over to the Imperial Palace East Garden and take a stroll.
- 3:00pm: Walk over to Ginza and do some late afternoon shopping.
- 4:00pm: Return to your hotel for a nap and a shower.
- 6:00pm: Eat dinner in an area like Shinjuku, Ginza, Marunouchi or someplace close to your hotel. See the relevant district pages for recommendations.
- 8:00pm: If you've still got the energy, go out for a drink in a place like Roppongi, Shinjuku or Shibuya. See the relevant district pages for recommendations.
Day 3: Travel to Osaka
- Take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka. If you’ve got a one-week Japan Rail Pass, this is the day to activate it. For details on the shinkansen trip between Tokyo and Osaka, see the How To Travel From Tokyo to Osaka page.
- Note that the trip between Tokyo and Osaka takes just a bit less than 3 hours, so you have time to do some sightseeing in Tokyo on this morning and some in Osaka this afternoon.
Day 4: Osaka: Osaka Bay Area and Kita District
- 9:30am: Travel to the Osaka Bay Area
- 10am: Visit Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)
- 11:30: Eat Lunch at Tempozan Marketplace
- 1pm: Travel from Osaka Bay Area to the Kita District
- 1:30pm: Explore the Kita District
- 3pm: Travel to the Osaka Castle Area
- 3:30pm: Visit Osaka Castle
- 6pm: Dinner in Kita, Minami or Central Osaka
Day 5: Osaka: Minami District and Tennoji
- 9:30: Travel to Minami
- 10am: Explore Minami
- Noon: Dotombori Area and Lunch
- 1:30pm: Visit Hozenji Yokocho
- 2:30pm: Walk through Doguyasuji Arcade
- 3:30pm: Visit Den-Den Town
- 5:30pm: Eat dinner in Minami
- 7:30pm: Check out the evening views from the Abeno Harukas 300 observation decks in Tennoji
Day 6: Kyoto: Travel to Kyoto and Explore Southern Higashiyama and Downtown
- 9am: Travel from Osaka to Kyoto. If necessary, either drop your luggage at your hotel or put it in the lockers or luggage storage office at Kyoto Station.
- 10am: Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
- 11am: Walk down Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka.
- Noon: Enter Shoren-in Temple and enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the garden.
- 1pm: Get on the Tozai Subway Line at Higashiyama Station and get off at Kyoto Shiyakushomae (downtown).
- 1:30pm: Eat lunch downtown and explore Nishiki Market and the food floor at nearby Daimaru Department Store.
- 3pm: Take the Keihan Line to Fushimi-Inari Station and walk to nearby Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine.
- Dusk: Return to your hotel and relax and freshen up. (For Kyoto hotel recommendations, see the Kyoto Hotels page).
- Evening: Eat dinner downtown, then walk over to Shimbashi in Gion and keep your eyes peeled for geisha.
Day 7: Kyoto: Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji and Daitoku-ji
- 8:30am: Head west to Arashiyama.
- 9:00am: Enter Tenryu-ji Temple.
- 10:00am: Leave Tenryu-ji Temple by the north gate and explore the Bamboo Forest for about half an hour.
- 10:30am: Leave the Bamboo Forest and enter Okochi-Sanso Villa.
- 11:30am: Leave Okochi-Sanso Villa and return to central Arashiyama. Eat a simple lunch of noodles or rice in one of the shokudo (simple eateries) on the main strip.
- 12:30pm: Take a taxi over to Kinkaku-ji Temple, the famed “Golden Pavilion” in Northwest Kyoto.
- 1:00pm: Explore Kinkaku-ji Temple.
- 2:00pm: Take a taxi down to Daitoku-ji Temple and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small subtemple there. Consider Koto-in Temple.
- 3:00pm: Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Shijo Station and enjoy a bit of shopping or café life.
- 4:00pm: Take a rest at your hotel.
- 6:00pm: Eat dinner downtown and then take an evening stroll on Pontocho Alley or on Kiyamachi-dori south of Shijo-dori.
Day 8: Kyoto: Kurama/Kibune and Northern Higashiyama
- Morning: Take a day trip to Kurama and Kibune (ideally, hike over the mountain from Kurama to Kibune).
- Afternoon: Visit the Northern Higashiyama area: Ginkaku-ji Temple, Honen-in Temple, the Path of Philosophy and Nanzen-ji Temple.
Day 9: Travel Back to Tokyo
- Return to Tokyo by shinkansen. You’ll likely arrive back in Tokyo with some time to do some last-minute sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
Day 10: Depart From Tokyo
- You’ll most likely fly out of Narita International Airport (NRT) or Haneda International Airport (HND). See our Tokyo Airport Transport page for full transport details.
Special Ticket Deals
- A 1-week Japan Rail Pass will save you some money on this trip. See our Japan Rail Pass: Is It Worth It? page for details.
- You might also save some money with a special 1-day transport pass in Osaka. See our Osaka Trains and Subways page for details.
- It’s important to stay somewhere central and convenient in each city in order to save time and money on transport
- See our Where to Stay in Osaka page for details on where to stay in Osaka.
- See our Where to Stay in Kyoto page for details on where to stay in Kyoto.
- See our Tokyo Hotels page for details on where to a careful selection of the best hotels in Tokyo.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Inside Osaka Google map:
- Open the Osaka map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Osaka Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Osaka guide
- Check Osaka accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Osaka
- View my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Get travel insurance for your Japan trip - book online with World Nomads