Planning a 1 month Japan itinerary is a lot of fun! But it can be intimidating as well. There is so much to do in Japan which makes it challenging to narrow down the choices. And if you are travelling to Japan for the first time, how do you decide where to go? Where do you start?
I travelled to Japan many times as a solo traveller and did a ton of research each time. I’ve filtered all the best things to do and put them together in an epic 1 month Japan itinerary. I’ll show you exactly how you can spend one month in Japan, including all the highlights of all the best cities between Tokyo and Hiroshima.
Keep reading and learn how you can travel efficiently, on a budget and see the best sights on your first trip to Japan.
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What you need to know before spending one month in Japan on your own
Before you start your Japan solo travel itinerary, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of travel information, including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
Here are a few additional tips for staying in Japan for a month:
- Japan is a safe country for solo female travellers.
- Japan’s official currency is the Japanese Yen (¥). Many places will only accept cash. You can get money from ATMs from convenience stores.
- The standard voltage in Japan is 100V. The power socket is type A & B. Check here to determine if you need to bring a travel adapter.
- At the start of your journey, buy a prepaid IC Card at the airport or any JR train station. Get a Pasmo or Suica card in Tokyo and use the same card across the country for most transportation, including the major routes for the suburban train, subway, bus, and other transportation as indicated.
1 month Japan itinerary from Tokyo to Hiroshima
My 1 month Japan itinerary starts in Tokyo and finishes in Hiroshima. You can see the glitziest cities, hot spring towns, art islands and some off-the-beaten-track cities during your 4 weeks in Japan. And along the way, you can sample the most delicious Japanese food, as different regions have different regional food.
Here is a quick summary of your 1 month in Japan:
- Day 1-6: Tokyo
- Day 7-8: Hakone
- Day 9-11: Osaka
- Day 12-15: Kyoto
- Day 16: Kobe
- Day 17: Himeji
- Day 18: Teshima
- Day 19: Naoshima
- Day 20: Kurashiki
- Day 21-23: Onomichi
- Day 24-26: Hiroshima
- Day 27: Miyajima
- Day 28: Depart from Hiroshima or Osaka
Day 1 – 6: Tokyo (6 days)
The best way to start your one month in Japan is by visiting Tokyo first. If you like the big city vibe, bright lights and fascinating things to see and do day and night, you will love Tokyo!
What to do in Tokyo
A trip to Tokyo must include a visit to all the different neighbourhoods. Visit Shinjuku to see the bright neon signs and Shinjuku Station, the world’s busiest train station. Take an Instagram photo at the Shibuya Crossing in Shibuya. Wander around the hipster neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa and browse for electronics in Akihabara. And you visit the famous Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa and see the glitzy shopping district of Ginza.
And for an off-the-beaten-path attraction, see hundreds of lucky cats at the birthplace of the lucky cat at Gotoku-ji. And for something low-key, browse through all the pedestrian streets of Omotesando, the boutique shops of Harajuku and the laidback neighbourhood of Kichijoji.
Even though there is a lot to see in Tokyo, you should venture outside of Tokyo and see other attractions as well. Kamakura and Nikko are both great destinations for day trips from Tokyo.
Where to stay in Tokyo
Landabout Tokyo is a modern and hip hotel for those who want a minimalist room and close to public transportation. The 3-star hotel is only 3 minutes from Uguisudani Station and 12 minutes from Ueno Station.
Day 7 – 8: Hakone (2 days)
Hakone is the hot spring region of Japan. While most visitors will take a day trip from Tokyo and visit Hakone for the day, the Hakone region has many things to do, and it is worth spending two days in the quaint little town.
What to do in Hakone
Go to Hakone-Yumoto Station, then take the Hakone Tozan Train to Gora. After, take the Hakone Tozan Cable Car to Sounzan. Then hop on the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani Valley. You can smell the sulphurous gas while on your way up to the top. At the top, you can also see Mount Fuji in the background.
Then after you descend Owakudani Valley, the pass includes a ride on the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise where you sail the length of Lake Ashinoko and disembark at Hakone-machi Port. Then you can explore the areas around Lake Ashinoko. Look for the Hakone Shrine where a large torii gate sits at the lake’s edge.
During your second day in Hakone, you have an option to use the free transport that is part of your Hakone 2 day Freepass and visit one or all of these places:
- Walk across Japan’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, Mishima Skywalk near Mishima
- Do some outlet shopping at Gotemba Premium Outlet
- See Odawara Castle in Odawara
Where to stay in Hakone
Accommodation in Hakone can be expensive, and budget accommodation options are just okay. However, experiencing traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring) at a Japanese Ryokan is a must when you are in Japan.
Ryokan Senkei is a traditional ryokan where you can experience traditional Japanese onsen on the premise. You can get a clean twin room at a reasonable price.
Money-saving tip: Purchase a Hakone 2-day Freepass (¥5,700), including train transportation from Shinjuku. The pass includes train travel from Tokyo to Hakone, eight types of transport within the Hakone region, and perks for some attractions in Hakone. If you buy the basic pass only (¥4,600), you will have to pay for the train, which costs between ¥1,520 to ¥4,010. Only buy the basic pass if you already have a JR Pass.
Day 9 – 11: Osaka (3 days)
Located in the Kansai Region, Osaka is one of the top-visited cities in Japan. With modern buildings, traditional temples, exciting nightlife and delicious local cuisine, Osaka is not to be missed during your month in Japan.
What to do in Osaka
Visiting Osaka must include a stroll through Osaka Castle and the surrounding park. While you are there, also visit Hozenji Temple and Osaka Tenmangū, which hold one of the top three festivals in Japan.
And the action-packed Namba area has everything you want in a big city. And Dōtonbori in Namba is full of bright lights, neon signs, takoyaki (octopus balls) stands, and okonomiyaki restaurants. Before leaving Namba, take a photo before the Glico Running Man sign.
Osaka is also a shopper’s paradise. You will find most of the stores in Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. The shopping street also has many restaurants, cafes, and even more restaurants when you venture off the main avenue.
Follow my 2 day Osaka itinerary and see the best attractions in the city. And on your third day in Osaka, take a day trip to Minoo Park or Koyasan.
Where to stay in Osaka
First Cabin Midosuji Namba
Staying near Namba is ideal for a short-term stay in Osaka. First Cabin Midosuji Namba is a modern capsule hotel, one of Japan’s best modern capsule hotel chains.
Book a business class cabin with a single bed, a side counter to put your valuable belongings and a mounted 26″ LCD tv above your bed. There is plenty of vertical space and a rolling curtain for more privacy.
Day 12 – 15: Kyoto (4 days)
During your one month in Japan, you must visit Kyoto, which was once the capital city of Japan. As one of the largest cities in Japan, there are many temples, shrines and zen gardens.
What to do in Kyoto
A visit to Kyoto must include Kinkaku-ji, Gion and Kyomizudera Temple! All of these places are quintessential to Kyoto. And not to mention spending half a day in Arashiyama marvelling at the Bamboo Grove and feeding the monkeys in the Monkey Park.
For all Instagrammers, photos at Fushimi Inari Shrine are a must. But don’t be intimidated by the crowd. Bonus tip: hike to the top where fewer tourists are photobombing your photos.
Because there is a lot to see, you can follow my 2-day Kyoto itinerary to see the best sights in just two days.
Where to stay in Kyoto
Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo
Book 4 nights at Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo, a modern Japanese hotel in Kawaramachi, the downtown area of Kyoto. Most attractions are within walking distance.
Money-saving tip: Kyoto is a big city, and walking to all the attractions may not be possible, especially in a tight time frame. Pick up a Kyoto City Bus One-day Pass at Kyoto Station so you can quickly hop into any subway and bus and visit all the sites within the same day.
Day 16: Kobe (1 day)
By now, you have visited all the big cities in Japan, like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. You will visit several off-the-beaten-path cities and art islands for the second half of your Japan one-month itinerary.
Next on the itinerary is Kobe. And when you hear the name Kobe, you will immediately think of Kobe beef. While the city is known for its delicious beef, there is plenty to see! Kobe is considered to be one of Japan’s most attractive cities!
What to do in Kobe
Trying Kobe beef is a must in Kobe! Many restaurants serve the local specialty, including Steakland and Wakkoqu. Each restaurant serves a variety of teppanyaki beef, one of the best ways to cook Kobe beef.
Spending one day in Kobe includes visiting Ikuta Shrine, Kobe City Museum, Kobe Port Tower and Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden. Then see all the different museums, or former mansions known as ljinkan, in Kitano-cho at the edge of Rokko Mountain.
Before you leave Kobe, a stroll through Nankin-machi (Kobe Chinatown) is necessary. And end your day by visiting Kobe Harbour.
Where to stay in Kobe
Candeo Hotels Kobe Tor Road
Stay one night at the Candeo Hotels Kobe Tor Road, a 4-star hotel with modern guest rooms and within walking distance to most attractions.
Money-saving tip: Trying Kobe beef in Kobe is a must! At Steakland, the lunch menu is much cheaper than the dinner menu and you get exactly the same thing. So if you are on a budget and want to try Kobe beef, definitely try the delicious beef at lunch instead of dinner.
Day 17: Himeji (1 day)
Himeji is one of the friendliest cities in Japan. The city is compact and small, and it is worth spending a day visiting all the best sites. And Himeji has one of Japan’s top three most beautiful castles and hidden zen temples in the mountains.
What to do in Himeji
Himeji Castle is one of the best attractions in Himeji. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the White Heron Castle, which has pristine white-plastered exterior walls that resembles a white heron in flight.
And you must visit a group of temples called Engyō-ji Temple which is hidden away in Mount Shosha just 20 minutes north of Himeji Castle. The forest surrounding Engyō-ji Temple has a peaceful atmosphere and a zen-like feel. It is an excellent spot for cherry blossom in spring and fall foliage in autumn.
Also, visit Koko-en Garden and one of the many museums in the city. You can see all of these attractions on the same day.
Where to stay in Himeji
Richmond Hotel Himeji
Stay one night at the Richard Hotel Himeji. It is close to the train station, so you can drop off your bag and start sightseeing right away.
Day 18: Teshima (1 day)
As the second-largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Teshima is full of contemporary art and design. Toxic waste was dumped illegally on the island before, but it has been cleaned up and transformed into an art destination.
What to do in Teshima
You can see all the sites in Teshima in one day. Teshima Yokoo House is a beautiful and colourful artwork gallery in an eclectic traditional house and exciting art installation in the silo. Les Archives du Coeur is a beachside gallery where space focuses on heartbeats. La Forêt des Murmures has 400 wind chimes in the forest that remind us about life and the passage of time. And also, check out Needle Factory and Teshima 8 Million Lab.
And most of all, you have to visit the Teshima Art Gallery. The actual installation is open to the air and nature on Mount Myojin. It resembles a water droplet as it hits the surface. When you enter the interior, the semi-open space feels calm and peaceful. It is one of the best art installations I have seen! Definitely not to be missed!
And biking around Teshima island is more efficient than walking as the attractions are a bit far from each other. Watch out for the steep hill as you approach Teshima Art Museum. Bike rental costs ¥1,000 for four hours (¥100 for an additional hour after that).
Where to stay in Teshima
Teshima has limited accommodation, so staying in Uno Port is a much better option. The Hym Hostel is a contemporary hostel in a renovated warehouse in Uno, close to Uno Station and Uno Ferry Port. It is an excellent accommodation choice for visiting both Teshima and Naoshima.
Day 19: Naoshima (1 day)
You can’t visit Teshima and not visit Naoshima! Naoshima is an island full of art, design, art installation, museums and everything else. If you love contemporary art or modern architecture and are a fan of Yayoi Kusama’s work or Tadao Ando’s architecture, you must visit Naoshima!
What to do in Naoshima
Get ready for a full day of contemporary art on Naoshima Island! First, start with seeing the modern artwork at the Chichu Art Museum. As you move closer to the coast, you will find the Benesse House Museum and Lee Ufan Museum. Part of the appeal of Naoshima is the outdoor art installations along the beach. Most notable is Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin. The Yellow Pumpkin was my inspiration for my solo trip to Japan!
And before you head back to the port to catch your ferry back to Uno, visit the Art House Project and Naoshima Bath (I Heart Yu). And snap a few photos of the Red Pumpkin for your Instagram!
You can walk or rent an electric bike to tour around Naoshima for the day. Walking is doable; you don’t have to worry about parking your bike.
If you choose to walk, walk anti-clockwise around the island and see the Chichu Art Museum first. The museum has specific timeslots and is quite busy, so book your ticket in advance.
Where to stay in Naoshima
There are a handful of accommodation options in Naoshima. But as I mentioned above, staying at Hym Hostel is an excellent option for visiting Teshima and Naoshima.
Day 20: Kurashiki (1 day)
Kurashiki is a scenic canal town with so much character. It was once part of a vital distribution route for Japan’s most valuable commodity, rice. Canals were built around the city to facilitate rice delivery to the nearby port towns. Today, the charming village has restored warehouses converted into shops and restaurants.
What to do in Kurashiki
Spend some time in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, where you will find picturesque canals and old typical Kurashiki shophouses along the canal. Also, visit Kurashiki Craft Work Village, a space for craft making and traditional Japanese tea ceremony and Kurashiki Monogatarikan, a tourism and cultural centre.
Other Kurashiki highlights include Honmachi and Higashimachi, the main areas in Kurashiki. Both areas have traditional houses with restaurants, cafes, and galleries.
Also, visit Kanryuji Temple and Achi Shrine in Tsurugatayama Park. Don’t forget to take in the view from above when you are up there.
Where to stay in Kurashiki
Dormy Inn Kurashiki Hot Spring Hotel
Stay at Dormy Inn Kurashiki Natural Hot Spring Hotel, a centrally located hotel chain with standard bedrooms with a bathroom. The best part about this hotel is the hot spring facilities.
Day 21 – 23: Onomichi (3 days)
Onomichi is a small quaint town in Hiroshima Prefecture. Known for its temples, cats, and cycling, Onomichi is off the beaten path from the typical Japan itinerary. But let me tell you; it is one of the best places to experience Japanese culture and cycling on the country’s best cycle route, Shimanami Kaido.
What to do in Onomichi
For a small town, there are many things to do in Onomichi. Follow the guided path along the Temple Walk, where you can see 25 Buddhist temples along with the hillside town. The 2.5km trail also leads you to Tennei-ji Temple and Cat Alley. Hike up the hill to Senko-ji Park for a panoramic view from the Observatory platform. Senko-ji Temple is perched near the top of the mountain as well.
During your second day in Onomichi, take the train to Okunoshima Island to see an island full of bunnies!
And on the last day in Onomichi, experience one of Japan’s best and longest cycle routes. The Shimanami Kaido starts in Onomichi and will take you along the 70km journey to Imabari. The path connects six islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Some of the highlights along the way include Innoshima Bridge, Kosanji Temple and Miraishin no Oka. The entire route will take about eight to ten hours to complete. You can cycle halfway to Imabari and back to Onomichi on the same day.
Check out the Shimanami Kaido cycling map, learn about the area, and plan your bicycle day trip.
Where to stay in Onomichi
If you are an avid cyclist, you will want to check out Onomichi U2, as it is a hotel geared for cyclists. The hotel is set in an old warehouse, but the interior is designed with minimalistic aesthetics.
Money-saving tip: There are several bike rentals in Onomichi. There is one at Ekimae-kowan Car Park in Onomichi. You can rent a bike for ¥1,100 a day (and ¥1,100 deposit which you will get back when you return to the same terminal). Or rent an awesome (but more expensive) road bike from Giant Bike at the bike store at Onomichi U2 Hotel.
Day 24 – 26: Hiroshima (3 days)
Hiroshima attracts a lot of visitors from everywhere! You can leisurely visit all the major attractions in a few days and sample all the delicious Hiroshima cuisine!
What to do in Hiroshima
If you travel to Hiroshima, you must be interested in all the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park sites. Spend the day wandering around the park to see the Flame of Peace, the Children’s Peace Monument, and the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. Then visit Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to learn everything about the atomic bomb and how it affected Hiroshima. The Atomic Bomb Dome is not far and is an excellent place to see the remaining structures left from the nuclear bomb attack.
Go up the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower to see Hiroshima from above for a special treat. You can see the Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima on a beautiful clear day.
And visit Mitaki-dera, which is just a train ride away. The temple dates back to 809, and the premise has a beautiful pagoda, hiking trails and waterfalls.
After spending two days in Hiroshima, spend your last day on a trip to Iwakuni, a picturesque little town just an hour away. See Kintai-kyo Bridge over the Nishiki River, Kikko Park and Iwakuni Castle.
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Hiroshima Washington Hotel
There are many budget and mid-range accommodations in Hiroshima to choose from. One of the moderate price ranges includes Hiroshima Washington Hotel. The 3.5-star hotel has minimalist aesthetic and functional rooms. And it is close to the city centre and shopping street.
Money-saving tip: Getting around Hiroshima is super easy! The city is quite big, but the trains and streetcars will take you to every corner of Hiroshima. The streetcar costs a flat rate of ¥180 within the inner city and ¥280 beyond the city. Don’t worry about carrying the exact change; you can use your rechargeable IC card.
Day 27: Miyajima (1 day)
Miyajima is one of the most memorable places I’ve visited in Japan! Most people will use Hiroshima as a home base to visit Miyajima on a day trip. But if you have the time and the funds, stay overnight on the island to experience another side of Miyajima.
What to do in Miyajima
Start your day in Miyajima by walking through Itsukushima Shrine and finding the best spot for taking photos of the Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate. After walking through Momijidani Park, follow the trail and hike up Mount Misen or take the Miyajima Ropeway. While at the top, visit the Shishi-iwa Observation Deck, Misenhondo Hall, Reikado Hall and Kuguriiwa Rock. And on your way down from Mount Misen, check out Daishoin Temple and all the whimsical Buddhist statues.
Also, try some of Miyajima’s food specialties, including Momiji Manju (a small cake in the shape of a Japanese maple leaf with different fillings) and Miyajima oysters.
The tide level changes quite a bit throughout the day. While I was there in October, it was high tide in the morning and low tide in the afternoon. I saw the Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate submerged in water in the morning and walked around the giant Torii gate late afternoon. You can check the tide level online before you visit the magical island.
Where to stay in Miyajima
Hotel Miyajima Villa
Like most solo travellers, I keep my accommodation budget low. However, if there is one place you want to splurge, this is it! Stay overnight at Hotel Miyajima Villa and experience the traditional Japanese ryokan hotel, where you can sleep on tatami mats and soak in the traditional Japanese hot spring bath.
Day 28: Fly home from Hiroshima or Osaka
All good things must come to an end. Most flights fly out of Hiroshima or Osaka, and taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) is the most efficient way to reach either airport.
Make your way to either Hiroshima or Osaka and catch your flight home.
Are you spending a month in Japan on your own?
I sure hope so because Japan is such a magical place and perfect for a solo trip.
I hope you like my 1 month itinerary for Japan. I truly enjoyed every single one of these cities and would highly recommend each place. I hope my sample Japan solo travel itinerary can help you tailor a dream solo trip to Japan.
Let me know in the comments if you have tried my one month in Japan itinerary or if you have any suggestions on other things a first time traveller must do in Japan.
Thank you for reading my Japan itinerary
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:
Introduction to Japan
- Solo Travel to Japan: 17 best cities for solo travellers
- Things I wish I knew before going to Japan
- 11 Off-the-beaten-path places in Japan
- Japanese Food Culture: 11 must-try food
- 5-day Tokyo itinerary for first-time visitors
- Where to stay in Tokyo for solo travellers
- Tokyo Food Guide: 42 best places to eat in Tokyo
- Kyoto 2-day itinerary
- Uji day trip from Kyoto
- Nara day trip from Kyoto or Osaka
- 2-day Osaka itinerary
- Where and What to Eat in Osaka, Japan
- Osaka to Kobe day trip: 1-day itinerary
- Where and What to Eat in Osaka, Japan
- Himeji day trip from Osaka
- Naoshima Art Island: 1-day itinerary
- How to spend one day on Teshima Island
- 17 Best things to do in Kurashiki Japan
- 13 Top things to do in Onomichi Japan
- Shimanami Kaido: how to spend one day cycling Japan’s best bike route
- Hiroshima 2-day itinerary
- Day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima
- 10-day Kyushu Island itinerary
- 25 Best things to do in Fukuoka Japan
- Day trip to Dazaifu from Fukuoka
- Kumamoto City in one day
- Day trip to Mount Aso from Kumamoto
- 11 Top things to do in Kagoshima Japan