When we were planning our one month Japan itinerary, we knew we wanted to fit in as much as we could into those four weeks. Japan might be a fairly small island, but there’s an incredible amount of things to see and do. It would take an entire lifetime and then some, to just explore Tokyo. We wanted to visit as many cities as we could, tick off as much as possible, and have the time of our lives while we were at it.

Well, we are happy to report that all three of those goals were achieved!

We managed to travel to six different cities over a four week period. Starting in Yokohama, we then traveled to Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Nagano and finally, Tokyo. We didn’t want to spend the entire four weeks only exploring Japan’s major cities. We wanted a taste of traditional Japan amongst all of the bright neon lights. So, we broke up the bustling cities with some more historic towns across Japan.

Although there were some things we didn’t manage to see and do, like experiencing the 6 best places to view Mt Fuji, visiting Nara and heading further North, we still did quite a lot! Here is our one month Japan itinerary.

The Ultimate One Month Japan Itinerary

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Days 1 to 3 – Yokohama

We were quite sluggish when we arrived at Haneda Airport at around 6:30 in the morning. We were running on almost no sleep, after suffering through two six hour flights, plus a seven hour layover at Singapore Airport. That was before we even arrived in Japan.

Before leaving Australia, we researched the best way to get from Haneda Airport to our hotel in Yokohama. It ended up being super easy, and all we had to do was catch a bus to Yokohama City Air Terminal (also known as YCAT), then catch a train to Shin Yokohama Station. Click here for more information on getting from Haneda Airport to YCAT.

Finding our way from Yokohama City Air Terminal to our hotel was quite overwhelming. We arrived during the morning peak hour rush, so combine that was almost zero sleep and being thrown into a foreign country – it was pretty intense! In an exciting way, of course. We eventually managed to manoeuvre our way through the hundreds of business people, rushing in every direction through the station, and found our way out.

Where to stay in Yokohama

We stayed at the Shin Yokohama Kokusai Hotel for our first two nights in Japan. The hotel was fairly close to the Shin-Yokohama Station, however it took us a while to find our bearings when we first arrived, and we definitely took a few wrong turns along the way! Be sure to have an offline map with directions to your hotel, before arriving in Japan.

Note: Something that we didn’t realise before arriving in Japan, is their hotel check-in policy is quite strict. Check-in time starts at 3pm (in most hotels across Japan) and if you arrive early, you are not allowed to check in without paying to do so. We arrived at around 10am, but were so desperate for a shower and nap, we paid the extra fee to check in early. From memory, it costs around 1,000 yen per hour before check-in time. For us though, paying the 5,000 yen was definitely worth it.

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Visit the Cup Noodle Museum

We decided to visit the Cup Noodle Museum on our first and only full day in Yokohama. If you’ve never heard of the Cup Noodle Museum before, it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. You can learn all about the history of cup noodles throughout the world, and even design your very own cup of noodles!

We have an entire post about our experience at the Cup Noodle Museum. So go give that a read for a full recap of our noodle cup designing adventure! It’s an awesome experience, and so very Japanese! 

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Shopping in Yokohama

If shopping is something you’re keen to do while in Japan, Yokohama has quite a few shopping malls. Queen’s Square and Landmark Plaza are two of the more generic shopping centres that you’ll find. However, if you’re looking for a more unique shopping experience, visit World Porters. This mall attracts a younger crowd, so you’ll definitely find some bargains if you shop around.

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Yokohama Ramen Museum

On our last night in Yokohama, we decided to set off on foot to the Yokohama Ramen Museum. We had read about this place during our Japan research, and it was added straight onto our bucket list. The Ramen Museum is essentially a museum filled with everything you didn’t think you needed to know about ramen.

To make the experience even better, you’ll find two floors downstairs, that are designed to replicate streets and houses from an old town in Tokyo. These two floors contain around a dozen different ramen restaurants. Choose your meal using the vending machine outside of each restaurant, and take a seat inside. You can also purchase mini ramen bowls, if you would prefer to sample more than just one.

Note: The bowls are hugeEven the mini bowls were just about all the food I could manage. Keep this in mind if you want to try as many bowls of ramen as you can!

The atmosphere and design of the Ramen Museum is definitely unique. Entry to the museum and access to the restaurants costs 310 yen per person, plus whatever you decide to spend on ramen. There is also a bar with super cheap alcohol. That had me sold, for sure!

Days 3 to 10 – Osaka

Day three of our one month Japan itinerary started with a Shinkansen Bullet Train ride from Yokohama to Osaka. The journey only took around three hours, and we even saw Mt Fuji from the train! We’ve already published our Osaka Itinerary in a seperate post, simply because we had so much to talk about.

There is so much to see and do in Osaka, that we highly recommend staying in the city for at least a few days. We stayed in Osaka for seven days, and even that wasn’t enough time. That being said, we did manage to tick off quite a bit from our list.

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Where to stay in Osaka

We stayed at the Hotel MyStays Sakaisuji-Honmachi during our time in Osaka. This was a great location, putting us super close to the main shopping and entertainment district of Osaka – Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street. We were also close to major train stations, tons of food options and plenty of things to see and do.

Note: Osaka is a great starting point to explore nearby cities and prefectures. Japan’s train system is world class. It’s super quick and easy to travel to almost any city across Japan. We suggest making the time to visit Kyoto and Nara during your time in Osaka.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to visit Nara, but we did take a couple of day trips to Kyoto and absolutely loved it. You can read all about Kyoto in our Osaka post as well!

Shopping in Osaka

There are plenty of places to shop in Osaka. The most popular shopping districts, Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street, were only a twenty minute walk from our hotel. You’ll find hundreds upon hundreds of chain stores, Japanese souvenir stores, boutiques, street food, restaurants and much more.

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Universal Studios

Universal Studios was one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Osaka in the first place. We’re both huge Harry Potter fans, and as soon as we realised there was a Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Osaka’s Universal Studios, we just had to go. If you love Harry and his friends as much as we do, definitely set aside a day to be a magician at Hogwarts.

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Day trip to Kyoto

Kyoto quickly became one of our favourite places in Japan. It’s such a beautiful way to get an insight into traditional Japan. With endless shrines, temples and beautiful places to sit and relax, you’ll fall in love with Kyoto just as much as we did. We spent one day exploring Arashiyama and another visiting the Fushimi Inari shrine.

Tip: If you’re hoping to come across some traditional Japanese Geisha’s during your stay in Kyoto, here are some awesome tips on how to do so, and the best places to see them!

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Days 10 to 12 – Hiroshima

The first thing we are going to say about Hiroshima, is that we wish we stayed longer. After spending such a long time amongst the crazy hustle, bustle and flashing neon lights of Osaka, Hiroshima was a very welcome change of pace. The people are incredibly kind and friendly, and there’s a beautiful peaceful vibe about the city.

It took roughly two hours to get from Osaka to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen Bullet Train. Compared to the rest of our Bullet Train journeys, this one was fairly quick. When we arrived at Hiroshima Station, we then had to catch a tram to our hotel. The tram ride cost a flat rate of 160 yen for adults, which you drop into a clear container before departing the tram. Super easy!

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Where to stay in Hiroshima

We stayed at the Comfort Hotel in Downtown Hiroshima. This was the perfect location, as it was within walking distance to almost everything we wanted to see during our short time in Hiroshima. There was a train station nearby and the tram stop that we needed to get back to the airport was right outside our hotel.

Shopping in Hiroshima

Hondori Shopping Arcade is the main shopping mall in Hiroshima. It’s very similar to Osaka’s Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi Street, but a lot less busy. You’ll find tons of familiar chain stores, restaurants, pharmacies for some reason, boutiques and street food. We walked up and down this mall quite a lot, and found something new each time!

Don’t miss the Book Off store in Hiroshima. If you love finding classic gaming consoles, super cheap electronics, Japanese and English books for less than a cup of coffee and an endless amount of toys, Book Off is going to feel like heaven. It’s essentially a second hand store, but it’s the best second hand store you’ll ever visit. I promise.

Cheap food in Hiroshima

During our time in Hiroshima, we discovered a wonderful little Italian food chain called Saizeriya. Their menu is loaded with delicious, super cheap meals to suit almost anyone’s taste in food. Some of their menu items include foccaccia (100 yen), garlic bread (170 yen), soup (150 yen), various pasta and pizza (400 yen), chicken and steak meals (up to 900 yen) and desserts (400 yen or less).

Other than food, you can also get unlimited soft drinks, juice and iced teas from the drink bar for 190 yen. Water is free. And the best part of all, you can get half a bottle of wine for 200 yen.

Yes, I had some with lunch.
Yes, it’s cheap house wine but still, 200 yen?
Can’t complain about that. It was drinkable, and that’s all that matters!

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome

Our first and only full day in Hiroshima was spent at the Peace Memorial and A-Bomb Dome. It’s pretty difficult to explain the feeling you get when visiting this area of Hiroshima. The park is extremely clean, quiet and relaxing. We highly recommend paying the 200 yen entrance fee to visit the museum, even if you don’t know anything about the history of the Atomic Bomb devastation.

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We didn’t know a great deal about Hiroshima’s history, but it’s a surreal experience learning about the devastating events that happened. It will give you a new perspective about why the people of Japan are such friendly, accepting and wonderful people.

Cost: 200 yen
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 6pm
Closed: The main Museum building will be closed until July 2018.

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Hiroshima isn’t a city with lots of tourist attractions or crazy things to see and do. But if you’re looking for a relaxing and peaceful city to visit, to help break up the hustle and bustle of big city Japan, we definitely recommend adding Hiroshima to your itinerary. It’s a beautiful city with lovely people and an inspirational history.

Days 12 to 14 – Nagoya

If there’s one thing we regret from our trip to Japan, it’s cutting our time in Hiroshima short to visit Nagoya. Each to their own, but we weren’t too fond of Nagoya. Although it’s Japan’s fourth most populated city, compared to Yokohama, Osaka and Hiroshima, it was pretty dirty and uninspiring. There isn’t a whole lot to see and do, besides the Nagoya City Science Museum and Planetarium and Toyota Museum which were both closed the day we visited.

Where to stay in Nagoya

We stayed at Hotel Trusty during our two days in Nagoya. This wasn’t a very good choice in regards to location, because we had to walk quite far to the main part of the city. It was also one of the dirtiest Japanese cities we had seen so far. Choosing a hotel that’s closer to the main attractions will make your experience a lot more convenient.

Learn from our mistakes

Be sure to check opening hours for main attractions before planning out your day. Two of the things we wanted to see during our time in Nagoya was the Planetarium and Toyota Museum. Both were closed on our only full day in the city. Don’t end up like us, bitter at Nagoya, wishing we were still in Hiroshima. Plan your visit better than we did!

Shopping in Nagoya

Oasis 21 is a modern shopping complex with a ton of cool shops and restaurants. Oh yeah,  it’s also conveniently a bus terminal! There is almost always some sort of event held underneath the epic glass roof filled with water. There are also a few larger shopping malls in the area, dozens of restaurants and in true Japanese fashion, an endless amount of convenience stores.

Days 14 to 17 – Nagano

Nagano was on our itinerary for one main reason: snow! We spent quite a long time during the planning stage of our Japan trip, trying to find an easily accessible way of seeing snow. Eventually, we settled on Nagano.

We arrived in Nagano early afternoon on March 14th, via the Bullet Train from Nagoya. Nagano Station is fairly small – as is the city itself – so finding our hotel wasn’t difficult. It took around 20 minutes to walk from the station to our hotel (Hotel Kokusai 21).

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Where to stay in Nagano

We stayed at Hotel Kokusai 21 during our time in Nagano. Our hotel was in a pretty good location, taking us roughly twenty minutes to walk to the station. There were a few convenience stores within walking distance, plus plenty of vending machines and even a Japanese style Denny’s restaurant. Our hotel room was huge, and definitely one of the biggest Japanese hotels we had so far!

Shopping and Dining in Nagano

We were pretty hungry the day we arrived in Nagano, after not having enough time that morning to eat breakfast before leaving Nagoya. So the fact that we spotted a Japanese style Denny’s a few minutes from our hotel was pretty exciting and super convenient.

Right next to Denny’s is a Family Mart convenience store. If you’re not familiar with Japanese convenience stores, they’re basically the best thing in the world. Selling everything from water and alcoholic beverages to quick snacks, toiletries and hot meals. I bought a bottle of wine, Russell bought a bottle of whisky and we also stocked up on snacks.

Day trip to Hakuba

Our first full day in Nagano was the day I finally ticked see snow off my bucket list. Excitement was bubbling over the edge, as I added layer after layer of warm clothing onto my body, and made sure my camera battery was fully charged. It was the moment I had been dreaming about for most of my life.

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We took a bus from Nagano Station to Hakuba, and ended up in the beautiful snow village of Happo One. Something cool about Happo One, is the 1998 winter Olympics were hosted there! The Ski Jumping Stadium is still there, Olympic rings and all. For around 500 yen, you can take a ski lift to the very top, and be rewarded with a view like the one in the photo below!

To read all about our day in Hakuba, click here. It was such an unbelievable experience. I’m so glad I can say that I saw snow for the very first time, in Japan.

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Nagano is a great city whether you visit during the warmer or colder months. Similar to Hiroshima, it’s a nice place to rest and recharge, especially if you’re headed to another big city.

Or, like us, the mother of all big cities: Tokyo!

Days 17 to 29 – Tokyo

Ahh, Tokyo.
Japan’s capital and the world’s most populated city.

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With a population of around 13 million people, 47 different prefectures and endless things to do, you’ll need an entire lifetime to explore the city. Once again, because we talk a lot, we have a seperate post all about our time in Tokyo. If you’re interested in reading about everything we did during our twelve days in Tokyo, click here for a full recap!

Where to stay in Tokyo

We spent twelve days in Shinjuku, which is one of Tokyo’s most popular cities. Shinjuku is in a great central location, and is the perfect base to explore Tokyo. We stayed at Shinjuku New City Hotel, which was only a 20 minute walk from Shinjuku Station, the biggest train station in Japan.

Shopping in Tokyo

The shopping in Tokyo is probably the best I have ever experienced. With an endless amount of shopping malls, outdoor shopping streets, boutiques, souvenir stores, department stores and more; there’s something for everyone! Even Russell had a great time browsing each store, and he doesn’t even like shopping!

We had a ball shopping on Takeshita Street in Harajuku. Shibuya is filled with familiar chain stores like Forever 21, H&M and Gap. Don’t miss Shibuya Crossing – the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world! Enjoy the view from Starbucks or one of the shopping buildings surrounding the crossing.

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Dining in Tokyo

Whether you love sushi, fried meat on a stick, tasty desserts, noodles, pizza, pasta or almost anything else – Tokyo is a city filled with cuisine from across the globe. Restaurants in Tokyo have more Michelin Stars than Paris and New York combined. Regardless of your budget, you will have no problem finding something delicious to eat during your time in Tokyo.

Attractions in Tokyo

There are so many different things to do in Tokyo. From spending a couple of days at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea, to enjoying a Robot Restaurant show in Shinjuku. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens, shrines and temples throughout Tokyo. Visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for an incredible FREE view of Tokyo!

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Tips for First Time Visitors to Japan

Now that you have some ideas for your own one month in Japan itinerary, here are some tips and tricks to help make your visit as smooth sailing as possible!

Purchase a pair of comfortable sneakers

One thing we noticed during our month in Japan, was that we walked a lotOur phones have an inbuilt pedometer (as do most smartphones these days) and there were multiple days where we walked over 20,000 steps!

If you enjoy exploring new places on foot like us, you’ll definitely need to invest in a good quality pair of sneakers or walking shoes. There are tons of different styles available for both men and women.

Invest in a good backpack

Japan is one of the best places in the world for day trips. You can explore so much more of the country, simply by taking the Shinkansen Bullet Train to smaller towns from major cities across Japan. If you’re keen on doing some day trips during your time in Japan, you’ll need a good quality backpack, or daypack to keep all of your essentials safe and sound.

Don’t forget your camera

Almost everywhere you travel to across Japan, is incredibly beautiful and worthy of the millions of photos you’re going to take. Before arriving in Japan, consider purchasing a good quality camera, if you don’t have one already.

I have the Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera, and I love it. It takes incredible photos and has a whole bunch of awesome features and settings that I’ve had lots of fun testing out.

If you would prefer to try your hand at a more in-depth camera, consider a DSLR like the beautiful Canon EOS.

Bring plenty of entertainment for the Bullet Train

If you plan to travel between cities and prefectures in Japan, you’ll probably be catching the Shinkansen Bullet Train quite a bit. Depending on the distance you travel, the journey could take more than two hours. Think of the Shinkansen as a much more comfortable plane.

We like to have plenty of options available when it comes to keeping ourselves amused. General things like a good book, laptop to watch movies or to get some writing done, or a Kindle filled with tons of classics to read.

So there you have it, our one month Japan itinerary. Just remember, there is a lot to see in Japan. One month is definitely not enough time to see everything. But it’s still a good amount of time to tick lots of awesome places off your Japan bucket list. Use this guide as a starting point to plan an amazing and memorable visit to the incredible Japan.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to follow along with our travels. You can also find us on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram!

Have you been to Japan before? What was your favourite city? Tell us in the comments!

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Post updated in March 2018. All prices and facts are correct at time of last post update.