The Itinerary You Need for Japan

Japan has definitely become a very popular travel destination in recent years. It had been on my bucket list for a long time and I finally was able to visit for my 30th birthday in November! So many of you asked me about my travels and so I finally was able to summarize it all here for you. Here is the perfect itinerary (in my opinion) if you ever decide to visit Japan. From places to stay and things to do in Japan, I think you will find plenty of suggestions and ideas!

NOV 16: TOKYO

We arrived to Tokyo at the Peninsula Hotel. The hotel is right in the center of the city with beautiful views of the gardens of the Imperial Palace and Hibaya Park. You can’t go wrong with this hotel! We were so jet-lagged and tired so we just had dinner at the hotel and rested.

NOV 17: KYOTO

The next day, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. Kyoto is an ancient capital of Japan where some of the country’s most revered traditions are preserved. It’s a completely different vibe and experience than Tokyo. You really get the traditional, authentic Japanese experience. There is so much culture in this city! I would 100% recommend you visit Kyoto if you ever go to Japan. It is a must. We stayed four nights at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. It’s next to a river and the hotel incorporates a lot of traditional Japanese elements. We absolutely loved it!

 

NOV 18-20 KYOTO

We explored the city! The fall colors of the city were so beautiful. If you follow these suggestions, you can’t go wrong! Your visit of Kyoto will be very complete!

Things to do in Kyoto:

  • Walk along the Philosopher’s path, a streamside trail shaded by cherry trees.
  • Visit lots of temples! Kyoto has over 1600 temples!! You need to go to the Kiyomizu-dera temple. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the most beautiful views of the city and a waterfall!
  • Go to the Higashiyama (East Mountain) district to visit Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion)
  • Stroll through the private gardens and tea pavilions of Hashimoto Kansetu Garden, once the home of Japan’s most famous painters.
  • Walk the slopes of the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka neighborhoods where traditional wooden buildings line the stone-paved streets. They also have a lot of local small shops where you can buy sweets and Kyoto-style ceramics.
  • Walk down Ishibe Koji Alley. It’s lined with traditional wooden architecture of small tea houses and restaurants.
  • Visit Yasaka-jinja Shrine. It dates back to the 7th century and is best known for hosting one of the most famous festivals in Japan called Gion Masturi.
  • Visit Gion, the traditional geisha district.
  • Reserve a private tea ceremony in a traditional Kyoto tea house! It’s one of Japan’s most revered and popular arts.
  • Visit Arashiyama, a beautiful suburb at the foot of the mountains.
  • Walk through an enormous bamboo forest and visit Nonomiya Shrine which is hidden in the forest (it was used by imperial princesses for purification rituals).
  • Continue through the bamboo to Okochi Sanso. It’s a traditional Japanese villa complex and gardens builts by a silent movie film star on a hillside overlooking the bamboo forest. It’s a great place to relax with a cup of tea and take in the views.
  • Visit Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. It’s dedicated to the god of rice and sake!
  • Visit Sanjusangendo, a part of the Rengeo-in Temple. It was built in the 13th century. From the outside it looks very ordinary, but inside, it is filled with 1,001 gilt wooden statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
  • Explore the antique shops in the Shinmonzen district.
  • Walk through Nishiki Market where locals buy fresh produce, fish, spices etc.

NOV 21-22: HAKONE

We took the train to Hakone, a mountainous resort area near Mount Fuji. It’s another very traditional and cultural city. My favorite experience about Hakone though, was the hotel we stayed at: Gora Kadan. It’s Japan’s most exclusive ryokan (traditional inn). I think it is one of my favorite hotels I have ever stayed at. We stayed one night and it was amazing. It’s very traditional and a whole experience that is truly worth it. You cannot wear shoes in the hotel. It is built around natural hot springs.  If you saw my stories and photos on Instagram, this is where the three of us got into a kimono and had a traditional dinner in our hotel room. This hotel is seriously the perfect place for people on their honeymoon or even families because you do almost everything in your room and trust me, there is a lot to do. You can even get a massage in your room!

Things to do in Hakone:

  • Walk among enormous ancient cedars along Tokaido Road.
  • Ride on the Hakone Ropeway gondola, taking in the views of the surrounding hills and Mount Fuji.
  • Visit Owakudani, a volcanic area with bursting geysers and bubbling mud pools.
  • Enjoy a cruise on Lake Ashinoko.
  • Visit a local boutique to learn about Hakone yosegi (intricate mosaic wood veneers applied to a variety of objects).
  • See the red torii gate of Hakone Jinja Shrine
  • Visit the Hakone Open Air Museum

Nov 22-24: TOKYO

We took the bullet train back to Tokyo but this time we stayed at the Aman Tokyo, just to try a different hotel.  The Aman Tokyo is a luxurious urban resort high atop a modern tower in the center of the city. You get incredible views of Mount Fuji and the Imperial Gardens.

Things to do in Tokyo:

  • Stroll through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace
  • Explore the Ginza neighborhood, one of Tokyo’s famous shopping districts (Mitsukoshi and Matsuya are popular department stores there). Many of Tokyo’s most famous tea shops and restaurants are also in Ginza.
  • See the exterior of the Kabukiza Theater (Tokyo’s most famous venue for kabuki performances).
  • Visit Hakuhinkan Toy Park for Japanese toys and gadgets.
  • Explore Asakussa, the traditional downtown district.
  • Visit Senso-ji and the the temple’s massive hanging lantern.
  • Visit the Tokyo National Museum’s Gallery of Horyu-ji Treasures (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nara).
  • Go to the Meiji Jingu Shrine, a Tokyo landmark that honors the emperor who helped modernize Japan over a century ago.
  • Visit the Shinto Shrine which is a popular place for traditional Japanese weddings. You might get lucky and see one!
  • Walk through Harajuku, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Tokyo.
  • Stroll along the boutique-lined Omotesando-dori (the Champs-Elysees of Tokyo).
  • Go to Shibuya, the vibrant neighborhood at the center of Japan’s pop culture.
  • Experience the Shibuya Scramble, a famous intersection where hundreds of pedestrians cross at once!

47 Comments

  1. PATTI KARNOFSKY
    January 15, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    HOW MANY DAYS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR EACH CITY?

    • January 16, 2019 / 1:46 pm

      Hey! So we did 4 nights 5 days in Kyoto, 1 night in Hakone and 3 nights in Tokyo. We decided to spend more time in Kyoto this time because Tokyo is always easier to go back to!

      • Alex M
        January 18, 2019 / 6:06 am

        I can’t with these photos of enzo!! SO CUTE! and your outfits killed it as always <3

  2. Sumbul Amir
    January 16, 2019 / 1:41 am

    Wow. It’s amazing.❤️❤️❤️ I really want to visit Tokyo someday. 😍😍😍😍

    • Sumbul Amir
      January 18, 2019 / 6:36 am

      My IG handle @sumbul_amir

  3. Karissa
    January 18, 2019 / 3:37 am

    I enjoyed reading your blog post especially the things to do in Tokyo part! Your outfits are always so perfect🧡 -IG: karissapreciado

  4. Melissa
    January 18, 2019 / 3:50 am

    amazing guide + love that you bring Enzo ❤️❤️ You make traveling with a babe look easy! @melbarrell

  5. Rhea
    January 18, 2019 / 4:02 am

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post and loved your outfits! Japan has been on my travel list for long now, will definitely consider the itinerary. @rheaagarwal

  6. Rose Carollo
    January 18, 2019 / 4:19 am

    Is the sushi there better?!

  7. Roshni Patidar
    January 18, 2019 / 4:38 am

    Amazing and helpful blog post! The family pictures are so stinking cute! Enzo Is adorable – I can’t handle it!!

    I can only hope I look as fabulous as you on a trip to Japan one day! Your style is fabulous and such an inspiration!

    @rosssh

  8. Nicole P.
    January 18, 2019 / 5:00 am

    Ahhhh definitely want to travel to Japan after seeing this..what I love most about these outfits too is how you’ve managed to embrace the spirit of Japanese style. LOVE it!!!

    IG: @nicole.pedrick

  9. Shawn Weaver
    January 18, 2019 / 5:47 am

    Looks like you had the best time! Enzo’s outfits are the cutest!
    @shawn_weaver

  10. Amalia
    January 18, 2019 / 5:55 am

    Beautiful place, beautiful family and beautiful outfits! @principessamalia

  11. Myrna
    January 18, 2019 / 6:02 am

    Can’t wait to visit Japan! Definitely will use this as a guide.
    @myrnavt

  12. January 18, 2019 / 6:03 am

    I love Japan. I was in Tokyo, Kyoto a day trip to Nara, with my family in April of 2018 at the end of cherry blossom season. It is just magnificent. I have to go back for sure and explore more cities. We basically did your trip. You can see my pictures @kattiamcg

  13. Maria Mahindra
    January 18, 2019 / 6:04 am

    Happy Friday!
    First: Enzo is ADORABLE, as always! His Kimona pic!! OMG LOVE
    Second: You look gorgeous and your outfits are sooooo on point, as always!
    My husband has traveled to Japan for work and has lived there for a few weeks on and off over the last few years. I have been DYING to go! Our plan is to go either this year or next, bc my bucket list for Japan is to see the Cherry Blossoms! They are there only for a limited time during the month of March, similar to the tulips in Holland-which are also amazing!
    Thanks for all the tips! I will definitely be coming back to this post once we officially book our trip to Japan.
    IG: Mia_M86

  14. January 18, 2019 / 6:04 am

    Gracias por compartir!! Mi familia está planeando un viaje a Japón el siguiente año y estoy hizo que me emocionará mucho más! Que padre que Enzo ya está aprendiendo desde chiquito que hay tantas cosas que ver en el mundo!

    IG: paulina_servinrg

  15. Caitlin
    January 18, 2019 / 6:05 am

    Thank you, I want to go to Kyoto! I have been to Tokyo however, we only had a few days and stayed in the city! Have you been to Seoul? It’s an amazing city and the food is delicious, my brother lives there and we would be happy to share what to do if you ever visit! He’s actually an influencer of sorts himself @robnolan
    Funny story… I found you when I was creating a travel instagram and hopefully long term a business! I was searching who else had travel or itinerary in their name. I have really enjoyed following your stories since! Have a great time in Paris!

    IG: @travel_itinerary

  16. Chloe Tham Liu
    January 18, 2019 / 6:06 am

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I’m trying to plan a trip right now!! 🙂
    @tlchlover

  17. January 18, 2019 / 6:12 am

    Omg Enzo in that kimono is probably the cutest picture ever!!

  18. Leanne
    January 18, 2019 / 6:31 am

    Happy Friday! This post actually came at just the right time for me, since I’ve been trying to plan my trip to Japan — so thank you, Paola! Also, your photos are gorgeous…Enzo is such a cutie. 🙂

    My insta handle is @leashe_

  19. Denise Padilla
    January 18, 2019 / 6:44 am

    Hi Paola!
    Que increíble viaje!
    No tengo la fortuna de conocer Japón pero definitivamente quiero ir algún día.
    Tus fotos padrisima y los outfits ni se diga. Enzo se ve que la paso a todo dar jaja! Explorando el mundo desde tan peque.
    Mil gracias por dejarnos tu itinerario, espero algún día usarlo.
    Bendiciones para tu linda familia!
    @denipara

  20. Amy Hwang
    January 18, 2019 / 7:16 am

    This post is so useful! Will you share where to eat in Japan post as well?
    @amiee318

  21. Karen Paik
    January 18, 2019 / 7:19 am

    Japan is on my bucket list too! Can’t waif to visit that city someday!
    @iamkaren.p

  22. Vanessa Ospino-Cuquejo
    January 18, 2019 / 7:19 am

    wow!!! I was keeping up on your Instagram stories, and absolutely love the way you broke it all up on your blog, as to where to go, and things to do while there! my husband is dying to go to Japan, and definitely on our list of places to go with our little one, and seeing you, and Hector, and Enzo all together is giving me more of a push to go! 😉
    BTW all the pics came out so beautifully, and Enzo always soo charming! tan bello!!!

    IG- @sarah1212_nessa1212

  23. Lucy Tellez
    January 18, 2019 / 7:40 am

    Estoy obsesionada con tu blog! Nunca avía tenido ganas de visitar a Japón pero ahora si! Gracias por compartir este viaje con nosotros <3 especialmente tus fotos con Enzo y tus looks! Siempre te ves increíble! I can’t wait for the next blog post!

    IG @lucytellez

  24. Lisette Munoz
    January 18, 2019 / 8:06 am

    I definitely enjoyed reading about your Japan trip. It was great that you and your family were able to go to Japan for an amazing trip. I would love to be able to go to Japan one day, all of these travel trip will come in handy. I hope you enjoy your Paris fashion week trip, can’t wait to see what outfits you will post on your Instagram account. Wish you and your family the best. Instagram: lisettemunoz1

  25. Rayanne
    January 18, 2019 / 8:13 am

    You look like you had such a wonderful family trip! Asia is definitely high on my travel list but I think Japan has now been added to it 🙂
    ig: @rayannecleliax

  26. Karina Collins
    January 18, 2019 / 8:16 am

    El viaje de cumpleaños mas divino de todos😍

  27. Marlene
    January 18, 2019 / 9:18 am

    I love that you took Enzo with you to celebrate your birthday…I think most people would just leave the kids behind but you made him part of something special….can’t wait to see more pictures of another trip.

  28. Courtney K Doyle
    January 18, 2019 / 9:40 am

    I alwaus love travel recs & your fam is the cutest!! Might just have to do this trip for my 30th. It will be my golden birthday! Go Sagittarius!😊

    Xoxo,
    IG: @CKDcourts

  29. January 18, 2019 / 9:50 am

    This is so helpful! I’m going to Japan in April for a babymoon (our first child). I had contacted you before on the Hotel you had stayed in while you were there, in one of your stories and you were so sweet to reply so quickly! I greatly appreciate it. It looks like you had a blast with your family.

  30. Fernanda
    January 18, 2019 / 9:50 am

    Loveeeee @fernandacruzc

  31. Valeria Nicolas
    January 18, 2019 / 10:51 am

    No puedo con las fotos de enzo!!!! hermosooooo
    @valerianicolas

  32. January 18, 2019 / 10:56 am

    OMG AMAMZING Trip, photos and OUTFITS! DANG. I’m saving this post for my travel adventures. Just WOW!
    Kellie
    @TheBicoastalBeauty
    TheBicoastalBeauty.com

  33. Regina
    January 18, 2019 / 11:02 am

    Me encantaron todos los outfits de este viaje y las fotos!
    ig @reginapallares

  34. Janinzka
    January 18, 2019 / 11:05 am

    Looks so fun!!!
    IG: janibelendez

  35. FERNANDA
    January 18, 2019 / 11:16 am

    Moría por este post desde tu viaje!! jaja
    ameeeee las fotos de Enzo!! Es un guapo!!
    fernanda_borja@hotmail.com
    IG: @ferborjaa

  36. January 18, 2019 / 12:51 pm

    I’d love to visit Japan! Soy tu fan! De chihuahua!! @topilopop en instagram

  37. Melissa
    January 18, 2019 / 3:47 pm

    Tokyo looks amazing! Enzo is beautiful! Blessings to you and your family.

  38. Vanessa Serrato
    January 18, 2019 / 8:01 pm

    Beautiful blog post! I went to Japan a few years ago and it was so amazing a whole other world glad I did a lot of the stuff on your recommendation list! Love the photos.
    IG: nessaserrato

  39. Fernanda
    January 19, 2019 / 10:58 am

    What great photos and advice! My BF & I are thinking of going sometime soon. Thank you for the post and as always Enzo and your outfits 😍

    IG: fercas.93

    Xo 😘

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