Where to Go in Japan in 5 Days: A Guide to the Best Destinations

Are you dreaming of a trip to Japan but only have a limited amount of time? Five days may not seem like enough to explore everything that Japan has to offer, but with some careful planning and prioritizing, you can experience the highlights of this fascinating country.

In this article, we will guide you through the best destinations to visit in Japan if you only have 5 days. Our focus keyword is “Where to Go in Japan in 5 Days,” so let’s dive right in!

Day 1: Tokyo

Tokyo is a bustling metropolis that has something to offer for every type of traveler. Here are some of the must-see attractions for day 1 of your trip:

Visit the Senso-ji Temple

This is Tokyo’s oldest and most famous temple. It’s located in the Asakusa district and is easily accessible by subway. The temple has a large entrance gate called Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), and beyond that, you’ll find a shopping street lined with traditional stores and souvenir shops.

Where to Go in Japan in 5 Days

Explore the Meiji Shrine

This shrine is dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. It’s located in the Shibuya district and is a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The shrine is surrounded by a forested park, and you’ll often see traditional weddings taking place here.

Meiji Shrine: Minami Shin-mon | Photo: jpellgen (@1179_jp)

Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market

This is the world’s largest fish market, and it’s a must-visit for any foodie. You’ll find rows of stalls selling fresh seafood, and you can even watch the famous tuna auctions early in the morning (but be sure to arrive early as only a limited number of visitors are allowed).

Go shopping in Shibuya

This is one of Tokyo’s busiest shopping districts and is famous for its trendy fashion boutiques and department stores. Be sure to visit the famous Shibuya Crossing, where hundreds of people cross the street at once.

Shibuya crossing

Try the local food

Tokyo is famous for its food scene, and there are countless delicious dishes to try. Some of the must-try foods include sushi, ramen, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes).

These are just a few of the many things to do in Tokyo, but they should give you a good starting point for day 1 of your trip. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking!

Day 2: Kyoto

Kyoto is a beautiful city that is rich in history and culture. It’s home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, and you can spend a full day exploring its historic temples, shrines, and gardens. Here are some must-see attractions for day 2 of your trip:

Visit the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

This is one of Kyoto’s most iconic sights, and it’s a must-visit for any traveler to the city. The temple is covered in gold leaf and is set against a beautiful pond and garden. Be sure to take plenty of photos!

Kinkakuji Temple | Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Explore the Fushimi Inari Shrine

This is another famous landmark in Kyoto and is known for its thousands of torii gates that form a network of trails up the mountain behind the shrine. The hike to the top takes about two hours, but the views from the summit are stunning.

Torii gates—Fushimi Inari Shrine | Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Stroll through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This is a peaceful and picturesque area of Kyoto that is famous for its towering bamboo groves. You can take a stroll through the bamboo forest and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove | Photo: Daniel Peckham

Visit the Kiyomizu-dera Temple

This is a large temple complex that is perched on a hillside and offers sweeping views of Kyoto. The temple is particularly beautiful in the spring and fall when the cherry blossoms or autumn leaves are in bloom.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Try some traditional Kyoto cuisine

Kyoto has its own unique culinary traditions, and there are many delicious dishes to try. Some must-try foods include kaiseki (a multi-course meal), yudofu (tofu hot pot), and matcha (green tea) desserts.

Day 3: Nara

Nara is known for its beautiful parks, ancient temples, and friendly deer that roam freely throughout the city. Here are some must-see attractions for day 3 of your trip:

Visit the Todai-ji Temple

This temple is home to the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple complex is also surrounded by a beautiful park and many smaller shrines.

Todai-ji temple | Photo: shankar s.

Feed the deer in Nara Park

Nara Park is home to over 1,000 friendly deer that roam freely throughout the area. You can purchase deer crackers to feed them, but be careful, as they can be quite aggressive!

Nara Park

Explore the Kasuga Taisha Shrine

This shrine is known for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns, which are lit twice a year during the Lantern Festival. The shrine is also surrounded by a beautiful forested area.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine | Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Visit the Nara National Museum

This museum is dedicated to the art and culture of Nara, and it has an impressive collection of Buddhist art and artifacts.

Nara National Museum | Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Walk through Higashimuki Shopping Street

This street is located near the entrance to Nara Park and is a great place to shop for souvenirs and try some local food.

Try some local cuisine: Nara is known for its unique cuisine, and there are many delicious dishes to try. Some must-try foods include kakinoha-zushi (sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves), yamato-mochi (a type of rice cake), and sake.

Day 4: Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

Hiroshima is a city that has a tragic history but has since rebuilt and become a symbol of peace. Miyajima Island, located nearby, is known for its iconic floating torii gate and beautiful scenery. Here are some must-see attractions for day 3 of your trip:

Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

This park is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb that was dropped on the city in 1945. It’s a somber but moving experience, and there are many monuments and exhibits to see, including the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Genbaku

Explore Miyajima Island

This island is famous for its iconic torii gate, which appears to float on the water during high tide. You can take a ferry from Hiroshima to the island and spend the day exploring its temples, shrines, and hiking trails.

Visit the Itsukushima Shrine

This is the most famous shrine on Miyajima Island and is known for its stunning architecture and its iconic torii gate. The shrine is also surrounded by beautiful gardens and a pond.

Hike Mount Misen

This mountain is the highest peak on Miyajima Island and offers breathtaking views of the island and the surrounding sea. There are several hiking trails to choose from, and it takes about two to three hours to reach the summit.

Try some local specialties

Hiroshima is known for its unique cuisine, and there are many delicious dishes to try. Some must-try foods include okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), oysters, and Momiji manju (a sweet pastry).

Day 5: Osaka

Osaka is known for its vibrant street food scene, bustling shopping districts, and historic landmarks. Here are some must-see attractions for day 5 of your trip:

Visit Osaka Castle

This iconic castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Osaka and is surrounded by a beautiful park. You can explore the castle and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the views from the top of the castle tower.

Walk through Dotonbori

This lively district is known for its neon lights, street food, and shopping. You can find everything from takoyaki (octopus balls) to giant crab legs in this area.

Explore the Shinsekai district

This retro district is known for its old-fashioned charm and delicious kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers). You can take a walk through the area and see the famous Tsutenkaku Tower.

OSAKA, JAPAN – AUGUST 17, 2015: The Shinsekai district of Osaka. The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York and Paris originally serving as models.

Visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

This aquarium is one of the largest in the world and is home to over 30,000 marine animals. You can see everything from giant manta rays to adorable penguins in this attraction.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Take a stroll through Shitennoji Temple

This is one of the oldest temples in Japan and is known for its beautiful pagoda and peaceful atmosphere.

Shitennoji Temple

Try some local cuisine

Osaka is known for its delicious street food, and there are many unique dishes to try. Some must-try foods include okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), takoyaki (octopus balls), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers).

Author’s thoughts

Japan has so much to offer that it can be difficult to narrow down an itinerary for just five days. However, by focusing on some of the most iconic and popular destinations, you can get a taste of the country’s rich culture and history. From the bustling city of Tokyo to the serene city of Kyoto, and the charming city of Nara to the vibrant city of Osaka, this itinerary offers a little something for everyone.

While this itinerary is just a starting point, there are plenty of other places to visit and things to do in Japan. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Japan is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. With its unique blend of tradition and modernity, stunning natural beauty, and delicious cuisine, it’s no wonder that Japan continues to captivate visitors from around the world. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun!


You see, my love for Japan is not only based on personal experience; it's based on a deep admiration for Japanese culture, history, and traditions. Thank you, Japan, for being a constant source of inspiration, joy, and wonder in my life. I may never be able to express my love for Japan in person, but I hope that through my blog and my writing, I can share a small piece of my admiration and devotion with the world.

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