OT Itinerary: How To Spend The Perfect 3 Days In Japan

This whirlwind tour takes you through Tokyo's modernity, Kyoto's timeless elegance, and Osaka's culinary delights, offering a taste of Japan's diverse offerings
Chureito Pagode and Mount Fuji, Japan
Chureito Pagode and Mount Fuji, JapanShutterstock

Japan, a land of ancient traditions and futuristic innovation, boasts a myriad of experiences waiting to be explored. While it's impossible to fully immerse oneself in the richness of this country in just three days, a well-planned itinerary can offer a taste of Japan's diverse culture, stunning landscapes, and culinary delights. Here, we take you on a whirlwind tour of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, helping you make the most of your short but unforgettable trip.

Day 1: Tokyo - The Modern Metropolis

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
Shibuya Crossing, TokyoShutterstock

Morning: Your adventure begins in Tokyo, Japan's vibrant and bustling capital. Start your day in Asakusa, home to the magnificent Senso-ji Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city. Stroll through Nakamise shopping street, where you can shop for traditional Japanese souvenirs, and pass beneath the iconic Kaminarimon Gate.

Lunch: Dive into Japanese cuisine with a steaming ramen bowl at a local Asakusa eatery. The flavours will awaken your taste buds to the culinary wonders of Japan.

Afternoon: For a taste of Tokyo's modernity, head to Akihabara, the famous electronics and anime district. Even if you're not a tech enthusiast, the energy and quirkiness of this neighbourhood are a sight to behold. The place is considered to be the epicentre of modern Japanese otaku culture; otaku refers to the habit of people with consuming interests, particularly in anime, manga, video games, or computers.

Evening: As the sun sets, make your way to Shibuya Crossing, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections. Join the surge of people crossing the street, capturing the perfect photo as you do so. Explore Shibuya's lively entertainment district, offering an array of dining options from traditional izakayas to international cuisine.

Day 2: Kyoto - Timeless Elegance

Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
Kiyomizu-dera Temple, KyotoShutterstock

Morning: Catch an early morning Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto, Japan's historical and cultural heart. Begin your exploration with a visit to Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion. Its shimmering gold leaf exterior is a testament to Kyoto's exquisite architecture.

Lunch: Savour a traditional Kyoto meal at a local restaurant. Kaiseki, a multi-course dining experience, or yudofu, a hot tofu pot, are excellent choices to immerse yourself in local flavours.

Afternoon: Journey to Arashiyama, a district known for its stunning bamboo groves and the picturesque Togetsukyo Bridge. Take a leisurely walk through the bamboo forest and consider visiting the Monkey Park, where you can interact with Japanese macaques.

Evening: As twilight descends, make your way to Gion, Kyoto's historic geisha district. Wander through the atmospheric streets, hoping for a chance encounter with a geisha or maiko. You can also experience a traditional tea ceremony at a local teahouse.

Day 3: Osaka - Culinary Delights

Osaka Castle, Osaka
Osaka Castle, OsakaShutterstock

Morning: Take a train to Osaka, the culinary capital of Japan. Start your day at Osaka Castle, a grand fortress symbolising the city's rich history. Explore the castle grounds and enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck.

Lunch: Dive into the vibrant street food scene of Dotonbori. Try takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savoury pancake), and other delectable local treats from the various food stalls.

Afternoon: Stroll through the bustling shopping district of Shinsaibashi, a paradise for shopaholics. Don't miss the youthful and trendy vibes of America-mura, a district known for its fashion and street art.

Evening: Embrace the energetic nightlife of Namba, Osaka's entertainment hub. Visit local bars, enjoy street performances, and immerse yourself in the city's lively atmosphere.


Travelling to Japan for the first time is an exciting but culturally nuanced experience that can be immensely rewarding with careful preparation. Learning a few basic Japanese phrases is beneficial, as locals appreciate the effort, even though English is widely spoken.

Cash remains a prevalent mode of payment, so ensure you have sufficient yen on hand, especially when visiting smaller establishments. 

Japanese customs and etiquette should be respected, including bowing and removing shoes when entering homes or certain businesses. If you plan to travel between cities, consider investing in a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) for economical train travel. Obtaining a Suica or Pasmo card can make transportation more convenient in cities.

A smorgasbord of traditional Japanese cuisines
A smorgasbord of traditional Japanese cuisinesShutterstock

Sampling local cuisine, from sushi to ramen, is a must, and attempting to use chopsticks gracefully is appreciated. When visiting temples and shrines, dressing modestly is essential, and in public spaces, maintaining a low volume and refraining from talking on the phone on public transportation are valued behaviours.

Additionally, mindful of proper waste disposal and recycling practices showcases respect for Japan's cleanliness. Lastly, a pocket Wi-Fi device or SIM card with data is highly recommended to stay connected and navigate seamlessly.

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