From Kyoto to Fukuoka: 7D6N Western Japan Itinerary for Spring 2023

From Kyoto to Fukuoka: 7D6N in Western Japan for Your Spring 2023 Holiday

A full week of exploring scenic gems in Western Japan is the perfect way to spend the holidays.

When it comes to holiday destinations, Japan is always on top of our wishlist. And the upcoming spring season offers the perfect opportunity to visit (or re-visit) the Land of the Rising Sun. A week is a perfect time to get a taste of western Japan, a region home to ancient sites, otherworldly natural landscapes, and incredible culinary delights. 

Ready to indulge in the many wonders of Japan’s captivating western cities? We’ve put together a whirlwind 7D6N western Japan itinerary that will take you to the best places the region has to offer. 

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Day 1: Osaka International Airport → Osaka

osaka castle western japan itinerary

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Fly to the Osaka International Airport (ITM), and spend an entire day sightseeing around this bustling Japanese port city. Although there’s more to see, do, and eat here than a single day can capture, 24 hours in the city give you enough time to experience the highlights. 

There’s no better place to start than Osaka Castle and Osaka Castle Park. One of the most popular landmarks in Japan, it’s a staple in any western Japan itinerary. Inside, travellers will learn more about the rich history of the feudal castle over eight floors of artefacts and exhibits. Before leaving, climb to the topmost level. While Osaka Castle is a striking sight rising from the landscaped gardens, the views of the city from the observation deck are even more spectacular.  

Tip: Time your visit in early April to see the breathtaking cherry trees bloom in Osaka Castle Park, one of the best hanami spots in Japan.

japan market

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Hungry yet? Make your way to Minami, where Kuromon Market is the prime spot for foodies ready to feast on street food. You’ll find all of the city’s delicacies in Kuromon’s stalls, including yakitori, sushi, sea urchin, and the Osaka speciality takoyaki. Shopping is also excellent in Minami District, home to shops like Tokyu Hands.

Next on our list is Shitennoji Temple, a 10-minute subway ride from Osaka Castle. Founded in 593, this ancient temple is one of Japan’s oldest official temples. Moreover, it played a significant part in ushering Buddhism into Japan. Travellers can wander around many of the buildings for free. But we think it’s worth paying a little extra to see three of the highlights: Chushin Garan, Treasure House, and the beautiful Gokurakujodo Garden. 

At night, make your way to buzzy Dotonbori. Snack on yummy okonomiyaki under neon lights, wander along the canal, and hop on the quirky Don Quixote Ferris Wheel at the Ebisu Tower. This one’s non-negotiable as part of your itinerary: You simply can’t be in Osaka and not visit this funky neighbourhood in western Japan.

Also read: 15 Airbnbs in Osaka That Are Even Better Than Hotels

Day 2: Osaka → Nara → Kyoto

nara western japan itinerary

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The next stop in your western Japan itinerary is Nara, a 45-minute train ride away from Osaka. Home to ancient temples, tranquil gardens, and over a thousand friendly deer, this picturesque city is one of the best day trip destinations in the country.

Start by visiting Kofukuji Temple, one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Nara. The nearby Isuien Garden from the 17th century is also worth a stop, with several tea houses found within. But if you can only make time for one temple in Nara, make it Todaiji Temple. Also a UNESCO-listed site, this majestic wooden temple features one of the world’s bronze Buddha statues, standing at 15 metres in the massive Big Buddha Hall.  

nara park deer

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And when in Nara, you must spend some time with the city’s most famous inhabitants: the deer. Stroll to Nara Park for deer encounters in their natural habitat. More than 1,000 deer live here! Plus, most are unusually affectionate with humans, especially if you buy deer crackers from the little stands around the park. Nara’s deer are said to be sacred messengers of the gods — and they’ve even learned to bow to guests for maximum charm. 

Instead of going back to Osaka at the end of your Nara day trip, hop on another 45-minute train to your next western Japan destination: Kyoto.

Day 3: Kyoto

arashiyama bamboo forest kyoto

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Kyoto is another unmissable city, the best destination for travellers who want to get a feel of old-world Japan. With more than 2,000 temples comes the opportunity to immerse completely in the country’s rich history and ancient traditions.

It’s fair to say that you won’t be short of things to do in this cultural hotspot. But with only one day in the city, you’ll have to cut down your bucket list to the absolute essentials, like the enchanting Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. It’s best to visit this striking bamboo grove early in the morning when there aren’t too many tourists around yet. Soaring bamboo trees, otherworldly sunlight streaming through the trees, and the absence of crowds make for sublime photos in Arashiyama. And if you’re lucky, you might even snap a picture of a monkey or two hiding behind the trees.

Within a short walk of the bamboo forest is Tenryuji Temple, one of Kyoto’s great Zen temples with a stunning landscaped garden designed by acclaimed Muso Soseki. Then, travel to Nishiki Market for delicious lunch and some souvenir shopping. 

kyoto western japan itinerary

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After eating and browsing the stalls at the market, take the half-hour journey from Gion-Shijo Station to Fushimi Inari Station. This is one of the most iconic sights in Japan: Fushimi Inari Shrine that’s recognisable for its thousands of orange torii gates. The eye-catching gates lie along trails leading to the woods, and following these trails up the summit of Mount Inari is a serene two- to three-hour experience. 

From Fushimi Inari, make your way to Higashiyama District, an exceptionally preserved area that evokes the atmosphere of old Kyoto. Narrow alleys lined with wooden buildings, traditional shophouses, and restaurants serving local cuisine will almost make you believe you’ve travelled back in time! It’s also a fantastic place to buy local crafts and uniquely Japanese souvenirs. 

Still have a little more time and energy? End the night with a meal or stroll down the famous Hanamikoji Street in Gion District. One of the oldest streets in Kyoto, this is a historic geisha district. It’s definitely worth a visit before leaving for the next destination on your western Japan itinerary. 

Day 4: Kyoto → Hiroshima

hiroshima peace memorial park

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Go to Hiroshima next, a city that’s only two hours away from Kyoto if you take the bullet train.

Although famous for the devastating events of WWII, this Japanese city is now a laidback destination that has flourished in the aftermath of its tragic history. That said, there’s no forgetting the past: The city’s most significant landmark is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, which documents the horror and pays tribute to the lives lost following the atomic bomb attack on the city on 6 Aug 1945.

shukkeien garden western japan itinerary

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After enjoying lunch in one of the dining spots around the park, walk to the five-storey Hiroshima Castle. A small museum inside lets guests learn more about the castle and the city’s history. It’s another short stroll to Shukkeien Garden, one of the most stunning gardens in the region, especially during fall foliage.

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Day 5: Hiroshima →  Miyajima Island →  Hiroshima

itsukushima shrine japan

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Add a little island time to your western Japan itinerary with a journey to Miyajima Island. Just a quick train and ferry ride away from Hiroshima, this quiet island is easy enough to visit for a day trip.

Make your first stop at the world-famous torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine. Built in front of the Shinto shrine just off the shore, the iconic gate is especially jaw-dropping during high tide when it appears to be floating. After admiring the glorious torii gate, head to the shrine complex. Here, get a closer look at the sacred space overlooking the bay.

Then, proceed to Omotesando Shopping Street to grab a bite to eat. Fresh oysters are a local delicacy, so make sure to sample a couple while you’re on the island. The lively main road of Miyajima, Omotesando is the perfect break in between sightseeing, with street food, quaint folk craft stores, and souvenir shops lining the street.

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Once you’re ready to get moving again, chase spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea with a hike up the 533-metre Mount Misen. Three lush trails lead up to the peak, with varying levels of steepness. Expect to encounter temple structures along the way, all a part of Daishoin Temple at the base of the mountain. Most notable of these structures is Reikado (Hall of the Spiritual Flame), which houses a holy fire said to be lit 1,200 years ago.

Not willing to trek for 1.5 to two hours? Take the ropeway instead. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to walk the last kilometre to the summit. After a steep scramble to the top, climbers will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the waters and surrounding islands.

Day 6: Hiroshima → Fukuoka

fukuoka western japan itinerary

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Travel from Hiroshima to Fukuoka, a quick hour-long trip if you take the bullet train. A laidback coastal city with an abundance of natural, cultural, and culinary gems, it’s a great destination for winding down a jam-packed western Japan itinerary.

After arriving in Fukuoka, start the day with a breezy stroll in Ohori Park, a beautiful public park built around a huge pond with islands and bridges. Then, amble down to the nearby Maizuru Park and Fukuoka Castle. Although little is left of the castle, the ruins are quite picturesque. Plus, the castle grounds offer wonderful views of the city.

Travellers can then proceed to the Tenjin shopping district. This area is a shopaholic’s dream, home to just about every major Japanese brand at all price points. It’s also a convenient place to grab lunch, with plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from. From Tenjin, it’s a quick jaunt to the striking Tochoji Temple and Kushida Temple.

yatai fukuoka

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If you still have time after checking out the temples, pop into the Canal City shopping complex. Sprawling and airy, it feels more like a small city than a mall.

As the day turns into evening, mingle with locals and fellow travellers at a yatai (food stall on wheels), often hailed for serving the best street food in Fukuoka. Mostly found in the Nakasu and Tenjin areas, yatai tend to be as much about the social aspect of dining as it is about eating. Meet and bask in the company of up to 10 fellow diners as you savour Fukuoka dishes. Just be mindful of local etiquette: Once you’re done with your food and drink, don’t linger. Pay, leave, and give up your spot to someone waiting to be seated.  

Day 7: Fukuoka → Keya Beach → Fukuoka Airport

western japan itinerary fukuoka beach

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It’s the last day of your western Japan itinerary, so time to take it easy. Before flying out of the Fukuoka Airport, make the most of your time in this port city by spending time at the beach. 

There are plenty of shores to pick from in Fukuoka, from ones right in the city centre to seaside spots that are a leisurely day trip away. Our pick is Keya Beach in Itoshima, a train and bus ride away from Hakata Station. Sun-seekers will no doubt enjoy splashing around at this public swimming beach surrounded by scenic mountains and boulders.

Also read: Top Budget Hotels in Fukuoka

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About Author

Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).