Last Updated on October 11, 2020 by eattalktraveljapan
Creating your itinerary for two weeks in Japan is going to be hard, but this guide will make it much easier. We’ll show you the best places to visit in Japan, help you get around the country with ease, and highlight Japan’s must-try foods.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Where to go and how to get there
- Common challenges and how to overcome them
- How to personalize your two weeks in Japan based on your interests
Let’s get started!
1. Introduction: Is two weeks in Japan long enough?
If it’s your first time, we consider two weeks in Japan to be the minimum—assuming you want to explore more than 1-2 cities. More time is better, but with a two-week trip, you can get a fantastic introduction to the country—IF you plan it right.
Planning is essential because Japan can be overwhelming. It’s a fascinating country to explore, but challenging to navigate. Many things work differently than you expect them to and some aspects of the culture are difficult to understand.
If you fail to thoroughly plan your trip, it’s easy to get lost in the practical challenges of getting around and communicating with people. So, even if you’re not a big planner, we suggest you make a point to really do it for this trip.
Choosing your route
First, you’ll want to choose the best route for your trip. Most people opt for the golden route by Shinkansen (bullet train), which travels from Tokyo all the way down to Hiroshima. Many stop in Kyoto on the way or else on the way back.
We recommend a modified version of this route that will show you many of the major tourist sites, but also some more unique parts of Japan.
Japan has a fast, efficient train system, so most visitors get around using the bullet train. The golden route is popular because it’s so easy to traverse Japan by train and with a JR rail pass, you’ll have unlimited travel along the route. However, while the rail pass is great for many people, it’s not the only option and may not be worth it for you.
You should also consider airlines or buses, which can be faster or cheaper ways to travel between many cities. Buses, while slower, are usually cheaper than both planes and trains. Plus, you’ll have the option of an overnight bus, which can be a great way to maximize your time if you schedule it right.
Of course, you can also mix in match. For example, you could get a 7-day rail pass to use from Tokyo to Kyoto and Fukuoka. Then, you could fly from Fukuoka back to Tokyo or opt for an overnight bus.
2. Creating Your Itinerary for two weeks in Japan
Creating the perfect itinerary is a very personal process. So, in order to help you make the Japan travel itinerary of your dreams, we’ll give you basic advice, complemented with suggestions on alternatives to look into.
For this itinerary, we’re assuming that you will fly into Tokyo since that’s where most international flights go. We recommend you start and end with Tokyo or whatever city you fly into. After Tokyo, we break down the itinerary into two other sections. The first one focuses on common tourist places, while the second one emphasizes less common destinations.
Our recommended route
The standard route is based around Tokyo and Kyoto, with short trips to Hakone, Nara, and Hiroshima. While these are all great places to visit, and you can certainly squeeze them all into a two-week trip, we’ve modified our recommendations a little bit from this standard.
We consider Tokyo and Kyoto to be must-see’s for first time visitors, but we want to introduce you to more of the Kansai region—home to both Kyoto and Osaka—then take you south to Fukuoka and the surrounding region of Kyushu. This way you can see a number of the best tourist attractions, but also get a feel for the local culture in different parts of Japan. Plus, you’ll see some of the best food destinations.
Our recommended route will give you a well-balanced introduction to the culture while making sure you have enough time to absorb as much of what you see as possible. We will narrow down the main tourist attractions to what we consider the most unique and also introduce more of the local culture than most other guides do.
Two weeks in Japan: Your starter itinerary
We recommend you start with a few days in Tokyo to get a feel for what this gigantic city is all about. You could easily spend your entire trip in Tokyo and barely scratch the surface, but we recommend you go for a basic introduction for your first trip. If you love it, you can return again and spend more time exploring the city.
After Tokyo, we recommend 4-6 days between Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. All three cities are very close together, so it’s best to see them around the same time.
Next, we recommend you venture south to Fukuoka for two days and take a nearby day trip if you’re up for it. Fukuoka is not on most first time itineraries, but its Japan’s best city for ramen and a great overall food city. It’s also near fantastic hot springs and is much less touristy than other parts of the country.
Finally, we recommend you spend your last day in Tokyo before flying back. This general outline will introduce you to modern Japan, historical Japan, and let you experience some of the country’s best food and nature.
3. Japanese Food
Since food is one of the main components of ETT Japan, we created a pretty food oriented itinerary. So, prepare to eat well during your two weeks in Japan. We’ll help you understand Japanese food culture and find the best local spots to eat.
To understand Japanese food—and even Japanese culture—you need to understand the role of specialization. Rather than focusing on variety, Japan tends to focus on perfecting one thing. This is especially true with food.
While it is possible to find restaurants that offer a variety of dishes, the best places offer just one. For example, while many restaurants offer Udon and Soba noodles, the best restaurants will specialize in one or the other. You’ll find the best soba noodles at a soba noodle restaurant and the best udon noodles at an udon restaurant.
With that in mind, we’ve divided this introduction to Japanese food into simple categories. Some of them are based around a single type of food, like noodles, for example, while others around types of restaurants. This will give you some general food recommendations to go along with the specific restaurants we recommend later in the guide.
What food should you try during your two weeks in Japan?
Ramen and sushi are the two Japanese foods that everyone knows about, but these two dishes are just the tip of the iceberg. We will offer more specific recommendations in the cities featured in this guide, but here are some different types of food to be on the lookout for during your trip.
This general list will give you an idea of which foods are worth going out of your way to try while you’re in Japan. If you ever find yourself wondering where to eat, they can serve as general guidelines.
Fish in Japan
Part of the reason why sushi is so popular is that Japan has lots of fish and has mastered serving it fresh. But sushi isn’t the only type of fish in Japan.
Two of our favorite cooked fish are Saba (mackerel) and Buri (yellowtail). You can try them grilled at home-cooking types of restaurants. There are also restaurants that specialize in single fish, like the Saba restaurant we discovered in Fukuoka.
Like we mentioned earlier, both Udon and Soba noodles are fantastic and worth seeking out at specialty restaurants. Soba noodles are made with buckwheat, but many restaurants blend it with wheat flour. Buckwheat has a strong flavor and wheat can balance it out. Udon also has a lot of variety, depending on where in the country you try it.
Yes, you should also try ramen, but go for the regional varieties. While ramen has gotten popular around the world, ramen in Japan takes this dish to a whole other level. Ramen shops will specialize in a particular type of broth, style of noodles, plus each region has its own specialties.
While you may think you know tofu, you’ve probably never tried anything like what you’ll find at a good Japanese tofu restaurant. It’s incredibly fresh, flavorful and comes in a variety of textures. It can even be made into dessert!
You should consider trying a specialty tofu restaurant to really understand what good tofu tastes like. Some of the best restaurants will have full, multi-course meals that combine a number of small tofu dishes with fresh, seasonal vegetables. While we wouldn’t recommend it if you only had a few days, since you’ll have two weeks in Japan, you should definitely try good tofu.
Bar food in Japan
Japan is also known for small bars called Izakaya, which feature both alcohol and light food. Often, these places will be tiny little hole-in-the-wall types of places, but they can serve spectacular food.
One of our favorite things to try is Yakitori (skewered and grilled meat and vegetables). While it’s great at Izakaya, if you really want to try the best, go for a specialty chicken restaurant. Chicken will be a specific breed, freshly prepared, and cooked to perfection. You’ll be blown away by how good chicken can be.
Japanese curry and other heavy dishes
Japan has a reputation for small portions of light food. While that may be true with tofu and sushi, there are plenty of options at the other end of the spectrum. Fried and grilled Japanese food can be just as good as lighter dishes.
For fried food, Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and Tempura (battered and fried meat, seafood, and vegetables) are two of our favorites. When prepared at a specialty restaurant, both are unbelievably good. Fresh,
Another one of our favorite heavier Japanese foods may surprise you: curry. Although many people don’t realize it, Japanese curry is fantastic. CoCo Ichibanya is a popular curry chain that’s expanded all over the world, but we recommend you go for a local place in Osaka. If you do, you’ll quickly discover that Osaka is one of the best curry cities in Japan.
4. Tokyo Travel Guide
First on your Japan travel itinerary: Three days in Tokyo
Since you only have two weeks in Japan, we recommend you stick to three days in Tokyo. While that’s a short amount of time for such an amazing city, if you spend too much of your time there, you’ll get a very biased view of Japan.
Tokyo is a huge city with a lot to see and do, so three days will really just scratch the surface, but you can get a nice introduction to what the city is all about. Hopefully, it will make you want to return to see more in the future.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tokyo is not only big, but also very spread out, which makes it less dense than many people imagine. If you’re expecting a city that resembles NYC or Hong Kong, you’ll be surprised to find how different it is.
What to see?
Since Tokyo is a huge city and you’ll have limited time there, we’ve broken down the city into two categories: modern Tokyo and traditional Tokyo.
To make the most of your time, we recommend you stay somewhere along the JR Yamanote train line. It runs in a circle around the central city and makes it easy to get around. It’s also included in the JR Rail pass if you decide to get one.
Modern Tokyo: Shibuya and Shinjuku
The most famous attractions are probably the massive Shibuya Crossing and the bright neon lights of Shinjuku. These are two of Tokyo’s biggest and densest districts, but they are just a small section of the city.
Shinjuku is primarily a business district and it’s the most crowded neighborhood in Tokyo. In fact, Shinjuku station is the largest train station in the world!
Shibuya is a younger, trendier, and only slightly less crowded neighborhood. If you’re into nightlife and youth culture you will love Shibuya.
Places to visit in Tokyo: Top 5 attractions in Shibuya and Shinjuku
1. What to do in Shibuya: You’ve got to see Shibuya Crossing
This crossing is one of Tokyo’s most iconic sites. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s basically a large intersection known for the pedestrian crossing that goes in every direction. When the walk sign comes on the street is completely full of people. It’s shocking that it actually functions, but somehow it does…
2. What to do in Shibuya: Visit Meiji Shrine/Yoyogi Park
Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine right in the middle of Yoyogi Park, which is one of the biggest in Tokyo. You can easily spend an afternoon here if you like parks. Afterward, be sure to visit Harajuku.
3. What to do in Shibuya: Check out Harajuku
Have you ever seen pictures of Japanese teenagers who are obsessed with cuteness? They often wear colorful, frilly dresses, elaborate makeup and have stuffed animal-related things. Well, this is the center of it all. It’s not like it used to be, but it’s still worth visiting at least once.
4. Things to do in Shinjuku: Get the best view from the Tokyo Metropolitan building
While Skytree offers one of the best views in Tokyo, so does this government building. Right in the heart of Shinjuku is the Tokyo Metropolitan building, which offers another great view and also happens to be free.
5. Things to do in Shinjuku: Visit Shinjuku Gyoen
Another top place to visit in Shinjuku is the Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the city’s most beautiful gardens. It’s privately owned, so entrance isn’t free, but it’s immaculately maintained and well worth, the few hundred yen to enter.
Where to eat in Shibuya and Shinjuku?
Remember when we mentioned specialty noodle shops? Well, this is the place to try fantastic Udon!
2-20-16 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
This has become a really touristy area, but it’s still worth a visit. Tiny alleyways, with tiny bars and restaurants that come alive at night! This is a great place to try Japanese bars and small restaurants.
1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
This is a small, but inexpensive sushi restaurant. It’s a great place for your first bite of sushi in Japan.
1-12-3, Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo Mark city East 4F
This is a great place to try Japanese tofu that’s neither too formal or very expensive.
Cherry Garden 1F, 4-17, Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Traditional Tokyo: Ueno and Asakusa
Historical Tokyo is heavily concentrated around the Ueno and Asakusa neighborhoods. You’ll find many of the city’s museums concentrated near Ueno park and the famous Senso-Ji temple is in Asakusa.
Both areas will also give you a chance to get a glimpse at what Tokyo used to be like. The historical vibe will be a sharp contrast to the craziness of Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Traditional Tokyo: What to do in Asakusa, Ueno and Yanaka
1. What to do in Ueno: Visit Ueno Park
Not only is this one of Tokyo’s most popular parks, it’s also surrounded by a number of museums. If you’re interested in art, be sure to check out the Tokyo National Museum or one of the other art museums. If you’re into zoos, there’s one of those, too. Even if you’re not interested in any of those things, it’s still a great park to explore.
5-20 Uenokoen, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0007, Japan
2. Things to do in Asakusa: You’ve got to see Senso-Ji temple
Senso-Ji Temple is definitely one of Tokyo’s must see places. It’s often crowded, but the temple is beautiful and surrounded by a number of small places to try many different styles of Japanese food or pick up some souvenirs.
2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
3. Explore Yanaka
This is a small, historical neighborhood that’s great to just explore on foot. The local cemetery is the most popular stop and there are plenty of small eateries around the neighborhood. It will give you a feel for what Tokyo used to be like…
A great starting point is Yanaka Cemetary.
7 Chome-5-24 Yanaka, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
4. Visit the Edo-Tokyo museum
If you only visit one museum in Tokyo, we recommend you go here. This massive museum will teach you about the history of the city and it’s right in the middle of Tokyo’s Sumo neighborhood.
1 Chome-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida, Tokyo 130-0015, Japan
5. Tokyo Skytree is one of Tokyo’s best views
Every city has a tall building with a killer view and this is Tokyo’s. It also happens to be one of the tallest structures in the world. You can go to the top for a 360 degree view of Tokyo, but the view is great from inside the main building, too. Beyond the view, it’s a giant shopping mall with food, clothing, souvenirs, etc.
1 Chome-1-2 Oshiage, Sumida, Tokyo 131-0045, Japan
Where to eat in Ueno and Asakusa?
This classic pork cutlet shop will serve you mind-blowing Tonkatsu for under $10.
4-5-1 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
If you want to try classic Japanese beef, check out this Sukiyaki restaurant. There are a few different locations, but this one in Asakusa is a good choice.
3-1-12 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
This is a great place to try Tokyo-style Soba noodles.
6-9-16 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Have you tried Japanese sweets before? This is a great place to try Dorayaki, which is basically two small pancakes with a sweet bean filling in the middle.
1-10-10 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Daytrip to Kamakura
Since you only have two weeks in Japan, we recommend you stick to a single daytrip in the Tokyo region. While there are other potential trips nearby, like Hakone or a hike up Mount Fuji, we think they are better to do over 2-3 days. However, Kamakura is perfect for a short trip.
Kamakura briefly served as the capital of Japan and has a lot of history to it. You can see many historical temples and one of the world’s largest Buddha statues.
It’s also near the beach, so it’s popular for surfing, too.
Enoshima Sea Candle
We recommend you end your day by taking a trip to the Enoshima Sea Candle.
This tower sits on a small island and you get fantastic views from the observation deck. There’s an old school train that takes you to the island and you’ll have the option of getting a pass to use for the day.
What to eat?
Tako means Octopus in Japanese and Enoshima is known for their Tako Senbei, which is a large cracker made out of octopus. It sounds weird, but it’s a nice snack before or after the observation deck. You’ll see a little shop selling them.
Giant pancake from Iwata
You probably don’t think of pancakes as a Japanese food, but, never-the-less, Iwata is known for them. This old school cafe makes them extremely thick. They roast their own coffee, too. (FYI it’s a long wait and you should get there early).
1 Chome-5-７ Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 248-0006, Japan
5. Kansai Travel Guide
Next on your Japan travel itinerary: Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara
We grouped these three cities together because they are all within the Kansai region and relatively close to each other. So, where to stay will depend on a few factors.
The first thing is the season. Everywhere will be more crowded in the summer, but Kyoto will be unbelievably crowded. Kyoto is so overwhelmed by tourists that it’s difficult to find a place to stay during peak seasons. If you do find a place, it will probably be very overpriced. So, where to stay will depend on the season and your budget.
One option is to find a centrally located place in Osaka and take many trips from there. Another option is to stay in Nara instead of Kyoto. We recommend you explore each of these options to find the one that works best for you.
Don’t ignore Osaka
A lot of people spend all their time in Kyoto or pass through Osaka for a day.
This is a mistake.
While we wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a must-see, Osaka is one of Japan’s best food cities and has a totally different vibe than Tokyo.
Where to go in Osaka?
While Osaka is another big city with a lot to see and do, it’s primarily divided between north and south. These two parts of the city have very different vibes and people generally prefer one or the other.
Northern Osaka is centered around Osaka station and the surrounding neighborhoods. There’s a very modern vibe to this area and it has a lot of similarities to Tokyo, which is why some people don’t like it.
Where to eat near Osaka Station
Hanadako for Takoyaki
Takoyaki is little balls of dough with a piece of octopus in the middle… While this may sound weird, it’s fantastic and comes from Osaka.
While there are an overwhelming number of great places to try this famous dish, Hanadako is near the top of our list. Plus, it’s right by Osaka Station!
9-26 Kakudacho, Kita, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0017
Ramen at Human Beings Everybody Noodles
Fantastic ramen joint along the side of the railroad tracks with different soup broth options, plus fantastic pork and bamboo slices. Expect a long line but it’s worth the wait.
1-12-15 Nishinakajima, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka
Wagyu Yakiniku Taizan
Osaka is known for Horumonyaki, which is grilled offal meat. If you’re up for it, this is a great place to try it, but even if you’re not you can try fantastic Japanese Wagyu.
2 Chome-1-22 Minamimorimachi, Kita, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0054
Southern Osaka: Namba
The southern part of Osaka mostly revolves around Namba station. You’ll definitely feel more of the Osaka vibe in the south. It’s more laid back, older, and smaller.
There’s lots of street food and nightlife around Namba station. If you go further south, you can also explore some classic Osaka food in the Shinsekai area.
Where to eat in Namba, Osaka
Fukutaro for Okonomiyaki
While Okonomiyaki has become famous all over Japan, it is originally from Osaka. Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake filled with ingredients that you choose. Here, we love the Negiyaki, which has a slightly thinner batter and a ridiculous amount of scallions.
2 Chome-3-17 Sennichimae, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0074
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Fair warning, this market is very touristy and usually crowded, but it’s a great place to try a variety of Japanese food in one location. Definitely worth a visit, especially if you want to try a lot of different foods in one location.
2-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Tengu for Kushikatsu
If go a little farther south than Namba, you’ll find Shin-Sekai, a popular food district. You can find most anything here, but Kushikatsu (skewered and fried vegetables) is what Shin-Sekai is known for. You’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time as you check these old school restaurants.
Your Kyoto, Japan travel itinerary
Most people love Kyoto for the historical atmosphere and we think that almost everyone spending two weeks in Japan should visit. There are an unbelievable number of temples and shrines, along with a very traditional feel to the city which you need to experience for yourself.
Your main challenge in Kyoto is that it’s really spread out, making it difficult to do very much in one day. So, it’s best to break things up into sections and focus on one section of the city each day.
Also, it deserves another mention that there are an overwhelming number of tourists—especially on weekends and during summer. This makes it really difficult to get around and virtually impossible to get good photos at major attractions unless you go at the crack of dawn…
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
We think the bamboo forest is one of the must-sees in Kyoto. The towering trees and the surrounding area are a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. Get there early, though, because it does get crowded. Really, really, crowded.
There’s also the monkey forest nearby, but we don’t consider it essential.
Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-8385, Japan
This may be Kyoto’s most popular attraction, but it really is incredible to experience in person. The golden temple reflecting off the water is an amazing sight to see!
As always, expect large crowds of tourists unless you go really early. It works well to combine your visit with the bamboo forest, but if you do both in the same day, you’ll only get to see one without the crowds…
1 Kinkakujicho, Kita, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 603-8361, Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine
This is another extremely popular attraction that’s still worth visiting. It’s a little away from the central city, so plan to spend a number of hours if you really want to explore the area.
The beautifully maintained pillars lining the pathway that takes you up into the mountains are what make this shrine unique. There’s a very calm, spiritual atmosphere that you should really experience for yourself. There are also fantastic city views from some of the higher points.
It’s also extremely crowded with tourists, so it’s best to get there early. However, the farther you go, the less crowded it gets since most people just go for the selfie…
68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882, Japan
If you get to Fushimi Inari early, there should be plenty of time to visit Tofuku-ji Temple, which is just a couple of train stops away. It’s a huge complex with beautiful gardens that are definitely worth visiting. FYI, it’s also extremely popular with tourists. But, you can’t go everywhere outside of peak hours, so we recommend you prioritize Fushimi Inari when it comes to avoiding crowds.
778 Honmachi 15-chome, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0981, Japan
Just a short walk from Tofuku-ji is a small and less crowded area called Sennyu-ji.
27 Sennyuji Yamanouchicho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0977, Japan
Gion is the famous Geisha district in Kyoto, known for women wearing Kimono’s and elaborate make-up. You may see some walking around the area, but they will be quickly going someplace. Please don’t bother them or ask for a photo.
A good starting point is the Minami-za theater.
〒605-0075 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 大和大路西入る中之町 198 Shijo Dori
This is a popular market to explore on foot and try different foods at. It’s fairly touristy, though, so keep that in mind. Just like the Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka, it’s a nice place to try many different foods in one place.
〒604-8054 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward
Your Nara, Japan travel itinerary
A lot of people think Nara just takes half a day, but we think 1-2 days is better. Unlike Kyoto, Nara’s main attractions are concentrated together, but everything also closes really early.
If you spend a night in Nara, you can either see the historical sites without feeling rushed, or add a day trip nearby.
Nara Park and the famous deer
Despite the fact that Nara is one of the most historical cities in Japan, the biggest draw is probably the deer. A special breed of Japanese deer basically roam wild all over the city because they are considered sacred.
While you will see them all over town, you’ll see the most inside Nara Park, where hoards of visitors go to feed them. Vendors sell special deer crackers all around the park and many deer will even bow to you before you feed them…
Zōshichō, Nara, 630-8211, Japan
As far as Buddhist temples, this is one is a must visit in Nara. Inside, you will find the world’s largest Bronze Buddha statue. It’s also an official World Heritage site, as one of the seven monuments that make up ancient Nara.
406-1 Zōshichō, Nara, 630-8211, Japan
Just like Todai-Ji, this is considered one of the seven great temples of Nara. As far as sightseeing goes, this temple also stands out for it’s distinctive design.
48 Noboriōjichō, Nara, 630-8213, Japan
Nara National Museum
If you visit only one museum in Nara, we recommend the National Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of Buddhist art.
５０ Noboriōjichō, Nara, 630-8213, Japan
6. Southern Japan Travel Guide
Your Fukuoka, Japan travel itinerary
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Fukuoka, a small city in southern Japan that is best known for Ramen. If you’re familiar with Ichiran and Ippudo—two of Japan’s most famous ramen shops—then you should know that they are from Fukuoka. While they offer some of the best ramen outside of Japan, in Fukuoka, they’re just two of many great options.
Beyond ramen, Fukuoka just has a cool vibe to to it and is worth a visit during your two weeks in Japan. It’s a small city with great food and an emerging startup culture. All these unique factors are why we think the area is perfect for the end of your two weeks in Japan. You can step off the tourist path, try some great Japanese food, and experience natural hot springs over a few days.
Ramen, ramen, ramen
There are two Japanese ramen chains that are now huge, with locations all over the world—Ichiran and Ippudo—and both are from Fukuoka. So, if you’re at all interested in ramen, you’ll love this city because there is fantastic ramen everywhere.
The mighty Yatai
Fukuoka is also known for their Yatai, which are one of the earliest versions of food carts. You’ll see the owners carrying these massive carts around town and offering various types of food.
Sometimes, you’ll see one on a random street corner completely filled with people eating. This is a good sign that you’ve stumbled upon a local favorite…
Otherwise, there’s an area along the water where many Yatai serve many different foods at night. It’s more of a tourist attraction, but local people go there, too.
Fukuoka’s trendiest neighborhood is Tenjin. You will find shops and restaurants along tiny streets and little alleyways. It’s a fun area to explore on foot and of course there’s plenty of food nearby, too.
What to eat?
Fukuoka makes their Udon noodles differently than the rest of Japan. Rather than firm noodles, people in Fukuoka eat them soft. Our favorite dish is Niku Gobo, which beef and udon topped with deep fried burdock root. We recommend you try it here, but there’s usually a long line so you should expect to wait.
3-chōme-17-10 Hakata Ekimae, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, 812-0011, Japan
Shin Shin Ramen
This is a great place for your first bowl of Fukuoka ramen. They serve classic Tonkotsu ramen that’s neither too light or too strong.
１Ｆ, 3-chōme-2-１９ Tenjin, Chūō-ku, Fukuoka, 810-0001, Japan
Hakata Issou… if you dare
If you can handle a strong, intense, in-your-face bowl of tonkotsu ramen, try it here. But just so you know, we are not exaggerating. You can smell the heavy pork broth from a block away. If you can handle it, it’s fantastic.
3-chōme-1-６ Hakataekihigashi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, 812-0013, Japan
Fukuoka also makes some of Japan’s best Motsunabe, a hot pot that combines tripe or offal meat with vegetables and tofu. You will share a large hot pot in the middle of the table and the waiter will bring you fresh ingredients to cook.
Daytrip to Beppu
If you really want to step off the beaten path of most tourists, we recommend a 1-2 day trip to Beppu. This is one of the most popular hot spring areas for Japanese people. It’s a relaxing place to visit with lots of beautiful views, relaxing hot springs, and some cool attractions to visit.
The blue hot spring pictured above is just one of several in the area that are lots of different colors. It has to do with sulfur and other minerals in the hot springs. Different mineral create different colors.
7. Final Days of your two weeks in Japan
Last day in Tokyo
Since you’ve already seen Tokyo, the last day of your two weeks in Japan is a perfect opportunity to get to know the city a little better. If you fell in love with a particular neighborhood, you can see more of it, but if you’re ready for something new, we recommend Ginza.
The ideal is to find a place near Tokyo Station, so it’s easy to get to the airport when you leave. There are direct trains and buses, plus, you could store your luggage here if you need to.
It’s also very close to Ginza, which is Tokyo’s top food and shopping destination. If you’re looking for a fantastic meal for your last night or want to shop for souvenirs, Ginza is the place to do it. Even if you don’t, it’s a great area to just explore on foot.
Ready for another trip to Japan?
Hopefully, this guide helped you create the ultimate itinerary for two weeks in Japan. Despite being small, Japan is full of things to see and do whether you visit for two weeks or two years.
We made a point to focus on the highlights, but this is really just scratching the surface of what to do in Japan. There’s still so much more to see in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. Plus, there’s the Northern region of Hokkaido and the beautiful islands of Okinawa…
We could go on and on with more suggestions, but hopefully that gives you some ideas for future trips!