Lonely Planets Classic 10-14 day Japan Itinerary.
Tokyo, the Japan Alps & Kyoto The Tokyo– Japan Alps– Kyoto route is the classic Japan itinerary and the best way to get a quick taste of the country.
You’ll experience three faces of Japan: the modern wonders of Tokyo, the traditional culture of Kyoto and the natural beauty of the Japan Alps. While you can do this itinerary in any season, keep in mind that the Japan Alps can be snow covered any time from early November to late March – this rules out hiking unless you’re an experienced winter mountaineer – but you can visit the attractive cities of Takayama and Kanazawa any time of year.
2 Week Japan Itinerary
Let’s assume that you’ll fly into Tokyo, where you can spend a few days experiencing the best that the capital has to offer. Don’t worry about skipping some of the traditional sights in that itinerary, because you’ll be heading to Kyoto, and you’ll get your fill of shrines and temples there. From Tokyo, take the shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya, then an express to Takayama. Spend a day here checking out the restored Sanmachi-suji, then head into the Japan Alps via Kamikōchi or nearby Shin-Hotaka Onsen. Return to Takayama and rent a car so you can visit the thatched-roof villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama. From there, if you feel like some more alpine scenery, drive northeast and head back into the Japan Alps via the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route (the route is open from late spring to early autumn). Next, travel to Kanazawa (some rental agencies will allow you to drop the car in Kanazawa). Otherwise, you can also go from Takayama to Kanazawa by bus with a stop in Shirakawa-gō en route. In Kanazawa, check out the famous garden of Kenroku-en, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nagamachi district. From Kanazawa, there are several daily express trains that will get you to Kyoto in a little over two hours. In Kyoto, take some time to visit the sights, then jump on the shinkansen and get yourself back to Tokyo in time for your flight home.
Source: Lonely Planet Japan (Travel Guide) Kindle Edition.