Japan was on our wish list for a long long time. We were just waiting for the right time to visit it. We always thought it was quite pricey, but when we realised we can see it by a campervan and travel in the way we like the most (road tripping and camping) we decided it was finally the right time to go.

The itineraries we usually see and hear about traveling in Japan, are all pretty similar, it seems everybody takes the same routes. But we wanted to see also the other, lesser known side of Japan. There is a huge difference between Japanese countryside and the big cities. It’s like you stepped in a completely different country. That was the Japan we wanted to see and traveling by a campervan was an ideal way to do that.

We had 5 weeks to explore Japan. We chose the Honshu island for our first three weeks and the last two weeks we spent on the Japan’s last frontier – the idyllic Yaeyama islands.

Above is the map of our journey and below is our Japan itinerary with the places we have visited:

Day 1: Narita – Nikko (Lake Chuzenji)

Day 2: Nikko – Oze National Park – Takaragawa – Kusatsu

Day 3: Kusatsu – Togakushi shrine – Hirayu

Day 4: Hirayu – Matsumoto – Narai Juku

Day 5: Narai Juku – Tsumago Juku – Fumotuppara campsite

Day 6: Fumotuppara – Shiraito Falls – Sumatakyo gorge – Isa

Day 7: Isa – Ijika village

Day 8: Ijika – Kumano

Day 9: Kumano – Nachi Falls – Katsuura

Day 10: Katsuura – Hashiguiiwa Rocks

Day 11: Hashiguiiwa Rocks – Koyasan

Day 12: Koyasan – Kyoto

Day 13: Kyoto

Day 14: Kyoto

Day 15: Kyoto – Lake Biwa

Day 16: Lake Biwa – Tokugenin temple – Futo Coast (Izu pensinsula)

Day 17: Futo Coast – Chureito Pagoda

Day 18: Chureito Pagoda – Lake Saiko, Motosuko and Shojiko – Kawaguchi Lake

Day 19: Kawaguchi Lake – Tokyo

Day 20: Tokyo

Day 21: Tokyo

Day 22: Tokyo

Day 23: Tokyo – Ishigaki-jima island

Day 24: Ishigaki-jima island (Taketomi-jima island – Kabira bay)

Day 25: Ishigaki-jima island (Cape Hirakubozaki Lighthouse – Ibaruma Sabichi Cave – Cape Uganzaki Lighthouse)

Day 26: Ishigaki-jima island – Iriomote-jima island

Day 27: Iriomote-jima island (kayaking trip)

Day 28: Iriomote-jima island (kayaking trip)

Day 29: Iriomote-jima island

Day 30: Iriomote-jima island – Ishigaki-jima island

Day 31: Ishigaki-jima island

Day 32: Ishigaki-jima island – Okinawa island

Day 33: Okinawa island

Day 34: Okinawa island

We had almost 5 weeks for discovering Japan, if you are on a shorter holiday you can easily adjust the itinerary to the number of days you have.

We traveled around Honshu with a rented campervan that we rented at japancampers.com and we were sleeping in the van all the time, except Tokyo. On the islands we rented a car on each island and slept in a tent that we brought with us. There are campsites on all three southern islands we visited.

Japan is a great place for traveling with a campervan and for camping. The rest areas for those who are driving across Japan are excellent.

For our Tokyo hotel we stayed at Sakura hotel in the lovely part of the city named Jimbocho.

Japan is known to get most tourists during the seasons of cherry blossom and autumn foliage. We were there during the autumn foliage and saw that at most popular places sometimes it can get quite crowdy. But if you can get to the main attractions early in the morning, mostly there will be just few people around.

If you are traveling to Japan, try to visit some places that are not on every tourist’s radar – you will get a totally different experience, more traditional and you will get the feeling how the real Japan looks like.

Essentials to bring when traveling to Japan:

– a translate app is very helpful, as very few Japanese people speak more than very basic words and phrases in English

– a good insurance as for every travel. We use Coris for years now and had great experience with it when we got into troubles

– a small towel will be practical for visiting onsens (traditional Japanese warm baths that you just do not have to miss)