Best Places to Visit in Japan
Japan is fast becoming one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Every year more and more people visit the island country for its fresh sushi, amazing train travel, safe cities, interesting traditions and interesting pop culture. But Japan isn’t just about cats and robot cafes. Its many islands are surprisingly easy to navigate and are connected by rail, ferry and bus services.
Learn about the Ainu culture of Hokkaido’s cold, snowy northern islands and the ancient wonders of the Edo capital, Kyoto. Take a temple pilgrimage to Shikoku, explore the peaceful streets of Hiroshima, discover the forgotten Ryukyu culture on the tropical island of Okinawa, and get lost in the never-ending sparkling fun of Tokyo’s bustling streets.
Japan is a warm, welcoming and fun-filled travel destination with something for everyone. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Japan and make your trip enjoyable.
15 Best Places to Visit in Japan
Here are the top 15 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Japan:
With beautiful mountain views, relaxing hot springs, and numerous world-class art museums, Hakone is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations. A short train ride southwest of Tokyo, the town sits on the shores of tranquil Lake Ashino with the iconic Mount Fuji in the distance.
Hakone is a lovely and picturesque place with many lonsens and ryokans, so visiting one of the public baths and staying in a traditional ryokan is a must when in town. In addition, numerous galleries and museums feature beautiful sculptures and artwork, while small shops and boutiques sell local handicrafts.
One of the most popular activities is boarding a pirate ship that sails around Lake Ashi. From their decks, you can enjoy stunning views of the lake and the majestic Mount Fuji in the distance. While Hakone can get very crowded, especially on weekends and holidays, if you want to escape the crowds, there are many peaceful hiking trails to explore in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
Nara, once known as Heijo, was Japan’s first permanent capital, founded in 710. When the government was threatened by a powerful Buddhist monastery, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784. Less than an hour’s drive from Kyoto, the city is home to a number of important and impressive historical sites with numerous temples and shrines.
Many of its main attractions can be found in the beautiful green Nara Park, which is also home to the city’s many reindeer that roam around to crave food from tourists. Here, you’ll find the multi-story pagoda of Kofukuji Shrine and the ornate stone lanterns of Kasuga Taisha Shrine, as well as several beautifully landscaped Japanese gardens. Most notable, however, is the Todai-ji Temple with its awe-inspiring architecture and colossal giant Buddha.
In addition to its many well-preserved historical buildings, Nara has several excellent museums for tourists to visit, as well as the fascinating old commercial district of Naramachi. With so much history, art and architecture on display, this ancient capital is definitely not to be missed.
Today’s Kyoto is the sole capital of the Kyoto Prefecture, but it was once the imperial capital of Japan for over 1,000 years. If you’re interested in a glimpse of ancient Japan, Kyoto should definitely be on your itinerary. Due to its historical importance, the city was built during World War II. It was largely spared from most of the devastating bombings that occurred in other parts of Japan during World War II. The city of 1.5 million in central Honshu is home to more than 1,000 temples and shrines, including one of the most photographed gold pavilions.
Alongside numerous religious buildings, Kyoto is home to the magnificent Nijo Castle, the former residence of the Tokugawa shogunate, the well-preserved historic district of Higashiyama, and Kyoto’s famous geisha district, Gion. But Kyoto is more than history, the city also has a world-class aquarium, and for fun, you can learn how to become a Japanese assassin at the ninja training dojo.
Travelers who love to socialize with people will love Tokyo. The metropolitan area of the Japanese capital is the most populated in the world. From watching the spring cherry blossoms in the traditional gardens to the Tuskiji fish market. From temples to karaoke bars, Tokyo is a fusion of old and new.
It’s hard to get bored in crazy fast Tokyo, and even walking the streets can be fun. For example, the city’s Shibuya intersection is known for its controlled mob crossing; The Harajuku neighborhood is known for its stunning street fashion, including but not limited to goth lolita, punk or kawaii Yi schoolgirl. Tokyo is also home to numerous temples, including the most famous Meiji Jingu Shrine and the oldest Sensoji Shrine.
Then there is Tsukiji Fish Market. Fish markets won’t be a tourist attraction in most cities, but it’s the busiest and largest fish market in the world and is on almost every Tokyo visitor’s itinerary. It’s also one of the best places on the planet to get extremely fresh sushi. Attention, because you will go to the fish market early in the morning, you will have sushi for breakfast.
Other attractions in Tokyo include the Imperial Palace, Emperor’s Residence, and Tokyo Tower. Fortunately, getting around Tokyo is easy, as the city has a large and relatively easy-to-use transportation system. If you have the time, you will definitely consider taking a day trip to the beautiful Mount Fuji.
Located on the island of Honshu, Hiroshima is 500 years younger than many Japanese cities, but its fate was forever etched in history as the first city to drop an atomic bomb on the world on August 6, 1945. Although more than 60% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed, the city made an incredible recovery after that devastating explosion. In fact, in 1974 the city managed to double its pre-war population and became a popular tourist destination.
One of the city’s most popular attractions is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, built to honor all those killed or injured by the atomic bomb. This large park has many interesting attractions, including the Peace Memorial Museum, where visitors can see the impact of the bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima. Another tourist attraction not to be missed is the Otorii Gate, a wooden temple gate that appears to be floating in the sea at high tide. Torii Gate is located in nearby Miyajima.
Located on the shores of scenic Sagami Bay and surrounded by forested hills, Kamakura is a prime destination just an hour south of Tokyo by train. As once the capital of Japan, this coastal city is home to many important landmarks and countless beautiful temples and shrines.
Its iconic symbol and most famous sight are the 13.35 meter tall Kamakura Big Buddha. Towering in the surroundings, this mighty bronze figure is one of the city’s most famous and photographed sights. The grand Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine also attracts many tourists, as do the beautiful and peaceful Zen temples of Kencho-Ji and Engaku-Ji.
While Kamakura certainly has many interesting historical and cultural sites, the city center is also home to many great shops and restaurants. Many come here to take a walk, experience its stunning natural beauty, or simply sunbathe, swim or surf on one of its beautiful beaches.
Located at the entrance to Nikko National Park, Nikko is nestled among the mountains and surrounded by lush forests with stunning views. In addition to being famous for its scenery, the city is also home to many important shrines and Buddhist temples in Tochigi Province.
Impressively, Nikko is home to the mausoleum of two Tokugawa shoguns. These can be found in the vast and luxurious Toshogu complex. Surrounded by tall cedar trees, the site showcases wonderful Edo period architecture with numerous shrines, temples, and pagodas. While the complex is undoubtedly the main attraction in Nikko, two of the most famous and photographed spots are the centuries-old Shinkyo Bridge and the shimmering Kegon Falls, both famous for their beauty.
Apart from that, many people come to Nikko because of the beautiful nature and scenery around it. Hidden in the vast mountains and forests, you can find sparkling waterfalls and lakes, as well as bubbling streams and boiling hot springs. Very convenient from Tokyo, all of Nikko’s historical, cultural and natural attractions are just a two-hour train ride from the nation’s capital.
The small town of Takayama lies in the middle of Honshu between the northern Japanese Alps and is picturesque. Known for its traditional cityscape, gorgeous riverside setting, and unique culture and traditions, this area is fast becoming one of the region’s most popular attractions.
In the well-preserved historic district, visitors will find many beautiful buildings from the Edo period, as well as small sake breweries, boutiques, and dreamy old merchant houses. Shrines, temples, and museums abound in Takayama, and there are many morning markets near the river. At Hida Folk Village, you can watch local artisans making crafts and wander through a reconstructed mountain village filled with traditional thatched-roof farmhouses.
Due to its isolated surroundings, Takayama has developed its own rich culture and traditions, as evidenced by the two famous Sanno Matsuri and Hachiman Matsuri festivals. During the festivities, large ornately decorated buoys pass through the city and lanterns magically illuminate the city. Many people visit the lively atmosphere and atmosphere during the festival.
9. Kiso Valley
Part of the historic Nakasendo trade route that once connected Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo), Kiso Valley is home to several fascinating old postal stations and spectacular scenery. The valley is covered with dense forest and surrounded by steep mountains centered on the Kiso River in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan.
The valley is now a very popular tourist destination due to its well-preserved historical sites and magnificent mountain views. One of its most famous and scenic spots is located between two Edo period props, Tsumago and Tsumago. Many people prefer to walk from one place to another.
Wander through lush forests and flowing streams, there are many atmospheric ancient buildings to admire and comfortable ryokans for you to stay in. Kiso Valley also has the charming town of Nagai for tourists to visit and pleasant hiking trails through the surrounding landscape.
Located in the southern part of Osaka, in Wakayama Prefecture, Koyasan is primarily known as the center of Shingon Buddhism. Surrounded by eight prominent peaks, this magnificent mountain is home to numerous temples, shrines and pagodas, as well as unspoiled natural beauty and scenery.
Settled as early as 819 AD, the original monastery has grown to include more than 120 temples. Of these, the Congoji Temple is undoubtedly the most important and impressive with its centuries-old auditorium, traditional buildings and idyllic rock gardens. Konpon Daito is also worth a visit for its lovely pagoda and the vast and atmospheric cemetery of Okunoin.
While many people take day trips to Koyasan from Osaka, staying and sleeping in one of the temples is a great way to experience temple life on the mountain. Besides visiting its many holy sites, historical temples and shrines, there are many wonderful hikes in the surrounding mountains and forests.
Located in western Okinawa, Ishigaki Island is Japan’s premier beach destination and a great base from which to explore the rest of the Yaeyama archipelago. It has some of the best beaches in Japan and is particularly popular with families, as the beaches in Tomizaki and Mae Sato are protected by nets.
Located 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) south of Tokyo, Ishigaki Island may not have the shrines and temples that other cities in Japan have, but it does make it ideal for those rejuvenated after a day of beach exploration, water sports, or climbing Nosoko Has Mountain. rich nightlife
Miyajima is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, located northwest of Hiroshima Bay and surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea. Besides having one of the famous “Three Landscapes of Japan”, it also has some beautiful landscapes and many temples and shrines.
Miyajima – or “Temple Island” – is just a popular nickname for Itsukushima, which has long been considered a sacred place. Its interior is dominated by the scenic and sacred slopes of Mount Misan, where you will find various Buddhist temples, shrines and a magnificent five-story pagoda. Its gentle hills and dense forests are ideal for hiking, and you’ll often encounter free-roaming reindeer on the island.
But Miyajima’s main attraction is the “floating” torii of Itsukushima Shrine just off its shores. It is one of the most famous and well-known spots in Japan, and every year it takes great pictures and attracts a large number of tourists.
The historic city of Kanazawa is located in the northwestern part of Ishikawa Prefecture, between the wild waters of the Sea of Japan and the towering Japanese Alps. Long neglected due to its remote location, it is an increasingly popular destination rich in history, culture and heritage.
Downtown, you’ll find a fantastic century-old castle, as well as a charming and well-preserved samurai and geisha quarter. Its narrow streets are lined with traditional houses, quaint tea houses, and many atmospheric temples and shrines. Kanazawa is also home to some great museums and the bustling Omi market famous for its fresh seafood.
The most famous attraction is the scenic Kenrokuen Garden, which is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan. It can be visited any time of the year and is home to a wide variety of trees and plants, as well as scenic ponds, bridges and stone lighthouses.
14. Shirakawa-go and Mount Goka
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are two of the most beautiful villages in Japan, nestled among majestic mountains, valleys and dense forests. Known for their gorgeous setting and traditional thatched-roof farmhouses, these houses are one of the most popular tourist destinations in central Honshu.
While this means they can get very crowded, especially during Golden Week and cherry blossom season, these villages are truly a treat. This is because its unique gassho-style architecture, surrounded by fertile farmland and magnificent nature, gives it a very charming, peaceful and rustic feel.
In addition to admiring the incredible scenery and historic farmhouses, visitors can visit the Jim Homura Art Museum, shop for some local handicrafts, and stay in a traditional ryokan. In addition, the mountains and forests surrounding Shirakawa-go and Mount Goka feature scenic hiking trails, shimmering waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery.
Located in the heart of one of the world’s most populated metropolitan areas, Osaka sits on the shores of Osaka Bay and is surrounded by more than a dozen satellite cities. This sprawling metropolis is Japan’s third largest metropolis and has long been an important economic center and a major financial centre.
Although the vast concrete jungle may not look all that beautiful, Osaka is considered the best place to eat, drink and play in Japan. Most of the nightlife is concentrated in the neon-lit Dotonbori district, which is home to many restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. For shopping, Shinsaibashi is a must; Endless stores, boutiques and shopping centers are lined up on the covered shopping streets.
While most people visit for the thriving culinary scene and nightlife, there are some interesting historical sites and landmarks to visit in Osaka. For example, its reconstructed castle is located in a beautiful downtown park, while the Umeda Sky Building and Tsutenkaku are among its most recognizable attractions. In addition, it is home to Sumiyoshi Shrine and Shitennoji, two of the oldest religious sites in Japan.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Japan. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Japan, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.