With its enormous cities and towering skyscrapers brightly clad in neon lights, Japan is a fun country to visit, full of history and with a rich cultural heritage. Temples and shrines dot its streets, while world-class restaurants rub shoulders with ancient castles and imperial palaces, and its cities bustle with life and energy. Japan is a warm, welcoming and endlessly interesting travel destination with something for everyone. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Japan:
Number 10. Kanazawa
Located between the wild waters of the Sea of Japan and the towering Japanese Alps, the historic city of Kanazawa boasts a rich history and culture. In the center of the city, you can find a fantastic centuries-old castle, as well as charming and well-preserved samurai and geisha districts. Their narrow alleys are lined by traditional houses, cosy tea shops, and a number of atmospheric temples and shrines. Its most famous attraction is the lovingly landscaped Kenroku-en, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan.
Number 9. Ishigaki
Located west of Okinawa, Ishigaki is Japan’s premier beach destination and makes a good base to explore the other islands in the Yaeyama archipelago. Located 1,250 miles south of Tokyo, Ishigaki may not have the shrines and temples that other Japanese cities have, but it does have an exuberant nightlife for visitors who have the energy after a day of beachcombing, diving or climbing Mount Nosoko.
Number 8. Hiroshima
Lying in western Honshu, Hiroshima´s history will forever be linked to the atomic bomb which flattened the city on August 6th, 1945.
Almost completely destroyed, Hiroshima has remarkably been reconstructed and is now a bustling modern city, full of life. While many visitors come to pay their respects at the Peace Memorial Park and visit the chilling A-Bomb Dome ruins, the city has many other sights. It also serves as a gateway to some beautiful nearby islands including the famous Miyajima Shrine.
Number 7. Kamakura
Set on the scenic shores of Sagami Bay, with forest-coated hills surrounding it, Kamakura is a top-rated destination.
As it was once the capital of Japan, the coastal city is home to many important landmarks and a plethora of beautiful temples and shrines. Its defining symbol and most famous sight is the Great Buddha of Kamakura, which is almost 44 feet high. Made out of bronze, the mighty figure towers over its surroundings and is one of the city’s most famed and photographed attractions.
Number 6. Nikko
Located around two hours to the north of Tokyo, the small city of Nikko is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and justifiably so. Tucked away among the mountains with forests all around it, Nikko is home to lots of impressive Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. In addition to its many cultural attractions, Nikko is renowned for its beautiful mountain scenery.
The surrounding forests are full of sparkling waterfalls, glimmering lakes, and steaming hot springs for you to explore.
Number 5. Takayama
Tucked away among the northern Japanese Alps, the small city of Takayama was, until relatively recently, one of Japan’s best kept secrets. Nowadays, however, its well-preserved quarter full of Edo-era architecture and its wealth of shrines, temples, and other tourist attractions lure more and more visitors every year.
Renowned for its beautiful townscape, Takayama certainly does paint a pretty picture with the peaceful Miyagawa River coursing its way through town.
Number 4. Hakone
Boasting beautiful mountain scenery, relaxing hot springs, and a number of world-class art museums, Hakone is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. Located just a short train ride to the southwest of Tokyo, the town lies on the shores of tranquil Lake Ashi.
One of the most popular things to do is take a boat ride on one of the pirate ships that sail around the lake. From aboard their decks, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the lake’s stunning scenery and majestic Mount Fuji in the distance.
Number 3. Nara
Considered to be the birthplace of Japanese civilization, this ancient former capital has a wealth of historic sites for visitors to enjoy.
Most of its main attractions can be found in the gorgeous, green Nara Park, also home to the city’s multitude of tame deer that amble about asking tourists for food.
Here you’ll find the multi-storey pagodas and splendid stone lanterns, as well as a couple of lovingly landscaped Japanese gardens. The highlight, however, is Todai-ji Temple with its awe-inspiring architecture and enormous Great Buddha.
Number 2. Kyoto
Widely reputed to be the most beautiful city in Japan, Kyoto is a treat to visit. The nation’s capital for over a thousand years, it sports lots of incredible historical sights and cultural landmarks. Dotted around its ancient streets, you’ll find wonderful palaces and idyllic gardens, with 2,000 Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to check out. In addition to this, its historic district of Gion is also well worth exploring. It is here that you can find lots of geishas and traditional inns.
While Kyoto is lovely to visit at any time of year, it is particularly magical when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
Number 1. Tokyo
Lying at the center of the world’s most populous metropolitan area, Japan’s futuristic capital is an exhilarating place to explore.
Renowned for its skyscraper-filled skyline and embracing cutting-edge technology, the neon-lit city stretches away endlessly before you.
Interspersed amongst its towering blocks are awe-inspiring temples and museums that proudly showcase Japan’s rich heritage and history. Whether you’re into calligraphy or cherry blossoms and consumer products, Tokyo certainly has something for everyone to enjoy. Creative, innovative, and quirky in equal measure, the massive metropolis is not to be missed out on when in Japan..