Top 20 Places to visit in Japan
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Thanks to the holy Shinto shrines, trade footprints of the bygone era, serene Buddhist temples, eclectic pet cafes, lush green gardens, diverse art forms, gastronomical delights, and preserved cultural icons, Japan is a backpack full of surprises for travelers of all kinds. Japan is a nation with no limits for discovery. You could not even explore the whole country in a lifetime.
With so many places to visit in Japan, it is not easy to decide where to go with so many options of things to do, see, and experience. There is also a lack of tourist information in foreign languages. Hence, only a knowledgeable person knows what to see in Japan. You need to know the best places in Japan if you want to live like locals, you are in the right place. We will guide you well.
We recommend you to research and explore more when you visit Japan, even though you feel getting lost on your way. We have got you covered to help you to be on the right track with the best Japan tourist places.
Useful travel tips for every traveler (Budget or not!)
→ Learn how to find cheap flights: Read our Skyscanner guide on how to find flights!
→ Save some money from your hotel bookings: Use this Booking.com link to find deals on hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Another tip is tp sign-up for an account and refer friends and for every 50USD worth of hotel bookings, you will get 10% of your money back!
→ Save money and use Airbnb: Get up to 26USD in credit to use on your next stay, use this link to avail this!
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick facts and Japan travel tips
- 2 Find accommodations in Japan
- 3 Find the best tours in Japan
- 4 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Japan
- 5 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Quick facts and Japan travel tips
Quick facts about Japan?
- Capital City? Tokyo
- Currency? Japanese yen (¥ )
- Language(s)? Nihongo
- Where is this country located? East Asia
- What is Japan famous for? Traditional arts including tea ceremonies and calligraphy and floral arranging.
- Best time to visit Japan and seasons? If you want to see the cherry blossoms, you must come in Spring (March to May), skiing season is during Winter (November to March), and the peak season is in Summer (June to August). Autumn (September to October) is also a nice time to visit if you want to see the cities and villages bloom in color!
- Transportation in Japan? The metro system is very efficient in bigger cities and to get around the country, you can take the bullet train, buses, and by flying
- International Airport(s)? Tokyo International Airport/Haneda (HND), Narita International Airport (NRT), Kansai International Airport (KIX), Kansai International Airport (KIX)
- Which side of the road do they drive? They drive on the left side of the road.
- What is the electricity plug type? Type A and B,100V. Check our travel adapter review!
- Neighboring countries? By sea: South Korea, The Philippines, and Taiwan
Do you need a visa for Japan?
Check out this detailed guide on how to apply for a Japan visa – read it here.
Where to book your flights to Japan?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need travel insurance for Japan?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Find accommodations in Japan
Find the best tours in Japan
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Japan
The bustling capital city, Tokyo is also one of the most unique and best places to visit in Japan. You can find a wide range of attractions and second activities to none. If you are visiting Japan for the first time, it can be quite difficult when it comes to deciding where and when to visit Japan. Do not worry! There are enormous varieties of tours out there for all interests, be it city highlights, Mount Fuji day trip to hopping on the world-famous bullet train.
There is a mix of ancient and ultramodern architecture side by side in the city. There are plenty of Japan tourist spots and attractions like the serene Imperial Palace and sumo-wrestling tournament.
Learn more about Tokyo:
Earlier, Kyoto was the capital of Japan. On Honshu Island, Kyoto is still a beautiful city to visit and experience several aspects of Japanese culture and the city. Kyoto is well known for Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and imperial palaces, which can be visited on the one-day tour. If you want to get immersed in
Japanese culture, Kyoto is the best city with plenty of experiences for the tourists, including Zen gardens, tea ceremonies, Japanese origami and calligraphy, and even more. You can also attend theater performances, excellent museums, or dine out. You can also go for garden visits and cycling tours.
Located just on the central Honshu Island in the heart of Japan tourism, Osaka is one of the best places to visit in Japan. Osaka is well equipped to greet visitors as an ideal gateway to several remarkable marvels of Japan. It has five tourist information centers operated by a multi-lingual team who can help you along the trip.
They can also help you by offering an overview of the best places to travel inJapan, i.e., by using several tours or hop-on, hop-off tourist buses. You can learn about architecture and history, theatre and art culture, modern and ancient art, on the guided tours for all interests, family tours, shopping tours, and food tours.
It is both the prefecture and city in the south-central island of Honshu and was Japan’s capital from 710 to 784, when the architecture, arts, and cultural exchange with nearest countries were flourishing in Japan destinations. As a result, Nara enjoys the lion’s share of architectural, historical, and cultural treasures to discover.
There are eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit, including ancient shrines and temples, the Kasugayama Primeval Forest and Heijokyu Imperial Palace. If you are a nature lover, you may also walk in the footprints of previous and holy pilgrims.
Even though Hiroshima attracts thousands of tourists every year for A-bomb Dome, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the nearby Peace Memorial Park, there is so much to explore in its countryside. Visit the Peace Memorial Park and do not miss the site where the atomic bomb was thrown to get to know about the terrible implications of war and the importance of world peace.
After visiting this distressing site, you can explore the second World Heritage Site of the city, the very own Itsukushima Shrine, the home of the gods. You can also go cycling, hiking or walk along the serene trails or one of the most amazing hot springs to get a relaxing and pleasing spa treatment.
It is one of the best Japan tourist places. If you ask when to visit Japan, we recommend you to visit during cherry blossom season. In Hitsujiayama Park, you can explore the serene shibazakura or the ‘lawn cherry blossoms.’ In Hitsujiyama Park, you can go to Shibazakura Hill from late April to early May.
There are nine varieties of cherry blossoms in over 400,000 trees where you can find the ideal patchwork of red, pink, white, and violet. They are located around the backdrop of Mount Buko. Catch the Chichibu Shibazakura Festival here for some serious Insta-inspiration, where you can see petals arranged in different swirls and shapes.
Tohoku collectively describes the northern part of the main island of Japan. There a was packed of hidden gems, in the entire region and visitors could check out the likes of Ginzan Onsen and Yama-dera.
If you are getting here in early August, be sure to catch the Aomori’s Nebuta Festival it is an overwhelming and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to book your hotel room in advance before local tourists capture reservations.
Located in the heart of Honshu Island, Nagoya is the best city for Japan trip as it tastefully combines modernity and history. It is a historical city dating back to 1614, the period when Nagoya Castle was built.
You can take a sterol around the Cultural Path between Tokugawa and Nagoya Castle and explore a vast range of historic and well-preserved complexes, before heading off to witness some of the modern industry, innovation, arts, and crafts.
You can take your time and visit the pristine Higashiyama Park, which houses the botanical garden and zoo. You can also visit several temples and shrines to enjoy the rich food culture. You can also join guided wine and food tour to learn to make sushi.
It is a small village located in one of several valleys of Gifu prefecture. It is well known for the handcrafted ‘gassho-zukuri’ buildings. Shirakawogo gets plenty of snow in winter months, and these homes were engineers to deal with heavy snowfall. It has few of the spots to get an insight into traditional Japanese lifestyle.
The Kiso Valley
The Kiso Valley, strategically positioned off the beaten path, but it was ironically on the beaten way at the same time. The Nakasendo, one of two leading highways between Tokyo and Kyoto, once crisscrossed through the hills and transported many traders for centuries. Currently, most parts of the old road are preserved and offer ideal hiking experience to the tourists.
Also, the outpost towns of Tsumago and Magome have gone to significant heights to recreate the setting authentically, so one can experience and feel the lives during the historical era. It is a must if you are visiting Japan to go outdoors.
Nagasaki located between the sea and the mountains in the south of Japan, where it offers different activities and attractions for the visitors of all tastes. It is a paradise for outdoor lovers as they can soak up the beach sun, explore the countryside on a bike, or hike in the mountains.
Your visit to Nagasaki cannot complete without visiting the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum. You can trace the cultural and historical side of the city at Dijima when touring the two of the exotic exhibits.
To see the impact of western culture on the city, be sure to explore the Glover Garden, where some of the initial western residences can be visited, on the island. You can take the cable car of Nagasaki Ropeway for serene views atop the Mount Inasa.
In the heart of Japan, the usual crowds of travelers who visit Kyoto often visit Nagano. However, you can get the authentic side of Japan more deeply without going through the crowds. It houses many hidden gems along with stunning scenery. Be sure to visit Matsumoto City, an ideal starting point to experience the massive snowfalls in Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route (even when you visit in early summer).
Most of the main attractions of Kyoto are located in the east, and you can head to Arashiyama in the west to get the so-called experience of being in a bamboo forest. This area has been a natural retreat dating back to the Heian era. Along with the stunning forest scene, you can also visit the Iwayatama Monkey Park and Tenryu-Ji temple. You can also take at least half of your day for this destination.
There are four major islands in Japan, along with Okinawan islands. Nevertheless, the Shikoku is the smallest island and also least frequented by the tourists. This area is well known for its unique and endearing charms.
Shikoku is well known for 88 pilgrimages, which have the multi-day trekking from one temple to another along the circumference of the island. You can also visit the serene vine bridges of Iya Valley. It is also known as the ‘Tibet of Japan’ as it is very remote.
Sapporo is an ideal retreat for the outdoor lovers where you can head out and explore. It is located on the northeastern island and a perfect getaway to skip the humidity of summer. It is the most popular city for its snow festival held every year.
Artists design huge snow sculptures every year and some measure over 15 m high and 25m wide. Therefore, it is undoubtedly worth your visit. Especially in February, you must visit here for some adventure with snow.
Located around 2 ½ hours from Tokyo by flight, the Okinawa islands are technically the part of Japan, and its isles may be the tour to another country. Okinawa was historically famed for its status as the Ryukyu Kingdom.
It has a diverse history due to its legacy, which is different from the rest of Japan. Also, it is visible in the cultural motifs here. Today, it is a tropical retreat for a lot of Japanese people. You can lazily soak the sun at the Japan beaches and enjoy a lot of fun things.
On the northern part shore of Kyushu Island of Japan, Fukuoka is a modern city to start exploring Japan. It has a rapid transport system, and it has a lot of urban green landscapes to escape the hustles and bustles of hectic city life.
It also has several tourist attractions, including Fukuoka Castle and Kusida Shrine to explore the history, Fukuoka Tower and its observation deck to get the 360-degree view of the city and a shopper’ paradise, Canal City.
On Honshu Island, Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture’s capital known for excellent museums, serene gardens, historical buildings, and the best paradise for Japanese culture. It was once a peaceful castle town. You may start some of the walking tours to learn everything about this place, including culture and history.
The hilly town of Hakone is located in the center of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is well known for excellent vistas of Mt. Fuji. Here, you can feel the healing benefits of hot water springs and visit a lot of amazing attractions, such as the Hakone Botanical Gardens, Hakusan Shinto Shrine, and even more.
Kyushu is the southernmost island along with four major islands of Japan. There are seven prefectures of this island, with their charm. It has no lack of natural attractions and Japanese food. History and culture are so unique from the central Honshu Island that it makes you feel that you are in another country. Be sure to catch the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival in July.
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- Have you been to any of these places to visit in Japan?
- If yes, which ones?
- If not, which ones you’d like to visit one day?
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