20 Truly Remarkable Can’t-Miss Places To Visit In Japan
Japan is a magnificently diverse and photogenic destination filled with engineering marvels, mouthwatering dishes and natural wonders that enchant and inspire visitors. A heady blend of the otherworldly, ethereal, modern and ancient, there’s indeed no shortage of fascinating and impressive places to visit in Japan. Whether you’re an adventure junkie, urban explorer or history enthusiast, there’s something special and mesmerizing waiting for you in Japan.
Headed to the “Land of the Rising Sun”, but don’t know where to go in Japan? Wondering what to do in Japan on your trip? From dazzling winter wonderlands to surreal Instagram-worthy ancient cities, we’ve listed down some of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Japan!
“Vibrant” and “animated” are truly the best words to describe the capital of Japan. Crazily and madly in love with its anime culture, this metropolis is buzzing endlessly with movement and colors, from cosplayers with their giggles and clacking feet to zooming cars and subway trains. Surprisingly, though, the city has quite a few treats for weary travelers, like insightful museums, world-class historic sites, serene temples and laid-back parks with cherry trees in spring. Home to more than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants, the city is also one of the best places to visit in Japan for foodies, with its eclectic and thriving culinary scene.
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Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto flaunts the heart and soul of the country’s traditional side. Revered as one of the best places to visit in Japan, this historic city boasts over 1,500 Buddhist temples, 300 Shinto shrines as well as home to an outstanding collection of 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Even though the hub has its fair share of neon and concrete, you’ll surely find your zen here in its sacred shrines and time-honored teahouses. Plus, Kyoto also has a delicious cuisine, world-class gardens and an array of convivial festivals. And, did we mention that it has mysterious geishas that stroll down the city’s tranquil alleyways?
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Not your typical port city, Osaka dazzles with a wide range of diversions and things to do for its visitors. Voted often as one of the best places to visit in Japan, Osaka is home to the beloved Osaka Castle Park, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Universal Studios Japan. Dotonbori – the heart of the city – brims with energy, flashy billboards as well as tasty dining options, from shops and food carts to fine restaurants. For those who are traveling with their little ones, don’t forget to drop by Kids Plaza, where kids can let their imaginations run wild with its hands-on science experiments, dress-up areas, and tons of room to run around.
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Even with its bloody and tragic past, Hiroshima is still viewed as one of the best and most intriguing places to visit in Japan. Flourishing, vibrant and historic, the city hosts buildings and landmarks that serve as poignant reminders of its past, like the Peace Park and Museum. What’s more, there are plenty of other wondrous attractions in Hiroshima that will add more excitement to your trip, such as the Hiroshima Castle, the baseball stadium, Hiroshima Prefecture Museum of Art and Shukkei-en.
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Speaking of historic places to visit in Japan, make your way to Takayama – a well-preserved old town dating back to the Edo period. Nested in Gifu Prefecture’s mountainous region, this town is the ultimate Japanese destination to experience the nation’s rural side. In addition, it’s a great place to enjoy traditional restaurants, sample local sake and shop for souvenirs.
For a memorable trip in Takayama, take a tour around the area, checking out the detailed architecture and local crafts displayed inside the traditional wooden houses. And, if you visit it in spring or fall, you can experience the town’s wondrous festivals, such as the Takayama Spring Festival.
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Loved for its crisp sake and juicy beef dishes, Kobe has a myriad of surprises and niceties in store for its visitors, making it one of the top places to visit in Japan. For history buffs, you’ll have a deep insight of Kobe’s past, with its mishmash of old Western-style houses. Furthermore, the city oozes with landmarks and parks that will unleash your inner shutterbug, like Kobe Tower, Weathercock House, City Hall Observation Deck and Meriken Park.
And, for alcohol connoisseurs who are into sake, you can delve deeper into this Japanese drink at Kobe’s sake museums, such as Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewing Company and Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum. And, who knows? You may get a couple of free shots, as you explore these museums.
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Peaceful and captivating, Nara is famous for its devoted Buddhists who seek peace and solace inside the city’s temples. Deemed as one of the most culturally significant places to visit in Japan, Nara houses cultural masterpieces and artworks that date all the way back to the 8th century. To make your trip memorable, swing by the Kasuga-taisha shrine, and the gargantuan Buddha of Tadai-ji. Of course, you can’t leave the city without a visit to one of the most notable parks and places to visit in Japan – Napa Park – where you can spot wildlife, and browse through the museum and temples.
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Set right at the heart of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, this mountainous town lures travelers with its soothing hot spring resorts as well as dramatic views of Mount Fuji. Aside from indulging on the restorative properties of Hakone’s hot water springs, you may also hit its other impressive attractions, such as the Hakone Venetian Glass Museum, the Hakone Aquarium, the Hakone Botanical Gardens, and the Hakone Shinto Shrine.
And, inside the national park, you may enjoy a boat trip on Lake Ashi, go hiking or biking along its trails, and embark on a cable car ride to the top of Mount Komagatake for breathtaking views of Mount Fuji. With all the activities in store in Hakone, it’s no wonder people label as one of the must-see places to visit in Japan.
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For years, Miyajima Island has been billed as one of the most scenic places to visit in Japan. Nicknamed aptly as the “Island of the Gods”, this island wows travelers with its unique beauty as well as wealth of must-see attractions, like the great torii, Machiya-Dori and Mount Misen.
Looking for underrated places to visit in Japan? Then, make sure to include Kanazawa to your list of places to visit in Japan! As Kyoto continues to grow in popularity, Kanazawa makes a perfect quieter alternative for those who want to experience Japan’s preserved wooden buildings and geisha districts. As an added bonus, there are so many fabulous places to explore in Kanazawa, like art museums, a striking castle and one of the country’s most gorgeous gardens.
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Okinawa is, without a doubt, one of the top places to visit in Japan, and a destination that should be on your bucket list. While it’s not as popular as Tokyo or Kyoto, this subtropical archipelago can sweep you into bliss in a lot of ways. From its lovely sakuras to its internationally celebrated aquarium, Japan’s southernmost prefecture has a slew of joys, goodies and delights to offer to wanderers. To top it all off, Okinawa is home to a cluster of white-sand pristine beaches.
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Are you a beer lover? Why not include Sapporo to your list of places to visit in Japan? Located in Hokkaido, Sapporo is well-known all over the country and the whole Asian region for, as you might have figured out, its beer. Founded in 1876, Sapporo is Japan’s oldest beer brand, and the top-selling Asian beer brand in the USA. As a matter of fact, the beer brand is so famous that it has its own museum in the city – Sapporo Beer Museum – highlighting its history and manufacturing process. And yes, the museum also offers beer tastings, making it one of most intriguing places to visit in Japan for beer enthusiasts.
But, make no mistake about it – there’s more to Sapporo than its legendary beer. With a visit to Hokkaido’s capital, you’ll get to lay eyes on a collection of captivating attractions, like Sapporo TV Tower, Odori Park, Historical Village of Hokkaido, Sapporo Clock Tower and Susukino. And, if you visit the city in January, you’ll have a chance to experience the world’s largest and most elaborate winter festival – the Sapporo Snow Festival.
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Craving for a mind-blowing icy adventure? Wondering where to go in Japan for an epic skiing escapade? There’s no better place to experience a fun-filled ice-skiing adventure in Japan than Niseko. After all, this northern Japanese village offers pristine skiing conditions – high elevation, powder and wooded terrain. And, with a mountain range featuring 6 ski areas, you’ll have a swell time hitting the slopes in Niseko, making it one of the can’t-miss places to visit in Japan, for hardcore skiers.
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Yokohama offers a taste of China in Japan. Not only does feature a flourishing Chinatown, but you can see the Chinese influence all over the city through its decorations, shops and restaurants. Home to over 3 million residents, this metropolis bills itself as the largest rival to Tokyo, citing its opulent skyscrapers and high standard of living as its back-up for this claim. You may witness their rivalry be attending a game between the Giants and BayStars during your visit.
To make your trip pleasurable in his city, head to Sankeien Garden – a local favorite wherein you may wander in serenity through stunning gardens and see architecture from the bygone eras.
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Famed for its UNESCO World Heritage site, Nikko appeases history and culture buffs, with its inspiring temples as well as intricate Japanese architecture. Here, you may take a quiet stroll, hitting the elaborate temples and shrines through the trees. Since it’s just a couple of hours from Tokyo by train, you may take a day trip to Nikko by joining a group tour on a bus, with an informative guide that will share some fascinating facts about the area’s history.
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Beppu, nestled against the backdrop of a series of volcanoes, has the distinction of having the greatest concentration of thermal hot springs, or “gushers” anywhere in the country. The trending “Hell Tour” will take you to some of the awesome hot springs in the area, with each having a different mineral composition. To make your trip even more remarkable, hit a historic samurai residence and the traditional bamboo craft centers in Beppu.
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Hakuba is an absolute paradise for every avid winter sport fanatic. Ranked as one of the best places to visit in Japan in winter, Hakuba is home to more than 200 ski runs, 130 ski lifts and 8 ski resorts. You can snowboard and ski to your heart’s content as well as try snowshoeing, heliskiing, Nordic skiing and snowmobiling. And, after a busy day enjoying the powder, soak up your aching joints and muscles in the town’s mineral-rich natural hot spring waters. It’s absolutely soothing!
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Looking for other historic and quaint places to visit in Japan? Tsumago, one of the best preserved historic places to visit in Japan, will make you feel like you have stepped back in time with its beautifully restored wooden inns and traffic-less streets. A picture-perfect traditional Japanese mountain village, this town will give you a peaceful and relaxing respite as well, especially if you want to escape the hustle bustle city life.
Just because it’s not a major tourist destination, it doesn’t mean Kawasaki doesn’t deserve a spot on our list of places to visit in Japan. Sandwiched between Yokohama and Tokyo, this coastal city has a handful of attractions that will make your Japan trip even more pleasurable, like Kawasaki Daishi temple. Additionally, there are dozens of museums to visit in this Kanagawa Prefecture city, such as the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum and Nihon Minkaen open-air museum.
Yearning to escape the chaos and noise of the big city life? Believe me, you’ll get your fix in Kamakura, Japan. Known as one of the most peaceful places to visit in Japan, Kamakura offers tons of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and an impressive gigantic Buddha statue. Moreover, the city has verdant hiking trails that lead to calm hills and bamboo forests.
And, if you want to take a break from walking in Kamakura, take a ride on the Enoden – an electric train weaving between the stations of Kamakura and Fujisawa. And, by the way, Kamakura often gets praises from local explorers for its beaches like Yuigahama beach where surfers can catch some swells.
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