The land of the rising sun, the distant and mystical Japan, adds countless tourist places for all tastes.
The rich thing about this country —and not only in economic terms, since it is the third largest economy in the world— is its diversity. History, culture, gastronomy, technology and shopping: Japan is for everything and everyone.
Let’s meet together the top 25 best tourist places to visit in the land of Mario Bross and Hello Kitty.
1. Mount Fuji
Active volcano 3776 meters high, the highest point in the country. It is in the center of Japan, 120 kilometers from Tokyo, its capital.
The full name of the mount is Fujisan: Fu, wealth; Ji, samurai; Saint, mountain. It was initially a training place for these warriors of ancient Japan; now it is an area of military bases at the foot of the mountain.
The tourist staff has excursions to ascend on foot or by vehicle, but these only go up to the fifth station, at 2,300 meters.
Although the ideal is to reach the top, if you don’t (something that happens with many tourists), you can still visit sanctuaries along the way.
Visit and conquer Mount Fuji from July to August, the perfect season before winter.
Tsumago is one of the towns that preserves its essence of the time. You will not see electrical wiring in public places or vehicles traveling through its main streets.
During the Edo period (1603-1868) it was an obligatory stopover point on the route of the knights and the Kyoto-Tokyo trade, but the end of this era and modernity ended its prosperity, because it ceased to be a walking route. .
Despite this, its people invested in the restoration of its roads and period houses, to now earn a title of tourist town with museums, cobbled streets and craft sales.
Visiting Tsumago is the closest thing to taking a trip to the past.
3. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
Another emblematic place is the Fushimi Inari Shrine, in Kyoto, which is to pay tribute to Inari, the god of rice.
Its most attractive feature is its thousands of torii, the traditional Japanese arch that separates the profane from the sacred. They usually have red or vermilion tones.
The torii are donated by merchants with their names or the name of their businesses, so that Inari grants them a bonanza. The route through these exceeds 4 kilometers, so you must bring water to hydrate.
The sanctuary surpassed 2 million visits in 2017 alone.
4. Miyajima Island
Itsukushima Island, better known as Miyajima Island, can only be reached by boat. From Hiroshima you take a ferry that will leave you in this beautiful destination in just 20 minutes.
Life on the island revolves around Miyajima (shrine island), which has an immense torii at its entrance, which has become an emblem for all of Japan. It is one of the most repeated images in tourist guides.
The particularity of the sanctuary is that it is built on the sea. When the water level is low, you can walk to the great torii and it is only from there that its immensity can be appreciated. When the tide is high, it seems to be floating: an effect without comparison.
The sanctuary has small buildings where ceremonies are performed. Some of them have corridors that connect them. Outside of this, you can enjoy a small cruise that runs around the island with all the comforts of a tourist boat.
5. Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park is home to Japan’s famous wild monkeys. They are particularly special for staying during the winter and enduring its low temperatures.
Although you can take your children, the route to reach the main attraction of the park is 1.6 kilometers walking, so you must take measures in this regard. In 40 minutes you will be in front of the entertaining apes.
Jigokudani means “valley of hell”, named after the steam from the boiling water that bubbles up on the frozen ground. This same is used by the red-faced monkeys to shower in a cold environment in winter.
The park is in Nagano prefecture west of Tokyo. It has tour guides and a beautiful forest landscape that makes the tour a wonderful experience.
Shirakawa-go Village is a magical place in Japan. Not in vain UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1995.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains and with a river running through it, it is known for its gassho-zukuri-style houses, thatched-roof residences built to withstand the weight of snow during the intense winter.
Spending a few days in this corner of Japan to the west of Tokyo will allow you to disconnect from the typical hustle and bustle of the city, while you rest and relate to nature and the culture of the village.
7. Kanazawa: Marsh of Gold
Kanazawa is a great city that, despite its modernity, preserves and exhibits its first features, its origins, to tourists.
“Swamps of gold”, as this city on the west coast of Japan is also known, has Kanazawa Castle for its visitors, founded by the Maeda clan that was in power for 14 generations.
You will also be able to learn how the samurai lived in the Nagamachi neighborhood around the castle.
Its modern museum of contemporary art with external glass walls and interactive installations will give you access to one of the best exhibitions in the country.
You can’t leave Kanazawa without visiting the Ninja temple, a fantastic building of passageways and booby traps: it’s fun and interesting.
8. The Blue Pond near Hokkaido
The beautiful blue pond on the outskirts of Furano, in Hokkaido, northern Japan, is a magical place.
Although it looks natural, it is a dam built to protect the community from mudflows from a nearby volcano.
Its brilliant blue is not directly from the water, but the result of the combination of the sun’s rays and the minerals in it.
Some believe at first glance that there is a forest submerged in it due to the protruding branches and trunks, a popular image in numerous tourist guides.
9. Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is a symbol of power and history of the city. Its 2 hectares of green areas serve to walk, play sports, exercise and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Built in 1583 by the powerful general Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was demolished and rebuilt after several wars, until it gained a very modern look and features.
The main tower of the castle has 13 floors. Inside you can find museums, a convention hall and a space dedicated to the “lord of war”: Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
In the surrounding areas there are tea houses, stadiums and souvenir shops.
10. Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
Shibuya crossing joins the most popular sites in Japan, with a daily trip of 3 million people.
The famous pedestrian crossing has a synchronized stop system in all directions, so that vehicles stop and allow the transit of up to 3,000 people at the same time. A show worth seeing!
This point of Tokyo is a fundamental commercial area of the city’s economy, with stores of exclusive brands from the country and the world.
Its nights are divine in sight due to its various and immense advertising screens, which from the buildings illuminate the 4 corners.
11. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
It is difficult to describe in words the beauty of the Arashiyama bamboo forest, where not only tourists, but also lovers, dads, moms and the whole family walk along paths accompanied by hundreds of this native plant of India.
The place is ideal for photographs due to the contrast of natural light and the wonder of the trees. It has become another of the favorite destinations in Japan that could not be missing from our list.
A peculiarity of this forest is the noise produced by the bamboos that rub against each other. It is heard in a special way, so special, that the Government included the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in its list of “100 soundscapes of Japan”.
12. Gio-ji Temple and Moss Gardens
Gio-ji Temple and its moss gardens, in Tokyo, 3.6 kilometers from Arashiyama Bammoo Grove, have… magic.
Although its ceremonial temple is simple and with a thatched roof, what really amazes is its extensive moss garden that invites you to take a nap on it, but (unfortunately) you cannot do it, much less walk on the vegetal layer.
Although the journey may seem long, it is an amazing place to enjoy yourself away from the hustle and bustle of busy destinations.
13. Okunoshima Island
Okunoshima Island, belonging to Hiroshima, is home to thousands of charming rabbits that are the main attraction of the place. It is not known as Isla Conejos for nothing.
Although cute, the origin of these mammals in the area is terrible. They were used in the tests of the mustard gas factory installed on the island during World War II.
Luckily, those who now live there are not descendants of those, because they were annihilated. For obvious reasons, you will not be able to take your dog or cat with you.
A museum was also built on the island about this deadly factory with an exhibition divided into two. The first part reflects what the building was like and the working conditions. The second, the perverse effect of the gas on humans.
14. Gion, in Kyoto
Gion, in Kyoto, is the best-known neighborhood of geishas in Japan, traditional artists who gain all the attention of tourists.
These ladies are artists who have been trained since childhood to liven up certain celebrations with category. They are recognized by their traditional clothing and white makeup on their faces.
Although the neighborhood has been modernized, its teahouses and other traditions remain.
15. Mount Yoshino
Mount Yoshino, in Nara Prefecture, is itself a shrine for Buddhism and Shintoism. It was also home to the Imperial Court of Japan.
It is described by nature lovers as an incomparable spectacle. Thousands of cherry trees can be seen that with their pale pink color extend throughout the area.
This pilgrimage site —declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the Sacred Sites category— is a connection point with Mount Koya and Kumano Sanzan, which are also part of the procession route.
What most attracts tourists are the more than 200 types of cherry trees that begin to bloom in the first days of April.
16. Shukkeian Garden
Shukkeien Garden has been located in the heart of Hiroshima for more than 400 years. Despite being devastated by World War II and the nuclear bomb, it prospered again.
It is an extensive garden of deep green that has paths that cross ponds, bridges and waterfalls that will make you forget the outside world for moments. There is a lot of peace.
Within this natural beauty, an elegant tea house cannot be missing, true to Japanese customs. Each section of the garden represents a part of Japan.
The war left hundreds of dead, bodies buried in this place just 2 kilometers from the Peace Memorial Cenotaph, the area where the 1945 atomic bomb fell.
Deer everywhere: this is what you will see most in Nara Park, in the prefecture of the same name. Although they are usually friendly and you can feed them, it is best to avoid being too close, because they are wild animals.
The park also includes temples and shrines that represent the glory of the city for hundreds of years.
The image of the immense roofs of the temples with protruding points is perhaps the best known of Nara. The ponds adorn and offer an air of tranquility.
Buddhism is the religion that is practiced in these sanctuaries that pay tribute with impressive images available to visitors. The flow of tourists is constant in Nara Park.
18. Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine
It is one of the temples and sanctuaries declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, for being “sacred places and pilgrimage routes of the Kii mountains”.
It is built in the Wakamaya prefecture next to the Nachi no taki waterfall, which at 133 meters is one of the highest in Japan.
You come to appreciate the syncretic cult that unites Buddhism, Shintoism and admiration for nature.
The beautiful Nachi Taisha Shrine has exclusive pavilions for rituals by a small group of priests.
Even so, it adds other access spaces for tourists to admire the structure and the beautiful views of the cedar forest, the ocean and the waterfall.
19. Okunoin Temple and Cemetery
Okunoin Temple is the largest cemetery in Japan with more than 200,000 graves. It is located on the sacred Mount Koya, in the south of one of the most important cities: Osaka.
The churchyard dates back to 819, when the monk Kukai chose this site as the center of Shingon Buddhism. Legend has it that Kukai, called Kobo Daishi, never died and continues to meditate with eternal life on Mount Konya.
In Okunoin rest the lifeless bodies of important characters in the history of Japan, who wanted to remain in eternity together with Kabo Daishi.
It is a pilgrimage center with more than 120 temples and one of the most representative religious universities in the country.
You cannot miss the Okunoin temple on your visit to Japanese lands.
20. Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
The main and most important temple in Tokyo. You will not be alone, as thousands of people will accompany you in this site of consecration of Kannon, the deity of mercy.
To access Sensoji Temple you have to go through a 250-meter long shopping corridor. It has three impressive gates that will propel you into the temple.
The first and most surprising, Kaminarimon or thunder, has a huge paper lantern and the images of the guardians: Fujin, the god of wind, and Rajin, the god of thunder.
The second, Nakamise, has memories and likenesses of sumo wrestlers.
The third, Nitenmon, has two Buddhist deities for her protection.
The main hall of the Sensoji temple complex totals more than 1,000 square meters. The statue of Kannon that was found by two fishermen 1400 years ago and that led to the construction of the sanctuary is supposed to still be buried.
21. Oirase Gorge in Aomori
The natural beauty of Oirase Gorge makes it a unique place in Japan. It is a long river with 14 waterfalls along its course that gives it a beautiful and almost incomparable landscape.
You can follow the route parallel to the cliff. It is well signposted and has no complicated paths. From there you can also appreciate this natural wonder.
Its vegetation in autumn impacts by the yellow color similar to gold.
Oirase Gorge is located in Aomori, North Honsh. At the end of the path you can take the bus for the return, but if you get tired in the middle of the way, you can also take a unit just by walking a few meters towards the road.
22. Aogashima Volcano
The Aogashima volcano could be one of the most curious places where human beings live. It is located on an island 358 kilometers from Tokyo and has 170 inhabitants.
Its last eruption in 1780 is believed to have wiped out half the population.
Although attractive, visiting the Aogashima volcano is not easy.
It can be reached by boat, but its surrounding deposits make navigation difficult. By air is the most comfortable way, but there is only one daily flight with capacity for 9 people in a helicopter that, sometimes, does not leave due to atmospheric conditions.
Despite all these adversities for the visit of tourists, the locals built restaurants, small hotels and even routes to the edge of the inner crater. The hot springs flow all year round.
23. Matsumoto Castle
It is one of the few that remain in Japan after the many wars in the country, so it retains its essence from 1,600 years ago, when its construction was ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the greatest Japanese warriors.
It is known as “Castillo del Cuervo” due to the dark color of the walls, surrounded by a moat that can only be overcome through a bridge.
In its 6 floors it preserves weapons museums, period furniture spaces and, at the top, an altar dedicated to the goddess of the “26th night” who guarded the castle from attacks.
Located at the foot of the Japanese Alps, the fortress is surrounded by a beautiful cherry orchard that blooms in spring.
It is said that from the tower you can see the moon three times: in the sky, reflected in the water and in a glass of sake, a typical infusion made from rice. It is a place that you must include in your visit route in the Asian country.
24. Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo
The Buddhist temple located in the Setagaya area, Tokyo, is recognized for being the architect of the creation of the most famous cat in Japan that has also crossed borders: Maneki-neko.
The famous lucky charm with which it is believed to gain prosperity is the ceramic or plastic figure of a cat with its right paw raised, which seems to greet or call whoever is looking at it.
Legend has it that a feudal lord was taking refuge in a tree during an electrical storm, when he saw a cat in the temple whose paw seemed to invite him in. He answered the call and, a few minutes later, lightning struck the tree.
In gratitude, the man made donations to the temple and when the cat died he was honored and the first Maneki-neko was created. From that moment on, the donations of replicas from people seeking good luck and prosperity have not stopped.
Gotokuji Temple is one of the simplest in Tokyo, but inside there is hardly any room to keep one more cat. In addition, it has a cemetery and a hall of worship. Do you want prosperity? Do not forget to visit it!
25. Kotokuin Temple, Kamakura
One of the most common excursions from Tokyo or Yokohama is the complex of centuries-old Kotokuin temples, in Kamamura, a route that adds more tourists every year.
Although these sanctuaries are extremely attractive, the real interest of the visitors is the imposing Buddha of more than 13 meters high and 13 tons of weight, unique in Japan with these characteristics in the open air. Its origin dates back to the 1200s.
The bronze statue was initially inside a temple, but a tsunami washed away the structure that covered it in the 15th century, leaving it exposed. Visitors can go inside and access a chamber at the level of the abdomen.
Japan, distant but reachable land
The fact that Japan seems like a distant destination has not prevented it from becoming a highly sought after place by tourists.
The country of the rising sun is a beautiful combination of ancient culture with modernity in all its splendor.
The most exotic landscapes and ancestral customs will take you on a trip to the past, without forgetting the innovation and technological development that characterize this Asian country.
If you plan to vacation, do not hesitate to choose Japan as your destination. It will be a rich experience to learn from a different culture that has been maintained for thousands of years.
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