10 best places to visit in Japan

Japan provides up a authentic feast for tourists, with mountainside onsen (incredibly hot spring) villages, sleepy seashore-lined islands and buzzing megacities all on the menu.

You could arguably devote a life span sampling the country’s delights, but some cities and sights are staples core elements to any terrific Japan trip. Ready to tuck in? Here’s our decide on of the 10 ideal destinations to check out in Japan.


Tokyo is a metropolis forever reaching into the upcoming, pushing the boundaries of what’s probable on densely populated, earthquake-prone land, adding at any time taller, sleeker structures. It can be Japan’s leading spot for modern day art and architecture, pop society, purchasing, consuming and amusement (and a tie with Kyoto for eating). But additional than any just one sight, it’s the city by itself that enchants site visitors. It is a sprawling, natural factor, stretching as far as the eye can see. Always changing, and with a assorted assortment of neighborhoods, no two activities of it are ever the very same.

Paper lanterns hang outside restaurants on a narrow street in Kyoto, Japan. Two figures walk down the street away from the camera.
Temples, teahouses and a prosperous foods culture await in atmospheric Kyoto © Jon Hicks / Getty Photographs


Kyoto, Japan’s imperial cash for a thousand a long time, is house to a lot more than a thousand temples. Amid them are the monumental, like Kinkaku-ji (an beautiful pavilion sheathed completely in gold leaf), and the meditative, like Ryōan-ji, with its stark Zen rock garden. And temples are only the start out of it: there’s the lifestyle of tea, which you can enjoy at 1 of the city’s lots of stylish teahouses the art of the geisha, individuals legendary performers of traditional songs and dance and also a loaded food items society, together with kaiseki (Japanese haute delicacies).

An artistic sculpture resembling a large, colourful cat stands in a field on the island of Naoshima, Japan.
Quirky Naoshima is a ought to-take a look at for artwork enthusiasts © hedgehog111 / Shutterstock


Naoshima is a person of Japan’s great accomplishment stories: a rural island on the verge of turning into a ghost town, now a globe-course centre for up to date artwork. A lot of of Japan’s most lauded architects have contributed buildings, including museums, a boutique resort and even a bathhouse – all intended to greatly enhance the island’s normal splendor and complement its existing settlements. The ensuing blend of avant-garde and rural Japan is captivating. It has also influenced some Japanese to pursue a slower lifestyle outside the house the major towns, relocating to Naoshima to open up cafes and inns.

Two bench stand empty beneath trees with autumnal leaves and next to a large lake, Lake Kawaguchiko, with the giant Mt Fuji in the distance. The mountain is topped by snow.
Gazing on the mighty Mt Fuji is an crucial Japan practical experience © nicholashan / Getty Pictures

Mt Fuji

Even from a length Mt Fuji will choose your breath absent. Near up, the completely symmetrical cone of Japan’s greatest peak is nothing at all brief of great. Dawn from the summit? Pure magic. Fuji-san is amongst Japan’s most revered and timeless attractions. Hundreds of 1000’s of men and women climb it each and every calendar year, continuing a centuries-aged tradition of pilgrimages up the sacred volcano. Those people who’d somewhat search for photograph-fantastic sights from the much less-overwhelming peaks close by can observe in the techniques of Japan’s most popular painters and poets.

The Memorial Cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The cenotaph is a white, smooth monument in a half oval shape.
The Memorial Cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park © WorldStock / Shutterstock


Hiroshima these days is a forward-pondering town with interesting, leafy boulevards. It can be not until finally you visit the Peace Memorial Museum that the genuine extent of human tragedy wreaked by the atomic bomb gets to be vividly distinct. A stop by below is a heartbreaking, vital heritage lesson and the park all around the museum, a great deal of which was made by Japan’s great modernist Tange Kenzō, presents several alternatives for reflection. But the city’s spirit of resolve – as nicely as its food stuff – will make certain that you can expect to have fantastic reminiscences to take with you when you go away.

A forest walkway on the island of Yakushima that goes through the trunk of a giant cedar tree.
Yakushima’s wild forests were being the described inspiration for Studio Ghibli typical Princess Mononoke © Gary Saisangkagomon / Shutterstock


Yakushima, a smaller island off the coastline of southern Kyūshū, is frequently explained as magical, enchanting – other-worldly even. It’s a position where by words fall short and clichés action in. Dwelling to some of Japan’s final primeval forest, below you can come across the yakusugi, an historical cedar native to the island, whose large roots form alien tentacles. Hiking trails underneath them protect craggy terrain usually fuzzy with moss. The landscape right here is thought to have been an inspiration for the legendary Studio Ghibli animated film Princess Mononoke.

Okunoin Cemetery in Koyasan, Japan. A number of small stone statues are wrapped in fabric, amidst a forest setting.
Oku-no-in is one of the most sacred locations in Japan and a popular pilgrimage location © Pal Teravagimov / Shutterstock


Riding the funicular up to the sacred Buddhist monastic sophisticated of Kōya-san feels, correctly, like ascending to another world. There are over a hundred temples in this article, the spotlight of which is Oku-no-in, wherever paths weave their way among towering cryptomeria trees and time-worn stone stupas protected in moss and lichen. Other temples provide a distinctive knowledge: the possibility to commit the night time, dine on classic vegetarian Buddhist cuisine and wake up early for morning meditation with the resident monks.

An aerial view of Kabira Bay Beach, Ishigaki Island, Japan, showing an incredibly light blue ocean and powdered white sand.
Okinawa is blessed with countless lovely beaches, together with Sunset Seashore on Ishigaki-jima © Ippei Naoi / Getty Illustrations or photos

Okinawa and the Southern Islands

Okinawa and the Southwest Islands provide a absolutely diverse expertise from the rest of Japan. This semi-tropical archipelago kinds an arch among Kyūshū and Taiwan. Until annexed by Japan in the 19th century, they shaped their individual kingdom – the Ryūkyū Empire – and the cultural distinctions are obvious in all the things down to the architecture and foodstuff. This is where by you’ll find Japan’s most effective shorelines, like all those in Ishigaki and Kerama, with sugar-white sand fringed with palms and turquoise waters. Bask in the sun, or snorkel and scuba dive.

Locals eat at tables set up on the road outside a late night restaurant in Osaka, Japan. The restaurant is lit up in lights and appears bright against the dark night sky.
Osaka normally takes the crown when it arrives to Japanese road food stuff © Vincent St. Thomas / Shutterstock


Tokyo isn’t going to nab all the superlatives when it will come to urban encounters. Osaka, Japan’s third-biggest city, is tops for road meals: never miss its signature dish, tako-yaki (grilled octopus dumplings). It also has the most spectacular of nightscapes: a dazzling screen of LED lights, animated signage and flashing video clip screens together the canalside strip Dōtombori. The metropolis, Japan’s oldest service provider centre, has a tempo, spirit and zest for existence all of its personal: it can be unofficial slogan is kuidaore (eat until finally you drop).

Two hikers with large backpacks walk along a trail through thick forest in Kamikochi, Japan.
Lovely Kamikōchi appeals to hikers from considerably and wide © Suchart Boonyavech / Shutterstock


One particular of the most spectacular all-natural vistas in Japan, Kamikōchi is a highland river valley enveloped by the soaring peaks of the Northern Japan Alps. Simple day hikes are feasible alongside the pristine Azusa-gawa as a result of tranquil forests of willow, larch and elm trees. The birthplace of Japanese alpinism, Kamikōchi is also the gateway for additional demanding treks up some of the country’s tallest mountains, these types of as Yariga-take (3180m). Non-public vehicles are banned from Kamikōchi, which lessens the affect of the crowds.

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Barbara J. Miriam

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