Despite being such a technologically advanced country, Japan holds its culture and traditions deep in its soul. No matter in whichever corner of the world you travel to, you will never come across a country that is so well-developed and still strongly connected to its roots. The culture, tradition, and values are some of the interesting reasons to visit the country at least once during our lifetime. But its natural beauty and the diverse range of places to visit in Japan top the list of reasons to visit it.
When it comes to planning a trip to a country which is renowned for cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, Shinto shrines, and exciting museums, you are often left confused about which place to visit and which to skin. Today, I’m sharing my list of top 13 places to visit in Japan so that you can plan your Japan itinerary with all the best places in Japan.
The 13 Best Places To Visit in Japan
Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has almost every kind of tourist attraction from ancient temples to modern skyscrapers that will leave you fascinated by the end of your visit to Japan. And that’s why it’s one of my favourite places to visit in Japan. The city is fast-paced, yet connected to its traditional roots and culture.
You will not only get to see the oldest Japanese temple but also revive your childhood memories at Disneyland in Tokyo. Whether you want to dive into the Japanese history and culture, or just be mesmerized by the beautiful old and modern Japanese architecture, it is a city you shouldn’t miss visiting.
- Sensō-ji (The oldest temple in Tokyo that introduces the beautiful Japanese architecture and culture)
- Tokyo Dome City (A popular amusement park and an entertainment complex, great for both kids and adults)
- Tokyo Skytree (The tallest broadcasting and observation tower in Japan)
- Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden (A pleasant and refreshing national park with traditional, formal and landscape Japanese gardens)
- Tokyo DisneySea (An unique adult-oriented Disney-themed park solely designed around water)
- Harajuku (A shopping area in Tokyo famous for its quirkiness and Japanese pop culture)
- Tokyo Disneyland (A Disney-themed park popular with both adults and children)
- Sunshine Aquarium (A giant water tank designed as an “oasis in the sky” so that you can spot penguins overhead with Tokyo’s cityscape as the background)
- Tokyo Photographic Art Museum (A rare type of museum based on the art of photography)
- Mount Takao (A beautiful hiking destination to enjoy lush nature, wildlife and natural vegetation)
Castles, towers, parks, shrines- there’s so much to see in Fukuoka that you might end up being tired yet you’d still be left with so much to see. Although it is often underrated as a tourist destination, I believe that it is one of the best places to visit in Japan.
Fukuoka with its parks can be home to people searching for a peaceful escape from city life. It can also be an interesting destination for those trying to learn more about Japan’s history or arts. And lastly, if you are an admirer of cityscape views and sunsets, the hilly terrain or seaside tower will offer you exactly what you might be searching for.
- Fukuoka Castle (An abandoned Japanese castle of great historical importance that is now a park with a serene, calm and relaxing atmosphere)
- Fukuoka Tower (The tallest seaside tower in Japan offering beautiful views of the sunset)
- Ohori Park (A scenic park with a peaceful atmosphere, and options for walking, jogging or boating)
- Nishi Park (A park located on hilly terrain famous for offering panoramic views of Fukuoka city and Hakata Bay, and cherry blossom viewing)
- Marine World (A beautiful, chalky, and shell-shaped public aquarium housing twenty thousand marine creatures from 450 species)
- Dazaifu Tenman-gū (The largest Shinto shrine in Fukuoka famous to scholars and students)
- Kyushu National Museum (A museum dedicated to the history of Japan)
- Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (The only museum in the world that showcases modern and contemporary Asian art)
- Kawabata Shopping Arcade (A traditional shopping arcade selling all kinds of local and traditional products)
- Sasaguri Forest of Kyushu University (A pleasant forest around a large pond, great for hiking)
Enjoying a peaceful walk in a bamboo forest, hiking in a stunning mountain, or trying out delicious Japanese cuisine in a lively marketplace- whatever you prefer to do among these can be done in Kyoto.
Blinded by Tokyo’s attractiveness, many tourists miss this beautiful city and its attractions. However, smart tourists know that the value of Kyoto is no less than any of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan.
- Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (A world-famous bamboo forest with a 400-meter-long street surrounded by bamboo)
- Nijō Castle (A 400-year-old castle that has witnessed most parts of Japanese history)
- Kyoto Tower (The tallest observation tower in Kyoto offering great views)
- Mount Hiei (A stunning mountain where tradition meets history and natural beauty)
- Kyoto Aquarium (The largest aquarium in Kyoto showcasing Japanese giant salamander, penguins, sea turtles, and dolphin shows)
- Nishiki Market (A lively marketplace selling seasonal foods, Japanese cuisine and Kyoto specialities)
- Kinkaku-ji (A gold-coloured Zen Buddhist temple with beautiful views and surroundings)
- Kyoto International Manga Museum (Japan’s first museum dedicated to manga displaying 19th-century Japanese magazines, contemporary books from home and abroad, and around 300,000 manga and manga-related materials)
- Maruyama Park (An extremely crowded park famous for cherry blossom viewing)
- Museum of Kyoto (A museum displaying the history and culture of Kyoto in an easily understandable way)
What comes to your mind when you hear the word Hiroshima? Nuclear bombing of world war 2, I guess? We all have heard about the tragic nuclear bombing incident of Hiroshima, but how many of you know that Hiroshima is also a popular tourist destination for many other beautiful touristy attractions.
In this city, you not only get to explore the history of World War 2 but also get to enjoy many beautiful parts of nature. So, you won’t only get to learn about the sad history of the city, you will also be able to enjoy adventurous sightseeing and activities.
- Hiroshima Castle (A replica of the original Hiroshima Castle that is very much like the original one and depicts the history of Hiroshima)
- Mikumarikyo Forest Park (A relaxing park, perfect for enjoying nature in the suburbs of the city)
- Hiroshima Orizuru Tower (An observation tower offering panoramic views of the city and sunset)
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (A memorial park that works as a reminder of the destructive effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II)
- Flame of Peace (A monument expressing condolence for atomic bombing victims, the flame will extinguish when there will be no nuclear weapons in the world)
- Hiroshima Tōshō-gū Shrine (A nice and peaceful Shinto shrine on top of a hill offering beautiful views of the city)
- Fudenosato Kobo (An interesting museum presenting the live demonstrations of brush making and exhibiting other art forms)
- Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Kure Museum (The only Japanese museum exhibiting a real submarine)
- Megahira Onsen Megahira Ski Area (A snow resort suitable for skiing and snowboarding)
- Bayside Beach Saka (A manmade swimming beach perfect for a walk or beach sports)
Hakone is more of a recreational destination than a historical one. Even though it’s a small town, it’s still one of the most popular places to visit in Japan because of its views of Mount Fuji. Any tourist who visits Japan doesn’t want to miss a picture with Mount Fuji in the background, and Hakone is the best place for that.
- Hakone-en Garden (A massive and beautiful botanical garden with an aquarium, shopping zones and great outdoors)
- Lake Ashi (A picturesque caldera lake perfect for cruising and mountain viewing)
- Hiryu Falls (A beautiful two-tiered cascade in the middle of a lush forest, a wonderful hiking destination)
- Picasso Pavilion (A museum exclusively dedicated to the arts of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso)
- Hakone Open-Air Museum (The first open-air museum in Japan, perfect for a relaxing outdoor walk while being surrounded by world-class modern art)
- Mishima Sky Walk (A picturesque pedestrian bridge offering panoramic views of Mount Fuji and Suruga Bay)
- Mount Hakone (A complex volcano in Japan with mesmerizing views)
- Hakone Shrine (A Japanese Shinto shrine with stunning views of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji)
- Hakone Ekiden Museum (An unique museum displaying the various materials used by the past players of the most important sporting event of Hakone, the Hakone Ekiden collegiate relay marathon race)
- Dohi Sugiyama Iwao Cave (An enchanted land featuring around 20 age-old stone Budhha statues)
Takayama is mostly known for its historical landmarks, traditional architecture, age-old shrines, temples, and museums. For anyone wanting to learn more about how Japan was during the 17th century, this is the place to go. There are also some fascinating waterfalls and towers offering city views in Takayama so you won’t get bored only with the historical side of the city.
- Sanmachi Suji (A historical landmark with wooden buildings as shophouses selling traditional cuisine and Japanese crafts)
- Hida no Sato, the Hida Folk Village (An open-air museum with around 30 old farmhouses portraying the traditional architectural designs of the mountainous regions of Japan)
- Shiroyama Park (A public park in the mountainous area around the ruins of Takayama Castle, a relaxing escape from the city life)
- Hie Shrine (A centuries-old Shinto shrine famous for its spring festival)
- Mount Hotaka (The third highest peak in Japan)
- Takayama Shōwa-kan Museum (A Retro Museum displaying nostalgic items from the Shōwa period)
- Takayama Castle Ruins (Ruins of a flatland mountain castle in a beautiful location that was built in the 17th century)
- Hida Takayama Municipal Ski Resort (A small ski resort, perfect for first-time skiers)
- Utsue Forty-Eight Waterfalls (A mesmerizing series of waterfalls in a forested valley)
- Nishihotakaguchi Station Observation Deck (An incredible observation area popular for its breathtaking view)
7. Mount Fuji
Without a trip to Japan’s highest and most beautiful mountain, Mount Fuji, the trip will be incomplete. After all, Mount Fuji is one of the most attractive places to visit in Japan. The beauty of Mount Fuji has always been acknowledged through poetry and painting. You can consider yourself lucky if you get to see the views of Mount Fuji. Because in most cases the view remains covered by clouds.
The beautiful snowcapped mountain can be climbed by anyone who is fit and determined. There are numerous food and accommodation facilities for climbers. And if you aren’t adventurous enough to climb Mount Fuji, you can still enjoy the beauty of surrounding lakes, and waterfalls and have fun in amusement parks nearby. Or you can enjoy the views of the mountain by cable car.
- Lake Kawaguchi (An easily accessible lake with a great view of Mount Fuji)
- Lake Tanuki (A huge, beautiful artificial lake with a spectacular view of Mount Fuji)
- Yamanashi Gem Museum (A museum displaying beautiful crystals and gemstones from all over the world)
- Fuji Q Highland (An amusement park popular for its extreme roller coaster r9des)
- Narusawa Ice Cave (A lava tube cave where pillarlike ice is formed during winter months)
- Shira-Ito Waterfall (A scenic waterfall surrounded by lush greenery)
- Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway (An amazing way to enjoy sensational views of Mount Fuji and surrounding lakes)
- Shinobi No Sato Ninja Village (A ninja-themed village at the base of Mount Fuji showcasing martial arts shows and interactive demonstrations)
- Obuchi Sasaba (A famous green tea field with unique scenery and a view of Mount Fuji in the background)
- Kawaguchi Asama Shrine (A 9th-century shrine famous for its giant cedar trees)
Osaka’s culture is a bit different from other parts of Japan. A night-time boat cruise along the Dotonbori canal is enough to make you believe that the city is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan. Also, there are many other quiet and comfortable tourist attractions that will make your trip beautiful and peaceful.
- Osaka Castle (An imposing castle with scenic grounds and a surrounding park, it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century)
- Tombori River Cruise (A 20-minute delightful cruise of the Dotonbori canal offering beautiful sights especially at night)
- Kema Sakuranomiya Park (A riverside park densely lined with beautiful cherry trees)
- Minion Park (An exciting minion-themed park appealing to both children and adults)
- Osaka City Central Public Hall (A red brick building of architectural elegance surrounded by greenery and water)
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (It is one of the largest aquariums in the world that is renowned for showing the aquatic animals at their most vibrant and dynamic state)
- Tsutenkaku (A great observation tower to get stunning views of the entire city)
- Shitennō-ji (It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan)
- Shinsekai (A vibrant shopping street with vintage shops and retro arcades)
- Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel (It is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world offering stunning views of Osaka City, Osaka Bay and even Kobe)
If I ask you about your tried adventurous activities, most of you will reply with hiking, skiing, or paragliding. But what about walking on a footbridge made of vines? To you, it might either sound super simple or insane. And here’s the catch, it’s actually both.
Walking on this footbridge is a once-in-a-lifetime experience but it’s safe as it is renovated every three years. And if I still couldn’t assure you about the safety of this bridge, you can completely avoid walking over the bridge and check out the other beautiful tourist attractions of Shikoku.
- Matsuyama Castle (A 17th-century flatland-mountain castle accessible by chairlift, cable car or foot)
- Shikoku Village (An an open-air architectural park with a collection of traditional houses giving an insight into Japanese life)
- Zenigata Sunae (A massive coin-shaped sand painting considered to be a source of great luck)
- Chikurin-ji (A 5-storey Shingon temple from the 8th-century housing a number of important sculptures)
- Ryūga Cave (One of the three largest limestone caves in Japan thought to be around 15 billion years old)
- Shikoku Aquarium (A recently opened aquarium with over 14,000 creatures in 400 different varieties)
- Ritsurin Garden (A huge historic garden that was only available to the feudal lords is now open to the public. There are numerous ponds, small artificial hills, historic teahouses, and shaped pine trees in the garden)
- Iyanokazura Bridge (A pedestrian footbridge made from wood and mountain vines)
- Chichibugahama Beach (A kilometre-long beach popular with swimmers and sunset lovers)
- The Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum (A museum displaying correspondence and other documents by a 19th-century samurai, Sakamoto Ryōma and his contemporaries)
The most notable reason for visiting Sapporo is its snow festival. But there are also many other reasons that attract a huge number of tourists every year to the city. History meets modern art in Sapporo. You should check out the parks, historical villages, waterfalls, museums and most other tourist attractions to get a taste of this magical city.
- Sapporo Odori Park (A beautiful park famous for Sapporo Snow Festival that happens in February)
- Historical Village of Hokkaido (A must-see open-air museum displaying around fifty-two historical structures from the late 19th to early 20th century)
- Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art (An art museum displaying artworks of Jules Pascin, École de Paris and modern Japanese artists with a connection to Hokkaidō)
- Sapporo Olympic Museum (A museum with historical exhibits on the Winter Olympic Games, ski jump and bobsled simulations)
- Glass Pyramid “HIDAMARI” (An iconic building of beautiful architecture)
- JR Tower Observatory T38 (A 38th-floor stylish observation deck offering unobstructed panoramic views)
- Tanukikoji Shopping Street (A very long covered 19th-century shopping street)
- Shikotsu-Tōya National Park (A national park with mountains, volcanic caldera lakes, and a hot spring resort)
- Otaru Dream Beach (A lively beach that is perfect for swimmers during summer)
- Ashiribetsu Falls (A very pretty waterfall that looks more beautiful during winter when the water is frozen)
When you are in Tokyo, a 30-minutes train ride to Yokohama will bring you no harm. And if you don’t have much time on your hands, you must still plan a day trip to Yokohama to check out its Chinatown, and interesting noodles museums!
Yokohama is not much of a popular tourist destination, still, it is on this list because it is much different from other cities in Japan. It has a Chinatown where you will get to learn about the Chinese culture and then there are some really interesting museums that you won’t find in any other part of the globe.
- Yokohama Chinatown (It is the largest Chinatown in Japan with Chinese-owned or themed shops and restaurants scattered throughout the district)
- NYK Hikawamaru (A popular and historic museum ship)
- Shin-Yokohama Rāmen Museum (A late 20th-century food court dedicated to the Japanese ramen noodle soup)
- Cup Noodles Museum Yokohama (An interesting museum devoted to instant noodles and Cup Noodles and its creator and founder)
- Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse (A historical building now consisting of a shopping mall, banquet hall, and event venues)
- Yokohama Doll Museum (A museum with different kinds of dolls and a theatre)
- Yamashita Park (A beautiful public park renowned for its waterfront views of the Port of Yokohama)
- Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (A large amusement park featuring an aquarium, marina, hotel, shopping mall, and amusement rides)
- Sankei-en (A traditional Japanese-style garden with historical buildings from the early 20th century)
- Yokohama Park (A public park renowned for its tulips)
Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan, has so many Buddhist monasteries, some of the oldest and largest Japanese temples, palaces of the 8th-century emperors, and many historic treasures. Due to being a city of great political interest in the past, this city holds a lot of Japanese history.
However, Nara is not only limited to temples and palaces. One of the most notable reasons for Nara being on this list of my favourite places to visit in Japan is its deers. The parks in this city have so many free-roaming deers that you will be mesmerized by their views.
- Tōdai-ji (It is one of the most famous and historically significant temples in Japan featuring the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known as Daibutsu in Japanese)
- Mount Wakakusa (A beautiful mountain covered in grass)
- Iga Ueno Castle (A Japanese castle with beautiful architecture and high-stone walls)
- Nara Prefectural Museum (An art museum displaying around 4100 items and conducting special exhibitions)
- Nara Park (A large park renowned for its popular temples, shrines, and free-roaming deer)
- Heijokyu Izanai-kan Guidance Center (An informational facility that provides necessary insight into the history of Nara Palace Site Historical Park, that is the Heijō Palace)
- Heijō Palace (An 8th-century imperial residence)
- Road Station Hari TRS (A large roadside rest area with a farmers’ market and a bathhouse featuring thermal springs)
- Tenri University Sankōkan Museum (An archaeological museum that has around 280,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects from Japan and overseas)
- Tale of Genji Museum (A museum dedicated to the early 11th-century Japanese classic novel “The Tale of Genji”. It displays projected images, models, and exhibitions related to the novel)
If you want to enjoy the best of Japan’s winter season, you must include Niseko in your Japan itinerary. It is a town located on the most northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. Niseko is the last one on this list of best places to visit in Japan because there isn’t much to see or do. However, it’s the best place for skiing or snowboarding during winter and rafting or boating during summer.
- Mount Yōtei (An active stratovolcano famous for resembling Mount Fuji)
- Hangetsu Lake (A beautiful crescent-moon shaped lake surrounded by dense forest)
- Niseko Annupuri Kokusai Ski Area (A popular ski resort good for both beginners and intermediates)
- Shiribetsu River (A river perfect for rafting and boating during Summer)
- Fukidashi Park (A relaxing and beautiful park famous for its pristine waters spring)
- Niseko Village Nature Experience ground “Pure” (An outdoor park with a restaurant, golf, and other thrilling activities. A perfect place to enjoy an adventurous time during summer)
- Niseko Kaributo Shrine (A Shinto shrine in Niseko with a peaceful and spiritual atmosphere)
- Niseko View Plaza (A market with around 60 stalls selling local goods)
- SOMOZA Gallery, Chefs table, Exhibition and Event Space (A 150-year-old Japanese farmhouse redesigned as a shop, gallery, cafe, fine dining and event space)
- Stone Circle (A historical monument of stones arranged in a circle or ellipse)
Some Etiquette to Follow in Japan
Japan is not only renowned for its technological advancement but also for its etiquette and manners. Japanese people are polite and hospitable. And there are a few sets of etiquette that they expect tourists to follow. You just have to keep these manners in mind during your trip to Japan. You won’t be sentenced to death if you forget any of these, but it would make you look a bit odd in their eyes. So, let me tell you some of the most common and necessary etiquette that you must follow in Japan.
- Lay down your chopsticks and don’t stick them into your food.
- Don’t wave your chopstick or point it toward anyone. Use the back end of your chopstick to pick food from a shared plate.
- In public transport, give up your seat for pregnant, disabled, elderly, and women with small children.
- Outdoor smoking is prohibited in Japan. You can smoke only in the designated areas.
- Don’t eat or drink while walking. This habit is frowned upon in Japan.
- Before entering anyone’s home in Japan, take off your shoes.
- Japanese taxi doors are automatic. When entering or coming out of a taxi, wait for the driver to open the door for you.
- Tipping is not common in Japan. Still, if you wish to tip a waiter, put the money inside an envelope and hand it to the person respectfully with two hands.
- Avoid talking loudly or making unnecessary noise in public places.
Best Time to Visit Japan
The best time to visit Japan depends on the reasons why you are visiting the country. Are you going there to check out the cherry blossoms? Or do you want to hike the mountains? Or do you want to have some adventurous time skiing or snowboarding? Let me help you choose your best time to visit Japan based on different attractions and activities.
Cherry Blossoms: Spring and Autumn are the best times to check out cherry blossoms and beautiful red leaves. So, if you are going to Japan to enjoy its natural beauty, plan your trip for March-May or September-November.
Hiking: The summer season is the best time to go for hiking adventures in Japan. For this, you can plan your trip for June-August. There are many mountains in Japan. You don’t need to be a pro-level hiker to climb those. So, even if you have never hiked before, you can start your hiking adventure on your Japan trip.
Skiing/Snowboarding: From December-February, the northern part of Japan is well lit with festivals and joyous occasions. As it is Winter in Japan during these months, you can also enjoy skiing or snowboarding other than the interesting festivals. Skiing in Japan is beginner-friendly, so why not give it a try?
Viewing Mount Fuji: It’s very rare to see the magnanimous Mount Fuji. The highest chances of seeing the vast mountain are during the months November-February. But it entirely depends on the weather. Some people despite visiting Japan during these months didn’t get to enjoy the views of Mount Fuji due to clouds.
I hope by now you have planned your Japan itinerary with all the best places to visit in Japan. Every place in Japan is different from the other. Especially the places that I’ve mentioned shouldn’t be missed by any tourist travelling to Japan.
Don’t forget to comment below and let us know about the places that you are going to add to your Japan itinerary. Have a fun journey!