Being one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Japan has much to offer. From diverse scenery like spectacular mountains and fascinating local traditions, the most beautiful places in Japan offer a wide range of experiences.
What’s so special about this land that millions of travellers flock to it every year? Keep reading and you will understand why. You may even fall in love with this beautiful country, one of the best places to visit in Asia, before you know it.
So, I won’t keep you waiting anymore. Here are 16 destinations to travel to in Japan once in your life. You won’t know it at first, but some of them may become among your favourite places to keep coming back to again and again.
There’s just something about the alluring nightscape of Tokyo that you can’t get enough of it. Photo by tanarch - stock.adobe.com
Among the most famous places in Japan, there is no place like Tokyo, the futuristic city. Seeing all the skyscrapers, Shinkansen (bullet trains), and new technologies all over the place, one feels like they are transported to a metropolitan area in the far future.
The most notable landmark of all is Tokyo Skytree, which soars above the capital’s skyline at 634 metres (2,080 feet) height. The tallest tower in Tokyo offers an unobstructed view of the whole Kanto region from the two highest observation decks in Japan.
Being a land with thousands of years of tradition, it’s no wonder that the old exist alongside, and even meet, the new in Tokyo. For starters, it’s here that you can find Sensō-ji, one of the most significant temples in Japan.
Most people would recognize the place for its Kaminarimon (thunder gate), where there is a big red lantern hanging. The first gate was built in 941. The current one you are seeing is the one enacted in 1960 after the original was destroyed by a fire.
In case you want to view spectacular waterfalls, I have good news: Japan has a heap of them. For instance, Nachi falls are among the most prominent ones. The best thing about it? Most of them are not far from Tokyo!
Compared to other cities, Kyoto just has a nostalgic vibe you can’t find anywhere else. Photo by Blue Planet Studio - stock.adobe.com
If Kyoto is considered the future city of Japan, then Kyoto is known as the cultural capital. Their names are somewhat similar, but the two cities can’t be more different in atmosphere and vibe.
If you are interested in temples, you are going to be in for a treat here. For instance, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is among the most famous places in Japan and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the Gojozaka bus stop.
Do you know that image of a thousand red temple gates running endlessly? That’s actually from Fushimi Inari Shrine. This Shinto shrine in Southern Kyoto is one of some thirty thousand Inari shrines in the country.
Besides the mountain trails, people love coming here for the Yotsutsuji intersection, where you can snap some picturesque shots of the whole city from here. The place is also full of foxes as they are believed to be the messengers of the god deity worshipped here.
Osaka Castle - one of the most famous landmarks in all of Japan. Photo by Kalyakan - stock.adobe.com
Osaka is, undoubtedly, the most ideal place to go in Japan in the autumn season. When it’s October, the colourful fall foliage begins to take place. You can see the spectacular scenery of red leaves until December, so you know what’s the best time to visit Osaka.
Another great time to visit Japan in general and Osaka, in particular, is from late March to mid-April, the sakura (cherry blossoms) season. That’s when the whole country is endowed with a soft pink splendour.
The most popular tourist spot in Osaka is none other than Osaka Castle. With a history that dates back 450 years, the castle tower has lots of stories to tell. The parks that envelop the towering structure are also a major attraction, offering stunning landscapes.
If you want to explore another side of Osaka, the Dotonbori area is the place to do so. Filled with gaudy neon signs, clubs, bars as well as restaurants, this principal tourist destination is best explored at nighttime.
Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine, where many religious ceremonies and special events are held. Photo by Virdventure on Pexels
Known for its tragic past of nuclear attack, Hiroshima has now become one of the top attractions in Japan. If you rewind the time a little more, you will learn that this place used to be a castle town that played an important role in multiple wars. The place is easily accessible from Tokyo or Osaka via JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen.
Within Downtown Hiroshima, you can find the most visited places in Japan: the Peace Memorial Museum, Peace Memorial Park, and the Atomic Bomb Dome - all of which are dedicated to the memories of the bomb's victims.
There’s no shortage of the most amazing sights of beautiful places Japan in this city, among which is the Itsukushima “Floating” Torii Gate.
It is the gateway to Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mystical massive gate, along with the main shrine, standing elegantly on top of the water at high tide is a sight to behold.
Just a 30-minute train trip away from Hiroshima is Miyajima island. This quaint little island is dubbed “the island of the gods” due to its historical and religious significance. There are many attractions like the Itsukushima Shrine, Mount Misen, Virgin Forest, etc.
Like many famous places in Japan, the atmosphere in Sapporo is impeccable. Photo by ake1150 - stock.adobe.com
Anyone travelling to Tokyo may have heard of Sapporo, which is the largest city in the Northernmost part of the country. Furthermore, it is known as one of the snowiest destinations in Japan, and even in the world.
The heavy snowfall also helped forge the city’s identity, Sapporo is the first Asian city to host the Winter Olympics. Plus, some two million visitors from around the globe come to join its annual Sapporo Snow Festival, which features professionally crafted snow and ice sculptures.
For those who want to have an obstructed view of Odori Park and Sapporo, the best place to do that is on the observation deck at a height of 90.38 metres (296 feet) on the Sapporo TV Tower.
Sapporo is also the birthplace of miso ramen, so be sure to give this nationally beloved dish a try. If you want to hunt for this hearty Japanese noodle soup, we recommend going to Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, the “ramen alley”.
At almost anywhere in Yokohama you can see Cosmo Clock 21, a 100 metre (328 feet) high Ferris wheel. Photo by 英敏 松本 - stock.adobe.com
Among the most popular Japan tourist attractions, Yokohama is a famous destination for families. As many families are living in this city, you can find many kid-oriented attractions to go to with your little ones. It’s a great place to spend one or two days away from Tokyo.
Zoological Gardens Zoorasia is a popular destination with locals and tourists alike. This massive zoo features eight sections that replicate natural animal habitats in a spacious area. Thus it’s a must-see for animal and nature lovers.
It’s no secret that Japan is best known for ramen, a dish that has a special place in everyone’s heart. To learn more about this beloved dish, come to the Ramen Museum, the world's first food-themed amusement park.
In this attraction, you can walk through the faithful recreation of Tokyo streets in 1958, when instant ramen was born. Furthermore, visitors get to enjoy the flavours of ramen from renowned shops across Japan.
A great sight of the Hakata Port, Fukuoka on a beautiful day. Photo by orpheus26 - stock.adobe.com
Being both the capital of Fukuoka prefecture and Western Kyushu’s biggest city, Fukuoka has plenty of things to see and do. Furthermore, Fukuoka is also a pretty accessible spot to visit the most wonderful places in Taiwan or other places in Asia.
One of the most gorgeous locations in the region is Fukutsu Sea Mirror. When the tide is just right, you are gifted with a perfect backdrop of a mystical sea “reflection” on the coast of Fukutsu.
If you want to see another majestic attraction many tourists travel to japan for, come to Takachiho Gorge and you won’t be disappointed. The wonderful waterfall is located on Kyushu island, where you can reach by catching the Kyushu Expressway train for a 2-hours ride.
Hakone is famous for its lake view over Mt Fuji. Photo by chemistkane - stock.adobe.com
Those who are interested in famous places in Japan with the best hot springs, consider visiting Hakone. The mountain town is just a few hours away from Tokyo. Many people love coming here to enjoy bathing in an Onsen (Japanese hot springs).
Belonging to the Hakone round course, Owakudani is a popular stop. The volcanic valley was created some 3,000 years ago due to a volcanic eruption. As a result, the place is full of active sulphur vents and hot springs. A must-try local speciality is Kuro-tamago, black eggs boiled from hot spring water, once you set foot here.
If you want to witness the beautiful view of Mt Fuji from afar, there are many great options: from the Moto Hakone area, on the Hakone Detached Palace, or the boats on the lake, etc. Regardless of your choice, you will be blessed with a wider view thanks to the clear air in these parts.
Have you ever heard about shinrin-yoku (forest bathing)? The name says it all, this therapy method involves taking a stroll through a forest atmosphere and appreciating everything with your senses. One of the best places to practise it is Hakone Kuzuryu Forest, which is near Lake Ashi.
There’s nothing like exploring the beautifully-reserved old street in the city of Nara. Photo by Sanga - stock.adobe.com
Nara should be on your Japan travel bucket list as it’s just under one hour away from big cities like Kyoto or Osaka. Once the imperial capital of the nation (between 710-784), it’s safe to say that the city is one of the best places to visit in Japan to learn about its rich history and cultural values.
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara have been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. The site is a collection of eight individual cultural assets, which are temples, a forest, and a palace site. There are also various ancient Japanese Buddhist buildings and artefacts awaiting to be discovered in and around Nara.
Did you know that deer are the symbol of the city? The legend goes that Takemikazuchi, a deity, arrived at the old capital of Nara on a divine white deer. And thus this animal is seen as sacred. Nara Park is an especially popular spot for interacting with and feeding about one thousand adorable deer.
A dreamy night view over Nagoya, Japan's fourth most populated city. Photo by TAKUYA ARAKI - stock.adobe.com
Located right in the middle of the country, Nagoya is a great starting point for exploring the nearby Japan tourist attractions like Kyoto, Takayama, or Kiso valley. It is Central Japan’s largest city and the nation’s financial hub.
Whether you are a car person or not, a trip to the Toyota Commemorative Museum Of Industry & Technology is a must. The attendees range from schoolchildren to seniors with white. All come to this destination to marvel at the models in their glory forms and the story behind one of Japan’s great companies.
As modern and youthful as it is, Nagoya also has a historical side to it. There are various sites like Nagoya Castle or Atsuta Jingu that offer a glimpse of the thousands-year-old cultures of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Aside from the beautiful places, don’t forget to explore the decadent regional cuisines, a quality you see in every region of Japan. If there’s one dish you must try in Nagoya, it would be miso katsu, a deep-fried pork cutlet served with rich dark-brown sauce.
A building with a blend of Western and Japanese styles in the modern city of Kobe. Photo by oben901- stock.adobe.com
Many people may have heard about Kobe beef, one of the most expensive beef in the world. But the coastal city of Osaka Bay is more than that. From taking in the magical view from the longest suspension bridge in the world to exploring the Kitano old district, Kobe has much to offer.
Once a thriving port town, the city is a Japan place to visit if you want to experience the interesting mix of Western and Japanese culture. Come to Kitano-cho Ijinkan (Old Quarter) and you will be treated to about 20 old Western-style cultural properties, all of which are open to the public.
When you want something different, try getting lost in the colourful streets of Kobe Chinatown Nankin-machi. Lining the streets are various stalls selling mouth-watering street foods. Walking while munching on some snacks is just the best thing to do ever, especially when sightseeing marvellous Chinese-inspired architecture.
Kanazawa is a charming city with a plethora of fantastic cultural attractions. Photo by Vladimir Haltakov on Unsplash
Even though far apart, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture can be easily reached from Tokyo. Through a two and a half hour bullet train ride, anyone can take a day trip to Kanazawa to witness its dazzling array of rich heritage.
Geisha are one of the most captivating and iconic symbols of Japan tourist travel. You can meet these female performance artists in real life by coming to the teahouses in the Higashi Chaya District. If you are fascinated by Samurai, Nagamachi - the samurai district - is the place for you.
Many people would tell you to visit the awe-inspiring Kanazawa Castle, but don’t forget to check out the adjacent Kenroku-en. This exquisite beautiful landscaped garden is the perfect place to practise shinrin-yoku.
Kamakura is a hamlet known for its relaxed atmosphere and serenity. Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash
Over a hundred temples and shrines, sandy beaches and numerous other historical monuments are what make Kamakura such an attractive Japan tourist place. The small city is called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan and for good reasons.
If you visit Kamakura, It would be a shame to miss Kōtoku-in. It is a Buddhist temple, Where the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan resides. The Great Buddha statue is 11.4m (37.4 ft) tall sitting upright in the open space surrounded by lush scenery. The monumental bronze statue was built in 1252 and has long been a major tourist attraction.
Those who want to immerse themselves in the deep ocean blue, come to Kamakura Yuigahama Beach and your dream will come true. It is one of the five beaches of the 4-miles-long coast on Southern Kamakura. The water temperature is just perfect, we are sure you will have a great time at this wonderful beach.
Nikko National Park has no shortage of stunning landscapes. Photo by coward_lion - stock.adobe.com
When you want to take shelter from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, there’s no better place than Nikko. With natural beauty destinations and UNESCO heritage sites, it’s easy to see why Nikko is among the finest places to go in japan.
The town is a gateway to Nikko National Park, undoubtedly the main attraction of the region. It is home to shrines and temples with spectacular mountainous backdrops.
The top choice for visiting must be Tosho-gu Shrine dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the three unifiers in Japan. This lavish mausoleum is a complex of 103 structures with wood carvings and gold leaf decorations.
You can find one of Japan’s three most beautiful cascades in Nikko, the Kegon falls. To fully admire the splendid natural beauty of such a natural phenomenon, you can view it from a free upper deck or a paid lower viewing deck.
The signature thatched roof of the farmhouse in Shirakawa-go is said to resemble the hands of monks joined together in prayer. Photo by boygostockphoto - stock.adobe.com
Here’s another star on your Japan tourist places bucket list: Shirakawago. It is renowned for being the cultural heritage site of Shirakawa-go (Shirakawa Village), a UNESCO world heritage site that is unlike anything you’ve seen before.
The Japanese mountain settlement is known for its thatched-roofed Gassho farmhouses, some of which are over 250 years old. These Gassho-style houses are not your typical Japanese farmhouses, they are colossal with 3-feet thick thatched steep roofs.
Due to heavy snowfall, the houses are designed this way. Furthermore, the attic space is used as a workplace. In the Edo and early Showa eras, Japanese people used to employ this space for silk rearing.
But let’s not forget about the stunning surroundings that envelop these architectural beauties. The Sho River, rice paddies and lush greenery are worth discovering, too.
Like many attractions in Japan, Shikoku has many old streets to stroll through. Photo by Sanga - stock.adobe.com
Southwest of Japan's main island Honshu is Shikoku, an island surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Given its location, one can expect the best when travelling to this attraction in japan: good food, beautiful places, and a long fascinating history.
The first place most people would visit is Ritsurin Garden, a “special place of scenic beauty”. This 16th-century cultural asset is considered to be the largest Cultural Property Garden in Japan. Covering an area of about 75 hectares (185 acres), there’s much to explore in one of the greatest places to visit in japan.
Japan has many Instagrammable and memorable destinations, and Vine Bridges of the Iya Valley is one of them. Lies in one of Japan’s least explored regions is the magical vines bridge slithering across the water.
They are not only captivating but also safe to cross, as the vines are replaced every 3 years and even reinforced with hidden steel and cable.
The Most Beautiful Places In Japan Are A Real Gem To Discover
Your journey to the Land of the Rising Sun may be the trip of a lifetime. Photo by Peerawat - stock.adobe.com
Japan is famous for being one of the safest and cleanest countries in the world. Therefore, every traveller can have a relatively hassle-free trip to this beautiful nation. If you want another destination recommendation, we advise exploring the best places to visit in Switzerland - another safe place to visit.
The most beautiful places in Japan are not just limited to towering skyscrapers and mountain ranges. At every corner, you will find architectural beauties of all kinds and things to do for a unique experience. It’s worth a visit at least once in your life.