Top Tourist Attractions in Japan
To say that Japan is mysterious would be an understatement. It's a seamless blend of millennia of customs and ultra-modern machinery. While it is well known that Japan is among the more technologically sophisticated and industrialized countries on the planet, most tourists visiting the country for the first time are astonished to learn that this little Asian nation also has a long and captivating history that backdates for millennia, which makes Japan a fantastic holiday destination.
Even before some of the magnificent European churches were constructed, Japanese Shinto and Buddhist shrines were well-rooted, attracting worshipers and adherents to their lavish architecture and decor. Simultaneously, the nation was honing the abilities and industries to pave the way to its eventual wealth, such as producing exquisite pottery and fabrics like silk. Notwithstanding conflicts and environmental disasters, the most essential of this strong culture has been kept, making a trip to Japan an unforgettable experience with many exciting activities, historic sites, and other must-see sights.
This guide to the finest destinations you should not miss visiting will help you plan your Japan tour.
The impressive Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and undoubtedly the nation's most famous symbol. This legendary peak rises to an impressive 3,776 meters above a flat topography, making it visible 100 kilometers away from Tokyo. For centuries, Mount Fuji has been honored in Japanese art and literature, and in recognition of its cultural importance, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. Located in Japan's Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Mount Fuji is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims every summertime, which is the climbing season from early July to early September. Many visitors spend the night on its slopes before making the ascent to the peak for a dawn view.
Sometimes hikers may prefer to commence from the bottom, although the vast majority begin around the 5th Station, where you can do some preparation before the climb, making the trek a more reasonable six or seven hours. Those attempting the full climb should set out in the noonday, using "Mountain Huts" strategically placed along the route as a place to rest before continuing the ascend.
Imperial Palace, Tokyo
One of the most visited, if not the most seen, in Tokyo, the Imperial Palace, is recognizable by its astonishing sight, surrounded by exquisite gardens backdating 1700s and water. Although many parts are off-limits to visitors due to the presence of the Imperial family, who still inhabit the palace, there's much more to see just by walking around. Taking a guided excursion is the best way to make the most of your visit, and you will have the opportunity to enter the Higashi-Gyoen Garden and see much more of the palace buildings. In addition to providing visitors with countless possibilities, the vantage points across the neighboring parks offer the pleasing sight of the court, ideal for photo lovers. The Nijubashi Bridge often referred to as the "double bridge" because of its mirrored appearance across the river, provides one of the city's most picturesque backdrops.
After visiting the Imperial Palace, check out Ginza, a popular retail area. The Kabuki-za Theatre, known for its Kabuki shows, and the Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre, known for its classic Bunraku performance, is the heart of this lively neighborhood.
Imperial Palace, Tokyo
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Kōen, or Hiroshima Memorial Park, just as its name suggests, is a memorial park to the terrible tragedies of August 1945 that occurred in Hiroshima, which is nowadays an emblem of permanent peace, and the extraordinary efforts taken by this bustling metropolis to honor the memory of those who perished in the atomic bombing. Located near the site of the atomic bombings in a section of the town that used to be lively, is visited by millions of souls coming from countries all around the world every year. Several significant memorials, museums, and other sites commemorating 9/11 van be found in this area.
The Atomic Weapon Dome, the remnants of an office block near the blast's epicenter, and the Memorial Cenotaph are all located here, where also home to the Peace Memorial Museum, which has several exhibitions on international peace beside the parkland and the exquisite gardens with their vibrant blooming flowers.
As a notable example of the influence of Buddhist architecture in Kyoto, Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, dates back to the 14th century and is known for its magnificent gold-plated wrapped facade. It is a three-story building with the walls of the middle and top floors covered in gold, so it is great to visit on a sunny day to admire the way it glistens in the bright sunlight. Because it is a temple built on the edge of a pond, standing on the other side of the pond to admire it in all its splendor is a highly recommended, as you can not only see the temple in its entirety, but also still glittering reflection in the tranquil emerald green water. It is also a good place to see the red leaves in autumn. Every October, the mountains behind Kinkaku-ji are gradually colored with red and gold, providing one of the most appropriate backdrops for this temple. Strolling through the garden while watching the leaves fall into the water and the reflection of the temple is very much in keeping with the Japanese concept of elegance.
As you enter the temple, you will notice that each floor has a different architectural style. The ground floor is designed in the style of a Shinto shrine, with plenty of open space to enjoy the views of the exquisite surrounding gardens. The first floor is in the traditional Japanese samurai style, with shrines to gods and swords. The top floor, where the ashes are kept, is in the Zenshu style.
Nijo Castle, Kyoto
Nijo Castle, a fortification from the 17th century still with its original walls, towers, and moat and is well worth a visit. The palace's elegant decor and the castle's gorgeous gates are both must-sees. Nijo Castle stands out among the various castles in Japan because of its distinctive color, with its black eaves and walls always impressing visitors. However, when you step in and observe, you can also find the exquisite gold dressing under the black eaves, which makes you wonder about the majestic atmosphere of the Japanese imperial family.
Inside the castle there are exquisite gardens with cherry blossoms and maple planted along the edge of the classic rock garden, making this place worth visiting in different seasons. A visit to Nijo Castle, especially on a spring evening is always recommended. You will not only allow you to experience the splendor of the cherry blossoms at night, but also a spectacular light show that will allow you to experience Nijo Castle in a different way.
Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima
Miyajima, commonly known as Japan's Temple Island, is a small isle just off the coast of Hiroshima Bay, spanning about 3000 hectares and accessible by boat. Almost all of the temple's structures, that date back to the early nineteenth century, is raised over a little bay on nothing but stones. It is most famous as the location of the Itsukushima shrine, which honors the wind god's daughter. At highwaters, the O-Torii, Great Floating Gate, and the other buildings in the area look like they are hovering on the sea. It's an impressive tour, especially the significant halls, namely the Prayer Hall, the Hall of a Thousand Mats, the Offering Hall, and the Honden, which are connected by pathways. The shrine's stage is also interesting since it hosts presentations of indigenous dancing and singing for the benefit of tourists. The island's lovely lawns and gardens, home to majestic deer and various birds, are also worth visiting.
Historic Nara Park
Nara Park is arguably one of the most iconic attractions in Nara, Japan's beautiful and relatively untouched capital, has been the country's cultural epicenter for generations and hosts several ancient structures and priceless works of art. Not only is it home to many ancient temples and tall trees, but it is also home to nearly 1,200 wild sika deer. The deer are considered messengers of the gods and are allowed to roam the park at will. You can also buy special food biscuits at the park entrance to feed these lovely creatures.
Deer in Nara Park
Inside the garden, you can walk with the lovely deers as well as sightseeing the majestic Great East Temple, Tojai-ji. From the eighth century, is renowned for its massive Daibutsu, a bronze statue of the Great Buddha, and its southern gate Nandaimon is also worth seeing. The impressive edifice, which is low-rise and rests on eighteen pillars, is a guardian over the temple's main gate and has two Nio sculptures that are eight meters in height. You will also see the Hall of the Great Buddha, an enormous wooden structure worldwide.
The fortress Osaka Castle was erected in 1586 by the legendary warrior and statesman Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The current building dates back to 1931, and although it has been demolished and reconstructed many times, it remains remarkably equal to its original design. The massive, five-decker central tower stands 42 meters high, which stands on an impressive stone foundation of 14 meters in height, is lousy with things to see for visitors, including many of the exhibits on the fortress and the city's heritage. As the sun dips below the horizon, the top of the castle offers an astonishing panoramic of Osaka. In addition, Osaka Castle Park is also home to the Hokoku Shrine, a must-see in its own right, and Shitennō-ji, Osaka's most famous temple as well as the oldest Buddhist shrine in Japan, was established in AD 59 and is also well worth a trip for its beautiful pagoda and other elaborately designed structures.
Chūbu-Sangaku National Park and the Japanese Alps
Most of Japan's most stunning scenery is protected as a sanctuary or is recognized as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, so does the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park located in the heart of Honshu, which is a breathtaking sight that you not to be missed. The park is famous for its wide variety of flora and fauna, especially the moorbird and antelopes in the highlands of the Japanese Alpines. The northern region of the park shelters the Hida Mountains, a beautiful alpine landscape perfect for wildlife lovers. Mt. Hotaka, at 3,190 meters, and Mt. Yari, which rises to an altitude of 3,180 meters, are two of the highest mountains in Japan that can be seen here. Whether it is summertime or winter, the Hida Mountains draw extreme sports enthusiasts and outdoor activities lovers from Europe and worldwide.
The Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya
Located in the middle of Nagoya, Atsuta Temple might be the busiest Shinto temple in Japan, with over five million visits annually. This temple was built in the first century, and visitors flock here to admire one of the three imperial regalia of Japan, the Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, well known as the Grass-mowing sword from the time of the Emperor's reign. In addition, the primary shrine of Hongu, which is enclosed by a barrier on all sides, and the storehouse, which houses a large number of works of art such as ancient and contemporary paintings, pottery, jewels, and traditional masks, are also fascinating attractions. Do not visit Nagoya without stopping at Nagoya Castle. This beautiful, fortified structure dates back to 1612 and has a central tower that reaches 48 meters into the air and is renowned for its mythical golden era-like (Shachihoko) creatures. A museum houses priceless pieces of art from the castle, and visitors come to take the breathtaking views of the Nobi Plain and the city below.
Fukuoka Castle Ruins and the City's Ancient Festivals
Fukuoka Castle, constructed around the 15th century, is now a ruin but still attracts tourists to the heart of Maizuru park. Leafy hiking pathways and picturesque spotters with views of the Naka River are the primary draws for tourists. You'll have to ascend to the top to get a good look at the metropolis above the remains. The castle was an excellent illustration of a prestigious mountaintop mansion, famous among city lords and shoguns. However, it was demolished after the Meiji Restoration in return for feudalism. Only the entrance to the castle and one of its towers remain, surrounded by rubble. Fukuoka also draws attention for its abundance of festivities and other special occasions. The most well-known is the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival, celebrated every year for two weeks and has been going strong for the last 700 years, attracting a bunch of tourists from all over Japan every July. In particular, Canal City Hakata stands out as a veritable city-within-a-city, including excellent stores, resorts, eateries, and even a theatre, all clustered around one square.
If you're planning to travel to Japan and want to explore its unique charm with your own eyes, please don't hesitate to contact us, just simply tell us your interests and needs, and one of our travel experts will create a tailor-made itinerary for you within 24hrs.
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