There are so many reasons to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, that it is quite surprising to note that many people still haven’t explored it. From stunning ancient Buddhist temples to Shinto shrines and breath-taking natural landscapes, it truly seems as Japan is the ultimate country when it comes to magical sights and timeless structures. Also, the locals are some of the kindest and most generous people in the world, and the rich culture is truly a topic of its own. Nevertheless, the thought of exploring Japan can be quite overwhelming for first-time visitors who still haven’t got their trip planned out. Luckily, this article provides the top places in Japan worth visiting. Dive in and let’s get to the countdown!
1. Tokyo city
On the very top of this list is the majestic capital of Japan, Tokyo. Also considered the world’s most famous metropolis, it is known as one of the country’s 47 prefectures. It is an interesting fact that the islands of Izu and Ogasawara are also a vital part of the capital. Its rich history dates back to 1868 when it changed its name from Edo to the present one. Unfortunately, during history, major parts of Tokyo perished in the Great Kanto Earthquake and the air raids of 1945. In the present day, Tokyo is perfect for visitors of all ages and interests. It is an especially fun experience for people who enjoy shopping until they drop. Visitors can witness Harajuku fashion on the streets, a fashion style which involves dressing in outrageous clothing, bright neon colours and platform shoes. However, if you have kids or you are looking for a spot in the city full of restaurants and beautiful architecture, then head to Odaiba. It is a famous spot in the city close to the centre which will have you entertained for hours. Check out the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation or roam the Toyota Mega Web car showroom.
Of course, one cannot discuss Tokyo without mentioning the most eminent feature of the city, the stunning bright shrines which are built around the city. The shrines are open to the public eye and they are traditionally used for various Buddhist or Shinto practices. If you are seeking peace and tranquility, then visit the oldest shrine in the area called the Sensoji Shrine. Visitors who do not want to leave without taking a souvenir back home can get delightful little charms said to bring good luck and fortune to the owner. Also, visitors will be able to listen to traditional Japanese music performed by the workers of the shrine. Remember to take your camera with you!
Are you into winter sports, in particular, skiing and snowboarding? If so, then there is no better place to go than the legendary Niseko skiing resort. In recent years, the area has attracted even more tourists from all over the world, especially Australia, due to its stunning powder snow and affordability. What sets Niseko apart from other ski resorts such as Hakuba, Furano and Minakami is that thrill-seekers can also try out off-trail skiing. Visitors also have the rare ability to get up close and personal with the majestic volcanic cone, Mount Yotei. It is also important to note that there are three significant resorts in the area; Grand Hirafu, Annupuri and Niseko Village. Tourists who wish to see all three can choose to acquire a Niseko All Mountain Pass, which lets them ski between them.
However, skiing is not the only activity tourists can take part in. Since Niseko is the proud home of the astonishing Shiribetsu River, there is the option to go rafting or boating downstream the calming waters. Many even argue that rafting is the best way to fully witness the beauty of the area without actually having to go on long walks or hikes. Another popular way to tour the area is by bike. Fortunately, there are plenty of bicycle paths in Niseko which let adventurous spirits explore every nook and cranny of this part of Hokkaido.
Nagoya, the capital of Aichi Prefecture and the fourth city in Japan with the most inhabitants is a must-see for everyone dying to explore the country’s futuristic and robotic side. In fact, many know Nagoya as the centre of the automotive industry and the home to notorious factories such as Mitsubishi and Toyota. Plus, if you want to learn all about the samurais and ninjas, then you are in the right spot. Car fans will be interested in visiting the Toyota Exhibition Hall and witnessing a wide array of innovative automobiles which have been exclusively designed at the factory. Visitors also have the one chance to get a sneak peek into some of the newest products of Toyota which are still being worked on and not yet released. Individuals who are interested in history and Nagoya’s rich culture are in for a treat because shrines and castles are in abundance. For example, the 17th-century Nagoya castle features an extensive collection of intricate costumes and weaponry as well as the statue of a legendary creature called “shachihoko”, the half tiger, half-fish creature.
Shopaholics, Nagoya has something for you too. The best place to shop on a budget and hunt down the top discounts is at Komehyo, the largest discount store in the area. Not only does Komehyo sell exclusive and fashionable clothing items at a discount price, but there are plenty of second-hand items which thrifters may come across. On a side note, the shops do not only sell clothing, but also antique items, hand-made jewellery and shoes.
Eager tourists who happen to find themselves on the gorgeous island of Honshu may as well head to Kobe, one of the most scenic cities in the entire country. More precisely, Kobe is situated on a breath-taking harbour and it is surrounded by its very own dramatic mountain area, which makes it perfect for people who are all about stunning views. Unfortunately, the city was hit by an earthquake in 1995, which left a huge portion of Kobe in ruins. Hence, visitors should not be surprised to see memorials dedicated to the fallen heroes of the tragic incident. One of the easiest ways to get a full glimpse of the panoramic views of Kobe is by climbing the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in the west of the city. The bridge is regarded as the tallest bridge in the country of its type, standing a whopping 283 meters in height. Climbing Mount Rokko is another way to enjoy the scenic beauty Japan has to offer. Visitors can choose either to take a walk up the beautiful mountain or skip the walk altogether and take a cable car. Once at the very top, visitors can check out Osaka Bay and relax in the famous Rock Garden. Venturing up the Kobe Port Tower is another spectacular way to check out the views of the port of the city. In fact, many consider this landmark (which dates back to 1962) as the national symbol of the city built with using pipes. The best place to shop in Kobe is in the central area of the city, Chinatown. More popularly known as Nankinmachi, the area is a haven for exclusive shops, fine restaurants and street food stands which feature traditional Japanese delicacies. Try out delicious tapioca drinks or have a bite of manju.
In summary, even though Japan has plenty of places and top spots worth exploring, these are just some honorable mentions. Whichever destination you choose to witness for yourself, remember to take a camera, a journal and most importantly, enjoy!