Japan is one of those destinations that is always on every traveler’s list. The country offers a history and culture that mixes the imagery of temples and ancient geisha rituals with the technology and modernity of the big cities.
Tokyo is a city par excellence for those visiting Japan for the first time. However, some other regions and locations are worth exploring.
In this article, I bring you some of the most popular places to visit in Japan that you should consider in your itinerary if it’s your first time in the country.
Places to visit in Japan
Japan’s capital and largest city can sometimes be overwhelming to deal with. But, despite all the activity on the streets of Tokyo, this is definitely the destination to start with.
Tokyo offers a mix of tradition and modern culture. The temples share the attention with the streets electrified by the hundreds of neons and advertisements.
You can spend several days in Tokyo and only partially get to know the city.
Of all the places to go in Tokyo, the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa is a must-see, with its imposing Kaminarimon Gate; another is the Tsukiji Market, one of the largest fish markets in the world; and, of course, the famous Shibuya crossing where hundreds of people cross the street at the same time.
Also, be sure to immerse yourself in the city in search of the best Japanese flavors. You have plenty to choose, from neighborhood restaurants to the most luxurious. But, of course, it all depends on your travel budget.
Known for its temples and shrines, Kyoto embodies Japan’s cultural and religious heritage. With a more traditional architecture, this city in the Kansai region was the country’s capital for over a thousand years and today preserves Japanese history while incorporating more contemporary elements.
Between the various places you can visit in Kyoto, go to the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, a masterpiece of Japanese architecture listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, famous for thousands of red torii that stretch to the top of Mount Inari.
This is Japan’s third-largest city and a paradise for foodies. Popular local dishes include takoyaki (octopus dumplings), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and kitsune udon (noodles with fish broth and fried tofu), among many others.
Besides the multiple restaurants and stores, the city is popular for its castle, one of the most famous in the country, and for the Universal Studios, a theme park with attractions including Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. A great option if you are visiting the country as a family.
Japan’s second-largest island attracts different types of visitors depending on the season. In the winter, Hokkaido is covered with snow and offers excellent conditions for skiers and snowboarders. In the summer, the region is a haven for those looking to make the most of nature with hiking, camping and fishing.
The fact that it was the target of the first atomic bomb during World War II put Hiroshima in the history books. However, the city is to this day a symbol of the Japanese people’s power of recovery and reinvention.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum bear witness to the tragedy that marked the country and make a strong appeal for world peace.
Okinawa is known as one of the regions in the world where people live the longest. In fact, there are several theories to explain this fact, including the healthy diet, the active lifestyle and the subtropical climate.
Certainly the beauty of Okinawa’s beaches are another factor in the happiness of those who live there or are visiting.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and former capital of Japan, Nara proudly boasts its ancient temples and traditional gardens.
Nara Park is one of Japan’s oldest and largest urban parks, covering an area of approximately 660 hectares. It’s home to hundreds of Japanese deer, which are considered sacred, with a special protected status. Deer are believed to have been worshipped in Nara since ancient times, being considered divine messengers.
8. Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji on the island of Honshu is considered a national symbol of Japan, the country’s highest point. At 3,776 meters high, Mount Fuji is very popular with hiking and climbing fans.
However, if you want to avoid venturing to the heights, there are other ways to see the beauty of this mountain. For example, you can go to Kawaguchi, which offers breathtaking views from this elevation over Lake Kawaguchi, or the Fuji Five Lakes, a set of five lakes with Mount Fuji as a backdrop.
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These are just a few of the many places to visit in Japan. Depending on your interests and the length of your trip, you can plan an itinerary that includes some or all of these destinations or perhaps venture out to discover other lesser-known areas.
Top places to visit in Japan
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