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Pristine ski resorts, colourful concrete jungles, mountain top lookouts, and a fascinating history to accompany; it’s not hard to understand why travellers from all walks of life consider Japan a must-visit destination. The country is home to some of the most remarkable and unique locations on the planet. Including natural wonders, bustling cities and quiet coastal towns. The best part is that these places are effortless to access, thanks to Japan’s convenient bullet train system. Ranging from Mount Fuji to Sapporo, here are some of the best places to visit in Japan.

1. Kyoto

Well-known for its abundance of ancient temples, vibrant gardens, and shrines, Kyoto offers travellers a glimpse into Japan’s traditional side. One of the most popular shrines located in the city is the Fushimi Inari Taisha. This shrine is easily recognisable thanks to the thousands upon thousands of red torii gates that weave visitors through the grounds of Mount Inari. Otherwise, some other temples scattered throughout Kyoto that are worth a visit include Kinkaku-Ji and Kiyomizu-Dera.

Those eager to admire the city from above can take a stroll up Mt Arashiyama and into the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. After walking to the top of the mountain, guests are welcomed by stretching views over the city and surrounding landscapes, accompanied by hundreds of Japanese macaque monkeys. Fruits and nuts can even be purchased at the top to feed to these playful creatures.

Kyoto - Fushimi Inari Taisha
Image by @mikecleggphoto

2. Osaka

Osaka is located only 1 hour from Kyoto via train, opening up a whole new list of exciting things to do. Many visitors are drawn to Osaka Universal Studios, home to a wide range of colourful characters and sets. Such as Harry Potter, Jaws, Spiderman and more.

If you’re hoping to explore some historically significant destinations in the city, then check out Osaka Castle. This majestic castle dates back to 1597 and is surrounded by a colourful garden. Since its establishment, the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt on more than one occasion. Travellers can learn of the Osaka Castle’s history via the museum within.

Looking for more things to do in Osaka? Try checking out Dotonbori, Tsutenkaku, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, or the Umeda Sky Building.

Osaka Castle and reflections at night
Image by @mikecleggphoto

3. Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan’s capital packs a punch, holding an immense range of things to do. If you’re eager to explore some of the country’s history and culture, there are plenty of temples and shrines on offer. Popular options being the Sensō-ji Temple, Gokoku-ji Temple, and the Kaneiji Temple.

Keen to do some shopping? There are many markets and eateries to choose from, including the Nakamise Shopping Arcade outside of the Sensō-ji Temple, Harajuku’s Takeshita-Dori, and the Toyosu Fish Market.

While visiting, be sure to take a moment to escape the buzz of Tokyo. You can do this by venturing up to one of the many vantage points to admire the cityscape. Both the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree deliver extraordinary views that can’t be missed.

Night views of Shibuya crossing in Tokyo
Image by @mikeclegghphoto

4. Nara

One of the most fascinating features of Nara is the hundreds of free-roaming deer within the city’s Nara Park. There are plenty of other captivating attractions within the city, including the Todai-Ji Temple, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine, and the Kofuku-Ji Temple, although nothing beats the simplicity of relaxing in the parkland on a sunny day and feeding these friendly animals. Deer biscuits can even be purchased throughout the park, with the creatures bowing for their treat.

Deer in Nara - Image CC0 - Alexander Smagin (unsplash)
Image by Alexander Smagin via Unsplash

5. Hiroshima

Hiroshima lies approximately 2 and a half hours west of Osaka. The city draws travellers to learn more about the nuclear bombing of 1945. The city has many points of interest regarding this event, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the destruction. This includes the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum, as well as the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Aside from the bombing, there are many other things to do in Hiroshima, including Miyajima Island, home to the giant torii gate: the Itsukushima Shrine.

Other activities including catching a ferry over to the small island, wandering through the many shrines and temples, shopping in the markets, walking alongside free-roaming deer, and getting a close-up look of the torii gate when the tide is out.

Hiroshima Dome

6. Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi is one of the best places to admire Mount Fuji from afar, with many tours available. The region is also home to a collection of beautiful landscapes. Many people take the ropeway up to the Tenjō-Yama Park Mountain, marvelling views of the lake and surrounding mountains on the way up. The summit is a popular vantage point for astonishing views of Mt Fuji.

Lake Kawaguchi
Image by K. Mishina from Pixabay

7. Hakuba

The small village of Hakuba is located only 1 hour from Nagano, within the Japanese Alps, making it the perfect place for skiing and snowboarding during the winter months. With plenty of winter resorts, hot springs, and a ski jumping stadium from the 1998 Winter Olympics, travellers are spoilt for choice. Hakuba can be reached from Tokyo, with bullet trains available from the city.

Hakuba mountains in the winter
Image by pen_ash from Pixabay

8. Nagasaki

Similar to Hiroshima, Nagasaki attracts many tourists interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the nuclear bomb that decimated the city in 1945. Travellers often attain this insight from the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. This is home to artefacts and photos of the event. Otherwise, the Nagasaki Peace Park is another popular destination, built to honour the victims of the bombing.

Nagasaki skyline at night
Image via Pixabay

9. Kamakura

The small coastal town of Kamakura is known for its temples, shrines, gardens, beaches, and more. The most distinguishable feature of the small city is the Kotoku-in Temple, featuring the iconic Great Buddha of Kamakura. The bronze statue stands over 11 metres and dates back to 1252.

For those eager to enjoy a day at the beach, Yuigahama is a favoured swimming and surfing spot of the city, with plenty of nearby eateries to enjoy.

Great Buddha of Kamakura

10. Sapporo

Another option for those eager to do some skiing while visiting Japan is the city of Sapporo, located upon the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. Many ski resorts lie reasonably close to the city, tucked within the nearby mountains, with plenty of family-friendly tracks.

Down toward the city centre are many attractions worth taking the time to visit, including the Sapporo Beer Museum, with free admission on offer. Alternatively, Odori Park, the Sapporo TV Tower, and the Maruyama Zoo are all sure to entertain.

Sapporo, Japan

Summary

With a blend of traditional and contemporary experiences sprinkled throughout the country, Japan holds something for every type of traveller to enjoy. Ranging from thrilling ski trips in Hakuba and Sapporo to the bustling cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, there’s an exciting attraction around every corner. You just need to know where to look. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, consider stopping by a few of these entertaining places.

Looking for more travel tips for Japan? Click here for 14 things to know before visiting Japan.

Nicholas Hastie

Editor in Chief at creatir.net
Nicholas Hastie is a travel and health writer located in Brisbane, Australia. He is passionate about documenting his journeys through writing and photography. Nicholas enjoys sharing his travel stories online and encouraging others to travel and create unforgettable memories. [Read full bio]

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