Many people know Japan as being a fascinating country with cutting edge technology and wonderful architecture where country’s traditions are still being maintained. Like most Asian counties, even more interesting might be the rich past and interesting history these countries have.
There are just too many beautiful, historical, ancient and fun places in Japan to visit. This blog post will point you some of the most famous ones. When you visit Japan for first time, then you will not regret visiting some of the ones pointed out below.
Map with Japan Tourist Spots
At the map below you’ll find an introduction to just some of the Japan Tourist Spots. This is not an extensive list. There are many more places to visit during your stay in Japan. For your reference I included Narita Airport, Kansas Airport (Osaka) and Fukuoka Hakata Airport.
Just zoom in at the map and click the markers for details explanations.
|Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan|
|Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan|
|Fukuoka International Airport, (Hakata) Fukuoka, Japan|
Japan is considered being a very safe country to visit in all aspects. When possible the Japanese people will do their utmost best to limit any bad experience for tourists as well for themselves. However, like in many other countries around the world, earthquakes might appear. The last big earthquake (April 16th, 2016) in the Kumamoto prefecture (where Mnt Aso resides) took many lifes and destroyed many buildings. In such case they say "Shō ga nai (しょうがない)" which means "it cannot be helped" and then they start to rebuild with remarkable positive attitude.
Beppu is located in the central part of Oita, on the coast of Beppu Bay faces the sea, with Mt. Tsurumi and the rest of the Tsurumi Volcanoes in the rear. Hot water gushes at many spots in the city. Beppu ranks first in gush volume in Japan and is in a high place in the world in the number of sources and the variety of chemical properties. The Beppu-onsen Spa consists of eight hot spring areas including Hamawaki, Beppu, Kankaiji, Myoban and Kannawa, which are collectively called "Beppu Hatto". In addition, there are many modern spa resorts also supplied from the rich sources in those areas.
|Enoshima & shrine|
Only a short train ride west of Kamakura, Enoshima (江の島) is a pleasantly touristy island just off coast but connected by bridge with the mainland. The island offers a variety of attractions, including a shrine, park, observation tower and caves. Views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed on days with good visibility.
Enoshima is divided into a yacht harbor accessible to motorized traffic and a forested hill which can only be explored on foot (and paid escalators) and contains most of the sights. Several shrine buildings, collectively known as Enoshima Shrine, are found around the island and are dedicated to Benten, a popular goddess of good fortune, wealth, music and knowledge. Benten is believed to have created Enoshima before subduing a five headed dragon that had been terrorizing the area.
Fukuoka, the capital of Fukuoka Prefecture, sits on the northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island. It’s known for its ancient temples, beaches and modern shopping malls, including Canal City. Its expansive Fukuoka Art Museum lies within tranquil Ohori Park, and neighboring Maizuru Park contains ruins of the 17th-century Fukuoka Castle. The city is also renowned for tonkotsu ramen offered at street stalls.
Furthermore, this city is great place to start your vacation when you go visit "Huis ten Bosch" and the Nagasaki area.
|Gunkanjima (Hashima) island near Nagasaki|
Hashima Island (端島 or Hashima) commonly called "Gunkanjima" (軍艦島; meaning Battleship Island), is an abandoned island lying about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Nagasaki. The island’s most notable features are the abandoned historical concrete buildings, undisturbed except by nature, and the surrounding sea wall.
The 6.3-hectare (16-acre) island was known for its undersea coal mines, established in 1887. The island reached a peak population of 5,259 in 1959. In 1974, with coal supplies nearing depletion, the mine was closed and all of the residents departed soon after, leaving the island effectively abandoned for the following decades.
Himeji city is located between Osaka and Hiroshima. Himeji city has “Himeji Castle” that is registered as a world heritage from the first time in Japan in 1993. There are many tourist resources here. For example, Shoshazan Engyoji has 1000 years of history and the Hollywood movie, “Last Samurai” was filmed here. There is also “seafood” freshly caught at the Inland Sea of Japan” and local gourmet of Himeji.
The access Himeji Castle it is most easy to take the JR shinkansen: 30 minutes from Shin Osaka, or 1 hour from Hiroshima. The castle can be seen from JR Himeji Station. It only takes 15 minute walk and is very close to the station.
Hiroshima (広島) is the principal city of the Chugoku Region and home to over a million inhabitants.
When the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and obliterated nearly everything within a two kilometer radius.
After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city. Predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved false. Destroyed monuments of Hiroshima's historical heritage, like Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden, were reconstructed. In the center of the city a large park was built and given a name that would reflect the aspirations of the re-born city: Peace Memorial Park.
|Hakone (Mnt Fuji)|
|Huis ten Bosch, Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan|
A great themepark designed to mimic a Dutch village. This theme park offers rides & imitations of famous attractions.
Iya Valley and Oboke has many beautiful spots to discover. Read our article here.
Kamakura (鎌倉) is a coastal town in Kanagawa Prefecture, less than an hour south of Tokyo.
Kamakura became the political center of Japan, when Minamoto Yoritomo chose the city as the seat for his new military government in 1192. The Kamakura government continued to rule Japan for over a century, first under the Minamoto shogun and then under the Hojo regents.
After the decline of the Kamakura government in the 14th century and the establishment of its successor, the Muromachi or Ashikaga government in Kyoto, Kamakura remained the political center of Eastern Japan for some time before losing its position to other cities.
Today, Kamakura is a small city and a very popular tourist destination. Sometimes called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura offers numerous temples, shrines and other historical monuments. In addition, Kamakura's sand beaches attract large crowds during the summer months.
|Mnt Koya (Koyasan)|
Mount Koya (高野山, Kōyasan) is the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect which was introduced to Japan in 805 by Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai), one of Japan's most significant religious figures. A small, secluded temple town has developed around the sect's headquarters that Kobo Daishi built on Koyasan's wooded mountaintop. It is also the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
Kobo Daishi began construction on the original Garan temple complex in 826 after wandering the country for years in search of a suitable place to center his religion. Since then over one hundred temples have sprung up along the streets of Koyasan. The most important among them are Kongobuji, the head temple of Shingon Buddhism, and Okunoin, the site of Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.
Koyasan is also one of the best places to experience an overnight stay at a temple lodging (shukubo) where you can get a taste of a monk's lifestyle, eating vegetarian monk's cuisine (shojin ryori) and attending the morning prayers. Around fifty temples offer this service to both pilgrims and visitors.
|Kiso valley (magome-tsumago)|
In the Kiso Valley (木 曽 路, Kisoji) a few towns have been preserved where visitors can get a good impression about the ancient trade route "Nakasendo". In particular, the old road between Magome to Tsumago is approx. 8km (5mi.) and will take about 3 to 4 hours to walk in order to get a good impression of this ancient route. Visitors can enjoy the old paved paths and wooden buildings from a bygone era.
The Kiso Valley is located in the Nagano prefecture and runs along the mountains which have “the Japanese Alps" as a nickname. Through this Kiso Valley lies a part of the nearly 500 km long ancient Nakasendo route. The Nakasendo ("path through the mountains”) was one of the two trade routes between Edo and Kyoto. The other route was the Tokaido, which ran along the coast.
You can walk the remaining cobbelstone road between Magome and Tsumago in about 3 to 4 hours and is well worth the effort. To get there you grab a train at Nagoya station to Nakatsugawa. From there to go by bus to Magome. Back from Tsumago you take the bus to the station of Nagiso and from there a train back to Nagoya.
Read our article on the Village and Hotel named KurokawaSo.
|Kompirasan & temple (Kotohiragu)|
Kompirasan, formally known as Kotohiragu (金刀比羅宮, Kotohiragū), is the main shrine of multiple Kompira shrines found around Japan that are dedicated to sailors and seafaring. Located on the wooded slope of Mount Zozu in Kotohira, the approach to Kompirasan is an arduous series of 1,368 stone steps.
Over many centuries, Kompirasan had been revered as a mixture between Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple, until it was officially declared a shrine in the beginning of the Meiji Period during government efforts to separate the two religions. Nevertheless, the former symbiosis is still visible in Kompirasan's architecture which displays both Shinto and Buddhist elements.
Despite being one of the most difficult shrine approaches in Japan, Kompirasan is a highly popular site visited by pilgrims from across the country. The approach begins amongst a touristy shopping arcade filled with souvenir shops and Sanuki Udon restaurants, from where it is a 785 step climb (about 45 minutes) past a number of auxiliary shrine buildings and museums to the main hall of the shrine. If all these stairs is too much burden for you, it is possible to hire some people to carry you up or down (see the picture).
The Island of Gods, well known for its floating shrine and Otorii.
Miyajima Island, one of the most scenic spots in Japan, has long been regarded as an Island of Gods on the beautiful Seto Inland Sea. It is a romantic and historical island where Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site, is located, along with the Virgin Forest of Mt. Misen, and numerous preserved shrines, temples and historical monuments.
Japan's first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara (奈良). As the influence and political ambitions of the city's powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784.
Nara is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples.
The pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki Waterfall
|Ritsurin garden (Takamatsu)|
The beautiful historical Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園 Ritsurin Kōen) in Takamatsu is one of the most beautiful Japanese gardens from the Edo period.
It is often said that along with Kanazawa's Kenrokuen, Mito's Kairakuen and Okayama's Korakuen the Ritsurin-Koen actually should be in the top 3 of special gardens in Japan,
Lovers of authentic Japanese streets and houses should certainly drop by Uchiko town. Uchiko (Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku) is a small village where one of the streets are kept in their original state. Along this street Yokaichi (八日 市, Yokaichi) are about 90 houses preserved to look the same as 100 years ago. Now, some of these houses are open to the public and used as a museum. Read our article here.
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