4 Unique & Best Places to Visit in Japan for Every Traveler

February 22, 2024

 

Many of us grew up dreaming to visit Japan, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun,’ nestled in East Asia. This beautiful country, composed of numerous islands, has always sparked our imaginations.

One surprising thing that you should know if you are planning a trip is the balance of historical culture and modern advancement. The general perception from the outside world is that Japan is a leader in the latest futuristic technology which is true. 

Best places to visit in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan

But once you visit there you’ll realize how much of the traditional culture is still a strong identity of this captivating nation. The natural landscape and the thrilling sites greatly contribute to the aesthetic image. You will learn about all this in the following readings! 

1. Tokyo

If we are going to talk about the wonders of Japan, we have to start with its capital city. Tokyo is the epitome of the mixed culture of old and new. The things to see and explore are SO DEEP it will go beyond your horizon! 

At one turn a certain region will look like a sneak-peak of the future with the stylish buildings and in another turn, you will feel a blast into the past when you see stacks of wooden houses. 

At present day, Tokyo is one of the most thrilling places to go for shopping, leisure activities, heritage sites, and dining enjoyment.

Art and Craft

Tokyo is home to some of the most breathtaking and mesmerizing artwork and also distinct cultural events. Their artwork remains part of their culture. Performing arts from centuries ago are still being played on stage and are still admired by the locals. 

The Nakamise shopping street is a lively area where visitors can buy souvenirs such as kimonos and chopsticks. Sumo wrestling is a huge part of Japanese culture and the event draws many crowds. In spring, locals traditionally enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms outdoors.

Nakamise is the most famous shopping street in Asakusa, Tokyo

Nakamise is the most famous shopping street in Asakusa, Tokyo

Different eras of Japanese art history and contemporary art are displayed in museums across the city. This brings to life the nature of pop culture and advanced technology in contrast to appreciation for the past. That’s what makes Japan so unique!

Food places

The food scenes are spectacular in Tokyo! It’s not just about the famous restaurants and celebrity chefs but what makes it so distinctively good is there is a good location consistently throughout the city.

At every turn, you will find a good or great restaurant or café. They are all scattered and there are many options to choose from such as a high-class sushi bar on one street corner to a noodle shop on the next. Every food shop is equally admired and receives huge attraction.

Tokyo is well known for its street foods and you definitely cannot miss out if you go there! Deep-frying is commonly used for many consumable goods in food places. From the skewers to the sweets, there is a variety of options to eat. 

The most beloved and regularly consumed is the takoyaki, which are octopus-filled dough-based balls. Here are some other commonly eaten street foods: 

– Yakitori (Skewered chicken pieces)

– Tamagoyaki (Rolled omelet)

– Onigiri (Rice balls)

For sure, you will get addicted to Japanese foods!

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack

Meiji Shrine Visit

This is Tokyo’s most famous Shinto shrine and it is surrounded by a forest giving it a pleasing view for visitors. It is a shrine commemorating Emperor Meiji, who paved the way for Japan’s exposure to the Western world in the 19th century.

There are multiple shrine buildings where the entrance to the place is through a massive torii gate. Once inside the shrine, visitors can wash by the water station and throw a few yen into the offering box to receive ‘good fortune’.

Bird’s Eye View – Tokyo Skytree

A guide to this astonishing city would not be complete without viewing the whole of Tokyo. If you want to see the entire geographical landscape of this city then you must go up the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Tokyo. 

Bird's eye view of Tokyo at beautiful sunset

Bird’s eye view of Tokyo at beautiful sunset

The interior building is creatively designed to have four elevators, each symbolizing the four seasons which takes visitors up to the 350-meter platform. With extra charge, there is an option to go up to 450 meters where there is a transparent glass floor for the courageous ones to try!

2. Kyoto

Kyoto has a large historical significance in Japan’s history. In its history, Kyoto has been a victim of many wars and chaos but due to its historical profile, the city was removed from the list of targeted cities to drop the atomic bomb during World War Two.

Many shrines, temples, and historical artifacts remain intact. Today the city is home to Meiji Shrine, Tokyo 2000 shrines and temples. Apart from its buildings, there are many noteworthy sites like beautiful gardens and traditional teahouses.

Golden Pavillion

The Kinkakuji, commonly referred to as the Golden Pavilion, is one of the most attractive places to visit in Kyoto. It is very ordinary for many tourists to come to this site! Back in 1397, it used to be a villa for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and then it was turned into a Zen temple in the 1400s.

The pavilion has been burnt multiple times in the past with the latest being in 1950 when a monk lit it on fire before attempting suicide. In the present day, the pavilion has been restored and renovated into a wonderful site and is part of the World Heritage Sites.

The temple’s look complements the nature of Kyoto

The temple’s look complements the nature of Kyoto

The two upper floors are covered in gold leaf where the ashes of Sakyamuni (Founder of Buddhism) are rumored to be stored inside! The entrance fee is 400 yen which is around 5.6 in AUD. So, if you are all for aesthetic buildings and value beauty then you need to stop by this place.

Heian Shinto Shrine

This shrine dates back to a more recent history. It was established in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as the capital city of Japan. The capital was moved from Kyoto to Japan in 1868. The entrance to the shrine is welcomed through a giant torii gate.

The Shrine grounds have a large open space and a wide court in the middle

The Shrine grounds have a large open space and a wide court in the middle

The main buildings are a re-model of the original Imperial Palace during the Heian Period, built in a smaller version of the original. On the rear side of the main buildings is an attractive and paid garden with different styles of plants, ponds, and buildings.

The shrine hosts cultural-themed events like the Jidai Festival, held annually on October 22nd, commemorating the city’s foundation. This event features a parade with participants wearing costumes representing various eras of Japan’s history, from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Heian Shrine.

Nishiki Market

While you are in Kyoto you must not miss checking out the Nishiki Market. This marketplace goes back more than 400 years and is one of the most thrilling places in the city. This market has over 130 markets and is around 400 metres long in area.

Known as "Kyoto's Kitchen", Nishiki Market specializes in all things food related

Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, Nishiki Market specializes in all things food related

Food products and food accessories are the main items for sale ranging from cookware to seafood. So many tasty foods to choose from tofu, fried fish cakes, and smoked duck to name a few. Meet and interact with sellers and the locals. The atmosphere is genuine and exciting.

Gion District

If you are visiting Kyoto then it is most likely you will go through the Gion district. This district is famously known for Geishas and Maikos who are local entertainers. Also, this place has gained attraction for its many traditional wooden houses. 

Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district, with hostesses in colorful kimonos

Gion is Kyoto’s geisha district, with hostesses in colorful kimonos

The Hanami-Koji Street in Gion is the most attractive place for tourists as it has nice dining places. Tourists come here to mainly see a geiko or maiko who entertain guests at teahouses or dining places. The entertainers have light conversations, serve drinks, play games, and perform music and dance! 

3. Osaka

This city has its own set of unique traits about Tokyo and Kyoto. It is the third largest city in Japan, but the lifestyle is contrasting to the bigger cities. Nonetheless, it is a very enjoyable city with many leisure activities to do. 

It is a place of lively environment with modern architecture and international-level institutions including museums and theatres. The locals are very laid-back people and love to have a good laugh!

The most effective way to feel the vibe of this city is through eating cuisine and drinking at the pub with the local people. There are many places to visit in Osaka and we will outline the best ones!

Osaka Castle

First and foremost, the best way to understand the history of Osaka is by visiting the Osaka Castle. The original castle was built and completed within three years in 1586 and became the largest of its kind during that time.

It was destroyed a few more times after the fall of the Toyotomi Empire and reconstructed to its present-day form in 1931. Despite the current structure being ruined during WW2 the place still feels like experiencing the real-life feudal Japan. It’s one of the prideful attractions that Osaka has to offer.

Cherry blossoms attract many locals in Osaka Castle

Cherry blossoms attract many locals in Osaka Castle

The museum also includes information on the history of the castle and the city. The natural landscape surrounding the castle extends a long way and the gardens around it look very aesthetic in every season.

Dotonbori Shopping District

Probably the most attractive place to visit in Osaka is the area of Dotonbori. The area is known for its entertainment activities, colorful signboards, and dining places. Dotonbori is popular for its fancy restaurants, cheap street foods, and lively bars.

Glico running man is a photographic icon of Osaka

Glico running man is a photographic icon of Osaka

The glow of the buildings and signs at night is just magical where the neon lights reflect on the passage of water and give a glittering sight. There are many eye-capturing signs outside of shopping buildings but look out for the Glico running man! It’s one of the most common neon signs to gather and a photographic icon of Osaka.

The Umeda Sky Building

This Skyscraper is a landmark that identifies and represents the city’s significance. That 170-meter view from above is thrilling yet nerve-racking but it lets you understand and appreciate the beautiful landscape of the city. 

Besides the magnificent bird’s eye view, the building itself is an artwork and filled with wonder. It consists of two towers connected at the top by a platform structure that attracts visitors. Additional features including the bridges and an escalator provide more attraction for visitors to roam around. 

4. Mount Fuji

And of course, the last but not the least place to explore in Japan is Mount Fuji! Standing at 3776 meters tall, it is the highest mountain in Japan. Considered a sacred mountain by the locals, it has gained major popularity amongst travelers due to its height and beauty.

It lies between the Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures and is visible from Tokyo on good days. Mount Fuji attracts millions of tourists to the mountain and its nearby towns. It is open for climbing in July and August if you want the authentic experience through multiple routes and pathways. 

Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano located on the Japanese island of Honshū

Mount Fuji is an active stratovolcano located on the Japanese island of Honshū

Read More – Japan – a place you don’t wanna miss

Conclusion

While there are numerous places to visit in Japan, it’s unlikely you’ll have time for all of them. However, the highlighted ones are must-sees that you shouldn’t miss. Each city offers its unique style and attractions, so make the most of your time and experience as much of Japan as possible!

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