Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Japan 2018

Located in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is an island country in East Asia. It is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. There are many places to visit in Japan. With many temples and traditional buildings from the past, you will also see modern achievements in architecture and technology. After all, Japan is a technological giant.

Visitors can be wrapped up in Japanese history and culture one day and get a hint of the future through technological developments the next. From the Imperial Palace to Tokyo Tower, a unique blend of traditional and modern can be found in Tokyo, the capital city of Japan. There are also many other Tokyo tourist attractions. Almost all of the historical places to visit in Japan are still used for their original purposes while remaining open to the public. Besides all the buildings and such, tourist spots in Japan also include many stunningly beautiful places which can be seen all year.

Best Places to Visit in Japan:

It is safer to visit the tourist places in Japan as the country has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This makes Japan an ideal destination for travelers. A list of the top tourist attractions in Japan is given here, so that you can fully enjoy your visit to Japan.

10. Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Japan, Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima Peace Memorial | image credit – Wikimedia/SElefant

One of the most daunting places to visit in Japan is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is located in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It was created to symbolize the need for everlasting peace. It is a haunting tribute to the lives lost when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The memorial features Genbaku Dome. It is the only building left standing in the area after the bomb dropped. Not only is it a harsh and dominant symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the eventual removal of all nuclear weapons.

In addition to the grounds and gardens with their colorful cherry blossoms, the park features the Peace Memorial Museum, the Flame of Peace and the Memorial Cenotaph. Other attractions are the Children’s Peace Monument with its sculptures of a young girl holding a paper bird and the Monument to the Victims of the Atomic Bomb. With more than a million visitors each year, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial is one of the top tourist attractions in Japan. Among the places to visit in Japan, this one reminds visitors of the importance of human life and honors the victims so they will never be forgotten.

9. Jigokudani Monkey Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park, tourist attractions in Japan
Jigokudani Monkey Park | image credit – Flickr/SITS Girls

One of the most interesting places to visit in Japan is the Jigokudani Monkey Park. It is a famous hot spring area near Nagano. The area remains snow covered for one-third of the year. Due to this harsh condition and the rough cliffs and hot springs bursting from the ground, the park was named Jigokudani, which means “Hell’s Valley”. Despite the name, it is one of the most famous tourist spots in Japan. After all, the Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. During the winter, Japanese Macaques (also known as wild snow monkeys) descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm hot springs. They return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

As one of the top tourist places in Japan, the Jigokudani Monkey Park provides an opportunity for us humans to watch the Macaque up close and observe their fascinating behavior. The monkeys live in large social groups and it can be quite amusing to watch their interactions. The monkeys almost completely ignore their human guests. Of course, it is prohibited to touch or feed the monkeys. Don’t miss visiting one of the most entertaining places to visit in Japan.

8. Kiyomizu-Dera

Kiyomizu-dera, tourist spots in Japan
Kiyomizu-Dera | image credit – Wikimedia/Christopher Mann McKay

One of the top tourist attractions in Japan is the Kiyomizu-Dera (Pure Water Temple), Buddhist Temple. It is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. The temple was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto. The temple was reconstructed in 1633. Now it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to visit in Japan.

Kiyomizu-Dera is one of Kyoto’s most popular and most enjoyable temples and one of the top tourist places in Japan. It may not be the tranquil refuge that many associates with Buddhist temples, but it represents the accepted expression of faith in Japan. The main hall is renowned for its location overhanging a cliff. Kiyomizu-Dera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, which is supported by 139 giant pillars, 13 meters above the hillside below. The platform affords visitors a nice view of the abundant cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall.

The visitors can also have a beautiful view of the city of Kyoto in the distance. An indoor waterfall fed from the outside river keeps the temple in harmony with nature and not one nail was used in construction. The main hall houses the eleven-faced and thousand armed Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. Beneath the main hall is the Otowa-no-taki (“Sound of Feathers”) waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond. Visitors to the temple collect the water from the falls in metal cups and drink it for health, longevity, and wisdom, respectively. There are other attractions in the temple. All of these attractions make the temple one of the best places to visit in Japan.

7. Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle, tourist places in Japan
Himeji Castle | image credit – Wikimedia/Reggaeman

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan is the Himeji Castle, which is also known as the White Heron Castle due to its elegant white appearance.  Located in Himeji City in the western Hyogo, it is one of the top tourist spots in Japan. The Himeji Castle is considered the best existing example of Japanese castle architecture and one of the finest examples of fortress architecture in the world. It was fortified to defend against enemies during the feudal period but it has been rebuilt many times throughout the centuries and reflects the different design periods. In 1931, it was designated as a national treasure and the World Cultural Heritage in 1993.

Visitors can enjoy the Himeji Castle all year round. There is both paid and free section in the castle. Himeji Castle is a highly popular cherry blossom spot during the short and crowded blooming season which usually falls into early April. The castle hosts the Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing Fair, cherry blossom viewing drum music performance and Princess Sen-hime Peony Festival in spring, Himeji Castle Festival in summer, Moon Viewing Fair and Himeji Ceramics Market in autumn. The castle is often seen in domestic and foreign films, including the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”. After all, it is one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous places to visit in Japan.

6. Great Buddha of Kamakura

Great Buddha of Kamakura, Tokyo tourist attractions
Great Buddha of Kamakura | image credit – Flickr/Yoshikazu TAKADA

One of the best places to visit in Japan is the Kamakura, where one of the top tourist attractions in Japan, the Daibutsu is located. Daibutsu means the Great Buddha and most westerns refer to Daibutsu as the Great Buddha of Kamakura. It is a gigantic outdoor representation of Amida Buddha. It is said to be the second largest monumental Buddha statue in Japan and also one of Japan’s most celebrated Buddhist figures. The Buddha is seated calmly in the grounds of Kotokuin, which is a Buddhist temple of the Pure Land sect.

Among the many places to visit in Japan, the Kamakura holds a very solemn figure of Buddha. The Diabutsu was cast in 1252 in the Kamakura period and was originally housed inside a temple. But in the late 15th century, a massive tsunami washed away the wooden structure and the statue has sat out in nature ever since. The Great Buddha is a bronze statue with a height of 13.35 meters and weighs nearly 93 tons. This Japanese icon is one of the top tourist attractions in Japan.

5. Todaiji Temple

Todaiji Temple, tourist attractions in Japan
Todaiji Temple | image credit – Wikimedia/そらみみ

One of the most famous tourist spots in Japan is the Todaiji Temple in Nara. The temple is an engineering wonder. As one of the best places to visit in Japan, the Todaiji Temple is not only the largest wooden building in the world; but also home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. Flanked by two Bodhisattvas, the 15 meters tall seated Buddha represents Vairocana. The temple was constructed in 752 as the head temple of all provincial Buddhist temples of Japan. The influence of the temple grew so powerful that the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka in 784 in order to lower the temple’s influence on government affairs.

The statue is not the only thing that made the Todaiji Temple one of the best places to visit in Japan. There are several other smaller Buddhist statues along with the models of the former and current buildings on display. The main entrance to the temple is through the 13th century Nandaimon (Great Southern Gate).  It is a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce looking statues. Carved in 1203 and each more than 8 meters tall, the two statues represent the Nio Guardian Kings (Benevolent Kings). Another popular attraction is a pillar with a hole in its base that is the same size as the Daibutsu’s nostril. According to the legend, enlightenment will be granted in their next life to those who can squeeze through this opening.

Visitors may also encounter deer. Deer are allowed to freely roam the grounds as messengers of the Shinto gods. The Todaiji Temple grounds, one of the top tourist attractions in Japan, are spacious and cover most of northern Nara Park. Including the Hokkedo and Nigatsudo, there are some smaller buildings in the hills to the east of the main hall. The Nigatsudo Hall is the site of the fabulous Omizutori ceremonies, which are held yearly from March 1 through 14. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and wildlife, the Todaiji Temple is truly one of the best places to visit in Japan.

4. Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower, tourist spots in Japan
Tokyo Tower | image credit – Wikimedia/Kakidai

Tokyo Tower is one of the most popular places to visit in Japan. It is proof of the advancement of technology and modern life. Standing 333 meters high in the center of Tokyo, Tokyo Tower is the world’s tallest self-supported steel tower. The tower is 13 meters taller than its inspiration model, the Eiffel Tower. This famous Tokyo tourist attraction has two observatories. The main observation deck is at 145m and the special observatory at 250m.

In addition to being one of the most popular tourist spots in Japan, Tokyo Tower serves as a broadcast antenna. On a clear day the observation deck offers visitors spectacular views of Mt. Fuji, Mt. Tsukuba and of the Tokyo metropolis. Including an aquarium and restaurants, the tower also has several amusement spots. Night concerts are arranged on Wednesday and Thursday in the observatory and nighttime illuminations attract many visitors. Directly below the tower stands the “Foot Town” building, which houses a variety of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, and the One Piece Tower, an indoor amusement park.

The park was opened on the 15th anniversary of the popular manga in 2015. It offers a variety of shows, games and other attractions that feature characters from the series. Since the opening of the Tokyo Tower in 1958, the tower has been popular all over the world, not only as one of the best places to visit in Japan but also as a symbol of Japan’s post-war rebirth as a major economic power.

3. Tokyo Imperial Palace

Tokyo Imperial Palace, tourist places in Japan
Tokyo Imperial Palace | image credit – Flickr/mhiguera

One of the best places to visit in Japan is the Tokyo Imperial Palace. Also known as Kokyo, which literally means the Imperial Residence, the Imperial Palace is the primary residence of the Emperor of Japan. The current Imperial Palace is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and colossal stone walls in the center of Tokyo. This Tokyo tourist attraction also functions as an administration center and museum to showcase Japanese art and history. The palace was once destroyed during World War Two and afterward, it was rebuilt in the same style.

The new palace is surrounded by traditional Japanese gardens and has many reception and function rooms to receive guests and welcome the public. From Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. For its posture, the stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge). Behind the bridges rises the Edo-era Fushimi-yagura watchtower. The inner grounds of the palace are generally not open to the public. But there are guided tours that you will immensely enjoy. After all, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan.

2. Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, Tokyo tourist attractions
Mount Fuji | image credit – Flickr/Roger W

Mount Fuji is one of the best places to visit in Japan. At 3,776 meters (12,388 ft), Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. It is actually a stratovolcano and one of the most famous mountains in the world. The volcano’s extraordinarily symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs. Climbing Mount Fuji can make for lifelong memories. With an estimated 200,000 people climbing Mount Fuji every year, 30% of whom are foreigners, the Mount Fuji is one of the top tourist attractions in Japan.

With stunning 360-degree views of Lake Ashi (Lake Ashinoko), the Hakone Mountains and the Owakudani Valley, Mt. Fuji offers visitors an exceptional experience. Early July to mid-September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open. The ascent can take anywhere between three and eight hours while the descent can take from two to five hours. Before the tourists go to the 5th level of the Mt Fuji, they must visit the Murayama Sengen Jinja temple because Japanese people believe that Mt Fuji is a sacred mountain firmly connected to God. This temple was built 1000 years ago. The Fuji Gen temple is located at the foothill of Mt Fuji.

Tourists usually take a trip to all five lakes that are near the temple. Named after the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi, Mount Fuji is a holy mountain and at its crest is a Shinto Shrine dedicated to the goddess Sengen-Sama. You can have an amazing view of the Fuji Five Lakes and the Shiraito Falls below. One of the best places to visit in Japan, Mount Fuji is surrounded by flourishing greenery and maturing cherry blossoms in the spring.

1. Golden Pavilion

Golden Pavilion, tourist attractions in Japan
Golden Pavilion | image credit – Flickr/Floyd Manzano

There are many beautiful places to visit in Japan. The most popular one is the Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The pavilion was originally built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the late 14th century. Unfortunately, a young monk burnt it down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt five years later as an exact copy of the original. Prominence is placed on the building and surrounding gardens being in harmony with one another. Its formal name is Rokuonji (“Deer Garden Temple”).

Be it capped by snow in winter or set against a lush green background in summer, nothing is as symbolic of Kyoto as Kinkaku-ji’s golden reflection shimmering across the rippled surface of the pond before it. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan and Kyoto, Kinkakuji is a Zen temple whose top two floors are entirely covered in gold leaf. Kinkakuji was built to echo the profligate Kitayama culture that developed in the wealthy aristocratic circles of Kyoto during Yoshimitsu’s times. Each floor represents a different style of architecture. The heart of the temple complex is the Golden Pavilion (kinka-ku), situated picturesquely in its garden at the edge of a lake. This layout is typical of the Shinden style of the Heian period and is intended to suggest a position between heaven and earth. The garden is designed to provide a view of different scenes while walking around a large pond called Kyoko-chi in its center.

The Kyoko-chi Pond includes islands of various sizes such as Naka-jima and Iwa-jima. These islands have different shapes depending on the angle from which they are seen. There are also rocks and stones of unusual shapes. The scene viewed from the Sekka-tei Cottage at the back of the hill is particularly extraordinary. The pavilion extends partially over the pond and is beautifully reflected in the calm waters. It is one of the most beautiful sights in Kyoto and for this sights alone the temple one of the best places to visit in Japan. In addition to its worldly treasure, Kinkakuji is highly valuable because it is a shariden, housing relics of the Buddha.

There is a statue of Kannon in the second story, called the Choondo (“Tower of Sound Waves”). Known as the Kukkyocho (“Superb Apex”), the third-floor shelters an Amida triad and 25 Bodhisattvas. The roof is topped with a golden Chinese phoenix. Your holiday in Japan will not be complete without visiting this spectacular place. There is no doubt about the fact that it is one of the most beautiful and gorgeous places to visit in Japan.

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