Top 10 destinations in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan

Top 10 destinations in Japan – Best places to visit in Japan

From the hot south to the cold north and everything in between, Japan has so many places you should definitely put on your travel bucket list. If you are wondering what to see in Japan or things to do in Japan, then my recommendation is you visit the below 10 cities which are some of the best places to visit in Japan and they are the ones I have been to and loved a lot. There are actually much more and they all have their own culture, foods and amazing places to visit.

Nagasaki (Kyushu)

The city in the south of Japan that is known by most people for the atomic bomb that was dropped on it is a very important city for Japans history. For over 220 years (1633-1853) Japan was isolated from the world and the only point where foreigners were allowed on Japanese soil was a small island off the coast of Nagasaki called Dejima. You can visit this island today, although by now it is no longer an island. Because of land winning activities, you can now find it several hundred meters away from the coastline. The buildings on the former island have been rebuilt and offer a unique glimpse into Japans history and its relationship with foreigners during this unique period.

Fukuoka (Kyushu)

In the north of Kyushu lies Fukuoka prefecture with Fukuoka city as its capital. This destination is famous for Hakata Ramen (Hakata is a district of Fukuoka) and the food stalls, called Yatai that spring up every day along the banks of the river on Nakasu Island. Since it is a port city I also recommend you visit the coast and enjoy a romantic walk along the beach at night.

Hiroshima (Honshu)

Famous for the drop of the first atomic bomb in World War II, it is a surprisingly vibrant and in many ways normal city. The only things that still reminds of this tragedy are the memorial and museum, which I highly recommend you visit.

But you don’t want to spend all your time brooding about how people can do such gruesome things to each other.

One of my favorite places in Hiroshima is the Miyajima island – one of the best places to visit in Japan. With its famous red gate standing in the water off the coast of Miyajima and its many beautiful shrines and temples, it is a perfect day trip to get away from the city. The deer on the island are super friendly and you will be able to take some nice picture with them.

Hiroshima has one food that no one should miss. Okonomiyaki Hiroshima style. There is also Osaka style Okonomiyaki, but in my mind, the Hiroshima version is much better.

Kyoto (Honshu)

My absolute favorite city in all of Japan is Kyoto which is the cultural heart of Japan. Kyoto is one of the best cities to visit in Japan. You could spend weeks and even months here without being able to see all the temples and shrines that can be found here.

My favorite place is Arashiyama, in the north-west of Kyoto. This little jewel surrounded by mountains is a great destination any time of the year, but definitely a highlight in November and December when the leaves change color. The gardens and parks are then turned from green to bright reds and yellows and you can be astounded by the beauty of nature.

You should definitely try matcha green tea and dished made of matcha because Kyoto is famous for having delicious matcha. Other sweets you should try are Yatsuhashi. These triangle-shaped sweets made from rice flour and some sweet bean paste are the perfect gifts from Kyoto. But be careful they are only good for about one week.

Osaka (Honshu)

The modern city is the second largest in Japan and the eternal rival of Tokyo. If something is done in a certain way in Tokyo, Osaka will make sure to do it the opposite way. For example, while you stand on the left when riding the escalator in Tokyo, make sure to stand on the right in Osaka or you will be in the way of other people.

In Osaka, you can visit Osaka castle or enjoy some extensive shopping around Shinsaibashi and Namba. Make sure to take a picture in front of the Gulico Running Man while you are there. Osaka is one of the best cities to visit in Japan and can also be considered as one of the must-see places in Japan.

There is a lot of delicious food in Osaka that you should definitely try. My favorites are Okonomiyaki (literally all you want grilled dish) and Kushiage (fried meat and vegetable on a stick served with a dark sauce). While it is not one of my favorite dishes, other people love Takoyaki, little balls filled with Octopus.

Nara (Honshu)

Another city close to Kyoto and Osaka, Nara is especially famous for its friendly deer and big Buddha statue in a wooden hall. It is a favorite day-trip destination if you are visiting Kyoto or Osaka and you should really make the time to visit Nara, one of the best places to visit in Japan.

Nara used to be Japans capital in the 8th century and still has some significant art-work and building from that time.

Takayama (Honshu)

In the mountains, a 2-hour train ride from Nagoya is the little village Takayama. It is famous for its old wooden houses and scenic landscapes. You will also find many sake distilleries so if you are into that or want to learn more about different kinds of sake this is the place to go.

If you are not into sake, no problem, I recommend a visit to the Hida Folk Village open-air museum where you will be able to learn about life in the snowy mountains of Hida region over the last few hundred years by visiting beautifully reconstructed buildings from different eras of Japans past.

Hakone and Fuji Five Lakes (Honshu)

Mount Fuji is the landmark associated with Japan and is considered one of the best places to visit in Japan. The best place to see it is around Hakone and Fuji Five Lakes areas.

They are both a favorite day trip destination from Tokyo and have their own charm.

In Hakone, you should take a boat tour on Lake Ashi, and if the weather is nice from there you will have a scenic view of Mount Fuji.

The Fuji Five Lakes area consists of five lakes which all have real charm. From Lake Kawaguchi, you will be able to see Mount Fuji. If you are in the area you should make a stop to try Hoto, a hot pot dish made from vegetables and thick white noodles that will warm you right up in the colder season.

Nikko (Honshu)

Another place with many beautiful temples and rich history, Nikko has much more to offer than just that. It is a favorite hot spring area and also offers beautiful nature. It is possible as a day-trip from Tokyo, but I recommend to stay the night at a nice ryokan if you can to fully enjoy your time and soak in the hot waters of the Onsen.

Sapporo (Hokkaido)

Most people visit Sapporo in the beginning of February for the Snow Festival, an event where gigantic sculptures made of snow and ice can be viewed while eating delicious Hokkaido seafood. There are other events like ski and snowboarding competitions for the many visitors.

But Sapporo is also a great destination in summer and is definitely one of the best places to visit in Japan. It is not as hot and humid as the rest of Japan which makes it a popular destination for Japanese travelers, but especially the westerners seem to have not caught up on this trend.

The Japanese crab is especially delicious in Hokkaido, but also all other seafood is so fresh and delicious you will want to come back for more.

Bonus: Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Snow monkeys are shy and if you are wondering how to find a snow monkey in Japan, then head to Snow Monkey Park Jigokudani.

How to get to Japan

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If you are planning a week’s trip to Tokyo then check out this 5 days in Tokyo itinerary. The attractions in Japan are varied. Are there any other best places to visit in Japan that you totally loved? Let us know in the comments below!

This is a guest post by Lena. Lena from the Social Travel Experiment loves seeing the world through the eyes of locals. She loves learning in-depth about culture, history, and traditions and of course food of the places she visits. Find out more on her website –  Social Travel Experiment. She can be followed on her social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Best places to visit in Japan     Best places to visit in Japan

Best places to visit in Japan     Best places to visit in Japan



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35 thoughts on “Top 10 destinations in Japan

  1. robin rue Reply

    My husband was stationed in Japan when he was in the military and LOVED it. He talks about going back all the time.

  2. Alli Smith Reply

    There’s so much to do and see and all of the scenery is beautiful. I’d love to see the gigantic snow sculptures and visit the village in the mountains.

  3. candy Reply

    Visiting Japan has never been on my list to many other places I want to see first. After looking at your photos it does sound wonderful and great place to visit.

  4. Amber Myers Reply

    These look like some gorgeous places to visit. My daughter really wants to go to Japan one day. If we can find some good deals, I told her we could.

  5. Jeanette Reply

    My brother lived in Japan for a year and he fell in love with it. If it was up to him I think he would live there all the time. It looks like it’s beautiful.

  6. Tomi C Reply

    Japan is on my Travel Bucket List. I have family that was stationed there and they have fond memories of the country. I would oh so love to visit.

  7. Cat Khanh Reply

    These places are so beautiful. I would love to visit Japan someday. Mount Fuji must be a great destination. Thanks for your suggestions!

  8. Debra Hawkins Reply

    I would love to go to ALL of these places. My step grandma is Japanese and she talked so lovingly of her country. My dad also spent two years living in Japan during college and has such fond memories.

  9. Lisa Reply

    They all look like amazing places to visit. I have a cousin who lived there for a year and an aunt who also lived there. They both loved it.

  10. Pam Reply

    Both of my kids have wanted to visit Japan for a long time. I think it would be so cool to visit Nara.

  11. Marysa Reply

    These all look like incredible destinations in Japan. I’ve never been, but it sounds like there is a lot to choose from and we love to explore. It would be fun to check out both the cities and countryside.

  12. Claudia Krusch Reply

    I have always wanted to go to Japan. It is so beautiful there. These are all great places to check out. I would love to start with Hakone and Fuji Five Lakes.

  13. Mellissa Reply

    What a beautiful place to visit. This is on my list of places I’d like to visit. Just looking at the pictures call me.

  14. Liz Mays Reply

    My daughter went to Japan and recommended that I visit some day. I’d love to see Osaka castle and try some of the local food.

  15. Abhinav Singh Reply

    Japan is a complete destination. Rich in history, culture, cuisine and quirks, it is a traveler’s dream. Of all the places you have mention Mount Fuji excites me the most. We have been hearing about it since childhood. Snow festival in Sapporo is so cool. Wish we had something similar in India.

  16. Lian Reply

    Japan is on my travel bucket list. So many of these places are must-visits for me. I would love to visit Hiroshima, Nagano, Kyoto and Tokyo. I would have to spend a few weeks exploring this country.

  17. Farrah Less G. Reply

    Japan is on my top list of places I want to go in the future. My favorites are the Cherry blossoms I’ve heard it was really breathtaking scene. Also I want to visit the city of Sapporo.

  18. Amanda Reply

    Japan sounds like such a stunningly beautiful country. I love learning about other cultures and I can tell that the Japanese culture has so many lovely things to share.

  19. Katchutravels Reply

    This is such a U turn in terms of recovery. Nagasaki and Hiroshima have such unrecohnisable cities from the disaster that struck then. I would love to go to the musuems to see what the japan of the yore was.

    Very interesting quips on tokyo and kyoto being at loggerheads in doing things differently.

    One place I’d pick to relax would probably be Takayama. So serene and beautiful

  20. Mike Reply

    Great list! I’ve seen Kyoto and Osaka and loved it! Definitely want to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the historical value. Also, seeing Fuji would be an incredible experience.

  21. Anu Reply

    Japan has been on my wishlist for a long time – while there are many reasons to visit Japan, I would want to go to Kyoto for the ancient culture it has. I am in awe of the temples there & the sheer nature.

  22. Tamara Elliott Reply

    I absolutely loved Kyoto (and Tokyo, of course) when we were there, and Osaka is high on my list. I’d also be interested in Hiroshima, despite it’s sad history.

  23. Medha Reply

    You’ve picked the best cities in Japan for this list. I was in Japan earlier this year and I had hardly 10 days so I couldn’t cover all of what you’ve written about but I did manage to cover a lot during the time I had. I loved Kyoto, Osaka and Mt Fuji. The Fuji five lakes are pretty awesome !

  24. Megan Jerrard Reply

    Fabulous cities indeed! I just got back from a week in Kansai where we visited Osaka, Kobe, and Sakai and had the most incredible time! I love how diverse a country Japan is, with everything from mountains and nature experiences accessible from the main cities, to modern, futuristic city life, and how it all ties in so perfectly with ancient traditions.

    Osaka has been my favorite city so far – totally agree with you on the incredible food scene – I LOVED Okonomiyaki too!!

  25. Dorene Reply

    I really enjoy this post and I’ve bookmarked it. Your pictures are fantastic, and it gives me a good overall view of the top places in Japan. Bring on the Octopus balls- they sound great!

  26. Alli Reply

    Well, you have certainly outlined my dream Japan itinerary! Japan has been somewhere I’ve been dying to go for years. It looks like such an exciting blend of ancient and new, with fascinating traditions!

  27. Lois Alter Mark Reply

    I’ve always strayed from visiting Japan because there’s just so much going on- I have no idea where I would even begin my planning process. That said, this post has totally sold me on the country, especially on the quaint towns and gorgeous landscapes. Will definitely have to check out Takayama- from the pictures alone, it seems like one of the most beautiful places around.

  28. Sreeram Reply

    Great List! I have heard of Nara and Kyoto apart from all the rnowned cities in the country. This is so helpful in planning a trip to Japan. The pics are absolutely stunning.

  29. Divyakshi Gupta Reply

    What an incredible list, I would love to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki for it’s historic importance and of course the beautiful Arashiyama for it’s gorgeous gardens and parks, Honshu for it’s super scenic landscapes. You just gave me major travel goals!

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