Japan, the country of the rising sun and a charming place where culture blends perfectly with technology and modernity. It has all the necessary qualities to be a leader in tourism: strong cultural traditions, ancient temples, enchanting gardens, dazzling natural landscapes, geisha, tea ceremonies and many other attractions.
Another reason to visit Japan is its gastronomy, with which its fresh fish, sushi, ramen, tempura, yakisoba or okonomiyaki will delight lovers of this food.
If this is your first visit, we recommend these 12 places to see in Japan:
Kyoto, the city of geishas and maikos and our favorite city of Japan. The city is full of temples and sanctuaries, some essential as the Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine, the Ginkakuji, Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion, Ryoan-ji and the Kiyomizudera temple.
You cannot stop walking along the Path of Philosophy or the Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama, look for a geisha through the traditional neighborhood of Gion, walk along Pontocho Street and Ninenzaka, among other things to do in Kyoto. It is also famous for its enchanting gardens and the renowned Gion Matsuri festival, one of the most popular celebrations in Japan.
2. Mount Koya (Koyasan)
Mount Koya is the center of Shingon Buddhism, one of the primary schools of Buddhism in Japan, which has been practiced since the year 805 introduced by Kobo Daishi.
Kobo Daishi constructed the Garan temple complex in 826 since then over 100 temples have built along the streets of Koyasan. The most famous among them are Kongobuji, the main temple of Shingon Buddhism, and Okunoin, the site of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum.
At present, it remains to be one of the main centers for the practice of religion. In fact, the Kobo Daishi mausoleum is the starting and finishing point of the 88 Shikoku pilgrimage. Here tourists can experience the life of the monks on their own and can even spend the night in the temple.
3. Itsukushima (Miyajima)
Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, is a small island and one of the essential places to see in Japan, it is known for its forests and ancient temples. Besides having been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The island located near Hiroshima is the prominent and sacred place is the Itsukushima Shrine, built partially on the sea.
And another outstanding monument is the Ootorii Gate, the symbol of Miyajima, a wooden torii built in the sea when the tide comes down; you can get close to its base.
By the mid-nineteenth century, Kanazawa was the fourth largest city in Japan, built around an imposing castle and a beautiful garden. Currently, the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture continues to cultivate the ancient Japanese traditions, making it a fascinating old town. It’s known for well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums, and regional handicrafts.
The surrounding areas, such as Nagamachi, with its samurai houses, or Higashi Chaya, with its charming tea houses, continues to attract tourists in this region.
The city of Nara, formerly known as Heijo, is an ancient capital of Japan. The main places to see in Nara is the Todaiji temple, where inside the large wooden structure of Great Buddha. Before arriving at the temple, you will pass through the beautiful park of Nara, full of deer with several temples and gardens.
Visiting Nara is one of the most regular excursions in Kyoto, and you can take advantage of the train trip to see one of the most beautiful sanctuaries in Japan, the Fushimi Inari-Taisha.
The town of Hida-Takayama is ideal for those tourists looking for a moment of peace and tranquility after having spent several days in the whirlwind of large cities. Located near the Japanese Alps, Takayama is known for hosting one of the best preserved ancient cities in Japan.
The most beautiful part of the old city is Sanmachi, a place characterized by wooden buildings, picturesque bridges, small boutiques dating to the Edo Period, along with many small museums. This town is famous for its half-yearly Takayama Festival, going back to at least the mid-1600s, celebrating spring and fall with parades featuring ornate, gilded floats and puppet shows.
The city of Hiroshima, located on the island of Honshu, is younger than many other Japanese cities. However, its history was marked forever on August 6, 1945, when it became the first city in the world attacked with the atomic bomb, an unfortunate incident that has made it one of the crucial historical destinations.
When you get there, you will know the magnitude of the disaster and the horror that its inhabitants lived. Another place to visit is the Peace Memorial Museum, with objects, souvenirs, and information of that fateful Day.
Located on the coast of Japan, less than an hour from Tokyo, the city of Kamakura used to be the seat of the military government that ruled the country for hundreds of years. However, at present, this place is known for offering luxurious coastal resorts, traditional restaurants, and imposing monuments.
The Kotokuin Temple is the most famous with the huge bronze statue of Daibutsu or Big Buddha of Kamakura. Other important places of the city are the sanctuary of Kamakura-gu and the Tsurugaoka Hachiman, the Zen temples of Kenchō-ji and Engaku-ji, the Tōkei-ji convent, the Hase-Dera temple and the tombs of Minamoto no Yoritomo and Hojo Masako.
Nikko is a small town, located at the entrance of the Nikko National Park, and known for housing some of the most spectacular sanctuaries in Japan, and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
One place you cannot miss is the Temple of Toshogu, known as the sanctuary of the 3 wise monkeys and considered the country’s national treasure. Other places you have to see are the Shinkyō Bridge, the Rinnoji Temple, the Futarasan Shrine and the Taiyuinbyo.
10. Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is a photogenic sacred volcano, the highest peak in the country and one of the symbols of Japan. The volcano has very little activity, and in summer many people take advantage of the good weather to climb to the top or practice mountaineering. Mount Fuji lies about 100 km south-west of Tokyo and can be seen from there on a clear day.
There are several places from which you have great views of the Fuji such as the Hakone area, the Kawaguchiko Lake, the Arakurayama Sengen Park in Fujiyoshida or from the Shinkansen bullet train itself, among many others.
11. Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is one of the most remarkable castles in the world and one of the places you have to see in Japan. It is one of the few that are preserved from the Middle Ages. It has been in restoration for many years, but since the beginning of 2015, it has shone in all its splendor.
This castle is also known as White Heron for its white color and is built on a hill surrounded by cherry trees, which in spring make it one of the postcards of Japan.
The capital of Japan and the most populated region in the world. It is an endless city with temples, skyscrapers, ancient traditions and state-of-the-art technology, wherein many moments you feel like a journey into the future. Explore the street markets, taste traditional dishes, discover new technologies and live an unforgettable experience.
There are many things to see and do in Tokyo, among which we can highlight the sunset over Tokyo from the island of Odaiba, the visit to the Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple, climb the Tokyo Tower, eat the best sushi near the Market of Tokyo. Tsukiji, be surprised on Takeshita Dori Street, cross the pedestrian crossing of Shibuya or tour the neighborhoods of Ginza, Akihabara or Shinjuku.