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Top Places to Visit in Japan

by Travelbag on 07 January 2019, 10:01AM

Kyoto Golden Pavilion

If you’re thinking about going on holiday to Japan, 2019 might just be the best year to do it. Whether you want to see the cherry blossoms in spring, or soak up the atmosphere during the Rugby World Cup in autumn, this fascinating country has so much to see and do.

But, with nearly 7,000 islands to choose from, planning a trip to Japan is no easy task. Faced with vast megacities, dramatic scenery and hundreds of beautiful landmarks, you might be a little unsure of where to start. Even the big-name cities, like Tokyo, can seem a bit daunting if you don’t know where to go. So, to help you narrow down your options, we’ve rounded up the best places to visit in Japan. Grab your calendar and start planning.

 

Tokyo

Japan’s capital is a city of contrasts, where tranquil temples crouch next to towering skyscrapers. And, behind the neon-lit shops, you’ll find rows of quaint wooden houses and meticulously-clipped gardens. You can head up Tokyo Tower for panoramic views over the city, or stroll around the grand Imperial Palace. Or you could visit Tokyo’s oldest and most famous Buddhist temple, Sesoji. In the evening, why not stop for noodles in a neighbourhood cafe, or grab a drink at one of the pub-like Izakaya bars?

Tokyo Imperial Palace

Mount Fuji and Hakone National Park

No trip to Japan would be complete without catching a glimpse of Mount Fuji. But where should you go for the best view? We’d recommend Hakone National Park. Less than 100 kilometres from Tokyo, this park is famed for its hot springs, stunning scenery and views of Mount Fuji. Plus, you can find out all about the area’s history at the Fuji Visitor Centre, and take incredible photos from Mount Fuji’s 2,300-metre-high fifth station.

 

Kyoto

With 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, Japan’s former capital city is a UNESCO-stamped treasure trove. You can see Nijo Castle and the gold-leaf covered Golden Pavilion, whose pristine gardens are renowned for their beauty. Walk through Kyoto Imperial Palace, visit the brightly-coloured Heian Shrine, and see the Instagrammable orange gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha. You could also stop off at Sanjusangendo Temple – it’s Japan’s longest wooden structure, with 1,001 human-sized Kannon statues. If Kyoto is high on your list of places to go in Japan, take a look at our week-long Japan Explorer Tour.

Kyoto Fushimi Inari-taisha

Osaka

On the island of Honshu – just south of Kyoto – Osaka is a haven for foodies. Head down to Dotombori to get stuck into delicious street food and try traditional Japanese dishes. Once you’ve filled up on freshly-made Osakan pancakes and octopus takoyaki, head to Osaka Castle for a dose of culture and history. If you’re in the city for longer, spend a day riding the rollercoasters at Universal Studios Japan™ and see your favourite films brought to life.

 

Hiroshima

Hiroshima needs no introduction. Filled with shrines, gardens and museums, this historical site is a poignant must-visit during any trip to Japan. In terms of places to see, Hiroshima Peace Memorial should be at the top of your list. Also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, this building largely survived the explosion on 6th August 1945, and has since become a symbol of peace and remembrance. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum also offers insight with photos and artifacts, while the World Heritage Site of Itsukushima Shrine is another fascinating site. Built in 593AD, this sleepy temple appears to float on water at high tide. If you want to tick off Hiroshima, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo all in one trip, our 15-day Highlights of Japan Tour might be just what you're looking for.

Hiroshima Museum

Matsuyama

Matsuyama has one of the prettiest castles in the whole of Japan. Standing proud on top of Mount Katsuyama, Matsuyama Castle is in a prime position for city views. You can either walk to the top or, if you’ve eaten too much sushi, hop in the cable car. This city is also famous for its 19th-century bath house. The luxurious Dogo Onsen Honkan is built over what’s thought to be the oldest hot spring in Japan – the perfect spot for a relaxing soak.

 

Kochi

You might not think of Japan as a beach destination, but Kochi looks like something straight off a postcard. Perched on Shikoku Island, facing the Pacific Ocean, this part of Japan is known for its sweeping beaches, dramatic mountains and tumbling waterfalls. Nature and colour are the order of the day here. In spring, Kochi turns a pretty shade of pink, as Japan’s iconic cherry blossom trees bloom. And in autumn, the trees turn into a kaleidoscope of red, orange and yellow. Whenever you go, though, make sure you check out Muroto UNSECO Global Geopark and the glass-clear Niyodo River.

Kochi Japan

Miyazaki

Boasting the second-highest temperatures in the whole of Japan, Miyazaki feels a whole world away from the likes of Tokyo and Kyoto. Here, you can expect to find turquoise waters and botanical gardens filled with tropical plants. But Heiwadai Park is the top sight. This green-clad area is home to the impressive Peace Tower and the Haniwa Garden, where you’ll find more than 400 burial statues of warriors, animals and houses. These intricate statues have stood here since the Kofun period, which lasted from 250AD to 538AD. If you’re a history buff, you can find out more about Miyazaki in the Prefectural Museum.

 

Before you go, read up on etiquette in Japan for advice on tipping culture, using chopsticks and more.

Browse our holidays to Japan – or take the hassle out of your trip by booking a group or independent tour.


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