From its ultra-modern cities to stunning snow-capped mountains to tranquil Shinto temples hidden away in dense green forests, Japan is a vast treasure trove of experiences. With so much to offer, it’s hard to believe that the entire country is about half the size of Texas. For travelers, this makes it an excellent destination - and the country’s famed Bullet Trains certainly make it easier to explore! If you’re thinking about taking a trip to The Land of The Rising Sun, here’s our list of the best places to visit in Japan.
Of course, no visit to Japan is complete without a stop in one of the world’s greatest cities.
You could easily spend a week or two in Tokyo and still not take in everything that the city has to offer. Despite its high-tech sheen, the centuries-old heart of Japan still shines through; Sensō-ji, Tokyo’s oldest temple, was founded in 645 AD and still retains its elegant beauty. Tokyo’s marketplaces are thrumming with activity; there’s no better place to shop (and slurp down a bowl of udon noodles) than the Ameyoko-cho market. The city’s nightlife is legendary; you’ll have a blast hopping up onstage during a late-night karaoke session in the famed Roppongi district.
And if you visit Tokyo in the springtime, you’ll get an added bonus: the gorgeous cherry blossoms will be in bloom.
Venture out of Tokyo and you’ll see an entirely different side of Japan. Nowhere is that more evident than in the mountain town of Hakone.
Here you can take in views of Mount Fuji, reflected in the beautiful Lake Ashi. Tucked away in the forest is the beautiful Hakone Shrine, a Shinto temple that dates back to 757 AD. And Hakone is known for its hot springs, giving you the perfect opportunity for a relaxing soak after a day of exploring.
The small city of Gotemba lies on the southeastern flank of Mount Fuji.
Considered one of the gateways to the mountain, you can easily access Mount Fuji’s hiking trails from here.
Kyoto provides travelers with the quintessential Old Japan experience.
Serving as the country’s capital for over a thousand years, the city’s ancient temples, palaces and gardens will make you believe you’ve stepped back in time. Chief among these wonders is the Tenryu-ji Zen temple in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see, featuring a beautiful - and enormous - Zen garden and pond.
Tea ceremonies, also known as the “Way of Tea,” are a Japanese tradition steeped in culture and history. The small town of Wazuka is one of the country’s tea cultivation epicenters.
With a population of just under 4,000 people, it’s home to some 300 tea-growing families and is the spot where tea was first grown after being brought to Japan from China. Sipping a steaming cup of Matcha here is an experience unlike any other.
It’s impossible to come away from Hiroshima unmoved.
Emerging from unspeakable destruction, the city has become a thriving metropolis and a living testimony to the powers of resilience and peace. Ground zero of the atomic explosion is now Peace Memorial Park, a place of sadness, beauty and hope.
Miyajima Island, featuring the massive and partially submerged Great Torii Gate, has been officially designated as one of Japan’s Top 3 Most Beautiful Views by the Japanese government. Another beautiful view awaits you at Shukkeien Garden, built in 1620 for the samurai Asano Nagaakira.
Let us show you Japan:
If you’re ready to explore the best places to visit in Japan, we’re ready to help. Classic Journeys Japan tours are led by local guides, who’ll take you to these spots – and offer you exclusive sights and interactions that very few visitors will get to experience.