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The best places to visit in Japan: a travel guide

The best places to visit in Japan: a travel guide

The land of the Rising Sun, Japan, has long been one of the top destinations for travelers. The country offers many things to travelers, from a look at Japanese culture, cuisine, and religion to the sights and sounds of both it’s urban and country locales. Let’s take a look at some of Japan’s best tourist attractions.


The capital city of Japan, Tokyo needs little introduction. The city is an intriguing mix of both modern Japan and old-school sensibilities. Tokyo offers amazing cuisine, and marvelous gardens such as the Shinjuku Gyoen and the Nezu Museum Garden, to name a few. You can also catch a glimpse of the country’s top architectural wonders. If you want to go off the beaten path, a sojourn through Tokyo’s neighborhoods, such as Shimokitazawa and Naka-Meguro is also a treat.


No trip to Japan would be complete without a stop at Kyoto. Once the country’s imperial capital, Kyoto still maintains much of Japan’s traditional feel, with an increasing mix of modern Japanese architecture shining through. The place is packed with gardens and shrines, with some such as the Ginkaku-ji having been declared World Heritage Sites. Another garden to check out, although a bit harder to access, is the Katsura Rikyu. Built for the Japanese royal family, the garden is a delight to behold.


For lovers of Japanese art, a visit top Naoshima is a must. Once a sleepy little island, Naoshima has transformed into a unique art destination. The island mixes the traditional with the contemporary, laying small fishing villages such as Miyanoura and Honmura with stunning modern architecture, museums, and colorful art galleries amid the beautiful scenery of the island. The Benesse House is arguably the centerpiece of the island, but you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Chichu Art Museum as well.


30 miles from Kyoto lies the cosmopolitan metropolis of Osaka. The people are outgoing and friendly, and the city is well known for its food and nightlife. Osaka Castle is a must-see, while if you’re looking for some street food, the Namba District would be the place to go. Osaka also hosts the world-famous Osaka Aquarium. One can also take a surprisingly relaxed bike tour through the city.


One of the country’s most famous nature retreats, Hakone is known for its ryokan and onsen. You can catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a clear day, although clear days can be rare. Art lovers can rejoice with a visit to the Hakone Open Air Museum, while travelers can take in Hakone’s landscape via ropeway, train, cable-car, and of course, a leisurely cruise across Lake Ashi.


Japan’s northernmost island is renowned for its landscapes and incredible seafood. Hokkaido is also known for having some of the best slopes for skiing and snowboarding. Hokkaido boasts of stunning natural beauty, making nature treks a must. Take a walk through the cities of Sapporo and Hakodate for a culinary treat before going off on a trek through the countryside.