The culture and traditions of Japan attract you with their quiet beauty and poise. In every detail of the architectural monuments and amazing buildings there is a deep meaning. Sightseeing in Japan is fascinating! Millions of tourists come to this amazing country every year to contemplate the wonderful scenery and enjoy the local sights. Like the delicate blossom of the sakura, curious corners of nature, architecture and cultural values of the East are revealed before travelers. The subtlety, grace and elegance of lines and shapes is Japan. If you do not know what to see in Japan, be sure to read this overview of the most interesting places in the country of the rising sun.
For a European, any Japanese city is an attraction in itself, but in all the diversity there are those objects that every traveler should see. Practice shows that guides in Japan are indispensable, because without them to understand the complex local traditions and learn the ancient secrets hidden by advanced technology is not possible.
One of Japan’s historical symbols is considered the Fushimi-Inari Temple, or the Sanctuary of a Thousand Scarlet Gates, dedicated to the goddess of rice fertility. The grandiose tunnels with portals designed for the gods were created according to the beliefs of Shintoism. The Japanese believe that a visit to the Fushimi-Inari Temple brings success and prosperity. Don’t doubt what to see in Japan. The features of the sacred complex in Kyoto prefecture will leave a lasting impression:
It is best to visit Fushimi-Inari at night to enjoy the mysterious and mystical atmosphere of the thousand scarlet gates. The pilgrimage through the long tunnel lasts a couple of hours, then travelers get to the main sanctuary. Along the way you can see many statues of foxes, small chapels and graves. Halfway along there is an observation deck with a great view of the city of Kyoto.
Official website: www. inari.jp/en/
The Tokyo Sky Tree is the second tallest TV tower in the world. This graceful architectural structure of glass, concrete and metal is soaring upward, thanks to the efforts of experienced designers and engineers. The height of the building is 634 meters. Half a million people were working on the project. The grandiose Tokyo sky tree is worthy of admiration:
A mind-blowing sight can be seen from the grandiose height of Tokyo’s Heavenly Tree. Excursions to Tokyo are sure to include a visit to the capital’s television tower, which is one of the three tallest structures in the world.
Official website: http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp
The futuristic city of the future is located on Odaiba Island in Tokyo Harbor. It’s a pedestrian paradise, a holiday city glowing with thousands of lights. Why was the island named Garbage Island? In 1979 it was merged with the garbage dump, which didn’t stop the original place from developing at a rapid pace. Garbage Island is connected to Tokyo by the Rainbow Bridge. To get to the island you can take the monorail, which is an intricate loop around Tokyo harbor, as well as the river streetcar or a special ship resembling a space shuttle. Impressions of the tour are simply unreal! In this city of the future, are the headquarters of major corporations.
The attention of travelers is attracted by the titanium ball “Fuji TV”, the shopping center “Aqua City”, rides “Tokyo Joypolis” and a hundred-meter Ferris wheel. Trash Island has a lot to see in Japan. There is a robot skyscraper, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, exhibits of the Toyota automobile brand, and a ship museum. But the island is especially beautiful at night in the light of bright lights. The Telecom Center site offers a wonderful view of the nighttime Rainbow Bridge.
Japan’s sights are unique and unrepeatable. Among them is the Asakusa district in the central part of Tokyo with the atmosphere of the old city. It is here that the Japanese coloring dominates the urbanization of the huge metropolis. Interesting places and monuments are within walking distance, but you can use a rickshaw.
What to see in Japan in the Asakusa area:
In the district of Asakusa holy reverence for Japanese traditions, the streets absolutely no traffic, but there are many cozy restaurants and cafes with Japanese cuisine, there are souvenir stores and stores where you can buy original jewelry, sweets, magic amulets and fragrant incense.
The greatest number of tourists is attracted by the Asakusa Kannon Temple. On the territory of the shrine in May hold a popular national festival - Sanjia-matsuri festival. There are small chapels on the approaches to the temple, and an incense burner is placed in front of the entrance to the main hall. It is the Asakusa area that reflects the identity of Japanese culture and traditions.
Tourists have the question, “What to do at the fish market?” Indeed, fish markets are rarely referred to as attractions, but are perceived as retail outlets, but not Tsukiji Market, located in the heart of Tokyo. It has gained enormous popularity among tourists who know what to visit in Japan. Every day up to two thousand tons of fresh fish and seafood are processed here.
At three o’clock in the morning, the first workers show up at the Tsukiji indoor market, and throughout the morning there is a brisk trade and bargains are made. Most of the fish ends up in local restaurants, where they are used to make gourmet dishes. The main “attraction” at the market is tuna, or rather, the tuna auction. What it means:
When the Tokyo offices first open, the Tsukiji market is already finished. Local restaurants offer delicious sushi made strictly according to the traditional recipe.
Official website: http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp
A picturesque bamboo grove of thousands of tall evergreen trees is the calling card of Kyoto Prefecture. Amidst the urban infrastructure, it is amazing to see such a green wonderland. The smooth tree trunks of the Sagano Forest cover an area of 16 square kilometers. The protected area of the Arashiyama tourist area is under UNESCO protection. The bamboo forest is a must-see in Japan. Features of the Sagano Forest:
In Japan, bamboo is believed to protect against evil spirits, so many temples are surrounded by tree stems. In the Sagano area, durable bamboo is used to weave baskets, boxes, and some utensils. The natural attractions of Japan are strikingly beautiful, and the bamboo grove ranks high on that list. All tourists who are in search of harmony and peace of mind should visit Sagano Forest in Arashiyama Park. This landmark of Kyoto can be safely included in the list of the most beautiful places on Earth
In the valley of the Yokoyu River, 850 meters above sea level, there is a unique Jigokudani snow monkey park known among travelers. Japanese macaques exhibit original behavior. The area is covered with snow for a third of the year, but thanks to the presence of hot springs, snow monkeys can live in Nagano. They bask in pools like hot tubs.
Jigokudani Park was officially opened in 1964. Very soon this unique area gained worldwide fame and popularity. What is there to see in Japan but a quaint natural area inhabited by intelligent monkeys? Tourists have the opportunity to take beautiful pictures of macaques and observe their behavior. The monkeys can comfortably withstand temperatures as low as -15°C. Because the species of northern macaque is on the verge of extinction, the animals have been taken under protection by the relevant organizations.
In summer and spring, snow monkeys travel through the forest, jumping from tree to tree, and in the cold season they bask in the waters of thermal springs. Whole families of Japanese macaques splash around in the warm baths, getting real pleasure. Interestingly, the dry-haired monkeys bring their congeners food directly into the pools.
Because the springs of the park have no fences, visitors of the reserve can freely observe the macaques. Monkeys can be filmed and photographed, but you must be careful not to frighten them.
Official site: http://en.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/
The crown jewel of Japan’s architectural collection is considered the Golden Pavilion - Kinkakuji. The palace, covered in gold, is strikingly beautiful and luxurious. No other landmarks in Japan can compare to it. The beautiful palace was built in 1397. Its walls sparkle in the sun with unfathomable beauty. Kinkakuji is part of the Rokuonji temple complex and is considered the best example of national culture. What is remarkable about the Golden Pavilion?
The palace’s architecture harmoniously combines the aristocratism of the Heian period, the simplicity of the samurai and the asceticism of a monk’s cell. The incompatible architectural trends were tied together by the palace’s decoration with the finest sheets of gold leaf.
The top of the Golden Pavilion is crowned with the figure of phoenix made of pure gold. It symbolizes the rebirth. The three-tiered palace is striking in its symmetry of curved lines and is fully in keeping with the architectural style of the karae.
What is particularly striking is how harmoniously the Golden Pavilion blends in with the surrounding nature. The lower props look spectacular against the trunks of the neighboring trees, and the structure itself is located on the shore of a man-made lake. The weightless and lightweight Golden Palace is included in the architectural landmarks of Japan.
The symbol of the country of the rising sun is the sacred Mount Fuji. What to visit in Japan outside the capital? You should definitely see the young volcano Mount Fuji in close proximity. The Japanese believe that the mountain was created out of chaos by the gods. It is the most recognizable landmark of the country. The majestic mountain peak rises to the heavens to a height of 3,776 meters. Many pilgrims make the ascent to Mount Fuji. Along the way there are stations where tourists can rest. In the vicinity of the mountain is quite a lot of entertainment. Mount Fuji is surrounded by five lakes in a bizarre arc:
Majestic, lonely Peak Fuji is reflected in its clear waters, as if in a mirror. Between the lakes stretches the gloomy Jukai forest, which is easy to enter, but difficult to get out, as you can get lost. Nearby is a pleasant picnic spot, the 26-meter-high Shiraito Waterfall. The vicinity of Mount Fuji is a great place to get a closer look at the natural attractions of Japan.
Official website: http://www.fujisan-climb.jp/en/
Japan’s oldest castle is Himeji, or White Heron Castle. The complex includes 83 structures, and almost all of the buildings are wooden. Himeji is located in Hego Prefecture at the foot of Mount Hime. The picturesque setting is complemented by a beautiful white castle, a masterpiece of Japanese architecture. The castle dates back to the fourteenth century. It is now a UNESCO heritage site. Crossing a wooden bridge, tourists enter the territory of the castle complex, based on a high stone foundation.
It is noteworthy that Himeji was built as a defensive structure, but the architectural features of the castle did not lose from this. The graceful flowing lines of the white walls of the Heron Castle harmonize perfectly with the beauty of the surrounding nature. There are several defensive towers, a garden with beautiful trees and a deep protective moat.
On the roof, lined with natural tiles, are embossed coats of arms of the families who owned the Castle of the White Heron in different eras. In the heart of the Castle, at its highest point, is the central tower. Intricate courtyard passages, gates, and defensive posts lead to it. The castle fascinates tourists with its beauty and graceful lines.
Official website: http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle/
A great convenience of rest here is a regular transportation between the islands, which means you can live in one part of the country and go on excursions in Japan to any city. To make yourself a list of priority places to visit will help information about attractions in different prefectures.
Japan’s sights are not only temples and castles, but also entire cities. One of them includes Nara or the City of Deer - a treasure trove of architectural monuments and masterpieces of culture and art.
About 1,600 deer freely roam the streets of the beautiful city. It is said that the first emperor of Japan descended from heaven on a reindeer carriage. In the 6-7 centuries the city of Nara was the first capital of the country. Japan’s main attractions in the City of Deer:
Walking through the city of Nara is a pleasure. Hundreds of reindeer walk at ease through the streets, they are loved and revered. On every corner you can buy reindeer food and treat the meek animals. And on the Sarusawa-ike pond you can see many turtles. They crawl out on the shore and bask in the sun. A trip to Naru is sure to please art lovers. The Todai-ji Temple features a giant statue of Buddha, and the structure itself is probably the oldest among the wooden temples.
Official website: https://www.visitnara.jp/
Toshogu Shinto Shrine is the main architectural monument in Nikko. It is dedicated to the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is the most striking figure in Japanese history because under him the unification of Japan into a single state was effectively completed. Toshogu temple strikes with the beauty of lines and magnificent carvings, the authorship of which is attributed to the famous sculptor Hidari Jingoro. The sights of Japan would lose much without this picturesque temple. Its main features are:
The fine carvings made by a skilled craftsman to decorate the Toshogu Shrine attract the attention of tourists from all over the world. The shrine is located 130 km from Tokyo. Often the Japanese themselves come to see the famous temple. In addition, the city of Nikko is a national nature park, which occupies a vast area.
To get to the shrine Toshogu, pilgrims must go under the nine-meter granite gate and then - under the gate of bronze 6 m high. After an ablution in a sacred spring, guests can visit the beautiful shrine. The legendary shrine is also the burial place of the Shogun. It is definitely worth a visit.
Official website: http://www.toshogu.jp/english/shrine/
The Land of the Rising Sun in the aftermath of the war are Japan’s new landmarks. The most famous among them is the Peace Park in Hiroshima, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the atomic bomb. There is a memorial ensemble on a huge area that includes the Peace Museum, monuments, a ritual bell, and a cenotaph. Manifestations in memory of the Hiroshima tragedy are held at the memorial site. The cenotaph is a symbolic grave of the victims of the nuclear attack, whose names are inscribed on a plaque.
In the middle of XX century the ensemble of the Peace Park was complemented by a pedestal of a Japanese girl Sadako Sasaki with a paper crane in her hand. This is a kind of cry of desperation of the Japanese victims of the atomic bomb attack. The girl died of radiation sickness ten years after the terrible tragedy. She dreamed of making a thousand cranes and making a wish, but did not have time…
The prayer fountain in the Peace Park appeared somewhat later. It symbolizes the wish of the people longing to live after the atomic explosion, and embodies the suffering of thousands of people who were not given water. And on the Peace Flame monument burns an eternal flame, lit back in 1964. The sad architectural monument is a tribute to all Japanese victims of the atomic bomb explosion.
Official website: http://hpmmuseum.jp/
One of Japan’s striking examples of temple architecture is Itsukushima-jinja, located above the sea. The gate of the shrine, which is included in the landmarks of Japan, is located near Misen Mountain. Their height is 16 meters. The bright gate expressively emphasizes the surrounding landscape, and it is simply impossible to confuse it with anything else.
The Itsukushima-jinja complex consists of several shrines, each dedicated to a different deity. The main temple of the complex was built in honor of the goddess Mikoto, the patron saint of navigation. Most of the temple buildings are located directly on the water on wooden piles. The Hall of a Thousand Rugs is impressive. It is believed to be built from just one trunk of a camphor tree.
On the shore of a wind-protected cove is a treasure house. It contains ancient objects, masterpieces of art, and ancient scrolls donated to the temple of Itsukushima-jinja. Every tourist can experience the validity of the claim that passage under the temple gate will bring good luck and wealth.
Official website: http://www.en.itsukushimajinja.jp/
What could be more luxurious and richer than the Imperial Palace? The sights in Japan are breathtaking, but the Imperial Castle is incomparable. It is located in the park area of Tokyo, the palace buildings occupy a total area of 740 hectares. Next to the Imperial Palace are the country’s government offices. But the modern neighborhood in no way disturbs the beautiful palace architecture.
Snow-white building with a pointed roof castle consists of two floors and one underground. The interiors of the palace are made in the Japanese style. The castle is surrounded by protective moats filled with water. Around the palace is a picturesque natural oasis.
In the castle is the residence of the Japanese Emperor. Unfortunately for tourists, the palace architecture can be admired only from a distance - walks in the castle are not allowed. Nevertheless, twice a year those who wish to visit the Imperial Palace can take advantage of the unique chance - after the celebration of the New Year and on the Emperor’s Birthday access to the inner gardens of the complex is open.
Official website: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/
Honshu Island is one of the main islands of the Japanese archipelago, it’s where most of the population lives and the main attractions of the country are concentrated. And one of the interesting places is in Kanagawa prefecture is the village of Hakone, famous for its hot springs. It is also one of the best Japanese resorts, where you can feel the national spirit, visit a number of historical buildings, open-air museums, relax in super-equipped hotels and spa complexes. And the most important thing - from here you will be able to see with your own eyes the familiar from childhood peak of Mount Fujiyama, covered with a snow-white cap of snow.
Official website: http://www.env.go.jp/en
Nara, Japan’s national heritage city, has a concentration of Buddhist temples, the key one being Todai-ji Temple. It’s the most important symbol of the city and a sacred place of many millions of pilgrims, where daily services started back in the 8th century and continue to this day. The temple is also interesting because it is the largest wooden structure in the world and has the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. In order to enter the temple, one has to go through the ancient wooden gate Nandaimon, through the hall full of incense-smoking clouds and then the Big Buddha Hall, where the majestic statue of the deity is looking down from its 15 meters height.
Official website: http://www.todaiji.or.jp
The sakura has long since bloomed, and is Japan still a long way from golden autumn? The scorching July heat and high humidity are extremely challenging conditions for active travel, but locking yourself inside hotel walls is not an option for active visitors to the country either. If you are looking for things to see in Japan in July, we recommend visiting Shibuya, the entertainment district of Japan’s youth, packed with fashionable boutiques and department stores. The point is that in Shibuya there are sales in the most prestigious stores, and the district turns into a real paradise for shopaholics and people who are fed up with the standard set of broad goods, and it is too expensive to leave a tidy sum in expensive boutiques.
On the slope of Mount Otowa in Kyoto is a vast temple complex that has become a symbol of the city. It is a temple of pure water, or Kiyomizu-dera, built in the name of the goddess of luck. The surviving structures of the complex date back to the 30s of the 17th century. Today the temple is a place of millions of pilgrimages - about 3 million people visit it each year. In addition to the temple building itself, the grounds include: A 3-story pagoda, a sutra library, several pavilions, and a number of small temples. There is also an observation deck from which one can enjoy beautiful views of Kyoto. A noteworthy feature of this site is that it was built using 139 supports, but without a single nail.
Official website: https://www.kiyomizudera.
On Honshu Island, in the city of Matsumoto, it is recommended to visit the ancient Crow Castle, so named because of its black facade and side towers resembling outspread wings. The extraordinary architecture of the structure is in extraordinary harmony with the beauty of the surrounding nature. The area of all the structures of the castle and surrounding areas is grandiose - it is 39 hectares. The citadel itself, the water-filled moats and the castle wall encircling the whole territory are included. A notable feature of the complex is a series of chaotically placed steep staircases and a confusing arrangement of rooms - all this was erected in such a way as to disorient enemies who raided in the Middle Ages during the provincial feud.
Official website: http://www.matsumoto-castle.
One of Japan’s oldest cities is located south of the Japanese capital, on the island of Honshu. Numerous tourists are attracted by the countless attractions in conjunction with a comfortable climate - there are no stifling heat or severe frosts. It seems the ancient city has seen everything - from tsunamis and typhoons to earthquakes and wars. And yet, today there are about 170 ancient monuments of great historical value. Among them are temples with numerous Buddhist relics, ancient sculptures and statues of Buddha, as well as museums, hotels, restaurants and even beaches with snow-white sand, perfectly equipped for comfortable rest.
August is another month of sweltering heat in Japan, not a good time to actively visit museums, theaters and other cultural sites, the heat depletes you very quickly. When choosing what to see in Japan in August, we recommend paying attention to natural attractions, such as Kegon Waterfall, whose crystal waters give visitors a refreshing coolness. A hike through the beautiful Nikko National Park, where the falls are located, is an invigorating experience with breathtaking views. The falls are up to a hundred meters high and there are several vantage points to view them. As a bonus of an impressive walk, there are 12 more small waterfalls that tumble down nearby, through numerous mountain crevices.
Official website: http://nikko-travel.
One of Japan’s extraordinary natural phenomena periodically occurs in the Naruto Strait that connects the two prefectures of Tokushima and Hyogo. The strait itself, which connects the Indian Ocean to the Inland Sea of Japan, is a little over a kilometer wide. Twice a day, the current first raises and then lowers the level of the Inland Sea, thereby creating a difference between the levels of the outer ocean and the sea. The current rises to 15-20 kilometers per hour and produces whirlpools of an amazing phenomenon, some 20 meters in diameter. Usually in the summertime whirlpools are larger than in winter. There are regular cruises to the strait, allowing you to see the whirlpool in all its beauty.
Going to the south of Japan, whose attractions are not so numerous, a visit to Okinawa, an island that is part of the Ryukyu archipelago, should definitely be included in your trip plan. It is the warmest prefecture in Japan, and the only one located in the subtropical zone. That’s why the island is so attractive for recreation all year round, and even in the coldest period of January the average daily air temperature doesn’t drop below +17 degrees. The island’s medieval Ryukyu kingdom is reminded of the grandeur of the restored Shurijo Palace. There are also ruins of fortifications that have become World Heritage sites scattered across the island.
Japanese culture is extremely rich and extraordinary, and many Japanese traditions were formed under the influence of some important historical events. Some traditions are thousands of years old, while others are more recent. A living example of the latter is the Sapporo Snow Festival. In 1950, a few high school students from one of the city schools erected 6 animal sculptures in Odori Park. Since then, every year at the end of winter the townspeople arrange a grand sculpture of figures made of snow and ice. Since the 2000s, the festival has become the largest winter event in the country and is included in Japan’s attractions for children when putting together tourist programs.
Official website: http://www.snowfes.com
The Land of the Rising Sun is located on land of volcanic origin, so hot springs are a common phenomenon here. Since time immemorial, the inhabitants of the country have used the beneficial properties of volcanic waters to heal the body and soul. Kusatsu is one of the most famous resorts of international importance, based on the treatment of thermal waters. There are many underground water outlets here, and the central place is occupied by Yubatake, the largest of the springs. The water coming out of the springs crosses the town square along specially laid channels, and at the end of the way it comes down in a small waterfall - the intensity of the flow in this place reaches 4 thousand liters per minute.
Kumano-Kodo is a major system of branching pilgrimage trails on the island of Kii. Once here, pilgrims have the opportunity to visit sites of ancient power, stopping periodically at guesthouses along the way. For centuries, pilgrims of the Shinto religion traveled along these trails, and the forests of the peninsula were believed to be inhabited by Shinto deities, the kami. Over time, with the spread of Buddhism, the kami came to be seen as incarnations of Buddha. All the trails are famous for their fabulous beauty, leading through mountain forests, rivers, and along the ocean coast. Almost all of the routes of the famous trail converge in the town of Honggu, home to the most important sacred temple, Taixia.
One of the most beautiful, quiet and cozy places in Yokohama can be called Sankei-en Garden. It is a spacious park area of about 180 square kilometers. Here you can rest from the bustle of the city, admire the amazing beauty of nature, see the lush variety of plants collected from different parts of the world, and visit a number of historical buildings - there are 17 of them in total. In particular, this is a three-storey pagoda of the 16th century, brought from Kyoto, a tea house Choshukaku, a medieval peasant house from Gifu prefecture, acquainting visitors with everyday life of common people. Picturesque water bodies and fragrant flowers such as sakura, azaleas, chrysanthemums, and lotuses complete the experience.
The central district in the city of Yokohama is the Minato Mirai business district, the most attractive for visitors to the Greater Tokyo area. Those who arrive here have the opportunity to engage in shopping, various kinds of recreation and entertainment, visit cultural monuments and a number of thematic exhibitions. Among the notable places are the 70-story Landmark Tower, the Sky Garden observation deck with dizzying views of the harbor, museums of art, toys, industry, history, as well as the silk museum and the Nipon Maru Maritime Museum. The area continues to grow rapidly, and its list of attractions is continually updated with exciting new additions.
Official website: http://goyokohama
Another major business district to visit in Osaka is Dotonbori, located on the river of the same name. The neighborhood is famous for its large selection of stores and boutiques, as well as an impressive number of restaurants, which has given it its second name, Kuidaore, or “city of gourmet food”. Apart from shopping and dining, you can enjoy karaoke centers, saunas, comedy shows, kabuki theaters and art galleries. At dusk, the neighborhood is especially transformed by the original lighting of buildings and neon illumination of shop windows.
Official website: http://www.dotonbori.or.
Next to Japan is another technologically developed country - Singapore. While in Japan, consider visiting this country as well. Read about sights of Singapore and get inspired for your future journey through Asia!