Best destinations and attractions in Japan

There may be hundreds of reasons why you should not miss traveling to Japan at least once in your life. Japan is known as one of the world’s largest economies, it ranks above the OECD average in income and wealth, education and skills, jobs and earnings, personal security, and environmental quality. It is also known as one of the most unique countries and distinctive cultures on the planet. This country has everything which most of tourists in the world expect to see: natural beauty (great mountains, beaches, valleys, forests, paths), historical sites (temples, shrines, castles, memorials), traditional establishments (old villages, old streets, old districts), world-class museums, amusement parks, aquariums, exotic foods and drinks, sport activities (hiking, climbing), osen, hot springs, etc. There are numerous destinations and attractions as well as lots of things to do in Japan. So that Planning a trip to Japan is not easy at all. The followings are Japan’s destinations and attractions and I hope the information will help you as much as possible.

1. Tokyo

There is no doubt that the first in the list of Best destinations in Japan must be Tokyo – the energizing capital of Japan. There are a variety of things to do in Tokyo from simply walking busy streets, beautiful parks, going shopping to visiting the imperial palace, temples, museums, art centers, theaters, enjoy the noted cuisine, seeing sumo wrestling match, joining traditional festivals.

The Imperial Palace

First built in 1457, the imperial palace with its 17th-century beautiful park surrounded by moats and walls has become an iconic site of Tokyo as well as Japan. The most famous in the area is the Nijubashi Bridge which is known as another name – double bridge that comes from its reflection in the water. Although the palace is still in use by the Imperial family, tours of the palace are available. The imperial palace in Marunouchi district could not be missed on any trip to Japan.

Ginza District

Considered as the Times Square in New York, Ginza District in Tokyo is one of the oldest and busiest commercial centers of the country and is where five ancient roads that connect all major cities of Japan meet. Ginza streets are full of coffee shops, restaurants, stores. At night, Ginza wears a colorful, bright, and twinkle coat which charms most of the locals and tourists. At weekends, traffic is barred, the area becomes one the world’s largest pedestrian zones. Wandering the streets, sitting and looking for the things rush past are worth trying in Ginza District of Tokyo.

Senso-ji Temple

Established in AD 645, the exquisite Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa District is the most famous shrine of Tokyo as well as the entire country. The highlights include Kaminarimon Gate with a red paper lantern that is 3.3 meters high and bears the inscription “Thunder Gate”, the Incense Vate that is reputed to drive away ailments.

Ueno Park and Zoo

Established in 1873 and located in Northern Tokyo, 212-acre Ueno Park and Zoo – the Tokyo’s largest park is worth visiting thanks to green space, fresh air, lines of trees, temples, museums, and other attractions. Highlights include Bentendo Temple on a little island surrounded by Shinobazu pond, Ueno Park Zoo – the oldest zoo of Japan, and the Aqua Zoo – one of the largest aquariums in Asia. Temples in the park include 17th-century Toshogu Shrine with its 256 bronze and stone lanterns, Kaneiji Temple, Kiyomizu Kannon Temple. Museums include National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, National Science Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science are museums that could not be missed in the park.

National Museum of Nature and Science

Located in Ueno Park and opened in 1871, National Museum of Nature and Science is one of the oldest and most famous museums in Japan. The museum houses a lot of materials related to natural history and science as well as exhibits of Japanese history including traditional outfits and customs, excellent technology and scientific displays including vehicles and robotics.

National Museum of Tokyo

Opened in 1938, National Museum of Tokyo is the oldest and largest museum in Japan. It houses more than 100,000 works of Japanese, Indian, and Chinese art including highlights such as Buddhist sculptures from Japan and China dating from the 6th century to the present, historical Japanese clothing, old textiles, weapons, Japanese paintings from the 7th to the 14th centuries, old lacquer-work.

National Museum of Western Art

Built in 1959 and planned by the famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier, National Museum of Western Art houses numerous exhibits. Most of them are works by French artists, bought during visits of Kojiro Matsukata – Japanese businessman and art collector to Europe early in the 20th century.

Miraikan and Edo-Tokyo Museum

Created by Japan’s Science and Technology Agency, Miraikan and Edo-Tokyo Museum is one of the newest museums in Tokyo. The museum houses exhibit related to many things including earthquakes, weather, renewable energy, and robotics.

Meiji Shrine

Built in 1915 and was completed in 1926, rebuilt in 1958 after being destroyed during the World War II, Meiji Shrine is one of the most important religious sites of Tokyo. The Inner Precinct with its museum containing royal treasures and the Outer Precinct with the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery housing murals relating to the lives of the emperor and empress, the Meiji Shrine Inner Garden with a teahouse, iris garden, and a pleasant arbor are highlights of the shrine. Writing and hanging wishes on wishing trees in the 175-acre green forests of about 120,000 trees is one of the most interesting things to do there.

Tokyo Skytree

There is no reason to miss Tokyo Skytree – the 634-meter-tall communications and observation tower which rises out of Sumida District. Tokyo Skytree is Japan’s tallest structure and the world’s tallest freestanding tower. Opened in 2012, the tower quickly become one of the most popular attractions of Tokyo as well as the entire country thanks to it panoramic views. In addition, Tokyo Skytree is about 100 kilometers from Fuji-san, it is one of the best points to see the great mountain in Japan.

National Art Center

Opened in 2007, the National Art Center in Roppongi District, Tokyo is famous for its impressive curved glass building and fine permanent collection of over 600 paintings, most from the 20th century.

2. Kyoto

Located on the center of Honshu Island, Kyoto had been the imperial capital Kyoto of Japan and the cultural center for almost 1,100 years. The city is considered as the City of 10,000 shrines because it is home to thousands of Shinto shrines, including Fushimi Inari Shrine – one of the top tourist attractions, and Buddhist temples. Beautiful gardens, museums, galleries, Gion Matsuri festival in July – one of the best Japan’s festival are also reasons why this city should not be missed in Japan. Followings are more details about top attractions in Kyoto:

Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Found in AD 711, one of Japan’s oldest and most famous shrines, Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine, dedicated to the goddess of rice-growing, is a must-visit attraction in Kyoto. Highlights include a four-kilometer-long avenue of bright orange arches, each dedicated by a business and sculptures of foxes, reputed to be messengers of the gods.

Nijo Castle

Built in 1603, Nijo Castle is notable for its fine carvings, decorated metalwork of the Inner Gate, paintings by Kano Tanyu and his pupils in Ninomaru Palace, paintings of tigers in Hall of the Imperial Emissary, large paintings of larches on a gold background in the large Audience Hall, paintings of mountain landscapes in Shogun’s private apartments, and the floorboards designed to replicate the chirping of a nightingale.

Kinkaku-ji – The Golden Pavilion

Built in the 14th century, Kinkaku-ji was used as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. The structure has been rebuilt for a few times and new is a Zen Buddhist temple. Kinkaku-ji has been one of the most splendid attractions of Kyoto thanks to gold leaf adorning the top two of its three floors, beautiful site of the ground and ponds as well as its old stone pagoda and Sekkatei Teahouse.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

The important UNESCO World Heritage Site Kiyomizu-dera Temple in the East of Kyoto is a must-visit if you travel to the city. The reasons why you should not miss it are the picturesque location on a rocky outcrop high above the Otowa Waterfall and on Otowa Mountain as well as the terrace of the Main Hall, which is built on 30-meter-tall pillars with five rows of cross-beams and have amazing views over the city. Visitors have a chance to enjoy a delightful stroll to the temple along quaint Tea-pot Lane with its small shops and craft stores.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

Built in AD 794 and replaced several times, Kyoto Imperial Palace is one of the most visited historical sites of Kyoto. Lovely large grounds, finely decorated gates, important rooms, and buildings attract lots of tourists.

Rengyoin Temple

Built in 1164 and constructed in 1266 after a fire, Sanjūsangen-dō or Rengyoin Temple is famous for its unusual structure which façade is divided into 33 niches. Other highlights include the Kannon with a Thousand Hands, a nearly three-and-a-half-meter-tall statue, dating from the 13th century, 500 standing figures of Kannon, sculptures of the 28 “celestial auxiliaries”.

Gion – the Geisha District

Being home to 17th-century restaurants and teahouses, elaborately dressed geishas, Gion is a blend of modern architecture and historical beauty.

Other attractions in Kyoto which you should visit if you have more time include:

Nishi Honganji Temple – an outstanding example of Buddhist architecture;

Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, which was established in 1897, boasts a number of historic art and applied arts as well as regular exhibitions;

Katsura Imperial Villa from 1624 with splendid historic architecture and historic gardens;

Daitoku-ji Temple, founded in 1324, with beautiful architecture, garden, statues, paintings, statues, and tombs;

Byōdō-in Temple, established in AD 988, boasting many unique buildings, shrines, and artworks;

Chion-in Temple with its 24-meter-high, two-story tower, and 71-ton bell – the largest bell of the country.

3. Nara

Nara is the second to Kyoto as the richest collection of traditional sites in Japan. In Nara, tourists can find numerous best temples and shrines, fine gardens, and museums. A must-see attraction of Nara, as well as Japan, is the Todai-ji Temple with its famous 16-meter-high Great Buddha. Nara-koen Park with lovely semi-wild deer which are pleased with deer crackers fed by visitors, Isui-en Garden with its spacious stroll garden, a beautiful pond, hundreds of trees and blooming flowers, and Yoshiki-en Garden with a thatch-roof teahouse. Visitors should not miss the World Heritage ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara’ – Kasuga-Taisha Shrine which is impressive with not only the shrine buildings but also forest, about 2,000 stone lantern covered with moss, pathways, and wandering deer. Other attractions include Kofuku-ji Temple containing a towering pagoda, Naramachi – the traditional district with restaurants, cafes, shops, homes, workshops, and traditional Japanese inns, and Nara National Museum housing permanent collection of fine Buddhist images and numerous special temporary exhibits.

Todai-ji Temple

Nara-koen Park

Isui-en Garden

Yoshiki-en Garden

Kasuga-Taisha Shrine

Kofuku-ji Temple

Naramachi

Nara National Museum

4. Takayama

Located in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, Takayama city is considered as Little Kyoto of Hida and is full of attractions to see and has become one of the top visited places in Japan. Takayama with its old town is peaceful and quiet so that it is the best place for whom would like to escape from hustling Japanese cities. Takayama is also the gateway to Japan Alps – the hiking paradise of Japan and Shirakawa-go – a Unesco-listed thatch-roof village. Followings are what tourists can see in the city:

Sanmachi Suji – Takayama Old Town

Sanmachi Suji consists of three streets, lined with iconic architecture including traditional houses, shops, restaurants, sake breweries and cafes, lying to the east of the Miya-gawa River is one of the most picturesque in Japan, especially in the early morning and at night.

Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall

Visiting Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall in the autumn on October 9 and 10, tourists will have a big chance to experience one the biggest Japan’s festivals. The highlights of the festival are floats with small stages on which expert puppeteers make intricate marionettes dance by manipulating  incredibly complicated arrangements of strings.

Yoshijima Heritage House

Built back in 1907 for a family of sake brewers and moneylenders, Yoshijima Heritage House with the high-quality construction and the sheer size of the beams is the best place to see superb carpentry traditions of Takayama.

Other attractions are Takayama Jinya served as the local administrative offices of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan from 1600 to 1868,  Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine – the oldest Shinto shrine in Takayama, Kusakabe Folk Crafts Museum – a small museum of local crafts in a stunning old building.

There is no lack of attractions around Takayama such as Kamikochi, Shirakawa-go, Japan Alps.

Kamikochi

Being about 40km northeast of Takayama, usually opened from April to November, Kamikochi is a  mountainous highland valley within the Hida Mountains range which is the Northern Alps of the Japan Alps. It is a stunning alpine sanctuary, and starting point for one of the best hike in the Japan Alps. Kamikochi also attracts visitors with its beautiful valley, flat trails along rivers and marshes.

Shirakawa-go

Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, Shirakawa-go is a village with more than 100 traditional thatch-roof houses, known as gassho-zukuri in Japanese. These superb structures, which are located only 35 km from Takayama are worth a trip from Takayama.

Shinhotaka Ropeway

Starting at 1117m and taking passengers above the clouds, 2156m above sea level in about 10 minutes, Shinhotaka Ropeway – an aerial lift system is the choice for whom don’t want to hike for a few days to get up the Japan Alps.

5. Nikko

The small town Nikko is famous for:

Toshogu – a UNESCO World Herritage site – Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu;

Stunning 16th-century red-lacquered Shin-kyō Bridge (or Sacred Bridge), ranking at the top three finest and most photographed bridges in Japan, crossing the river at the foot of the hills on which the temples and shrines are located;

Nikko National Park offering mountainous landscapes, waterfalls, lakes, hiking trails, and wild monkeys;

Kanmangafuchi – a botanical garden with a great view to enjoy any season, and 0 Jizo statues, called “Bakejizo” (ghosts jizo).

Nikko is home to many temples, shrines including Mount Nikko’s Rinnoji Temple ComplexKaizando (Sacred Hall for the Founder of the Temple)Nikko Chuzenji Temple, Takinoo ShrineNikko Futarasan Shrine. Dating back to the 8th century, Rinno-ji Temple is the most visited, the most important, and the oldest temple in Nikko;

Mount Nikko’s Rinnoji Temple Complex

Kaizando

Nikko Chuzenji Temple

Takinoo Shrine

Nikko Futarasan Shrine

Urushi Museum (Nikko Lacquer Museum) where visitors can see various interesting features about lacquer and even painting on lacquer themselves;

Kegon Falls – top 3 Japan’s waterfalls and Ryuzu waterfall down on 210 meters (688 ft) of stone stairs;

Chuzenji Lake where tourists can enjoy every season’s beauty here such as the cherry blossom during Spring or the red leaves in Autumn, or cruising a sightseeing boat.

There are numerous theaters in Tokyo, the most famous one is Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza District. The theater is well-known by locals and tourists for traditional Kabuki performances.

6. Kamakura

Located less than one hour from Tokyo, the small coastal town Kamakura is one of the top destinations in Japan. Although Kamakura is not comparable to other Japan’s cities in scale, it is a mix of the old and new which give tourist the best time being there. Thanks to beautiful sand beaches, the town is a popular seaside hotpot with lots of entertaining activities. It was once the seat of a military government that ruled Japan for a hundred years and is home to lots of temples, shrines that hold treasures, and historical monuments, especially the huge bronze Buddha statue.

Kamakura Daibutsuden Kotoku-in

Kamakura Daibutsuden Kotoku-in is home to the second largest Buddha statue Daibutsu (Great Buddha) dating back to as early as 1252 – a must-see in Kamakura. Tourists can admire the Daibutsu from the outside and climb inside the Buddha.

Hase-dera Temple

Hase-dera Temple is famous for being a great spot for viewing over 40 types and exceeding total of 2500 hydrangea flowers. The place is often crowded in the rainy season with tourists coming for the beauty of hydrangea lovers.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Dating back to 1063, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important shrine in Kamakura. It is a popular site for weddings and other events, particularly amazingly beautiful in the spring when lines of hundreds of cherry trees blossoming.

Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine

The highlight of the Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine include one of top 5 spring waters in Kamakura the zeniarai mizu for washing coin. It has been said that your money will multiply if you washed your money with this spring water. They also wish for good luck, good fortune, and good relationship..

Bamboo Grove in Hokokuji Temple

Founded in 1334, Hokokuji Temple is also known as the “Bamboo Temple” thanks to its relaxed atmosphere the stunning and secluded Bamboo Grove in its area.

Enkaku-ji Temple

Enkaku-ji Temple is one of the leading Zen temples in Eastern Japan and the second of Top 5 Zen temples in Kamakura. Enjoying the fascinating autumn leaves in Enkaku-ji Temple is one of the most popular things to do in Kamakura.

7. Hiroshima

Located on Honshu Island, Hiroshima is an important historical place although it is less than 500 years old, younger than other Japan’cities because of being the primary target of the first nuclear bombing mission on August 6, 1945 in the world. The first atomic destroyed much of the city and killed about 260,000 people and injured more thang 160,000 people. That may be the reason why Hiroshima is considered as the “peace capital”. Most of the attractions of the city are about peace: parks, museums, galerires, gardens, structures surviving the bombing. Below is the list of top-rated tourist attractions in Hiroshima:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park 

Formally opened in 1915 and located in the epicenter of the nuclear bomb’s blast, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing. The park includes monuments, memorials, and museums relating to the fateful day. Highlights include Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Cenotaph, the Flame of Peace, the Atom Bomb Dome comprising the ruins of the old Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Children’s Peace Monument with the sculptures of a young girl holding a paper bird, the Monument to the Victims of the Atomic Bomb.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Opened since 1955, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum houses numerous exhibits related to the nuclear bomb’s blast, the world peace and attracts thousands of visitors every year for learning more about the history, war, and piece.

Island Shrine of Itsukushima

Covering some 30 square kilometers of Hiroshima Bay, Miyajima known as “Island Shrine” with Itsukushima Shrine is one of the most important and famous coastal sites in Japan. First mentioned in AD 811, the shrine dedicated to the Princesses Ichikishimahime, Tagorihime and Tagitsu-hime, daughters of the Shinto wind god Susanoo. Highlights of the site include buildings, supported on piles, rising out of the waters of a small bay, looking like floating on water. The site is fascinating, spectacle and picturesque, especially at night.

Hiroshima Castle

Built in 1593, Hiroshima Castle was the residence of local nobleman Fukushima Masanori. It includes a lovely-five story tower offering fine views over Hiroshima, harbor and, the island of Miyakojima. Three trees that survived atomic blast: a willow, eucalyptus, and holly. The castle becomes more splendid at night, particularly colorful in autumn and spring.

Shukkei-en Garden

The beautiful Shukkei-en Garden on the banks of the Ota River was laid out by Asano Nagaakira of Kyoto in 1620 in imitation of Western Lake of the old South Chinese Sung Dynasty capital of Hangzhou and was home of Emperor Meiji. Openen in 1940, the garden attracts lots of people including locals and tourists coming for walking, listening to bird songs, enjoying the streams, pools, fresh air, joining authentic tea ceremonies at teahouses, and admire the beauty of the colorful fall or spring flowers.

The Mitaki-dera Temple

Built in AD 809, Mitaki-dera Temple is known as the Three Falls Temple because it is located at the foot of Mount Mitaki. Highlights include red-lacquered pagoda, nearby waterfalls, grounds which turn vibrant reds and golds in autumn.

The Fudoin Temple

Fudoin Temple – a fine example of the architecture of the Muromachi period from 14th to 16th centuries is notable for the Main Hall where there is a carved statue that is designated a national treasure.

Other attractions include:

Hiroshima Museum of Art, a collection of paintings by European Masters such as Monet, Renoir, Degas, Maillol, Picasso and Japanese artists such as Ryohei Koiso and Yuzo Saeki.

Hiroshima City Transportation Museum, housing collection of old trams and streetcars, including the famous “A-Bomb Tram” that survived the devastation of 1945.

Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park, opened in 1971, covering 124 acres, being home to 170 species of animals.

Onomichi – a quaint port town with Onomichi U2, a renovated warehouse offering a unique collection of locally-oriented options for shopping and dining, Temple Walk, Onomichi City Art Museum.

8. Kanazawa

Kanazawa was Japan’s 4th largest city in the mid-nineteenth and is a beautiful and culturally rich, attractive city containing attractive old town in the recent. Attractions in Kanazawa include:

Kanazawa Castle Park;

29-acre Kenroku-en Garden – one of the top three gardens in the country;

Omicho Market – a good place to experience local life;

Higashi Chaya Area – a lovely neighborhood of beautifully preserved geisha houses;

Nagamachi Samurai House Area with a fine collection of preserved samurai houses located along two canals;

The late 18th century Kurando Terashima House;

Teramachi Area crammed with small Buddhist temples;

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art housing lots of installations, video, and mixed-media pieces;

D.T. Suzuki Museum, Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of ArtKanazawa Phonograph Museum.

9. Ishigaki

Although Ishigaki does not have famous temples, shrines or museums, the city is one of the most popular destinations in Japan thanks to the country’s best beaches as long as islands. There are lots of activities to do there: water sports, climbing Mount Nosoko, beachcombing, etc.

10. Koya-san

Constructed by Kobo Daishi in 816, Koya-san monastic complex remains headquarters for the sect and the small town growing around the temple. In 1832, there were 1,812 temples and only 117 temples left today. Buddhist monks, medieval warriors and lords, and ordinary people alike have all been buried. 

To visit the Mausoleum of Kobo Daishi – the must-see in Koya-san, you should go through Okunoin – a cemetery leading to the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi with over 200,000 gravestones and monuments built along the path. The shape of the graves are impressive with five tiers, five stones placed on top of another represent five elements of the physical world in Buddhism. At the end of the path, you can see Torodo (Lantern Hall) with 10,000 lanterns. Behind Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum is the Mausoleum of Kobo Daishi who is believed to be alive and give aid to whom visiting him.

Visitors also have chances to stay in a temple, witness a morning ceremony, experience monk’s life as well as taste monk’s meal.

11. Fujigoko

Fujigoko or The Fuji Five Lake at the northern base of Mount Fuji around 5 lakes Kawaguchiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko, Saiko, and Motosuko. Fujigoko region is famous for being one of the best place to view the majestic Mount Fuji or start climbing the mountain. Fujigoko is also known as a lake resort area where outdoor activities such as snow sports, hiking, fishing, camping are popular. There is a number of museums, hot springs, and the Fuji Q Highland amusement park.

Lake Kawaguchiko

Located in Kawaguchiko onsen town, Lake Kawaguchiko is rated at the first point to have a fantastic view of Mount Fuji. In the right light, the Fuji-san’s reflection can be seen in the lake. This lake is famous and was featured in one of Japan’s best work of art 36 Views of Mountain Fuji.

Fuji Q Highland amusement park with record-breaking roller coasters.

Kubota Museum – an excellent museum about kimono artist.

12. Himeji

Himeji is best known for its very famous Himeji Castle which is the tallest castle in Japan, a National Treasure of Japan, and one of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Akamatsusadanori started the construction of the castle in 1346. The castle’s highlights are the spectacular architecture and its brilliantly white color which is the reason why it is called “White Egret Castle” or “White Heron Castle”.

The Himeji Castle is considered the best existing example of Japanese castle architecture. It was fortified to defend against enemies during the feudal period, but it has been rebuilt many times throughout the centuries and reflects the different design periods. It survived the bombings of World War II and is frequently seen in domestic and foreign films, including the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”. The white exterior and design give the castle the appearance of a bird taking flight, earning the castle the nickname ‘white egret castle’.

13. Osaka

Osaka is Japan’s second largest city and one of the favorite tourist destinations in Japan. Osaka attracts tourists with not only world-class entertainment centers, rich cuisine but also the historical sites and unique culture. The city is a blend of the modern and the traditional, the new and the old. The followings are the things you should not miss in Osaka:

Dotonbori – the paradise of Japanese foods;

Shinsaibashi – the heart and soul of Osaka, an energetic shopping and food paradise, also known as “non-sleeping”;

Tenjin festival – one of the top 3 festivals in Japan;

Osaka Castle with its unique, mysterious, and impressive architecture and the great spot on its top floor to view the city;

108-arce Universal Studios Japan theme park with 8 themes: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, and Harry Potter, opened in 2001, welcoming millions of guests every year;

8-storey Kaiyukan Aquarium – the world’s largest aquarium, located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka’s bay area, housing 15 tanks, each representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim.

Attractions around Osaka include:

A few hours south of Osaka – the UNESCO-recognized Kumano region which is well-known for beautiful landscapes, charming villages, hiking, onsen, and Kodo pilgrimage route – one of Japan’s most enchanting walks.

14. Naoshima

The art island of Naoshima houses a large collection of contemporary art museums, galleries, exhibits, and installations. Some of the most famous attractions are:

Benesse House featuring an impressive collection of artists, including Hiroshi Sugimoto, Gerhard Richter, Shinro Ohtake, Richard Long, David Hockney, etc.

Chichu Art Museum, designed by Tadao Ando to let in an abundance of natural light, and housing a small but impressive collection of works by artists including Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria;

Art House Project, containing abandoned houses, workshops, a temple, and a shrine, converted into venues and art installations for artists from Japan and around the world;

Teshima – a tiny island with three notable art sites: Teshima Yokoo House and Christian Boltanski’s “Les Archives du Cœur”, Teshima Art Museum.

15. Izu Peninsula

Located about 100 km southwest of Tokyo, Izu Peninsula – one of the best hidden gems is full of beautiful nature, coastlines, beaches, hot springs, onsen, and exotic seafood.

16. Hokkaido

Hokkaido is well-known for pristine nature and expansive landscapes, incredible seafood and produce. It is also known as “the best skiing and snowboarding on Earth”.

17. Okinawan archipelago

Okinawan archipelago is home to gorgeous little islands and features not only stunning beaches and nature, particularly jungles, but also a rich Ryukyu heritage and culture.

18. Fukuoka

Fukuoka is one of the most famous unsung culinary destinations in Japan, not to mention one of the most livable urban centers in the country. Enjoying street food culture perhaps the most popular activity in the city.

19. Kurashiki

Kurashiki town is known for the Bikan Historical District located along its well-preserved canal area, which dates back over 400 years. In addition, it is home to lovely storehouses which have been preserved and converted into charming galleries, boutiques, and cafes.

20. Takamatsu

Takamatsu – the largest city in Kagawa prefecture which is famous for great udon noodles. The highlights include Ritsurin Koen garden, Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum.

21. Matsue

Matsue – the capital city of Shimane Prefecture is renown for Adachi Museum of Art which houses an impressive collection of modern Japanese painting and a fantastic garden. In Matsue, enjoying delicious seafood and sake are interesting things to do.

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