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Japan Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit in Japan

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             Best Places to Visit in Japan     Overview Map   Detailed Map










Japan is a country that offers the tourist exotic beauty and marvelous attractions.  However, Japan is a country where the language barrier can make travel difficult for the English-speaking visitor.  Traveling in Japan is more challenging and takes more effort than traveling in Europe, but we think you will find that the rewards are more than worth the effort.

On March 11, 2011 at 2:46 local time in Japan, a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off of the northeastern shores of Honshu, Japanís largest island. The massive earthquake resulted in a devastating tsunami that caused a significant number of deaths and incredible destruction of property/infrastructure, including several nuclear plants. Five years later some of the damaged cities in northeastern Japan are still in ruins.


The Golden Pavillion, Kyoto

Best Places to Visit in Japan Top of Page








  • Tokyo  Click for chart of Tokyo's precipitation and temperatures throughout the year.

    • Tokyo is the natural places to start your introduction to this enchanting country. It is hard to overstate the shock value of Tokyo to the western visitor.  We believe that upon arriving in Tokyo you will finally understand the real meaning of the word "foreign".

    • Tokyo's attractions result from a mix of important cultural, historic, and societal trends.  We consider Tokyo to be unlike any other big city in the world.  It is a fabulous place to visit, but you may need a vacation from the city (if not its prices) after a few days.

    Tokyo Guide

    • Be sure to examine our Tokyo Guide if you are considering travel to Tokyo.


  • Two cities that make great day trips from Tokyo are:

    • NikkoClick for photographs of Nikko 

      • A solemn pilgrimage site for many Japanese, the shrine complex at Nikko is, also, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

      • The area is closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The surrounding National Park is stunning.

      • For more information, see the Nikko Tourist Association website.

    • Kamakura Click for photographs of Kamakura 

      • Kamakura contains one of Japan's best collections of shrines, temples, and monuments. In addition, the town is famous for its Great Buddha statue.

      • Visit the official Kanagawa area website for more information on visiting Kamakura.

  • Kyoto Click for photographs of Kyoto 

    • Kyoto is Japan's second most popular tourist destination. Its attractiveness is based on the importance of its numerous, well-preserved historical sites (over 15 of theses have been classified UNESCO World Heritages sites). 

      • Kyoto was Japan's capital and the emperor's residence through part of the First and most of the Second Millennia.

      • The city is known as "The Thousand Year Capital" and Kyoto is the fount of many aspects of the Japanese culture, as we know it today.

      • Kyoto, undamaged in World War II, contains the best-preserved examples of Japan's feudal history.

      • If you are a temple aficionado, plan to spend several days in Kyoto.  The town has many attractions and is a pleasant place to visit.

      • The official tourism website for Kyoto can be found here.

  • Osaka  Click for chart of Osaka's precipitation and temperatures throughout the year. Click for photographs of Osaka

    • Osaka is another of Japan's vibrant "big" cities: it combines its history and modern economy in a  manner that is certain to please.

  • Hiroshima Click for photographs of Hiroshima

    • Modern Hiroshima is known as a "peace" center.  Destroyed at the end of World War II by an atomic bomb, Hiroshima is known for its Peace Park and Peace Memorial Museum. 

    • Be sure to visit nearby Miyajima Island for its shrine and famous torii gate.

    • Visit the Hiroshima Navigator, the official website of the city of Hiroshima, for more details on the city and its many attractions.

  • Nara Click for photographs of Nara

    • Once the capital of Japan, Nara is a beautiful place with splendid temples representing both Shinto and Buddhism.  Nara is near both Kyoto and Osaka.

      • The Nara City Sightseeing website, offers an excellent introduction to the wonders you will find when visiting Nara.

  • Nagasaki  Click for chart o fNagasaki's  precipitation and temperatures throughout the year. Click for photographs of Nagasaki  

    • Nagasaki was one the principal ports during Japan's exposure to the western world in the 1600's, giving the town the most European flavor of any of Japan's cites. 

    • Nagasaki was partly destroyed by an atomic bomb blast near the end of World War II. 

    • Tourist Nagasaki is known for its Peace Park and the Sofuku-ji, an elegant temple whose architecture has a pronounced Chinese look.

    • The website of the Nagasaki Prefectural Tourism Federation provides an in-depth look at Nagasaki's festivals, sightseeing and history.

  • Fuji Hakone Izu National Park 

    • Mt. Fuji is Japan's most famous peak  and it is considered the most sacred mountain by the country's inhabitants.  Mt. Fuji is held in  such reverence by the Japanese that climbing its trail is considered a ritual and a rite of passage. 

      • Mt Fuji is part of the  majestic Fuji Hakone Izu National Park. 

      • Click for photographs of Mount FujiMeasuring in at slightly over 12,000 feet, Mt. Fuji is a nearly symmetrical strato-volcano that last erupted in the 18th century.

      • For detailed information on the Hakone National Park, see this website .

      • For an interesting overview of the Mount Fuji area, see the official Shizuoka Guide website.


    • The Izu peninsula and the Hakone district are known for great scenery, but are especially famous for their hot springs and rustic spas.

    • Click for photographs of HakoneHakone, a forested, mountainous, volcanic area is the site of some of Japan's most popular resorts and spas.  The area is less than 100 miles from Tokyo and is a wonderful destination for a  short break from the city.

    • Information about the Hakone area can be found at this detailed website.

  • Daisetsuzan NP 

    • Many visitors to Hokkaido (the northernmost of Japan's islands)  travel there to enjoy what is considered by many to be Japan's most scenic landscape. 

    • We recommend Daisetsuzan National Park is the best place to see "wild" Japan.  The park offers the outdoor enthusiast great hiking and spectacular views.

    • Click the links at the park's website for maps and some amazing photographs of this unique area.  Then, click the upper right tab "English - Page" for a brief description of the park in English.

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for Japan is hosted by the Japan National Tourism Organization.  The site provides additional information on the best places to visit that we cover here, as well as information on towns and attractions that we do not cover.

For country facts on Japan, as well as travel information  on driving, safety, crime, visas and other tourism related issues see this page on Japan  from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs. Regardless of your home country, we think you will find this site useful when planning a trip to Japan.

 If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index  or Googling ThereArePlaces.

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The Imperial Palace in Tokyo





Many visitors to Japan are eager to visit the beautiful shrines and temples found throughout the country. These centers include some of the most popular tourist sites in Japan.

Just so you know -

Temples are associated with Buddhism.

Buddhist temples are used for worship and often contain  relics of significant importance to this faith.

Shrines are associated with Shintoism and are religious sites where Kami are found or where they may be honored.

The Kami are a complicated topic, but it is our understanding that Kami are believed to be or to represent revered  gods, spirits or natural forces.












Hiroshima Castle

Miyajima Island's famous torii gate




The Japanese have a special relationship with Mt. Fuji


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         Simplified map of the best places to visit in Japan

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