Is Kobe Japan worth visiting

33 Amazing Places You Must Visit in Japan

Japan is a country that has it all - and more! Sacred Shinto shrines, magnificent Buddhist temples, past trading footpaths, spectacular landscaped gardens, diverse themed animal cafés, various art styles, preserved cultural icons and gastronomic highlights. (Challenge: Read all of this out loud without breathing!)

Japan is truly a land of endless discovery: you could spend your life exploring this country and just scratch the extraordinary surface - trust us, we've tried it!

However, this plethora of choices comes with a hidden price. With so many alternatives and the sheer number of things to see, do and experience in Japan, making a decision is no easy feat! Information in foreign languages ​​is rather sparse, which means that only an expert knows the best places in Japan. To live like a local you need to be well informed about the best things to do in Japan and we will help as your guide!

We encourage you to discover and explore even more yourself, even if that means you will lose yourself along the way. To get you back on track, we've rounded up the best cities in Japan to serve as your setting and starting point - on your marks, set, GO!

Here are our recommendations for the best places to visit in Japan:

1. Shibuya

Wait ... GO! 📸 @lavalleenyc

The famous “Scramble Crossing” at Shibuya Station is without a doubt one of the most iconic sights in Tokyo. On an average weekday, this busy intersection can withstand foot traffic of more than 2.8 million people. Yes, that's 2.8 million people during the day! If you're trying to take the perfect selfie in the crowd, make sure you make it to the other side before the traffic lights turn red again!

In addition to Shibuya's mind-blowing intersection, many of Tokyo's most popular clothing brands can also be found in this area. Several innovative fashion stores are on or near Center Gai Street. The famous Shibuya 109 shopping center is the favorite place of many shoppers and is only a few minutes away from the station.

Hostels in Shibuya

2. Naoshima

Benesse House Art 📸 @larebve

Naoshima is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea and an official part of the Kagawa County. While it's a nice, rustic getaway from Tokyo, the island is most famous for its numerous modern art museums, architecture, and sculptures. Many of them were designed by the well-known architect Ando Tadao. Places to look out for are the Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, and Benesse House.

As you can imagine, coming to Naoshima is extremely annoying! You must first go to either Uno Port in Okayama County or Takamatsu Port in Kagawa County before you can take a ferry to the island. The ports themselves are hard to find, let alone the island. So plan a longer travel route and an overnight stay.

Hostels in Naoshima

3. Asakusa

Asahi Beer Hall 📸 @julyuljul

This area of ​​Tokyo is also known as the central, cultural magnet of the city. While the district is home to a few smaller temples, the majestic Senso-ji Temple and the adjacent Nakamise Shopping Block are major attractions. In addition to these historical treasures, Asakusa is not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree and Asahi Beer Hall. If you are in the area then you should definitely visit these places too! Asahi Beer Hall is one of the best places in Japan for liquor lovers!

Hostels in Asakusa

4. Akihabara

A paradise for gamers 📸 @lluid____

To all nerds! Akihabara has earned the title of "World Capital of Geeks". From anime and manga to video games and computers, you will have a hard time finding a more concentrated collection of nerd culture on this planet.

If you want to go to a maid's café (or even something more slippery), then look no further! Be careful when bothering with business, as a small handful are deemed beyond the "safe to work" category. Don't say we didn't warn you ...

Hostels in Akihabara

5. Odaiba

A city with style 📸 @travel_zoom

Odaiba is a huge man-made island that lies in the interior of Tokyo Bay, across the Rainbow Bridge. The island is home to a few impressively extravagant shopping centers that display a ferris wheel and other unusual attractions because ... Japan stop! During the upcoming Summer Olympics in 2020, Odaiba will be hosting a few sporting events, so enjoy it before the hustle and bustle starts! Odaiba is quite popular with tourists thanks to the installation of a life-size Gundam statue that stands outside the Diver City Mall. Odaiba also has the popular Oedo Onsen Monogatari, a hot spring park with a specific theme. If you don't want to visit another park during your trip, the Oedo Onsen Monogatari is definitely worth the price of admission.

6. Kabukicho

Neon beauty! 📸 @jiburicom

Shinjuku is famous for its overwhelming neon signs and there is no place more exemplary than Kabukicho. This area takes its name from a kabuki theater that was built in the area following the devastating aftermath of World War II.

Since then, Kabukicho has turned into one of Japan's largest red light districts and is a haven for adult entertainment, including plenty of bars, crazy hostess / host clubs and other novel things. Fortunately, Kabukicho has more to offer than glitz and dubiousness. For example the infamous Robot Restaurant, which is located in the heart of the district. As if that weren't enough, Kabukicho also claims to be Tokyo's newest attraction - the sensational VR Zone Shinjuku. If your fantasies involve games like Mario Card in CR, you can't afford to miss this scene!

7. Ueno Park

Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park 📸 @nicoleluzzitelli

If your trip allows you only a short stay in Japan, then there is no better place than Ueno Park. This area offers a diverse mix of attractions that allow visitors to test and experience many of the country's unique charms in a single location. There's also a great, bustling shopping bazaar called Ameya Yokocho, which features the remains of a historic black market, and finally, if you're into funky destinations, we recommend a visit to nearby Yanaka. The area was one of the few to survive World War II, so it offers an authentic glimpse into Tokyo's historical and cultural past.

8. Yokohama

Panda ... panda ... panda ... 📸@misstaolin

Even if Tokyo's southern neighbor is not exactly unknown, a surprising number of visitors do not make it to Yokohama. Given the history and charm of the area, that's a real shame. Whether you want to walk the streets of one of the world's largest China districts, or spend a fun day in the Minato Mirai port area, this city is guaranteed to overwhelm everyone! While Tokyo can seem overwhelmingly fast-paced at times, the inviting vibes in Yokohama are definitely more relaxed. Walking around Yokohama for a day is definitely one of the best things to do in Japan to get a better view of the different cities.

9. Nikko

Golden Splendor 📸 @ c.om ___

Nestled against the mountains of Tochigi County, Nikko is one of the most important cultural spots in eastern Japan. The main attraction of the city is the Toshogu Shrine, which honors Tokugawa Leyasu, the legendary founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, as a saint. Nikko also has other enchanting backdrops that are not to be missed, such as the Futarasan Shrine and Kanmangafuchi Abyss. Also visit the nearby Edo Wonderland. This amusement park was built to transport visitors hundreds of years back to Japan's medieval era. Admission is a bit expensive, but it's definitely worth it!

10. Hitsujiyama Park

Meadows of cherry blossoms in Hitsujiyama Park 📸 @ andromeda.g94

Japan is known for its cherry blossoms, so coming here during the cherry blossom season is a must. Just look at these flowers! Visit Hitsujiyama Park for the scenic shibazakurawhich translates as 'cherry blossom meadows'.

Between late April and early May is the season for going to Shibazakura Hill in Hitsujiyama Park. With over 400,000 trees of nine different species, it is a perfect interplay of pink, red, white and purple against the backdrop of the gigantic Mount Buko. For serious Instagram inspiration, try to catch the Chichibu Shibazakura festival in the park, for which the petals are arranged in extravagant shapes and swirls.

11. Tohoku

Tohoku 📸 @patswalkoflife

Tohoku is a collective term that describes the northern part of the main Japanese island. The whole Tohoku region is teeming with hidden gems and visitors should definitely not miss out on Yama-dera and the Ginzan Onsen.

A word of advice for those of you who are here in early August: be sure to keep an eye out for the Aomori's Nebuta Festival - a memorable, once in a lifetime experience that requires you to book accommodation well in advance before the full allotment of accommodation from domestic tourists is occupied!

12. Kawagoe

Kita-in Temple 📸 @jhtto

Just 45 minutes northwest of Tokyo is Kawagoe, a modern time machine! This little-known place has been nicknamed Little Edo (Edo is the old name for Tokyo) because of its numerous historical warehouses. Today the area is a fun and historical day trip from Tokyo, for travelers and locals alike. An interesting fact is that the Kita-in Temple in Kawagoe is literally made up of the only remaining parts of the Edo Castle. After a great fire, the shogunate carried parts of the castle on foot all the way from central Tokyo up to Kawagoe to reconstruct the temple. Now you can impress your friends with interesting little things about Kawagoe ... You're welcome!

13. Kamakura

A practicing Buddhist temple 📸 @sanviar

The coastal city of Kamakura was once the military capital of Japan. The origin of the samurai culture as we know it today lies in this area. Kamakura is also one of the birthplaces of Japanese Zen Buddhism. Many of the temples that have promoted such spiritual teachings still practice the basics of the Buddha's teachings there. Usually you think Kamakura is only worth a day trip, but the area has an abundance of activities that can last several days. With bamboo grooves and ancient temples, Kamakura can really come up with all sorts of reasons why travelers make pilgrimages to Kyoto.

With the lively beaches, dodgy shopping streets and the local, good food, this place is guaranteed to be something for everyone. Whatever you do, don't miss out on nearby Enoshima! It is an extraordinary and breathtaking pleasure.

14. Hakone

Paddling on Lake Ashi📸 @ ic.theworld

Hakone is a popular destination with great views of Mt. Fuji - if the weather is on your side! It can be both a great day trip and an overnight destination. It is famous for its hot springs, but it also has a lot to offer when it comes to relaxation. Imagine touring the boiling sulfur pits on a cable car, crossing Lake Ashi on a pirate boat, or taking a look at the mountains from a gondola - we said it has a lot to offer! The volcanically active area that surrounds Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is known for its hot springs and views of Mount Fuji.

15. Mt. Fuji

Mount Fuji is truly breathtaking 📸 @m_gonmori

In recent years, Japan's largest active volcano has drawn adventure seekers from all over the world. On Mt. Fuji, the climbing season officially begins at the beginning of July every summer and continues until mid-September. During this short time window there is relatively little snowfall on the mountain and the weather is rather mild. But be careful, it's not all easy peasy: despite its beauty, Mt. Fuji is a demanding beast. If you want to start an attempt to defeat it, please inform yourself thoroughly beforehand and pay attention to your physical well-being, your condition and your ability to perform. Nothing ruins a vacation more than the experience of a helicopter rescue from the mountain ... nobody wants to be that person!

16. Nagoya

Nagoya Castle 📸 @ mochi.bomb

Nagoya is the largest city in central Japan. Even so, many travelers see Nagoya as nothing more than another milestone on the road from Tokyo to Kyoto.

While Nagoya is one of the largest cities, Tokyo and Kyoto often overshadow it when it comes to urban and historical destinations. There are many great and unknown pieces of jewelry in Nagoya! For newbies: The city is home to an impressive castle, which is currently being restored using traditional methods. Nagoya Castle is known to be adorned with golden dolphins or kinshachi. As if that weren't enough, Atsuta Jingu is also located in Nagoya. This shrine is said to be the resting place of the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, a sword that is often hailed as the "Excalibur of the East".

17. Kanazawa

Kanazawa Castle 📸 @eliabarone

It's no secret that Kyoto has become one of the most popular travel destinations on the planet. This fame, however, has also attracted hordes of tourists. Fortunately, there is an alternative: Nestled against the Sea of ​​Japan, Kanazawa is just as historic as Kyoto, only without the overwhelming crowds. The area is also known as "seafood heaven". Don't miss the Ninja-dera Temple! The structure was originally intended as a veiled fortress. It is full of hidden passageways and traps to deter any potential attackers. You'll need to reserve a tour in advance, but it's definitely worth the extra time.

18. Shirakawago

Looks like a fairytale village 📸 @saravinyeta

Shirakawago is a small village in one of the many valleys in Gifu County. This place is known for its incredible, hand-made "gassho-zukuri" buildings. Shirakawago is subject to a large amount of snow in the winter months and the houses have been specially engineered so that they can withstand heavy snowfall. If you want to see what traditional life was like in Japan back then, there is hardly a better place than Shirakawago.

19. Kiso Valley

The pretty town of Magome 📸 @ adventure.through.my.lens

The Kiso Valley is off the typical tourist trail, but ironically WAS on those same trails. One of the two main highways between Tokyo and Kyoto, the Nakasendo, once zigzagged through these mountains and transported countless merchants for hundreds of years.

Today, large parts of the old road are still preserved and are a great hiking adventure. Furthermore, the surrounding cities of Magome and Tsumago have tried very hard to recreate an authentic environment that allows one to imagine and experience life during the Middle Ages. Cool right ?! If outdoor activities are your thing, this is a must!

20. East Kyoto

Picture book sunset 📸 @hash_krash

The Kiso Valley is off the typical tourist trail, but ironically WAS on those same trails. One of the two main highways between Tokyo and Kyoto, the Nakasendo, once zigzagged through these mountains and transported countless merchants for hundreds of years.

Today large parts of the old road are still preserved and are a great hiking adventure. Furthermore, the surrounding cities of Magome and Tsumago have tried very hard to recreate an authentic environment that allows one to imagine and experience life during the Middle Ages. Cool right ?! If outdoor activities are your thing, this is a must!

21. Arashiyama

Look up! 📸 @foundnouns

While most of Kyoto's main attractions are in the east, for the perfect "bamboo forest" experience you will need to drive over to Arashiyama to the west. This particular area has long been popular as a natural recreational area dating back to the Heian era. In addition to the overwhelming bamboo forest, you should also explore Tenryu-ji Temple and Iwayatama Monkey Park. You should plan at least half a day for Arashiyama.

22. Osaka

Crowds at Shinsaibashi 📸 @larebve

Dotonbori and the nearby Shinsaibashi shopping arcades are two of the major shopping areas in southern Osaka. There is plenty of amazing street food and other fun things to do in this area: many say it is a must-see when in Osaka. Keep your eyes peeled for the Glico sign overlooking the bridge. It is a major attraction and landmark of the Dotonbori area. Tennoji is another key area of ​​Osaka and takes its name from the famous Shitenno-ji Temple (which means "Temple of the Four Holy Kings"). In addition to this popular attraction, the area is also home to the 300 meter high Abeno Harukas skyscraper. If you're a fan of urban landscapes and high altitude regions, there is no better place in all of Japan!

23. Nara Park

Bambi + crew. 📸 @omniyafareed

About an hour south of Osaka is Nara Park, famous for its adorable and mischievous deer. In addition to these wild animals, Nara Park also has two very important cultural properties: The Giant Bussha at Todai-ji Temple and the Kasuga Grand Shrine. If you are planning to come to Nara, it is better to start early, as many of the attractions close at 5 p.m. So come here before lunch so you have enough time to meander through the deer and be deeply impressed by the park!

24. Hiroshima