City life, sacred history, natural beauty – Japan has it all. You truly could spend a lifetime exploring Japan, but here are a few of the many amazing places you should see on your next visit.
Nikko is one of eastern Japan’s most important cultural spots. The main attraction is the Toshogu Shrine, where Tokugawa Ieyasu is enshrined. Nearby, you’ll find a theme park called Edo Wonderland, created to mimic Japan’s medieval era.
Once the military capital of Japan, the seaside town of Kamakura is a must-see. The area was responsible for the rise of modern samurai culture, as well as Japanese Zen Buddhism. Kamakura also features lively beaches, shopping, good food, bamboo groves and ancient temples. You could easily dedicate more than a day to exploring Kamakura.
While in Tokyo, you should pay a visit to Asakusa, an area that is home to a number of small temples, including the majestic Senso-ji Temple. In the same area, you can find the Nakamise shopping block, the Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi Beer Hall.
For a view like no other, spend sunrise at Takeda Castle at Asago, Hyogo Prefecture. The morning mist surrounding the castle is magical. The castle itself was built in 1443, but was abandoned by the 17th century.
Japan is known for its cherry blossoms. If you visit during the spring, Hitsujiyama Park is a must. Hitsujiyama Park’s Shibazakura Hill features a lawn of cherry blossoms with 400,000 trees and beautiful Mount Buko in the background.
In late April to early May, you can also see the Kawachi Fujien wisteria garden in Kitakyushu. There are 22 types of wispy wisteria, including two stunning tunnels of wisteria vines.
Arashiyama is Japan’s quintessential bamboo forest. You can also see the Tenryu-ji temple while visiting the popular natural retreat.
At the Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Nagano, you can witness monkeys relaxing in hot springs. Although you can’t join the monkeys in the springs, you can live vicariously through them to pretend you’re having your own spa day.
Located in Nara Prefecture, Nara Park is where you can interact with 1,200 friendly deer. The deer are a national treasure, thought to be messengers of the Shinto gods. You can purchase deer food within Nara Park to feed the deer. The park is also home to two cultural assets, the Giant Buddha at Todai-ji temple and the Kasuga Grand Shrine.
Japan beautifully entwines history, nature and modern life. This list barely scratches the surface of Japan’s many incredible sites, but it is a good place to start. I hope your next visit to Japan is everything you imagined.