Top 25 Places To Visit In Japan - Updated 2024

places to visit in japan
Alex
Alex 
Updated
| 11 min read

Japan is one of the hottest spots for tourism, and the number of people who want to see the Land of the Rising Sun is steadily increasing. Japan is an interesting place for every kind of traveler because it has something to offer everyone, including history, art, nature, and technology. It might not be the biggest country in Asia, but it is full of cool things to see and do, with every little town and city offering something new and unique. If you’re planning a visit to soon and don’t know where to start, here are some of the best places to visit in Japan.

1. Koya-san

places to visit in japan | koya-san
Source: www.klook.com

If you’re looking to escape to the countryside then consider checking out the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Koya, located near the city of Kyoto. The area is a large temple with many shrines and places of worship, ideal for those who practice Buddhism. There are a lot of important places to discover here. Check out the temple of Kongobuji and the mausoleum of Kobo Dashi, a Japanese monk who is known to be the founder of Shingon Buddhism.

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Mount Koya Day Tour from Kyoto, Japan - Klook

Duration: 11hrs15 Min Duration

2. Kanazawa (from USD 108.0)

Kanazawa
Source: Mayumi T

You will feel like you stepped back in time at Kanazawa. The area is famed for its castles and the samurai district, and you might even catch a glimpse of the famed geishas who walk this city’s streets. Learn about the history of this special area and visit the homes where former samurais lived. The nearby Kanazawa Castle is also here for you to discover, along with the beautiful walk up Utatsu Mountain. Make sure to bring your camera.

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Kanazawa Half Day Tour (Private Guide)

Duration: 4 hours

155 reviews

3. Takayama (from USD 53.0)

In the mountainous Hida region of Japan is the beautiful little town of Takayama. With its traditional houses and thatched-roof cottages, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time or you just transported yourself to a Japanese fairy tale. Takayama is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is certainly beautiful all year round, so make sure to visit either in the summer and the winter.

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Shirakawa Village and Takayama Day Tour Philippines

Duration: 14hrsDuration

4. Tokyo (from USD 55.0)

Tokyo
Source: 木村 優光

No list about the best places to visit in Japan would be complete without a visit to the world’s most bustling metropolis. Tokyo became the capital after 1868 and was actually known as Edo before then. Today, the city offers an endless amount of entertainment, food, and shopping opportunities. You could spend an entire month here and still not experience everything. Make sure to see some of the temples, gardens, and shrines and taste as much of the food as you can.

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Tokyo Private Welcome Tour with a Local

Duration: 3.0 to 8.0 hour

370 reviews

5. Naoshima (from USD 312.0)

Naoshima
Source: 今村 裕紀

Located in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima is certainly a quirky place that is probably not on many people’s radar when planning a visit to Japan. Naoshima is a warm place, with sunny, Mediterranean-type weather. What makes this place stand out are the peculiar art installations found around the island. Check out these installations and visit some of the museums while you’re here.

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Private Tour: Visit Naoshima Art Island with an Expert

Duration: 8 hours

9 reviews

6. Osaka (from USD 55.0)

places to visit in japan | osaka

After Tokyo, Osaka is the next largest city in Japan. So you’d be pretty hard-pressed to not find something fun to enjoy in this amazing and bustling city! It was once known as Naniwa and was previously the capital of the country before the Nara period. In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi chose to build his castle here, meaning Osaka could have been the capital if it wasn’t moved to Edo soon after. The massive city has tons to offer, from parks and green spaces to a ton of great food options and some of the best nightlife scenes in Japan

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Welcome to Osaka: Private Tour with a Local Host

Duration: 2.0 hour

71 reviews

7. Onomichi

Senkōji, Onomichi
Source: Photo by Flickr user x768 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Onomichi is located just east of Hiroshima, and if you’re looking to get out of the city for a bit, definitely head here. The quaint little area is mountainous and is known for its slopes and the spread of the town on the mountain. Walk up the narrow residential lanes on the hills and explore the temples in the area. Onomichi has something known as the “temple walk” that will take you through all the shrines and temples in the area.

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Onomichi & Tomonoura Sightseeing Tour with Noh Theater Experience in Hiroshima - Klook

Duration: 6hrsDuration

8. Kumano Kodo

Kumano Kodo
Source: 塚本 隆司

Pack your hiking boots or walking shoes, because Kumano Kodo is a long stretch of trail that is both historically and culturally important. Located in the Kansai region, this pilgrimage trail is a UNESCO designation and has been in use for over 1,000 years. The trail is spread out over the Kii Peninsula and has three important shrines known as Kumano shrines. Pilgrims from all over the country have come here to walk the trail, and if you’re going to do it yourself, be aware that the trails often go through some rough terrain.

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9. Izu Peninsula

Izu Peninsula
Source: 藤田 聡

If you’re the type of traveler looking to relax and just hang out, maybe try checking the areas around the Izu Peninsula - it’s known for enjoying nice weather and having great resorts, hot springs, beaches, and scenic mountains. If you’re coming from Tokyo and you’re looking to get away from the city for a few days and relax in a more quiet and calm place, Izu Peninsula is actually just 100 km (62 miles) southwest of the capital. The iconic Mount Fuji is only 50 km (31 miles) to the north of here and can actually be seen if you head to the western tip of the peninsula. Check out the beaches and hot springs, and maybe even take a stroll along the rugged coastline.

Jogaski Coast Hiking, Izu Peninsula

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10. Kurashiki

Kurashiki

Kurashiki is located in Okayama and is a place that’s like a blast from the past. The city dates back to the Edo period, with stone structures and famous canal ways that date back to the 1600s. The city was famed for its rice distribution, making it an important center for commerce during the Edo period. The name “Kurashiki” actually roughly translates to the “town of storehouses.” The former stone storehouses have since been turned into museums and galleries as well as some boutiques and cafes.

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Okayama Kurashiki Private Rickshaw Tour, Osaka, Japan - Klook Philippines

Duration: 10 Min - 2hrsDuration

11. Hakone (from USD 86.0)

Ashi Lake

Hakone is only a trip away from Tokyo if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Located about 100 km (62 miles) away from Tokyo’s center, Hakone is a hot spot - literally! Known for its hot springs and natural beauty, this destination has some magnificent views of Lake Ashinoko. Mount Fuji is also nearby if you’re looking to get a glimpse of the iconic Japanese landmark. Take a break from the city and soothe away your stress at one Hakone’s many hot springs.

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Mt. Fuji and Hakone Day Trip from Tokyo Philippines

Duration: 11hrsDuration

12. Nara (from USD 55.0)

Nara
Source: 渡部 洋一

In 710, Japan established its first permanent capital at Heijo. Before this period, the capitals changed whenever a new emperor ascended the throne. Over time, the city changed its name to Nara and the capital moved with it, going to Nagaoka and finally to Kyoto. Nara is one of the best places to visit, with plenty of culture and a fascinating history of Buddhist monasteries. It is also home to some of Japan’s greatest and oldest temples, and if you’re in Kyoto or Osaka and you’re looking to get out of the city, Nara is only an hour away.

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Nara Like a Local: Customized Guided Tour

Duration: 2.0 to 6.0 hour

30 reviews

13. Nikko (from USD 102.0)

Nikko
Source: 藤田 聡

Built back in the 1600s, Nikko is a little town at the entrance of Nikko National Park. If you’re an international traveler and you’re looking to see something off the beaten path, consider checking this place out. What makes this little town so interesting is that it is famous for Toshogu. Toshogu is Japan’s most ornately decorated shrine and is the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate. Before any of this, Nikko was an important center for Buddhism and Shinto beliefs. The beautiful Nikko National Park is home to mountains and stunning natural landscapes. Head here around the fall months and watch the leaves change color. You will surely enjoy going on a hike through this ancient place.

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Nikko 1-Day Bus Tour :World Heritage of Nikko Toshogu,Lake Chuzenji,Kegon Falls

Duration: 11 hours

629 reviews

14. The Kiso Valley (from USD 68.85)

The Kiso Valley is located in the Nagano Prefecture, just along the mountains nearby. Historically, the area was important for trade, with a large trail going through the valley that’s been used for hundreds of years. During the Edo period, many of the nearby towns and places amalgamated through the valley trail and connected through trade. Because of some restrictions by the Shogunate at the time, traders had to travel by foot, which led to little towns being established along the way where people stopped to rest. To this day, a few of these smaller towns still look like they did during the Edo period.

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Eihō-ji, Ena Valley, Magome-juku and Tsumago-juku Day Tour From Nagoya

Duration: 10hrsDuration

32 reviews

15. Okinawa (from USD 51.89)

Okinawa

Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost prefecture, and for those who don’t know, Okinawa is not part of mainland Japan. The prefecture is made up of mostly a few dozen islands. The span of the island chain covers about 1,000 km (621 miles) - all the way from Kyushu to Taiwan. Okinawa is the place to go if you’re looking for a tropical holiday. It has some of the most beautiful beaches around, plus some magnificently colorful coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. From a historical perspective, the islands that make up the area are known as the Ryukyu islands, and for centuries they were barely even Japanese - the local language was different, as well as food, culture, and traditions.

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Okinawa Hip Hop Bus One Day Tour

Duration: 1 Day(s) Duration

16. Nagano (from USD 55.0)

Nagano was once home to the Winter Olympics, and if you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you’re in luck, because there are a ton of great amenities here for people who are into snowboarding, skiing, ice skating and tons of other activities. Nagano first became a city when the people who lived here built it around the Zenkoji temple. It’s a forested place in the mountains and is truly a beautiful city, bringing in many tourists and visitors who come to see the shrines and temples. Nagano is also home to a famed Ninja school called Togakure. Check out the museums dedicated to ninja culture and learn about this often misunderstood aspect of Japanese history.

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Nagano Like a Local: Customized Private Tour

Duration: 2 to 6 hours

1 review

17. Nagoya (from USD 151.0)

Nagoya Castle
Source: Photo by Flickr user knhiraoka used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Nagoya has over two million residents, making it one of Japan’s largest cities. It first developed as a metropolis due to the castle in its center. Since then, the place grew into a major industrial center, as it is also strategically located on the Nobi Plain. Owari Castle was home to one of the three branches of the Tokugawa family during the Edo period. The city suffered greatly during World War II, with many buildings being destroyed, but it has since made the effort to rebuild many of the iconic structures that once stood here.

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Nagoya Private Walking Tour

Duration: 6 hours

17 reviews

18. Kobe (from USD 210.95)

Kobe
Source: 阿部 吾郎

More than just home to some of the world’s best beef, Kobe is the capital of the Hyogo Prefecture and is located between the beautiful Rokko Mountain Range and the sea. Because of its location as a port city, it has been important for commerce for centuries. When Japan opened up its borders after a period known as “Sekoku”, Kobe was one of the first cities to open itself up to foreign trade. For a long time, it has been considered one of Japan’s most beautiful cities. Be sure to explore the areas on the waterfront, and don’t forget to indulge a little and have a steak or two.

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Kobe: Eat Like a Local Private & Personalized Food Tour

Duration: 4.0 hour

19. Miyajima (from USD 358.0)

Miyajima
Source: 政田 マリ

Miyajima is located just outside of Hiroshima and is mostly known for its giant floating torii gate. Miyajima is itself a pretty low-key town, with many people visiting during the day to see the floating gate. At night time, the whole place is very peaceful and quiet. This place is also known for its friendly wild deer. The deer have no problem approaching humans and usually wander around the same spaces the humans do!

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Hiroshima and Miyajima Full-Day Sightseeing Tour from Osaka

Duration: 13 hours 10 minutes

92 reviews

20. Ishigaki (from USD 51.0)

Ishigaki
Source: Pixabay

Ishigaki is part of the chain of islands around Okinawa. For those who are not familiar with Japan’s geography, this part of the country is absolutely stunning, with tropical sunsets and sandy white beaches. Its distance from mainland Japan makes it a pretty different place while still being familiar enough. Head out to a different beach every day and do some snorkeling or take a hike through one of the island’s many trails and discover Ishigaki from all sides. This destination is your tropical island in the Pacific, and you’ll feel like you’re on your own deserted island.

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[Ishigaki] Sunrise SUP/Canoe Tour

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

30 reviews

21. Hiroshima (from USD 135.21)

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is historically an important city in Japan, mostly due to some of its more recent history. Hiroshima was one of two cities to suffer the effects of the atomic bomb during World War II, and although that was more than 70 years ago now and the city has changed, there are places that memorialize the traumatic event. Home to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, this city is a must-visit for history buffs.

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Hiroshima & Miyajima UNESCO Tour

Duration: 7 to 12 hour

73 reviews

22. Shirakawago (from USD 82.22)

Shirakawago
Source: 渡部 洋一

Shirakawago is located in the mountains and is a great place to spend a winter vacation hanging out in the snow and doing a little snowboarding or skiing. The area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and although the area is popular for winter tourists, it’s also pretty historic, with houses and structures that are over 250 years old. The old thatched roofs are said to look like the hands of Buddhist monks in prayer, and when they’re covered in snow, it adds a certain charm to the place. The villages around here are a small and great option for those looking to get out of the city and stay somewhere a little quieter.

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Nagoya: Hida Takayama & World Heritage Shirakawa-go Day Tour

Duration: 11.0 hour

92 reviews

23. Kamakura (from USD 100.55)

Kamakura
Source: 木村 優光

Kamakura is home to many temples, shrines, and perhaps more famously, the last vestiges of the samurai. This city is surrounded by mountains and nature and is where previous samurai clans lived and administered. Check out Hase-Dera Temple or visit one of the many small shrines and temples during your visit to this fascinating place in Japan.

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Kamakura: 5-Hour Nature and History Walking Tour

Duration: 5 hour

3 reviews

24. Kyoto (from USD 148.28)

kyoto

Kyoto is one of the country’s largest cities and is also historically important, serving as the residence of the country’s emperors from 794 to 1868. The city is important culturally, with many shrines and temples, and also due to its age and significance - it narrowly escaped being a target by the atomic bombs that devastated Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Be sure to visit this place, which is known as one of Japan’s oldest and most culturally important cities.

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From Kyoto: Full-Day UNESCO and Historical Sites Tour

Duration: 9 hour

442 reviews

25. Hokkaido (from USD 92.0)

Hokkaido
Source: 月宮 うさ

Hokkaido is the northernmost and least populated area in Japan. It is known as Japan’s winter wonderland, as it experiences harsher winters compared to the rest of the country. That being said, Hokkaido is great for nature lovers because there are tons of beautiful, pristine mountains perfect for snowboarding and trails for hiking and biking. There are even some great camping spots fit for both winter and summer.

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Hokkaido's Top Sightseeing of Farm Tomita, Shikisai no Oka in Biei & Blue Pond!

Duration: 10 hours

3 reviews

Discover Japan

People from all over the world want to know what Japan has to offer. So much so that it is one of the world’s leading tourist hotspots, with people from all across the globe looking to make it their next vacation destination. Discover all that Japan has to offer, from electric and bustling cities to quaint towns and beautiful mountain resorts. Whether you’re into sports and recreation, food and nightlife or are just looking to relax in a hot spring and just take it easy, there is something for every kind of traveler here.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Alex is a Canadian university graduate with degrees in English literature and History. He was born in Montreal and when he's not traveling he enjoys movies, video games, playing the drums and...Read more

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