Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

Japan’s Must-See Sights

Japan is a cultural mecca where the modern and traditional coexist with style and flair. Not only is Japan rich in history and culture, it also is a land of contrasting natural scenery and some unique and modern tech parks and shopping experiences. If you’re thinking of a Japan vacation, here are the best sights and cities to visit in the “Land of the Rising Sun”:


Tokyo has it all! Explore sites such as the Imperial Palace, grand temples, the bustling business district, Shibuya Crossing, Disneyland, fish market, and Tokyo Tower, to name a few. Visit Tokyo’s Old Town, including the ancient Asakusa Kannon Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most sacred temple.

Tokyo City Skyline at Sunset, Japan
Tokyo city skyline at sunset


Kyoto is the former capital of Japan and home to emperors till 1868. Some of its major attractions are Nijo Castle, Kyoto Railway Museum, Sento Palace, Imperial palace, Nanzeji Temple, Philosophers Path, Nishiki Market, and Higashiyama District.


The 16th-century shogunate, Osaka Castle, is Osaka’s main historical landmark, surrounded by a moat and park featuring plum, peach, and cherry trees. Osaka is also the birthplace of many of Japan’s cultural art forms, such as Kabuki theatre and the tea ceremony.

Osaka Castle in Osaka, Japan
Osaka Castle


Featuring Todaji Temple, Omizutaro, and many other temples and gardens, Nara is a picturesque city which closely follows Kyoto for the richness and beauty of its temples, shrines, and gardens. Although possible to visit Nara as a daytrip from Kyoto and Osaka, its eight UNESCO World Heritage sites are worth a longer stay to explore.


Hiroshima is the epicentre of a poignant time in world’s history, as it is where the first atomic bomb was dropped, in 1945. But this modern, clean, open city offers more than just memories, with its Peace Memorial Park. A bustling port city of over one million people, has reconstructed its castle and famous gardens, and features Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Shukkeien Garden, Hiroshima Castle, and Miyajima Island.

Atomic Bomb Dome in Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan
Atomic Bomb Dome in Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima


Almost completely destroyed by US air raids in World War II, Nagoya Castle is famous for its huge, fan-shaped sloping stone walls. Nagoya’s Korankei Valley is reputed to be one of the best spots for autumn colours. Just outside Nagoya is the Toyota Automobile Museum that will delight car lovers.


Yokohama is Japan’s second largest port and luxury cruise destination. Historically, the city has been Japan’s gateway to the world, giving it a cosmopolitan flavour. Discover the city’s Sankeien Garden, Chinatown, and Raumen Museum.

Aerial View of Cityscape and Bay at Minato Mirai Waterfront District, Yokohama, Japan
Aerial view of cityscape and bay at Minato Mirai Waterfront District, Yokohama


This seaside Japanese city just south of Tokyo is home to the Great Buddha – a 53 metres high bronze statue still standing after a 15th-century tsunami. The city is also home to many temples, such as the magnificent Hokokuji, as well as a beautiful hiking trail and beach area.


This scenic area is home and famous to some amazing hot springs and serves as a base to Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi. Hakone is one of the most popular tourist destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break. On your Japan vacation, make a visit here for some traditional Japanese relaxation.

Mount Fuji, Red Torii Gate, and Lake Ashinoko, Hakone, Japan
Mount Fuji, Red Torii Gate, and Lake Ashinoko, Hakone


Visit the Sapporo Snow Festival and take to the hills at scenic ski resorts in the area. Explore Art Park, Sapporo Beer Museum, Botanical Gardens, and the Susukino entertainment district for incredible nightlife.


Nagano is famous for Zenko-Ji Buddhist Temple, which overlooks the city. It is the base for some local sights such as the Snow Monkey Park. This park is famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques who relax and play in hot springs. Nagano is also home to Matsumoto Castle and the Hakuba ski area.

Snow Monkeys Bathe in Hot Springs Nagano, Japan
Snow Monkeys bathing in the hot springs

With so many sights and options, your Japan vacation will offer a real glimpse into this historically and culturally rich country in Asia.

For more travel ideas or to help plan your Japan vacation, please contact us or visit our website at

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Asia General Manager - At age 20, Diane set off to backpack the world as a solo woman traveller. She spent a year travelling through Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific, only to return home for a brief respite before spending 2 years travelling overland from Guadalajara, Mexico down to Rio, Brazil – making every stop in between. Diane has since retired that backpack but not her passion for travel. She’s made a career out of telling people where to go, and continues to traverse the globe. She’s been to all 7 continents and more than 75 countries.

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