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most beautiful places to visit in Japan

15 of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan

Beautiful, mystical and extraordinary in equal measures Japan, usually known for industrialization, is also home to historic shrines, temples, architecture, world-class restaurants, imperial palaces and natural wonders in the world. In short, it has something to offer for everyone and a visit here I promise a visit to this extraordinary Asian country will create unforgettable memories that you will cherish for an entire lifetime. From my many visits to this incredible country, this is my personal choice for 15 of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan…

Kyoto – a gorgeous place to visit in Japan filled with gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses

 Kinkakuji Temple Kyoto in Japan

Kyoto - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Kyoto is one of the most favourite Japanese cities for tourists. From the iconic temples, palaces, bamboo forests, delightful gardens to the rich and the vibrant culture, Kyoto is surely going to be a highlight of your journey.

Some of the famous points to sightsee in Koyoto includes temples of Kinkaku-Ji, Ginkaku-Ji, Kyyomiza-dera, and the Arashiyama bamboo forest. Check out my detailed article on What to do in Kyoto.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Kyoto

Tokyo – the fun, vibrant, quirky and bustling capital of Japan

Beautiful places to visit in Tokyo

Cool Tokyo - places to visit in Japan

Tokyo, home to around 12 million inhabitants and the country’s capital, is a popular tourist area of Japan. It is also the eastern capital of the world. The city boasts many eating and shopping places. Although it’s known for many things, public transportation is one thing that supersedes everything else.

You can go anywhere in the city via train. Tokyo is also famous for its Anime productions, Harajuku fashion and its keen eye for quirkiness! You’ll have a lot of fun here I promise! Check out how to backpack Tokyo in this great guide.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Tokyo

Matsue – the stunning area known as the ‘samurai city’

Matsue - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Matsue, the samurai city, boasts charming cultural and historic sights including a lovely castle and some museums including the intriguing Inari Shrine’s fox statues.

Located on the Lake Shinji shores, it would give you an old-fashioned feeling as fishermen are seen catching fish by casting their nets in the lake. The peaceful environment of the city would make you spend more time than usual.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Matsue

Nara – home to 8th-century temples and artwork and super cute deer

Nara - most beautiful places to visit in Japan

Nara, famous for devout Buddhists, is another beautiful city in Japan. You will find several temples and museums depicting the history.

Apart from historic places, you will also see wild animals running around the city (specifically deer which roam in Nara Park, site of Tōdai-ji temple).

Hotels and Airbnbs in Nara

Hakone and Mount Fuji – a gorgeous mountainous town known for its hot springs resorts and Japan’s famous volcano

Mount Fuji - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Hakone Japan

Hakone, famous for Mount Fuji, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan. However, sightseeing Mount Fuji is not easy as it’s mostly hidden by clouds.

However, there are many landmarks where you can see this mountain. Moreover, Hakone has many other things to do other than sightseeing Mount Fuji to promise a great time. There are different transport modes available from the train, bus to boat and cable car which makes looping through other sights fun and easy.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Hakone and Mount Fuji

Osaka – a large port city with great street food and gardens

Osaka - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Osaka - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Osaka is more than just a port city. It is home to Universal Studios Japan and it’s a particularly beautiful place in Japan with a mix of the modern and the traditional.

Other attractions include the Dotonbori Bridge and the Osaka Castle Park. It also has several eating places from restaurants, foot cars to shops. There is a Kids Plaza that is a must-visit for families traveling with children.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Osaka

Himeji – home to the centuries-old, white Himeji Castle

Himeji Japan

beautiful Himeji Japan

This city is easily one of the most stunning places to go in Japan and Himeji-jo Castle is the main attraction of the city. You will also find various samurai houses with beautiful gardens in the surroundings of this castle.

In addition to this castle, you can visit a couple of museums for a history lesson. Like all the other Japanese cities, you will find the usual temples, restaurants, and shrines scattered throughout the city.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Himeji

Beppu – a city known for its spectacular hot springs and spa resorts

Beppu - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Beppu is famous for the hot springs (onsens). There are about 3000 springs in the city that keeps it busy with tourists.

The mist and steam of the springs give a magical air to the town. In addition to the hot springs, it also has amazing architecture.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Beppu

Kobe – known for being one of the most vibrant cities to visit in Japan

Kobe - beautiful places to visit Japan

Kobe - beautiful places to visit in Japan

Kobe is an attractive city located on a hillside, between water and the Mount Rokko. This was one of the port cities of Japan. You will find religious buildings of every major religion in the city.

The city offers excellent restaurants and cafes with a busy nightlife to make for quality time! Some famous sights are also situated nearby which can be explored by using Kobe as a gateway.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Kobe

Nikko – a beautiful city in Japan known for its shrines and stunning natural landscapes

Nikko beautiful Japan

Nikko Japan

Nikko, located a few hours away to the North of Tokyo, has some UNESCO World Heritage sites. Most of the sites are found on the hillside. Toshogu Shrine is one of the major attractions in Nikko.

It has beautifully decorated red and gold buildings in between the ancient cedar trees. The temple town is also famous for its lovely autumn colors.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Nikko

Nagasaki – a city set on a large natural harbor which is known for its wartime tragedies

Nagasaki beautiful Japan

Nagasaki Japan

Nagasaki, usually known for the atomic bombings during WWII, is a picturesque city located amidst hills, For this reason, you will find various museums and memorials dedicated to the horrors and destruction caused by the atomic bombs.

However, Nagasaki is more than just a war-affected city. It depicts a mix of western and eastern culture and is home to many churches and temples.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Nagasaki

Koya-san – a small but scenic town which is home to a huge temple settlement

Koya-san - places to go in Japan

Koya-san - places to visit in Japan

Koya-san is a secluded yet interesting small temple town located amidst the forest-covered mountains of Kansai. It is a great place for exploring the traditional side of the country.

Get a taste of ‘life as a monk’ by staying in a temple lodging. A temple stay will make for a great experience. You can plan your tour to this town from Osaka or Kyoto.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Koya-san

Tsumago – a protected place which feels like an open-air museum village

Tsumago - places to visti in Japan

Tsumago is a beautiful mountain village in the Kiso valley. It is one of the best towns in Japan that are preserved to take you back in time, with traffic-free streets and well preserved wooden inns.

Tsumago also offers hiking trails for adventure lovers.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Tsumago

Kamakura – a seaside Japanese city which was once the political center of medieval Japan

Kamakura - attractions in Japan

Kamakura is worth visiting if you want something different from the usual surroundings of the big city. It is home to the famous Kotoku-temple, several hiking trails, the lush scenery and the beautiful bamboo forests.

All this makes it a great place for nature enthusiasts.

Hotels and Airbnbs in Kamakura

Sendai – a vibrant city known for its festivals

Sendai Japan

Sendai is known for the famous festivals that are held every year. Located in the Tohuku region, the city gives a detailed look into the local culture and is mostly used as a gateway city for exploring the nearby wilderness. The city’s leafy streets are always filled with tourists who love visiting it for Tanabata Matsuri (star festival).

The city has an active nightlife. You can also visit the nearby hot springs and the city of Matsushima (famous for some of the most breathtaking views in Japan).

Hotels and Airbnbs in Sendai

15 of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan is written by guest blogger Isabel from Bel Around the World. Full-time travel blogger and digital nomad roaming the world at whim, Isabel draws energy from being outdoors. She believes there is nothing more fulfilling than being unplugged. An explorer at heart, the world is her playground. She chronicles her travel adventures and budget tips on her fantastic blog! 

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.


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