Japan offers the opportunity to see a vibrant modern society and a contrasting traditional way of life. From neon-lit skyscrapers and ultra modern cities, to historic temples and shrines, it is a country full of attractions and contradictions.

Final of the grand Sumo tournament in Nagoya.

Japan is a great destination for all sort of travelers seeking adventure, culture, natural attractions, city life, and all thing in between. Japan often surprises travelers in many ways. Most strikingly is probably how safe and crime free the country feels, and how polite the people are! But also how modern it is! Yet the Japanese culture is shrouded in this fabric of antiquity with exquisite etiquette.

Here are some quick highlights of Japan.

Attractions: The 3 imperial cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara, plus Hiroshima, and Osaka offer a full list of temples, shrines and history-filled attractions. Mount Fuji and Sensō-ji (Tokyo), Kinkaku-ji temple and Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine (Kyoto) are some must see places.

Itinerary: For a 3 days stay Tokyo is enough. For a one week trip, it is possible to add Kyoto. For two weeks or more, Hiroshima, Osaka, and Nara are worth the visit among other places. Read More

Food: Sushi, Sashimi, Unagi, Udon, Sukiyaki, and Oden. Read More

Famous people: Former emperor Akihito, artist Yoko Ono, video games designer Hideo Kojima, Sumo wrestler Taihō Kōki, and the ever famous Ninja 🙂

Recommended books: “The Remains of the Day” of 2017 Nobel prize winner writer Ishiguro, “1Q84” by famous writer Murakami Haruki and “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu considered as the first novel even written in the 11 century.

Recommended music: B’z, and AKB48.

Recommended movies: Spirited away (IMDb), and Grave of the fireflies (IMDb).

Visitor tip: A Japan Rail Pass is worth buying (japan rail). It can only be bought outside the country and be activated upon arrival. Although it costs about $300 for 7 days pass for unlimited trips within Japan, it really pays off just after 2 train rides; like going from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Ranking: ★★★★★ Read more

1. Tokyo

Typical Tokyo street.

Tokyo offers the opportunity to see a vibrant modern society and a contrasting traditional Japanese way of life. From neon-lit skyscrapers to historic temples, to trendy neighborhood, and busy shopping district, it is a city full of attractions. Must see top attractions of Tokyo are:  The Sensō-ji Temple, The Imperial Palace, the major shopping and electronics district Akihabara. Also worth seeing are: Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, The Meiji Shrine, The Tokyo Skytree, and Shibuya Pedestrian Crossing. Read More.

2. Kyoto

Kinkaku-ji temple near Kyoto.

Kyoto is one of Japan’s largest cities and one the best tourist destinations in Japan and has a much different vibe than Tokyo as it has preserved much of the atmosphere of the past, having been the only major Japanese city to escape the devastation of WWII. Read more.

3. Hiroshima

In a matter of seconds, Hiroshima was completely wiped out in 1945, with over 70,000 people killed instantly, and an equal number died later from the fatal injuries of the radiation. Everything was destroyed except for few buildings, one of them was an Industrial Promotion Hall. Today Hiroshima has moved on and one can hardly tell, such an event took place there. As sobering as it is, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is worth a visit. Near Hiroshima it is worth visiting Itsukushima Floating Torii gate. Read more.

4. Osaka

Osaka castle (image).

Osaka is known for its food as the “the nation’s kitchen”. It is also a very modern city similar to Tokyo with neon-lit districts, traditional temples, parks! Places to not miss are the Osaka Castle, Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, Dotonbori and many others.

5. Nara

An old photo of Nara in 1994 (source).

Nara was Japan’s capital and has significant temples and artwork from the 8th century, when it was Japan’s capital.

Don’t miss these if you have time:

Mount Fuji: great for a day hiking and sightseeing near Tokyo.

Sumo tournament: Go see a Sumo grand tournament event to experience an old Japanese entertainment and sport. 6 events are held every year. Read more

Japanese Food: One of the best cuisines in the world. Read more

Kanazawa: It is a quieter place to see preserved wooden buildings and maybe geishas if you are lucky.

Related Posts