top of page
  • Kinashi-San

15 Must-Visit Destinations for an Authentic Japanese Experience

Japan is a fascinating country with a rich culture that has captivated the world for centuries. From its breathtaking natural scenery to its bustling cities and ancient temples, there is no shortage of incredible experiences in this East Asian nation.



For anyone planning a trip to Japan, deciding which destinations to include in your itinerary can be overwhelming. With so many options available, it's easy to feel lost in the sea of information. That's why we've compiled a list of 15 must-visit destinations for an authentic Japanese experience. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, this list will help you explore the best that Japan has to offer and make the most of your trip. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare for an unforgettable journey through the Land of the Rising Sun.


Japan is a country unlike any other. With its rich history, fascinating culture, and breathtaking natural beauty, Japan has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the tranquil countryside of Kyoto, Japan offers an incredible range of experiences for travellers of all interests.


However, with so many impressive destinations to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to start your Japanese adventure. That's why we've put together this list of 15 must-visit destinations for an authentic Japanese experience. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, this list will help you make the most of your trip to Japan and explore some of the country's most iconic and unforgettable locations.


By following this list, you'll have the opportunity to experience the best that Japan has to offer, from its vibrant cities to its peaceful temples and shrines. You'll also get a taste of Japanese culture through its food, fashion, and art. And with our tips and advice, you'll be able to navigate Japan's unique customs and traditions with ease, making your trip a truly authentic and memorable experience.


So whether you're planning a short getaway or an extended trip, join us as we explore 15 must-visit destinations for an unforgettable Japanese adventure.



Destinations



If you're looking to experience the best of Japan, these 15 destinations are a must-visit. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, each location offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Here are the 15 must-visit destinations in Japan, in order of importance:


  1. Tokyo

  2. Kyoto

  3. Hiroshima

  4. Nara

  5. Kanazawa

  6. Fukuoka

  7. Hakone

  8. Nagasaki

  9. Takayama

  10. Okinawa

  11. Beppu

  12. Onomichi

  13. Sapporo

  14. Yokohama

  15. Osaka



1. Tokyo



Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and one of the most populous cities in the world. Known for its cutting-edge technology, quirky fashion, and delicious cuisine, Tokyo is a city that never fails to fascinate and excite visitors. From its historic shrines and temples to its modern skyscrapers and neon lights, Tokyo is a city that seamlessly blends the old and the new.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the iconic Tokyo Skytree, one of the tallest towers in the world, for stunning views of the city.

  • Explore the historic Asakusa neighbourhood and its famous Sensō-ji Temple, one of the oldest and most revered temples in Tokyo.

  • Take a stroll through the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.

  • Indulge in some retail therapy in the trendy Harajuku district, famous for its fashion boutiques and quirky street style.

  • Sample some of Tokyo's delicious cuisine, such as sushi, ramen, and wagyu beef, at one of the city's many excellent restaurants.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Purchase a Suica or Pasmo card for easy and convenient access to Tokyo's extensive public transportation system.

  • Consider visiting during the cherry blossom season (late March to early April) or during the autumn foliage season (November) for stunning natural scenery.

  • Check out the many free walking tours available in Tokyo to learn more about the city's history and culture.

  • Be prepared for crowds and lines at popular tourist attractions, and consider visiting early in the morning or on weekdays to avoid the crowds.




2. Kyoto



Kyoto is a city located in the central part of Japan's Honshu island and is known for its traditional Japanese culture, history, and architecture. It was once the capital of Japan and is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and other cultural landmarks.



A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the stunning Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the "Golden Pavilion" which is covered in gold leaf and surrounded by a peaceful garden.

  • Explore the historic Gion district, where you can see traditional tea houses, geisha performances, and local crafts.

  • Take a stroll through the stunning Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a serene and picturesque forest located on the outskirts of Kyoto.

  • Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its thousands of torii gates that lead up a mountain and offer stunning views of Kyoto.

  • Take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, where you can experience the ritual of making and serving matcha tea.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Wear comfortable shoes, as many of the temples and shrines in Kyoto require walking and climbing stairs.

  • Consider purchasing a one-day bus pass or a Kyoto City Subway pass to make getting around the city easier and more affordable.

  • Avoid visiting during peak tourist season (spring and fall) if possible to avoid crowds and higher prices.

  • Respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering temples and shrines.




3. Hiroshima



Hiroshima is a city in western Japan that is known for its tragic history as the site of the world's first atomic bomb attack in 1945. Today, the city serves as a symbol of peace and hope, with numerous memorials and monuments dedicated to the victims of the bombing.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which includes the Peace Memorial Museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Explore the beautiful Shukkei-en Garden, a traditional Japanese garden that dates back to the 17th century.

  • Take a ferry to Miyajima Island, home to the famous Itsukushima Shrine and its iconic "floating" torii gate.

  • Visit Hiroshima Castle, a reconstructed castle that offers stunning views of the city.

  • Try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, a savory pancake filled with noodles, vegetables, and meat or seafood.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Consider taking a guided tour to learn more about Hiroshima's history and culture.

  • Respect the solemn nature of the city's peace memorials and monuments.

  • Take advantage of the Hiroden streetcar system, which offers an affordable and convenient way to get around the city.

  • Visit during the cherry blossom season (late March to early April) or the fall foliage season (November) for stunning natural scenery.




4. Nara



Nara is a small city in the Kansai region of Japan, famous for its ancient temples and friendly deer that roam the streets. It was the first permanent capital of Japan and is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Todaiji Temple, home to the world's largest bronze Buddha statue.

  • Explore Nara Park, where you can interact with friendly deer that are considered sacred in Japanese culture.

  • Visit Kasuga Taisha Shrine, known for its hundreds of bronze and stone lanterns that lead up to the shrine.

  • Take a walk through the Isuien Garden, which features a beautiful pond and traditional tea house.

  • Try Nara's famous kakinoha sushi, a type of sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Be respectful of the deer and avoid feeding them anything other than special deer crackers sold at the park.

  • Consider renting a bicycle to explore the city and its many attractions.

  • Visit in the fall to see the colourful foliage in Nara Park and other locations around the city.

  • Take a guided tour to learn more about Nara's rich history and culture.




5. Kanazawa



Kanazawa is a city located on the west coast of Japan's Honshu island and is known for its traditional crafts, historic districts, and beautiful gardens. It was once a castle town and is home to many well-preserved samurai and geisha districts.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit Kenroku-en Garden, one of Japan's three most beautiful gardens, featuring a large pond and stunning foliage.

  • Explore the Nagamachi Samurai District, where you can see traditional samurai houses and learn about the history of the samurai in Japan.

  • Visit Higashi Chaya District, a beautifully preserved geisha district where you can see traditional teahouses and enjoy tea and sweets.

  • See the Kanazawa Castle, a reconstructed castle that offers stunning views of the city.

  • Visit the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, which features modern art exhibitions and installations.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Consider purchasing the Kanazawa City Pass, which offers discounts on transportation and admission to many of the city's top attractions.

  • Visit during the spring to see the cherry blossoms in Kenroku-en Garden.

  • Try Kanazawa's famous seafood, including sushi and crab.

  • Take a guided tour to learn more about Kanazawa's history and culture.




6. Fukuoka



Fukuoka is a bustling city located on the island of Kyushu and is known for its delicious food, vibrant nightlife, and historic temples.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Kushida Shrine, one of the oldest and most important shrines in Fukuoka.

  • Explore the Fukuoka Castle ruins, which offer beautiful views of the city.

  • Try Fukuoka's famous tonkotsu ramen, a rich and flavorful noodle dish.

  • Visit the Yanagawa Canal, a scenic waterway lined with cherry blossom trees.

  • Take a day trip to the nearby Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, a historic shrine dedicated to the god of learning.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Visit during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival in July, which features impressive floats and traditional performances.

  • Consider purchasing the Fukuoka City Subway Pass, which offers unlimited rides on the subway and discounts on admission to many of the city's top attractions.

  • Take a guided food tour to sample the best of Fukuoka's cuisine.

  • Visit in the spring to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.




7. Hakone



Hakone is a town located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is known for its natural hot springs, beautiful scenery, and views of Mount Fuji.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Relax in one of the town's many hot springs, such as the Tenzan or Yunessun resorts.

  • Take a scenic boat ride on Lake Ashi and enjoy the views of Mount Fuji.

  • Ride the Hakone Tozan Railway, a scenic train that winds through the mountains.

  • Visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum, which features a collection of contemporary sculptures.

  • Walk through the Hakone Shrine, a beautiful Shinto shrine located on the shores of Lake Ashi.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Visit in the fall to see the colourful autumn (fall) foliage.

  • Consider purchasing the Hakone Free Pass, which offers unlimited rides on the town's trains, buses, and boats.

  • Try some of Hakone's famous black eggs, which are boiled in hot springs and said to add seven years to your life.

  • Take a guided tour to learn more about the town's history and culture.


8. Nagasaki



Nagasaki is a city located on the island of Kyushu and is known for its history as a trading port, its connection to Christianity in Japan, and its beautiful views.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, which commemorates the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945.

  • Take a cable car to Mount Inasa for a breathtaking view of the city.

  • Visit the Glover Garden, which features Western-style houses and gardens from the 19th century.

  • Explore the Oura Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches in Japan and a symbol of the city's connection to Christianity.

  • Try Nagasaki's famous champon noodles, a dish with seafood, meat, and vegetables in a savoury broth.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum early in the morning to avoid crowds.

  • Take the cable car to Mount Inasa in the evening to see the city lights.

  • Take a walking tour to learn more about the city's history and culture.




9. Takayama



Takayama is a small city located in the mountainous region of central Japan and is known for its well-preserved traditional neighbourhoods, beautiful nature, and delicious food.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Old Town, which features well-preserved traditional houses and shops.

  • Explore the Hida Folk Village, an open-air museum with traditional farmhouses and crafts.

  • Take a walk along the Higashiyama Walking Course for beautiful views of the city and surrounding nature.

  • Try Takayama's famous Hida beef, a high-quality beef from the region.

  • Visit the Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall, which displays the ornate floats used in the city's festivals.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit:

  • Visit the Old Town early in the morning to avoid crowds.

  • Take a guided tour to learn more about the city's history and culture.

  • Try some of Takayama's famous sake, which is made locally.

  • Visit during the Takayama Festival in April or October to see the city come alive with festivities.




10. Okinawa



Okinawa is a prefecture made up of several islands located in the southernmost part of Japan. It has a distinct culture and history and is known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit Shuri Castle, which was the royal palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

  • Explore the Churaumi Aquarium, which features one of the largest tanks in the world and a wide variety of marine life.

  • Relax on one of the many beautiful beaches, such as Naminoue Beach or Emerald Beach.

  • Learn about Okinawa's history and culture at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.

  • Go diving or snorkelling to see the vibrant coral reefs and marine life.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Consider renting a car to explore the various islands of Okinawa.

  • Book a stay in a traditional Okinawan guesthouse, called a minshuku, to experience local culture and hospitality.

  • Visit during the spring or fall to avoid the summer crowds and heat.

  • Be respectful of Okinawa's unique culture and history, which has been shaped by both Japanese and American influences.




11. Beppu



Beppu is a city located on the island of Kyushu, known for its hot springs and unique geothermal activity. It is a popular destination for those looking to relax and rejuvenate in natural hot springs.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Hells of Beppu, a collection of colourful and steamy hot springs.

  • Relax in one of the many hot spring baths or onsens in the area.

  • Explore the nearby Mount Tsurumi for beautiful views of the city and surrounding area.

  • Visit the Takegawara Onsen, a historic hot spring bathhouse with a unique sand bath experience.

  • Enjoy the local cuisine, which includes seafood and hot spring-cooked foods.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Plan to spend at least a few days in Beppu to fully experience the hot springs and attractions.

  • Research different onsens and hot spring baths to find the best fit for your preferences.

  • Be mindful of hot spring etiquette, such as washing thoroughly before entering the baths.

  • Consider visiting in the cooler months to fully appreciate the warmth of the hot springs.




12. Onomichi



Onomichi is a small city located on the Seto Inland Sea in Hiroshima Prefecture. It is known for its picturesque streets, temples, and stunning sea views.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Senkoji Temple and climb the steep stairs to reach the top for panoramic views of the city and sea.

  • Walk the scenic path along the Shimanami Kaido, a series of bridges that connect Honshu and Shikoku.

  • Explore the unique and charming alleyways and streets of Onomichi.

  • Visit the Onomichi City Museum of Art for a collection of modern and contemporary art.

  • Enjoy fresh seafood and local delicacies at the many restaurants and cafes in the city.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Take your time to explore the charming streets and alleys of Onomichi, as there are many hidden gems to discover.

  • Consider renting a bike to explore the Shimanami Kaido and the surrounding area.

  • Visit in the spring or fall for milder weather and beautiful views of the sea and surrounding hills.

  • Be respectful of the local culture and customs.




13. Sapporo



Sapporo is the largest city in the northernmost island of Hokkaido and is known for its beautiful parks, beer, and skiing. It is a great destination for those looking for a mix of city and outdoor activities.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and try some of the local brews.

  • Explore the Odori Park, a large and beautiful park in the heart of the city.

  • Visit the historic and beautiful Hokkaido Shrine.

  • Experience skiing or snowboarding at one of the nearby ski resorts.

  • Enjoy the local cuisine, which includes seafood, ramen, and soup curry.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Plan to visit in the winter if you are interested in skiing or snowboarding.

  • Consider renting a car to explore the surrounding area, which includes beautiful natural scenery and hot springs.

  • Try the local soup curry, a unique dish that originated in Sapporo.

  • Be prepared for cold and snowy weather in the winter.




14. Yokohama



Yokohama is a city located south of Tokyo and is known for its beautiful harbour, Chinatown, and international vibe. It is a great destination for those looking for a mix of city and cultural experiences.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Visit the Yokohama Chinatown for delicious food and cultural experiences.

  • Explore the beautiful Yokohama Bay area and visit the Red Brick Warehouse for shopping and dining.

  • Visit the Yokohama Museum of Art for a collection of modern and contemporary art.

  • Experience the Cosmo World amusement park, which features a giant Ferris wheel.

  • Enjoy the local cuisine, which includes seafood, ramen, and Chinese dishes.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Visit during the spring or fall for milder weather and beautiful cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.

  • Take a boat tour of the harbour for stunning views of the city.

  • Consider staying in a hotel with a view of the bay for a memorable experience.

  • Be prepared for crowds in popular areas such as Chinatown and Cosmo World.




15. Osaka



Osaka is one of Japan's largest cities, known for its vibrant street food culture, historic landmarks, and modern architecture. Located on the island of Honshu, Osaka is often called the "Kitchen of Japan" due to its delicious local cuisine.


A list of the top attractions and experiences to have there:

  • Osaka Castle: This iconic castle was built in the 16th century and is one of Japan's most famous landmarks. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, climb to the top for stunning views of the city, and learn about the castle's history at the museum inside.

  • Dotonbori: This lively neighbourhood is famous for its neon lights, street food vendors, and shopping. Visitors can try local specialities like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes), and explore the shops and arcades.

  • Shinsekai: This retro neighbourhood is a throwback to Osaka's past, with traditional restaurants, bars, and shops. Visitors can try kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers) and visit the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower for panoramic views of the city.

  • Universal Studios Japan: This theme park is a popular attraction for visitors of all ages, with rides and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Spider-Man.


Tips and advice for getting the most out of your visit

  • Try the local food: Osaka is known for its street food culture, so make sure to try some of the local specialities like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu.

  • Plan ahead for popular attractions: Osaka Castle and Universal Studios Japan can get crowded, so consider purchasing tickets in advance or arriving early to beat the crowds.

  • Use public transportation: Osaka has an extensive public transportation system, including subways, buses, and trains. Consider purchasing a day pass to save money and make getting around the city easier.




In conclusion, Japan is a fascinating country with a rich culture and many incredible experiences to offer. By visiting the 15 destinations listed in this blog post, travellers can immerse themselves in Japan's history, cuisine, and natural beauty. From the bustling cities of Tokyo and Osaka to the peaceful mountain town of Beppu, each destination offers its unique attractions and experiences.


It's important to note that this list is by no means exhaustive, and there are many other destinations in Japan worth exploring. We encourage readers to share their own experiences and recommendations for travelling in Japan, as there is always something new to discover in this amazing country.


We hope this blog post has inspired you to add Japan to your travel bucket list and explore the unique destinations that this country has to offer. If you found this post helpful, we encourage you to share it with your friends and family on social media.


Additionally, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest blog posts and travel recommendations, be sure to subscribe to our blog. By subscribing, you'll receive regular updates on the best destinations, tips, and experiences for travelling in Japan.


Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a first-time visitor, Japan is a country that will capture your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories. We hope this blog post has given you some ideas for planning your trip and exploring the best that Japan has to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next adventure today!

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page