Guest post by Danny, kumastation.com.
Japan is one of the most popular travel destinations in Asia. It’s a relatively small country, but there are many awesome places to visit, from cultural spots to natural landscapes. If it’s your first time traveling to Japan, we want to introduce the best places to visit and help you get an idea of what to expect in several parts of the country.
Let’s get started!
Best Places to Visit in Japan
Kyoto is one of the most popular destinations in Japan and there’s no wonder why. Being the former capital of Japan, the city of Kyoto has preserved its historic looks and there are many temples and shrines throughout the city. Kyoto is also home to 3 UNESCO sites and some of the most popular places to visit in Kyoto include the Arashiyama bamboo grove, 1000 Fushimi Inari Taisha gates, and the Kinkakuji Temple.
If you come at the right season, you may also encounter the cherry blossom trees in full bloom or the maple leaves changing colors during the fall foliage, which creates breathtakingly beautiful scenery throughout the city.
When visiting Kyoto, it’s also recommended to stay in a ryokan, a Japanese style hotel. Here, you can experience a different way of hospitality, try a full course Japanese dinner, and wear a kimono or yugata while walking around the city. Kyoto is also one of the biggest producers of matcha in Japan, so try as many matcha products as you can while here.
Traveling to Japan without visiting Tokyo is like traveling to New York without visiting New York City. Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world and there’s an endless amount of things to do in Japan’s metropolis. What’s amazing about Tokyo is that there’s a good balance between technology and culture and you can see examples of this throughout the city.
Upon arriving in Tokyo, one of the first things to do is to check out the Shibuya Crossing, the busiest intersection in the world. Then head over to Sensoji Temple to witness one of the oldest temples still existing today. If you want to slow down for a bit, you can head over to one of Tokyo’s many Japanese gardens where you can relax in peaceful nature while viewing the skyscrapers in the backdrop.
Tokyo also has a very developed public transportation system which makes it easy to get around. You can also visit the electronics and animation town, Akihabara, or visit the Meiji Jingu Shrines next to the fashion central, Harajuku. No matter what type of traveler you are, Tokyo definitely has something for everyone.
If you want to see the Hawaii of Japan, head south and you will arrive in Okinawa, the summer islands of Japan. Okinawa is made up of over 20 islands and it’s home to most of Japan’s best beaches. On the main island, there are many worthwhile places to see, such as the Churaumi Aquarium, International street, and Pineapple Park.
One of the most interesting things about Okinawa is its cultural diversity. Okinawa used to be part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, but became a part of Japan in the 18th century. In addition, many American bases were established here after World War 2, which brought American culture to the island as well. When you visit the main island, you can definitely see evidence of all 3 cultures.
4. Fuji Five Lakes
If you appreciate the nature of Japan and want to see Mt. Fuji up close, we recommend taking a trip out to the Fuji Five Lakes. The Fuji Five Lakes is an area at the base of Mt. Fuji, where there are 5 famous lakes. This area is quite close to Tokyo and reachable by bus. Many people often take a day trip or stay for two days and one night. Despite being in a rural part of Japan, there are lots of things to do in this area.
Like many other rural parts of Japan, we recommend taking a dip into the hot spring waters of Fuji Five Lakes. There are also many nature spots, hiking trails, and peaceful sceneries. One of the least expected, but the most popular attraction of this area is the Fuji Q Highland Amusement Park. If you do get a chance to visit, we highly recommend going during spring, where you can ride roller coasters while enjoying the fully bloomed cherry blossom trees.
If food is an important part of traveling for you, then you can’t miss visiting Osaka during your Japan trip. Often called the “Kitchen of Japan”, Osaka is known for many specialties and has some of the best street foods in Japan. Everywhere you go, you’ll find takoyaki and okonomiyaki stands serving Osaka’s soul foods. For your next meal, you can head over to the Shinsekai district, where you can try the best kushikatsu, deep-fried skewers, or high-quality fugu (blowfish) sashimi.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.