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Places to Visit in Japan

Japan, one of the most perfect destinations in the world, consists of many cultural and historical sites that you must visit at least once in your life. Explore natural wonders of Lake Kawaguchi and the outstanding Mt. Fuji and discover popular places and picturesque Japanese villages.

What are the Best Places & Sights to Visit in Japan | Things to See and Do

1. Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the busiest commercial center in Japan nowadays. However, there are many attractions and urban areas in Tokyo that must be visited without second thoughts. One of them, is the Imperial Palace surrounded by a magnificent park, walls and moats, “betoking” the initial construction as a fortress. Indeed, in 1457, on the same spot a fortress was constructed by the Lord Ota Dokan, constituting once the hub of the city. Nearby, the Nijubashi Bridge is an additional landmark of the complex. Regarding temples, the must see is the Sensō-ji Temple, which was built in AD 645 in favour of Kannon. One reaches this temple by walking on a very busy street with numerous vendors to sell their merchandise. The Thunder Gate welcomes the visitors and indicates the monumental identity of the sight. Moreover, a notable shrine of contemporary era though is the Meiji Shrine, which is dedicated to Emperor Meiji.

2. Kyoto

Kyoto, although its modern development, has hidden sights from an old era of Japan, mainly shrines, such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Buddhist temples, such as the Kinkaku-ji. The latter is now a Zen Buddhist temple, but once it was the villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It is also known as the Golden Pavilion because of its gold leaf. Another temples are the following: the Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the Sanjūsangen-dō Temple as well as the Nishi Honganji Temple. Apart from shrines and temples, on every July, the GionMatsuri festival takes place in Kyoto, attracting a large number of people across the country. The 17th of July is assumed to be the climax of the festival, as the procession of floats (Yamaboko Junko), which is the festival’s highlight, is held on that day. In respect of centrally located relaxing places, where one can let himself go, is the Sagano Bamboo Forest with many paths and sites to have a rest and admire the nature’s beauty.

3. Hiroshima

Hiroshima, despite the damage it suffered though the World War II, is a tourist destination in Japan, because it combines history with parks and contact with the nature. On the one hand, there are historical places, such as the Fukuyama Castle and Hiroshima Castle as well as ancient temples. An indicative list of temples shall contain the following: the Koriyakushi Temple, the Tenneiji Temple, the Jinguji Temple, the Abuto-kannon Temple and the Kosanji Temple. On the other hand, parks, including of course the Peace Memorial Park and National Bihoku Hills Park, provide to inhabitants and visitors relaxing moments and the opportunity to calm down. In pursuit of calmness and serenity, Sankeien Garden is strongly recommended for the additional reason that across the garden, apart from the beautiful plants and flora generally, there are notable buildings to be found, such as a few tea houses as well as the Sanju-no-to, a three-story pagoda removed from the Tomyoji Temple, which was transferred into Sankein Garden from another province, especially from Kizuwagain southern region of Kyoto.

4. Nara

As the first capital of Japan, this city offers a fantastic sense of the country’s history. A lot of sights, many of which have been characterized as UNESCO world heritage sites, are located here, including of course temples and historical buildings, dated back to the era between 710 and 794 AD. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see deer. Probably, the most significant sight is the Daibutsu-den (Hall of the Great Buddha). By virtue of its size, this impressive building houses the 15-meter tall statue of Buddha that made out of gold and bronze. Finally, Kasuga-Taisha Shrine as well as Yakushi-ji temple are worth visiting.

5. Nikko

Nikko, located very close to Tokyo, offers a fantastic excursion escaping from the noisy Tokyo for a while. Visitors can enjoy peaceful moments walking through National Park, which is known for Toshogu Shrine, which enshrines the Samurai leader Tokugawa Ieyasu. At the entrance of the National Park, visitors come across with the Shin-kyōbridge, which is considered to be among the three finest bridges all over Japan. The other two bridges are of course Iwakuni's Kintaikyo and Saruhash. Hiking and other outdoor activities (i.e. photography) are ideal for a place like Nikko.

6. Kamakura

The ideal location of Kamakura near Tokyo gives travelers the opportunity to get away from the chaotic city of Tokyo and visit a small town that had an important historical role during the centuries in the growth of Japan. Kamakura was once the political center of the country. During the 12th century, this town was selected by Minamoto Yoritomo as the seat of the government and remained as such for the next two centuries. Gradually, its significance faded away and diminished, but numerous sights remained there to remind to the visitors of the town’s historical significance. Thus, Kamakura is full of shrines, such as Hachimangu Shrine and Zeniarai Benten, among of which one may stand out the Kenchoji Temple, the Jufukuji Temple as well as the Engakuji Temple. Impressive is also the huge Buddha statue, known as Daibutsu.

7. Takayama

Known also as Hida-Takayama, this small town offers a great view of how a traditional town in Japan actually is. Takayama keeps alive the sense of an old town, since its city center dating back to the 17th century is amazingly well-maintained. The most astonishing district of the old town bears the name of Sanmachi. In the beautiful rural area, the Unesco World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go is also to be visited.

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