10 Best Destinations To Visit At Japan

Japan is a country that cares about aesthetics. City streets are clean, gardens are perfectly manicured, and architecture is in harmony with the natural surroundings.

It's old, dating back thousands of years with a history and culture steeped in intricate tradition. And yet it's also modern -- at times overwhelmingly so -- home to both the art of karaoke and Pikachu. On this island about half the size of Texas you'll find dense technicolor cities with buildings reaching up for the heavens, plus lush, untouched landscapes that might actually be entryways to the afterlife. Japan can be whatever you want it to be. But no matter which side of the coin you land on, it's bound to be breathtaking

In this article you can find the most beautiful places in Japan, which can make planning your itinerary easier – or perhaps it will even make it more difficult!

1. Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka and the Fuji Five Lakes

My first and famous site is Mount Fuji, which is famous for being the highest point in Japan, and also for the beautiful five lakes. Most tourists go here during cherry blossom or autumn season, but it’s a great destination in the summertime as well

There is no image more recognizable as a symbol of Japan than that of Mt. Fuji. Japan’s most famous volcano, and one of its Three Holy Mountains, is designated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the Japanese government. Making up for the fact that Mt. Fuji is often hidden behind clouds, are several other beautiful spots you can visit around the area’s five lakes

2. Shirakawa-go & Gokayama

Lying amid majestic mountains with sweeping valleys and verdant forests all around, Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are two of the prettiest villages in the whole of Japan. Famed for their spectacular settings and traditional thatched-roof farmhouses, they count among central Honshu’s most popular tourist attractions.

Shirakawa-go and Gokayama both have several villages, and they’re all worth exploring. About 32 km (20 miles) away from Shirakawa-go, Gokayama is much less developed and touristy than its neighbor, and it’s a little bit more challenging to get to. Its vibe is much more relaxed, with smaller and more intimate villages.

Gokayama village

3. Cat Island

There are actually 3 cat islands in Japan, but the most famous one is Tashirojima. The cat population actually exceeds the number of people living there, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Japan if you want a unique animal experience.

4. Tsutenkaku Tower, Osaka

Osaka's Shinsekai, or "New World" district, was designed in 1912 to feel like a mix between Paris and New York.

While the Tsutenkaku Tower may be an, er, ode to the Eiffel Tower, today this bustling area is fully Japanese with its bright alleyways full of glowing neon signs, flashy advertisements, and floating paper lanterns.

5. Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden

This beautiful Wisteria tunnel can be found in the Kawachi Wisteria Garden in Kitakyushu city, Fukuoka. It’s famous for the large numbers of wisteria flowers. In this large private garden you can find over 20 kinds of wisterias.

This garden is open twice a year to the public: during wisteria season around late April/early May and during maple leaf season in autumn.

6. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Japan's most popular tourist attraction is this Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. Thousands of torii gates form a maze of vermillion-colored tunnels. Each torii gate was donated by corporations or individuals as a way to give thanks for their prosperity.

When you visit Fushimi Inari, follow the trail all the way up the mountain, where you can have a beautiful view over Kyoto. Take photos of the iconic orange torii gates.

7. Kiso Valley

Once part of the historic Nakasendo trade route connecting Kyoto to Edo (present-day Tokyo), Kiso Valley is home to several charming old post stations as well as lovely scenery.

Hiking through the Kiso Valley trails of the Nagano Prefecture, you encounter a lot of textures on the way. Tall and moss-covered trees, dewy rocks, and fresh water trickling down shallow river beds.

Coated in thick forest and surrounded by steep mountains, the valley is centered around the Kiso River and lies in Nagano Prefecture in Central Japan.

8. Kumamoto Castle

One of the most beautiful of the traditional Japanese castles found around the country, Kumamoto Castle's beauty is heightened by the incredible surrounding scenery.

The castle and its surroundings were heavily damaged during the destructive earthquakes in 2016, however repairs to the main buildings are expected to finish sometime this month in time for the Rugby World Cup. The city is due to host two of the world cup games.

9. Miyajima Island

Miyajima island has been nicknamed the ‘Island of Gods’ and for a good reason. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most scenic spots in Japan. Located just off the coast of Hiroshima, Miyajima is only accessible by boat.

As you approach it by ferry, you’ll be treated to some spectacular views. There’s a magical contrast between the deep blue of the sea, the green forest of Mount Misen and the vermilion lacquer of Miyajima’s shrines.

10. Himeji Castle

The bright white Himeji Castle has a certain elegance that sets it apart from other castles in Japan. Nicknamed the “White Heron Castle”, this national treasure is widely considered to be the most magnificent castle in Japan.

The dichotomy of its architecture- imposing and strong, yet delicate and artistic- effortlessly proves that strength and beauty can be one and the same.