Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun

Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun | The Travel Tester
The 40 top destinations that should be on your Japan Bucket List according to the best bloggers in the world

enEnglish (Engels)

Japan is one of my all-time favourite countries in the world. No wonder I’ve visited 6 times already! It’s a country full of contrasts: from fast-paced, neon-lit cities to tranquil, charming villages… and pretty much everything in between. It’s very Western, yet completely foreign and it’s definitely a place that will leave you intrigued and wanting more.

With this Places in Japan Bucket List below, we’ve selected 40 of the most interesting places to visit in the land of the rising sun, so that on your next visit, you’ll have enough inspiration to pick and choose those experiences that you love best. Which places did you not know about already? Let us know!

(destinations listed in no particular order except for the island they’re on)

 

Make sure to also click on the suggested links below each photo for great articles on what to do in Japan. We handpicked all the blogs ourselves (yes, this took us WEEKS), so they all link to resources that we believe are valuable and fun to read! Spread the Blogger ❤

 

Handy Travel Guide:

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What we'll cover in this article

Honshu Island

Honshu is the largest (main) island of Japan and it also has the most people living on it. The island is linked to the other three major Japanese islands by a number of bridges and tunnels and the landscape is mountainous and volcanic.

The climate is generally humid subtropical in the southern and coastal parts of the island and humid continental in the northern and inland portions. Here are the most interesting places to visit on Honshu Island in Japan

 

#1 Tōkyō | Tōkyō Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

Most travellers to Japan will start in Tokyo, and it’s a perfect place to get introduced to all the wonders of what the rest of Japan has to offer. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with around 37.8 million people.

There are some top things to do in Tokyo Japan’s distinct neighbourhoods, each with a unique character, we can recommend checking out things to do in Shinjuku, Asakusa, Yanaka, Ueno, Ginza, Roppongi, Harajuku and Shibuya to start of with!

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Tokyo Bucket List Ideas per Neighbourhood: 

 

Handy Travel Guides:

Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester  Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester  Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester

Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester

 

#2 Yokohama | Kanagawa Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan. It lies on Tokyo Bay, just a 20-minute train ride south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu. It is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area, but the city has a neighbourhood atmosphere.

Yokohama is popular among expats, has one of the world’s largest China Towns and preserves some former Western residences in the Yamate district. Hang out at the bay front and explore Yokohama’s creative arts scene, microbreweries, jazz clubs and great international dining!

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Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester   Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester

 

 

#3 Hakone (& Mt. Fuji) | Kanagawa Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

If you’re looking for incredible nature places to visit in Tokyo and beyond, Hakone is the place to go. Hakone has been designated as a Geopark by UNESCO and is located in the mountainous far west of the prefecture. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which is famous for hot springs and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji. There are also world-class art museums and traditional inns in the area.

The lake Ashino-ko is at the center of everything and it’s popular to take a boat ride on the lake. On weekends and the holidays, Hakone can be quite touristy, so try going through the week if you can, or try one of many hiking trails to beat the crowds.

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Hakone & Mount Fuji:  World of Wanderlust // Travel on the Brain // Pack Me To // The Planet D // Our Awesome Planet

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Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester   Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester   Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester

 

 

#4 Kamakura | Kanagawa Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

Kamakura is located about an hour south of Tokyo. This small city lies on the coast (yes, there is a beach!) and features many seasonal festivals, but it’s most popular because of its ancient Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples.

The main attraction is The Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kamakura Daibutsu), a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. (The tallest is 120 meters (jah.) and is located in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture)

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Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester   Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester   Japan Bucket List: 40 Places Not to Miss in the Land of the Rising Sun || The Travel Tester

 

 

#5 Enoshima Island | Kanagawa Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

Enoshima is a small touristy island near Kamakura and it’s known for its beach culture and views of Mount Fuji on clear days. The island has a shrine, park, aquarium, observation tower and some caves. Enoshima Island is also known as a ‘romantic island’ because it was created by the love goddess Benzaiten.

Consider getting the ‘Enopass’, a combination ticket that includes admission to the island’s main attractions and use of escalators, as well as discounts on other attractions.

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#6 Nikkō | Tochigi Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

Nikkō is located in the northern Kantō region of Japan. The area is UNESCO World Heritage listed and attractions include the mausoleum of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (Nikkō Tōshō-gū) and that of his grandson Iemitsu (Iemitsu-byō Taiyū-in), and the Futarasan Shrine, which dates to the year 767.

There are also many famous hot springs (onsen) in the area that you probably want to check out!

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#7 Narita | Chiba Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

When flying into Japan, chances are you’ll be landing at Narita airport. But why not wait to jump straight on the train to Tokyo and actually explore Narita for a bit?

Narita’s main tourist attraction is Naritasan, a popular Buddhist temple of more than 1000 years old. On July 8th, the major Japanese festival Gion Matsuri is celebrated here.

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#8 Ueno | Gunma Prefecture, Kantō Region, Honshu Island

This village in the northern Kantō region of Japan has the lowest population density of any municipality in Japan. The massive Ueno Sky Bridge extends over the natural landscape and from the bridge, you have a beautiful forest and ravine under your feet. From April to November, you can see bubbles flying above the sky bridge three times a day.

Ueno Village also features the Fujido Cave, which is reputed to be the largest in the Kanto area and Ueno Dam, which is near a waterfall recommended by the tourist information center.

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Foto source: www.uenomura.jp

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#9 Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route | Toyama Prefecture to Nagano Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, completed in 1971, is a spectacular route through the Northern Alps in Japan. The main attraction is the scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. You have to take a variety of transportation modes to follow it, from cable cars and trolley buses to even a ropeway.

The route connects Toyama City in the Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in the Nagano Prefecture. This track is completely inaccessible from December to mid April. In the Spring, especially around the upper sections of Midagahara and Murodo, you’ll find massive snow corridors with walls reaching up to 20 meters high, so make sure to do your research when you’re planning a visit.

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FotoAnkur P, CC BY 2.0

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#10 Kurobe | Toyama Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

In the Hida Mountains (or Northern Alps), you’ll find one of the finest areas of natural beauty in Japan. The Kurobe Gorge was carved by the Kurobe River as it descends over 2500 meters in 86 kilometer from its source high in the mountains to Toyama Bay. It features a deep, steep sided canyon with breathtaking cliffs dropping straight into the water of the upper and middle basins of the Kurobe River.

The tracks of the Kurobe Gorge train weave through Japan’s deepest gorge from Unazuki to Keyakidaira. In just over 20 kilometers, the track crosses 21 bridges and travels through 41 tunnels.

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FotoJiashiang, CC BY 2.0

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#11 Kanazawa | Ishikawa Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Kanazawa used to be the seat of the second most powerful feudal clan and grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivaling Kyoto and Edo (old Tokyo). It escaped the air raids in the Second World War and so today, you can still see parts of the old castle town, such as the Nagamachi samurai district and chaya entertainment districts.

There are many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums. Definitely not miss the highlight of the area: Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens” and by many considered the most beautiful of them all.

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Foto: bryan, CC BY-SA 2.0

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#12 Fujiyoshida | Yamanashi Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Fujiyoshida is the city located on the northern slope of Mount Fuji. Attractions in this area range from the Arakurayama Sengen Park to Fuji-Q Highland (a famous amusement park) and the Kaneyama hot spring. There are also many climbing and outdoor adventure locations.

The Arakura Sengen Shrine which you can see on the photo below, is famous for the view of Mount Fuji with the Sakura trees and the Chureito Pagoda during spring season.

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Foto: Reginald Pentinio, CC BY 2.0

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#13 Nagano (& Yudanaka) | Nagano Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

When you think of Japan, chances are you’re thinking about the famous snow monkeys, which you can find in the Nagano region. Nagano City itself evolved as a temple town around Zenkoji, one of Japan’s most popular temples and became well-known during the Winter Olympic Games of 1998.

In the forested mountains northwest of the city center lies the Togakushi area with its popular shrines and the legendary Togakure Ninja School. You can find the monkeys in the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Yamanouchi, a municipality in the northern Nagano Prefecture. Also don’t miss the Yudanaka Onsen. Right inside Yudanaka Station is the Kaede no Yu public bath, allowing you to start enjoying the area’s hot spring water immediately upon arrival.

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#14 Takayama | Gifu Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Takayama is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. It’s a great place to explore on foot and the perfect starting point for trips into the Hida region and the Northern Japan Alps. The town is very atmospheric and dates from the late 17th century.

In Takayama, you will find museums, galleries and city temples. The Takayama Festival (spring and autumn) is considered one of Japan’s best festivals.

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#15 Shirakawa | Gifu Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, the Shirakawa-go and Gokayama regions were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. They are famous for their traditional ‘gassho-zukuri’ farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old!

Ogimachi is Shirakawa-go’s largest village and main attraction. Gokayama’s nicest villages are Suganuma and Ainokura.

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#16 Atami | Shizuoka Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Atami is a sleepy resort town at the southernmost end of the Tokaido line from Tokyo. It has a nostalgic charm that up-and-coming hot springs villages can hardly imitate. Many of the storefronts and buildings in Atami look straight out of the 60s-80s and it’s hard to find any modern buildings. It’s as if the whole town has been stuck in time.

The Shizuoka prefecture has an abundance of hot springs and a variety of natural features including Suruga Bay, the Sea of Enshu, Lake Hamana-ko, the Tenryu-gawa and Oi-gawa rivers and the plains area spreading to the mouths of those rivers. In addition, the climate is quite mild there.

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Foto: shinnygogo, CC BY-SA 2.0

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#17 Nagoya | Aichi Prefecture, Chūbu Region, Honshu Island

Nagoya is Japan’s fourth most populated city with over 2 million inhabitants! Most of its historic buildings were destroyed in the air raids of 1945, but you can find a reconstruction of the Nagoya Castle, as well as a few temples and shrines.

Other highlights include the Railway Museum, the Tokugawa Art Museum, Legoland (oh yes!), the Science Museum and the recently redeveloped Port Area.

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#18 Aomori | Aomori Prefecture, Tōhoku Region, Honshu Island

Tohoku is the northernmost region of Japan’s largest island, Honshu and the Aomori Prefecture is rich in hot springs, culture and history.

Aomori is a compact city and a stopover point en-route to Hokkaido in the far north of Japan. Located in Mutsu Bay, Aomori city retains its Edo Period grid pattern, though the city was heavily bombed in World War II. Most of Aomori’s attractions are recent buildings including a number of contemporary architectural gems like the Towada Art Center and the Aomori Museum of Art. But especially don’t miss the Nebuta Matsuri festival (see image) in August!

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Fotomidorisyu, CC BY 2.0

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#19 Sannai | Aomori Prefecture, Tōhoku Region, Honshu Island

Another sight you perhaps don’t want to miss in the Aomori prefecture, is the Sannai-Maruyama site (Jomon Jiyukan). This open-air museum holds the remains of one of Japan’s largest communities in the Jomon period, now designated as a Special National Historic Site.

Excavated items include a large number of pottery, stone artifacts, clay figures, earthenware, stoneware, woodenware such as digging sticks, lacquerware, bone tools, woven baskets called “Jomon pochettes” and woven clothes from the Jomon period.

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#20 Sendai | Miyagi Prefecture, Tōhoku Region, Honshu Island

Miyagi’s capital Sendai is the region’s largest city. Sendai is known as the “City of Trees.” The main avenues, Aoba-dori and Jozenji-dori, are lined with rows of beautiful zelkova trees.

During the Christmas season, the trees are illuminated by lights for the “Sendai Pageant of Starlight” event.

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#21 Matsushima | Miyagi Prefecture, Tōhoku Region, Honshu Island

Just outside of Sendai lies coastal town Matsushima. This place is famous for its bay, which is dotted by many pine clad islets and has been ranked one of Japan’s three most scenic views for centuries.

The small town is also known for Zuiganji, one of the Tohoku Region’s most important Zen temples.

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#22 Hikone | Shiga Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

The prefecture of Shiga is in the middle of Japan and lake Biwa (which is the largest lake in Japan) lies at its center.

Hikone is a small city next to lake Biwa. It’s famous for it’s beautiful castle, which is only one of four castles in Japan that have been designated as a national treasure. Make sure to step into the Genkyuen Garden at the base of the castle.

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#23 Nagahama | Shiga Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

The city of Nagahama is located in the northeast of the Shiga Prefecture. It has been a castle town since the late 16th century. West of the station, there is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot in Ho-koen Park, which was constructed in the ruins of the Nagahama Castle. The castle tower was rebuilt in 1983, and is open to public as Nagahama Castle Historical Museum.

Nagaham also attracts visitors because of their galleries and glass artisan workshops. Each year around 13-16 April, the Nagahama Hachiman-gu Shrine is the place for the Nagahama Hikiyama-matsuri Festival. There are gorgeous floats and not to miss is the kabuki theater played by boys under the age of 12.

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#24 Kyoto | Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Kyoto served as Japan’s capital and the emperor’s residence from 794 until 1868. It is now the country’s seventh largest city with a population of 1.4 million people. Many temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today because the city was spared from the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II.

Kyoto has everything: from Michelin-starred restaurants and chic cocktail bars tot food halls and traditional Japanese izakaya pub-eateries, traditional arts and crafts, around 2000 temples and shrines and much, much more.

Highlights of the city include Nijō Castle, the modern Kyoto Station, the famed geisha district of Gion, the Philosopher’s Path, the gilded pavilion of Kinkaku-ji and several other World Heritage Sites. Below is pictured Fushimi Inari-taisha, the head shrine of the god Inari. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) and take approximately 2 hours to walk up.

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#25 Arashiyama | Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

This touristy district lies about 30 minutes by train in the West of Kyoto. It’s popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons. Tenryu-ji Temple is a zen temple with one of the most beautiful gardens in Kyoto and Togetsu-kyo Bridge is another highlight.

Escape the crowds as much as possible at Arashiyama’s hilltop park, Kameyama-koen, or walk to the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest Japan.

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#26 Amanohashidate | Kyoto Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Amanohashidate roughly means ‘bridge in heaven’ and this is a 3.6 kilometer long, pine tree covered sand bar that spans across Miyazu Bay on the Tango Peninsula. The small villages on both the north and south sides of the land bridge are easily walkable by foot, as distances are short.

You can rent a bicycle in the area to ride across the land bridge and visit local tourist spots. There are also small boats to transport passengers between the north and south sides of Amanohashidate.

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#27 Osaka | Osaka Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo, with a population of over 2.5 million people. The city has many districts, each with their own highlights:

Kita is the newer center of the city. Here you’ll find department stores, theaters and boutiques around the JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station. Tennoji was named after the historical Shitennoji temple. Tennōji Park and Zoo are in the area, and so is the Tsūtenkaku Tower. Minami is the traditional commercial and cultural center and Shinsaibashi and Horie is the fashion area. Dōtonbori is the best place to go for a bite to eat.

Osaka Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan. In the Bay Area, you’ll find a huge amusement area with many gigantic facilities.

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#28 Himeji | Hyōgo Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Himeji is most famous for its incredible castle, Himeji Castle, widely considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. The castle is designated both a national treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city has been featured in a series of Japanese and foreign films due to its picturesque old-Japan look. You might have seen ‘The Last Samurai’, for example. You can get to Himeji in just under an hour from Osaka or Kyoto.

 

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#29 Kobe | Hyōgo Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Kobe is one of Japan’s ten largest cities, located between the sea and the Rokko mountain range. Its port was among the first to be opened to foreign trade in the 19th century. In 1995, Kobe was hit by a massive earthquake, bit today the city is completely rebuilt, and few signs of the terrible event remain.

In Kobe, a synagogue, Japan’s first mosque, Japan’s first Sikh temple, a Chinatown and European architecture mark Kobe as a place where foreigners and foreign culture first arrived in Japan. And while you’re there, don’t forget to taste the famous Kobe beef, which is incredible!

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#30 Nara | Nara Prefecture, Kansai Region, Honshu Island

Nara is an ancient capital city and often a bit overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Kyoto. However, Nara is home to many important scenic and historical sites, and today preserves its main sights much more attractively than Kyoto within Nara Park and neighborhoods like Naramachi.

Nara flourished under the influence of Buddhism, leading to the creation of an enormous number of cultural assets, buildings and books, many of which are preserved today. Nara has the largest number of buildings designated National Treasures in Japan. Another big draw to Nara are the mercenary deer who are concentrated in Nara Park. According to legend, the god of the Kasuga Taisha came riding a white deer in the old days, so the deer enjoy protected status as envoys of the god.

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#31 Okayama | Okayama Prefecture, Chūgoku Region, Honshu Island

Okayama is the capital of Okayama Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chugoku Region after Hiroshima. The city is an important transportation hub. The city developed as a castle town during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and became a significant regional power.

Okayama’s most famous attraction is Korakuen Garden, which is ranked as one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan, along with Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen and Mito’s Kairakuen. Okayama Castle is located just across from the garden. Okayama serves as the locale for the popular fairy tale of Momotaro (the Peach Boy), so visitors will notice many references to the legendary hero.

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#32 Hiroshima | Hiroshima Prefecture, Chūgoku Region, Honshu Island

Hiroshima is the principal city of the Chugoku Region and home to over a million inhabitants. When the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and obliterated nearly everything within a two kilometer radius.

After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city. Predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved false. Destroyed monuments of Hiroshima’s historical heritage, like Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden, were reconstructed. In the center of the city a large park was built and given a name that would reflect the aspirations of the re-born city: Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima is now a modern, cosmopolitan city with excellent cuisine and a bustling nightlife.

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Other Locations on Honshu Island

 

 

Hokkaidō Island

On Hokkaido, a must-see for nature lovers is the incredible Daisetsu-zan National Park with great hiking trails over mountain peaks and through rock gorges, best accessible from Spring to Autumn. More than 70% of Hokkaido is covered in forest and the area is full of active volcanoes and hot springs (onsen).

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#33 Sapporo | Hokkaidō Prefecture, Hokkaidō Island

Hokkaido’s modern capital Sapporo features the original Sapporo Brewery and also has a great nightlife. Being a new city, especially by Japanese standards (in 1857, the city’s population stood at just seven people), means it has little in the way of traditional architecture and the like of cities such as Kyoto. But what it lacks in “Japanese-ness” it makes up for with its outdoor beer gardens and other events in Summer (during Sapporo’s Summer Festival) and the amazing Snow Festival (Yuki Matsuri) in Februari.

Sapporo is also the place to go skiing at some of Japan’s top resorts, such as Niseko. Did you know that Sapporo is the second snowiest city of its size in the world? With the average year-round snowfall being 597cm (235 inches), they get almost 10 times that of New York City and 2.5 times that of Buffalo, the snowiest city in North America. Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there.

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#34 Hakodate | Hokkaidō Prefecture, Hokkaidō Island

Hakodate is a historic city that features late 19th century wooden houses and churches built by expat traders, many of which have been preserved and can be seen mostly in the Motomachi area. The city is best known for the spectacular views to be enjoyed from Mount Hakodate and its delicious, fresh seafood.

As one of the first Japanese harbor cities to be opened to international trade after the country’s era of isolation, Hakodate has experienced notable influence from overseas, and the foreign population’s former residential district and a Western style fort are among its main tourist attractions. Onuma Park, a quasi national park with beautiful, island dotted lakes, is located only half an hour north of Hakodate and makes a nice side trip or a stop along the journey between Hakodate and Sapporo.

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Other Locations on Hokkaidō Island

 

 

Shikoku Island

Shikoku is Japan’s fourth largest island and is located southwest of Japan’s main island Honshu. Shikoku is divided into four prefectures. Mountains running east and west divide Shikoku into a narrow northern subregion. The front of the island faces the Inland Sea, the southern part facing the Pacific Ocean.

Most of the 3.8 million inhabitants live in the north, and all but one of the island’s few larger cities are located there. Mount Ishizuchi is the highest mountain on the island. The larger southern area of Shikoku is mountainous and sparsely populated. Unlike the other three major islands of Japan, Shikoku has no volcanoes.

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#35 Naoshima | Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku Island

Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Although the island is much closer to the main Japanese island of Honshu, administratively it belongs to Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku. The island is famous for its contemporary art museums and architecture, as well as outdoor contemporary art installations and sculptures throughout the island. It has a population of approximately 3,000 people.

The island has a Mediterranean atmosphere with sandy beaches and sunny weather. Combined with a laid back, rural feel it is a relaxing getaway from Japan’s large urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.

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Other Locations on Shikoku Island

 

 

Kyūshū Island

Kyūshū is Japan’s third largest island, located southwest of the main island Honshu. An early center of Japanese civilization, Kyūshū offers many historic treasures, modern cities and natural beauty. The climate is slightly warmer and more tropical than Honshu, and the southern and eastern coasts are regularly battered by typhoons each year. The terrain is generally mountainous with very fertile valleys, except for the wide plain area at the top of the island.

Kyūshū is home to dialects of Japanese that are almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard Japanese -so much so that it was utilized during World War 2 for preventing interception by the Allies of Japanese communications. Even native speakers of Japanese from Honshu often have problems understanding the conversations of locals.

 

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#36 Fukuoka | Fukuoka Prefecture, Northern Kyūshū, Kyūshū Island

Fukuoka is a good starting point for first-time visitors to Japan. Being a sizable, modern city it’s not hard to get around. A subway connects most of the city’s main attractions. Because of its closeness to the Asian mainland (closer to Seoul than to Tokyo), Fukuoka has been an important harbor city for many centuries and was chosen by the Mongol invasion forces as their landing point in the 13th century.

Fukuoka as we can see it today is the product of the fusion of two cities in the year 1889, when the port city of Hakata and the former castle town of Fukuoka were united into one city called Fukuoka. That is why the city still has two centres: one in Hakata and one in Tenjin.

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#37 Yanagawa | Fukuoka Prefecture, Northern Kyūshū, Kyūshū Island

Yanagawa is a peaceful town 70 km south west of Fukuoka. The city was originally constructed in the mid-16th century by the Kamachi clan. Before then, it had been a traditional farming village, with the canals used for irrigation. The city’s 470 km of wide canals were maintained and a castle was built in Yanagawa, which is still there today.

Take a “Donko” boat cruise to see old-town Yanagawa. The boat goes through the moat around the old Yanagawa Castle, with the willow trees on its banks reflecting in the water. As the boat slowly goes downstream, you can enjoy a view of red brick warehouses of the early 20th century and traditional Japanese-style storehouses with ‘namako’ walls, covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster.

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#38 Nagasaki | Nagasaki Prefecture, Northern Kyūshū, Kyūshū Island

Nagasaki is port city on the island of Kyūshū and the capital of Nagasaki Prefecture. As one of Japan’s closest port cities to the Asian mainland, Nagasaki has played a prominent role in foreign trade relations for many centuries and was the most important of only a very few ports open to restricted numbers of foreign traders during Japan’s period of isolation.

In more recent history, Nagasaki became the second city after Hiroshima to be destroyed by an atomic bomb towards the end of World War II. Memorials to Nagasaki’s atomic tragedy are much smaller and understated than the ones in Hiroshima. The city of Nagasaki has reclaimed its pre-war identity as a culturally and religiously diverse port town, with a dash of Showa-era charm that your average Japanese city could never hope to copy.

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#39 Beppu | Ōita Prefecture, Northern Kyūshū, Kyūshū Island

Beppu is one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, producing more hot spring water than any other resort in the country.

Beppu’s top sight is the ‘8 hells’, multicolored volcanic pits of boiling water and mud, and one geyser. The hells are too hot to be diluted into onsen, as the temps range from 50 to 99.5 °C (122 to 210 °F). Some of the hells have a natural smell of sulfur.

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Other Locations on Kyūshū Island

 

 

Okinawa Islands, Miyako Islands & Yaeyama Islands

 

#40 The Okinawa Prefecture, Ryūkyū Islands

With their own language and customs, Okinawans still regard themselves as different from the mainland Japanese and some still have a bit of resentment towards the mainland for the brutal way the islands were treated as colonies and during World War II.

The Okinawa Prefecture can be divided into three major island groups, the Okinawa Islands (Okinawa Shoto) around Okinawa Island (Okinawa Honto), the Miyako Islands (Miyako Retto) around Miyako Island and the Yaeyama Islands (Yaeyama Retto) around Ishigaki Island.

Most of the Okinawa islands belong to the subtropical climate. Even in January and February, the average high temperature is around 20°C (68°F), making the area a popular winter getaway. The seas surrounding Okinawa’s islands are considered among the world’s most beautiful with coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Consequently, snorkeling and scuba diving are among Okinawa’s top attractions.

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Read more on: Nomadic Samuel // Backpacking Travel Blog // Grown-Up Travel Guide 1 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 2 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 3 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 4 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 5 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 6 // Grown-Up Travel Guide 7 //  The Barefoot Nomad // Miles of Happiness 1 // Miles of Happiness 2 // Xpat Matt // Seattle’s Travels 1 // Seattle’s Travels 2 // // Seattle’s Travels 3 // Whiskey Tango Globetrot // Travel with a Mate // Polkadot Passport // Jessie on a Journey 1 // Jessie on a Journey 2 // Jessie on a Journey 3 // Travel Squire // Monkeys and Mountains 1 // Monkeys and Mountains 2 // We Blog The World // Traveldudes 1 // Traveldudes 2 // Traveldudes 3 // Travelling King // Leave Your Daily Hell // 2 Aussie Travellers and THE TRAVEL TESTER 1 // THE TRAVEL TESTER 2 // THE TRAVEL TESTER 3 // THE TRAVEL TESTER 4 // THE TRAVEL TESTER 5

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General Japan Trip Planning for your Japan Bucket List

Not enough ideas on best things to do in Japan? Then here is some more for you:

 

Top things to do in Japan (Country Wide)

Twenty-Something Travel // Phenomenal Globe // A World to Travel // World Trip Diaries // World of Wanderlust // Thinking Nomads // Travel Babbo // Bitten by the Travel Bug // Pack Me To // Where’s Sharon? // Bridges and Balloons // Leave Your Daily Hell // Nomadic Boys // Ciao Bambino // Going Awesome Places // Traveldudes // Jessie on a Journey // The Trusted Traveller // Travel on the Brain 1 // Travel on the Brain 2 // Vicky Flip Flop Travels // Traveldudes 1 // Traveldudes 2 // Travel2Next // The Quirky Traveller // Everything Everywhere // Aspiring Backpacker 1 // Aspiring Backpacker 2 // Pretraveller // You Could Travel // Travelling King // Travel Experta // Trip & Travel Blog // Urban Pixxels // Tourist 2 Townie // Girls Tweets World // Love and Wanderlust // 2 Aussie Travellers // Heart My Backpack 1 // Heart My Backpack 2 // Handluggage Only // Travel Colorfully // Travelettes 1 // Travelettes 2// Neverending Voyage // Live Share Travel // 2 Aussie Travellers // Aussie on the Road // The Wandering Suitcase // Outside Suburbia

Visiting Japan: Practical Information / Trip Planning

World of Wanderlust // A World to Travel  // Borderless Travel // Jessie on a Journey // Never Ending Voyage  // Solo Traveler // Ordinary Traveler // You Could Travel 3 // Pommie Travels // Travel Experta 1 // Travel Experta 2 // Girl Tweets World 1 // Girl Tweets World 2 // Travel With Kat // PreTraveller 1 // PreTraveller 2 // PreTraveller 3 //  Traveldudes 1 //  Traveldudes 2 // I Am Aileen // City Cookie // Travel on the Brain // Nomadic Samuel // The Wandering Suitcase

Japanese Customs, Etiquette and Traditions (+Temple Visits)

Adventure at Work // Contented Traveller // Bucket List Journey // Traveldudes 1 // Traveldudes 2 // Traveldudes 3 // 2 Aussie Travellers // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Travels in Translation 3 // Vagabondish // Travel on the Brain // Contented Traveller // Time Travel Turtle

Packing Tips for Japan

Our Oyster // You Could Travel 2 // Her Packing List 1 // Her Packing List 2 // Travel Fashion Girl // 2 Aussie Travellers // PreTraveller // The Wandering Suitcase

Budget Tips Japan

Bunch of Backpackers // Go Backpacking // Go Backpacking // The Runaway Guide // Grrrl Traveler // Twenty-Something Travel // y Travel Blog // Phenomenal Globe // Solo Traveler // Free Your Mind Travel // David’s Been Here // Pre Traveller // Nomadic Matt // Travel on the Brain //  Travels in Translation // Four Jandals // Flirting with the Globe // Time Travel Turtle // Goats on the Road

Capsule Hotels in Japan

Bitten by the Travel Bug // Go Backpacking // Grrrl Traveler // World Trip Diaries // Travel Outlandish // Traveldudes // The Travel Tart

Other Accommodation in Japan

Leah Travels // Where’s Sharon? // Cultural Xplorer 1 // Cultural Xplorer 2 // Travel Squire // Just One Way Ticket // Phenomenal Globe // Travel2Next 1 // Travel2Next 2 // Grown Up Travel Guide // Jessie on a Journey // Indiana JO // Travel Squire // Contented Traveller // Going Awesome Places // Girl Tweets World // Travels in Translation // Neverending Voyage // Vagabond Journey // Runaway Guide // Urban Pixxels

Transport in Japan (+ Japan Rail Pass Tips)

Trip Bitten // Live Less Ordinary // Indiana JO // Ever in Transit // The Barefoot Nomad // 2 Aussie Travellers 1 // 2 Aussie Travellers 2 // Travelocafe // World Trip Diaries 1 // World Trip Diaries 2 // Neverending Voyage // Just One Way Ticket // Travel Dave // Live Less Ordinary 1 // Live Less Ordinary 2 // Live Less Ordinary 3 // Nomadic Boys // Vicky Flip Flop Travels // Wild About Travel // Going Awesome Places // Traveldudes 1 // Traveldudes 2 //  Traveldudes 3 // Traveldudes 4 // PreTraveller // Foxnomad // Travel with a Mate // Flashpacker Guy // A Life Beautifully Travelled

Food and Restaurants in Japan

2 Aussie Travellers // Contented Traveller 1 // Contented Traveller 2 // Contented Traveller 3 // Contented Traveller 4 // Contented Traveller 5 // Contented Traveller 6 // Cultural Xplorer 1 // Cultural Xplorer 2 //  Ever in Transit 1 // Ever in Transit 2 // FoXnoMad 1 // FoXnoMad 2 //  From Heart And Seoul // Grantourismo Travels // Indiana JO 1 // Indiana JO 2 // Indiana JO 3 // Jessie on a Journey 1 // Jessie on a Journey 2 //  Johnny Jet 1 // Johnny Jet 2 // Leah Travels // Legal Nomads // Live Less Ordinary 1 // Live Less Ordinary 2 // Neverending Voyage //  Nomadic Boys 1 // Nomadic Boys 2 // Nomadic Samuel //  Pack Me To 1 // Pack Me To 2 //  Phenomenal Globe 1 // Phenomenal Globe 2 //  Runaway Juno // Sidewalk Safari // Souvenir Finder // The Professional Hobo // The Travel Tart 1 // The Travel Tart 2 //  Traveldudes // Travelettes // Travel On The Brain 1 // Travel on the Brain 2 // Travel on the Brain 3 // Travel on the Brain 4 // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Travels in Translation 3 // Travels in Translation 4 // Travels in Translation 5 // Travels in Translation 6 // TravelSquire 1 // TravelSquire 2 // Travel with a Mate // Uncornered Market // Vagabond Journey // Walking on Travels // Why Wait To See The World? 1 // Why Wait to See The World 2 //  World Trip Diaries 1 // World Trip Diaries 2

Japan Photo Essays

A Little Adrift // Pack Me To // Legal Nomads // Bridges and Balloons // Phenomenal Globe // The Wandering Suitcase

Personal Japan Experiences & Impressions of Japan

Act of Traveling // Trip Bitten 1 // Trip Bitten 2 // Nomadic Matt // Uncornered Market // Travels in Translation // Around the World “L” // Anglo Italian // Camels and Chocolate // Miles of Happiness // Neverending Voyage // Adventurous Kate // Kathmandu & Beyond // World of Wanderlust // Travelettes // Fleeting Life  // Vicky FlipFlop Travels  1 // Vicky FlipFlop Travels 2 // The Professional Hobo

Souvenirs from Japan

Souvenir Finder 1 // Souvenir Finder 2 // Souvenir Finder 3 // Souvenir Finder 4 // Souvenir Finder 5 // Souvenir Finder 6 //  Grantourismo Travels 1 //  Grantourismo Travels 2 //  Grantourismo Travels 3 // Grantourismo Travels 4 // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Contented Traveller // The Wandering Suitcase // Going Awesome Places // Travel on the Brain

Winter & Skiing in Japan

You Could Travel 1 // A Southern Gypsy // Urban Travel Blog // The Travel Tart // Vicky Flip Flop Travels // Travel 2 Next 1 // Travel 2 Next 2 // Travel 2 Next 3 // Girl Tweets World // Backpacking Travel Blog // Traveldudes // StoryV // Miles of Happiness // Contented Traveller // Pommie Travels // Travels in Translation // PreTraveller // A Luxury Travel Blog

Watching Sumo Wrestling in Japan

Pretraveller // Jack and Jill Travel // Contented Traveller 1 // Contented Traveller 2 // A Life Beautifully Travelled // From Heart and Seoul // Time Travel Turtle // Vicky Flip Flop Travels // Live Less Ordinary // You Could Travel

Hanami / Cherry Blossoms in Japan

Don’t Worry Just Travel // Travel on the Brain 1 // Travel on the Brain 2 // Travel on the Brain 3 // Traveldudes // Over Yonderlust // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Cultural Xplorer // Not Without My Passport // 2 Aussie Travellers // Johnny Jet // Time Travel Turtle // You Could Travel 1 // You Could Travel 2 // Traveldudes // Indie Travel Podcast

Geisha Make-Over and Kimono Experience & Buying in Japan

The travel Hack // Nomadic Boys // I am Aileen 1 // I am Aileen 2 // The Planet D // Vicky Flip Flop Travels // Our Awesome Planet // You Could Travel // Travels in Translation // Passion Passport

Camping, Hiking Kumano Kodo and Other Pilgrimages in Japan

Phenomenal Globe 1 // Phenomenal Globe 2 // Thinking Nomads // Adventures Around Asia 1 // Adventures Around Asia 2 // Aussie on the Road 1 // Aussie on the Road 2 // Rocky Travel // The Ramble // Wild About Travel // Traveldudes

Ryokan / Onsen / Hot Springs in Japan

Jessie on a Journey // Contented Traveller 1 // Contented Traveller 2 // Contented Traveller 3 // a Backpackers Tale // You Could Travel //  Traveldudes 1 // Travel2Next 1 // Travel2Next 2 // Girl Tweets World 1 //  Girl Tweets World 2 // Girl Tweets World 3 // The Travel Hack // Our Awesome Planet // House to Laos // Neverending Voyage // Live Less Ordinary // Solo Traveler and THE TRAVEL TESTER

Tea Ceremony in Japan

2 Aussie Travellers //  Travel2Next // Ever in Transit 1 // Ever in Transit 2 // Jessie on a Journey // You Could Travel

Learning and Teaching Japanese

Adventuredaze // Act of Traveling // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Suitcase Stories // Travelettes // Fluent in 3 Months 1 // Fluent in 3 Months 2 // Fluent in 3 Months 3

Expat Living, Homestays and Living Like a Local in Japan

y Travel Blog // Budget Travel Talk // Bunch of Backpackers // The Blonde Abroad

Quirky Bucket List Japan: Wonderful and Weird Japanese Stuff

World Trip Diaries 1 // World Trip Diaries 2 // Bitten by the Travel Bug // Travelettes // Bunch of Backpackers // Twenty-Something Travel // Contented Traveller 1 // Contented Traveller 2 // Contented Traveller 3 // Contented Traveller 4 // Contented Traveller 5 // Landlopers // Thinking Nomads // Dave’s Travel Corner // Phenomenal Globe // Girl Tweets World 1 // Girl Tweets World 2 // Travel Outlandish // You Could Travel // Cultural Xplorer // Traveldudes // Vicky Flip Flop Travels 1 // Vicky Flip Flop Travels 2// Nomadic Boys // Travel Outlandish // The Travel Tart 1 // The Travel Tart 2 // Travel on the Brain 1 // Travel on the Brain 2 // Travel on the Brain 3 // Travel 2 Next // Travels in Translation 1 // Travels in Translation 2 // Travelettes 1 // Travelettes 2 // Travelettes 3 // Sidewalk Safari // Time Travel Turtle

 

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