Just in time for the peak summer travel season, website TripAdvisor has released its annual list of the highest-rated spots in Japan from its foreign users. With 30 amazing locations on the list, you’ll want to start your journey as soon as possible if your goal is to see them all, so let’s dive right in and take a look at this year’s picks.
30. Tokyo City View (Tokyo)
The observation floor of the Roppongi Hills complex isn’t the only place to get a bird’s eye view the capital, but it’s newer than Tokyo Tower or the Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku. It’s also less crowded than the Skytree, and at 270 meters (886 feet) above sea level, is a great way to get a grasp on the immense scope of Japan’s largest city.
29. Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena (Tokyo)
28. Arashiyama (Kyoto)
You might not guess it from its name (which means “Storm Moountain”), but this neighborhood west of Kyoto’s city center has a beautifully tranquil bamboo grove and forest crisscrossed by walking paths.
27. Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology (Aichi)
26. Shibuya Centar-gai (Tokyo)
Loud and brash, the most vibrant street in Shibuya connects directly to its famous Scramble Intersection and is always packed with shoppers, dinners, and drinkers.
25. Meiji-jingu Shrine (Tokyo)
24. Sanjusangendo Temple (Kyoto)
23. Shirakawa-go (Gifu)
This collection of traditional thatched farmhouses makes for a beautiful glimpse of a bygone era, whether visited when the surrounding fields are lush and green during summer or when the whole village is blanketed in winter snow.
22. Hasedera Temple (Kanagawa)
Just down the street from Kamakura’s world-famous Great Buddha statue, Hasedera’a hillside position provides the grounds with sweeping views of the ocean and a cavern filled with alters to a variety of patron deities.
21. Asakusa Cultural Sightseeing Center (Tokyo)
20. Mt. Misen (Hiroshima)
While many visitors to Miyajima Island are content to snap a picture in front of its torii gate that rises out of the ocean, those that make the moderate hike to the top Mt. Misen, the highest point on the island, will be rewarded with spectacular views of the prefecture’s coastline (or if you’re not in the mood to walk, you can always take the cable car).
19. Gear Theater (Kyoto)
Imagined as “an abandoned toy factory of the future,” this avant-garde theater offers non-verbal performances that combine dance, mime, and magic techniques.
18. Nara Park (Nara)
Yes, there really are groups of wild yet tame deer that roam free around Nara’s biggest park.
17. Yokohama Minato Mirai (Kanagawa)
The Yokohama neighborhood’s official name is Minato Mirai 21, but none of the locals use the numerical suffix when talking about the city’s bayside entertainment area with glitteringly futuristic architecture.
16. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)
15. Kenrokuen Garden (Ishikawa)
14. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (Chiba)
13. Mt. Fuji (Shizuoka/Yamanashi)
12. Shinjuku Gyoen Garden (Tokyo)
Need a break from Tokyo’s constant hum of urban energy? This massive garden is filled with cherry blossom trees, ponds, and, a rarity in Japanese parks, large grassy fields for kids to run and play in.
11. Kinkakuji/Golden Pavillion (Kyoto)
10. Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa)
9. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa)
8. Samurai Kembu Theater (Kyoto)
Kembu translates literally as “sword dance,” and this facility in Kyoto not only puts on theatrical combat performances, but also offers lessons for would-be samurai who want to learn the basics of swinging a sword for the stage.
7. Koyasan Okunoin Temple (Wakayama)
6. Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Nagano)
Also known as Hell Valley Wild Monkey Park. Also known as that place where monkeys soak in the hot springs.
5. Zenrinji Eikando Temple (Kyoto)
4. Todaiji Temple (Nara)
Think everything in Japan is compact? Until 1998, this was the largest wooden building in the world, and it houses a 14.98-meter (49.1-foot) bronze Buddha statue, known as the Diabutsu of Nara.
3. Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)
Hiroshima’s Miyajima Island makes the list again, this time for its Itsukushima Shrine and torii gate, one of the most iconic views of Japan for generations.
2. Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome/Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima)
The contrast of the somber, still standing structure that was at the center of the atomic bomb blast and the beautiful riverside park later built around it serve as powerful reminders of the cost of war and value of peace.
1. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)
Until recently, Fushimi Inari wasn’t on the itinerary of many foreign visitors to Kyoto, as it’s tucked away in the foothills away from most of the city’s dozens of compelling attractions. Thanks to word of mouth, though, it’s become a major draw for overseas visitors to Japan, as the shrines natural surroundings, hundreds of alters, and seemingly never-ending torii tunnels provide an atmosphere unlike anything you’ll find in any other country.
Top image: RocketNews24, Wallpaper Web, Wikipedia/Dura-Ace, Jigokudani Yaen Koen (edited by RocketNews24)
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