Japan is a land of bullet trains, neon lights, and temples older than time itself. If you dream of your first trip to this unforgettable country, you’re in for a treat! Understanding the 10 best places to visit in Japan for first-time visitors is crucial for planning a memorable and fulfilling trip. This blog will ensure your trip perfectly blends modern marvels and ancient wonders. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. Start your Japan adventure today with luxury vacation rentals for an unforgettable experience!

10 best places to visit in Japan

Unlock the gate to Japan’s mesmerizing wonders! Venture beyond the ordinary and immerse yourself in Japan’s 10 best places to visit. From Kyoto’s tranquil gardens to Tokyo’s electric streets, this journey promises enchantment at every turn. Let’s dive into this captivating exploration together.

10. Nara

Nara japan
Nara, japan

This is a charming city nestled in Japan’s Kansai region. It thrived as Japan’s capital during the Nara period (710-794 AD), leaving behind a rich legacy of temples, shrines, and historical sites. Today, Nara offers a delightful blend of ancient treasures and friendly Sika deer that roam freely in Nara Park, the city’s heart.

Must-Visit Attractions in Nara

Here are some must-visit attractions in Nara:

  • Todai-ji Temple

Witness the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue housed within this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Kasuga Grand Shrine

Immerse yourself in the vibrant, vermillion-colored buildings and thousands of stone lanterns lining the path to this Shinto shrine.

  • Nara Park 

Explore this expansive park, teeming with Nara’s top attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine, and the Kofuku-ji Temple. It’s also the best place to interact with the friendly Sika deer.

  • Naramachi District

Stroll through this historic district, lined with traditional wooden buildings, shops, and restaurants, and soak up the atmosphere of old Nara.

  • Heijo Palace

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a glimpse into the grandeur of the ancient capital city. It reveals the remnants of the imperial palace from the Nara period.

9. Nikko

Nikko japan
Nikko, japan

The town of Nikko, nestled in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, is a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural significance. Towering mountains, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls grace Nikko National Park, while the city boasts a rich heritage as a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for centuries.  Nikko’s crown jewel is the Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Must-Visit Attractions in Nikko

Here are some must-visit attractions in Nikko:

  • Toshogu Shrine

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toshogu Shrine is the crown jewel of Nikko. This lavishly decorated Shinto shrine complex is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate. Visitors are awestruck by the intricate carvings, colorful paintwork, and gold leaf ornamentation that adorn the buildings. 

  • Futarasan Shrine and Shinkyo Bridge

Located next to Toshogu Shrine, Futarasan Shrine is dedicated to the deities of Mount Futara and Mount Nantai. The sacred Shinkyo Bridge, a vermillion-lacquered bridge, is the gateway to both Shrines.

  • Rinnoji Temple

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rinnoji Temple, is a complex of Buddhist temples with a long and fascinating history. It includes several halls, pagodas, and a serene garden. 

  • Kegon Falls

One of the most iconic waterfalls in Japan, Kegon Falls plunges a dramatic 97 meters (318 feet) into a scenic canyon.  You can view the falls from an observation deck or take an elevator down to the base for a closer look. 

  • Lake Chuzenji

A beautiful lake located high in the mountains of Nikko National Park, Lake Chuzenji offers stunning scenery and a variety of outdoor activities like boating and hiking.  During the fall season, the surrounding mountains come alive with vibrant colors. 

  • Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura

This unique theme park allows visitors to step back in time and experience Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868).  You can dress up in traditional clothing, watch samurai demonstrations, and enjoy traditional food and entertainment.

8. Kanazawa

Kanazawa Japan
Kanazawa, Japan

The city of Kanazawa, Japan, is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. It is known for its well-preserved geisha district, Kenroku-en Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and abundant fresh seafood. 

Must-Visit Attractions in Kanazawa

Here are some of the must-visit attractions in Kanazawa:

  • Kenrokuen Garden

Considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenrokuen is a masterpiece of landscape design. The garden features ponds, hills, teahouses, and various plants, creating a stunning display throughout the year. 

  • Higashi Chaya District

Step back in this historic district, where Geisha once entertained guests in tea houses. Today, you can wander the narrow streets, admire the traditional wooden buildings, and spot a geisha on her way to an appointment. 

  • Omicho Market

This lively market is a great place to experience Japanese culture and sample the freshest seafood in Kanazawa. Be sure to try local specialties like sushi, sashimi, and white shrimp. 

  • Kanazawa Castle

Once the seat of power for the powerful Maeda clan, Kanazawa Castle is now a popular tourist destination. Its beautiful gardens surround it and offer stunning views of the city. 

  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

This award-winning museum is a must-see for any fan of modern art. The museum houses a collection of contemporary art from around the world, including works by Andy Warhol and Olafur Eliasson. 

7. Hakone

Hakone Japan
Hakone, Japan

The town of Hakone, Japan, is a town in Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Tokyo. It’s known as a popular resort destination due to its beautiful natural scenery, including being part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and its many hot springs (onsen), where visitors can relax while taking in views of the iconic Mount Fuji. The Hakone area offers a variety of activities for visitors, from soaking in hot springs to exploring volcanic landscapes and museums.

Must-Visit Attractions in Hakone

 Here are some must-visit attractions in Hakone:

  • Lake Ashi

This beautiful lake is a popular spot for boating, sightseeing, and enjoying the views of Mount Fuji. Visitors can take a cruise on the lake or rent a paddleboat to explore at their own pace.

  • Hakone Open-Air Museum

This unique museum features a collection of sculptures displayed outdoors in a beautiful garden setting. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh air while admiring the art.

  • Owakudani Valley

This volcanic valley is home to boiling springs and fumaroles. Visitors can take a cable car up to the valley to see the otherworldly landscape and try a local specialty: boiled eggs cooked in the geothermal vents.

  • Hakone Shrine

This Shinto shrine is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The shrine is famous for its red torii gate, which stands on the shore of Lake Ashi.

  • Hakone Ropeway

This aerial tramway offers stunning views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding mountains. The ropeway is a great way to see the Hakone area differently.

6. Okinawa

Okinawa Japan
Okinawa, Japan

The island chain of Okinawa, Japan, is a chain of islands stretching south from the mainland, offering a tropical paradise experience.  Nicknamed “Japan’s Hawaii,” it boasts stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters teeming with coral reefs, and a laid-back atmosphere.  Beyond the idyllic beaches, Okinawa boasts a rich cultural heritage distinct from mainland Japan, influenced by its proximity to China and Taiwan.  Visitors can delve into Ryukyu Kingdom history at Shuri Castle, explore serene UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Ryukyu Gusuku Kingdom Sites and Related Properties, or dive into the unique local cuisine featuring fresh seafood and Okinawa soba noodles. 

Must-Visit Attractions in Okinawa

Here are some must-visit attractions in Okinawa, Japan:

  • Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

This incredible facility, home to the world’s second-largest aquarium tank, showcases the diverse marine life of the Ryukyu Islands, including whale sharks, manta rays, and colorful fish.

  • Kerama Islands

The Kerama Islands are a paradise for beach lovers and snorkelers. They offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life.

  • Shuri Castle

Once the political center of the Ryukyu Kingdom, this majestic castle complex offers a glimpse into Okinawan history and culture. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, royal residences, and various museums.

  • Ryukyu Mura

This open-air museum allows visitors to experience traditional Okinawan life. Here, you can see Ryukyu Kingdom-era houses, witness traditional crafts being demonstrated, and even try on Ryukyu clothing.

  • Kokusaidori Street

Kokusaidori Street is a lively shopping and entertainment district located in Naha, Okinawa’s capital city. Stroll down the 1.6-kilometer-long street lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

5. Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji Japan
Mount Fuji, Japan

Towering over Japan at a staggering 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), Mount Fuji is the country’s highest mountain and a truly iconic landmark.  This dormant volcano, last erupting in 1707, is a near-perfect symmetrical cone deeply embedded in Japanese culture and history, considered a sacred place for centuries.  Thousands of climbers attempt the challenging trek to the summit each year, particularly during the short climbing season in July and August, for the once-in-a-lifetime sunrise views.  Beyond the climb, the surrounding Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park offers stunning scenery, hot springs (onsen), and charming towns, making it a popular year-round destination. 

Must-Visit Attractions in Mount Fuji

Here are some must-visit attractions around Mount Fuji:

  • Climbing Mount Fuji

For the adventurous, reaching the summit of Mount Fuji is an unforgettable experience. There are several trails to choose from, each with varying difficulty levels. Be prepared for the physical challenge, high altitude, and unpredictable weather conditions.

  • Lake Kawaguchiko

One of the Fuji Five Lakes offers stunning views of Mount Fuji. Visitors can enjoy a scenic boat ride, explore the adorable penguin museum, or visit the Kawaguchiko Music Forest for unique open-air instruments.

  • Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

The museum is dedicated to the works of Itchiku Kubota, a renowned lacquerware artist. It showcases his vibrant and intricate lacquer creations, often incorporating traditional Japanese themes.

  • Arashiyama Sengen Shrine

A Shinto shrine with a rich history, Mount Fuji Shrine is located at the foot of Mount Fuji. Visitors can wander the serene grounds, admire the traditional architecture, and learn about the shrine’s connection to the mountain.

  • Oshino Hakkai (Eight Fields of Oshino)

A collection of eight interconnected natural ponds fed by Mount Fuji’s meltwater. Explore the picturesque ponds, visit traditional farmhouses, and enjoy the local fresh produce.

4. Hiroshima

Hiroshima Japan
Hiroshima, Japan

This is the city of Japan, a modern city on Honshu Island.  While tragically known for being the first city hit by an atomic bomb in 1945, Hiroshima today is a city dedicated to peace. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park commemorates the event, with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few structures left standing near ground zero, serving as stark reminders of the war’s devastation. Hiroshima has also rebuilt itself into a vibrant city, offering delicious food like okonomiyaki, beautiful gardens like Shukkei-en, and historic sites like Hiroshima Castle.

Must-Visit Attractions in Hiroshima

Here are some must-visit attractions in Hiroshima, Japan:

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

This sprawling park is a must-see for any visitor to Hiroshima. It includes the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which tells the story of the atomic bombing and its aftermath. The park also includes the Atomic Bomb Dome, the ruins of a building that was left standing after the bombing.

  • Itsukushima Shrine 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. The shrine is located on Miyajima Island, and its most recognizable feature is the “floating” gate, which appears to float on the water at high tide.

  • Hiroshima Castle 

Also known as Carp Castle, this beautiful 16th-century castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, but it has since been rebuilt and is now a popular tourist destination. 

  • Shukkei-en 

This beautiful garden was created in the early 17th century. It is modeled after a famous garden in China, and it features a variety of ponds, bridges, and teahouses. 

  • Okonomimura

This is a must-visit for any foodie! Okonomimura is a large building that houses over 20 different okonomiyaki restaurants. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake dish that is a Hiroshima specialty. 

3. Osaka

Osaka Japan
Osaka, Japan

It is the second-largest city in Japan and serves as the capital of the Kansai region. It’s a vibrant and energetic city known for its delicious food, lively nightlife, and rich history. Osaka is often called the “kitchen of Japan” due to its abundance of street food stalls and amazing restaurants. The city also has a strong sense of humor and a laid-back atmosphere compared to the more formal Tokyo. Whether you’re interested in history, food, shopping, or nightlife, Osaka has something to offer everyone.

Must-Visit Attractions in Osaka

Here are some must-visit attractions in Osaka, Japan:

  • Dotonbori

A must-see for first-time visitors to Osaka. This lively district is famous for its neon lights, giant food signs, and delicious street food. You can try Osaka specialties like okonomiyaki (savory pancake) and takoyaki (octopus dumplings) while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

  • Osaka Castle

The castle is a historical landmark and an iconic symbol of Osaka. Built-in the 16th century, it offers a glimpse into Japan’s feudal past. You can explore the castle grounds, learn about its history, and enjoy stunning city views from the keep.

  • Universal Studios Japan (USJ)

A world-famous theme park perfect for thrill-seekers and fans of popular movies and video games. USJ features exciting rides, shows, and attractions based on franchises like Harry Potter, Minion Park, and Jurassic Park.

  • Kuromon Market

This bustling market is a paradise for food lovers! It offers fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, and delicious Japanese snacks. You can sample local delicacies and experience the authentic atmosphere of a Japanese market.

  • Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

It is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It houses a wide array of marine life from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and its exhibits showcase different ecosystems and habitats.

2. Kyoto

Kyoto Japan
Kyoto, Japan

The city of Kyoto, located in Japan, is steeped in history and tradition. It was the capital of Japan for over a thousand years, from 794 to 1868. As a result, the city is home to a wealth of cultural treasures, including temples, shrines, gardens, and palaces. Kyoto is also famous for its geisha culture, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful natural setting.

Must-Visit Attractions in Kyoto

Here are some must-visit attractions in Kyoto, Japan:

  • Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

This iconic temple is perched on a hilltop overlooking the city. It is famous for its wooden stage, supported by hundreds of pillars.

  • Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

This shrine is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which wind up a mountainside.

  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

This towering bamboo tree grove is a popular spot for a serene walk.

  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

This temple is covered in gold leaf and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Kyoto.

  • Gion District

This district has geisha houses and traditional tea houses. Visitors can stroll through the narrow streets and glimpse Kyoto’s geisha culture.

1. Tokyo

Tokyo Japan
Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s capital, Tokyo, is a mind-blowing fusion of ancient tradition and neon-lit modernity. Once, a small castle town named Edo exploded into one of the world’s largest cities in the 17th century. In 1868, Tokyo became the capital of Japan and has remained a cultural and economic powerhouse ever since. Visitors can wander serene temples, marvel at cutting-edge technology, and indulge in delicious cuisine—all within the same city.

Must-Visit Attractions in Tokyo

Here are some must-visit attractions in Tokyo, Japan:

  • Sensō-ji Temple

Asakusa’s Sensō-ji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, founded in the 7th century. It is an experience to walk up to the temple through Nakamise-dori, a busy shopping street lined with vendors selling traditional Japanese souvenirs and food.

  • Shibuya Crossing

This is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing, a must-see for any visitor to Tokyo. Scramble across the intersection with hundreds of others and soak up the electric atmosphere.

  • Tokyo Tower

Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower offers stunning 360-degree city views from its two observation decks.

  • Tokyo National Museum

Home to the world’s largest collection of Japanese art and artifacts, this museum is a treasure trove of Japanese history and culture.

  • Ghibli Museum

This museum is a haven for Studio Ghibli fans. It showcases the works of the famed animation studio behind films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.


In conclusion, exploring the 10 best places to visit in Japan offers an unparalleled journey through the rich tapestry of Japanese culture, history, and natural beauty. From Tokyo’s iconic bustle to Kyoto’s serene temples, each destination unveils a new facet of this captivating country. Whether you seek the vibrant energy of city life or the tranquility of rural landscapes, Japan promises an adventure like no other.

So, why wait? Begin your Japanese odyssey today and immerse yourself in the wonders that await. Let this remarkable land’s sights, sounds, and flavors leave an indelible mark on your soul. Bon voyage, intrepid travelers, and may your journey through the Land of the Rising Sun be extraordinary!


Q1. Are these destinations suitable for solo travelers?

Absolutely! Japan is known for its safety and hospitality, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers.

Q2. What’s the best time of year to visit Japan?

The cherry blossom season in spring and the vibrant foliage in autumn are popular times to visit, but Japan offers unique experiences year-round.

Q3. Do I need to exchange currency before traveling to Japan?

It’s recommended to exchange currency upon arrival at major airports or use international credit cards, as Japan is predominantly a cash-based society.

Q4. Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of?

Japan highly values respect for traditions and etiquette. Before entering certain establishments, familiarize yourself with essential customs, such as bowing and removing shoes.

Q5. Can I use public transportation to get around these destinations?

Yes, Japan boasts an efficient and extensive public transportation network, including trains, subways, and buses, making it easy to navigate between attractions.