Indeed, long before the construction of many of Europe’s most spectacular cathedrals, Japan’s Shinto and Buddhist temples were already well established and attracted pilgrims and clients for their often elaborate designs and decor. At the same time, the country was already perfecting the skills and trades that would put it on the path to wealth, from fine porcelains and ceramics to textiles such as silk.
Boasting an endless list of top attractions, fun activities to do, and points of interest to explore, a vacation in Japan is certainly a great investment in both time and money.
With our list of the top tourist attractions in Japan discover the best places to visit in the country.
1. Mount Fuji
Undoubtedly Japan’s most recognizable monument, the majestic Mount Fuji (Fuji-san) is also the highest peak in the country. Soaring 3,776 meters over an otherwise largely flat landscape to the south and east, this majestic and legendary mountain is tall enough to be seen from Tokyo, more than 100 kilometers away.
While some still choose to start their ascent from the base, the majority of climbers now start above the halfway point, at the 5th station, resulting in a more manageable ascent of around six hours. Those attempting the full climb are advised to set off in the afternoon, interrupting the climb with an overnight stop at one of the “mountain huts” designed for this purpose. An early start the next day brings you to the top for sunrise.
Of course, for many, looking at the mountain from a distance, or from the comfort of a bullet train, is enough to say “been there, done that”.
2. Imperial Tokyo
Most famous landmark of Tokyo, the Imperial Palace with its magnificent 17th-century parks surrounded by walls and moats, is a must-see when visiting the nation’s capital. Don’t be put off by the fact that the majority of the palace is closed to the public (it is still used by the Imperial Family), as there is still enough to see just strolling around the grounds.
In addition to the many beautiful views of the palace from many points in the surrounding park, visitors are allowed to enter East Higashi-Gyoen Garden and other areas open to the public as part of an organized tour. One of the most romantic views is of the famous Nijubashi Bridge, or “double bridge,” which is so named for its watery reflection.
The famous Ginza shopping district is another must-see for tourists visiting Tokyo. This ever-lively neighborhood is home to the Kabuki-za theater with its Kabuki performances, as well as the Shimbashi Enbujo theater with its traditional Azuma-odori dances and Bunraku performances.
3. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
While it is hardly necessary to say here the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945, much can be said of the incredible efforts that this bustling city made to commemorate the many victims of the world’s first nuclear attack. Perhaps more importantly, Hiroshima has become a symbol of lasting peace.
Visited by over a million people each year, many from abroad, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Kōen) sits at the epicenter of the atomic explosion in what was once a bustling part of the city. Here you will find a number of important monuments, memorials and museums related to the events of that fateful day.
In addition to the grounds and gardens with their colorful cherry blossoms, the park is where you’ll find the Peace Memorial Museum, with its many exhibits. This is also where you’ll find the Memorial Cenotaph and the Peace Flame, as well as the Atomic Bomb Dome, the ruins of an administrative building that stood at the center of the blast.