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In recent years, Japan has been named the number one tourist destination in the world. With its rich cultural heritage, first-rate hospitality, unique experiences, and safety, it’s no wonder that so many travelers choose Japan as a must see vacation. There are few other places in the world that fuse the modern and the ancient quite like this island country. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to narrow down how to spend your precious time there. However, some of the best places to visit in Japan can be found in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nikko, and Mount Fuji.

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Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the world’s most densely populated city in the world. This electrifying metropolis, lit top to bottom with neon, offers visitors a stunning combination of tradition and modernity. A trip to Tokyo means a marvel of sights, including anything from towering skyscrapers to ancient shrines. It’s also home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in the world, so get ready for an unrivaled culinary experience.

Where to Visit in Tokyo
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, home to stunning cherry blossoms from late March to early April
  • Senso-ji Temple, Japan’s oldest temple
  • Tokyo Tower, modeled after the Eiffel Tower
  • Shibuya Crossing, the busiest pedestrian intersection in the world
  • teamLab Planets TOKYO, an immersive art gallery installation inspired by natural wonders


If you’re looking to experience Tokyo on a slightly smaller scale, Osaka is the city to visit. Though Osaka isn’t as popular of a tourist destination as other cities, it’s well worth the trip. It’s considered the “second city” to Tokyo due to its eccentric atmosphere and illuminated signboards. Osaka is known for its friendly locals, endless array of street food, and bustling nightlife.

Where to Visit In Osaka
  • Dotombori District, the epicenter of nightlife and entertainment
  • National Bunraku Theater, home to traditional Japanese puppet and comedy shows
  • Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Street, one of the most famous retail districts in the country since the 18th century
  • Osaka Castle Park, home to several historical monuments and shrines, like Osaka Castle, and many public gardens


As Japan’s former capital city, Kyoto is considered to be the country’s cultural capital. The districts surrounding downtown Kyoto still retain original or refurbished traditional architecture, including temples, shrines, and geisha houses. There are also 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, showing just how closely the city is tied to Japan’s ancient past. Kyoto is filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences steeped in history, including the chance to participate in tea ceremonies.

Where to Visit In Kyoto
  • Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, the head shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, success, and prosperity
  • Arashiyama bamboo grove, a stunning natural forest with hiking paths
  • Gion, the famous geisha district in historical Higashiyama
  • Nishiki Market Shopping District, a beloved retail and restaurant area in Downtown Kyoto


Nestled in the mountainous Tochigi Prefecture north of Tokyo is Nikko. This scenic escape is another lesser known destination but one that tourists who have taken the trip won’t soon forget. Nikko is ideal for travelers seeking outdoor adventure and tranquility, as its lush landscapes include waterfalls, hot springs, and plenty of open trails for exploration.

Where to Visit In Nikko
  • Nikko National Park, a vast natural space popular for hiking and camping
  • Nikko Tosho-gu, one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites found within Nikko National Park
  • Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park, former imperial summer residence turned into a public museum
  • Kegon Falls, a 318 foot waterfall with 12 smaller waterfalls surrounding it

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is much more than a majestic volcano or the highest mountain in Japan. It’s a sacred landmark, one of three holy Japanese mountains in Shinto and Buddhist religions. Travelers from around the world flock to Mount Fuji every year, often from July through September, to make the difficult trek to the top. These eight to 12 hour hikes can be made solo or on a group excursion. Though the over 12,000 foot journey is harrowing, the spectacular views from the top are a rewarding prize.

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