5 Destinations You Should Know About In Japan
Japan has never been more popular. An extraordinary 30 million tourists visited the country in 2018 – an increase of almost 10% from 2017. It is easy to see why it remains such an alluring place to visit – with its rich culture, fascinating history and vibrant food and drink scene it has so much to offer. But where are the five places you must visit when you visit Japan?
Japan’s capital is also its most popular destination – and for good reason. Tokyo is one of the most populated places on earth, so if you’re not a fan of crowds then it may not be for you. But if you can get past the hustle and bustle you will find a city where the old and the new blend together in near perfect harmony. You must visit the traditional gardens and ancient shrines, and also give one of Tokyo’s many karaoke bars a go after a sip or two of sake. And if you need to get away from it all, spend a few hours in the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
Kyoto provides an altogether different experience from the capital, but has just as much history and variety. Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan for a millennium and has thousands of Shinto shrines to show for it, including the jaw-dropping Fushimi Inari Shrine. The many Buddhist temples are also worth visiting if you can. If you visit in July you can also experience the Gion Matsuri festival – an assault on the senses with incredible food stalls filling the streets. The Yoiyama Parade, with its colourful floats, is a particular highlight.
The historic city of Nara dates back to the 8th century, when it was the very first capital city of Japan. Nara has many of the country’s oldest temples, artwork and pieces of historical interest. The Todaiji Temple is particularly worth a visit – it’s great Buddha, Daibutsu, is one of the most important sites in the city, while the Isui-en garden has some spectacular flowers and trees. Nara-koen Park is another must-visit place with its famous deer, which are so tame that they will approach tourists in search of food. You can buy crackers to feed to the deer while you are in the park.
Japan’s second largest city, Osaka is a place that loves to eat and drink. The sake and sushi are excellent in Osaka and it’s also famous for its street food, takoyaki. For families, the Kaiyukan aquarium is widely viewed as one of the very best on earth, while you can also visit Universal Studios, which has a site here. If you are looking for something altogether more historic then Osaka Castle is certainly worth a visit.
This is the place to come if you want to relax, soak up the sunshine and enjoy arguably the warmest welcome you will find anywhere in Japan. The beaches around Okinawa are a delight and the history – both recent and distant – is fascinating.