Our must-see destinations in Japan

If you’ve already explored Europe and the United States, a trip to Asia should certainly be next on the list. It’s not only the largest continent in the world, both by population and by land area, but it’s home to 44 bountiful countries, including Japan.

Japan is a string of islands, known as an archipelago, on the continent’s eastern edge.

It’s vibrant, colorful, and teeming with memorable and impactful tourism opportunities. If you’re planning to travel to Japan this year, it’s worth getting to know a few of the country’s top destinations beforehand.

Where to go in Japan: Our five top picks

1. Tokyo

As the capital of Japan, Tokyo is the world’s most populated city. It’s widely regarded for its fashionable shopping districts, but any visitor will soon discover the texture to the city. Behind bustling business districts dominated by towering skyscrapers, ancient temples wait to be discovered downtown.

This contemporary and somewhat futuristic city reveals the realms of possibilities and innovation in Japan. Whether you go privately or with a tour provider, many first-time Japan holidays start with a trip to Tokyo for a good reason.

2. Kyoto

Visiting Kyoto is all about discovering ancient Japan. Home to almost 2,000 shrines and temples, this city is a spiritual centre that embodies the old way of life in Japan. Don’t be fooled by the ultra-modern train station: just a few streets beyond, ancient wonders and peaceful Zen Gardens.

Highlights in Kyoto include the Kinkakuji Temple and the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, both esteemed religious sites with plenty of picturesque backdrops. Just remember that etiquette is integral to Japanese culture, so you should always try to behave respectfully inside shrines and temples.

3. Osaka

As the country’s second-largest urban area behind Tokyo, Osaka is one of the trendiest and most diverse cities in Japan. You can get there easily after just a quick ride from Tokyo on the Shinkansen, known in England as the bullet trains, so it’s a great option for a day-trip.

The grounds of Osaka Castle make the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll, while surrounding neighbourhoods offer an incredible and authentic range of culinary delights to try. The Dōtonbori canal splits the landscape of this city, so why not go for a cruise?

4. Japanese Alps

Mountains might not spring to mind straight away when you think of Japan, but anyone who loves natural beauty will be awestruck by this exceptional region.

The Alps serve as a safe haven for climbers, hikers, skiers, and lovers of nature, offering an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Just two hours by car from Tokyo, this tranquil paradise is also home to ancient buildings and monasteries like the Eihei-ji Temple.

5. Yokohama

Yokohama is the capital of the Kanagawa prefecture, the second-most populous in the country. If your dreams of a Japanese getaway include traditional pagoda temples set against crystalline lakes and botanical gardens, this location is perfectly suited. There’s also a modern city centre, brilliant museums, and hot springs for bathing.

One more thing before you go

Your itinerary for a trip to Japan should also depend on the time of year. We recommend visiting Japan in the springtime to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, decorating quaint side streets with delicate fauna.  If you prefer a jam-packed activity calendar, the hot summer promises many events and festivals.

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