Located in East Asia and separated from the continent by the seas of Japan and China, Japan attracts because it is both reassuring and exotic. Combining Western codes and the Japanese way of life, urban effervescence and inner calm, ultra-modernity and tradition, apparent rigor and openness, Japan is accessible for the less seasoned travelers and disconcerting for others.
We know the cultural richness of Japan, we imagine it less as a nature destination. And yet, if you go off the beaten track, the country is surprising. Whatever the season, come and visit Japan, the country of a thousand atmospheres!
Third largest city in Japan and a major metropolis in Kansai, Osaka is a vibrant and endearing city. It is a good introduction for those who visit Japan for the first time.
Culture lovers can admire the superb Osaka castle or go to the Shumiyoshi Taisha Shinto shrine , by taking a charming tram.
To feel the particular atmosphere of the city and taste the local specialties, you can stroll through the districts of Shinsekai, Namba and Dontonbori, without forgetting to go to the Kuromon Ichiba market .
Come to the origins of Japan, to contemplate the Great Bronze Buddha of the immense Todai-Ji temple . At the bend in an alley, don’t be surprised to come across deer. They live freely in the park and will not hesitate to come and greet you!
Impossible to visit Japan without stopping in Kyoto ! Former imperial capital and cultural metropolis par excellence, it is difficult to choose which temple or palace to visit, as they are numerous and sumptuous! From the Golden Pavilion, passing by the Fushimi-Inari sanctuary or the Nijo castle, one cannot be disappointed.
Don’t leave the city without getting lost in the bamboo forest of Arashiyama or having wandered the streets of the traditional district of Gion. If you dread the crowds, Kyoto has the advantage of being an airy city, surrounded by superb hills, from which many hiking trails start. During the fall, the red leaves of the maple trees give a special cachet to Kyoto and its surroundings.
Another metropolis on the island of Honshu, Nagoya is however different from its Japanese counterparts. More peaceful than Osaka or Tokyo, Nagoya deserves a stopover other than to change trains.
The city has a unique beauty that you have to know how to appreciate. Between its giant green Buddha and Oasis 21, a monument in the shape of a space shuttle, or its metallic TV Tower, Nagoya will surprise more than one traveller! In a more conventional register, you can visit the superb Hommaru Palace, elegant gardens, multiple temples or simply stroll through the districts of Nagoya .
Visiting Japan is not just about staying in cities. Ine-Cho is an example of these destinations neglected by tourists, where you can spend delicious moments.
Ideally located between the sea and the mountains, just a hundred kilometers from Kyoto, this pretty little fishing village is a real haven of peace. Come and discover the funayas , these adorable and improbable houses on stilts, which run along the port of Ine-Cho.
6. Nakasendo and the villages of Magome and Tsumago
No, visiting Japan is not just about jumping between each famous metropolis. Experience traditional Japan by staying at a ryokan in central Honshu Island , in the heart of the Japanese Alps.
Step back in time on the Nakasendo , a historic Edo period path that connected ancient Tokyo to Kyoto. Hike from the village of Nagiso , to Magome , passing through Tsumago , the pearl of the mountains. You will be charmed!
Looking for a less touristy version of Kyoto? We found it! Kanazawa is not lacking in historical attractions, such as the Ninja-Dera temple, the castle or the geisha or samurai quarters.
The city also has the advantage of being located by the Sea of Japan.
There are not only temples in Japan! Continue your escapade in the center of the country by coming to admire the traditional houses of Shirakawag o, the gassho-zukuri .
Strolling between these steep-roofed houses sometimes gives the feeling of living in a Gallic village!
Along with Osaka, Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful in Japan. Nicknamed the “Crow”, because of its black color, the building deserves that we come to spend a day in the surroundings.
If you choose to stay longer, come and lose yourself in the rice fields that swarm around Matsumoto.
1O. Mount Fuji
To visit Japan without coming to greet Mount Fuji would be a lack of respect for the Japanese! It is difficult to describe this sacred volcano, as its beauty is obvious. You can admire it from Kawaguchiko, and take a bike ride around the lake of the same name.
Hakone is more touristy and further from Fuji, but offers a greater choice of activities. Whatever the starting point, the bravest can tackle the ascent of Mount Fuji!
What would Japan be without Tokyo ? Symbol of ultra-modernity and excess, temple of video games and new technologies, Tokyo will seduce lovers of unique experiences.
However, that other travelers do not pass their way. Discover another form of Tokyo life, far from the bustle of Shibuya or Akihabara, by taking a walk in one of the capital’s many parks or strolling through the adorable residential and traditional districts.
Kamakura is a pleasant stopover for those who want to relax on the edge of the Pacific, after a hectic escapade in Tokyo. Come and discover this charming little town, located between the sea and the hills, just fifty kilometers south of the capital.
If you want to mix culture and nature, Nikko is for you! Located one hundred and fifty kilometers north of Tokyo, it is the ideal place to visit superb sanctuaries classified as World Heritage by Unesco, while walking in a forest of thousand-year-old cedars.
To relax after a good day of walking, nothing beats bathing in the onsen of the small spa town of Yumoto. These hot springs will delight you!
We do not present her anymore. It may seem surprising to find Hiroshima in a ranking of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan, yet this city is beautiful in its resilience.
Victim of the bombardments of the Second World War, Hiroshima knew how to rebuild itself and is worth the detour. We cannot remain insensitive to the beauty of the message hidden behind the Memorial and the Peace Park. When the cherry trees are in bloom, it’s even more striking.
Visiting a wild Japan, you think it’s impossible? Well no ! The island of Hokkaido , located in the north of the country, will surprise you. Between hot springs, an active volcano and preserved forests, lovers of authentic nature will discover a Japan off the beaten track.
In winter, the snow sublimates the beauty of the landscapes.
16. Shikoku Island
Shikoku Island is the smallest of the four islands that make up Japan. Abandoned by tourists, Shikoku nevertheless has character and deserves that you come and spend a few days there.
A nature destination, the island is home to incredible marine wildlife, hides superb beaches and is an ideal playground for trying your hand at surfing. Shikoku is also known for its Eighty-eight Temple Pilgrimage, which connects several shrines on the island.
17. Le temple d’Itsukushima
Itsukushima temple is famous for its red torii which stands in the middle of the water.
Located on the island of Miyajima, off Hiroshima, the shrine is absolutely incredible to visit, due to the unique setting in which it is set.
18. Le parc national de Kirishima-Yaku
Located on the island of Kyûshû , the national park offers you the opportunity to visit a wild Japan, far from the effervescence of the megalopolises of the island of Honshu.
Between volcanic landscapes and cedar forests, between swimming in hot springs and hikes with spectacular viewpoints, you won’t regret having chosen a stage that is out of the ordinary!
19. The Okinawa Archipelago
White sand beaches in Japan? No, you’re not dreaming ! The Okinawa archipelago is located less than two hours by plane from Tokyo and transports you to a totally different universe.
Take the time for this unique getaway, which will leave you with unforgettable memories of your visit to Japan.
20. The Ogasawara Archipelago
We have found another corner of paradise for you. Pearl of Japan which has nothing to envy to the islets of Polynesia: the archipelago of Ogasawara .
Come and spend a few days in the Japanese Galapagos, where you can swim in turquoise water, hike on trails lost in tropical vegetation or swim among colorful fish. Unforgettable memories guaranteed!