Ancient history and sophisticated modern technology and innovation mingle seamlessly in Japan, so it is no surprise that when asking the question What is Japan Famous for the answers are a mix of the old and the new. From centuries-old shrines to bullet trains, cherry blossoms to vending machines and ramen to anime here are …
Japan is a must-see bucket list destination for many travelers. Whether you’re hoping to transport to a futuristic metropolis or a quaint traditional coastal town, you will find it in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
So what is Japan famous for? I’m glad you asked. The most recognisable things Japan is famous for are its ultramodern skyscrapers, Mount Fuji, and dominating the animation pop culture with anime, video games, and manga.
While the country can seem small on the map, it is compact and fully stacked with things to see and do. But which areas are worth your time?
Why Visit Japan?
The country has a few interesting accolades, landmarks, and attractions that beckon visitors back every year. It also does a splendid job of incorporating its modernity without wiping out its rich history.
The Nakasendo Trail in Ryokan, also known as Kisokaidō, is a great way to get firsthand insight into the region’s history, natural beauties, and cities. It is a hike from Tokyo to Kyoto covering the same route walked by samurais, noblemen, and merchants around the 12th century.
That said, the country flawlessly deals in duality and evens its natural beauties with futuristic, fun neighborhoods and attractions. After all, it is the home of anime, 3D printing, and karaoke.
The Japanese also know how to party. So, if you’re looking for a wild night out, don’t be shy to stop by a cosy izakaya for a strong sip of sake.
How Long Do You Need to Be in Japan?
I recommend you stay in Japan for a week at minimum. If you can, try to aim for a 10-day Japan itinerary or longer. This gives you enough time to visit all the top destinations and attractions in each stunning city and town without worrying that you may run out of time.
While here, aim to spend half of your time in Tokyo and the other in the Kyoto region. If you plan to stay longer than ten days, I recommend staying in different areas instead of doing day trips. This way, you’ll find hidden gems and a more authentic feel of the country.
Top Places to Visit in Japan
Japan has diverse attractions, and each city and town has its own charm. The country offers a great way to time jump as it has one foot in the future and one in the past. It just depends on which city to visit to see either side.
Tokyo is Japan’s capital and one of the biggest cities in the world. It has a population of 37 million residents spread across 23 districts. If you visit Japan, I recommend spending at least one day in Tokyo. Of course, you can always spend more time here as ther are thousands of fun attractions and activities to do.
The city has a futuristic feel that can be seen in neighbourhoods like Shinjuku and Akihabara. These ultra-modern areas look like they’re stolen from the future with lines of neon lights, skyscrapers, automated cafes, and shops.
That said, there are loads of natural escapes within the city for nature lovers, too. One of the most captivating is Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, an hour outside Shinjuku. Here, you can embrace the outdoors by hiking Mount Mitake, soaking in its hot springs, or cooling off by exploring its limestone caves.
Kyoto is ideal if you’re looking for a cultural dip into life in Japan. It has breathtaking landmarks like the Arashiyama bamboo forest, the Kiyomizudera Buddhist Temple, and the Heian Jingu Shrine.
Its buildings have also kept their traditional charm with curved roofs and wood accents. I recommend you enjoy at least a two-day itinerary in Kyoto to see these traditional shrines, temples, and palaces.
Japan is also well-known for its pink and white cherry blossoms. So, don’t forget to walk around Gion District and Lake Biwa Canal for front-seat views. Both offer amazing views of cherry blossom lanes, while Gion also has the added surprise of dolled-up geishas enjoying a stroll.
For something different and out of the city, why not visit some Japanese macaque monkeys at Arashiyama Iwatayama Monkey Park? It is a 30-minute hike where you’ll see primate hiking buddies eager for a snack, which you can buy and feed at the very top of the peak.
Osaka is the ideal place for foodies and shopaholics. It contains one of the most famous Japanese landmarks — Dotonbori. You cannot miss this downtown area in the city as it is lit like a Christmas tree with billboards and neon signs beckoning you to shop or try street foods.
Dotonbori isn’t the only place to pick up local treats like Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, and Udon. These are sold all over. You especially can’t miss Kuromon Market and the Hozenji Yokocho restaurant district to get authentic street foods without the large crowds.
The city is also great for families (or adults who are kids at heart) with theme parks like Universal Studios Japan and Legoland. These are huge and promise hours’ worth of fun alongside some of the best Japanese dishes.
Kanazawa is the capital city of the Ishikawa Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. It is 180 miles from the capital, but thanks to Japan’s state-of-the-art bullet trains, you can make it a day trip in under two hours.
At its core, the city is a hub for traditional arts and culture dating to the Edo period and beyond. So, naturally, there are plenty of things to do in Kanazawa. One of the top things to do is visit the Nagamachi Samurai District at the foot of Kanazawa Castle for a quiet look into the original homes and artefacts of real-life samurais.
While there, I enjoyed immersing myself in the Geisha culture. There are a few places to see Geishas and live performances, but the best place to go if this interests you too is the Higashi Chaya District. Here, you can shop at local shops, drink at tea houses, and even rent a kimono to wear so you blend in!
Ancient history and sophisticated modern technology mingle seamlessly in Japan and together create some Japan landmarks not to miss. Centuries-old shrines across the country are connected by a super-fast bullet train, while Tokyo straddles both an imperial tradition and 21st-century hustle-and-bustle. These are stand-out highlights on any Japan itinerary but are by no means the …
Many of us associate Japan with being a futuristic and minimalist country. But it never forgets its unique heritage and cultural traditions. Some of the world’s most famous temples are found here, along with beautiful outdoor excursions. If you’re up for journeying to this funky, colorful and eclectic country, planning is key. You often hear …
Traveling to Kyoto is high on the wishlist for most tourists who come to Japan. The city is home to countless shrines, golden temples, and walls of bamboo forest and hidden gems amidst the canals. This beautiful metropolis is the quintessential Japanese city, filled with history and priceless structures. This 2-day itinerary guide offers travel …
Tokyo is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world. I first visited Tokyo as a teenager back in the 1980s. At the time I found Tokyo Japan quite intimidating but on a recent trip, I found it far easier to negotiate. If you only have one day in Tokyo it is …
I absolutely loved the Ishikawa region of Japan. It is like a mini Japan and easy to negotiate. During the 1600s the region’s capital Kanazawa saw the development of a refined culture focussed on the arts and became Japan’s fourth town after Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. The Ishikawa region was spared from many of the …
This is a guest post by David C Moore and is an extract from his new book ‘Turning Left Around the World’. It is an entertaining account of their adventure, often intriguing, frequently funny and occasionally tragic. Their journey was to include the Atacama Desert, Galapagos Islands, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Ayres Rock and the Great Wall …