For many travelers, Japan is a dream destination. The Land of the Rising Sun combines rich ancient and exciting modern culture, making it one of the most popular countries to travel to. But sometimes, one is simply faced with a dilemma: Which place in Japan should I visit? If you’re asking the same question, here are ten cities you should consider when visiting Japan for the first time:
Modern-day Tokyo has become a prime tourism hub, offering a variety of activities and destinations for fashion, entertainment, food, and culture. Museums, temples and shrines, and gardens, as well as festivals held throughout the year, offer a glimpse of the city’s history and tradition.
Japanese history buffs hail Kyoto as the foremost destination to experience traditional Japanese culture. The city served as the official capital and imperial residence for over 1,000 years.
Despite many wars, conflicts, and disasters over the years, countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures have survived in the city and are open to tourists today. Kyoto is also home to the geisha district of Gion, where one can spot elusive geiko (Kyoto term for geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) strolling around the streets on a lucky day.
Osaka, formerly known as Naniwa, is the biggest city in the Kansai Region. It is widely known for its lively and colorful character which shows an amazing contrast to the reserved and polished aura of Tokyo. One of its most popular attractions is Universal Studios Japan.
Osaka has a more laid-back, down-to-earth feel and is a great choice to experience the hustle of a large modern Japanese city for a significantly lesser budget. Its unique urban atmosphere, distinct dialect, and sumptuous cuisine easily make Osaka a must-visit destination.
Albeit being small, Nara is filled with superb sights and attractions, particularly the abundance of wild deer that roam freely in the city.
Famous for its hot springs and scenic sights, Hakone is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. Hakone is made of seven villages, each having their own distinct history, appeal, sights, and overall atmosphere.
Hakone lies within the weathered walls of an extinct volcano in a mountain range where the famous Mt. Fuji is part of, thus offering a grand view of the majestic mountain across Lake Ashi.
Kobe, along with Yokohama, is among the foremost international ports and trading hubs in Japan. It is considered as one of the country’s most attractive cities due to its laid-back, cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Kobe’s location coupled with great food and lively nightlife makes it an ideal destination. Among the draws of this port city are the Rokko Mountain Range, high-quality Kobe beef, and sake breweries known for being the best in Japan.
When the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima in 1945, the city has earned its place in history as the site of the massive destruction caused by war.
Modern-day Hiroshima, however, offers more than just memories of a devastating historical event. This clean, open city boasts numerous attractions dedicated to peace and harmony. Places of interest include a reconstructed castle as well as famous gardens and parks around the city like the Peace Memorial Park.
Less than an hour away from Tokyo is Kamakura, Japan’s military center and the birthplace of the country’s first military government.
Kamakura has numerous temples, shrines, and historical monuments, the most famous of which is the Great Kamakura Buddha also known as Daibutsu. Another highlight of this coastal city is its sandy beaches that attract large crowds during the summer season.
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido, made popular by the 1972 Winter Olympic Games, and is now famous for the Sapporo Snow Festival held every February.
Although beer doesn’t always top the list of things you might want to try when in Japan, Sapporo is famous for it and is a definite must-try when in the region. The city is also well-known for ramen and unique seafood dishes.
Located in the only subtropical region in Japan, Naha is the capital and largest city of the Okinawa Prefecture. It is the former royal capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the location of Shurijo Castle, a registered World Heritage site and the focal point of Okinawa’s sightseeing spots.
Enjoy a walk through Naha’s main thoroughfare, Kokusai Street and have a taste of Okinawan style cuisine, most notably Okinawa Soba. Experience the region’s unique ceramic craft, yachimun, in Naha’s Tsuboya District. Or try some exciting water sports.