50 Must-Visit Places in Japan as Chosen by a World-Famous Rating Guidebook

In Japan, there are so many places that we would like you to visit, or rather, places you MUST visit. Museums, traditional Japanese gardens, shrines, temples, places with lots of nature and even famous brand shops. Whichever you choose, the immense excitement that can only be experienced in Japan awaits you. This time around, we selected carefully and will introduce must-visit places which are like three Michelin star holders!


Things to Do

1. Shiretoko National Park [Hokkaido]

Mr Hicks46/Flickr

Shiretoko National Park, a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site with it’s many remaining primeval forests has become a precious site of natural heritage. Many kinds of animals inhabit there by means of its unique ecosystem. Cruising tours and the like are usually organized, so why not enjoy the great outdoors by boat?

HP: https://www.env.go.jp/en/nature/nps/park/shiretoko/index.html

Address: Shiretokomisaki, Rausu, Menashi District, Hokkaido Prefecture. (Google Map)

2. Mount Hakodate [Hokkaido]


When you talk about Mount Hakodate, it’s famous for having one of the most spectacular night views in the world. The scenery by ropeway on the way to the summit is one of the highlights. The night view from the summit itself has the kind of beauty that will surely leave an unforgettable impression on you. Although it is known for it’s beautiful night view, in fact the scenery during the day is just as popular.

HP: http://334.co.jp/eng/

Address: Iwadate City, Hokkaido. (Google Map)

3. Lake Mashū [Hokkaido] 


Lake Mashu has the clearest water in Japan and is ranked second in the world. The many times when it is shrouded in fog gives it a mysterious atmosphere. In particular we recommend Lake Mashu in the winter. The contrast between the crystal blue of the water and the white of the snow creates a picturesque scene.

HP: http://www.masyuko.or.jp/pc/english/index.html

Address: Teshikaga Town, Kawakami District, Hokkaido. (Google Map)

4. Sapporo Snow Festival [Hokkaido]


Celebrating the snow and water is Sapporo Snow Festival. This festival of epic proportions is visited every year by over 2 million tourists. The town is filled with various snow and ice sculptures. When night falls, they light up and create a fairytale-like atmosphere. Above all else, please visit and have a look at these gigantic snow sculptures.  

HP: http://www.snowfes.com/english/index.html

Address: Sapporo City, Hokkaido. (Google Map)

5. Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens [Hokkaido]

TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)/Flickr

TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)/Flickr

Hokkaido University Botanical Gardens, belonging to the University of Hokkaido houses approximately 4 thousand different varieties of plants. Just at a glance, this place has many merits. Not only does it function as a research facility, it is also open to the general public and among other things, it acquired 3 Michelin stars from the “Folkloristic Short Film”. Recommended for plant lovers and those who appreciate the nature of Hokkaido.


Address: 8 Chome Kita 3 Jōnishi, Chūō-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaidō (Google Map)

6.Chūson-ji Konjikidō [Iwate Prefecture]


One of the representative cultural assets of the Tohoku district, Chuson-ji Konjikido is a Buddhist temple of high cultural merit and is also a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. Konkijido, crafted in the image of Sukhavati (Buddhist’s paradise) was done using a condensed, stylish technique of that time. There are many people surprised at its excessive flamboyance.

HP: http://www.chusonji.or.jp/en/

Address: Koromonoseki-78 Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-chō, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate-ken (Google Map)

7. Matsushima [Miyagi Prefecture]


Matsushima consists of an archipelago of over 260 islands, located in Miyagi prefecture. Because of its beauty, it is counted as one of the “Three Views of Japan”. There are four observation points called “Matsushima shidaikan”, each with its own different charm and scenery that you can enjoy.Wouldn’t it be fun to spend a day comparing the different areas of Matsushima shidaikan.

HP: http://www.matsushima-kanko.com/en/

Address: Matsushima town, Kyujou district, Miyagi prefecture. (Google Map)

8. Mount Haguro Cedar Avenue [Yamagata Prefecture]

Brent Miller/Flickr

Mount Haguro’s cedar avenue (suginamiki) spans an area of about 1.7 km, towering alongside a lengthy path of 2446 stone stairs. Each tree is hundreds of years old, some are even older than 1000 years old and there are more than 500 trees. It is popular as a place where you can receive nature’s power and many people gather here.

HP: http://experiencetsuruoka.com/Hagurosan-The-Sacred-Mountain-of-Birth/

Address: Mukaiyama Haguromachi Touge, Tsuruoka-shi, Yamagata-ken (Google Map)

9. Nikko Toshogu Shrine [Tochigi]


Nikko Toshogu Shrine is the place to worship the house of Tokugawa, who unified Japan for the first time. Its richly colored architecture in those days indicated the strength of authority. It’s is famous a representative “power spot” of East Japan. It has also been registered as a World Heritage site.  

HP: http://www.toshogu.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 2301 Sannai, Nikkō-shi, Tochigi-ken (Google Map)

10. Tokyo National Museum [Tokyo]

トトト/Wikimedia Commons

Located in Ueno, Tokyo National Museum is Japan’s oldest museum. The building’s quiet majesty harmonises perfectly with its many historical artefacts. The museum has collected over 100,000 artefacts. It is a must-visit place for anyone interested in Japan’s history and cultural assets.

HP: http://www.tnm.jp/?lang=en

Address: 13-9 Uenokōen, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to (Google Map)

11.Tokyo International Forum Glass Building [Tokyo]


Tokyo International Forum’s glass building which is open to the public was designed in a contest by architect Rafael Vinoly. The glass facade that is laid out in the image of a ship, has a beauty designed to attract viewers. They also hold many events here.

HP: https://www.t-i-forum.co.jp/en/

Address: 3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to. (Google Map)

12. Ginza Maison Hermes [Tokyo]

Darren Poon/Flickr

Hermes, the brand that people throughout the world long for. The company building for Hermes Japan is located in Ginza. Of course you’re free to purchase goods here but we recommend “Le Forum” on the 8th floor. You can see works of many domestic and international artists. A mini theater was also established on the 10th floor.

HP: http://www.maisonhermes.jp/en/ginza/

Address: 5-4-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo (Google Map)

13. Mikimoto Ginza [Tokyo]


The high jewelry brand “Mikimoto” is by Mikimoto Kokichi who successfully created the world’s first cultured pearl. Unique to Japan, the detailed craft is unparalleled in its skill. Couples, how about picking some anniversary pieces here?

HP: https://www.mikimoto.com/en/index.html

Address: 2-4-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo-to (Google Map)

14. Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building [Tokyo]


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is the office responsible for carrying out the administrative tasks of Tokyo. As befitting the government office building of the capital city, it is a skyscraper 243 meters all. From the observatory room, you can enjoy looking at the scenery of Tokyo. The fee is reasonable but please note that you can only enter on weekdays.

HP: http://www.yokoso.metro.tokyo.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to (Google Map)

15 .Hokokuji [Kanagawa]


Overgrown with beautiful bamboo, you can pass time quietly at Hokokuji. The Nobel prize winning literary author Yasunari Kawabata called this absence of noise the “sound of the mountain”. The samurai of over 600 years ago would also hold their services for the dead in this temple. The green tea here is made the same as it was long ago so please try a cup.

HP: http://www.houkokuji.or.jp/english.html

Address: 2 Chome-7-4 Jōmyōji, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken (Google Map)

16. Tokeji [Kanagawa]

Ryosuke Yagi/Flickr

Tokeji’s history is ancient and its foundation is said to be roughly 700 years old. From the Kamakura period to the Edo period, this temple was an “Enkiri-dera”, a temple where women wanting a divorce could seek refuge. There are many kinds of plants on the compound. In particular, Kamakura’s famous hydrangeas (ajisai) are quite beautiful.  

HP: http://www.tokeiji.com/english/about/

Address: 1367 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa-ken (Google Map)

17. Kenrokuen [Ishikawa Prefecture]


Kenrokuen is the first of Japan’s 3 famous parks. The water fountain inside the park is said to be Japan’s oldest and has a shape that you can still see today. The park is beautiful in all four seasons but during the winter in particular, the accumulation of snow creates a magnificent landscape that holds a mysterious beauty.

HP: http://www.pref.ishikawa.jp/siro-niwa/kenrokuen/e/index.html

Address: 1 Kenrokumachi, Kanazawa-shi, Ishikawa-ken (Google Map)

18. Zenkoji [Nagano Prefecture]

For hundreds of years, Zenkoji has remained a popular temple from the olden days. It is said to have been established in the year 644. The principal object of worship is the  Ikko-sanzon Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagatha) a secret Buddha, kept hidden from view and can only be seen once every 7 years. In the event that you pay a visit to Zenkoji, please check this point.

HP: https://www.zenkoji.jp/ENGLISH/about/

Adress: 491-I Nagano Motoyoshi-cho Nagano-shi (Google Map)

19. Matsumoto Castle [Nagano Prefecture]


Designated as a national treasure, Matsumoto Castle is Japan’s oldest castle with a castle keep. Due to economic problems, the castle faced the crisis of being disassembled many times over. However, the story goes that because of the townspeople who fought to protect it, it was able to keep its beautiful appearance. On the lands near the castle is Matsumoto Castle Park which holds seasonal events.

HP: http://www.matsumoto-castle.jp/lang/

Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano-ken (Google Map)

20. Hida Takayama Art Museum [Gifu Prefecture]

Frank Fujimoto/Flickr

Frank Fujimoto/Flickr

Hida Takayama Art Museum is an art museum proficient in glass art. The amount is over 1000 pieces. Naturally it’s a place to appreciate these artefacts but you can also hold weddings here. A wedding ceremony surrounded by glass art is quite romantic isn’t it. The glass water fountain is also lovely.  

HP: http://www.htm-museum.co.jp/english.php

Address: 1 Chome-124-1 Kamiokamotomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken (Google Map)

Next: No.21-40 Further must-visit places in Japan

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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