The Top 30 Sightseeing Attractions in Japan as Voted by International Travelers

Whether it's your first time or fifth time to Japan, you'll find yourself looking for the best sightseeing destinations to check out during your trip. With 490 million monthly users, TripAdvisor is one of the world's largest tourist information sites, providing useful information to travelers all over the world. Each year, they publish rankings made by analyzing and compiling reviews of popular sightseeing spots posted by travelers to their site. This article will give you the run down on the best tourist attractions in Japan as voted by international travelers. We hope you can use this list when planning your trip to Japan!

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for its countless Senbon Torii gates that extend throughout the grounds. Many local and international visitors come to see this path of torii gates and to capture a photo of the  mysterious scenery here. Around 2.7 million visitors on average come to the shrine for hatsumode (first shrine visit in the New Year) every year, which is almost as much as Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. 

When looking at the Senbon Torii paths, you may wonder why so many of these were built. One theory is that, in the past, the custom of offering torii gates to the gods spread due to the metaphorical connection to the idea of "going through"; passing through a torii gate contained the hope that your prayer would "pass through" to the gods, or conveyed gratitude that a granted prayer had "gone through".

The grounds of the shrine are very vast, as Mt. Inari as a whole has become a site of worship. At around 4 km in length and 233 m in elevation, the course takes around 2 hours to walk. Fushimi Inari Taisha has many shrines that offer blessings, so while you walk the grounds you can visit a range of sub-shrines, including Ganriki Shrine, dedicated to the god of eyes, Oseki Shrine, dedicated to the god of throats, and Yakuriki Shrine, which is said to grant sound health. In addition to walking the Senbon Torii, visiting these shrines and exploring the mountain is a way to experience the true essence of Fushimi Inari Taisha. The shrine doesn't have any closing hours, so you can experience the scenery here any time of the day or night.

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a historical museum in Hiroshima that opened in 1955. This museum was built to preserve the memory of the many victims of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima for future generations. Monuments, cenotaphs, photos and belongings of the victims, and other material related to the bombing are displayed here.

There are exhibits that convey the tragedy of the atomic bombing, including doll reproductions of victims, a photo of a girl who suffered burns, and documents that explain the historical background that lead to the atomic bombing. Many visitors come to learn about the horrors wrought by atomic weapons and war and the value of peace. Entry beyond the gate that surrounds the Atomic Dome is prohibited to the general public, but you can view the dome from outside the gate at any time.

3. Itsukushima and Itsukushima Shrine (Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Located in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Itsukushima is counted as one of the Three Views of Japan, along with Amanohashidate in Kyoto Prefecture and Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture. Commonly known as Miyajima, this island is also registered as a World Cultural Heritage site. At around only 30 km in circumference, this small island has been worshipped as a god and considered a sacred site since ancient times.

Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima Shrine) was built around the year 1400. It's extremely popular with tourists from all over the world, and is known for the magical sight of the torii gate that seems to float on the water at high tide. Just like Nara Park, a popular sightseeing area in Nara Prefecture, Itsukushima Shrine is also famous as a spot where you can interact with the wild deer that roam the island.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

4. Todaiji Temple (Nara, Nara Prefecture)

Todaiji Temple's biggest attraction is its Daibutsuden Hall. Built of wood and reaching 15 m in height, this hall is said to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world. A giant statue of Buddha that serves as an object of worship for those of the Buddhist faith is enshrined here. Two Kongorikishi warrior statues stand guard on both sides of the 25 m high Nandaimon gate located on the path that leads to the Daibutsuen. Visitors are sure to find these magnificent statues a very impressive sight. 
Todaiji Temple is located in Nara Park. This large, 502 hectare park is managed by Nara Prefecture and is entirely free to visit. Another attraction at Nara Park and Todaiji Temple are the park's friendly wild deer. The approximately 1,200 deer that inhabit the park are registered as a protected species of Japan.

5. The Hakone Open-Air Museum (Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Hakone is an area where you can experience stunning natural landscapes in every season. Taking advantage of these natural surroundings, the Hakone Open-Air Museum opened in 1969 as Japan's first open air museum, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary in August 2019.

Its biggest attraction is the outdoor sculpture exhibition. The chance to enjoy works of art in these wide, open outdoor spaces is the key to why this spot charms so many tourists. The lush, 70,000 sq.m. gardens, overlooked by the Hakone mountains, has around 120 pieces of modernist and contemporary sculpture on permanent display, including works by Auguste Rodin, Antoine Bourdelle, Henry Moore, and Japanese artist Taro Okamoto.

The Hakone Open-Air Museum also has indoor exhibition spaces, including the Picasso Pavilion that exhibits its world-class collection of 319 pieces on a rotating basis. Natural hot springs and foot baths are also available here, making this a very restful and relaxing place to spend some time.

6. Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku, Tokyo Prefecture)

Shinjuku Gyoen was built in 1906 as a private garden for the Imperial household. This modernist Western style garden is one of Tokyo's most popular, and the Japanese aesthetic that existed during the turn of the 20th century remains here today.

Shinjuku Gyoen, which is 58.3 hectares wide and 3.5 km in circumference, adopts a range of styles in its design, including the formal garden style developed in Italy and France in the 16th century, the landscape garden style developed in England in the 18th century, and traditional Japanese garden styles. Around 10,000 trees grow thickly in these lush gardens.

The fact that visitors can retreat from the bustling Shinjuku streets to enjoy the seasonal landscape here is a key to its popularity. Inside the park, there are also many buildings connected to the history of the Imperial household, including the Western Old Imperial Rest House, which was built as a rest area for the Imperial household, and the Taiwan Pavilion (Kyu-Goryo-Tei) that was built to celebrate the marriage of the Showa Emperor.

7. Sanjusangen-do (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Sanjusangen-do is a Buddhist temple that was built around 1200 and today is recognized as a national treasure. Visitors are fascinated by the sight of the approximately 1,001 statues of Kannon found in the grand hall, which measures approximately 16 m high,  22 m wide, and spans 120 m from north to south. Other highlights are the sculptures of Fujin and Raijin, the gods of wind and lightning, which are the oldest of their kind in Japan. If you're interested in Japanese Buddhist sculptures, don't miss a visit to Sanjusangen-do.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

8. Mt. Koya Okunoin (Koya, Wakayama Prefecture)

Okunoin Temple is located at Kongobuji Temple, the Koyasan Shingon sect's head temple in Wakayama Prefecture. This is said to be the most sacred area in the World Heritage site of Mt. Koya, and is known as a holy place where the Buddhist mausoleum for Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhist sect, is situated.

The path to Okunoin Temple starts from the Ichi no Hashi bridge to the mausoleum, and is just under 2 kilometers each way. The temple path takes around an hour and a half to walk both ways, and is lined with over 200,000 tombstones, stone monuments, cenotaphs, and lanterns that create a solemn atmosphere. The cenotaphs here include some dedicated to famous military commanders from the Japanese Warring States period, including Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Takeda Shingen, and Uesugi Kenshin. In the evenings, many enjoy the elegant scenery created by the gentle light from lanterns that faintly illuminate the path ahead. Many worshippers come each day to experience the mysterious atmosphere that surrounds this mausoleum.

9. Himeji Castle (Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture)

Himeji Castle is located in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. This castle is registered as a World Cultural Heritage site, and has also been selected from Japan's many castles for inclusion in Japan's Top 100 Castles list in recognition of its importance as a cultural asset. This national treasure is said to be a masterpiece of traditional Japanese fortress construction techniques, giving the castle important historical value as well.   After being first constructed in 1609, the castle has been continually maintained and repaired so that its original form remains today. The elegant sight of this white plastered castle has been likened to the sight of a heron taking flight, which is the origin of Himeji Castle's nickname, Heron Castle. The beauty of the rampart and elaborate castle tower captures the hearts of those who visit.

10. Kinkakuji Temple/Rokuonji Temple (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Built in 1397 as a residence for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinakuji Temple (officially named Rokuonji Temple), is an extremely valuable building that is listed among the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Of course, its attraction is the fact that this temple is covered inside and out in gold leaf.

The elegant atmosphere created by the sight of Kinkakuji Temple, which is surrounded by a pond and lush gardens, is a true highlight. Another charm of this temple is how its appearance changes each season, whether surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom in spring, luscious greenery in the summer, fall foliage in the fall, and covered in snow in the winter.

11. Kenrokuen Garden (Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture)

Along with Korakuen Garden in Okayama and Kairakuen Garden in Mito, Kenrokuen Garden is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. It's also designated as an Important Cultural Property and Site of Scenic Beauty in Japan. The symbol of the garden and its biggest highlight is the two-legged stone lantern called the Kotojidoro. The surface of the pond that stretches out as though surrounding the lantern with autumn leaves overhead is a deeply elegant sight that feels almost as though the beauty of nature has been condensed into one scene.

In winter, you can also see traditional rope structures called yukizuri that are built to protect the tree branches from the weight of the snow. In spring, you can enjoy the garden scenery surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom. Visitors can also enjoy tea and meals unique to the gardens at the garden's tea houses.

12. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple (Narita, Chiba Prefecture)

Narita Airport, familiar to many international visitors to Japan as their gateway to Japan, is located in the city of Narita, Chiba Prefecture. It takes around 15 minutes by train from the airport to Narita Station. As you make your way from Narita Station, you'll start to catch sight of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in around 10 minutes.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, said to provide good fortune and ward off evil, is worth visiting in and of itself, but the castle road further towards Shinshoji Temple is definitely worth a trip as well. Lined on both sides with quaint historical buildings, this road is so atmospheric, you may feel as though you're walking through a town as it was  during the Edo period 400 years ago. There are plenty of souvenir and food stores to visit here. Enjoy a visit to Shinsoji Temple and stroll through these charming streets for an undeniably elegant way to spend the time before or after your flight.

13. Hasedera Temple (Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Hasedera Temple enshrines a statue called the Juichimen Kannon, one of the largest wooden statues of Kannon in Japan. First opened in 736, this temple is sometimes known as the Flower Temple for its seasonally flowering plants. Its known as one of the best spots for hydrangeas in Japan, and there are around 2,500 plants from 40 varieties to admire along the scenic walkway that also offers a view of Yuigahama Beach. It's a famous location for autumn leaf viewing, too! You can enjoy the magical sight of the illuminated autumn trees during the temple's evening opening period from late November.

True to its nickname, there are a range of flowers to enjoy year round, including wisterias, peonies, and azaleas. The observation deck that gives a view over the Kamakura ocean and townscape is also a popular stop. The sight of the many hydrangea varieties in the early summer rainy season, as well as the view of Sagami Bay in the distance as you climb the scenic walkway, has earned Hasedera Temple attention as a leading scenic site in Japan.

14. Nara Park (Nara, Nara Prefecture)

Many consider Nara Park to be an unmissable part of any visit to the Kansai area. The park opened in 1880 and is one of Japan's most popular sightseeing destinations, with over 13 million visitors from Japan and overseas each year. Vibrant landscapes spread throughout the expansive 502 hectare park grounds, and it is also the site of historical structures like Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Its most famous feature is the wild deer that inhabit the park. As of 2019, there are a total of 1,180 deer living in the park, with 256 stags, 715 doe, and 226 fawns.

The details behind why these deer inhabit the park are not known today. However, there is a legend that Takemikazuchi, the god enshrined at Kasuga Taisha Shine, rode a white deer. The Manyoshu, Japan's oldest poetry anthology that was compiled in the year 750, also mentions deer.

You can experience feeding the deer with the special "shika senbei" deer feed that is available to buy in the park. Many other animals inhabit the park, including squirrels, tanuki (raccoon dogs), wild boar, giant flying squirrels, and more, so if you're lucky you may have the chance to see some of these, too.

There are also a variety of plants to enjoy here including the protected Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest, pine trees, cherry trees, Japanese maple, crape myrtle, Chinese tallow, lily-of-the-valley, cedar, plum, camphor, and cypress trees. You could say that a visit to Nara Park gives you an experience of Nara Prefecture's natural environment all in one place.
Guide for interacting with deers at Nara Park: 
- Don't tease the deer by hitting or chasing them. The deer are wild animals, and may attack in response. Please take particular care to supervise small children.  
- Do not feed the deer anything other than the deer senbei (rice crackers) sold in the park.  
- Please give the deer senbei to the deer right away. Deer may grow angry if teased with food. 
- Don't litter: there is a risk of the deer eating it and becoming sick.

15. Toshogu Shrine (Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture)

Nikko Toshogu enshrines the Warring States Period military commander, Ieyasu Tokugawa. There are many historical buildings here, eight of which are designated as National Treasures, and 34 of which are classified as Important Cultural Properties. In 1999, Toshogu Shrine was registered as a World Heritage site, solidifying its position as a treasury of cultural assets and one of Japan's most important sites.  

You can see a variety of structures here that give an experience of the beauty of Japanese adornment techniques. The shrine's symbolic Yomeimon Gate, with its covering of colorful carvings, is said to be a condensation of Japanese building techniques, and looks just like an art piece. Another national treasure, Karamon Gate, is decorated with gold leaf and painted with white pigment made from seashells.

Carvings with an animal motif are a characteristic of Toshogu Shrine. There are a total of eight monkey carvings here, which are said to be a satire of human life. Among them is the Shinkyusha Sanzaru, a famous carving that was the origin of the symbol of the Three Wise Monkeys and their "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" proverb. There are many other unique small pieces with an animal theme, including the Sleeping Cat, which represents a guardian deity that pretends to sleep while protecting the house from danger. The sparrows on the carving represents peace, as the cat sleeping through the fluttering of sparrows nearby is a symbol of peaceful coexistence.

Another charm of Toshogu Shrine is the chance to try local foods. You can enjoy Nikko's specialty, yuba (tofu skin), at Kishino restaurant, which serves this local delicacy with soba noodles.

16. Shukkeien Garden (Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Shukkeien Garden is a historical park first created in 1620. While this garden is located in the center of the city, the lush scenery feels far removed from the hustle and bustle, and these gardens are visited every day by sightseers from all over the world. You can enjoy the seasonal scenery as you walk the grounds and view the traditional tearooms including Seifu-kan and Meigetsu-tei. A tea house that serves light meals such as tea and udon is located in the park, and many people choose to drop in during their stroll.

Head to the adjoining Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum to enjoy works that have been designated Important Cultural Properties, including the "Foliate Bowl with Floral Design in the Kakiemon Style" and "Folding Screen with Itsukushima Design". There are also exhibitions of artworks related to the Hiroshima area, and pieces by artists like Salvador Dalí.

17. Daishoin Head Temple (Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture)

Miyajima, one of the Three Views of Japan, is very famous for the red torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine, which is a World Heritage site. While some people may come all the way to Miyajima and leave after seeing Itsukushima Shrine, there is another important temple known among insiders as a hidden "power spot" on the island. This temple is gaining particular popularity among international visitors, and there a wealth of items said to grant blessings here. Among them is Henjokutsu, which is located in a cave below the Daishido Hall and said to grant great blessings to those who worship here, and Ichigan Daishi, a Jizo statue said to grant you a single wish.

Cooking-related items are also found here, including a large wooden pestle that is said to crush klesha, or polluting thoughts, if you turn it three times, and a kitchen knife mound where worshippers express thanks to their used knives and ceremonially dispose of them.

Daishoin is also known as a place to see beautiful autumn leaves, and its Daishoin Momiji Festival is held each year in November and December. 

18. Lake Kawaguchiko  (Fuji Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture)

Lake Kawaguchiko is located at the north foot of the world famous Mt. Fuji and is visited year round by sightseers. Lake Kawaguchiko is one of the Five Lakes of Mt. Fuji, and is located at the lowest elevation of the five. It is a very beautiful lake that is famous for the elegant way Mt. Fuji appears reflected in reverse on its surface. It can be reached in around two hours from Tokyo, and the area has plenty of hotels and hot spring accommodations, making it a popular spot not just for day trips but for longer stays as well.

In 2013, Lake Kawaguchiko was registered as part of the Mt. Fuji group as a World Heritage site, and in 2017, there were over 4.5 million recorded visitors. This area has long flourished for its picturesque scenery, and there are many tourist attractions such as scenic hot springs, galleries, and museums in the area. Highlights include Oishi Park, with its beautiful views of the lake and Mt. Fuji beyond, Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum, where you can see exhibits of music boxes, and the Fuji Q Highland theme park. 

19. Shirakawago Thatched Roof Village (Shirakawa Village, Gifu Prefecture)

The thatched-roof villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are popular sightseeing destinations. They were registered as World Heritage sites in 1995, and have also been awarded three Michelin stars. 

Shirakawago's most well-known feature is the buildings made with a traditional Japanese building style called gassho-zukuri. The word "gassho" means pressing one's hands together in prayer, which the shape of the roofs here is said to resemble. The Shirakawago area is known as having some of the highest snowfall in Japan, and the steep slope of these roofs is a clever display of Japanese ingenuity that protects against damage from heavy snow. If you climb to the Tenshukaku Observatory, you can see an unbroken view of these many gassho-zukuri houses spread out along the rice fields. Another highlight is the Wada House. Built over 300 years ago and maintained in its original form, this residence is designated as an Important Cultural Property. Inside Wada House, you can see educational displays about the silk industry that supported the development of this region. 

In recent years, this area has become more well known due to a range of media coverage, and improvements to the transport network has meant that many people are now visiting from all over the world. You can deeply feel the rural culture, lifestyles, and customs in this traditional Japanese "hometown" that looks just as it did in the past.

20. Shoshazan Engyoji Temple (Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture)

Shoshazan Engyoji Temple is one of the stops on the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, which covers 33 sites in the surrounding Kinki region. Shoshazan Engyoji Temple is the largest of these 33 sites, and is positioned as a temple with a special statues within the Buddhist Tendai sect. This temple is also known for being a location for the Hollywood movie, The Last Samurai.  

A highlight of the Engyoji Temple is the three halls that have been designated Important Cultural Properties of Japan. The first is the 2 story, 15 room Jikidou (Dining Hall), which is used by training monks. The second is Daikodo Hall, which enshrines an image of Gautama Buddha flanked by two monks. The third is the Jogyodo, a dojo used by monks during training. You can receive a goshuin temple stamp and try your hand at copying sutras on the first floor of the Jikidou.

Experience the spiritual atmosphere at Engyoji Temple as you walk along the temple road surrounded by trees that have grown here for hundreds of years.

21. Sensoji Temple (Taito, Tokyo Prefecture)

Sensoji Temple is known as the oldest temple in Tokyo. Its biggest highlight is the temple's main gate, Kaminari-mon, with its giant red lantern and the two Kongorikishi guardian statues on each side. You'll see a crowd of sightseers taking photos in front of this impressive gate every day.

On the road to the main temple building, you'll find a retro, 250 m-long shopping street called Nakamise-dori. Nakamise-dori has many long-standing shops that have operated here for many years, so you can shop here for the perfect souvenir while enjoying Asakusa street food specialties like ningyoyaki, dorayaki, and kaminari-okoshi rice crackers

When you leave the shopping street, you may catch sight of people bathing in the smoke that rises from the jokoro incense burned here, which is said to purify and heal the body. Once you've finished worshipping and taking pictures of the Kaminari-mon and the equally photogenic main temple, test your luck by buying an omikuji fortune. 


22. Meiji Shrine (Shibuya, Tokyo Prefecture)

Meiji Shrine was built in 1920. It's said to grant blessings spanning many aspects of life, such as love, study, and business, and locals and foreigners alike flock to pray here. During the new year, it's known as the most popular spot in Japan for hatsumode. In 2019, 3.2 million people came to pray here during this period.

One of its biggest attractions is its location in the center of Harajuku, Japan's major trendsetting area, which is full of popular restaurants and flagship fashion stores. When you step inside the grounds, you'll feel the shrine's calm and solemn atmosphere. This is a chance to experience history and nature without leaving the city center. This shrine is known as a "city oasis" and makes the perfect spot to rest and recover from your sightseeing and shopping in the Tokyo crowds.


23. Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine (Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture)

Yakushima is a world-famous island off the coast of southern Kagoshima Prefecture. Its most popular sightseeing destination is the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine.

The symbol of this area is the Yakusugi, which has been designated a Special National Monument of Japan. The beautiful and spiritual forest was used as the setting for the Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke. It attracts many sightseers who come to seek a restorative experience in this lush natural environment. 

The island is 90% covered in forest, and has a number of native plants, including Yakushima bamboo and Yakushima rhododendron. Many animals also inhabit the island, including Yakushima deer, Yakushima monkeys, Yakushima thrush, and tane robin. You might say that Yakushima is like a natural garden created by Mother Nature herself. 


24. Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is a sightseeing destination located in Kyoto's Arashiyama, an area known for its picturesque seasonal scenery. Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is known for the approximately 1,200 stone Buddhist statues enshrined here. 

The adorable Arhat statue here looks just like a cute cartoon character, and seeing the different facial expressions on each stone statue is a highlight in and of itself. The main temple has an over 800-year history, and is registered as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. Its Senju Kannon statue is said to ward off evil. The temple's sense of history and the sight of the autumn foliage spread out over the grounds makes for an elegant scene that draws many tourists.

25. Chureito Pagoda (Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture)

Chureito Pagoda is a five story pagoda built at Arakurayama Sengen Park in 1962 to comfort the spirits of those who died in battle. Over 650 Yoshino variety cherry trees cover the grounds here, and the sight of these trees in full bloom alongside the pagoda and in view of Mt. Fuji makes for the ultimate photo spot.

Many people visit every day to try and capture a picture of this quintessential Japanese scenery. You can also see the autumn leaves in the fall or the powerful image of Mt. Fuji and the Chureito Pagoda covered in snow in the winter. 

26. Kyoto Station Building (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Kyoto Station Building is linked with the gateway to the city, Kyoto Station. While you may not expect to find much of interest at a regular train station, there are many shops and restaurants full of Kyoto's unique charm here. Highlights include Nakamura Tokichi, a long-standing tea house first founded in 1854, and the Kyoto Ramen Alley, which features popular ramen restaurants from all over Japan. You can also enjoy Kyoto cuisine and teppanyaki in the luxury of Hotel Granvia Kyoto, take in a musical or visit the theatre at Kyoto Gekijo, or see some works of art at Museum Eki Kyoto. Particularly popular among tourists are the large flights of stairs that are considered the symbol of the Kyoto Station Building. At night, the stairs are illuminated with 15,000 LED lights, making for a gorgeous scene. 

27. Byodoin Temple Phoenix Hall (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

World Heritage site Byodoin Temple was built in 1053 with the assets of the influential Fujiwara no Yorimichi. This popular sightseeing destination allows you to experience the luxurious lifestyles of the Japanese dynasties that lived 1,000 years ago. Byodoin Temple has such a high cultural value that an image of it is even used on Japanese currency. Its highlights are the buildings and artifacts that have been registered as national treasures, including the Phoenix Hall in the main building, the 2.8 m high Amida Buddha statue, the wall and door paintings in the Phoenix Hall's Cho-do Hall, and the 52 "Praying Bodhisattva on Clouds" statues.

In addition to these national treasures, the Byodoin Garden that surrounds the temple charms many viewers. The sight of the Phoenix Hall reflected on the Ajiike Pond is a scenic spot that makes many tourists stop to take a picture.

28. Eikando Temple (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)

Eikando Temple is the head temple of the Jodo-shu Seizan Zenrin-ji sect. Its long history began in 853 when the Buddhist priest Shinjo, a disciple of Kobo Daishi, took over what was the former residence of Fujiwara Sekio. It has important historical value, and many cultural assets including the Mikaeri Amida (Amida Looking Back) statue, and "Yamagoshi Amida Zu", a colored silk hanging scroll. Eikando Temple is also known as a famous spot for autumn leaves.

The beauty of the autumn foliage here was also the subject of poetry included in the classic Heian period (794-1185) anthology, the Kokin Wakashu. Even 1,000 years later, Eikando is still famous for this autumn scenery. Countless autumn trees surround the pond at the center of the grounds, and in clear weather, the reflection of the red leaves on the water makes for a gorgeous sight to enjoy. If you climb the two story pagoda located at the highest point in the grounds, you can see a panoramic view of Eikando's autumn foliage.

This temple has also become popular in recent years with international visitors, and it has been chosen as the best autumn leaf viewing area in Japan by travelers. The autumn leaf season falls around the end of November each year, and the nightly illumination display during this period is also recommended. 

Visitors can enter the garden and a number of the precinct's halls, excluding the Gasen-do, monk's quarters, baths, and Eikando Hall. Parts of the temple may also close periodically for special events.

29. Ritsurin Garden (Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture)

Ritsurin Garden is a cultural asset that has been designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty. The large park, at around 16.2 hectares, has many highlights, including the artificial Hirahou Hill, the expansive tea house Kikugetsu-tei, and the 8 m high Neagari Goyo-Matsu Pine. The Kyu Higurashi-tei Teahouse was built around 1700, and remains an excellent example of daimyo teahouse style. You'll also find the Sanuki Folk Craft Museum, which conserves and displays folk craft and traditional tools, at this garden. Ritsurin Garden has also been awarded three Michelin stars, the guide's highest rating.  

The six ponds and 13 artificial hills make skillful use of the rich green Mt. Shiun scenery. With over 400 years of history, this promenade-style daimyo's garden has excellent layout, stone arrangements, and is rich in elegant rocks and trees. Blessed with natural features that change with the seasons, the flowering blossoms and the carefully maintained 1,000 pine trees here create beautiful scenes that seem to change with each step you take. Ritsurin Garden is an irreplaceable cultural asset that has been maintained by many successive generations throughout its long history.

30. Tokyo Disney Sea (Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture)

While Tokyo Disneyland is themed around fantasy and magic, Tokyo Disney Sea uses stories of the sea as a theme to create a world full of adventure, romance, and the thrill of discovery. To differentiate itself from Tokyo Disneyland, which is visited by people of all ages, Tokyo Disney Sea has many attractions targeted at a more mature audience, including thrill rides and artistic shows. There are fashionable, atmospheric restaurants that serve international cuisine and plenty of alcohol choices, too. 

Popular attractions include Toy Story Mania, a shooting-game ride based on the Pixar movie Toy Story, the Journey to the Center of the Earth rollercoaster, and the freefall thrill ride, Tower of Terror.

There are so many stunning sightseeing destinations all throughout Japan that it might be difficult to plan out your trip to see them all. Luckily, this list of top rated tourist attractions in Japan will give you a good idea for which ones to fit into your schedule so that you can really experience all the best parts of the country. Feel free to use this as a guide the next time you travel to Japan!


If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram!

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

tsunagu Japan Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and we'll show you the best Japan has to offer!

Subscribe Now!
Get your Japan discounts here!

About the author

Keisuke Tsunekawa
A Japanese native who likes to escape the Tokyo city life from time to time to discover new trails in other countries, where I enjoy connecting with something completely different from what I used to.
  • Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Restaurant Search

Sign up to our free newsletter to discover the best Japan has to offer.