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Japan Sightseeing

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Five-storied Pagoda at Senso-ji Temple
Five-storied Pagoda
at Senso-ji Temple
photo by HIRATA Yasuyuki
Tokyo, the capital city, has a population of over 12 million and, including the Greater Tokyo area, over 35 million. This huge metropolis is by far the number one sightseeing destination for travelers from around the world. Tokyo attracts with its unique blend of 21st century technology and skyscrapers with ancient castles, temples and shrines, stunning history and culture. Tokyo is the center of Japanese business, politics, art, music, architecture or food. With the availability of reliable, efficient and modern transportation, Tokyo also serves as a base for exploring other Japan attractions in the central part of the Honshu Island. The top sightseeing attractions in Tokyo include:

  • The Imperial Palace - located in central Tokyo, only 10 minutes walk from the Tokyo Station
  • Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Temple - Tokyo's largest Buddhist temple in Tokyo's downtownTaito district
  • Tokyo National Museum - housing over 100,000 works of Japanese, Chinese and Indian art
  • Ueno Park - Tokyo's largest park that includes zoo, aquarium as well as temples, shrines, pagodas and museums
  • Ginza - famous shopping district; closed for traffic on weekends when it attracts thousands of shoppers
  • Tokyo Tower - at 333 m (1093 ft) height, built in 1958, is the tallest structure in Tokyo, offering best views of the city
  • Kabuki-za Theatre - traditional Japanese theatre located in Ginza district
  • Tsukiji Fishmarket - the world's largest fish market


Kyoto, located on the Honshu island, with a population of 1.4 million, is Japan 7th largest city. From the year 794 until 1868 Kyoto was the capital of Japan. Unlike many Japanese cities, , Kyoto was saved from destruction during the World War II, being able to preserve a large amount of centuries-old buildings, palaces, temples and shrines. It is now considered the most beautiful city in Japan - not to be missed on your vacations to Japan. There are countless attractions and sightseeing opportunities in Kyoto - the most popular include:

  • Kiyomizudera Temple - Kyoto's landmark; built in 798 on a hillside, offers spectacular views of the city
  • Nijo Castle
  • Fushimi-Inari Shrine
  • Daitoku-ji Temple
  • Daikaku-ji Temple
  • Kinkaku-ji
  • Ginkaku-ji
  • Ryoan-ji
  • Saiho-ji (Kokedera)

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, an impressive conical volcano, is Japanís highest mountain, at 3,776m /12,385 ft. Mount Fuji, that last erupted in 1707, is now a very popular destination for both Japanese and foreign travelers. Climbing Mount Fuji is possible between July and early September (the official climbing season is from July to August) and there are several different routes climbers can use. During the peak season, which falls in mid August, during the Obon Week, all routes are totally full with climbers, forming long queues. The ascent can take from 4 to 10 hours, depending on the route and the pace, and the descent takes about 2 to 6 hours. Most climbers plan to arrive at the summit of Mount Fuji at sunrise (4:30am Ė 5:00am), when the visibility is usually the best .

Natural Hot Springs

Natural hot springs (onsen) are common and very popular across Japan. Famous hot springs include: Noboritetsu Onsen in Hokkaido, Shirahama Onsen, Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Shikoku, the oldest hot spring in Japan, Ibusuki, on Kyushu Island, Echigo Yuzawa Onsen, easily accessible from Tokyo, Yufuin Onsen - the best onsen in Kyushu region, Gero Onsen, located between Nagoya and Takayama, Atami Onsen, Kusatsu, two and a half hours by train from Tokyo or Arima Onsen near Kobe.

Whale Watching

Marine live enthusiasts on vacation to Japan can find several well known whale watching destinations in this country. One of the sites is Ogasawara Islands, situated about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo. The islands are accessible by a fast ferry (Ogasawara Maru) and the trip takes 25.5 hours. At this destination the season for Humpback whale watching is from February to April, for Sperm whale - summer and autumn, and dolphins (bottlenose and spinner) - all year round. Other popular sites include Kochi, on the southern coast of Shikoku Island or Kerma Islands near Okinawa (trips from Naha and Zamami).

Daisetsuzan National Park

Daisetsuan National Park is located in the mountainous central region of the Hokkaido island and is the largest national park in Japan. If you have time to spare on your vacations in Japan and your're done with sightseeing tours in Japan's cities, the park is a place to go to explore some unspoiled nature and admire stunning landscapes. The park is known for its beautiful mountainous scenery, untouched wilderness, active volcanoes, wildlife as well as natural hot springs. Daisetsuan Park is a popular hiking destination where the best peaks to climb include: Asahi-dake (the highest peak in Hokkaido, with 2,290m/7,513 ft), Kuro-dake, Furano-dake, Tokachi-dake or Biei-dake. Sonkyo Onsen is a popular hot spring resort located near Koro-dake, in the north part of the park. Most people visit the park between June and September when the weather is most comfortable. Entrance to the park is free, free parking is also provided.

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