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6 Highly-Recommended Places to Visit in Japan

6 Highly-Recommended Places to Visit in Japan

Japan is, unarguably, one of the best travel destinations in the world. The country, with its unique mix of modern and traditional architecture, culture, and history is a must-visit for anyone seeking a nice getaway trip.

Japan is known for many things, such as sushi, which originated there. There are thousands of pre-historic shrines and temples situated all around the country too. Most of these were built before European cathedrals came into existence.

Japan is considered to be one of the safest places on the planet. Coupled with its hot springs, maid cafes, and fast-paced rate of industrialization, Japan surely has a lot to offer.

Below is a list of some of the best places to visit in Japan which may help inspire your next trip this year.

6. Nara

Nara is a historic city brimming with ancient Japanese culture and architecture. The city was the first permanent capital of Japan and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site itself mainly because it’s home to various aged Japanese relics.

Exciting tourist destinations to visit in Nara are:

  • The Daibutsu Den (The Great Hall of Buddha), located in Todaiji, and also just happens to be the biggest wooden building in the world. The giant gold/bronze Buddha statue which dates back to 750 A.D. is a must-see as it towers at an impressive height of 15 meters.
  • The Great South Gate (Nandaimon) is an intriguing structure comprised of two stories along with two 8-meter tall statues acting as guards to the temple’s entrance

Surely, if I’m to plan a trip to Japan, Nara would be on my list of must-see places. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see the world’s largest Buddha statue up close?

5. Atsushi Shrine, Nagoya

The shrines are one of the most fascinating things about Japan. At least for me, it is.

And, needless to say, the Atsushi Shrine doesn’t disappoint.

Located in the city of Nagoya, the Atsushi Shrine is the most revered in Japan. Perhaps that’s why it attracts an excess of over 5 million visitors per year.

The shrine dates back to the first century and is famous for its Imperial insignia, ‘Kusanagi no Tsurugi’, which stands for ‘the grass moving sword’. It is one of three in the entire country.

Other notable must-see sites in the city of Nagoya include:

  • Hongu, a wall-enclosed shrine, containing a treasury that holds a plethora of works and arts from jewelry and ceramics to traditional masks
  • Nagoya, a moated complex from 1612 consisting of a 48-meter high tower, consisting of two gilded dolphins (shachi)

All in all, Nagoya is a spectacular city in Japan and a sound destination for every tourist.

4. Osaka

Once upon a time, Osaka housed the largest fortress in the country- the Osaka Castle.

The Castle was built in 1586 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a Japanese warrior, and politician. It’s easily one of the best destinations in Osaka. This castle consists of a gargantuan five-story main tower which is 42 meters tall.

This tower consists of several displays depicting the beautiful story of the castle and the city. Atop the castle, there’s a jaw-dropping view of the beautiful city of Osaka.

Other notable places of interest in this city include:

  • The Hokkoku shrine often dubbed as the most well-known temple in the whole of Osaka
  • The Shitennō-ji, which dates back as far as 59 A.D., is another honorable mention- mostly because it is Japan’s first Buddhist temple

The city is a must-see for travelers. Friendly people, coupled with the cheap prices in the city, make the visit worth it.

3. Himeji Castle

Any discussion involving the symbolic castles of Japan isn’t complete without the inclusion of the Himeji Castle.

As one of the original castles of Japan, the Himeji Castle was subjected to destruction on several occasions including during the World War II era. However, it has been constantly rebuilt.

The Castle was originally fortified as a fortress to defend against enemies during the feudal period and it is currently the best example of ancient Japanese architecture.

This Castle is well worth the visit, most notably during the cherry blossom season.

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Nobody wants to miss the beholden sight of the castle’s bird-like appearance, earning it the moniker, ‘white egret castle’.

2. Island Shrine of Itsukushima

Talking about shrines and islands.

The Itsukushima Shrine is located in Miyajima Island, also famously known as Japan’s shrine island. You don’t have to be an island or shrine person to love this place. The story behind the Itsukushima Shrine is an intriguing one.

I presume you’re probably familiar with Susanoo.

As it turns out, the Shrine of Itsukushima is a Shinto temple dedicated to the princess daughters of the wind god, Susanoo.

The shrine has an appearance mimicking that of a structure floating on water. This is because the major parts of the shrine rise out of the waters of a small bay with piles acting as the only kind of support.

The shrine has many features, one of which includes the shrine’s stage, where musical and dance performances happen to entertain visitors.

Again, I doubt there’s anybody who wouldn’t want to see the captivating nature of this shrine which is among plentiful fauna and flora, including wild deer and countless bird colonies.

1. The Great Buddha of Kamakura

This spectacle is a humongous outdoor avatar of the great Buddhist, Amida Buddha, one of Japan’s most celebrated Buddhist figures. The bronze-casted Buddha statue stands at an impressive height of over 40 feet and weighs about 93 tons.

The statue dates back to 1252.

The statue was initially housed in a small wooden temple. The temple, however, was washed away by a tsunami in the 15th century and now stands in the open air for all to admire.

Conclusion

Japan has some of the world’s finest ancient places. Its old temples and picturesque landscapes, contrasted with the ultra-modern feel in places like Tokyo, make Japan a country every adventurer or traveler should visit.

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