Interesting Places in the Japan - Tokyo and Kyoto

What are the Best Places in Japan to Visit?


Matsumoto Castle, Photo courtesy of Creative Commons / Gorgo

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is situated in the Nagano Prefecture on Honshu, the biggest island of Japan. Known as the oldest castle in Japan being built from 1592 to 1614, it also among the most beautiful original castle in the country. Since it was constructed on plains as opposed to a hill or mountain, it is a "hirajiro" castle type.

This scenic castle town within easy reach of Tokyo features an unexpectedly urban feeling while preserving historical sites and traditions. It often referred to as the "Crow Castle" (Karasu-jo) on account of its black exterior.


Okinawa Churunami Aquarium, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia / JordyMeow

Okinawa Churunami Aquarium

Churaumu Aquarium is set inside Ocean Expo Park and also its leading attraction. Located on Okinawa's main island, the aquarium was totally remodeled and opened its doors again in 2002. Visitors will see giant whale sharks and manta rays on one of its three floors.

Peopel enter on the third floor and the leave on the first floor. As soon as you enter, there is a pool where visitors are able to physically touch living starfish and seashells.


Fushimi shrine
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia / そらみみ

Fushimi Inari Shrine

located in Kyoto, it is among the multiple shrines found in Japan that was created to pay tribute to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. There is a lot of walking around so be prepared. Additionally, it is a very interesting place even if you are not religious.


Jigokudani Snow Monkey
Snow Monkey in Field, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia / Noneotuho


Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Visitors get the liberty to view wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. Situated in the valley of the Yokoyu River, it is a 15-minute walk from a paid parking lot or 30-40 minute walk from a bus station in Nagano.

The monkeys are especially captivating and please the crowds when there is a coat of snow on the ground which usually runs from December to March.

 


Kenrokuen Gardens colorful flora
The well manicured Kenrokuen Garden, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

 

Kenrokuen Garden

A well-known old japanese garden in Ishikawa adjacent to the Kanazawa Castle. The garden is said to feature these six elements: artifice, antiquity, spaciousness, tranquility, water paths, and a spectacular view from the garden.

 


Sanjusangendo Temple is the longest wooden structure
Sanjusanjendo Hall, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Sanjusanjendo Hall

Located in eastern Kyoto area of Higashiyama, the Sanjusangendo Temple was built in 1164 in honor of Bodhisattva Kannon. It was rebuilt in 1266 after a fire destroyed its initial construction.

Before you step inside you are amazed by the structure's 390 feet exterior length. Once you do go inside, you experience an inexplicable mystical experience. There is 1000 human size standing images of Kannon, 500 each flank the larger size statue in the middle. Each human sized figure has eleven heads and 40 arms which hold a religious symbol. The amazing carvings of the 1001 status and 28 guardians make this religious sites one to not miss.


Mount Fuji with snowcap
Mt. Fuji view from a distance

Mt. Fuji

Japan's highest mountain stands at 3,776 meters (12,380 feet)and is also an active volcano. However there hasn't been an eruption since 1707. It is not surprising that the nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshiped as one of the three sacred mountains in Japan and enjoys a lot of praise between artists and everyday people spanning several generations.

People are able to climb it in the warmer months of July and August. Approximately 200,000 each year accomplish the challenging hike which has huts along the way with snacks.


Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/ 663Highland

Himeji Castle

Located in Himeji, in Hyōgo Prefecture, the hilltop Japanese castle built in the early 17th-century consists of 83 buildings. In 1992 it was added to UNESCO as a world heritage site.

It is only a short trip from Osaka or Kyoto. Then it's a 15 minute walk from the railway station or take a shuttle bus. Always check to see if sections are being renovated


Gardens of Shinjuku Gyoen
Shinjuku Gyoen Garden in Tokyo, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden

Features multiple walking paths in a tranquil setting with beautiful scenery. It is a welcome escape from the bustling urban center surrounding it. An excellent park to see cherry blossoms and have a picnic.

How to get there? - The Shinjuku Gate entrance is only a 5 to 10-minute walk from the railway station or Subway Line


Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu Temple red plants, Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Kiyomizu Temple

also spelled Kiyomizu-dera; "Pure Water Temple" was built in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the eastern wooded hills of Kyoto is this very popular Buddhist Hosso sect temple.

A very impressive place and location atop a hill. Check to see if renovations are going on.

 

 

 

Also good choices of attractions to see in Tokyo are: Edo-Tokyo Museum, Imperial Palace East Garden, Tosho-gu, Imperial Palace, Tokyo National Museum, Hakone Kowakien Yunessun, Meiji Shrine, Nezu Musuem, Backstreet shops of Tsukiji, Kamakura Great Buddha, Kegon Falls, Senso-ji Complex, Tokyo Disneyland, and the Bridgestone Museum of Art.

Not talked about so much but these below are quickly becoming in people's top 10

Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)

Kyoto

Nikko

Kamakura

Magome

Takayama

Matsushima

Okunoshima aka Rabbit Island

Makomanai Takino (aka Easter Island, Japan)



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