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It’s easy to see why Japan is one of the top travel destinations in the world. The country is home to incredible mountains, bubbling hot springs, ancient temples, the best sushi in the world, and futuristic cities. If you’re keen to explore some of the country’s coolest spots, we are here to help. Here are the best cities to visit in Japan:
Nagasaki is one of the most picturesque cities in Japan. The city boasts a stunning location, nestled amidst the natural beauty and rolling hills that overlook Nagasaki’s harbor. It’s hard to believe the city has such a sobering history, as much of it was destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped by the US air force in 1945. More about its tragic history can be explored at the city’s Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. After, you can meander through the city’s cosmopolitan streets, explore its bustling port, and visit some of the city’s many temples.
Some people feel that Kanazawa rivals many Japanese cities thanks to its beautiful temples, interesting museums, charming city center, and ancient neighborhoods. Indeed, Kanazawa is home to the historic geisha and samurai district, which are a large draw for Japanese tourists (the city still remains relatively off-the-beaten-track from Western tourists). While in town, visit the peaceful Kenroku-en gardens, or explore the impressive Kanazawa Castle.
Fukuoka is the largest city on the island of Kyushu. It’s a city known for its relaxing pace — something that not many Japanese cities are known for. Fukuoka is home to several museums, beautiful temples, and riverside restaurants. It’s a great city to base yourself in if you’re looking to explore more of Kyushu Island.
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It’s a sprawling city filled with old and new, and you’ll see a mixture of skyscrapers, neon lights, and robot-run cafes, combined with old world traditions and elegant temples. The city is known for its world-class sushi, and whether you want to dine in Michelin-starred restaurants or stick to a budget by eating street food, the cuisine here is hard to beat. Here’s how to spend three days in Tokyo.
Osaka is a buzzing, cosmopolitan city, home to larger than life flashing lights, futuristic architecture, and one of the country’s best food and drink scenes. It’s especially well-known for its street food culture and sushi restaurants, so get ready to dig in. When in town, visit Osaka Castle, which is one of the city’s most important landmarks. It’s a 16th-century feudal castle, which has undergone several restorations. The castle is surrounded by a moat and plum, peach and cherry blossom trees, making it an incredibly picturesque spot.
As with the city of Nagasaki, Hiroshima also lies in the shadow of a dark history. In 1945, the city was almost completely obliterated by an atomic bomb. While visiting, you’ll want to pay your respects to the lives lost and find out more at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. You can also visit the Genbaku Dome ruins, which was one of the few buildings that were left standing. It will send chills down your spine.
Kyoto is a city home to temples, zen gardens, and a historic city center. Located on central Honshu Island, Kyoto is known as the ‘City of 10,000 Shrines’ due to its vast amount of Shinto shrines. It’s also home to palaces and impressive villas. During any trip to Japan, you can’t miss out on a visit to a traditional Japanese tea house, and Kyoto is home to plenty.
Nara in south-central Honshu is home to some of the most dazzling temples and Japanese art in the country. Some of its temples and shrines date back as far as to the eighth century when Nara was Japan’s capital city. The city’s Nara Park draws a steady stream of tourists that are looking to relax in its tranquil gardens and see free-roaming deer. The city is also famous for an impressive, 49-foot-high bronze Buddha statue.
If you’re looking to unwind and feel truly rejuvenated in some of Japan’s many hot springs, look no further than the city of Kobe. The city is popular for its proximity to some of the country’s best hot springs, and is also a bustling metropolis that’s fun to explore. Kobe is home to one of the country’s oldest shrines, the Ikuta Shrine, which dates back to the third century.