Japan is a beautiful country with a rich culture, delicious food, and stunning natural beauty. If you're planning a trip to Japan and wondering where to go, here are five awesome places you should consider visiting.
1. Shrines and Temples: From the Asakusa Shrine to the Meiji Shrine, there is no shortage of incredible shrines and temples to visit in Japan. These historical sites offer a glimpse into Japan's rich cultural heritage and traditions. The Asakusa Shrine is particularly famous for its stunning architecture and annual Sanja Matsuri festival, while the Meiji Shrine is a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of Tokyo. Other notable shrines and temples include the Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, with its famous torii gates, and the Todai-ji Temple in Nara, home to the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world.
I still remember the feeling of awe when I first stepped into the Meiji Shrine. The peaceful ambience contrasting with the surrounding bustling city of Tokyo was an experience I'll never forget.
Speaking of unforgettable experiences, on our most recent visit to Japan, we had the honor of meeting with some famous Geisha at one of Japan's famous shrines.
As hosts of the Anime Midwest, a major convention celebrating Japanese pop culture, we have the privilege of traveling to Japan every year. This helps us connect with the Japanese anime industry and get some great guests at our anime convention. I wrote an article breaking down the costs to go.
Above you'll see us with a couple of Geisha, outside a shrine in Tokyo.
The next shrine, Fushimi Inari, is further away. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a famous Shinto shrine located in Kyoto, Japan. It is known for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which form a path up the mountain behind the shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of foxes, fertility, and agriculture, and is one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan.
2. Nature Places and Parks: Places like the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto, are some of the most peaceful and beautiful places to visit in Japan. The bamboo stalks tower over you and create a serene atmosphere. Other nature spots include the cherry blossom parks in Tokyo, Mount Fuji, and the colorful flower fields in Hokkaido. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and be surrounded by nature, Japan has plenty of options to choose from.
Walking through the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama was a surreal experience for me. The towering bamboo stalks created a tranquil haven that made the outside world feel miles away. It was the embodiment of peace and serenity.
The coolest part was that once you got to the deepest part, the world around dissapears. The sky darkens. Your heart starts to race. Then I noticed. The bamboo was so high, it completely blocked out the sun. Honestly, it was a little spooky, but super beautiful at the same time.
3. The Tokyo Metropolis: While these beautiful rural areas of Japan offer serene retreats, the city of Tokyo is where the pace of life picks up. Including places like Golden Gai, Karaoke bars, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo is a bustling city that offers a unique blend of traditional Japanese culture and modern technology. There are plenty of awesome sights to see and experiences to be had in Tokyo.
Golden Gai: This area in Shinjuku is home to a collection of tiny bars and pubs, each with their own unique atmosphere and decor. It's a great place to grab a drink and experience Tokyo's nightlife.
Karaoke bars: Karaoke is a big part of Japanese culture, and Tokyo has some of the best karaoke bars in the world. You can find them all over the city, but some of the most popular ones are in Shibuya and Shinjuku.
I've spent a few fun nights in the intimate bars of Golden Gai, each with its own unique vibe. It's a part of Tokyo that feels like stepping back in time. And singing my heart out at the karaoke bars in Shinjuku remains one of my favorite memories of Japan.
Tokyo Tower: This iconic tower is a must-see when visiting Tokyo. It offers incredible views of the city and is a great place to take photos.
4. Restaurants and Eateries: Apart from its diverse landscapes and bustling cities, Japan also takes great pride in its culinary delights. I love to go to all the amazing food places in Japan!
From sushi to ramen to street food, there is something for every foodie. For example, you can get delicious ramen or delicious katsu chicken. There are many types of ramen to try in Japan, from the rich and savory tonkotsu broth of Kyushu to the light and refreshing shio broth of Hokkaido. And when it comes to katsu, there are options beyond just chicken, such as tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and ebi katsu (shrimp cutlet).
You can also eat Wagyu Beef. Wagyu beef is a highly prized type of beef in Japan that is known for its marbled texture and rich flavor. It is typically served in high-end restaurants and can be quite expensive, but many people believe it is well worth the cost for the unique taste experience. Some popular ways to enjoy wagyu beef include as steak, sukiyaki, or shabu-shabu.
5. Onsens: Onsen is a traditional Japanese hot spring bath that is popular among locals and tourists alike. There are many hot springs throughout Japan, some of which are located in scenic areas with breathtaking views. Onsen is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day of sightseeing, and many believe it has therapeutic benefits for the skin and body. Just be sure to follow proper etiquette and customs when visiting an onsen, such as bathing before entering the water and refraining from wearing swimsuits.
We often try to escape from Tokyo and visit the Hakone mountain areas where there is a place called Yunessun, which has all kinds of themed onsen like a wine onsen and a sake onsen! You are taking a bath in real wine and sake, which is a unique experience that you won't find anywhere else. Yunessun also has a tea onsen, coffee onsen, and even a ramen onsen, where you can soak in a broth-like pool that looks and smells like ramen. It's a fun and relaxing way to experience Japanese culture and traditions while enjoying the natural beauty of the Hakone mountains.
Some people believe that bathing in wine or sake can have skin benefits due to the natural antioxidants and amino acids found in these substances. Wine, for example, contains resveratrol, which is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Sake also contains kojic acid, which is believed to help brighten the skin and even out skin tone.
Soaking in a traditional onsen after a long day of sightseeing was a highlight of my trips to Japan. The hot springs in Hakone, with their therapeutic properties and breathtaking views, were especially memorable. It was not just a bath, but an experience of complete relaxation and immersion into Japanese culture.
I hope you get a chance to go to some of these awesome places, and can explore the beauty and culture of this amazing country. Whether you're interested in historical shrines and temples, natural beauty, modern city life, or delicious food, Japan has something to offer everyone.
From the stunning Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, to the serene Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, to the bustling streets of Tokyo, Japan is full of unique and unforgettable experiences. And don't forget to indulge in some of the amazing food, from ramen to wagyu beef to onsen-themed beverages. From its rich heritage to its bustling cities, serene landscapes, and delectable cuisine, Japan offers an array of experiences for every traveler. Plan your journey and prepare to immerse yourself in the cultural tapestry that is Japan.