16 Unmissable Places to Visit in Japan in 2024

japan travel must see

Japan is a destination that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. With its unique blend of traditional charm and modern innovation, this country offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Japan.

The culinary scene in Japan is also a major draw for visitors. The country is known for its incredible food, from sushi and ramen to tempura and takoyaki. Whether you’re dining at a high-end restaurant or sampling street food from a local vendor, you’re sure to be impressed by the flavors and quality of the cuisine.

Another reason why Japan is a must-visit destination is its efficient public transportation system. Getting around the country is incredibly easy, thanks to the extensive network of trains, buses, and subways. This makes it convenient to explore multiple cities and regions during your trip.

If you’re planning a visit to Japan in 2024, here are 16 unmissable places that should be on your itinerary:

1) Kyoto

Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, one of the best places to visit in Japan

If there’s one place you should visit in Japan, it’s Kyoto. This city is the epitome of traditional Japan, with its geisha districts, bamboo forests, and intricate temples and shrines. Take a stroll through the historic streets of Gion, spot geisha in their colorful kimonos, and explore the beautiful Higashiyama district. Don’t miss the iconic Fushimi Inari shrine, known for its thousands of torii gates, and be sure to experience a traditional tea ceremony in one of Kyoto’s serene tea houses.

2) Tokyo

Sensoji Temple in Tokyo with SkyTree in the background, a top Japan destination

Tokyo is a city that never fails to impress. From its towering skyscrapers to its vibrant street life, this metropolis is a must-visit destination in Japan. Explore the bustling neighborhoods of Shibuya and Shinjuku, marvel at the futuristic architecture of Tokyo Skytree, and indulge in the city’s incredible culinary scene. Don’t forget to visit the famous Tsukiji Fish Market for a fresh sushi breakfast and take a stroll through the tranquil gardens of the Imperial Palace.

3) Takayama

Takayama, one of the best stops on our Japan 2 week itinerary

Takayama is a charming town nestled in the Japan Alps. Known for its well-preserved traditional buildings and narrow streets, this destination offers a glimpse into the country’s past. Take a walk through the historic district of Sanmachi Suji, visit the morning markets for some fresh produce, and immerse yourself in the local culture. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local specialty, Hida beef, which is known for its exceptional flavor and tenderness.

4) Hakone

Mount Fuji from Lake Ashi in Hakone, one of the top places in Japan

For a breathtaking view of Mount Fuji, head to Hakone. This picturesque town is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and offers stunning natural landscapes. Take a boat ride on Lake Ashi, soak in the hot springs at Owakudani, and enjoy panoramic views of Mount Fuji from the Hakone Ropeway. This is the perfect destination for nature lovers and those looking to unwind in a tranquil setting.

5) Kanazawa

Kazuemachi geisha area in Kanazawa, one of the best cities to visit in Japan

Kanazawa is a hidden gem in Japan, often overlooked by tourists. This city offers a mix of traditional and modern attractions, including beautifully preserved geisha districts, stunning gardens, and impressive art museums. Explore the Kenroku-en Garden, one of the top three gardens in the country, and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the geisha districts of Higashi Chaya and Kazuemachi.

6) Nikko

Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, one of the most beautiful places in Japan

Nikko is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning temples and shrines. Located in the mountains, this temple town offers a serene retreat from the bustling cities. Visit the famous Toshogu Shrine, hike through the beautiful forests, and soak in the natural beauty of the area. Don’t miss the opportunity to try dango, a delicious grilled rice ball snack, from a street stall.

7) Koya-San

Okunoin cemetery in Koya-san, a top Japan destination

Koya-San, also known as Mount Koya, is a unique destination that offers a glimpse into the traditional side of Japan. This secluded temple town is nestled in the forest-covered mountains and is home to many Buddhist temples. Experience the life of a monk by staying in a shukubo, a temple lodging, and participate in the morning chanting and meditation ceremonies. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the otherworldly Okunoin cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in Japan.

8) Tsumago

Tsumago village in the Kiso Valley, a must see in Japan

Tsumago is a picturesque mountain village located in the Kiso Valley. This well-preserved post town offers a glimpse into Japan’s Edo period with its beautifully restored wooden inns and traffic-less streets. Take a walk along the Nakasendo Way, a historic trail that connects Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo), and immerse yourself in the traditional charm of the village. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local delicacies and interact with friendly locals.

9) Nara

Todaiji temple in Nara, a must do in Japan

Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital, is a treasure trove of historic sites and cultural attractions. Visit the iconic Todaiji temple, which houses a 15-meter tall statue of Buddha, and explore the beautiful Nara Park, home to hundreds of wild deer. Wander through the forest shrine complex of Kasuga Taisha and immerse yourself in the rich history of this ancient city. Nara is a great day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, and you can easily explore the highlights in half a day.

10) Hiroshima and Miyajima

Atomic Bomb Dome at Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Japan

A visit to Hiroshima is a powerful and important experience. Pay your respects at the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, and learn about the devastating impact of the atomic bomb. Take a ferry to Miyajima Island and visit the famous Itsukushima Shrine, known for its floating torii gate. Don’t miss the opportunity to try okonomiyaki, a delicious local specialty, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of this resilient city.

These 10 destinations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring Japan. There are many more incredible places to visit, each offering a unique experience. Whether you’re interested in art, history, nature, or cuisine, Japan has something to offer for every traveler.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan in 2024, be sure to include these unmissable places on your itinerary. Remember to check local travel advisories and guidelines before your trip, and make the most of your time in this captivating country.

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