Japan’s 10 most interesting cities to visit

The most beautiful cities in Japan

Japan is among the most developed countries in the world. This state has its own thousands of years of history, traditions and unique culture. The country is located in East Asia in the Japanese archipelago, consisting of 6,852 islands. The largest islands of the country:

Despite its relatively small area, the country’s population density is high. There are 126,225,000 people living in Japan. The state is also called the Land of the Rising Sun. The Japanese themselves often refer to their homeland as Nihon (home of the sun). In 1945, the country was attacked by nuclear weapons from the United States. The tragedy took thousands of lives, and today Japan is the only state in the world against which such weapons were used. But it was able to recover, over the years building a strong economy, and today ranks 10th in living standards.

Only here to this day is the ruler called the emperor. The modern Japanese are very successful not only in the economy, but also in science, biomedicine, robotics and high technology. Japanese scientists have received various prestigious awards, the Nobel Prize, the Fields Prize.

Japanese people care about the environment, carefully preserve the rich heritage of the country represented by castles, temples, palaces, monuments. All of them have survived to this day in almost pristine condition. Each year the state is visited by more than a million tourists.

Top 10 most beautiful cities in Japan

  1. Osaka is an interesting tourist metropolis.
  2. Kyoto is the guardian of Japan’s cultural heritage.
  3. Nara – Japan’s oldest city.
  4. Ise – a popular home for the Ise Jingu Shrine.
  5. Tokyo is an ultra-modern metropolis.
  6. Matsumoto – the charm of historic sites.
  7. Sapporo – famous ski resort.
  8. Kanazawa – Japan’s fortress city.
  9. Nagano – the most mountainous prefecture on Honshu Island.
  10. Kobe – the exotic atmosphere of Japan.

Osaka – national entertainment and theater center

Osaka is the third largest Japanese city. The metropolis is full of life, energy and has everything you need to have a great time. The city is more permeated with Japanese culture than the capital, very palpable atmosphere, the character of Japan. Residents here, according to tourists, friendly, spontaneous, sincere. For the whole country, they are famous for their great love of food, business acumen. The culinary center of the country is concentrated here, guests can try a variety of dishes, national delicacies, restaurant, street food.

There are a lot of sights, Osaka is called The Venice of Japan. There are a lot of lakes, streams, canals, bridges of different architectural styles in the metropolis. There are ancient temples which are situated next to modern skyscrapers, amusement parks. Must-see places of interest in Osaka:

  • Bunraku national theater;
  • National Museum of Art;
  • ramen museum (museum of instant noodles);
  • chess park;
  • Osaka Kaiyukan Aquarium;
  • Japan Disneyland;
  • Umeda Sky Building;
  • Science Museum;
  • Organic Building;
  • Sumiyoshi Taisya Temple;
  • crab kingdom;
  • poisonous fugu fish restaurant.

Kyoto – synonymous with traditional Japanese culture

For more than a thousand years the historical center of the country was concentrated here. Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1869. The metropolis is located in the center of Honshu Island, the old name of the city is Heian. Kyoto was founded in the form of an elongated rectangle, the layout of the streets, neighborhoods, squares, regular, symmetrical. World-famous poets, artists and writers were born here. Many ancient buildings and places of cultural heritage have remained in Kyoto, in particular the Imperial Palace which you can visit during excursion. Some of the city streets are included in the list of World Heritage Sites.

The national center for the traditional practices of chado (tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arranging) is concentrated here. This is the birthplace of kabuki, a leading center of calligraphy, sculpture, and painting.

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It is a must to visit such historically memorable places as the Kyoto Gosho Imperial Palace, where the coronation ceremony of a new emperor of Japan, rituals, important state ceremonies, the Kyoto Imperial Residence, the Shugakuin and Katsura Imperial Villas are held. They can be visited only by people over 18 years of age, it is mandatory to show a passport at the entrance.

Other noteworthy places in the city:

  • Nijo Castle;
  • Ryoan-ji Temple;
  • Sanjusangendo Temple;
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha Temple;
  • bamboo forest;
  • Diakaku-ji Temple;
  • Gion District;
  • philosophical path;
  • Pure Water Buddhist Temple;
  • Silver Pavilion;
  • Golden Pavilion;
  • Kyoto Gardens.

Nara – famous center of Buddhist culture

The city is closely connected with Buddhism; some of the temples located here have been awarded World Heritage status and are the hallmark of Nara. There are places where tourists can learn about the history of the town. Particular attention should be paid to the architectural sites of the Seven Great Temples. Almost all of them are Buddhist temples in force and occupy a very important position in the religious life of Japan.

Nara is also called the deer paradise, there live more than 1000 spotted deer, they quietly stroll through the park, the city streets. To learn more about this ancient city and its culture, it is recommended to visit the National Museum, which contains artwork related to Buddhism, the Prefectural Folklore Museum, the Yamato Folklore Park. The Memorial Museum displays pictures of the town, cultural memorabilia. It will be interesting to visit the Shinto shrine Kasuga-taysha, Toshodai-ji, Isui-en garden in Japanese traditional style, Yoshikien garden, Nara-machi quarter.

Ise is the most important religious center in the country

The town is situated 300 km from the state capital. Here is the most important religious center of the country, an object of mass pilgrimage and a repository of Shinto treasures represented by ancient, great shrines closely connected with history and the cultural and spiritual life of the Japanese people. The local nature, dense green hills, and forests are striking.

Ise Jingu Shrine is a very popular sanctuary around the world. Everyone in Japan knows about it. It consists of two groups of temples – outer Naiku and inner Geku, dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu. In addition to the temple, visitors, tourists visit the museum of fine art, historical, agricultural museum, library. All of them are part of the shrine.

A famous place is the historic district of Kawasaki, located along the Setagawa River. The area was once a major trading place, receiving more than a million pilgrims a year to the Ise-jingu shrine. Ships entered the town along the river. Today, only the main street, where you can buy various souvenirs and more.

Tokyo is the famous capital of Japan

A huge, ultra-modern metropolis – the center of various cultures of the country, the capital of Japan. There are big events such as one of the biggest festivals Kanda-Matsuri, Hanami flower festival in Ueno Park, fireworks festival. Exhibitions are held in museums, and music events and musicals are staged in venues. In Tokyo, there are several hundred art galleries, dozens of public and private museums. Tokyo National Museum holds more than 85,000 paintings, art and sculpture.

Life here does not stop day or night, during rush hour people seem to merge into one stream. It’s easy to get lost in the city if you’re not attentive, even for a little while. To get acquainted with the sights, feel the amazing atmosphere, you need to stay in Tokyo, at least for a few months. Here harmoniously merge ancient Japanese traditions and modernity. The oldest universities are located in the metropolis:

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One of the city’s most important landmarks is the Palace of the Emperor of Japan. Other noteworthy places in Tokyo:

  • Edo-Tokyo Museum;
  • The noisiest district in the city, Ginza;
  • Tokyo Skytree TV Tower ;
  • Kabuki-za Theatre;
  • Toyota Mega Web car museum;
  • Disneyland;
  • Tokyo National Museum;
  • Kotoku In;
  • Geisha Street;
  • Asakusa neighborhood;
  • Senso-ji Buddhist temple;
  • Cathedral of the Resurrection;
  • Center-Gai;
  • Akasaka Palace;
  • Tokyo Home City.

Matsumoto – Gateway to the Japanese Alps

A town located in central Honshu, it fascinates with historical sites. It is also called Chubu, the gateway to the Japanese Alps. The representative of modern Japanese art Kusama Yayoi was born here. Matsumoto is divided into two parts by the Metoba River. On the southern side is the Nakamachi district of ancient traditional buildings. Many houses have been converted into hotels, stores, and restaurants. Of interest to visitors to the town will be the sake distillery.

The Ukiyo-e Museum has a stunning collection of 100,000 woodblock prints, including works by Hokusai and Hiroshige. Other sites and places of interest to tourists will be:

  • Tenjin Matsumoto Fukashi-jinja Temple;
  • Kaichi Gakko Elementary School;
  • Matsumoto Folk Crafts Museum.

Sapporo – a paradise for lovers of Japanese cuisine

A large metropolis located on the island of Hokkaido, it is the capital of Hokkaido Prefecture. The city is quite young for the country, it was founded in 1868. Sapporro is known in the world by the fact that in 1972 it hosted the Winter Olympics. It is important for tourists to know that smoking is prohibited in the center of the metropolis. For this purpose, there are specially designated places, where you can get only after presenting your passport.

In February, there is a snow festival in Odori Park, which is visited by about 2 million people. Everyone takes part in a display of sculptures, snowball fights, and ice skating. If you ask what to try in Sapporo from the food, the answer is simple: ramen. The dish, like its name, originated in this very city.

The main part of the attractions belong to the modern era of Japan. The most interesting places to visit are:

  • Odori Boulevard;
  • Ishii confectionery factory;
  • Niihama Airport;
  • Brewery Museum;
  • Sapporo Botanical Garden.

Entertainment for the whole family can be found in the Susukino neighborhood.

Kanazawa – City of Museums

An ancient fortress city located in the west of Honshu. The name translates as “golden swamp”. It is surrounded by the Japanese Alps, with two rivers flowing through it:

The city is popular for tea ceremonies, traditional crafts, especially Wajima-nuri lacquerware, and Kutana-Yaki pottery. Interesting museums:

  • The Honda Family Museum, which displays the family’s crockery, weapons, and art objects;
  • The Museum of Art presents visitors with collections of special Kutani ceramics;
  • Nakamura Memorial Museum, which houses collections for the tea ceremony and handicrafts;
  • Museum of Crafts and Traditional Products, which exhibits interesting collections of Yuzen silk, ceramics, lacquerware, and musical instruments.

Nagano – beautiful rivers and mountains

The city has many mountains, rivers, lakes, and springs. Nagano is famous for its natural beauty. A very popular dish that visitors must try is buckwheat soba noodles. The Tokakushi Soba Museum even offers master classes in cooking, tasting noodles. The museum displays exhibits that used to be used to make soba noodles.

Attractions of the city:

  • Zenkoji Temple;
  • Matsumoto Castle;
  • Matsushiro Castle;
  • Nikko Cedar Alley;
  • snow monkey park;
  • Kawanakajima Field;
  • Kamikochi Plain;

Kobe is a port city

The metropolis consists of villages with an exotic atmosphere, the most striking of which are Nanjinmachi and Kitano-Jinkan. Kobe has a port, with the Port Park, the Port Tower, and Meriken Park next to it. Those who like shopping will be interested in visiting the Umie Mosaic shopping center.

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In 1995, Kobe was hit by a major earthquake that severely destroyed the city, killing more than 6,000 people. But the residents found the strength, united and with the help of government funding rebuilt the metropolis. Of the sights worth noting are:

  • the art museum;
  • the Minatozawa Tomb;
  • the mosque;
  • Suma Temple;
  • Sorakuen Park;
  • European old neighborhoods of Yamamoto Street;
  • aquarium.

The city is connected to Awaji Island by the world’s longest suspension bridge. In December, Kobe was held Festival of Light, visited by about 4 million people.

List of large and interesting cities in Japan

A trip to Japan can be compared to a trip to another planet, so it is original and unique. Ancient traditions, long isolation, the subsequent economic breakthrough has turned the Far East into an amazing region where antiquity and modernity, the most beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes are combined. Even for a superficial acquaintance, it is necessary to go to Japan for at least two weeks.

Japan map

© MichaelGaida / pixabay.com / CC BY 2.0

Geography Lesson

Japan is located on islands and archipelagos. From school lessons, you probably remember the names of the major islands: Hokkaido and Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. You’d be surprised how many islands Japan consists of. In fact, there are more than 6,000 of them. The islands of Japan are in a seismic hazard zone and there are 50 active volcanoes.

The list of Japanese wonders is topped by the sacred Mount Fuji. It is followed by the sakura blossom and the “Momiji” maple leaf festival. You can admire the natural beauties only in a certain season. And the famous cities with skyscrapers and pagodas welcome tourists at any time of the year.

This is a map of Japan with islands in Russian. The first thing you want to do is visit the main islands and explore the most interesting cities. How to build a route to see as much as possible in a small amount of time? It all depends on the time of year and your preferences.

Hokkaido or Japanese Siberia

Hokkaido is called the Siberia of Japan for a reason. It is the northernmost island with snowy and frosty winters and hot but short summers. In terms of area it is the second largest island, connected to neighboring Honshu by a deep tunnel (246 m). Here, in the northern cities, people come to ski and take a dip in the hot springs bubbling at the foot of the mountains. The most famous ski resorts in Japan, Niseko and Furano, are gaining popularity among Russian tourists who appreciate the excellent slopes and developed infrastructure.

Hokkaido has the best resorts of Japan which conduct therapy by thermal waters and volcanic mud. One of them is Noboribetsu where each hotel has its own mineral spring.

If you are interested in the main cities of the country, come to Sapporo, the capital of the island. You’ll find a Snow Festival and skiing in winter, cherry blossoms in spring, a chrysanthemum festival in fall, and even August is not as hot as in the southern regions. You can go to the museum of beer, white chocolate factory, walk through the Botanical Gardens, drink whiskey at a local factory.

The large islands of Japan are surrounded by many small islands. The map of the surrounding area is literally full of them. It’s worth a trip to one of them to fish, wander the gardens and parks, watch the birds, and climb the mountains. No matter how many islands are scattered across the water, all have well-developed infrastructure and are connected to the mainland by sea and air.

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Honshu

hokkaido sapporo

© lionel-arts / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

On a map of Japan, the largest island, stretching from north to south, Honshu, catches your eye immediately. It is the most important island in Japan and the largest in area. Here are the main cities and international airports, and from here tourists begin their route.

On Honshu Island, in its central part, there are million-strong cities: Kyoto, Nagoya, Kobe. Further north are such major Japanese cities as Kawasaki, the city and port of Yokohama.

You need a map of Japan in Russian with cities in order to correctly plan your route. At railway stations service stations offer visitors advertising brochures, where on the map marked iconic places. In large cities it is more convenient to arrive at 10-11 pm. After spending the night, go for a walk, and closer to the evening pick up your things and move to another place. Trains leave every 5-6 minutes.

Japan’s largest island is full of temptations. If you do not know where to fly, listen to the opinion of experienced tourists.

Go for the first time, not knowing the country, it is better to go to Osaka, to see the sights, and then go to the millionaire cities: Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, Kawasaki. You can go to Hiroshima. This city and prefecture in Japan, along with Nagasaki, survived the atomic bombing. Every year, on August 6th, there are memorial ceremonies to remind the world of the terrible times. Now it is a very beautiful city with gardens and temples.

osaka night

© rueike / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

Flying home is recommended from Tokyo, and fill your suitcase with gifts and souvenirs here. Cities for tourists on the Osaka-Tokyo route, located on the map in a south-to-north direction:

    – The first point of your trip, the second largest city after the capital. The Samurai Castle, National Puppet Theater, Universal Studios amusement park, another giant harbor park with an oceanarium, planetarium, and the world’s tallest Ferris wheel are must-see attractions. Water City in Japan – so called Osaka for access to the inland Sea of Japan.
  1. It’s also worth a trip to Japan’s oldest city, Nara, to see the historic buildings, including the former residence of the emperor. Visit the Reindeer Park with children, where 1500 beautiful animals live freely, accepting food from the hands of man. – City of a Thousand Temples, is an hour’s drive from Osaka, the distance on the map -54 km. Was the ancient capital of Japan. Now it is a modern city, which has preserved the ancient cultural traditions. Popular attractions – the palace of the Emperor, castles, temple complexes. Some streets as if descended from ancient paintings.
  2. A half-hour drive from Kyoto is Kobe, the most unusual city and port in Japan, squeezed between the sea and wooded slopes, with mountain trails and a waterfall near the railway station.
  3. The capital of Japan is the multifaceted Tokyo, the most populous city in the world (37 million). It will take you more than a day to explore Japan’s largest city superficially. You will see the Imperial Palace, rainbow bridge, fish market, Meiji Shrine and Akihabara “anime” district.

It is impossible not to visit the Snow Monkey Park in the suburbs of Tokyo. Did you know that there are Japanese Alps? This is the name of the three mountain ranges in central Honshu, where guided tours are organized. If you want to climb Mount Fuji, you need to come in July or August. At other times climbing is officially forbidden.

Japanese cities are united by a single railway network. The Japanese like to travel on high-speed trains. It’s the fastest, though expensive mode of transport. But you can visit major tourist cities, saving a lot of time.

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To see all the popular cities, one trip is not enough. The largest island is divided into 34 regions. Each prefecture on Honshu Island has its own color, climate, flora and fauna. And to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of antiquity, it is worth visiting the cozy and picturesque small towns of Japan.

osaka castle

© yoshikazut / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

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Shikoku

In terms of size and area, Shikoku is the smallest island of the four.

It is visited by tourists wishing to connect to Japanese religious shrines and to visit medical spas in Japan. Shinto and Buddhist temples neighbor tea houses, souvenir shops and modern museums. It is impossible to remember the names of the temples, there are more than a hundred. The main thing that impresses after the bustling cities is the amazingly beautiful nature.

Shikoku is also known as a resort island where tourists relax by the sea and improve their health in the thermal and mineral springs. Matsuyama is the top resort town, followed by Takamatsu and Tokushima, Japan’s most beautiful city and prefecture.

shikoku garden ritsurin

© LittleMouse / pixabay.com / CC BY 2.0

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Japan’s Silicon Island is what Kyushu is called for its contribution to microelectronics manufacturing. But Kyushu island is not only modern enterprises and port cities. Must-see places for tourists:

  • Takachiho Caves;
  • Nakadake and Asso volcanoes;
  • the samurai village of Tyranus;
  • beautiful southern towns;
  • Kammon Bridge, connecting Honshu and Kyushu.

Resorts in Japan with beaches made of imported sand are mostly visited by the Japanese themselves. Maritime entertainment is not for every tourist. Therefore, the Russians are few, although the southernmost of the islands, as seen on the map, is located in the subtropical zone, and the beach fun is available year round.

If you decide to visit the seaside resorts of Japan, go to the island of Okinawa. In addition to the warm clear sea and beautiful scenery, the region is known as the island of long-livers. An active lifestyle, a unique climate, a healthy diet and a positive attitude have resulted in Okinawa’s 500 long-livers over 100 years old who have retained their strength and energy.

okinawa island ocean

© rurinoshima / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0

Unusual places in Japan

A story about Japan would not be complete without mentioning unusual islands, each of which is unique in its own way.

Hashima Island was once densely populated. Coal was mined here, but when the mines closed, the inhabitants abandoned it. Now the Japanese ghost island is of interest only to tourists. The old buildings are gradually crumbling, access here for a long time was closed. Now Hashima, the ghost town is open to the public. Its outlines resemble a military lincoln. Hence the name of the point of the tour program – the abandoned island of Gunkanjima.

Ghost towns do exist. One of them is Namie, deserted after the nuclear power plant disaster near Fukushima. If abandoned cities don’t appeal to you, commune with wildlife and visit amazing places:

  • Okunashima Island, home to wild rabbits;
  • Cat Island;
  • Itomori, home to fictional characters from the popular Japanese anime Kimi No Na Wa;
  • Yonaguni – an underwater city in Japan, the ruins of a civilization that lived 5,000 years ago.

Dare to go on a long journey? You won’t regret it! The multifaceted and mysterious Japan awaits you, where you will want to go more than once.

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