Best Places to Visit in Japan

Known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan's civilization dates as far back as 30,000 years. Today, the archipelago seamlessly blends its rich history with its ultra-modern present. And while its capital, Tokyo, is a must-visit for first timers, Japan has so much more to offer travelers of all types. U.S. News took into account cultural attractions, culinary options and accessibility to bring you the Best Places to Visit in Japan. Got a favorite? Vote below to help decide next year's rankings.

SUMMARY

Best Places to Visit in Japan

  • Tokyo
    View 17 Photos
    Belongs on List?

    Tokyo

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    This metropolis is a feast for the senses. Neighborhoods like Ginza and Akihabara buzz with flashing lights and larger-than-life shopping while the Meiji Shrine and Imperial Palace give you a look into Japan's storied past. There are also a number of green spaces like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, which acts as a breather from the chaotic, concrete jungle. What's more, Tokyo is regularly regarded as a top foodie city, so come hungry.

    Read More
  • Kyoto
    View 38 Photos
    Belongs on List?

    Kyoto

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    Travelers most interested in Japan's history and traditions should head to Kyoto. Centrally located on the archipelago, Kyoto has long been considered the cultural capital of Japan. Here you'll find more than 1,000 Buddhist temples and more than 400 Shinto shrines, including a whopping 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To this day you can stroll through geisha districts like Gion and Miyagawacho, admire classic wooden architecture and experience traditional teahouses.

    Read More
  • Fukuoka
    Belongs on List?

    Fukuoka

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    Located on the Kyushu Island, Fukuoka offers travelers a mix of urban sprawl, sandy coastlines and ancient temples and shrines. Can't-miss sights include Tocho-ji, the largest sitting wooden Buddha in the country, and Nokonoshima Island, which is home to flower fields and beautiful views of the surrounding bay. The area is also known for incredible ramen, so be sure to grab a bite at one of Fukuoka's many food stalls.

  • Osaka
    Belongs on List?

    Osaka

    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    Situated about an hour south of Kyoto, this port city is worth a visit for its food alone. The city's most famous dish, the tasty pancake-like okonomiyaki, is made with flour, eggs, cabbage, your choice of protein and a savory sauce or mayo. After you've gotten your fill of the delectable local cuisine, stroll the flashy Dotonbori neighborhood, check out the 16th-century Osaka Castle or head to modern sights like Universal Studios Japan and the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

  • Nara
    Belongs on List?

    Nara

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    The first capital of Japan, Nara is famous for being home to The Great Buddha, a 50-foot-tall bronze statue of Buddha located in the famous Todai-ji temple, the largest wooden building in the world. While there, be sure to explore the surrounding Nara Park and other on-site attractions, including the Kasuga-taisha shrine and the Yakushi-ji temple, one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara.

  • Nagasaki
    Belongs on List?

    Nagasaki

    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Japan

    Americans might only associate the name Nagasaki with the dropping of the second atomic bomb during World War II, and today this northwestern city pays homage to the devastation with sights like Nagasaki Peace Park and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. In addition to historical sites, you'll find fun outdoor attractions including Glover Garden and Mount Inasa, which features panoramic views of Nagasaki.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

You May Be Interested In

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

November 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

November 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

November 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

November 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

November 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

November 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

October 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

October 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

October 10, 2019

The Best Chicago Segway Tours

See all the top sights in the Windy City without breaking a sweat.

October 3, 2019