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.


Best Places to Visit in Japan

  • Tokyo
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    #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.

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  • Kyoto
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    #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.

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  • Fukuoka
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    #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
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    #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
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    #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
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    #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.

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