10 Best Places To Visit In Japan For First-Time Visitors!

by Elsie Young World traveler
Japan is a land of bullet trains, neon lights, and temples older than time itself. If you dream of your first trip to this unforgettable country, you’re in for a treat! Understanding the 10 best places to visit in Japan for first-time visitors is crucial for planning a memorable and fulfilling trip. This blog will ensure your trip perfectly blends modern marvels and ancient wonders. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime. Start your Japan adventure today with luxury vacation rentals for an unforgettable experience!

10 best places to visit in Japan

Unlock the gate to Japan’s mesmerizing wonders! Venture beyond the ordinary and immerse yourself in Japan’s 10 best places to visit. From Kyoto’s tranquil gardens to Tokyo’s electric streets, this journey promises enchantment at every turn. Let’s dive into this captivating exploration together.

10. Nara

This is a charming city nestled in Japan’s Kansai region. It thrived as Japan’s capital during the Nara period (710-794 AD), leaving behind a rich legacy of temples, shrines, and historical sites. Today, Nara offers a delightful blend of ancient treasures and friendly Sika deer that roam freely in Nara Park, the city’s heart.

Must-Visit Attractions in Nara

Here are some must-visit attractions in Nara:

  • Todai-ji Temple

Witness the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue housed within this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Kasuga Grand Shrine

Immerse yourself in the vibrant, vermillion-colored buildings and thousands of stone lanterns lining the path to this Shinto shrine.

  • Nara Park 

Explore this expansive park, teeming with Nara’s top attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, Kasuga Grand Shrine, and the Kofuku-ji Temple. It’s also the best place to interact with the friendly Sika deer.

  • Naramachi District

Stroll through this historic district, lined with traditional wooden buildings, shops, and restaurants, and soak up the atmosphere of old Nara.

  • Heijo Palace

This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a glimpse into the grandeur of the ancient capital city. It reveals the remnants of the imperial palace from the Nara period.


The town of Nikko, nestled in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, is a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural significance. Towering mountains, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls grace Nikko National Park, while the city boasts a rich heritage as a center of Shinto and Buddhist mountain worship for centuries.  Nikko’s crown jewel is the Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Must-Visit Attractions in Nikko

Here are some must-visit attractions in Nikko:

  • Toshogu Shrine

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Toshogu Shrine is the crown jewel of Nikko. This lavishly decorated Shinto shrine complex is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate. Visitors are awestruck by the intricate carvings, colorful paintwork, and gold leaf ornamentation that adorn the buildings. 

  • Futarasan Shrine and Shinkyo Bridge

Located next to Toshogu Shrine, Futarasan Shrine is dedicated to the deities of Mount Futara and Mount Nantai. The sacred Shinkyo Bridge, a vermillion-lacquered bridge, is the gateway to both Shrines.

  • Rinnoji Temple

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rinnoji Temple, is a complex of Buddhist temples with a long and fascinating history. It includes several halls, pagodas, and a serene garden. 

  • Kegon Falls

One of the most iconic waterfalls in Japan, Kegon Falls plunges a dramatic 97 meters (318 feet) into a scenic canyon.  You can view the falls from an observation deck or take an elevator down to the base for a closer look. 

  • Lake Chuzenji

A beautiful lake located high in the mountains of Nikko National Park, Lake Chuzenji offers stunning scenery and a variety of outdoor activities like boating and hiking.  During the fall season, the surrounding mountains come alive with vibrant colors. 

  • Edo Wonderland Nikko Edomura

This unique theme park allows visitors to step back in time and experience Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868).  You can dress up in traditional clothing, watch samurai demonstrations, and enjoy traditional food and entertainment.


The city of Kanazawa, Japan, is the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture and is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. It is known for its well-preserved geisha district, Kenroku-en Garden, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and abundant fresh seafood. 

Must-Visit Attractions in Kanazawa

Here are some of the must-visit attractions in Kanazawa:

  • Kenrokuen Garden

Considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Kenrokuen is a masterpiece of landscape design. The garden features ponds, hills, teahouses, and various plants, creating a stunning display throughout the year. 

  • Higashi Chaya District

Step back in this historic district, where Geisha once entertained guests in tea houses. Today, you can wander the narrow streets, admire the traditional wooden buildings, and spot a geisha on her way to an appointment. 

  • Omicho Market

This lively market is a great place to experience Japanese culture and sample the freshest seafood in Kanazawa. Be sure to try local specialties like sushi, sashimi, and white shrimp. 

  • Kanazawa Castle

Once the seat of power for the powerful Maeda clan, Kanazawa Castle is now a popular tourist destination. Its beautiful gardens surround it and offer stunning views of the city. 

  • 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

This award-winning museum is a must-see for any fan of modern art. The museum houses a collection of contemporary art from around the world, including works by Andy Warhol and Olafur Eliasson. 


The town of Hakone, Japan, is a town in Kanagawa Prefecture, west of Tokyo. It’s known as a popular resort destination due to its beautiful natural scenery, including being part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and its many hot springs (onsen), where visitors can relax while taking in views of the iconic Mount Fuji. The Hakone area offers a variety of activities for visitors, from soaking in hot springs to exploring volcanic landscapes and museums.

Must-Visit Attractions in Hakone

 Here are some must-visit attractions in Hakone:

  • Lake Ashi

This beautiful lake is a popular spot for boating, sightseeing, and enjoying the views of Mount Fuji. Visitors can take a cruise on the lake or rent a paddleboat to explore at their own pace.

  • Hakone Open-Air Museum

This unique museum features a collection of sculptures displayed outdoors in a beautiful garden setting. It is a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh air while admiring the art.

  • Owakudani Valley

This volcanic valley is home to boiling springs and fumaroles. Visitors can take a cable car up to the valley to see the otherworldly landscape and try a local specialty: boiled eggs cooked in the geothermal vents.

  • Hakone Shrine

This Shinto shrine is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit. The shrine is famous for its red torii gate, which stands on the shore of Lake Ashi.

  • Hakone Ropeway

This aerial tramway offers stunning views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding mountains. The ropeway is a great way to see the Hakone area differently.


The island chain of Okinawa, Japan, is a chain of islands stretching south from the mainland, offering a tropical paradise experience.  Nicknamed “Japan’s Hawaii,” it boasts stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters teeming with coral reefs, and a laid-back atmosphere.  Beyond the idyllic beaches, Okinawa boasts a rich cultural heritage distinct from mainland Japan, influenced by its proximity to China and Taiwan.  Visitors can delve into Ryukyu Kingdom history at Shuri Castle, explore serene UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Ryukyu Gusuku Kingdom Sites and Related Properties, or dive into the unique local cuisine featuring fresh seafood and Okinawa soba noodles. 

Must-Visit Attractions in Okinawa

Here are some must-visit attractions in Okinawa, Japan:

  • Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

This incredible facility, home to the world’s second-largest aquarium tank, showcases the diverse marine life of the Ryukyu Islands, including whale sharks, manta rays, and colorful fish.

  • Kerama Islands

The Kerama Islands are a paradise for beach lovers and snorkelers. They offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life.

  • Shuri Castle

Once the political center of the Ryukyu Kingdom, this majestic castle complex offers a glimpse into Okinawan history and culture. Visitors can explore the castle grounds, royal residences, and various museums.

  • Ryukyu Mura

This open-air museum allows visitors to experience traditional Okinawan life. Here, you can see Ryukyu Kingdom-era houses, witness traditional crafts being demonstrated, and even try on Ryukyu clothing.

  • Kokusaidori Street

Kokusaidori Street is a lively shopping and entertainment district located in Naha, Okinawa’s capital city. Stroll down the 1.6-kilometer-long street lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere.

Ready to learn more? Click Best Places To Visit In Japan!

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About Elsie Young Innovator   World traveler

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Joined APSense since, November 1st, 2023, From New York, United States.

Created on Apr 1st 2024 04:44. Viewed 101 times.


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