The Most Beautiful Places in Japan

mt.fuji Japan

Wherever you travel in Japan, you are always welcomed by stunning sceneries created by the abundant nature. The rich nature often comes along with popular tourist attractions that include historic structures and cultural buildings that were made back in the old days. But of course there are also the big cities with their modern townscape for you to discover. There are countless numbers of beautiful places worth visiting dotted over the country, and its variety will surprise you when you embark on a journey exploring the fascinating country. We have selected some of the most beautiful places in Japan that are worth a visit!

1. Shirogane Blue Pond (Hokkaido/北海道)

Shirogane Blue Pond is a scenic pond located in Biei town in the heart of Hokkaido. It was accidentally created by the construction of an artificial dam along the Shirogane river. The stunning bright color is made by the chemical composition brought by water stemming from the Shirogane hot spring located upstream of the river. The particles in the water reflect the sunlight, which results in the fascination blue color that is clearly visible to us. It is a magnificent sight all year round, but the best season to enjoy the mystic pond is in fall with beautiful autumn leaves!

Hidden places in Japan - Shirogane Blue Pond Aoiike

2. Yamadera (Yamagata/山形)

Yamadera (山寺), also known as Risshaku-ji Temple, is a Buddhist temple located in Yamagata prefecture. It was established in 860 by Ennin, a priest who officially received the decree of Emperor Seiwa. You can explore historical buildings standing along the steep 1,000 steps leading to the top of the mountain. Kaizendo is one of the main halls that offers a panoramic view along with the adjacent red structure called Nokyo-do. The beauty of the temple is also described in works by Matsuo Basho, one of the most famous poets in Japan. You can spot some of them carved in rocks while walking through the mountain.   

Yamadera

3. Hoshitoge Rice Terrace (Niigata/新潟)

Hoshitoge Rice Terrace is a symbolic scenic spot in Niigata prefecture. About 200 rice paddies cover 150 hectares, creating a beautiful natural landscape. It changes the color and appearance each season with the beautiful surroundings. The best season to visit is June and September, when you can get a high possibility to catch a glimpse of a sea of clouds along with the scenic paddies filled with water. The water absorbs and reflects the colors that vary depending on the time and season, which creates a breathtaking view!   

Hoshitoge-Rice-Terraces

4. Mt. Fuji

No list of beautiful places in Japan could ever be complete without the iconic Mt. Fuji on it. Fuji-san is the famous tallest mountain in Japan, located on the border between Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefecture. The majestic mountain has been loved my many over centuries, and attracts tourists from all over the world. There are several hiking trails to the summit as well as at the base of the mountain. The hiking trails at the base of Mount Fuji are enjoyable, even for beginners. Head to Arakurayama Sengen Park to enjoy the famous view of Mount Fuji and the beautiful five-story pagoda. Fuji Five Lakes refer to five scenic lakes that offer a range of outdoor activities and form the perfect setting for admiring Mount Fuji.

Mount-Fuji-Lake-Kawaguchi
Mount Fuji

5. Ogasawara Islands (Tokyo/東京)

Ogasawara Islands is a cluster of remote islands that are located approximately 1,000 km south of the center of Tokyo. Thanks to the isolated location, it boasts a unique diversity of ecosystems of flora & fauna, some of the marine life and other wildlife that can be spotted only here in Japan. Chichijima and Hahajima are the only inhabited islands which are accessible by ferry. The emerald green ocean and white sandy beaches allow you to get unwind away from the bustle and hustle of big cities. It was officially designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. 

6. Shirakawago (Gifu/岐阜)

Shirakawago is a peaceful village located in a mountainous area in Gifu prefecture. It welcomes visitors with a number of traditional Japanese houses that date back over 100 years. The houses are constructed in a traditional architectural style called Gassho-zukuri: thatched roofs sloped from both sides, designed this way so that snow falls off easily. It also resembles the shape of two hand put together for praying at shrines or temples. In summer, you can walk around the beautiful village surrounded by lush greenery, whereas winter offers a stunning scenery of the Gassho-zukuri style houses in a winter wonderland.  

Shirakawago winter

   

7. Nachi Katsuura (Wakayama/和歌山)

Nachi Katsuura in Wakayama prefecture is home to a number of scenic spots that are part of “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nachi Katsuura consists of historical structures such as the three grand shrines of Kumano and the hiking trails part of the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route across the sacred forests. Nachi Katsuura played a significant role as the center of a unique religious mixture of Shinto and Buddhism, and has been visited by famous and powerful people throughout history. It is also popular among foreign tourists as a great spot to enjoy refreshing trekking while exploring historical sites as well. 

The pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki waterfall

8. Togetsu Bridge (Kyoto/京都)

Togetsu Bridge is the iconic bridge located in the Arashiyama area in western Kyoto. The original bridge was built in the 9th century and later reconstructed several times because of the damage caused by typhoons and floods. The 155-meter bridge connects both sides of Katsura River. Togetsu means moon crossing in Japanese. According to the local story, Emperor Kameyama described the moon moving over the bridge as “the moon is crossing the bridge”, earning it its name. The bridge draws large crowds of visitors especially in spring with beautiful cherry blossoms, and in fall with the stunning autumn colors!  

Hozu river in Arashiyama Kyoto

9. Takeda Castle (Hyogo/兵庫)

Takeda Castle stands at 353.7 meters on the summit of Mt. Kojo in Hyogo prefecture. It is often referred as the “Machu Picchu of Japan” or “castle floating in the sky” because of the impressive scenery created by the sea of clouds. It was originally established in the 15th century, but only some ruins such as stone walls remain in good condition. Although the main buildings no longer exist, it never disappoints visitors with the breathtaking views created by beautiful clouds and other peaks surrounding the sacred site. 

Takeda castle

     

10. Tsunoshima (Yamaguchi/山口)

Tsunoshima is a scenic island located in the west of Yamaguchi prefecture. It is connected to the mainland of Japan with a large bridge called Tsunoshima Ohashi, which was completed in 2000. The 1,780-meter bridge allows visitors to access the beautiful island while enjoying the ocean views, which in itself is already a popular tourist attraction worth visiting. Try delicious fresh seafood at local restaurants or take a relaxing stroll at the sandy beach. Enjoying a stunning sunset at the Tsunoshima Lighthouse will also add an unforgettable moment to your time in Japan!

Tsunoshima bridge

11. Nabegataki (Kumamoto/熊本)

Two hours drive north-east from JR Kumamoto station takes you to Nabegataki, one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan. It is only 10 meters tall and 20 meters wide, but what makes it special is the fact that you can walk behind the falls and enjoy it from the opposite side too. The water falls down in the basin peacefully, creating a stunning view of thousands of white threads resembling a white curtain. It was originally formed by a volcanic eruption about 90,000 years ago which is also said to have contributed to create the caldera of Mt. Aso.   

Nabegataki waterfalls Kumamoto

12. Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki/宮崎)

Takachiho gorge is a symbolic tourist attraction in the northwest part of Miyazaki prefecture. The scenic gorge was formed by lava and deposits brought by eruptions of Mt. Aso over time. Giant rock columns and cliffs stand 70 to 100 meters along the river stretching about 4km. You can take a rowboat and row along the calm river to get close to several waterfalls, or take a pathway while looking down the impressive scenery. Takachiho is also home to historical and spiritual sites such as Takachiho Shrine and Amano Iwato Shrine, which are strongly associated with the stories in Shinto mythology. 

Takachiho-gorge-2

13. Miyako Island (Okinawa/沖縄)

Okinawa is often chosen as a holiday destination for its beautiful ocean, tropical climate and remote islands. Miyako Island is one of these beautiful islands made of coral reef and known for its splendid swimming and snorkeling opportunities and white sandy beaches. It is located about 300 km southwest of the main island of Okinawa, and accessible by domestic flights from Naha on Okinawa or other big cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. Nearby Irabu Island is connected by the 3.540-meter bridge Irabu Ohashi, the longest bridge in Japan that you can cross for free. Yonaha Maehama Beach is a amazing beach with fine white sand, often mentioned as one of the most beautiful beach in Japan. It definitely offers something that you can never experience in other areas in Japan.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours

For help with planning your trip to Japan and private tours to some of the best tourist spots, please contact us. We can help you put together the perfect itinerary and get a deeper understanding from the Japanese culture. All of our tours are with an English speaking, local guide and can be customized according to your wishes. Some of our tours:

  1. Tokyo 1–Day highlights tour
  2. Kagoshima highlight tour
  3. Hiroshima tour

Japan has many amazing places to all offer a unique experience, from amazing snow in Hokkaido to rich culture in Kyoto and from tropical beach in Okinawa to modern city life in Tokyo, each place has its own beauty. Of course there are many other amazing places, but these ones are our favourites. If you have no idea where to go for the best experiences, we recommend choosing one that is relatively easy to access and explore. Get exciting outdoor experiences at Mt. Fuji if you prefer somewhere close to nature or learn more about traditions in Shirakawago, conveniently accessible from Nagoya, the largest city in the Chubu region. Kyoto boasts a number of popular tourist attractions including beautiful shrines and temples along with Togetsu Bridge. Find your favorite place and make your time in Japan an unforgettable memory!

Happy traveling!

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