Ever tried strawberry milk flavoured Pepsi? Or how about meat flavoured ice-cream? If you haven’t ever heard of these quirky food items, welcome to Japan; a country where such eccentric tastes are quite common! Japan is a historic land of stunning natural beauty that has beautifully blended in ancient traditions with modern life. Also known as the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, this country is famous all over the world for its out-of-the-box fashion trends as also for its culinary experiments. Even though Japan is relatively a small country, the depth of its culture and colour is immeasurable. While there are so many amazing places to see in Japan, there are also several historic events that have helped shape the past, present and future of this great nation!
Some of the best places to visit in Japan, according to many travellers are Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo and Hakone, to name a few. Along with these incredible cities, a quintessential Japan tour package also offers the best of food, culture, sightseeing, history, art and technology!
While there is no best time to visit Japan as such, the country has four beautiful seasons:
Winters are dry and cool (January, February)
Spring is lovely; This is the season for the wonderful cherry blossoms! (March, April, May)
Summer is wet, followed with a hot and humid climate (June, July, August, September and October)
Autumn is considered to be the best season of the year! (November and December)
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular tourist places and must-visit sightseeing attractions of 3 Japanese cities – Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka!
One of the best places to visit in Japan is the capital city, Tokyo. Derived from the word ‘to’ and ‘kyo’, it literally translates into ‘east capital’. Tokyo is a mega-metropolis of contradictions! While on one hand, you will find sprawling skyscrapers, cutting-edge architecture and technology, on the other hand, you will come upon ancient shrines and temples, gigantic gardens and traditional houses. With a population of over 13-million people, this city is unusually calm and efficient. Here the trains are always on time and if they happen to be late (which is a rare occurrence) they are only delayed by a maximum of 18 seconds!
Very popular with tourists, Tokyo is best known for its fine-dining restaurants (it is the city with the most Michelin starred restaurants), the best shopping experiences, bustling nightlife, the famous anime-pop culture and its art and culture. Just like there is no best time to visit Japan, there is no particular preferred season or time to visit Tokyo; you can visit this metropolis all-year round! It is often the preferred choice for couples who wish to have a unique honeymoon experience and you would not be surprised if Tokyo found its way and became part of their Japan honeymoon packages. Some of the major tourist places and among the prime Japan tourist attractions that we recommend you to visit in Tokyo are:
Tokyo Imperial Palace: The Emperor of Japan’s primary residence, this palace is sprawled across an unbelievable amount of land. Most of the gardens are open to the public and you can stroll in admiring the view. There are a lot of cherry trees, which when they bloom in the month of April, become one of the most beautiful spots in Tokyo and one of the most beautiful places in Japan. In the past, the Imperial Palace was known as Edo Castle and was home to the Samurai warriors.
Tokyo Tower: The Tokyo Tower stands tall at 1,091 ft. and is the second tallest structure in Japan. It is used as an observation and communications tower and is the symbol for Japan’s rebirth as a major economic power. The Tokyo tower also has two observatory decks for visitors to enjoy the view. Both the observatory decks offer views to as far as the Tokyo Sky Tree and Mount Fuji, easily making it one of the best places to see in Japan!
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: A huge sprawling garden owned by the Naito family in the Edo Era, this garden is today open for public and is divided into three distinct landscape designs – English garden landscaping, French formal landscaping and traditional Japanese landscaping. There are over 20,000 cherry trees that fill the garden and become a sight for sore eyes during the splendid cherry blossom festival every year; also considered by some to be the best time to visit Japan and of course, Tokyo!
Ashikaga Flower Park: Who doesn’t love flowers?! The Japanese have a flower park which houses one of their favourites – Wisteria! The wisteria flowers, also known as ‘Fuji’ can be found in the Ashikaga Flower Park in different colours like blue, white and pink. One of the large Fuji trees is almost 100 years old and looks like a huge umbrella of hanging flowers while there is a long tunnel of hanging whit Fuji flowers! Now wouldn’t that be an incredible experience that you can enjoy with your special someone as part of your Japan honeymoon package? A shout-out to all the flower enthusiasts out there; this is one of the beautiful places in Japan, hands down!
Lake Ashinoko: Lake Ashinoko is the result of a volcanic eruption from Mount Hakone 3000 years ago. Today, Lake Ashinoko seems perfect with the view of the majestic Mount Fuji in the background, an experience that you can include as a part of your Japan tour package. Visitors can enjoy a cruise in the lake and savour the beautiful views of both the lake and Mount Fuji, thus making it one of the best places to visit in Japan.
Sensoji Temple: The oldest temple in Tokyo, Sensoji Temple dates back to the year 645, making it almost 1400 years old. Housed in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, this temple is also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple. This temple was damaged during the Second World War, however, it was rebuilt again in the original style and till date, stands as a reminder of the resilience of the Japanese people.
Rainbow Bridge: Constructed in the shape of a rainbow (from where it gets its name), the Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects Tokyo with the man-made island of Odaiba. 1,870 feet long and 416 feet tall, this bridge is one of the most prominent symbols of Tokyo’s bayside!
Toyota Motor’s Mega Web: This one is for the automobile enthusiasts out there. A theme park for motor vehicles! The best thing about this theme park? Not only is there a History and Showcase section, to learn and understand about the history of Toyota and its newest models, but there is also a ‘Ride Studio’! You get to test drive Toyota’s newest car models. Now, how cool is that!! Pack your bags and get ready to visit the mind-blowing theme park and make it a part of your Japan travel packages right away!
Tokyo Skytree: An important landmark of Tokyo, the Tokyo Skytree is a television broadcasting tower. With a height of 634 meters, the Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan and one of the best places to visit in Japan, as a whole. The Tokyo Skytree has a large shopping complex and an aquarium at the base and two observation decks for visitors to enjoy the view. It also has a Sky Restaurant, Skytree Café and a Skytree Shop on its lower deck!
Venus Fort: Don’t go with its name, for it isn’t a fort! Venus Fort is a shopping mall designed to look like a medieval European Village. Situated in one of the most beautiful places in Japan, the Venus Fort of Tokyo is a three-floor shopping, dining and entertainment complex. One of the most popular Japan tourist attractions for shopping, this place offers unique shopping experiences for everyone. If you are one of those who doesn’t like shopping, worry not, for this place is beautifully designed and has a lot of restaurants with a variety of cuisines for you to experiment! Don’t forget to make this awesome shopping paradise a part of your Japan tour package!
Nakamise Shopping Arcade: As the name suggests, this shopping street is over 200 meters long and is situated outside the Sensoji Temple. Here you will find everything from Japanese souvenirs like folding fans to traditional local snacks. Any of the Japan tour packages from India are incomplete without the inclusion of the Nakamise shopping arcade
Tsukiji Market: Seafood and sushi being the staple diet of the Japanese, this market is a wholesale seafood and fish market, in fact, the largest in the world. To experience the full bustle of the market, it is recommended to reach there early morning.
The next on our list of Japan cities to visit is the erstwhile capital of Japan, Kyoto. While Tokyo is a mixture of the traditional as well as the modern life, Kyoto, on the other hand, is a home to everything associated with traditional Japan. It is one of the major religious hubs of the country and has a plethora of cultural and religious sights.
Some of the best places to visit in Japan are a part of Kyoto city and they are:
Nijo Castle: Built in 1603, as the residence of the first shogun (commander-in-chief) of the Edo Period, this castle was donated to the city and opened up to the public as a historic site after the shogunate fell in 1867. It is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is the best surviving examples of the castle palace architecture of Japan’s feudal era. Such is the importance and prominence of this castle that it forms an essential part of any of the Japan travel packages!
Kiyomizu-dera Temple: One of the most famous temples in Kyoto, it is located on a hill in Gion. Shrouded by trees, this temple offers a spectacular view of the valley below. This iconic Buddhist temple, along with being a UNESCO world heritage site is also a part of the ‘Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto’. The temple is a must-do, must-visit when you are in Kyoto and forms an integral part of any Japan tour package.
Nishiki Market: If you aren’t up for spending extravagantly on food or want to experience the local street food, then Nishiki Market is the place to go. This food market consists of over 100 food stalls selling everything from snacks to filling meals. Make your Japan honeymoon packages more interesting by including this amazing food market as part of your travel experience and fall in love with your special someone over a delicious range food!
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion): This Zen Temple has its top two floors completely covered in gold leaf. Built as a retirement villa for a shogun, it was converted into a Zen Temple according to his will. The temple is a magnificent looking structure built in front of a pond, which easily makes it one of the top Japan tourist attractions today!
Kyoto International Manga Museum: For all the Manga lovers, this museum is a must visit. It is one of the largest in Japan and houses a collection over 300,000 items. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events. A Wall of Manga houses over 50,000 volumes of Manga from the last 50 years!
Fushiyami Inari Shrine: Fushiyami Inari Shrine, is one of the most important shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto God of rice. You will see a lot of fox statues across the shrine grounds, for the reason that foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. A definite must-visit that you have to include in your trip when you plan for Japan tour packages from India!
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: One of the most photographed sights in the city is the Arashiyama Bamboo Groves and is the prime highlight among the Japan tourist attractions. Stand in the midst of these breath-taking bamboo groves and you will be transported into a world of tranquillity!
The next city that is on every traveller’s list is Osaka. Roughly translated to ‘large hill’ or ‘large slope’, Osaka is Japan’s second largest city. Even though it is the second largest city in Japan, Osaka does not have a very flashy economy, it has an earthy, friendly feeling to it. It is also home to the first Universal Studios outside of the United States. The shopping here is popular but is more of the bargaining type than the mall type.
Some of the major tourist attractions in Osaka are:
Osaka Castle: Built in the year 1583, this castle has faced many wars and natural calamities, before being built in the present ferro-concrete construction in 1931. It miraculously survived the air raids during the Second World War. In 1997 the castle was given an entirely new look and is completely modern from the inside today. Do not forget to make this iconic castle a part of your Japan travel packages!
Universal Studios: This was the first theme park under the Universal Studios brand to be opened in Asia. One of the major tourist attractions in Osaka, this amusement park offers a wide range of exciting rides, from child-friendly rides to thrilling roller coasters and forms an exhilarating and fun part of every Japan tour package!
Shittenoji Temple: One of the oldest temples in Japan, this temple was the first one to be built by the state. It was founded in the year 593 by a prince who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. The outer precinct is open to the public, the inner precinct, however, needs an entry fee to visit.
While Japan has a huge list of beautiful places, none of the Japan tour packages from India, are complete without visiting Hiroshima. One of the most iconic and historically important places in Japan, Hiroshima needs little introduction and over the years has become synonymous with the bombings of the Second World War. Millions of visitors’ flock Hiroshima every year to pay their respects and have discovered that there is much more to Hiroshima than its history. A visit to this place includes monuments such as the Peace Park which was converted after the bombings of World War II. A saddle-shaped concrete structure is built in the middle of the Peace Park; this structure is a monument built in honour of the victims of the bombings. The Memorial Cenotaph represents a shelter for the souls of the bombing victims. Take a stroll in the Shukkeien Garden, adjacent to which lies the Museum of Arts which boasts of works by Monet, Renoir, Munch and Van Gogh, as well as notable Japanese artists.
One can also visit the nearby Miyajima Island. A 10-minute ferry ride to the island is worth the striking view and beautiful experience at this place. It is the best spot to see the autumn leaves change colour and is intensely rural and sparsely populated. A must do if you are an enthusiastic traveller or a couple looking forward to an exclusive experience, which can be achieved by including this island as part of your Japan honeymoon packages. The main tourist attraction on this island is a massive Torii Gate, which is a reminder that the island hosts the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the Floating Shrine. If you are also in Hiroshima during a baseball game, you should catch the Hiroshima Carp baseball game, where the underdogs set the stadium on fire with their sport!
Another icon of Japan is Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain, standing at an overwhelming height of 12,388 feet. Mt. Fuji is an active volcano, which most recently erupted in 1707. However, evidence suggests that there is a potential for eruption as the pressure below it rose after the 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that devastated Japan. It is made up of three volcanoes: Komitake at the bottom, Kofuji in the middle and Fuji at the top!
Fact file: Japan has more than 100 active volcanoes and the island nation is struck by at least 1500 earthquakes every year. But even after facing the worst of the natural calamities, Japan has shown the world that it can bounce back faster than it falls!
All in all, this country is a wonderful fusion of old and new, past and future, tradition and technology! Don’t be surprised if you find hi-tech futuristic innovations harmoniously flourishing along with ancient Japanese temples. Maybe that’s why the country has such a strong hold on its present and rises like a phoenix every time it faces nature’s harsh calamities. Japan is slowly and steadily becoming a traveller’s preferred choice for its wondrous landscapes, stunning megacities, sacred temples, profound history, impeccable etiquettes, and an exquisite food culture that is unlike any other country in the world. So, get ready for a journey to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ and discover a new dawn of experiences!