10 Things to See in Japan

Japan is a country that somehow manages to blend centuries of history with incredibly modern infrastructure. One minute you can be visiting an ancient temple, and the next, you are on a bullet train to the heart of a metropolis that is bustling with lights and screens.

There are so many different things to see and do in Japan, from Tokyo—the capital city, to Kyoto—the city famous for its Buddhist temples, to Osaka—known for its architecture and nightlife, to Yokohama—known for its Minato Mirai district, there are so many historically significant cities to see, despite the country’s relatively smaller area for its population—it’s only 377,972 km2—there’s still quite a bit to see and do.

It can become overwhelming. However, this list of the top 10 things to see and do can help you focus your trip and ensure you don’t end up leaving with a case of FOMO.

Tokyo

  • Yayoi Kusama Museum—a magnificent structure, this building houses some of the most thought-provoking modern art and avant-garde installations in the country.
  • Ginza Six—If you’re planning on shopping during your visit to Japan, the Ginza Six mall is a must. Over 500,000 square feet, the mall takes up a whole city block and has more than 240 shops that range from local boutiques to international brands.
  • Nakameguro—while there are cafes and boutiques year-round in this artsy neighbourhood, it’s during the sprint that you’ll want to visit, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, creating one of the most picturesque scenes you’ll see in the whole country (which is saying a lot).
  • Sumo at Ryoguku Kokugikan—the stadium seats more than 11,000 people and features tournaments of the combat sport most commonly associated with Japan—sumo wrestling.

Kyoto

  • Kinkakuji Temple—one of the most breathtaking and famous landmarks in all of Japan, the temple has been a part of Northern Kyoto since the late 14th
  • Yasaka Pagoda—one of the many Buddhist temples amid the country, Yasaka Pagoda is one of the most photogenic spots in the country.
  • Togetsukyo Bridge —the 1,000-year-old bridge is a popular tourist spot for good reason, it provides a breathtaking view of the mountains, and becomes a visual spectacle in its own right during the Hanatouro festival in December when it’s bathed in lights.

Osaka

  • Universal Studios Japan—the studio features several different activities across nine zones including Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in addition to seasonal activities during October and December.
  • Kaiyukan—one of the largest aquariums in the world, Kaiyukan features over 500 different types of marine life and 15 massive fish tanks.

Yokohama

  • Kanagawa Shimbun Fireworks Festival—taking place in August, this fireworks festival provides a breathtaking display of pyrotechnics all in front of the stunning backdrop of Minato Mirai—Japan’s picturesque skyline. It’s best viewed from either Minato Mirai or the Osanbashi Pier.