Are you considering travelling to Japan? We know this beautiful country's massive number of exciting cities can be daunting. But don't worry, we got you! Here are our top 10 Japanese cities to visit:
Starting with a city that's probably most famous for its animals: Nara. There you will find wild sika deer strolling around Nara-Park. Because they're used to humans, you'll even be able to take a souvenir photo with these cuties if you like. Nara-Park also hosts the impressiveTōdai-ji temple with a massive 15m high bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana or Daibutsuin Japanese. Nara is the home of many temples and shrines since it was once Japan's capital.
Speaking of the capital, this is now Tokyo and also the largest city in Japan. It's the political and economic centre of the country, divided into 23 special wards like Shibuya and Shinjuku. With a vast range of restaurants and plenty to see, Tokyo is a must-visit when going to Japan. Every ward offers some special features like the famous crossing and Harajuku girls being part of Shibuya. If you're really lucky, you'll also be able to see the famous Mount Fuji in the distance.
On to the considered cultural capital of Japan: Kyoto. This lush city is located on the island of Honshu and is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Famous landmarks are the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji, as well as the Katsura Imperial Villa. Other popular tourist destinations are the Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama and the Fushimi Inari-Taisha shrine. Kyoto is also a city devoted to higher learning with Kyoto university, which is the second oldest uni in Japan.
Another place to see is Osaka, the third most populous city in Japan and a huge financial centre. It's a place of research and development represented by a lot of universities. As for sightseeing, there are a plethora of options, including the Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium and Dōtonbori, which is an area located on a canal that boasts many illuminated signboards and is famous for its nightlife. On the more traditional side, you have Shitennō-ji, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan.
Naha is the capital city of the Okinawa Prefecture, which I wouldn't miss mentioning here. Any beach lovers out there? Then you have to visit Okinawa! With crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, it's a dream come true for anyone looking to have an island holiday. Naha City is home to festivals like the Naha Hari, a boat event, and the Naha festival. There is also the Shuri Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Lake Man.
Thinking of steak right now? You're right! Kobe is famous for its Kobe beef, a delicacy from Wagyu beef of Japanese Black cattle that is a must-try for any meat-connoisseur. But aside from food, the city offers some beautiful sights as well, like the Ikuta Shrine and Arima Onsen, perfect for relaxation. Kobe is also associated with fashion and holds the biannual Kobe Fashion Week.
The second-largest city in Japan is beautifully located on Tokyo Bay and offers a mix between modernity and tradition. The former is embodied by Minato Mirai 21, a perfect place for shopping and cultural activities where you'll find a Ferris Wheel and have a stunning view of the Skyline from Kishamichi Promenade. Another amazing vantage point is Harbor View Park. More interested in traditional spots? Look no further than Sankei-en, a Japanese garden, and Sōji-ji temple.
Fukuoka is a port city and centre of international commerce. Famous landmarks include the Fukuoka Tower and Bayside Place Hakata Futoh. The city hosts many Museums like the Fukuoka Art Museum with artworks by Lichtenstein and Dalí, and Fukuoka City Museum. You'll also have the opportunity to visit a plethora of temples and shrines, like the Tōchō-ji, Hakozaki Shrine, Kashii Shrine and Jōten-ji.
Kagoshima is the capital city of the Kagoshima Prefecture and located on the island of Kyushu. It's most famous for its stratovolcano called Sakurajima which is still active, so you'll better admire it from afar with the Sengannen garden offering a superb view. If views are your thing, also head to the Ferris Wheel of Kagoshima-Chūō Station or stroll along the Kotsuki River.
Akita is a coastal city bordered by the Sea of Japan. It's home to many festivals, like the Akita Kanto Festival, where participants balance 15m poles with over 200 lanterns on it on their chins. There are plenty of attractions, from the Akita Senshu Park over the Kubota Castle and the Akita Castle to the Jizōden ruins. For fans of Shinto shrines, the Koshiō Shrine is a must-see.
Did you visit any of these cities or plan on doing so? Let us know in the comments below!
by Susan Miriam