Japan has an endless number of places to discover, and these are the destinations most people head to on their first trip.
It may be surprising to know that among all of Japan’s top-rated tourist attractions, Tokyo is not among the choices that many choose. While Tokyo is, of course, one of the most popular cities in the world to visit, it is also not the only destination in Japan that has historical and cultural significance. In fact, despite Japan’s small size as a country, there are many destinations just begging to be discovered, each with its own story to tell and history to explore. Whether it is a visit for the magnificent landscape or for the centuries of life that have followed one another on the grounds of a place, these are the places where travelers have spent the most time in the last year.
Tokyo’s most famous landmark is actually just outside the city: the Imperial Palace. The palace and its surroundings date back to the 17th century and much of its history can still be seen in its architecture as well as in the bridges and moats that surround it. While the palace is still in use by the Imperial family, visitors can explore parts that are not off-limits.
Just walking the grounds is an experience in itself, as it allows visitors to take in all the natural scenery and skills that made such a royal fortress. The Double Bridge, also known by its proper name the Nijubashi Bridge, is a popular attraction on the grounds, appropriately named because of its glass-like reflection in the water below.
Of course, almost no trip to Japan would be complete without a trip to see Mount Fiji. Every year, on a pilgrimage, millions of people line up to trek the mountain before sunrise, with the goal of reaching the top to watch the sun rise over Japan. It is the highest peak in the country and reaches a height of just over 12,388 feet, high enough to be seen from Tokyo.
The mountain has been recognized by UNESCO for its importance in both artistic and geographic inspiration, and it is also part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. While some might say that hiking Mount Fiji is for the brave only, there is a halfway point at which hikers can reach the summit in as little as six hours. For those who choose to hike the entire route from its base, the trip lasts two full days, with extremely early departures in order to reach the summit by sunrise the next day.
Kyoto is one of the most visited cities in Japan, which says a lot considering its neighbor Tokyo, but it’s easy to see why that’s the case. Kyoto combines traditional life with beautiful scenery, and many people plan trips there just to experience it as a whole. With a historical significance that one feels just walking the street of any old part of Kyoto, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been transported entirely to another time and place.
There are 30 temples that are still in use today in Kyoto, according to Planet Ware, and the city is perhaps the most artistically and culturally important part of Japan. The architecture of the city is influenced by Buddhist styles and some of them date back to the 14th century.
By far one of the most recognizable landscapes after Mount Fiji, Osaka Castle is the most popular monument for tourists to visit. This magnificent palace was built in 1586 but has been destroyed several times during the history of Japan. The efforts to rebuild it are just a testament to Japan and the castle itself as it stands today in all its restored glory of yesteryear.
The last time the castle was rebuilt was in 1931 and it has retained all of its historical accuracy, making the five-story castle a real sight to behold. From the top floor, tourists can take in the surrounding view of Osaka, and Osaka Castle Park is also home to one of the best-known shrines, Hokoko Shrine, as well as one of the oldest temples, Shitennō- ji, which was built in AD 59. Similar to visiting the Imperial Palace, just taking a stroll through Osaka Castle Park is an experience that allows visitors to understand all of the stories that have occurred in the same landscape as they travel.
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