Top Ten Japanese Attractions

Top Ten Japanese Attractions

       Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south. The characters that make up Japan’s name mean “sun-origin,” which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun.” Japanis an archipelago of 6,852 islands, the four largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku, together accounting for 97% of Japan’s land area. Japan has the world’s 10th largest population, with over 127 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents. Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan’s history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and WWI allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of WWII, which was brought to an end in 1945 by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet. A major economic power, Japan has the world’s 3rd largest economy by nominal GDP and 3rd largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world’s 4th largest exporter and 4th largest importer. Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains a modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles. After Singapore,Japan has the lowest homicide rate (including attempted homicide) in the world. According to both UN and WHO estimates,Japan has the longest life expectancy of any country in the world.

  1. Tokyo

    Tokyo, “Eastern Capital,” is the capital and largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. Tokyo is located in the Kantō region on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo. The Tokyo Metropolitan government administers the 23 special wards of Tokyo (each governed as a city), which cover the area that was the city of Tokyo, as well as 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture and the two outlying island chains. The population of the special wards is over 8 million people, with the total population of the prefecture exceeding 13 million. The prefecture is part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 35 million people and the world’s largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US $1.48 trillion at purchasing power parity in 2008, ahead of New York City, which ranks 2nd on the list. The city hosts 47 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest amount of any city. Tokyo has been described as one of the three “command centers” for the world economy, along with New York City and London. This city is considered an alpha+ world city, listed by the GaWC’s 2008 inventory and ranked 3rd among global cities by Foreign Policy’s 2010 Global Cities Index. In 2010 Tokyo was named the 2nd most expensive city for expatriate employees, according to the Mercer and Economist Intelligence Unit cost-of-living surveys, and named the 4th Most Liveable City and the World’s Most Livable Megalopolis by the magazine Monocle. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics and is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Towers, Top Ten Bridges,,
  2. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

    The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) encompasses 17 locations in Japan. The locations are in three cities: Kyoto and Uji in Kyoto Prefecture; and Ōtsu in Shiga Prefecture. Of the monuments, 13 are Buddhist temples; 3 are Shinto shrines; and one is a castle. The properties include 38 buildings designated by the Japanese Government as National Treasures, 160 properties designated as Important Cultural Properties, 8 gardens designated as Special Places of Scenic Beauty, and 4 designated as Places of Scenic Beauty.
    Links: Architecture,,_Uji_and_Otsu_Cities%29,
  3. Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

    The Monuments of Ancient Nara encompasses eight places in the old capital Nara of Japan. Five are Buddhist temples; one is a Shinto shrine, one a Palace and one a primeval forest. The properties include 26 buildings designated by the Japanese Government as National Treasures as well as 53 designated as Important Cultural Properties.
    Links: Temples, Sculptures,,
  4. Shrines and Temples of Nikkō

    The Shrines and Temples of Nikkō encompass 103 buildings or structures and the natural setting around them. It is located in Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. The buildings belong to two Shinto shrines (Futarasan Shrine and Tōshō-gū) and one Buddhist temple (Rinnō-ji). Nine of the structures are designated National Treasures of Japan while the remaining 94 are Important Cultural Properties.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Shrines,,
  5. Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

    Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range is located on the Kii Peninsula in Japan.
    Links: Top Ten Spiritual Destinations on Earth, Top Ten Mausoleums,,
  6. Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryū-ji Area

           The Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryū-ji Area include a variety of buildings found in Hōryū-ji and Hokki-ji in Nara Prefecture, Japan. The structures inscribed are some of the oldest extant wooden buildings in the world, dating from the 7th to 8th centuries. Many of the monuments are also National Treasures of Japan and reflect an important age of Buddhist influence in Japan. The structures include 21 buildings in the Hōryū-ji East Temple, 9 in the West Temple, 17 monasteries and other buildings, and the pagoda in Hokki-ji.
    Links: Temples, Monasteries, Top Ten Pagodas, Sculptures,,
  7. Yokohama

           Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture and the 2nd largest city in Japan by population after Tokyo. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu. It is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area. Yokohama’s population of 3.6 million makes it Japan’s largest incorporated city. Yokohama developed rapidly as Japan’s prominent port city following the end of Japan’s relative isolation in the mid-19th century, and is today one of its major ports along with Kobe, Osaka, Nagoya, Hakata, Tokyo and Chiba.
    Links: Top Ten Ferris Wheels,,
  8. Osaka
    z1zFile:Shinkansen.jpgFile:Osaka Dotonbori.jpgz2File:Shitennoji01s3200.jpgFile:Sumiyoshi Taisha2.jpg
    Osaka is a city in the Kansai region of Japan’s main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the largest part of the Keihanshin metropolis, which comprises three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Located at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is Japan’s 3rd largest city by population after Tokyo (special wards) and Yokohama. Keihanshin is the 2nd largest metropolitan area in Japan by population and one of the largest metropolitan areas highly ranked in the world, with nearly 18 million people, and by GDP the 2nd largest area in Japan and the 7th largest area in the world. Historically the commercial center of Japan, Osaka functions as one of the command centers for the Japanese economy. The ratio between daytime and night time population is 141%, the highest in Japan, highlighting its status as an economic center. Its nighttime population is 2.6 million, the 3rd in the country, but in daytime the population surges to 3.7 million, 2nd only after Tokyo (combining the Special wards of Tokyo. Osaka used to be referred to as the “nation’s kitchen”  in feudal Edo period because it was the center of trading for rice, creating the first modern futures exchange market in the world.
    Links: Top Ten Japanese Attractions, Castles, Top Ten Asian Castles,,
  9. Kobe
    File:View of Kikuseidai from Mount Maya Kobe.jpgFile:Kobe Nankinmachi at night.jpgFile:Akashi-kaikyo bridge night shot small.jpgFile:Kobe Mosaic06s4s3200.jpgFile:Anyoin03 1024.jpgFile:Giant panda01 960.jpg
    Kobe is the 5th largest city in Japan and is the capital city of Hyōgo Prefecture on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, approximately 30 km (19 mi) west of Osaka. With a population of about 1.5 million, the city is part of Keihanshin, the Kyōto–Õsaka–Kōbe metropolitan area. The earliest written records regarding the region come from the Nihon Shoki, which describes the founding of the Ikuta Shrine by Empress Jingū in AD 201. For most of its history the area was never a single political entity, even during the Tokugawa Period, when the port was controlled directly by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Kobe did not exist in its current form until its founding in 1889. Its name comes from “kanbe,” an archaic title for supporters of the city’s Ikuta Shrine. Kobe became one of Japan’s 17 designated cities in 1956. Kobe was one of the cities to open for trade with the West following the end of the policy of seclusion and has since been known as a cosmopolitan port city. While the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake diminished much of Kobe’s prominence as a port city, it remains Japan’s 4th busiest container port. Companies headquartered in Kobe include ASICS, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Kobe Steel, as well as over 100 international corporations with Asia or Japan headquarters in the city such as Eli Lilly & Company, Procter & Gamble, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Nestlé. The city is the point of origin and namesake of Kobe beef as well as the site of one of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts, Arima Onsen.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten Japanese Attractions, Top Ten Towers,,
  10. Himeji-jo

           Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period. The castle is frequently known as Hakuro-jō, “White Egret Castle” or Shirasagi-jō, “White Heron Castle” because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight. Himeji Castle dates to 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill. The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346 and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex. Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618. For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in WWII, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake. The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site and five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures. Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan’s three premier castles. In order to preserve the castle buildings, it is currently undergoing restoration work that is expected to continue for several years.
    Links: Castles,,
  11. Yakushima

           Yakushima, one of the Ōsumi Islands, is an island of about 500 km² and roughly 15,000 islanders to the south of Kyūshū in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The Vincennes Strait (Yakushima Kaikyō) separates it from Tanegashima. The highest point on the island is Miyanoura-dake at 1,935 metres (6,360 ft). It is covered in dense forest noted especially for old growth Cryptomeria trees known as sugi in Japan and magnificent rhododendrons. The island forms part of Kirishima-Yaku National Park. It is the largest nesting ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle in the North Pacific. Yakushima is Japan’s wettest place with one of the world’s highest precipitation rates at 4,000 to 10,000 mm. It is the southernmost place in Japan where there is snow in the mountains, often for months, while the ocean temperature is never below 19°C. The Yakusugi Forest is visited by 300,000 tourists every year. It is said to have inspired the forest setting in Hayao Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke. The island has been a test site for Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle research. Yakushima’s electricity is more than 50% hydroelectric, and surplus power has been used to produce hydrogen gas in a small experiment by Kagoshima University. There are no hydrogen cars stationed on the island but a few electric cars are run by the municipality.
    Links: National Parks,,
  12. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

           The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are located in the Shogawa river valley stretching across the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in northern Japan. Shirakawa-go, “White River Old-District,” is located in the village of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture. The Gokayama, “Five Mountains,” area is divided between the former villages of Kamitaira and Taira in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. These villages are well known for their houses constructed in the architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri. The Gasshō-zukuri, “prayer-hands construction” style is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer. The design is exceptionally strong and, in combination with the unique properties of the thatching, allow the houses to withstand and shed the weight of the region’s heavy snowfalls in winter. The houses are large, with three to four stories encompassed between the low eaves, and historically intended to house large extended families and a highly-efficient space for a variety of industries. The densely-forested mountains of the region still occupy 96% of all land in the area, and prior to the introduction of heavy earth-moving machinery, the narrow bands of flat lands running the length of the river valley limited the area available for agriculture and homestead development. The upper stories of the gasshō houses were usually set aside for sericulture, while the areas below the first (ground) floor were often used for the production of nitre, one of the raw materials needed for the production of gunpowder.
    Links: Top 100 Houses,,
  13. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

           The Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu consist of nine sites all located in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. The heritage sites include two groves or utaki, the mausoleum Tamaudun, one garden and five gusuku castles sites, most of which are ruins. The sites are a fine representation of the Ryūkyū Kingdom’s culture, whose unique blend of Japanese and Chinese influence made it a crucial economic and cultural junction between several neighboring states.
    Links: Castles, Top Ten Thrones,,
  14. Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land

           Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi is a group of five sites from late 11th and 12th century Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.
    Links: Temples, Top Ten Gardens, Buddhists,,
  15. Ogasawara Islands

           The Bonin Islands, known in Japan as the Ogasawara Group are an archipelago of over 30 subtropical and tropical islands, some 1,000 km (620 mi) directly south of Tokyo, Japan. Administratively, they are part of Ogasawara Municipality (mura) of Ogasawara Subprefecture, Tokyo. The total area of the islands is 73 square km (28 square mi), with a population of 2,440. The only inhabited islands of the group are Chichi-jima, the seat of the municipal government, and Haha-jima, includes what is within Ogasawara Village. By contrast, the term Ogasawara Archipelago, is a wider, collective term for all islands of Ogasawara Municipality, which also includes the Volcano Islands and a few isolated islands.
    Links: Islands, Beaches,,
  16. Mount Fuji

           Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometers (62 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku.
    Links: Mountains, Top Ten Asian MountainsTop Ten Volcanoes,
  17. Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

           Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima) in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan.
    Links: Top Ten Shrines,,
  18. Honorable Mention: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

           The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome, in Hiroshima, Japan, is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The ruin serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
    Links: Top Ten Domes, Top Ten Dome Interiors, Top Ten Bombs, Top Ten Weapons,
  19. Links: Top Ten Japanese Hotels, Top Ten Japanese Restaurants, Top Ten Japanese Artists, Top 100 Japanese Paintings, Top Ten Japanese Painters, Top Ten Japanese Artifacts, Top Ten Cuisines, Top Ten Sumo Wrestlers,,

Recommendations for Jet Setting to Japan