Places to Visit in Japan: 5 Spots You Mustn’t Miss

By Kashiking on January 30, 2017

Finding the really great places to visit in Japan can be a huge challenge. The real gems are often kept hidden away, and communication barriers can make getting around a real hurdle.

Seeing as I have a unique combination of outsider perspective but definite insider knowledge, here’s some of the places to visit in Japan you shouldn’t miss.

You could just head to Tokyo and Osaka and lap those great cities up – but here are some alternatives.

Places to Visit In Japan: Miyako Jima

Let's start with the tropical. Miyakojima is the fourth largest island in Okinawa. If you love the whole beach, snorkeling and water sports thing then this beautiful island is for you.

Okinawa is great because it's Japan, but somehow not quite Japan. You can see different aspects of the old Ryukyu culture peaking through. The local food includes its own kind of soba and of course umibudo (sea grapes).

You can even see Taiwan on a clear day, but it's probably too far to swim:-)


Another Island, there's a lot of them in Japan, but this is very different to Miyakojima.

Located a short ferry ride from the western city of Hiroshima, Miyajima is mystery personified.

The “floating” shrine of Itsukushima and its gate are absolutely unique. Check out the pics.

You'll also come face to face with deer (but these are far less likely to ambush you unlike the terror deer of Nara).

There's a cable car up to the top of mount Misen where you can catch panoramic views and you might spot a monkey or ten.

Cap the whole experience off with a stay at one of the islands inns. Alternatively you may be tempted to head back to Hiroshima and hit the okonomimura restaurant for some local vegetable and meat pancakes.


This is located in the northern Japan alps and a real treasure. The war put paid to a lot of Japan's old towns but Takayama has managed to keep its traditional style.

As you walk through the narrow streets and duck into local distillers to sample sake or try the local Hida beef you can't help thinking “ah, I'm really in Japan!”

You can also head further north and check out the famous thatched roofed villages at Shirokawa go.

Honestly I never get bored of strolling around this part of the world (usually daydreaming about being a samurai)


Just what is it about Kobe?

Beats me! The China town is great, but no doubt Yokohamas wins hands down. Plenty of people rave about Kobe beef, but you can find even better stuff in Matsuzaka. The nightlife is good too, but Osaka and Tokyo are far better.

So what is it about this medium size city?

Put simply....... its atmosphere.

Where Tokyo is a sprawling cosmopolitan monster, and Osaka it's slightly smaller brother, Kobe has a certain dignity about it.

When you walk its streets it feels like a Japanese city that's traveled the world, perhaps studied in Europe for a couple of years.

The cake shops and cafes help give it an all together more relaxed feeling. Making it very easy to like.

If you're ever traveling around Japan and feel a bit disoriented, then Kobe could be the cure.

Nijo Castle

Ok, this is actually a building not a place. This castle is based really handily in Kyoto. Though Kyoto has literally hundreds of places worth visiting Nijo Castle is my personal favorite. A particular highlight is the nightingale floor boards.

This squeaking flooring was quite deliberately installed to act as security against marauding Ninja. How cool is that?

Honestly, this whole place breathes history and mystery in equal parts.

This list of five places could easily grow into hundreds and that's not including places I have no personal experience of.

As with anywhere, when you are choosing places to visit in Japan, you get the greatest rewards from getting off the beaten track. Add your personal favorites in the comments.


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