Japan, the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ where a unique culture blossomed, is a perfect blend of modern with tradition. From the spiritual high of the Great Buddha to splendor of a Kyoto geisha dance, from exquisite Cheery Blossom festivals to thought-provoking avant-garde skyscrapers, Japan can charm even the most jaded of travelers.
A modern island country of beautiful temples and Zen gardens, Japan has plenty to add to your traveling memories. There is an impressive number of tourist attractions in Japan. Here’s our list of top 10 must-see site tn the gorgeous country of Sushi and Tempura. Take a look.
1. Todaiji Buddhist temple, Nara
A designated World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Todaiji Temple is home to the world’s largest gilt bronze statue of Great Buddha (Daibutsu). One of the Seven Great Temples located in Nara, the main prayer hall of Todaiji Temple complex is also the world’s largest wooden structure.
Built in 752, the temple became so powerful as the head of all provincial temples in Japan that in 784 the capital was moved to Nagaoka from Nara in order to curb temples influence on political and government matters. Another interesting tourist attraction within the temple is a pillar with a hole of the same size as the Great Buddha’s nostrils. It is believed that those who can pass through the hole will be enlightened in the next birth.
2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Popularly referred to as Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dōmu is the only edifice near the bomb’s hypocentre which wasn’t obliterated and survived the nuclear bombing by the United States on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The ruin now serves as a memorial for the victims of the war between the two nations. The Genbaku Dome is now in UNESCO World Heritage List as a symbol of peace.
3. Monkey Park & Yudanaka Onsen, Nagano
Located in the Yokoyu-Rive valley, Jigokudani Monkey Park within the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen) in Nagano Prefecture in Japan is the only place in the world where you can witness monkeys bathing in hot springs.
The park is famous for a huge population of wild Japanese macaques or snow monkeys as they are popularly known. Yudanaka is popular amongst tourists as a Hot Spring Resort. The last train station for those traveling to Monkey Park, Yudanaka still has a traditional appeal to it with a number of public baths. A popular tourist attraction in Japan, Yudanaka Onsen (hot spring) and Monkey Park attract a huge of tourists every year.
4. The famous Floating Torii gate, Miyajima
A Japanese sacred place since time unknown, Miyajima is a beautiful town located off the coast of Hiroshima on the extremely picturesque island of Itsukushima. Also referred to as the Shrine Island, Miyajima, is famous around the world for a Shinto shrine called Itsukushima Shrine and the Floating Torii gate.
The Itsukushima Shrine complex not just a National Treasure for Japan but is also a World Heritage Site. The dramatic gate or the great Torii is the most iconic part of the shrine and is considered as a boundary between the human world and the spirit. The gate appears to be floating during high tide, hence the name. During low tide, it can be reached by foot.
5. Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
Sitting pretty on a scenic hill overlooking the basin of Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist Temple which was amongst the 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Constructed in 798, the temple is a popular tourist attraction in Japan due to its striking and picturesque location as well as for beliefs associated with this temple.
As per popular belief, the Otowa waterfall has wish-granting powers. As per another belief, the Jishu Shrine which is one of the many other shrines located within the complex is dedicated to the God of match-making and love. There are ‘love stones’ in this shrine which are placed at the distance of 18 meters from each other.
The single visitors or pilgrims who can successfully walk over the love stones with their eyes closed are believed to be blessed and it implies that they will soon find the true love. A must-visit destination in Japan, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is immensely popular amongst all age group of visitors including children.
6. Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto
A popular and famous tourists attractions in Japan, the Kinkaku-ji is Buddhist temple located in Kyoto. Amongst the most loved edifices in Japan, the Golden Pavilion temple attracts a huge number of tourists every year and not without reasons. As the story goes, the structure was first built in 1397 as a retirement villa for a powerful statesman.
It was later converted into a temple by his son. In 1950 a young monk had burnt the temple to the ground and later attempted suicide. The present gold-leaf pavilion was rebuilt in 1955. The monk story has also been fictionalized in ‘The Golden Pavilion’ by Mishima Yukio. Today, it is not only a National Special Landscape and National Special Historic Site for Japan but is also amongst the 17 sites of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto designated as World Heritage Sites.
7. Kōtoku-in, Kamakura
13.35 meters tall, the striking bronze statue of Amida Buddha in Kotokuin Temple is the second tallest Kamakura Daibutsu in Japan after the statue in Todaiji Temple in Nara.
Cast in 1252, the statue was originally placed inside a large prayer hall, however, due to destruction by tidal waves and typhoons multiple times, Kamakura Daibutsu is now in open. A famous tourist attraction in Japan, Kamakura Daibutsu was the Subject of Rudyard Kipling’s poem titled, The Buddha at Kamakura.
8. Himeji castle, Hyogo
Perched gracefully on a hilltop, Himeji-jo is a 17th-century Japanese castle complex which houses 83 buildings with advanced and highly developed defense system from the Shogun period. The finest surviving example of medieval Japanese architecture, the castle is a spectacular masterpiece constructed with timber in a unique combination with earthen walls.
The castle is also known as White Heron Castle due to its resemblance with a bird taking flight and pristine white exteriors. A designated UNESCO Word Heritage Site Himeji Castle is not just the largest and most visited castle in Japan but is also a National Treasure. An exquisite sight during cherry blossom season, the castle has survived ordeals like heavy bombing during WWII and the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.
9. Imperial Palace, Tokyo
Sitting pretty in a park-like area in Tokyo, the Imperial Palace is the official residence of the Emperor of Japan. Although the main palace is off-limits to tourists, the surrounding areas can be explored by visitors.
Once the largest fortress in the world, the main palace was destroyed during the Word War II and was rebuilt in 1968. Today very little of its actual grand structure has remained except for stone walls and the moat.
10. Lake Kawaguchi
Located near Mt Fuji at the border of Fujikawaguchiko and Minobu, the second largest of the Fuji five Lakes, Lake Kawaguchi presents an incredibly beautiful sight during cherry blossom season.
Lake Kawaguchi area is a popular tourist resort with an infrastructure to cater to a large number of tourist influx. If you ever wish to experience nature at its most beautiful form, you must visit Japan during Cherry Blossom season.
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