Japan is one of the most intriguing places to visit in the world. With the ultra-modern adjacent to the traditional, this is a land of contrasts. Visitors can immerse themselves in Japan’s history & culture, visiting temples that were established long before many of Europe’s most spectacular cathedrals. If technology appeals to you, Japan is the place to see what developments are on the horizon. Whether you choose to stay inside Tokyo or not, the complete Japanese tourism experience involves a mixture of the modern and traditional.
Temple of the Golden Pavilion
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) is a popular tourist attraction. Originally it was constructed in the 14th century as a retirement villa for the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. However, back in 1950 the structure was destroyed by fire. A few years later, the temple was rebuilt. The pavilion is covered in gold leaf and great care is taken to insure harmony between the building & surrounding grounds.
The Imperial Palace
With its beautiful parks, walls and moats the Imperial Palace is a must see when visiting Japan. The palace serves as the home of the Emperor of Japan and houses a museum to showcase Japanese art and history. The palace is built on the ruins of older castles that were destroyed by fire or war. When rebuilt, the architects honored the past by integrating design elements of past castles into the current one. Although much of the Imperial Palace is closed to the public, there is still much to see. Points of interest include the Nijubashi Bridge and the East Higashi-Gyoen Garden.
Known as the world’s largest wooden building, the Todaiji Temple is an impressive feat of engineering. Located in Nara, it is home to the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. The temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens and the grounds hold many artifacts of Japanese and Buddhist history.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial
One haunting attraction to visit is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The park is a tribute to the lives lost on August 6, 1945 when an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Located in the Peace Memorial Park, is the Genbaku Dome; this is the only structure left standing in the area after the bomb was dropped. To this day, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial continues to appeal for the elimination of nuclear armaments and the realization of world peace.
For the tourist wanting a birds-eye view of Tokyo, the Tokyo Tower is for you. Inspired by France’s Eiffel tower, this is the second tallest man-made structure in Japan. For an unparalleled view of Tokyo, visitors can climb the tower to see the surrounding buildings, shops and restaurants.
One well known point of interest is Mt Fuji. At 12,388 feet this is the highest mountain in Japan. Popular among climbers, close to 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji each year.
Kyoto is one of Japan’s most popular cities to see. Attracting more than 10 million guests annually, tourists love to explore its old streets & architecture. This city was one of the few that was spared the destruction of WWII; so much of its old development is still intact. With its many museums & art galleries, each filled with sculptures, paintings, and other works of art, you will enjoy your visit.
The Himeji Castle
Known for its architecture, the Himeji Castle is considered the best surviving example of 17th century Japanese castle architecture. This structure was fortified to defend against enemies during the feudal period and has been rebuilt many times through the centuries. Himeji is composed of 83 buildings, with some ingenious systems of defense dating back to the Shogun period; it is a masterpiece of wooden construction. Himeji survived the bombings of World War Two and is often featured in foreign and domestic films.