There's more to Japan than the Insta-famous Shibuya Crossing. There are various sights to see, cultural heritage to appreciate, and kawaii things to squeal over. Here are the must-visit spots in Japan—aside from its busiest intersection in Tokyo.
Chidorigafuchi ParkTechnically, it's a cemetery and a moat around the Tokyo Imperial Palace. It's the amazing surroundings and paths that make it an attractive park-like spot. You can reach it through a short walk from Kudanshita and Hanzonmon Tokyo Metro stations. The best time to visit? April—the peak of springtime in Tokyo. PSA: The cherry blossoms along the Chidorigafuchi Moat are among the most beautiful in Japan, so the park is definitely a must-see.
Sensoji TempleThis colorful Buddhist Temple in Asakusa will leave you in awe of the unique architectural structures. You can go on a mini food trip or a souvenir shopping spree around the area, too. Visit during third weekend of every May to witness the Sanja Matsuri, one of the three grand festivals in Tokyo. (Or avoid it if you hate huge crowds.)
Minato CityThis busy district in Tokyo has plenty of attractions—including a grand leisure complex called Roppongi Hills, the colorfully lit Rainbow Bridge, and the National Art Center. Beyond those structures, there are also plenty of cafés in the area where you can sit back and relax with a yummy matcha dessert.
Tokyo TowerTake a photo of the photogenic Tokyo Tower, which is also in Minato. The structure is obvs inspired by the more popular wrought iron lattice tower in Paris. The closest subway station is Onarimon on the Mita Subway Line. If you want to take a tour of the main deck, prepare to shell out JPY900 (or around P450).
Tokyo SkytreeYou can also check out the Tokyo Skytree, one of the world's tallest towers, in Sumida. Reach it through the TOBU SKYTREE Line, or walk 15 minutes from Asakusa Station. Tokyo Skytree tickets cost a bit more than Tokyo Tower, though. But at JPY1,030 to JPY2,060 (or around P500 to P1,000), it's worth the price if you're into panoramic cityscape views.
MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUMThis one's a must-see for art buffs. MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM currently houses teamLab Borderless, "a group of artworks that form one borderless world." Some of the artwork are interactive, and some interact with each other. The amazing creations and the photos you can take with them are out of this world!
Meiji ShrineLocated in Shibuya, the Meiji Shrine (or Meiji Jingu) offers tourists spacious grounds for a relaxing stroll (or a TDF Instagram photo). The best way to reach the shrine is by taking a train to Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line. From here, you can easily reach Yoyogi Park, Shibuya Crossing, and Takeshita Street (lined with trendy fashion boutiques and cafés).
Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion) in KyotoIf you find yourself in Kyoto, Kinkaku-Ji would be your alternative to the Meiji Shrine. The iconic sight is perfect for anyone looking for a peaceful place to reflect and reminisce. There's a dedicated stop to the temple when you take the Kyoto City Bus 205 from Kyoto Station.
Tokyo Disney ResortRelive your childhood favorites Tokyo's version of the grandest theme park resort in the world. Composed of two parks namely Disneyland and DisneySea, the resort won't let your run out of things to do. It'll be especially memorable since the theme park is marking its 35th anniversary with grand festivities (and fireworks shows!) at the "Happiest Celebration," running until March 25, 2019.
Universal Studios Japan in OsakaHere's another world-class theme park that should be on your bucket list—especially for Potterheads! Try the thrilling rides or simply marvel at the replicas of iconic fictional structures like the Hogwarts Castle. You can also take photos with cute movie characters like the Minions. You can either take a bus or a train going to the theme park. Tickets cost JPY7,400 (or around P3,550), but prices vary depending on the date you're going.
Osaka Castle ParkAside from a castle tower with a museum, the historical site houses various points of interest. There's the lush Nishinomaru Garden with hundreds of cherry trees, a plum garden, and a Japanese archery ground. The best part? The Osaka Castle Park has free admission, so you have more money for takoyaki and other snacks! Just take a train to the Tanimachi 4-chome Station on the Subway Tanimachi Line or the Subway Chuo Line.
Nara ParkInteract with the freely roaming deer at this spacious public park. It's almost like a page plucked from your favorite fairy tales. The park also houses the Nara National Museum and the Todaiji, which houses a massive bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana. It's a great place to try matcha ice cream, too! Yum!
Tsukiji or ToyosuTsukiji is a top destination for a culinary feast—particularly if you're craving fresh seafood. Last October 6, the legendary Tsujiki wholesale fish market has closed down and was moved to Toyosu (also in Tokyo). Get there as early as 4:30 a.m to 8:00 am to see the market at its liveliest. Both destinations are lined with restaurants where you can get your Michelin star-quality sushi and sashimi fix.
Kuromon Market in OsakaOn the other hand, if you're in Osaka, head to this market (also known as Kuromon Ichiba) for mouthwatering street food and fresh produce. It's also dubbed "Osaka's kitchen" since it's a haven for foodies and professional chefs alike. Get off at Nipponbashi station of the Osaka subway line and walk toward the market.
AmeyokoThis sightseeing spot and shopping hub near Ueno Station has a great variety of snacks, hearty food, fashion stores, and beauty products. Stop by stores like POPGIRL, where you can buy pretty clothes and accessories at discounted prices. Hoard bags of sweets worth as low as JPY1,000 (or around P500) each at Shimura Shoten.
HokkaidoFarm Tomita is probably the most famous landmark in this scenic island. The breathtaking flower fields have the best blooms including a rolling purple carpet of lavenders. The best time to visit is June to July (the lavenders are at their peak during late July until early August). Beyond this farm, you can explore other landmarks in Hokkaido like their volcanoes, ski resorts, and natural hot springs.
Lake KawaguchiEver wondered what Mt. Fuji looks like IRL? Head to Lake Kawaguchi for a stunning view of the volcano that inspired artworks and even an emoji. Here, you can also enjoy the serene sights and soak your troubles away at the local hot spring resorts. You can book a day tour from Tokyo to reach Lake Kawaguchi, or spend a night or two in one of the hotels in the area.
Akita PrefectureThis region in Japan is home to the Akita Inu dog—you might recognize the breed as Hachiko’s famously loyal furry friend. The mountainous province is also home to well-preserved lakes and hillside hot springs, where you can ~*commune*~ with nature. The most hassle-free way to get there from Tokyo is via train, but you can also take a long-distance bus costing half the train fare.
IchiranTry the trending solo dining experience at any of the Ichiran branches in Japan. Not only will you bag a unique foodie experience, you will also get a taste of one of the most savory ramen bowls on Earth. That's enough reason to line up at Ichiran!
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