It’s official. It’s been a long time coming but the wait is finally over! With Japan’s plan of reopening its borders and easing its restrictions in October for the first time since 2020, we’ve compiled a list of exciting hot spots in Japan to satisfy your travel bug and get you prepped for your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan has recently announced its plans to scrap its daily arrival cap of 50,000 people and is restoring visa-free travel from 11 October onwards and we couldn’t be happier. A vibrant country known for its sensational cherry blossom views, copious sacred sites, and wacky inventions of umbrella ties and eyedrop funnels, Japan is a perfect blend of centuries-old traditions and cutting-edge technology.
Having been to Japan in 2019, I remember walking along its streets starry-eyed, excited to stumble upon brightly lit arcades, innovative vending machines, manga and anime pop culture influences, and bold fashion choices. And of course, you can’t forget about the food. Mouth-watering sushi, decadent rich ramen broth, and chewy mochi desserts — Japan is truly a foodie’s heaven.
If you’re planning for a getaway to the land where tradition and innovation meet, but can’t decide where to start, that’s where we come in. Read on for some inspiration on where to visit now that Japan’s reopened for travel!
Image credits: Unsplash
As the capital of Japan and the world’s most populous metropolis, it is in Tokyo that you’ll discover the modern and technological side of Japan. A sprawling city lit with shining neon lights, towering skyscrapers, noisy arcades, and loud fashion statements, Tokyo is home to a number of eccentric activities. Visit uniquely themed cafes that range from cats and owls to maids and robots. Or drive a go-kart across the renowned Shibuya Crossing Nintendo-style dressed as your favourite character!
Must-visits include a trip down to DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland for some good old family fun and to the electronics city of Akihabara – the centre of Otaku culture. The famed Tokyo Tower is also known for its breathtakingly extensive city views. While those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle can head to the Imperial Palace and admire its lush 17th-century parks and romantic views.
USP: For those seeking contemporary modern-day Japanese culture
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Check out our guide on what to eat in Tokyo
Image credits: Culture Trip
Another thriving city, Osaka is the commercial centre of Japan and is known for its entertainment district of Dotonburi. Covered in huge signages and billboards, don’t miss the opportunity for an essential photoshoot with the popular Glico running man signage. It’s positioned above Ebisubashi Bridge where wild celebrations are held for local sports team victories. A place to eat till you drop, Dotonburi possesses a wide variety of restaurants and bars. I found strolling through the streets with a box of warm takoyaki in hand to be the ultimate comfort food.
Other hot spots include the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan and Osaka Castle Park for the best pink cherry blossom viewings in spring. Don’t miss out on Osaka’s most popular temple, Shitennō-Ji, and Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan for a truly memorable experience of fascinating marine habitats and freshwater species.
USP: For street food enthusiasts and nightlife partiers
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Check out our guide on the best things to eat and do in Osaka
3. Mount Fuji
Image credits: Unsplash
Without a doubt Japan’s most iconic landmark, the majestic Mount Fuji is the country’s highest mountain peak at 3,776 metres. A bucket-list item for the adventurous at heart, the towering mountain sports spectacular sunrise views from its summit. Of course, for many, simply viewing the mountain from a distance or from the comfort of a speeding bullet train is enough to make one’s day.
Pro-Tip: The best time to visit Mt. Fuji falls between the period of July and mid-September to avoid the rainy season and snowfall. It’s always advisable to check for typhoon warnings before hiking!
USP: For those looking for adventure and breathtaking views
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Click here for more on what to do around Mount Fuji
Image credits: Unsplash
The cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is Tokyo’s traditional counterpart. A place to get away and immerse yourself in the roots of Japan, Kyoto is celebrated for its old streets, ancient temples, and traditional architecture.
History and architecture buffs will enjoy Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto-Gosho), the city’s most visited historic sites. While the bright vermilion torii gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine beckon and lead you into a wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. Surrounded by fox statues, explore the shrine’s grounds which are dedicated to the Shinto God of Rice.
Snap some pictures of ancient structures such as the Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji). Or rent a kimono for the day and bask in the tranquility of a conventional Japanese tea ceremony while you stroll around the streets of the Gion Geisha District! Into nature? Go ahead and immerse yourself in a field of green full of soaring bamboo stalks. After all, can you really say you’ve been to Kyoto if you haven’t explored the otherworldly forest of Arashiyama Bamboo Grove?
USP: For those who desire a little tradition
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Click here to find out more on what to do in Kyoto
Image credits: Sapporo Travel
An island boasting cool summers and snowy winters, Hokkaido is the ideal location for adrenaline junkies looking to get their fix through skiing. Visit Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. This hub of cultural activity is always vibrant with a flurry of exciting events and festivals. Be sure to catch the popular Sapporo Snow Festival in February featuring spectacular snow and ice sculptures, as well as delightful snow slides and crowded food stands.
Other hot spots include Sapporo TV Tower, the unique historical Hakodate port, and Tokachi for its magnificent natural scenery and a nearby spa town where kicking back in a cosy warm hot spring after a long day will soak all your worries away.
USP: For the Elsas of the world who enjoy snow sports and festive vibes
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: For the best things to do in Hokkaido, click here
Image credits: World Beach Guide
Imagine waking up to the scent of salty sea breeze, the calming splash of waves, and a fusion of gold and blue just outside your window. If you’re an avid beach lover, head to Okinawa! Known as the “Hawaii of Japan”, this prefecture consists of over 160 subtropical islands in Southern Japan and is the most popular summer destination in the country.
Enjoy diving and sailing in these turquoise blue waters while you bask in the luxury of world-class resorts and sip on Awamori — a local spirit that contains rice and packs a punch. Don’t miss a chance to try your hand at wheat soba noodles, taco rice, and flavourful sea grapes that burst in your mouth! Stargazing at Ishigaki also proves to be a popular activity when in this blue oasis.
Other hotspots in Okinawa include spelunking at Okinawa World theme park where you can explore stunning rock cave formations, visit the Gyokusendo Cave, and give snake liquor a taste. Or visit Shuri Castle in Naha City for a taste of Okinawa’s history where it used to be home to rulers of the Ryuku Kingdom.
USP: For those looking for a summer getaway
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Click here for more guides on Okinawa
Image credits: Modern Diplomacy
A city we’re sure you’ve heard of in your history books, Hiroshima is well-known for its devastating past when the first atomic bomb dropped in 1945. However, despite this tragedy, the city and its resilient people have bounced back and built it into what it is today — a vibrant hub of historical significance. Now regarded as the world’s peace capital, Hiroshima houses the Hiroshima Peace Institute as well as several significant structures that survived the bombing.
Stroll through Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park where you can find several museums, galleries, and beautiful gardens that boasts beautiful cherry blossoms. Other highlights in the lovely tranquil city include Hiroshima Castle, the Island Shrine of Itsukushima, and Shukkei-en Garden where natural greenery, architecture, and history beautifully collide.
USP: For the connoisseurs of the history world
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Find out more about Hiroshima here
Image credits: Unsplash
As the first permanent capital of Japan, Nara is home to three of Japan’s World Heritage Sites, magnificent shrines, splendid temples, and ancient ruins. Visit its iconic towering bronze statue of the Great Buddha that’s over 50-foot tall or head to Toda-Ji Temple — the largest wooden building in the world! There’s certainly no lack of national treasures here in Nara.
When scrolling through Instagram, there’s one sight that’s usually plastered all over your feed and that’s Nara Park. In a place where the roe deer wander freely, visitors will be greeted by these adorable hungry woodland creatures that’ll bow their heads in return for a couple of crackers. However, these deers can get aggressive, so don’t try and provoke them with food. You’ve been warned!
USP: For deer lovers on the hunt for jaw-dropping national treasures
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: For more on Nara, click here
Image credits: Japan Travel
Need an escape from the hustle and bustle? Head to the countryside of Kyushu! An island located in the Kagoshima Prefecture, Yakushima is popularly known for its natural beauty, wildlife, and cedar forests.
Walk along the grainy sands of the Isso-kaisuiyokujo beach. Or check out the natural beauty of the island’s majestic waterfalls such as Oko-no-Taki and cool off in the serene waters of its plunge pool after a good hike.
Yakushima is also famous for its nesting turtles that come to shore to lay their eggs between June to August. During that period, visitors will be able to take a night tour and visit these turtles safely without disturbing the little critters. Have a taste of the island’s fresh seafood (the Flying Fish in particular) and vibrant fruits (Ponkan and Takan juice)! Pair those with a local spirit that’s similar to vodka (Mitake) for a twist.
USP: For those seeking peace and relaxation away from the crowd
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Click here for more on what to do in Yakushima
Image credits: TripZilla
The most popular hot spring destination in Japan, wind down in Hakone for an ultimate trip of relaxation after an exciting adventure exploring Tokyo.
This town features 17 different hot springs and even a hot springs theme park! Hakone Kowakien Yunessun highlights unique baths such as a Coffee Bath that are made from real coffee beans, as well as the Wine Bath that’s said to rejuvenate the skin. This hot springs theme park is also equipped with an impressive water slide called Rodeo Mountain and boasts spectacular scenic views in their Open-Air Scenic Baths.
After you’ve dried yourself off, explore the outdoor sculpture gallery at Hakone Open Air Museum or take a hike up to an egg boiling site where you’ll be rewarded with black eggs (Kuro-Tamago) that have been cooked in the hot sulphur springs at volcanic Owakudani — also known as the Valley of Hell. Although intimidating to the eye, these eggs are regular chicken eggs that have been boiled in water containing sulphur and iron – hence its daunting black colour.
USP: For those who’d love a good soak and a scenic view of Mt. Fuji
Japan’s Reopened For Travel: Click here for more info on Hakone
Lock In The Best Rates With YouTrip
Now that you’ve got a list of sights to explore in Japan locked and loaded, you’re ready for your next adventure! Amidst the excitement of Japan being reopened, don’t forget to bring along your YouTrip card to make full use of our wholesale exchange rates, especially with the Japanese Yen hitting an all-time low!
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