The land of the rising sun is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world. While there is an abundance of things to see and do in Japan, some of the most compelling reasons to go are the landmarks.
Whether it be a natural occurrence or a man-made structure, there is so much amazement to take in.
The Japanese have done a great job preserving so much of their history. Now, we’re going to take you on a journey through the countryside and city to the most famous landmarks in Japan.
Famous Landmarks in Japan
1. Mount Fuji
Had the Greeks seen Mount Fuji, they likely would have believed it to be the true Mount Olympus. This active volcano is the seventh tallest mountain in the world and the tallest in Japan.
The shape and size help give off the appearance of the mountain hovering over the village below. So, it’s not surprising that the Japanese added it to their list of three sacred mountains. Natives and world travelers have gone out of their way to visit, a pilgrimage if you will.
If it’s something you’ve thought about, go sooner rather than later. Experts have seen a steady rise in earthquakes nearby, signaling movement from within.
There are those who predict that Mount Fuji is due for an eruption. When it goes off, it will be devastating well beyond the borders of the country.
2. Himeji Castle
In southern Japan, there lies a castle that has been towering over the land below. Locals have been used to it for generations, since Himeji Castle has been around since the turn of the 1600s.
Not only is it special to the Japanese, but UNESCO has deemed it a World Heritage Site. The castle was actually the first to be designated as such in the whole country.
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Perhaps part of the reason it blends in so well is that the building was meant to represent a harmony between people and nature. Shockingly, Himeji survived without damage in WWII despite the bombing and fire that heavily consumed much of the surrounding area.
Today, this castle is open to tourists. If you visit, get there as early as possible because there is a lot of ground to cover.
The lower half of Japan is home to a Buddhist temple that is so renowned that it is a World Heritage Site. Kinkaku-ji is somewhere many people feel compelled to visit at least once.
Just looking at the pictures, it’s easy to imagine how peaceful this Japanese temple is, especially since it sits on the water.
It’s called the Golden Palace because the top two floors are covered in gold. In the late 1300s, the current temple was actually a retirement home of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
It was his hope that the oasis would be transformed into a Zen temple following his passing. It survived in this tranquil environment for centuries until 1950 when a new monk tried to burn it down. Even though he attempted to take himself out as well, he failed on both accounts and was arrested.
4. Fushimi Inari Taisha
If you love history, you will not want to miss this Shinto shrine. This isn’t just any shrine, it’s the head shrine. A shrine of shrines, if you will. The reason why might have something to do with seniority. Fushimi Inari Taisha has been around since the year 711. Yes, over 1,300 years!
One standout feature is the thousands of gates that are part of a plethora of trails leading to one of the sacred spots, Mount Inari.
If getting up to it is part of your destiny, prepare to take the day. It’s about a two-hour climb one way. If you’re counting steps, the next few days will be free days because there are 12,000 steps here.
Don’t worry about bad vibes, either. All those red gates leading from the shrine are meant to ban evil spirits. Be careful about touching them, though. Some believe that they can sort of transfer power to a person who gets too close. Wish granting isn’t entirely off limits, either.
Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple has been part of the community since the year 645. This is also one of those rare tourist sites that don’t require a ticket to get in.
So, not only does it represent something that can last, but it’s also free to spend your time. Being one of the most colorful temples in the land will make you want to hang out as long as you can.
Also Read: Famous Landmarks in Tokyo
You won’t be alone. 20 million visitors come each year, making Sensō-ji the most visited spiritual site on the globe. Across the way is a matching five-story pagoda, which is the Asakusa Shinto shrine.
The temple is dedicated to Kannon, a bodhisattva. Essentially, a bodhisattva is a person who is working towards Buddhahood. Kannon was a bodhisattva who was known for compassion.
6. Tokyo Imperial Palace
The home of the royal family was once called Edo Castle. Once the Emperor left Kyoto Imperial Palace for a new residence in 1868, Tokyo Imperial Palace is where he was headed.
A handful of years later, a fire broke out and another building was later erected in the same spot.
What stands today has been the result of historical reconstruction. The updated palace was completed in 1993 and has since been inhabited by the family. Palace grounds are surrounded by gardens and a moat, which makes the royal family quite lucky.
They are part of the very few who get to enjoy it. Most of the grounds are closed to the public. If you want to plan a trip around seeing what’s inside, your best bet will be January 2nd or February 23rd, the Emperor’s birthday.
7. Osaka Castle
While this landmark is quite a site to behold, there’s a lot of historical significance. Built in the late 1500s, this castle became the base of Toyotomi rule.
It was a period of Japanese history that was special due to how peaceful it was. So many generations had seen the country at its own throat. Finally, Osaka Castle was symbolic of the end of war and the beginning of peace.
If that wasn’t reason enough to be obsessed, Osaka Castle is also an architectural study. It is believed that as many as one million stones were used to complete the famous Japanese building.
Let’s not forget the 65 ft moat. After 14 years, the structure was finally ready to show off. Unfortunately, Toyotomi Hideyoshi passed away the following year and his son inherited the lot. 17 years later, strife had resurfaced, and the castle was subjected to serious damage.
By the 1620s, plans were enacted to rebuild the castle and it’s been standing, for the most part, ever since.
8. Tokyo Tower
If you’re a fan of anime, you know Tokyo Tower all too well. It would be hard to get a definitive number of how many times the tower has been the focal point of a disaster or evil plot.
Fortunately, real life is not so complicated. Tokyo Tower is an observation and communications tower built in 1958.
If you haven’t watched anime but still think it looks familiar, your suspicion is right. During Tokyo’s reconstruction following a devastating WWII, many famous landmarks from around the world were recreated here.
This tower is the Japanese-themed Eiffel Tower. Just like the Parisian delight, Tokyo Tower is open for travelers to check out in person. So, if you’re interested in getting the best views of Tokyo, this is the ticket!
9. Tokyo Skytree
The world’s tallest tower clocks in at right under 2,100 feet. Tokyo Skytree took 4 years to build and opened in 2012.
With that kind of height, it’s obviously another really well-positioned place to take in the scenery. The Skytree has two observation decks that visitors can purchase tickets for, with the first being on the fourth floor.
While waiting for the time on your ticket to come up, feel free to go shopping or get a bite to eat. This tower is in a great part of town, so it can be part of your day as opposed to making a whole day about the tower.
10. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
If there ever was a place that was made to show off on Instagram, it’s Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The tall bamboo forest makes you feel like you’ve stepped into some sort of portal.
Certainly, you can’t be in a city, right? Well, this must be what inner peace looks like.
If you want to reward yourself with Zen, it’s worth the trip. The grove is free to walk through and it’s open all the time. If you’re on a mission to get through, the walk will take you about an hour. A leisurely pace is also encouraged.