Japan Travel Guide – Authentic Experiences

Whether you have already planned your trip to Japan and you want to gather some tips on what you can visit there, or you are thinking of choosing Japan for your next travel destination and you’d like to find out more about why it is worth visiting, we believe our guide can provide you with some assistance. What comes to mind when you say Japan? We can’t help but think of temples and shrines, the traditional Japanese cuisine, beautiful gardens and castles, or manga and anime. That is why we decided to gather here the most representative things of a Japan travel guide, and how you can enjoy them on your next trip there. Let’s begin!

japan travel guide mount fuji

Temples

Temples are one of the things that Japan is most famous for, and no Japan travel guide would be complete without them. These places of worship can be found in every Japanese municipality, and they used to be monasteries. Some of them still are, but most of them you can visit if you want to see traditional sacred Buddhist objects. While you are visiting the temples, you might want to stop and take a look at a traditional Japanese Buddhist cemeteries as well, since they are usually located near the temple.

While smaller cities only have one or two temples, larger cities such as Kyoto can have several hundreds. And speaking of Kyoto, this is one of the best places where you can go and visit Buddhist temples. Others include Kamakura and Nara, and if you want to spend a night at such a temple, try going to Koyasan in Mount Koya. However, do remember that if you stay there, you will be expected to eat the traditional cuisine of the monks (which is vegetarian), and you will have to participate in the morning prayers.

Shrines

A close second to temples, a Japan travel guide must contain visiting shrines. This is a great way to experience the Japanese culture and religion. These shrines are where the Shinto gods dwell, and they are places of worship for such gods. People in Japan use these shrines to pray or to pay respect to the gods, and they hold a special place during holidays such as New Year. The importance of shrines in Japanese culture can be seen in the number of shrines all over Japan, which is tens of thousands. However, they are divided into several types, such as imperial shrines (Ise, Izumo, Meiji), inari shrines (Fushimi Inari), Hachiman shrines (Tsurugaoka Hachimangu), and others. So if you want to familiarize yourself with Japanese culture and religion, you should definitely visit at least one of the shrines above.

Gardens

Designing gardens is considered an art form in Japan, and we can see why that is. People have been working on perfecting such designs for more than 1000 years, and the results are truly breathtaking. Japanese gardens serve many purposes, from recreation to religion, and there are many of them to be found around Japan, which makes them worth including in our Japan travel guide.

japan travel guide garden

Because we want to help you out, here are some of the most beautiful Japanese gardens that you can find:

  • Kokedera, Kyoto.
  • Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu.
  • Kenrokuen, Kanazawa.
  • Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto.
  • Sankeien, Yokohama.
  • Korakuen, Okayamajo.
  • Daitokuji, Kyoto.

Castles

It is hard to imagine that Japan can have even more gorgeous places to visit, but it is true. The Japanese castles are another must-see attraction on our Japan travel guide. Japan’s castles date from the 16th century, and they are full of history and mystery. In early times, they served as city centers, where all the administrative and military power was concentrated. However, many of them were destroyed, leaving only 12 of them which are representative of that early period of Japan.

Since you won’t probably have time to visit all 12 of them while you’re in Japan (unless you’re a true “castle hunter”), let us suggest a few that you should definitely make the time to explore. First of all, there’s the Himeji Castle in Hyogo, which is one of the most popular ones, especially during the spring. Another great option is the Hikone Castle in Shiga, which is small yet beautiful, or even the Matsumoto Castle in Nagano, which has a black structure and a beautiful garden.

Japanese Cuisine

The Japanese cuisine is creative both in its various dishes and in the way the restaurants are decorated. For instance, if you go to Japan, you can expect virtually anything from a restaurant. There are luxurious ryotei restaurants that have been around for centuries, mobile food stands, terraces built over rivers, robot themed restaurants, and so on. The food itself is extremely varied, and there are places that serve only one type of dish, while you can find almost anything in others. All in all, Japanese food could not have been excluded from a Japan travel guide.

Just to give you an idea of what you should try eating when you’re in Japan, here are a few traditional dishes that you can only find the best of here:

  • Sushi – You’ve never had sushi if you haven’t had it in Japan.
  • Unagi – Grilled river eel with sweet barbecue sauce.
  • Tempura – Seafood and vegetables covered in batter and fried in sesame oil.
  • Soba – Long and thing Buckwheat noodles usually served with soy sauce.
  • Tonkatsu – Deep-fried pork cutlet.

Cherry Blossoms

Japan’s unofficial national flower, the cherry blossom makes for truly amazing views. Japan is filled with dozens of different varieties of cherry trees, but unfortunately, most of them only bloom for a short period of time in spring. However, their beauty is enough reason for us to include them in our Japan travel guide.

japan travel guide cherry blossoms

Here are some of the most beautiful places where you can admire cherry blossoms and when:

  • Shinjuku Gyoen – early April.
  • Philosopher’s Path – early April.
  • Mount Yoshinoyama – early to mid April.
  • Hanamiyama Park – mid to late April.
  • Hirosaki Castle – late April to early May.

Manga and Anime

If you are a fan of manga and anime, then you already know that Japan has a lot of cool experiences to offer in this respect. There are so many things you can do and visit if you are into manga and anime, from comic events held in Tokyo, to manga cafes where you can read manga all day long, to maid cafes where the waitresses are dressed like French maids and the desserts are decorated with all sorts of cute and colorful items. Moreover, you can participate in events such as the Comiket, a comic book fair, or shop at hobby shops such as Tokyo’s Akihabara district. And if that wasn’t enough, you should know that you can even find museums and theme parks relate to manga and anime. Some of these are: One Piece Tower in Tokyo, Ishinomori Manga Museum, or Kitakyushu Manga Museum. If this hasn’t convinced you that manga and anime should be included in a Japan travel guide, then we don’t know what will.

Japan Travel Guide Summed up

Before booking your next trip to Japan, you definitely have to make sure you have enough time to visit everything that Japan has to offer. You can’t possibly cram up all of Japan in a 3-day trip. If you want to experience Japan at its fullest, we suggest you try to tick everything from the Japan travel guide we provided you with, since every single item on the list is representative of Japan in a way that no other can be. All there’s left for us to wish you now is a safe and interesting trip to Japan!

Image Source: 1,2,3