From Tokyo to Hiroshima, discover the best places to explore when taking a tour of Japan so you can sample all of the country’s cultural delights.
Where to Visit When Touring Japan
The wonderful island nation of Japan effortlessly combines ancient traditions with the modern world. With its elegant temples, lush green gardens, astounding mountain scenery and futuristic technology, there are endless things to see and do in this enchanting country. To help you plan your vacation to Japan, here are 10 of the best places you should definitely consider visiting.
Koyasan (Mount Koya)
Mount Koya or Koyasan is a very important Buddhist sect which was introduced in 805 by Kobo Daishi, a significant religious figure in Japan. Located off the beaten path, in a peaceful wooded area of Wakayama Prefecture, it is a truly magical place to visit on Japan tours. A small secluded temple town surrounds Koyasan’s wooded mountaintop, and more than 100 temples and monasteries have now been built along its streets. Japan tour companies offer day trips to this wonderful place giving you the chance to visit historical sites such as Okunoin, which is the location of Kobo Daishi’s mausoleum. If you truly want to experience the lifestyle of a monk, you can arrange luxury Japan tours which offer an overnight stay in a temple. Approximately 50 temples provide this service, which entails eating vegetarian monk’s cuisine and attending morning prayers.
If you’re seeking sun, sea and sand, organise escorted tours of Japan to Ishigaki, Japan’s premier beach destination. This gorgeous island is located west of Okinawa and features beautiful sandy beaches and astonishingly crystal clear waters. It’s a big hit with families and you can take part in many fun watersport activities including snorkelling, diving and surfing. Ishigaki is the perfect base if you want to explore other islands in the Yaeyama archipelago. You can easily arrange trips to other islands by talking to a Japan local tour guide and discussing which areas you would like to visit.
Soak up the culture with Japan tours in Kanazawa, the capital of the Ishikawa Prefecture. One of the main attractions of this beautiful city is Kenrokeun Garden, which dates back to the 17th century. Its spectacular landscape features stunning ponds and streams including the oldest fountain in Japan. Luckily the inner city areas managed to escape bombing during World War II. This makes it one of the best Japan tours, as you can explore the beautifully preserved Nagamachi with its samurai houses and Higashi Chaya, which is known as the geisha district. There are also several art museums, astonishing temples and a wonderful market which sells a huge variety of fresh seafood.
Escorted Tours of Japan to Hiroshima
Hiroshima is probably best known as being the first city to be targeted by a nuclear weapon. On 6 August 1945, near the end of World War II, they were the target of the world’s first atomic-bomb attack. Some of the best escorted tours of Japan offer sightseeing around this city so you can learn more about the history of Hiroshima. Since the attack, a lot of the city’s attractions focus on peace, including Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum. Despite this tragedy, Hiroshima has become a thriving city with many cultural attractions including Hiroshima Castle and the sunken garden of Shukkein-en. There is also a fantastic nightlife, so it’s worth finding Japan luxury tours that offer a few nights here.
The seaside city of Kamakura is just south of Tokyo, so you can usually find it incorporated into a guided tour Tokyo offers. Previously this city was the political center of Japan, when it was chosen as the seat of a military government that ruled Japan for over a century. It is now a relaxed seaside resort which attracts lots of visitors to its sandy beaches during the summer months. Kamakura is sometimes called the Kyoto of Eastern Japan because of its numerous attractive temples and shrines. One of its most famous historical monuments is the Daibutsu, a huge bronze Buddha statue surrounded by trees. Arrange a Tokyo escorted tour which includes a stay in Kamakura, so you can explore a notable part of Japan away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
Nikko is a small town at the entrance to Nikko National Park and a major attraction on the best escorted tours of Japan. Surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery, and lavishly decorated shrines, including the famous Toshogu, this town is a treat for the eyes. One of the most popular places to visit is the national park which offers mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails. Organise Japan holiday tour packages in the fall so you will be able to witness the leaves changing color and transforming the landscape of Nikko with their beautiful autumn shades. Over the summer and autumn this area can be very busy, and you will find that the best Japan tours reserve a couple of days here so you have enough time to explore Nikko fully.
Escape the busy nature of Japan’s biggest cities and unwind by visiting the peaceful town of Hida-Takayama. Located near the northern Japan Alps, Takayama has a beautifully preserved old town, which is considered one of the best in Japan. Among the awe-inspiring scenery is an abundance of museums, galleries, temples and hillside shrines. Stay here for a couple of days as part of one of the luxury Japan tours and relaxingly stroll through the town to experience life in a rural setting. It is easy to travel round on foot, and the friendly locals are very welcoming so they will happily offer their assistance as a Japan local tour guide for Takayama.
Nara was Japan’s first permanent capital and established in 710. The capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784 when the government was threatened by the city’s powerful Buddhist monasteries. Nara is located less than an hour from Kyoto and Osaka, and is often included in the itinerary of Japan holiday tour packages. Its past as the first permanent capital makes it a popular place to visit. There are several historical monuments including some of Japan’s oldest and largest temples. One of the most impressive sites is the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), which is housed in the spectacular Tōdai-ji temple. Surrounding the temple are the lush green lawns from Nara-koen park, which are often grazed on by deers which are surprisingly tame.
Kyoto was once the imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, but now it is only the capital of the Kyoto prefecture. This fantastic city is known as the City of 10,000 Shrines due to the numerous grand looking Shinto shrines that reside there. There are also countless classical Buddhist temples, monuments and other historical and religious pieces of architecture that beautifully decorate the city. The city is also well known for its sublime gardens including the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park which features huge open fields and a stunning variety of flowering trees. Due to its popularity, a lot of Japan tour companies organize trips to Kyoto. You can usually find several Japan luxury tours which offer Kyoto as part of their tour package for a reasonable price.
Take a Tokyo Escorted Tour
As the capital of Japan, obviously Tokyo is one of the best places to visit when touring Japan. With its unlimited choice of entertainment, shopping, culture and dining, you definitely need to consider arranging a Tokyo escorted tour. This energetic city combines old with new, as it is home to many ancient shrines as well as fun karaoke bars and nightlife entertainment. The fast pace of Tokyo can be overwhelming, but you can easily take a break by visiting one of the many attractive green spaces Tokyo has to offer. You can also learn more about this historic metropolis by taking a guided tour Tokyo and visiting Asakusa. This area is easily explored by foot and provides an insight into the past of Tokyo. In addition to this, there are many interesting museums and historic temples which help tell the story of this popular city.