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Best Places to Visit in Japan: Ultimate Guide for 2024

Imagine stepping into a land where ancient traditions blend seamlessly with cutting-edge innovation. With its stunning landscapes and vibrant culture, Japan offers something for everyone. You can wander through contemporary museums, explore mountainside temples, and enjoy the breathtaking cherry blossoms in spring. 

In this ultimate guide, we’ll take you through the best places in Japan to visit in 2024 and show you why this amazing country deserves to be on your bucket list.

Unveiling the Gems: Best Places to Visit in Japan 

From bustling cities to beautiful beaches, Japan offers adventures for all kinds of travelers. Let’s explore some of the best places to visit in Japan, where you can enjoy its natural beauty and rich culture.

Must-Sees for First-Timers: Iconic Experiences 

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Cultural Capitals


Tokyo is one of the best places to visit in Japan for first-timers. In this ultramodern city, you will find skyscrapers, busy pedestrian crossings (including the iconic Shibuya Crossing), noisy arcades, and quirky youth fashion. 

Tokyo is also one of the most fun places to travel with friends and enjoy unusual places and activities, such as themed cafes (goats, owls, cats, robots) or cosplay go-karting. Visit the amazing DisneySea or the neighboring Tokyo Disneyland (or both if you have time) and immerse yourself in the colorful digital art museum TeamLab Planets. Exploring the neighborhood of Shimokitazawa for cafes, record stores, and vintage clothes is another must.

The Japanese capital also boasts many incredibly delicious restaurants. Even if all you do in Tokyo is eat, you’ll have an amazing time—even vegetarians eat well here. Be sure to eat in a tiny restaurant on atmospheric Memory Lane in Shinjuku and drink green tea at the Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience. 


Kyoto is traditional Japan: geisha, temples, Zen gardens, bamboo forests, and tea ceremonies. 

If you’ve already seen the high-rises in Tokyo, leave downtown Kyoto and head towards the surrounding neighborhoods, where you’ll find wooden houses and charming stone streets. Visit Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, Gion, see the quirky temples and bamboo groves in Arashiyama, and explore the beautiful temples in Higashiyama. 

If you’re a food aficionado, be sure to experience Zen Buddhist cuisine at the Tenryu-ji temple. You can even take a cooking class to learn to cook traditional Japanese food. Also, don’t miss drinking matcha at a traditional tea ceremony.

If you visit in late March or early April, explore the best cherry blossom spots like Kamo River and Nijō Castle. If you want to see the amazing autumn colors of Kyoto, make sure you visit in mid or late November. 

Natural Wonders

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Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and one of the country’s most iconic symbols. Japanese poets and artists have been inspired by its distinctive cone shape for centuries. The Five Lakes region at the foothills of the mountain is a great base for the hundreds of climbers who visit each year. 

In the warmer months, you can visit sights like Lake Kawaguchiko or explore the museums. You can also have fun in the Fuji-Q amusement park, known for its record-breaking rollercoasters and legendary haunted house. In winter, you can enjoy soaking in the hot spring baths and skiing. 

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Kyoto)

We mentioned it briefly before, but the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove deserves its own section.

Located in the village of Sagano on the west side of Kyoto, the path through the Arashiyama bamboo grove is short but immersive. The green bamboo stalks stretch in every direction, and the light has a strange quality in this must-visit site. 

Be sure to see the nearby Nonomiya Shrine, where daughters from the Imperial family used to purify themselves before becoming shrine maidens. Today, Nonomiya Shrine is busy with young women praying for a love match. 

Consider visiting Okochi-Sanso Villa at the top of the grove, which boasts beautiful gardens and great views of the city. The admission fee includes a Japanese hot matcha tea in the villa’s teahouse.

Beyond the Classics: Exploring Unique Destinations 

While Tokyo and Kyoto are must-see cities, there are many unique destinations that showcase the best places in Japan to visit. These spots offer a different view of Japan’s rich culture and natural beauty, from hidden temples to remote beaches. 

Off-the-Beaten-Path Gems

Best Places to Visit in Japan: Ultimate Guide for 2024

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Kanazawa is a city on the western coast with some of the best-preserved architecture from the Edo period. Popular sites include Seisonkaku Villa, Myoryuji Temple, and Kanazawa Castle. Visitors also enjoy the Nagamachi Samurai District and the Higashi Chaya Geisha District. Kanazawa has many fantastic museums dedicated to arts and crafts, including the National Crafts Museum. In 2009, the city was recognized as a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art.

A visit to Kanazawa isn’t complete without seeing the beautiful Kenrokuen Garden. With its water features, flowering trees, and bridges, Kenrokuen is often described as the perfect garden.

Kanazawa is rooted in tradition but embraces the present, too. This is clear when you arrive at Kanazawa Station, with its glass and steel design. You’ll also find modern museums like the D.T. Suzuki Museum and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.


Hiroshima brings up memories of war for many, but today, it is a city of peace. Travelers can pay their respects to the atomic bombing victims at the Peace Memorial Park, which is a center for monuments and memorials like the UNESCO-certified Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

Hiroshima is also a city of great beauty. Travelers can explore the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, visit Sandankyo Gorge, or stroll through Shukkeien Garden. A trip to Hiroshima often includes a trip to the famous floating torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine on nearby Miyajima Island. Don’t miss the delicious local specialty okonomiyaki, a pancake made with batter, noodles, and vegetables. 

Regional Delights

Best Places to Visit in Japan: Ultimate Guide for 2024

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The tropical paradise of Okinawa is comprised of over 160 islands between Japan and Taiwan. With its azure waters, Japan’s southernmost prefecture is a top spot for snorkeling and diving. It offers access to multiple coral reefs teeming with marine life and beautiful beaches such as those found on the Kerama Islands. 

On the main island, visitors can enjoy attractions like castle ruins and one of the world’s largest aquariums. For a more adventurous experience, head to the less-developed Iriomote Island, known for its jungles, mountains, and sandy beaches. Spend the day at Yonehara Beach, hike to one of the stunning waterfalls, or have a boat tour in crystal clear waters on Kabira Bay.

Japanese Alps

Just two hours from Tokyo, the Japanese Alps offer a retreat from the city’s summer heat. The mountain range encompasses the Kiso Mountains, the Akaishi Mountains, and the Hida Mountains. The area boasts snow-capped peaks, clear rivers, and pine forests. You’ll also find traditional farmhouses with steeply slanted roofs and tiered-roof castles.

Visitors can explore hiking trails around Kamikochi or take a cable car ride from Tateyama. In winter, you can ski on the 2018 Winter Olympic routes or relax in a hot spring surrounded by snow. The region’s hub is Matsumoto, known for its old merchants’ district full of museums, teahouses, and craft shops. 

Planning Your Dream Japan Trip in 2024

The best times to visit Japan are in spring during the cherry blossom season, fall to witness the autumn leaves, and summer for fewer tourists. Winter is a great time for winter sports enthusiasts. 

If this is your first trip to Japan, you should know that booking your trip well in advance is highly recommended, ideally six months or more. Even if you can’t secure tickets this early, starting your planning ahead of time is crucial because many restaurants, activities, and experiences have specific release dates.

Flights are typically available for booking 6-12 months ahead. Check Matt’s Flights to learn how far in advance you can book a flight. Hotels and popular restaurants are also available for booking 3-6 months in advance. 

To ease the stress of planning, use trip planning tools such as travel blogs, the Japan National Tourism Organization website, and Matt’s Flights for useful tips on connecting flights and how to use the Skyscanner app that helps you find affordable flights, hotels, and car rentals.


We hope you have a fantastic trip to Japan! It’s renowned worldwide as a top destination, attracting travelers with its captivating experiences and endless wonders. Whether it’s the traditional Japanese culture, beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine, or rich history, Japan has something for everyone, ensuring each visit is filled with unforgettable moments and memories.

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