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10 Places to Visit in Japan in 2024

From bustling metropolises to serene natural landscapes, Japan has something to offer every type of traveler.

Japan, a country renowned for its blend of ancient tradition and cutting-edge modernity, offers a plethora of captivating destinations to explore. Here are 10 of our favorite places to visit in the endlessly beguiling nation in 2024.

Time for Tochigi

Toshogu Shrine

Tochigi Prefecture has a treasure trove of historical and cultural wonders waiting to be explored. Nikko, the region’s crown jewel, is home to the UNESCO-listed Toshogu Shrine, which always captivates with its intricate architecture and profound symbolism. Tochigi’s appeal extends beyond its spiritual sites to encompass its scenic landscapes, best traversed aboard the cutting-edge Spacia X train. This elegant mode of transportation seamlessly combines modern comfort with old-world charm, offering travelers a captivating glimpse into the region’s rich tapestry of traditions and natural beauty. By train, Nikko can be reached from Tokyo in just a couple of hours. Complete your Tochigi experience with a stay at the exquisite Fufu Nikko hotel, where traditional elegance meets contemporary luxury, or The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko, a tranquil onsen resort immersed in nature.

Spiritual solace on Shikoku

Discover the tranquil beauty of Shikoku, Japan’s hidden gem, where ancient temples and breathtaking landscapes beckon travelers on a journey of self-discovery. Follow in the footsteps of pilgrims along the Shikoku Pilgrimage, a sacred trail encompassing 88 temples scattered across the island’s rugged terrain. Marvel at the hypnotic Naruto Whirlpool, a natural phenomenon where swirling whirlpools form in the turbulent waters of the Seto Inland Sea. Explore the island’s rich cultural heritage, from traditional arts and crafts to vibrant festivals celebrating centuries-old traditions.

Tokyo’s digital art drawcard returns

Tokyo, the pulsating heart of Japan, constantly reinvents itself, offering an exhilarating blend of tradition and innovation. Among its captivating attractions, the notable return of teamLab Borderless stands out as a beacon of modern artistry. Situated in its new permanent home in Azabudai Hills, this immersive digital art museum promises an unparalleled sensory experience. With two new exhibitions, “Bubble Universe” and “Megalith Crystal Formation,” alongside beloved favorites, visitors are in for a visual feast. After indulging in Tokyo’s vibrant culture, retreat to the nearby sanctuary of Aman Tokyo. Occupying the top six floors of a 38-story skyscraper in Otemachi, this opulent hotel offers incredible views of the city skyline, ensuring a truly memorable stay.

Tohoku’s trail less traveled

Embark on a voyage of discovery to Tohoku, Japan’s best-kept secret, where rugged coastlines and ancient traditions await intrepid travelers. Discover the untamed beauty of the Michinoku Coastal Trail, a scenic hiking route spanning over 620 miles along the Tohoku coastline, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and opportunities for cultural immersion. Explore the region’s rich history and folklore at historic sites such as the Matsushima Bay, known for its picturesque islands and ancient temples. Whether trekking through pristine wilderness or sampling local delicacies, Tohoku promises a journey off the beaten path into the heart of Japan’s wild north.

Okinawa’s turn to shine

Embrace the allure of Okinawa, Japan’s southern paradise, where azure waters lap against pristine beaches, and lush landscapes beckon adventurers. Often overshadowed by its mainland counterparts, Okinawa offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life, with its idyllic beaches, historic sites, and stunning resorts. Discover the serenity of HOSHINOYA Okinawa, a modernist retreat nestled along the scenic shores of the East China Sea, designed in the concept of “gusuku estate” (a type of stone-wall castle found in the Ryukyu Islands), and offering the same focus on wellness the brand is known for.

Something spiritual

Take on a journey of spiritual discovery along the ancient Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, a sacred trail steeped in history and tradition. Revered by followers of both Shinto and Buddhism, this pilgrimage route leads pilgrims to the sacred shrines of Kumano Hongu, Kumano Hayatama, and Kumano Nachi, nestled amidst the tranquil beauty of Japan’s countryside. Along the way, stay at small ryokans to experience the timeless pleasure of Japanese onsen as you soak away your cares in rejuvenating hot springs. Pilgrims seeking a deeper experience of self-discover may also enjoy a shukubo (temple stay) on Mt. Koya.

Hokkaido’s heavy hitters

Lake Mashu, Akan National Park

Hokkaido, Japan’s northern gem, captivates with its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage. From the historic streets of Otaru to the natural wonders of Akan National Park, Hokkaido offers a wealth of experiences for travelers to discover. Explore the charming canal-lined streets of Otaru, home to the Otaru Music Box Museum and historic landmarks, before venturing into the wilderness of Akan National Park, where volcanic landscapes and pristine lakes await. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Ainu culture, learning about the indigenous people of Hokkaido and their unique traditions.

Southern comforts on Kyushu

Dive into Kyushu, Japan’s southern paradise, where rugged landscapes and deep forests await intrepid travelers. Explore the historic streets of Fukuoka, a bustling metropolis steeped in tradition and charm, before venturing into the pristine wilderness of Yakushima, a subtropical island teeming with lush forests and natural wonders. Unsurprisingly, this forest-covered haven is a perfect fit for hiking and outdoor enthusiasts, offering visitors a combination of mountain and forest trekking. Options include an ascent of Mount Kuromidake, where amazing views can be savored from the summit. A less strenuous alternative involves strolling through the cedar forest and its awe-inspiring ancient trees.

Serene soaking at Kinosaki Onsen

Unwind in the therapeutic embrace of Kinosaki Onsen, a tranquil hot spring town situated amidst the scenic beauty of central Honshu. Experience the traditional Japanese hospitality at Nishimuraya Honkan, a luxurious ryokan renowned for its elegant accommodations and impeccable service. Immerse yourself in the restorative power of hot springs as you soak away your cares in private baths overlooking the picturesque landscape. While staying here, take time to enjoy a traditional kaiseki multi-course dinner. Be sure to explore the historic Onsen-ji temple and its panoramic views or indulge in a leisurely stroll through the charming streets, sampling local delicacies along the way.

Osaka’s earthy appetizers

Osaka, affectionately known as “Japan’s Kitchen,” is known for its vibrant street food scene and warm hospitality. A culinary haven, this bustling metropolis boasts an array of gastronomic delights, from savory okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) to indulgent takoyaki (battered octopus balls), all best savored on a street food adventure through the lively Dotonbori district. For a deeper dive into Osaka’s culinary heritage, visit the Cupnoodles Museum, where you can craft cup noodles and learn about the history of this beloved comfort food. Beyond its culinary offerings, Osaka shines thanks to its rich history and vibrant culture, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking an authentic ‘real’ Japan experience.