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10 Cool Places In Japan You Must Visit

There are some really cool places in Japan I have yet to see for myself, but I reached out to some travel bloggers that have been to Japan to ask what they think is some of the best places in Japan that they thought were really cool to visit.

Having spent several months travelling around Japan myself it’s easily one of my favourite places to travel.

I have since written many articles to help guide other travellers on what to see and do there.

I wanted to show you more areas of Japan to discover from the perspective of others. This is what the bloggers cool places in Japan are.

cool places Japan

Japan Travel Tip:

Take a Japan Rail Pass if you plan to move around a bit as it will save you money on the fast Shinkansen trains.

Cool Places In Japan

1. Yoshino

japan yoshino

Not many people know of Yoshino, even though it’s one of the most mesmerising places in Japan. During Spring, the valley looks like a floating pink sea, with hills and endless forests.

This really is one of the best places to visit in Japan in Spring.

When we first visited, we stayed in Yoshino until late in the evening to see the mist coming down from the hills. It was a true spectacle.

Yoshino is such a great place, not just because of its landscape, but because of its settlement as well, with a quaint long narrow alley, lined with wooden houses all open for business.

There is something dreamy about eating a matcha ice cream, admiring secluded shrines, and meandering through the forested paths.

Getting to Yoshino, however, it’s not quite as easy.

Perhaps that’s why it only gets busy during the sakura season.

However, its stunning beauty is worth the journey as Yoshino sure is one of the most interesting and beautiful places in Japan.

Find a place to stay in Yoshino

2. Koyasan

koyasan japan

Koyasan is a little town in the South of Osaka. It’s known to be the most sacred place in Japan, and it absolutely became one of our highlights of the country, due to its tranquillity and peacefulness.

More than 600 monks live and work in the 115 temples in this area.

Besides the amazing temples, in which you can eat and even stay overnight, the main landmark of Koyasan is its graveyard. It’s the biggest graveyard in Japan and simply beautiful.

The big surrounding trees provide a mystical atmosphere all over the graveyard. Especially when you take a walk early in the morning (around 6 am) when the monks have their morning ceremony.

When getting near the Onkunoin temple you can hear the praying of the monks already from far away. If you feel like it, you can even join the ceremony and keep listening to the peaceful praying of the monks.

Even if you can’t understand what they are saying, it is definitely a unique and amazing experience.

Getting to Koyasan is fun and unique as well. Since it’s located around 800 meters above sea level, you have to take the cable car in order to get there. It’s really great in Japan in autumn.

Find a place to stay in Koyasan

3. Furano, Hokkaido

After travelling to Japan for a month, I can honestly say one of the cool places to visit in Japan is Hokkaido (the northernmost island). Hokkaido is a destination you visit because of its stunning nature.

There are volcanoes, dense green forests, snowcapped mountains and beautiful lakes. But there are some great little villages too.

My favourite one was Furano. 

Furano is a year-round destination but most famous for its lavender fields. When in town you have got to visit Farm Tomita, the most famous lavender farm in Japan.

Make sure to try their Japanese lavender ice cream, which tastes strangely good while reminding you of toilet freshener at the same time.

In Furano, you can also find a wine factory and a cheese factory. I recommend visiting both (after all, wine and cheese are an excellent combination). 

If you visit Furano in winter, you can go skiing on the snow-covered slopes of the nearby ski area. It’s one of the best places to visit in Japan in winter.

In the evening warm-up at the luxurious spa at the New Furano Prince Hotel. Nothing beats gazing at snowy trees while soaking your tired body in a hot Onsen.

In conclusion: when in Japan, visit Hokkaido and visit Furano, you won’t regret it.

Find a place to stay in Furano

4. Takayama, Gifu Prefecture

Japan travel

The historic town of Takayama is nestled close to the foothills of the Japanese Alps in the Gifu prefecture of Japan.

Visitors to Japan seeking an authentic, old-world experience should place Takayama high on their itinerary.

We loved the time we spent there, and staying in a traditional ryokan in Takayama was one of the highlights of our trip to Japan.

It’s often referred to as “Little Kyoto” and the well preserved old town, with its wooden inns and merchant houses, is like stepping back in time.

The ancient temples on the hillside overlooking Takayama only add to the allure.

We tasted some of the best steaks of our lives during a meal in one of the many traditional restaurants dotted around the old town.

The local speciality, Hida beef, which is bred in the Gifu prefecture, is considered by some to be better than the world-renowned Japanese Kobe beef.

It’s also relatively easy to visit the stunning Japanese Alps as a day trip from Takayama, and the town is a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Shirakawa-go.

Spending an afternoon in the mountains and riding the Shinhotaka Ropeway which offered amazing views of the Japanese Alps, before exploring the mountain village of Shirakawa-go after leaving Takayama for Tokyo, is one of the best things we did. ShowThemTheGlobe.

Find a place to stay in Takayama

5. Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

snow monkey park Japan

One of my favourite cool places in Japan is Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park which is located near Nagano. The main attraction of the park is the Japanese snow monkeys.

These are are a group of Japanese macaques famous for soaking and relaxing in warm hot springs.

Watching the snow monkeys is an amazing experience. Not only do they soak in warm water but they also cuddle, groom themselves, and play.

They also jump in and out of the hot springs, walk around the park, and hang out in the snow just inches away from human visitors.

While the highlight of the park is the snow monkeys, the surroundings themselves are beautiful as well. This you can enjoy on the fairly easy walk on the 1.6 km trail through the forest to reach the Japanese hot springs.

If you stay near the park rather than doing a day trip from Tokyo or Narita, then you can stay at one of the many ryokans (Japanese traditional inns) in the area, and soak in an onsen yourself.

While the park is open all year winter is the best time to see these cute monkeys and makes it one of the best places to visit in Japan in winter.

 Everything is covered in snow and it is cold enough for monkeys to stay in the hot springs.

If you want to do a day trip you can book a tour here.

Travel tip for Japan:

Definitely take travel insurance before going to Japan as it’s an expensive country for medical treatment if you get sick on your trip.

I recommend using SafetyWing Travel Insurance for your trip, just in case, it’s best to be prepared.

Get an insurance quote for your trip:

6. The Shimanami Kaido Cycle Way

shinanami bridge
The Shimanami Kaido cycleway is a network of bridges spanning a maze of islands. If you give it a day of your time you’ll find it one of the more scenic and cool places in Japan to go to.
The 70km route between Imabari and Onomichi crosses six bridges and six islands on the Seto Inland Sea. The bridges have cycle paths, and you’ll find some alongside the carriageway, while others curiously hang underneath.
We hired our bikes at Onomichi Port (get there early if you want a decent choice) but there are thirteen other hire stations along the way. You can also hire electric bikes and cycle helmets.
In a single day, going at a leisurely pace, we completed 30km. During that time we did two bridges and a swim, all on hired ladies’ bikes with shopping baskets.
A mid-afternoon storm with vivid lightning didn’t manage to compete with the beauty of the bridges and islands, but it did cool us down.
It’s highly recommended as one of the best places in Japan for cycling.

7. Himeji Castle

himeji castle

Himeji Castle is the most beautiful castle in Japan and a must include on any Japan itinerary.

It’s easily reached in 60-90 minutes from Osaka or Kyoto as a day trip. It was first constructed in the 14th century but extended over the centuries.

Surprisingly it survived WWII without much damage and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site two decades ago. The castle is my personal favourite in Japan.

When you arrive at Himeji train station it’s a short 20-minute walk towards the castle. You can’t miss it as it towers high above the city. Himeji Castle is surrounded by a moat and large gardens.

The main keep itself is relatively small but with the huge number of visitors does take 2-3 hours to go through. There are several other secondary buildings with exhibitions worth exploring too. I highly recommend doing that as you’ll find the best photo spots this way.

A visit takes up to 6 hours and might take up the full day. If you have time left, especially in summer it’s recommended visiting the Kokoen Gardens next to the Himeji Castle too.

This is one of the best places to visit in Japan in summer.

During peak season make sure to buy tickets in advance as they do sell out for the day.

Himeji Castle is the most beautiful castle in Japan, so do include a Himeji Castle day trip on your Japan itinerary.

Find a place to stay in Himeji

8. Shirakawa-go Unesco Village


Shirakawa-go Unesco Village is a popular UNESCO site known for its triangular houses with thick thatched cottage roofs designed to withstand the weight of heavy snowfalls in the region in the winter.

And it is just a ridiculously picturesque mountain village. That will never be served justice through photos alone.

Personally, I fell in love with the village on my first visit in Spring, when I arrived by crossing the rope bridge over gushing rapids. This lead to finding ourselves in a sanctuary of calm.

As the village feels like a Shangri-La of sorts in Spring (April), it makes it one of the best places to visit in Japan in spring. At that time of year, it has just woken from a harsh winter covered in snow, with sakura blooms, the smell of pine, and carp in passing streams.

Yet there are still snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

That being said, the winter months (February) are also exciting in Shirakawa-go, given the waist height snows, and just lots of winter fun and shenanigans.

And while it does a feel bit touristy these days, it also feels local as well. Family businesses cater to tourists in cafes, local crafts, and matcha ice-creams in the Spring.

To reach the village there are various routes with tourist buses. These leave regularly from various JR stations. Although Takayama station would be the popular/quicker route to reach the Shirakawa-go.

Find a place to stay in Shirakawa

9. Mount Inasayama

mount inasa

Mount Inasayama, usually referred to as Mount Inasa, has a height of 333m and offers spectacular views of the city of Nagasaki. 

The view is already fantastic during the day but it’s best to plan your visit to Mt. Inasa for the sunset.  The view was even voted 3rd  best world nocturnal view in 2012.

From the top of the mountain, you are able to see Nagasaki nestled in the lush mountain slopes.  Next to Nagasaki, you will see major areas of the port and ship wharf. 

A light and music show is played every hour after sunset.  If you want to spend some more time up the mountain you could consider having dinner in the station’s restaurant.  Prices are reasonable and the quality is good.

You can take the cable car to get up the mountain. The cable ride itself is quite expensive (currently 1230 yen both ways). And you will most probably spend the 5 minutes cramped in the car with 32 other people. 

As an alternative, you can also hike up the mountain.  It will take you approximately 50 minutes and you can use google maps as your guide.

This was by far one of the best views we had in Japan.

Find a place to stay in Nagasaki

10. Osaka

cool places in Japan

Osaka is my choice for cool places in Japan to visit. I chose the whole city of Osaka rather than just a specific place, as it’s the city altogether that makes it such a cool place to visit.

I love the vibe of the city, and it’s also close to so many of the cool places in Japan so you can easily day trip many of them from Osaka, including some of the ones in this post.

I’ve written before how I feel people should stay in Osaka rather than Kyoto, and for good reason. It’s actually one of my most popular posts on Japan.

So rather than go into full detail about why I believe Osaka to be a must stay city, go over and read that article instead.

You can also read about some of the best day trips from Osaka in case you do go there.

Find  places to stay in Osaka here

Cool Places in Japan!

Naturally, there are so many cool places in Japan that this list could go on forever.

Tokyo and Kyoto could have taken all ten, but most people know that Tokyo and Kyoto have loads of cool places.

This post gives you an idea of some cool places in Japan to visit that you may not have heard of before.

This is a really good book to check out if you’re looking for more cool places in Japan: Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen

Useful Japan links:

Tokyo Guide

Kansai Guide (Osaka/Kyoto area)

Living/Teaching English in Japan

Japanese Food Guide

Travel insurance for Japan

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24 thoughts on “10 Cool Places In Japan You Must Visit”

  1. Thank you for the feature! Actually some of the other places are new to me. Going to add them to my list as I go to Japan again in May 2019.

  2. Japan is a gorgeous country and to visit it is my dream. I keep on collecting useful information that would come to my use in future on my trip to Japan. And I must say yours is the best by far. Thank you for explaining every place in detail in a short manner making it time saving. Beautifully written.

  3. Your picture of Yoshino is so pretty!! And you’re right that I’d never even heard of it before. It’s absolutely gorgeous though!! I’m definitely adding it to my bucket list! <3

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  5. I merely found this excellent post through google. This info is very useful and I will certainly save the bookmark. With thanks

  6. I also explored your shared all these fabulous places in my these tours and came back with a lot of pleasant memories.

  7. I also enjoyed myself while I was visiting this kind of places. I hope your shared information would be useful for all visitors which who have a plan to go there in coming up days.

  8. I heard Japan is of the most beautiful place. I really like this post. thanks for sharing amazing post.

  9. I heard Japanese individuals are exceptionally dedicated and well disposed. I might want to visit Japan once in my life

  10. FANTASTIC! Takayama seems like my kinda place and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this on Pinterest. Just in time as I plan my Japan trip that I’m going to take with my fiance later in 2020. I’m bookmarking this and sending to him. xD xD

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