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8 Must-See Places To Visit When Abroad In Japan

It is no secret that Japan is a unique and exquisite place to visit, live or work. Whether you are traveling to Japan as a tourist or working abroad as an expat, alongside a rich history of culture and tradition, there are so many wonders to be discovered on this island nation — you almost have to see them to believe them!

Based on my travels abroad, here are a couple tips I was glad I knew ahead of time before traveling to Japan:

  1. Research Cultural Norms: Learn about Japanese customs and etiquette, such as removing shoes indoors and proper table manners, to show respect for the local culture.
  2. Plan Your Budget: Japan can be expensive, so plan your budget accordingly. Research the cost of accommodations, transportation, meals, and activities to avoid overspending. Make sure you convert some currency from your home country such as AUD to JPY before leaving so you’re prepared in case you need it.
  3. Learn Basic Japanese Phrases: While many Japanese people speak English, learning a few basic phrases like greetings and simple requests can enhance your travel experience and communication with locals. This was so helpful and I could tell it was truly appreciated it!
  4. Observe Public Etiquette: In Japan, it’s important to observe public etiquette, such as keeping your voice down on public transportation, not eating on the street, and properly disposing of trash. As a tourist or expat, it’s our job to be respectful of local culture and customs.
  5. Pack Appropriate Clothing: Check the weather forecast for your travel dates and pack clothing suitable for the season and culture. Also, consider modest attire for visits to temples and other religious sites.

Now without further ado, let’s look at some of the must-see places to visit when you’re abroad in Japan!

8 Places To Visit When Abroad In Japan

1. Mt Fuji, Yamanashi

mount fuji japan

The crown jewel of natural wonders in Japan and arguably the most beautiful spot in the country, Mt Fuji is a must-see landmark for all visitors. Thanks to its impressive size, there are multiple different spots to catch a glimpse of this historic peak. Still, many locals will tell you that Arakurayama Sengen Park and Lake Kawaguchi will give you the best opportunity to take in its full beauty. 

Lake Kawaguchi, classified as one of Fuji Five Lakes, is particularly impressive during winter when the skies are clear, and the volcanic mountain reflects beautifully off the water. However, this near-symmetrical mountain is a sight to behold year-round. 

2. Oirase Gorge, Aomori

Many local travel experts consider the spectacular gorge found in the mountains of Aomori to be one of the top autumn destinations in Japan. The 5.5 mile trail hike from Ishigeo to Nenokuchi at the mouth of Lake Towada takes you through the picturesque scenery that surrounds the trail the entire way. 

The rapid Oirase Stream flows through a fire-blazing red and orange forest pebbled with moss-covered boulders and multiple waterfalls feeding into the stream. If you are concerned about walking the entire distance to the site, there are many bus stops on the road alongside the stream, so feel free to catch a ride at any point of your hike. 

3. Yakushima, Kagoshima

Off the coast of Kagoshima, nature lovers will find the ultimate slice of paradise. The small island of Yakushima was the inspiration behind the setting of the Ghibli film ‘Princess Mononoke,’ and is best discovered and explored via multi-day hikes. 

Hiking the moss-covered trails will transport you from the stresses of modern-day life to a calm and tranquil escape in nature. Take time to visit and admire yakusugi, the oldest living trees in Japan, which are more than 1,000 years old. The beauty of hiking in this location is that there are multiple trails to accommodate all levels of experience and fitness, allowing anyone to visit and experience its unmatched beauty. 

beauty to see in japan

4. Miyajima Island, Hiroshima

Miyajima Island is a small island off the coast of Hiroshima. It is known for its famous bowing deer, striking autumn leaves, and the iconic Itsukushima Shrine, a large Shinto structure with an impressive vermillions gate situated in the ocean.

The location, founded in the year 593, has long been established as the meeting ground for Buddhist and Shinto worship and is believed to be where the gods lived. Spend the day immersing yourself with local deer, hiking through lush maple leaves, or taking in the never-ending ocean views from the shore. 

5. Kamikochi, Nagano

On the Nagano prefecture side of the Northern Japanese Alps, you will witness the lush green plateau of Kamikochi, where travelers will be treated to some of the most incredible mountain scenery with minimal hiking. 

Most visitors tend to stick to Kappabashi because the bus stop is nearby. But it is the ideal place to take in the perfect panoramic view of the wooded riverbank, the looming surrounding mountains, and the rich autumnal palette that blankets this area. 

6. Kinkakuoi Temple, Kyoto

Kinkakuoi Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, is a Zen Buddhist temple covered in shiny and luxurious gold found in the middle of traditional Kyoto. The unmatched beauty of this jaw-dropping temple caused a young monk to try to burn it down in 1950, providing the inspiration for the famous novel, ‘The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.’ 

The path leading to the temple offers plenty of photo opportunities before reaching the building itself, so head out in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid large crowds and harsh glinting from the afternoon sun. 

7. Shirakawa-go, Gifu Prefecture

A journey deep into the Gifu prefecture takes visitors to Shirakawa-go, a perfectly preserved and whimsically beautiful Japanese village and classified UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village is filled with traditional gassho-zukuri style farmhouses, easily recognized by their trademark thatched, triangular roofs resembling praying hands. 

The majority of these houses have since been converted into local museums, restaurants, and small hotels. However, visitors can still explore the inside of these incredible buildings to appreciate their distinctive architecture. 

natural wonders of japan

8. Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki

The cascading waters of Takachiho Gorge are best seen from the water. The good news is that boats are available to rent to take an exciting cruise down the calm Gokase River, although no paddle is available in the park. 

The gorge is surrounded by breathtaking natural wonders, including lush maple trees and an impressively dramatic 55ft-tall Minai-no-taki waterfall. While the water is the best vantage point for this location, you are at risk of getting wet while passing the falling water. If you would prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, hikers can stick to the two thirds of a mile Takachiho Promenade for a panoramic view. 

Ready To Head To Japan?

Visiting Japan is an incredible experience that offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern innovations. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, Japan has something to offer every traveler.

By immersing yourself in the local culture, trying new foods, and exploring the beautiful landscapes, you can create memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, brush up on your Japanese etiquette, and get ready for an adventure like no other in the Land of the Rising Sun!

For more of our twenty-something travels, check out our World of Wanderlusting series!