Ganbatte! This Japan bucket list is your next travel challenge

Joshua Berida

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Ganbatte! This Japan bucket list is your next travel challenge

PEACE. Matsumoto Castle.

Joshua Berida/Rappler

'I’ve been to Japan multiple times, and I just can’t help but keep coming back for more,' says travel writer Joshua Berida

Japan is often atop the list of many Filipino travelers. It comes as no surprise because the Land of the Rising Sun has plenty to offer history buffs, nature lovers, and foodies. The country also has an extensive rail and bus network that makes it easier to explore by land. I’ve been to Japan multiple times, and I just can’t help but keep coming back for more even if I revisit the same places.

Here’s a Japan travel bucket list you might want to follow (or add to).

Architecture, Building, Temple
FUJI. View of Mt. Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Mt. Fuji – This mountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Japan. You can go hiking during the summer or simply view it from Lake Kawaguchiko. On clear days, you can see it from various viewpoints in Tokyo.
City, Metropolis, Urban
SHIBUYA CROSSING. Pedestrians crossing perhaps the most famous scramble intersection in the world, in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Wikimedia Commons
  • Shibuya Scramble Crossing – Who would’ve thought that watching people or partaking in crossing the street would be quite an experience? This crosswalk in Tokyo is one of the wildest and most famous. Go during peak hours and either watch from above or partake in the chaos.
  • Hachiko Statue – This extremely loyal dog is commemorated with a statue near Shibuya Station. Have a few snaps to have a nice memory of your trip to Tokyo.
  • Meiji Shrine – This shrine is dedicated to the former Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. Construction concluded in the 1920s but was later rebuilt because of the damage World War II caused. This shrine is surrounded by trees and has a calming ambiance which contrasts with the everyday hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen – Tokyo is a sprawling concrete jungle with towers and skyscrapers dotting its cityscape. Amid all of this are green spaces like Shinjuku Gyoen. Take a break from the metropolis and soak in a piece of nature in the city. This park is also a great place to see the cherry blossoms.
  • Sensō-ji Temple – Asakusa, Tokyo is a throwback to the city’s ancient times. One of its main landmarks is the Senso-ji Temple. The shrine dates to 645AD and has retained its original look over the centuries. It’s also lined with multiple shops that sell food and all sorts of items and souvenirs.
  • Check out Harajuku – If you’re into fashion and the latest trends, walk around Harajuku. Here you’ll find various shops and maybe get inspiration for your next OOTD.
ORANGE. Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine – This renowned shrine is several centuries old and is characterized by its many torii gates. Toyotomi Hideyoshi donated the striking Romon Gate you’ll see at the entrance in 1589. You can follow the hiking trail up to the viewpoint.
TOWERING. Himeji Castle in Japan. Photo by Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Himeji Castle – Also known as White Heron Castle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must when you visit Japan. It’s a well-preserved and maintained castle that’s both striking and historically significant. It is one of Japan’s 12 original castles that was not destroyed by natural disasters and wars. 
  • Lake Kawaguchiko – This destination is an easy day trip from Tokyo because of its accessibility by train and bus. It’s a resort town with plenty of scenic views of Mt. Fuji. You can go biking or simply walk around the trails to get picture perfect views of Mt. Fuji. One of the best viewing spots is in Chureito Pagoda. 
  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) – This centuries old temple is one of Kyoto’s most popular destinations. It used to be a shogun’s retirement villa before it became a Zen Buddhist temple. It serves as a beautiful foreground to its surroundings.

  • Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) – This Zen temple is patterned after Kinkaku-ji. It was a center of contemporary culture during its time. Like many temples in Kyoto, this complex is surrounded by nature which creates a tranquil ambiance. 

  • Higashiyama District – Immerse yourself in Kyoto’s history by exploring Higashiyama. The district has well-preserved traditional shops and that makes you feel like you’re stepping into a time warp. You’ll most likely see locals and tourists alike wearing kimonos as they walk around.
  • Explore Gion – History lovers will enjoy exploring Gion district in Kyoto. The area is lined with traditional architecture, restaurants, and teahouses. Drop by Chion-in Temple while exploring.
  • Arashiyama – This destination might seem touristy, but it’s a noteworthy addition to your Kyoto itinerary. The Bamboo Grove is one of the most photographed spots while the Tenryu-ji Temple is a notable historic and cultural attraction.

  • Matsumoto Castle – This is another complete and fetching original Japanese castle. One of its unique features is that it has both a turret and secondary donjon connected to its main keep. The castle area is a popular cherry blossoms viewing spot. Make sure to check out the castle at night as well. 

  • Kiyomizudera – This temple is one of the most renowned in the country (it’s also in Kyoto). It dates to the 8th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time to visit the temple is during spring and autumn. You’ll see cherry blossoms in spring while autumn showcases a variety of colors.
  • Dotonbori – Osaka is a foodie’s destination with plenty of authentic and scrumptious Japanese food to choose from. You’ll have plenty of options from sit-down restaurants to food stalls while exploring the area. One of the reasons people visit this area is because of the neon-lit Glico Man. Make sure to take photos!

  • Osaka Castle – This castle dates to 1583 and was the largest castle at the time of its completion. Toyotomi Hideyoshi had this castle built. The castle has undergone many renovations and reconstruction over the centuries. Like many other Japanese castles, this one is also a popular cherry blossoms viewing spot.

  • Kamikochi – This park provides nature lovers with hiking trails and scenic views. The Japanese Alps loom over Kamikochi and makes for a spectacular background for photos. Climb one of the peaks or simply go on a leisurely walk leading to ponds and a marsh.
Nature, Outdoors, Countryside
GREEN. The traditional houses in Shirakawa-go. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Shirakawa-go – If you’re looking to see the countryside, don’t forget to include Shirakawa-go in your itinerary. This UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases Gifu’s quaint and beautiful farmhouses. The latter was designed and built to withstand the freezing and snowy winter months.

  • Nara Park – This park is home to numerous deer and historic buildings. You can feed the deer but once you do, a few will start following you.
Architecture, Building, Temple
  • Todaiji Temple – This temple complex dates to the 8th century. The temple’s main hall is home to one of the largest Buddha bronze statues in the country. 

  • Kamakura – This city is a popular day trip destination from Tokyo. Its most visited attraction is the huge bronze statue of Buddha. It dates to the 13th century and has survived multiple natural disasters. Kamakura draws visitors because of its beaches, Enoshima, and ancient buildings and structures.

  • Universal Studios Japan – If you like theme parks, this one in Osaka is the place to be. Universal Studios Japan provides you with several rides to enjoy and revive your inner child. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of USJ’s most famous attractions. 

  • Tokyo Disneyland – Disneyland is a dream destination for both kids and the kids at heart. This huge theme park has plenty of rides (and long lines) to fill your day. Don’t forget to watch the fireworks at night.

  • Nagasaki – This city is one of the places where the Americans dropped the atom bomb. The devastation the bombing caused lasted for years. However, fast forward to today, Nagasaki is a bustling industrial city. You’ll find monuments and museums about the city’s most harrowing event. Nagasaki also has a long history that goes beyond the atom bomb. It’s one of the places that was open to foreign trade centuries ago. Check out the Peace Park, Oura Church, Glover Garden, and Mount Inasa (for the night views).
Architecture, Building, Landmark
RUINS. The Atomic Bomb Dome is a reminder of the danger of weapons of mass destruction. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Hiroshima – This is another city that experienced the devastation of the atom bomb. Like Nagasaki, Hiroshima has overcome its harrowing experience and is now a popular tourist destination. Some of the museums and monuments in the city display the long-lasting effects of radiation and the initial chaos the bomb inflicted. They also showcase the hope and aspiration to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Some of the highlights of your trip include the Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien Garden, and Peace Park just to name a few.
Boat, Transportation, Vehicle
FLOATING. The famous torii gate of Miyajima. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Miyajima – This island is a popular day trip from Hiroshima. You can follow the scenic walking trails to different parts of the island. Two of the island’s most famous attractions are the historic Itsukushima Shrine and the torii gate that looks like its floating on the sea.

  • Sapporo – This city is famous for its winter Snow Festival. You’ll find a variety of snow statues and sculptures during your visit. 
Person, Adult, Female
GUNDAM. Watch the moving Gundam in Yokohama. Joshua Berida/Rappler
  • Yokohama – This city is a possible day trip from Tokyo. One of the reasons visitors and locals make their way here is to see a giant Gundam move.

Japan has several other places you can add to your itinerary. These are just some of the bucket list-worthy destinations you might want to consider for your upcoming trip. Regardless of the season you visit, Japan is a country you’ll love. – Rappler.com

Joshua Berida is a writer that loves to travel. He blogs at www.thewanderingjuan.net.

#ShareAsia highlights the best and most sought-after experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. It’s a content and resource hub for tourists and locals alike seeking new, exciting experiences in the region.

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