15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (2023)

With its enormous cities and towering skyscrapers brightly clad in neon lights, Japan is a fun country to visit, full of history and with a rich cultural heritage. Temples and shrines dot its streets, while world-class restaurants rub shoulders with ancient castles and imperial palaces, and its cities bustle with life and energy.

Bordered by beautiful natural scenes, wandering around cities like Tokyo is akin to stepping into the future, such is the innovation and technological know-how on show. With something for everyone, the best cities in Japan are exhilarating to visit.

Map of cities in Japan

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (1)© OpenStreetMap © MapTiler © Touropia

15.Matsue[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (2)Matsue / Wikipedia

Charming and full of cultural sights, this samurai city is steeped in history and has a lovely castle for visitors to explore. Lying on the shores of Lake Shinji, there is an old-time feel to the place, as fishermen cast their nets in the lake and the lazy river flows by.

There are a few good museums to visit, and although the historic center is easily completed in half a day, Matsue´s peaceful ambiance means that visitors often end up staying longer than they intended.

14.Himeji[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (3)© B. Stephane / Dreamstime

The impressive, domineering, feudal-era fortress of Himeji-jo is reputed to be the finest castle in Japan, and is the prime draw in this quiet city. Nearby, there are some lovely samurai houses to explore, with their delightful traditional gardens.

Apart from a couple of museums, there is not much to do in Himeji, though there are the usual shrines, temples and restaurants that are not too dissimilar from other Japanese cites. An easy day-trip from a number of places, history lovers will love Himeji.

(Video) 10 Best Places to Visit in Japan - Travel Video

13.Beppu[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (4)

A charming and welcoming place, visitors to Beppu invariably stop by to relax and soak in the hot springs that populate the city. A popular ‘onsen’ (Japanese hot spring) resort, the city has over three thousand springs and life in Beppu is heavily geared towards the tourism sector.

The steam and mist that floats through the streets lends a magical air to the town, which is located on the coast and backed by mountains. With some impressive architecture on show and a quaint, laid-back feel to the place, Beppu is a lovely city in which to sit back and relax.

12.Kobe[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (5)© Leung Cho Pan / Dreamstime

An attractive city set on a hillside next to the sea, Kobe is sandwiched between the water and Mount Rokko, which rears up behind it. A historic port, the city´s small stature belies the cosmopolitan feel about its streets. When wandering around, you can find religious buildings dedicated to every major religion.

With some excellent restaurants and cool cafes on offer, as well as lively nightlife, Kobe is great fun to explore. If you use the city as a gateway, many amazing sights are just a short train journey away.

11.Nagasaki[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (6)© Sean Pavone / Dreamstime

A picturesque place, Nagasaki´s lovely location nestled peacefully amidst hills overlooking a harbor, obscures the fact that the city was tragically devastated by an atomic bomb. While many visitors come to wander around the memorials and museums dedicated to the bombing, Nagasaki has much more to offer; it is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with lots to see and do.

Once the only port open to foreign traders, this openness is still evident; there are a mix of Western and Eastern influences here, as demonstrated by the churches, temples and cuisine on offer.

10.Yokohama[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (7)© Sean Pavone / Dreamstime

Despite being less than half-an-hour away from Tokyo, Yokohama certainly has its own identity and, as Japan´s second largest city, it´s well worth checking out. Lying on a lovely bay, it is a cosmopolitan destination, as evidenced by its large foreign community, wealth of different architectural styles, and delicious cuisine from around the world.

(Video) Top 15 Best Places To Visit In Japan

With a lively arts and jazz scene, it is pleasant to walk along its spacious streets – despite being a major port, Yokohama feels uncluttered and clean.

9.Fukuoka[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (8)© Chinakathum / Dreamstime

The largest city in Kyushu, Fukuoka used to be two towns before the different areas joined to form the city we know today. A friendly, welcoming place, what Fukuoka lacks in terms of actual sights, it more than makes up for in its charm and pleasant atmosphere. With a couple of great museums, some great architecture, delicious ramen, and the chance to see their famous baseball team in action, Fukuoka is well worth a visit for all that it has to offer.

Lying on the banks of the river running through it, there are some lovely temples dotted around the city and its surroundings. Many people use Fukuoka as a base from which to explore the rest of Kyushu.

8.Sendai[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (9)© Mike K. / Dreamstime

Home to one of the country´s most famous festivals, every year Sendai´s leafy streets are thronged with people who have come to enjoy Tanabata Matsuri. Located in the Tohuko region, it is the largest city in the area and offers an insight into the local culture, with many visitors stopping here on their way to the wilderness nearby.

With a lively nightlife scene and a delightful dilapidated castle with lovely gardens, Sendai is a pleasant place to visit and an even nicer place to live. From here, you can also head to the nearby hot springs or to Matsushima, which has one of the best views in Japan.

7.Sapporo[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (10)© Prasit Rodphan / Dreamstime

The capital city of the island of Hokkaido, Sapporo is a chilled-out place to visit, with all the trappings of a typical Japanese city. While most people see it as a stop-off point on their way to the island´s delightful mountains and hot springs, the city itself has more than enough to keep guests entertained for a while – with fantastic restaurants, gigantic shopping malls and lively nightlife.

While people often visit during the summer, when Sapporo has a number of great festivals, the highlight of the year is during the renowned Snow Festival, when hordes of tourists descend upon the city to see the amazing sculptures.

6.Osaka[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (11)© Empada78 / Dreamstime

(Video) 15 Best Places To Visit In Tokyo - Japan

Although the endless concrete buildings do not make Osaka a pretty place by any means, the profusion of neon lights certainly adds color and life to the city. A bustling metropolis with a lovely river meandering through its heart, Osaka is a fun place to visit with a lively local arts and music scene.

Renowned for its fantastic culinary scene and love of food, here you can dine in excellent restaurants or pick up a wide variety of great street food.

5.Nara[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (12)

Considered to be the birthplace of Japanese civilization, this ancient former capital has a wealth of historic sites for visitors to enjoy. Easily explored on foot, the city´s undoubted highlight is the impressive Great Buddha statue, located in the lovely Todai-ji temple.

Other temples delightfully showcase the best of Japanese art and architecture, while the surrounding hills – which add to the picturesque nature of Nara – have yet more shrines and temples worth visiting.

4.Kanazawa[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (13)© Katinka2014 / Dreamstime

With beautiful temples, ancient shrines and a range of fantastic museums, this charming city lying on the Sea of Japan is not to be missed. Wonderfully preserved, its ancient neighborhoods are lovely to wander around, with the old geisha and samurai districts being particularly delightful. In fact, Kanazawa rivals Kyoto in the number of historical and cultural attractions that it has on show.

Although seldom visited by westerners, Japanese tourists flock to this city. The highlight is undoubtedly Kenroku-en, an impressive castle with idyllic gardens surrounding it.

3.Hiroshima[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (14)

Lying in western Honshu, Hiroshima´s history will forever be linked to the atomic bomb which flattened the city on August 6th, 1945. Almost completely destroyed, Hiroshima has remarkably been reconstructed and is now a bustling modern city, full of life.

While many visitors come to pay their respects at the Peace Memorial Park and Museum and visit the chilling A-Bomb Dome ruins, the city has many other sights for visitors to enjoy. It also serves as a gateway to some beautiful nearby islands including famous Miyajima (shrine island).

(Video) How to Spend 14 Days in Japan - A Japan Travel Itinerary

2.Kyoto[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (15)

The former capital of Japan drips with history and is reputed to be the nation´s most beautiful city. Upon arriving, however, many visitors are surprised to see Kyoto´s urban sprawl, which hides away its fantastic historical sites and rich cultural heritage. With over two thousand temples and shrines, as well as numerous Zen gardens, winding cobbled alleys and traditional teahouses, Kyoto is both the spiritual and cultural capital of Japan.

Home to a plethora of cool bars, atmospheric cafes and world-class restaurants, the city also has some fantastic palaces and villas for visitors to gaze upon. One of the best places to see the romantic cherry blossom trees, Kyoto is an amazing mix of modern and traditional influences.

See also: Top Tourist Attractions in Kyoto

1.Tokyo[SEE MAP]

15 Best Cities to Visit in Japan (16)© Perati Komson / Dreamstime

Lying at the heart of the most populated place in the world, Tokyo has just under forty million people living within its metropolis. Consequently, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. Appearing as if out of a sci-fi film, the city´s dazzling array of neon-lit skyscrapers are mesmerizing to behold – at night, they look even more impressive.

While Tokyo is definitely a modern, thriving city that sells a unique pop culture and fashion sense to the world, remnants of the historic city still remain. You can peacefully wander down cobbled alleys and find old-style atmospheric bars and food stands. In fact, the city is home to more Michelin star establishments than anywhere else in the world, and the food on offer is sumptuous.

Whether it is strolling around its cavernous shopping malls or exploring the different neighborhoods – each with its own vibe and identity – it would take a lifetime to see all that Tokyo has to offer.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Tokyo

See also: Top Tokyo Attractions

FAQs

What city in Japan is best to visit? ›

Best cities to visit in Japan
  • 1 Tokyo.
  • 2 Kyoto.
  • 3 Osaka.
  • 4 Yokohama.
  • 5 Nagoya.
  • 6 Kobe.
  • 7 Fukuoka.
  • 8 Hiroshima.

What city is most visited in Japan? ›

Tokyo, the capital, is by far one of the most popular travel destinations in Japan. There is so much to see and do, you could spend a week just exploring its city centers of Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ueno, and Ginza.

What is the most beautiful place in Japan you want to visit explain your answer? ›

Mt Fuji, Yamanashi

Japan's crown jewel and arguably the most beautiful place in the country, Mt Fuji is a must for any visitor. There are plenty of places to see the grand mountain, but the views from Arakurayama Sengen Park, which boasts the majestic Chureito Pagoda, and from Lake Kawaguchi best capture its beauty.

Where should I go to in Japan first? ›

As a first timer in Japan, you should definitely visit the main tourist spots like Tokyo, Kyoto and/or Osaka. In addition, you can also visit some isolated areas such as some the beautiful islands like Hokkaido and Okinawa!

What are Japan's 3 largest cities? ›

RankCityPopulation
1Tokyo8,956,000
2Yokohama3,690,000
3Osaka2,670,000
4Nagoya2,266,000
99 more rows

What is Japan's richest city? ›

The city of Tokyo, Japan is considered to be the richest city in the world. The GDP of Tokyo is $1.52 trillion. Another trillion-dollar GDP city is New York City in the United States. These are the only two cities with trillion dollar economies.

What is Japan's 2nd Largest city? ›

Yokohama. With a population of approximately 3.6 million, Yokohama, south of Tokyo, is Japan's second-largest city.

What is Japan's most famous for? ›

Japan is famous for natural sights like cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji, cutting-edge technology like Japanese cars and bullet trains, wacky inventions like karaoke and vending machines, cultural values like politeness and punctuality, popular anime and manga, and mouth-watering food like ramen and sushi.

Why Japan is the best place? ›

Japan is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world, and has one of the lowest global crime rates. Japanese people often leave their doors unlocked, children are perfectly safe traveling on the subway by themselves, and visitors are able to walk around the cities at night without having to worry.

Is Japan the most beautiful country? ›

The 2022 ranking for the 30 most beautiful countries in the world. The WEF report comprises 117 countries in total. Just after Japan, the United States and Spain, France comes in fourth place.

How many days in Japan is enough? ›

Ten days is enough for a first timer, but you could easily stretch this itinerary to two weeks in Japan if you have a few extra days, or skip one or two places if you only have a week there.

Is 2 weeks enough for Japan? ›

Two weeks is the perfect amount of time for your first trip to Japan. You'll be able to explore this wonderful country from the mountains to the sea, wandering through chaotic neon-lined streets and serene Zen temples, soaking in onsens and filling yourself with more ramen and sushi than you ever thought possible.

What is the nicest part of Japan? ›

Here's our pick of the 10 best places to visit in Japan.
  1. Tokyo. Best for contemporary culture. ...
  2. Kyoto. Best for traditional experiences. ...
  3. Naoshima. Best for architecture. ...
  4. Mt Fuji. Best for views and pilgrimages. ...
  5. Hiroshima. Best for being reflective. ...
  6. Yakushima. Best for forest bathing. ...
  7. Koya-san. ...
  8. Okinawa and the Southern Islands.

What is the cleanest city in Japan? ›

The cleanest city in Japan is Obihiro, Hokkaido with a recorded level of 24 whichclassifies it as being “Good”.

What are the top 10 most biggest cities? ›

According to World Population Review, the top ten most populous cities in the world in 2022 are:
  • Tokyo, Japan.
  • Delhi, India.
  • Shanghai, China.
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Cairo, Egypt.
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Mumbai, India.
26 Sept 2022

What is Japan's smallest city? ›

Utashinai (歌志内市, Utashinai-shi) is a city located in Sorachi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is Japan's smallest city by population.

Is Japan Poor or rich? ›

Japan has the third-largest financial assets in the world, valued at $12 trillion, or 8.6% of the global GDP total as of 2020.
...
Economy of Japan.
Statistics
Population below poverty line5.5% (2020) 0.7% on less than $1.90/day (2013) 0.9% on less than $3.20/day (2013) 1.2% on less than $5.50/day (2013)
38 more rows

What is the smartest city in Japan? ›

A futuristic smart city called Woven City is being built at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Labelled a 'living laboratory' for new technologies it is being developed by Toyota subsidiary, Woven Planet, and will be the world's first programmable city.

Where do billionaires live in Japan? ›

Aoyama (青山) is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods of Tokyo, located in the northwest portion of Minato Ward. The area is well known for its international fashion houses, cafes and restaurants.

What is the newest city in Japan? ›

Japan Atlas: Makuhari New City.

Is Tokyo smaller than London? ›

It's only just a bit bigger than Greater London itself. The real Tokyo has 14.3 million people in the same area. London re-sized to match Tokyo's GHSL-based wider urban area has 12.5 million people in it, compared to almost 35 million in the real Tokyo urban area.

What is the 2 biggest city in the world? ›

Largest Cities in the World (2015)
RankUrban AreaDensity
1Tokyo-Yokohama4,400
2Jakarta9,500
3Delhi, DL-UP-HR12,100
4Manila15,300
77 more rows

Where can I kiss in Japan? ›

Today, the Japanese now describe the practice as kisu—having borrowed from English. Kissing in Japan has slowly become more accepted in art and—among younger couples—in public.

What is the cheapest place in Japan? ›

Kyoto and Kawasaki are among the cheapest places to rent in Japan, and Tsushima city and Fukuoka boast some of the lowest living costs for utilities, groceries, and eating out.

What is Japan's Favourite food? ›

1. Sushi. Sushi is the most famous Japanese dish and the first thing people think of when they think of Japanese cuisine.

Why is Japan so popular? ›

This country is known for its manga and anime which, being inevitably charming and consuming, became a popular hobby in Western countries, as well as sports like karate and judo. Japan, mostly its capital Tokyo, is known for its novelty and coolness.

Why is Japan so special? ›

Japan is unique because of its safety, cleanliness, customer service, and much more. Some unique places in Japan are the fashion district of Shinjuku in Tokyo, the Bamboo forest in Kyoto, and the cat-infested Aoshima Island.

What is the prettiest place in Tokyo? ›

From city parks to landscape gardens, Tokyo is a wonderful places to experience fall.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Photo by Planetyze. ...
  • Yoyogi Park. Photo by Planetyze. ...
  • The Imperial Palace East Gardens. Photo by Planetyze. ...
  • Ueno Park. Photo by Planetyze. ...
  • Rikugien. ...
  • Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. ...
  • Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden.

What you should visit in Japan? ›

Beautiful temples, shrines, and zen gardens

The Buddhist temples and zen gardens are incredibly beautiful and if you enter them you really can experience how peaceful and magical these places actually are. Inari Shrines are the most familiar Shinto shrines to Japanese people and they are also known as “o-inari-san”.

What are 3 to 5 tourist things that you should do in Tokyo? ›

  • Odaiba.
  • teamLab Borderless Digital Art show.
  • Tsukiji outer market.
  • Toyosu fish market.
  • Eat super fresh seafood for breakfast.
  • Hanami with the locals.
  • Tokyo River Cruise.
  • Visit a Pokemon store.
23 May 2022

Why do people love Japan? ›

Culture. Japanese traditional culture is very special and original, and it's to present the beauty of the country. Also, Japan has developed different culture of futuristic and modern which is totally different from the former. Japan is the great example where historical/traditional and high-tech/modern can coexist.

Is Japan good for tourists? ›

Japan is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, and it isn't hard to imagine why. With exciting, modern metropolises, beautiful nature spots, delicious food, various means of entertainment, and thriving geek culture, there is something for everyone.

Should I go to Kyoto or Tokyo? ›

Tokyo is the political and economic capital of Japan, so it's much more bustling, modern and new. Kyoto, on the other hand, is the storehouse of Japan's traditional culture. So, if you want to see what modern Japan is all about, visit Tokyo. And, if you want to experience traditional Japan, then visit Kyoto.

Which country is No 1 in world? ›

The overall ranking of Best Countries measure global performance on a variety of metrics. Switzerland is the best country in the world for 2022.

Which is the No 1 beautiful country in the world? ›

Italy is truly the world's most beautiful country. It flaunts the most inspiring cultural treasures and magnificent scenery, which you cannot find anywhere in the world. Venice, Florence and Rome with their diverse architecture, Tuscany with its rolling hills, vineyards and snow-peaked mountains will mesmerize you.

Which is the No 1 beautiful place in the world? ›

According to the study, the most beautiful place in the world is Peyto Lake in Canada. This natural wonder is known for its neon blue water surrounded by dazzling mountains.

Is it better to visit Tokyo or Kyoto? ›

Kyoto is more relaxing. Tokyo is about 30% more expensive than Kyoto for travelers. If you prefer big cities, modern technology, nightlife and a huge selection of restaurants, Tokyo is for you. If you're after temples, shrines, garden, geisha and hiking, Kyoto is for you.

Is Tokyo or Osaka better visiting? ›

While Both cities have many attractions such as shops, museums, parks and temples, Tokyo is much bigger and offers sufficient interest for a three- to five-day visit. Osaka is more famous for its vibrant culture and needs only two to three days for its sights.

What month should I visit Japan? ›

The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). This is when Japan is at its most vibrant, with delicate cherry blossom or bright red leaves adding contrast to the scenery. Remember, it can also be very crowded at this time.

How many days in Tokyo is enough? ›

How Much Time Should I Spend In Tokyo? If you had the time and money, you could spend a month in Tokyo and not feel that you were wasting your time. But, for most mortals with jobs and limited budgets, I'd suggest spending three or four days in Tokyo.

Is Kyoto or Tokyo cheaper? ›

Which city is cheaper, Kyoto or Tokyo? These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations. The average daily cost (per person) in Tokyo is $135, while the average daily cost in Kyoto is $72.

Is Tokyo or Seoul better? ›

The TZ Verdict on Seoul vs Tokyo

If you'd ask travellers who have been to both, some would say Seoul is better for first-time visitors. It's generally cheaper, after all, especially if you'll be travelling solo or with friends.

Is Japan cheaper than? ›

India is 60.3% cheaper than Japan.

Is 1000 yen a lot in Japan? ›

1,000 yen – This roughly equates to an American $10 bill and is the lowest value of any Japanese banknote in circulation. This bill is typically used by office workers to pay for lunch.

How much money do I need to enjoy Japan? ›

Sample daily budgets
Single TravelerTwo Travelers
Low Budget3,500 - 7,800 yen7,000 - 15,600 yen
Medium Budget8,800 - 18,500 yen13,600 - 28,000 yen
High Budgetover 18,500 yenover 28,000 yen
29 Nov 2021

How much money should I bring to Japan for a week? ›

The average price of a 7-day trip to Japan is $1,659 for a solo traveler, $2,690 for a couple, and $1,913 for a family of 4. Japan hotels range from $62 to $304 per night with an average of $105, while most vacation rentals will cost $140 to $520 per night for the entire home.

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