Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man made island in Tokyo Bay. It originated as a set of small man made fort islands (daiba literally means "fort"), which were built towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to protect Tokyo against possible attacks from the sea and specifically in response to the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry. More than a century later, the small islands were joined into larger islands by massive landfills, and Tokyo began a spectacular development project aimed to turn the islands into a futuristic residential and business district during the extravagant 1980s. But development was critically slowed after the burst of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s, leaving Odaiba nearly vacant. It was not until the second half of the 1990s, when several hotels, shopping malls and the Yurikamome elevated train line were opened, that Odaiba developed into one of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions and date spots with a wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options.
Despite the initial setbacks, several lavish development projects did materialize, including some of Tokyo's boldest architectural creations, such as the Fuji TV Building, Telecom Center and Tokyo Big Sight. Modern city planning furthermore provides Odaiba with plenty of green space and a pleasant division of motorized and pedestrian traffic using elevated walkways and the like.
Hama Rikyu (浜離宮, Hama Rikyū), is a large, attractive landscape garden in central Tokyo. Located alongside Tokyo Bay, Hama Rikyu features seawater ponds which change level with the tides, and a teahouse on an island where visitors can rest and enjoy the scenery. The traditionally styled garden stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers of the adjacent Shiodome district.
The garden has served many purposes over the centuries. It was originally built as a feudal lord's Tokyo residence and duck hunting grounds during the Edo Period (1603-1867), but later served as a strolling garden and as an imperial detached palace before eventually being opened to the public in its current form. Vestiges of these old roles are still visible throughout the garden including several reconstructed duck hunting blinds, and the remains of an old moat and reconstructed rock wall.
Hama Rikyu is attractive in any season. Although not as famous for its fall foliage as some of the other gardens around Tokyo, it offers plenty of maple, ginkgo and other trees that show their beautiful autumn colors between late November and early December.
Sensoji (浅草寺, Sensōji, also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is one of Tokyo's most colorful and popular temples. The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built nearby for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple.
When approaching the temple, visitors first enter through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji Temple and the symbol of Asakusa and the entire city of Tokyo.
Various events are held throughout the year in the Sensoji Temple area. The biggest of them is the Sanja Matsuri, the annual festival of the Asakusa Shrine, held in May. Other events are the Asakusa Samba Carnival in August and the Hagoita-ichi (Hagoita Market) at which decorated wooden paddles used in the traditional game of hanetsuki are sold.
The current Imperial Palace (皇居, Kōkyo) is located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls in the center of Tokyo, a short walk from Tokyo Station. It is the residence of Japan's Imperial Family.
Edo Castle used to be the seat of the Tokugawa shogun who ruled Japan from 1603 until 1867. In 1868, the shogunate was overthrown, and the country's capital and Imperial Residence were moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. In 1888 construction of a new Imperial Palace was completed. The palace was once destroyed during World War Two, and rebuilt in the same style, afterwards.
From Kokyo Gaien, the large plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, visitors can view the Nijubashi, two bridges that form an entrance to the inner palace grounds. The stone bridge in front is called Meganebashi (Eyeglass Bridge) for its looks. The bridge in the back was formerly a wooden bridge with two levels, from which the name Nijubashi (Double Bridge) is derived.
The Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー) is a television broadcasting tower and landmark of Tokyo. It is the centerpiece of the Tokyo Skytree Town in the Sumida City Ward, not far away from Asakusa. With a height of 634 meters (634 can be read as "Musashi", a historic name of the Tokyo Region), it is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest in the world at the time of its completion. A large shopping complex with aquarium is located at its base.
The highlight of the Tokyo Skytree is its two observation decks which offer spectacular views out over Tokyo. The two enclosed decks are located at heights of 350 and 450 meters respectively, making them the highest observation decks in Japan and some of the highest in the world.
Koishikawa Korakuen (小石川後楽園, Koishikawa Kōrakuen) is one of Tokyo's oldest and best Japanese gardens. It was built in the early Edo Period (1600-1867) at the Tokyo residence of the Mito branch of the ruling Tokugawa family. Like its namesake in Okayama, the garden was named Korakuen after a poem encouraging a ruler to enjoy pleasure only after achieving happiness for his people. Koishikawa is the district in which the garden is located in.
Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社, Yasukuni Jinja) is a Shinto shrine in central Tokyo that commemorates Japan's war dead. The shrine was founded in 1869 with the purpose of enshrining those who have died in war for their country and sacrificed their lives to help build the foundation for a peaceful Japan.
Tsukishima (月島, lit. moon island) is a man made island in Tokyo Bay, just across the channel from Tsukiji fish market. It was created over 100 years ago using earth that was dredged from the bay during the construction of a shipping channel.
In the last few decades, areas of the island were redeveloped into residential high-rise complexes; however, you can still find remnants of the atmosphere of old Tokyo if you poke around the back alleys and lanes, especially around Sumiyoshi Shrine.
The Tokyo State Guest House (迎賓館, Geihinkan) is one of two state guest houses of the Japanese government alongside another one in Kyoto. Contained within the Akasaka Imperial Estate in central Tokyo, the Tokyo State Guest House serves to accommodate world leaders, diplomats and other guests of honor during their visits to Japan. When not in use, sections of the grand estate are open to the public, with visitors able to explore some of the opulent rooms, picturesque gardens and the Japanese-style annex.
Tsukiji Outer Market is a district adjacent to the site of the former Tsukiji Wholesale Market. It consists of a few blocks of wholesale and retail shops, as well as restaurants crowded along narrow lanes. Here you can find fresh and processed seafood and produce alongside food-related goods such as knives. A visit to Tsukiji Outer Market is best combined with a fresh sushi breakfast or lunch at one of the local restaurants. The restaurants are typically open from 5:00 in the morning to around noon or early afternoon. Because most of the fish served and sold at Tsukiji Outer Market is delivered directly from Toyosu Market, this is one of the best places in Tokyo to enjoy fresh seafood.
Akihabara (秋葉原), also called Akiba after a former local shrine, is a district in central Tokyo that is famous for its many electronics shops. In more recent years, Akihabara has gained recognition as the center of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, and many shops and establishments devoted to anime and manga are now dispersed among the electronic stores in the district. On Sundays, Chuo Dori, the main street through the district, is closed to car traffic from 13:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from October through March).
Akihabara has been undergoing major redevelopment over the years, including the renovation and expansion of Akihabara Station and the construction of new buildings in its proximity. Among these newly opened buildings were a huge Yodobashi electronics store and the Akihabara Crossfield, a business complex with the aim of promoting Akihabara as a center for global electronics technology and trade.
The Chiba Zoological Park, first opened in April 1985, is located about halfway between Tokyo and Narita, just outside of the city of Chiba.
The zoo is divided into seven sections: the Zoological Hall, the Small Animal Zone, the Steppe Zone, the Monkey Zone, the Avian and Aquatic Zone, the Ancestors of Domestic Animals Zone, and the Children’s Zoo. The Small Animal Zone houses Futa, the red panda who in 2005 became a television celebrity because of his ability to stand on his hind legs. His son, Kuta, now has the same ability, so you have twice the chance to see the spectacle when you stop by! The park map has pictures of the animals (at their locations), so there is no need to worry if you cannot get ahold of an English map.
If you can, it is extra special to visit the zoo between mid-March and mid-April, when the many cherry blossom trees onsite are in full bloom!
The Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Kōen) offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys. Visitors will likely already encounter monkeys along the path to the pool. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests.
One of the Three Great Gorges of Japan. Gigantic stone cliffs straddle a river, forming a large, V-shaped gorge. The grand rock surface and strong current of the river in combination are both dynamic and beautiful. The facilities were renovated in the spring of 2018. A two-story building with a cafe on the first floor and foot bath on the second floor is now in operation right next to the tunnel entrance.
500 thousand sunflowers bloom broadly in this 4-hectare field. The children's sunflower maze inside the field is one popular attraction. Guests can get a panoramic view of the sunflower field from the observation platform, where they can surely take photos that they will like. Outdoor stalls line the plaza area, energizing the entire venue.
Saifukuji has 500 years of history. Many visit the temple because of Ishikawa Uncho's artwork -- sculpture, paintings, and lacquer craftworks. All of his works are wonderful, especially the colourful sculpture on the ceiling. Please come and see them with your own eyes!
There are many rice terraces in Tokamachi. If you only have time to see one, we recommend the Hoshitoge Rice Terraces. If you visit early in the morning, you may be able to see the sea of clouds drifting into the valley. In summer the whole landscape turns shades of bright green, and in winter, the rice terrace is covered with snow. You can enjoy various beautiful landscapes depending on the season and time.
An impressive 55m waterfall framed by a steep basalt wall on each side, where thundering water crashes onto the large boulders below. The most popular season is spring when the snowmelt from the mountain flows down and causes the volume of water to increase dramatically, but we would also invite you to take a look in the fall season when the leaves have changed colours. There is a pedestrian deck overlooking waterfall, and it is about 15 minutes on foot from the nearest parking area. Come and feel the power at the basin of the waterfalls from the observation area.
The Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture is a must-see if you are living in or just visiting the city. Located close to Hamamatsu Station in the Seminar & Exchange Center of the Act City complex, the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments (Tel: 053 451 1128; 400 yen) showcases the city's long connection with the production of musical instruments by exhibiting a collection of diverse instruments from all over the world.
The first Japanese European-style piano was made in Hamamatsu over 100 years ago and now the city is one of the world's foremost production centers for instruments made by Yamaha and Kawai, including pianos, synthesizers and electronic keyboards.
With help from Yamaha, the Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments has gathered over 1300 musical instruments, some of them extremely rare and valuable pieces.
Hamamatsu Castle (Hamamatsu-jo) was where the founding shogun of the Edo period (1603-1868), Tokugawa Ieyasu, lived for 17 years before he became ruler of Japan. As he lived in the castle during the time when he began a war for the purpose of uniting the whole country, it was also named the Castle of Advancement.
Renovated in June 2018, its nickname is "Umigatari." The aquarium has more Magellanic penguins than any other in Japan, and you can see them up close! You can also watch the dolphins' exciting jumps against the backdrop of the great Sea of Japan. It's full of attractions to see.
Korankei (香嵐渓, Kōrankei) is a valley near Nagoya reputed to be one of the best spots for autumn colours in the Chubu Region. Shaping the valley is the 254 meters tall Mount Iimori, on which Kojakuji Temple stands. In the 17th century, the head priest of Kojakuji planted some maple trees along with the temple approach, prompting many locals to do the same in the area. Today, visitors to Korankei can see the fruits of these past efforts, in the form of excellent autumn scenery that peaks around mid to late November each year.
The best colours tend to appear around the paths along Tomoe River at the western and southern sides of Mount Iimori. Visitors can enjoy lovely sights of maple tree tunnels and autumn colours in combination with views of the river and the few bridges across it. The vermillion Taigetsukyo Bridge is the symbol of Korankei and a great picture-taking spot.
Located at the center of the castle town, the three main streets that make up the most popular part of Takayama's Historic District served as a bustling merchant town in times past. This area is referred to as "Sanmachi-dori," and it is distinguishable by the distinctive, old architecture and shops that remain to this day.
Niigata boasts sake, rice, and fish that can compete with the best in the nation as well as specialty products and traditional crafts. You can find all of these for sale at Niigata Furusato Village. What’s more, there are a whopping 10,000 products available!
Fukushimagata Wetlands is a vast nature reserve stretching over 193 hectares. It is home to a number of endangered species of animals and plants and is listed on Japan’s 100 greatest natural environments. The park is a paradise for bird and plant lovers.
In spring, the carpet of rapeseed flowers is impressive. Indulge yourself in the vivid yellow colour and scent of the flowers while listening to birds singing. In summer, giant pink lotus flowers are in bloom. The rarely seen Euryale ferox, a massive lotus with two-metre leaves and thorns, can be found here. In winter, the snowy scene of the wetlands with migratory swans is a favourite.
Along with flocks of swans, the greatest concentration of Eastern Taiga Bean geese, a recognised national natural treasure, resides here. Fukushimagata Wetlands is also designated as a wildlife sanctuary for the Japanese white crucian carp.
During the Edo Period (1600-1868), Nagoya served as the seat of the Owari, one of the three major branches of the ruling Tokugawa family. The family amassed great wealth that was only surpassed by four of the 200 feudal domains of the Edo Period. The Tokugawa Art Museum (徳川美術館, Tokugawa Bijutsukan) was built on the grounds of the Owari's former feudal residence and preserves and exhibits several of their treasures including samurai armour and swords, tea utensils, noh masks and costumes, poems, scrolls and maps.
Explore the museum that exhibits an extensive number of aircraft, aircraft-related materials, and materials related to the development of space technology.
Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum is the museum representing Japan in both air and space. It re-opened on March 24th, 2018, with an exhibition area of 9,400 square meters—1.7 times larger than its original size. The museum has been rebuilt into an educational environment that tells stories of our ancestors’ aspirations to fly in air and space; it also holds the power to inspire children to take on unthinkable challenges. The ”Aviation Area” of the museum is filled with the history and stories concerning humans’ development of aviation technology, while the "Space Area" contains stories about humanity’s challenges into space and information on the latest space technology. In addition to the above exhibition areas, the museum café and gift shop were also renovated allowing for an even greater experience than ever before. Educational programs and tours are planned to be held on a regular basis.
In 1610, Ieyasu Tokugawa began construction of Nagoya Castle as a castle residence for his son Yoshinao. It was lost to flames during WWII, but the large donjon (approx. 48 m) with golden "shachi" ornaments adorning its roof and the small donjon (approx. 24 m) was rebuilt in 1959. In the large, five-story donjon, sliding door murals which are an important cultural property and historical information are displayed; and on the third to fifth floors, you can see a full-scale replica of a golden shachi ornament, experience the pulling of stones used in the castle's construction as well as riding in a palanquin, and come to know the sights and sounds of life within the castle and the castle town. Anyone can enjoy themselves as they learn the history of Nagoya Castle and the city it resides in.
A new building housing "Brother Earth", a 35-meter-diameter dome planetarium, was opened in March 2011. The planetarium is the largest in the world. Also, be sure to check out our four large-scale exhibitions featuring an aurora film shown in a -30°C and a 9-meter tall manmade tornado! These attractions are highly entertaining and allow museum visitors to experience the power of nature. Additionally, the building itself acts as an exhibit through the use of solar power, green walls, visible earthquake-resistant structures and elevator mechanisms.
Hidden away deep in the mountains is this quaint settlement in Shirakawa Village that is famous for its ”gassho-zukuri” houses whose grand roofs resemble hands clasped in prayer. Many of these houses are still inhabited to this day, and together with their adjacent rice paddies, they paint an incredibly picturesque landscape that is a joy to behold and to take a stroll through.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll in a traditional Japanese garden. In the centre of the garden is a pond that replicates the Kiso River, originating from the Kiso-Ontakesan flowing into the large sea of Ise Bay. A Japanese tea ceremony house Seiutei is available in the garden to try green tea with Japanese confectionery.
Standing atop Mt. Kinka, Gifu Castle was the home base of one of Japan's great military commanders, Nobunaga Oda, and was said to be unassailable. The Japanese armor and swords exhibited in the castle are very impressive as well.
Opened in 2011, the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is the railway museum of Central Japan Railways (JR Central). The museum seeks to educate visitors on the advances in high speed rail in Japan and displays a number of actual trains including historic steam locomotives, world record setting experimental shinkansen (bullet train) and the latest magnetic levitating trains (maglev).
A collection of 39 retired train cars are displayed in the museum. Many of these can be entered or viewed from underneath, and are accompanied by a host of exhibits explaining the different parts of the trains and all aspects of their operation and maintenance. Another section of the museum is dedicated to maglev trains and JR Central's plans to construct a maglev high speed link between Tokyo and Osaka. The second floor of the museum also has lots of learning experiences, which are specifically geared toward young children.
Legoland Japan opened in April 2017 in Nagoya. The outdoor amusement park has many attractions aimed at young children and some attractions of interest to accompanying adults. Visitors can expect large Lego models, rides, building stations and dining areas.
The amusement park is separated into seven themed areas, matching the different universes in the Lego world. Right in the middle of the park is "Miniland Japan" which highlights the iconic attractions across the entire country and is constructed out of millions of Lego bricks. Here you can find Kyoto, Tokyo and Mount Fuji just a few steps away from one another. The rotating Observation Tower not far from Miniland offers a bird's eye view of the park and its surroundings.
Nagashima Resort is a major vacation destination just outside Nagoya. It is comprised of five main leisure facilities: the Nagashima Spaland amusement park, a water park, a hot spring complex, an outlet shopping mall and a flower park named Nabana no Sato. The resort is located on a long piece of land that is surrounded by rivers and the sea; fittingly, it is called Nagashima or "long island".
Nagashima Spaland, reputed to be the best amusement park for roller coasters in western Japan, is the main attraction of the resort. The park is filled with over forty rides, ranging from gentle ones suitable for children to outrageous ones for those looking to spend some exhilarating moments. Immediately noticeable even before entering the main gate is the Steel Dragon 2000, a gigantic roller coaster ride which spans the entire length of the park.
The Sado Gold Mine was the largest gold and silver mine in Japan. It has a 400-year heritage spanning economic ups and downs from its opening in 1601 to its closure in 1989. The industrial remains of the gold mine including tunnels and mining infrastructure are designated both as a national treasure and as part of Japan’s Heritage of Industrial Modernisation. The site is a nominated candidate to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The remains of the gold mine are a popular location for history enthusiasts. The abandoned buildings remind visitors of Hayao Miyazaki's movie “Castle in the Sky”. Visitors can spend all day here to exploring the site’s photogenic scenery.
The gold mine offers two routes that visitors can explore (no reservation is required, each route takes 30 to 40 minutes). These routes are open every day. Large groups or anyone particularly interested in the history of the mine can make a reservation for one of two guided tours. The guided tours are available from April to November and take about 100 minutes. One is available for groups of over 10 people, the other is only for visitors over 13 years.
Ohara (大原, Ōhara) is a rural town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto, about one hour from Kyoto Station, but still technically located within Kyoto's city limits. Ohara is best known for Sanzenin Temple and particularly popular in mid November during the autumn leaf season, which typically occurs about one week earlier than in central Kyoto.
The most famous tea plantations in Wazuka are in Ishitera. It was designated and registered as the first of the Scenic Property of Kyoto Prefecture. This tea field photo is used in many different tea places as a promotion in Kyoto. It takes about 10~15 minutes to walk there from the nearest bus stop ‘Wazuka Takahashi’. Among the tea fields there are new houses and old houses where people. There are spots for cherry blossoms and tea fields which go through winter in spring.
Kurama (鞍馬) is a rural town in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, less than one hour from the city center. Kurama is best known for its temple Kurama-dera and its hot spring, one of the most easily accessible hot springs from Kyoto.
Outdoor and indoor baths can be enjoyed at Kurama Onsen, a ryokan located at the upper end of the town of Kurama. It can be reached in a 10 minute walk from the train station along the town's only road or along a nature trail following the river. Staying guests can use the baths for free, while daytrippers pay 2500 yen to use all of the baths or 1000 yen for just the outdoor bath (rotemburo).
Kibune (貴船) is a small town in a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto City, which developed around Kifune Shrine. According to legend, a goddess traveled in a boat from Osaka all the way up the river into the mountains north of Kyoto, and Kifune Shrine was built at the site where her boat journey had come to an end.
Kifune Shrine is dedicated to the god of water and rain and believed to be the protector of those at sea. Here you can obtain a unique type of fortune written on paper slips (omikuji) that reveal their messages when dipped into water. Okunomiya, the inner sanctum and original site of Kifune Shrine, lies about one kilometer further up the valley. It has a large rock, known as the boat stone, which is said to be where the goddess' yellow boat is buried.
The rest of the town is made up by traditional styled ryokan and restaurants that line the narrow road for a few hundred meters parallel to Kibune River. It is a popular retreat from Kyoto's famed summer heat, but is also well visited in autumn when the leaves change.
Kiyomizudera ("Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Part of the fun of visiting Kiyomizudera is the approach to the temple along the steep and busy lanes of the atmospheric Higashiyama District. The many shops and restaurants in the area have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries, and products on sale range from local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets and pickles to the standard set of souvenirs.
The Higashiyama district together with Kiyomizudera, Yasaka Shrine and other temples in the area, have special evening illuminations during the annual Hanatoro event held in mid March. Kiyomizudera also has special illuminations during the autumn leaf season in the second half of November.
Maruyama Park (円山公園, Maruyama Kōen) is a public park next to Yasaka Shrine in the Higashiyama District. In the first half of April, when the cherry trees are in full bloom, the park becomes Kyoto's most popular and most crowded spot for cherry blossom viewing parties (hanami). The centerpiece of the park is a tall shidarezakura (weeping cherry tree), which gets lit up in the night.
Maruyama Park can be reached by bus from Kyoto Station in about 20 minutes. Take number 100 or 206 and get off at Gion bus stop. The park is just behind Yasaka Shrine. Alternatively, the park can be reached in a 15+ minute walk from Kiyomizudera through the narrow lanes of the Higashiyama District.
Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.
Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.
The most popular area of Gion is Hanami-koji Street from Shijo Avenue to Kenninji Temple. A nice (and expensive) place to dine, the street and its side alleys are lined with preserved machiya houses many of which now function as restaurants, serving Kyoto style kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine) and other types of local and international meals.