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.
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3017.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3048.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3001.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3064.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html
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! https://enjoyniigata.com/en/spot/8332#
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. https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-museums/hamamatsu-museum-musical-instruments
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. https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/spot/castles/hamamatsu.html
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. http://travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/see-and-do/6/
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3303.html
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. https://visitgifu.com/see-do/gifu-kakamigahara-air-and-space-museum/
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. http://www.nagoya-info.jp/en/see/facilities/nagoya_castle.html
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. http://travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/see-and-do/2/
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. http://www.nagoya-info.jp/en/see/facilities/nagoya_city_science_museum.html
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. http://travel.kankou-gifu.jp/en/see-and-do/17/
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3314.html
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. https://enjoyniigata.com/en/spot/9012#
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3932.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3967.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3901.html
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. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3902.html
The Higashiyama District (東山) along the lower slopes of Kyoto's eastern mountains is one of the city's best preserved historic districts. It is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city. Recent renovations to remove telephone poles and repave the streets have further improved the traditional feel of the district.
The streets in Higashiyama are lined by small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries. These businesses retain their traditional design, although many have been renovated through the years, and they continue to serve customers today, selling local specialties such as Kiyomizu-yaki pottery, sweets, pickles, crafts and other souvenirs.
The shops and restaurants in the area typically open around nine or ten in the morning and close relatively early around five or six in the evening, except during the ten day long Hanatoro in March when the streets of Higashiyama are lined by thousands of lanterns and many of the area's temples, shrines and businesses have extended hours and special illuminations. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3959.html
Pontocho (先斗町, Pontochō) is one of Kyoto's most atmospheric dining areas. It is a narrow alley running from Shijo-dori to Sanjo-dori, one block west of Kamogawa River. The alley is packed with restaurants on both sides offering a wide range of dining options from inexpensive yakitori to traditional and modern Kyoto cuisine, foreign cuisine and highly exclusive establishments that require the right connections and a fat wallet.
Most of the restaurants along the eastern side of the alley overlook Kamogawa River. From May to September, many of them build temporary platforms over the flowing water where patrons can dine out in the open air. Known as kawayuka, this type of dining was developed as a way to beat the summer heat and is a great way to try some traditional Kyoto cuisine while taking in the cooling effects of the flowing water and the lively summer atmosphere. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3921.html
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha) is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
While the primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Shrine is to explore the mountain trails, the shrine buildings themselves are also attractive. At the shrine's entrance stands the Romon Gate, which was donated in 1589 by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Behind stands the shrine's main hall (honden) where visitors should pay respect to the resident deity by making a small offering. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html
Standing 131 meters tall just across from Kyoto Station, Kyoto Tower (京都タワー) is Kyoto's tallest structure and a rare modern iconic landmark in the city famous for its ancient temples and shrines. The tower was completed in 1964, the same year as the opening of the shinkansen and the Tokyo Olympics.
A viewing platform is located 100 meters above ground and affords a 360 degree view of Kyoto and as far as Osaka on clear days. Kyoto Tower stands on top of a typical commercial building, which contains souvenir shops, restaurants and a hotel, as well as a public bath in the basement. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3945.html
Nijo Castle (二条城, Nijōjō) was built in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Period (1603-1867). His grandson Iemitsu completed the castle's palace buildings 23 years later and further expanded the castle by adding a five story castle keep.
Nijo Castle can be divided into three areas: the Honmaru (main circle of defense), the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense) and some gardens that encircle the Honmaru and Ninomaru. The entire castle grounds and the Honmaru are surrounded by stone walls and moats.
Visitors to Nijo Castle enter the castle grounds through a large gate in the east. English audio guides are available for rent at a kiosk just inside the gate. Venturing further into the castle will bring you to the Chinese style Karamon Gate, the entrance to the Ninomaru (secondary circle of defense), where the castle's main attraction, the Ninomaru Palace is located. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3918.html
The image of the temple richly adorned in gold leaf reflects beautifully in the water of Kyokochi, the mirror pond.
It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto. Seen reflected in the adjoining "mirror pond" with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion," is a breathtaking must-see.
The building's first purpose was to serve the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1409) as a residence. The gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkakuji down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955 and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.
The temple's garden is also a scenic delight and contains in its grounds a charming teahouse. https://kyoto.travel/en/shrine_temple/165
Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺, Ryōanji) is the site of Japan's most famous rock garden, which attracts hundreds of visitors every day. Originally an aristocrat's villa during the Heian Period, the site was converted into a Zen temple in 1450 and belongs to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, whose head temple stands just a kilometer to the south.
As for the history of Ryoanji's famous rock garden, the facts are less certain. The garden's date of construction is unknown and there are a number of speculations regarding its designer. The garden consists of a rectangular plot of pebbles surrounded by low earthen walls, with 15 rocks laid out in small groups on patches of moss. An interesting feature of the garden's design is that from any vantage point at least one of the rocks is always hidden from the viewer. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3909.html
Tenryuji (天龍寺, Tenryūji) is the most important temple in Kyoto's Arashiyama district. It was ranked first among the city's five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. Tenryuji is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.
Tenryuji was built in 1339 by the ruling shogun Ashikaga Takauji. Takauji dedicated the temple to Emperor Go-Daigo, who had just passed away. The two important historical figures used to be allies until Takauji turned against the emperor in a struggle for supremacy over Japan. By building the temple, Takauji intended to appease the former emperor's spirits. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3913.html
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is one of Kyoto’s top sights and for good reason: standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world.
If you’ve been planning a trip to Kyoto, you’ve probably seen pictures of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove – along with the torii tunnels of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and Kinkaku-ji Temple, it’s one of the most photographed sights in the city. But no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of this sprawling bamboo grove – the whole thing has a palpable sense of otherness that is quite unlike that of any normal forest we know of.
The best way to explore the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is by following our Arashiyama Bamboo Grove Walking Tour, which outlines the best route to follow. https://www.insidekyoto.com/arashiyama-bamboo-grove
Asahi is one of Japan's top four beer producers and has its roots in Osaka. Its most well-known and internationally recognized product is Asahi Super Dry, a very light, crisp lager, which was launched in 1987. The Suita Factory (アサヒビール吹田工場, Asahi Beer Suita Kōjō) in Osaka is the company's first brewery, built in 1891.
Free brewery tours are offered at the Suita Factory which lasts about 90 minutes and includes a tasting session. Most tours are conducted in Japanese, while multilingual audio guides are available for download to one's mobile device. English tours are held only on a few selected days.
A typical tour starts with a video presentation of the Asahi products and continues to galleries with displays about the history of the company and the production process of beer. It then moves on to observation decks from where the brewery's canning, bottling and packing areas can be viewed from behind windows. Along the way, there are also promotional posters from past decades and a section showcasing the factory's collection of international beers. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4032.html
Minoo Park (箕面公園, Minō Kōen, also spelt Mino or Minoh) is a forested valley on the outskirts of Osaka, just north of the urban sprawl. During the fall, it is one of the best places in the Kansai Region to see the autumn colours in a natural setting, as opposed to the attractive fall foliage found at temples and gardens. The colours are usually best in the second half of November.
Similar to Tokyo's Mount Takao, Minoo Park is the closest spot to the busy metropolis of Osaka to find a spacious natural recreation area. The park can be reached in less than 30 minutes from the downtown Umeda area. Another similarity, Takao and Minoo were both given quasi-national park status in 1967 to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Meiji Period (1867-1912). https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4019.html