Last summer, we were given two weeks notice to pick a destination and plan a trip. It was stressful, it was crazy, but ultimately we chose Japan. I am so glad we did! Japan is an incredible and beautiful country with the friendliest people (and deer!). You’ll find bright lights and towering skyscrapers alongside serene well preserved ancient temples. These photos are just a small sampling of the most beautiful destinations in Japan!
1. The wild deer in Nara roam free and are protected heavily by the city. They’re pretty friendly so don’t be afraid to get up close and personal! It is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. Check out our guide to Nara HERE!
2. The iconic Tokyo Tower is currently the second tallest building in Japan at 1,092 feet tall! We saw this tower and the tallest building in Japan in the same day! Check out our adventures in Tokyo HERE!
3. Wandering through the streets of Kyoto sometimes felt like we were wandering through alleyways. We stumbled upon several shops and restaurants on our way to the Arashiyama Bamboo Garden.
4. It’s a long walk up to the most famous shrine in Nara. It’s lined on both sides with a variety of ancient concrete lanterns like these. It was one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan! The more skittish deer love to watch you walk by under the protection of these lanterns.
5. The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto is a huge draw for tourists- and with good reason! It’s also one of the most beautiful nature pictures of Japan- it’s iconic! If they didn’t have their pathways so clearly marked, I’d get lost in a heartbeat! This forest is also home to monkeys you can feed and get up close to. Check out our article to see all of the Once in a Lifetime Animal Experiences in Japan.
6. We spent our very first evening in Tokyo in the Akihabara neighborhood. We found a great little owl cafe and the best ramen and fried rice money can buy!
7. Navigating the subways in Tokyo isn’t the easiest thing but they sure are efficient! A JR Rail Pass is a great option for tourists and combined with a PASMO card, there was nothing stopping us from seeing everything Japan has to offer! For more information on getting around in Japan check out our Guide to the JR Rail Pass.
8. On board the Shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto we passed by tons of rice fields as picturesque as this one! This beautiful Japan countryside followed us for most of our train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto!
9. Nestled in a corner of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto are these little Jizo statues. It is said that they protect children and unborn children. I loved these little guys and really wanted to take them home! Check out everything we got to see and do in Kyoto HERE!
10. At the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto, you’ll find these fox statues standing guard holding a key. This shrine worships the god Inari and the fox is Inari’s messenger. If you stumble upon another shrine with fox statues, you’ll know which god the shrine worships!
11. The view from our hotel room on Tokyo Bay. On our trip we got to explore Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara but we also spent 3 days at this hotel. Why? Besides the gorgeous sunsets it offered each night, it was only a couple of short subway stops from Tokyo Disney! We spent three awesome days at the Disney parks and if you love Disney as much as I do, check out our Three Day Guide to Tokyo Disney!
12. Checking out the famous Tsujiki Fish Market in Tokyo! I don’t have a clue what any of these foods are- do you?!
Ready to start planning your trip to Japan? Check out our 7 and 10 day itineraries!
13. This was just one of the many many sushi places we ate at while in Japan. This one, Sushi-Nova, is nestled on the second floor of the main street in the Harajuku neighborhood in Tokyo. As you can see, we had no trouble finding the English button on these tablets! This is just one of the many reasons why Japan is amazing for American tourists. To check out our other reasons, check out this article HERE!
14. This is the view you get from the very top of the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan. It is 1,480 feet tall! I never fully grasped just how large Tokyo is until I saw this. It was kind of a foggy day but there were buildings for as far as the eye could see!
15. The Kasuga-Taisha shrine located in the heart of Nara park is a gorgeous site to visit! You can pay to go inside or just wander the grounds and pick up a few unique souvenirs.
16. This giant lantern is found in Asakusa neighborhood in Tokyo. It is close to the Sensoji Temple, which is Tokyo’s oldest temple!
17. Lining the streets on the way to Sensoji Temple are a variety of souvenir shops. There are also tons of food options! We stopped and picked up a dozen taiyakis which is a small spongey cake filled with a custard, chocolate or red bean paste. They’re typically shaped like a fish but down this street we found a variety of shapes including ones shaped like pagodas!
18. Wandering the streets of Akihabara at night. We found the atmosphere to be warm and welcoming. Thanks to all the bright lights, it barely felt like night time!
19. The Nijo castle in Kyoto is incredibly ornate! It costs around $6 to get in and we found it to be worth every penny. All of those colorful figures in the side of the building are hand carved!! And they’re everywhere! Parts of the building has been preserved like a museum and there are signs everywhere (in English) explaining what life was like around the time this castle was built. The grounds are beautiful and I highly recommend checking this out!
20. The lanterns at the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto. The wonderful thing about the shrines in Japan is most of them are open 24 hours and completely free. We saved this shrine to visit later in the day because we knew it was open 24 hours. What we didn’t know is this shrine features hundreds of beautiful red gates that take you on a hike to the top of a hill overlooking Kyoto. It is hands down one of the most beautiful spots in Japan! Since it was dark we didn’t get to make the hike but it’ll be number one on my list next time we make it back to Kyoto.
I hope you had as much fun getting to know beautiful Japan as I did sharing the sights with you!
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