History / Culture / Tour Spots in Japan

  • Fushimi Inari Taisha
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    4.5
    24849 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Fushimi-ku Fukakusa Yabunouchi cho 68
    This shrine in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, is the head of all Inari Shrines in Japan, which total to around 30,000 shrines. The shrine is particularly famous for its vermillion lacquered Torii gate tunnels, as well as to parishioners visiting the god for business, harvest, and fortune. Many of the buildings on the grounds are also painted with brilliant vermillion lacquer including the front shrine, main shrine, and tower gate, which has been designated an Important Cultural Properties of Japan. The torii gate corridor, said to consist of several thousand to 10,000 torii gates, twists and turns making it quite the spectacle. Beyond that is the rear shrine as well as the entrance to Mt. Inari-san which is dotted with countless small burial mounds. It is one of the most famous spots in the Kansai region to visit for the annual New Year Shrine Visit and draws huge numbers of visitors every year.

    The defining shrine of Kyoto, Fushimi Inari is teeming with tourists & locals. The pathway behind the shrine comprises a 1000 toris or gates, going all the way to the top of Mount Inari. Sacred sites...

  • Osaka Castle
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    4.0
    7958 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Osaka Osakashi Chuou-ku Osakajou 1-1
    Osaka Castle was built by the Imperial Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi between 1583 and 1598. The castle was built on a magnificent scale, but was destroyed just 17 years later after the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the destruction of the Toyotomi clan in the Siege of Osaka in 1615. Thereafter, the castle was rebuilt by the Tokugawa shogunate under the command of Todo Takatora but was once again lost due to a fire caused by a lightning strike. The current castle tower is the third generation to stand here and was completed in 1931 through donations from local citizens. The interior of the castle is a history museum and visitors can enjoy information about the history of Osaka Castle and dioramas. The castle was registered as a national Tangible Cultural Property in 1997.

    Beautiful is the first thing you feel when you stand at the base of this castle. Perfection in construction when you walk around it and inside it. A couple hours minimum to see everything.

  • Nijojo Castle
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    4.5
    7072 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto City Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Nijyotoru Horikawa Western Nishi Nijo Castle Town 541
    This fortification was built in 1603 to lodge Tokugawa Ieyasu when he travelled to the capital after his victory at the Battle of Sekigahara. Later, the site was significantly renovated by the third shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, resulting in its present form. In addition to the entire grounds being a nationally designated Historic Site, the site is dotted with numerous historically valuable structures and beautiful sights, including the Ninomaru Palace, the outer citadel palace (a National Treasure), Honmaru Palace, the inner citadel palace (an Important Cultural Property), and Ninomaru Garden, the outer citadel palace garden (a Special Place of Scenic Beauty).

    Located a short walk away from the JR Nijo station, Nijo Castle is one of the landmarks in Kyoto. A nicely maintained castle, surrounded by impressive gardens.

  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
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    4.5
    7129 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Hiroshima Pref. Hiroshimashinakaku Nakajimachou 1-2
    This museum is located in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in Naka District, of Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture. It was founded with the objective of imparting the reality of the harm from the atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945, and the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the attainment of world peace. The museum is divided between the main building and the east building. Along with items that reveal the horrible spectacle and mementos of the bomb victims, the conditions of pre and post-bomb Hiroshima and an introduction to the nuclear era are introduced. The museum is remembered also by the 2016 visit of President Barak Obama, the first ever incumbent head of state of a nuclear power to visit the museum.

    Our top #1 site to visit while in Hiroshima! Full of the horrific graphic photos, damaged personal belongings and written descriptions of the impact of the atomic bomb, on the people, that hit...

  • Tōdai-ji
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    4.5
    5740 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1
    "Located in Nara City, as the head temple of the Kegon sect of Buddhism. The principal image is Vairocana Buddha, the symbol of Nara as the ""Great Buddha of Nara"". In 743, Emperor Shomu issued his imperial edict for the erection of the Great Buddha Image, and with the cooperation of many people, it was constructed in the hope that all would be happy. The temple grounds are dotted with the national treasures such as Nandai-mon (Great South Gate), Daibutsu-den (Great Buddha Hall), Bell Tower, and Hokke-do (Lotus Hall, Sangatsu-do). It is also known worldwide as one of Japan's most popular tourist spots and attracts many foreign tourists."

    Ok, this place was brutally crowded - like uncomfortably so - and I liked other shrines and halls on the grounds to the northwest of Todai-ji better. But the temple is just so historically important...

  • Jisho-ji Temple (Ginkaku-ji Temple)
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    4.5
    4663 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Ginkakujichou 2
    A mountain retreat modeled after the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Gold Pavillion Temple) built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, grandfather of the eighth Muromachi shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, in 1482. After Yoshimasa’s death, the villa was turned into a Rinzai Shokoku-ji school Zen Buddhist temple and, based on Yoshimasa’s posthumous name, the temple was named the Jishoji Temple. The Kannon Hall, commonly known as the Ginkaku (Silver Pavillion), is simple and elegant in its design; the Togu-do hall is the oldest extant example of ancient Japanese shoin-zukuri architecture and is designated a National Treasure.

    Near the Philosophers Path, was this temple. Very beautiful and calming. The gardens were well maintained. One of my favorite temples.

  • National Treasure Matsumoto Castle
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    4.5
    3675 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Marunouchi 4-1
    "Matsumoto Castle is said to feature Japan's oldest surviving five-storied six-floor pagoda. It is one of the few castles designated as a National Treasure, and maintains the image of the past. The black and white contrast of the castle rising amid the Alps in the background is beautiful, and the castle has become a symbol of Matsumoto City. In addition to the castle facilities of the Sengoku period, such as the stone drops meant to rebuff invaders, or samurai windows or the gun slits, there are exhibits such as the ""Matsumoto Castle Gunhouse"" centered around matchlock guns, and artifacts unearthed during the ninomaru palace excavation performed from 1979-1984. In the precinct, you'd do well to see the black gate with eave roof tiles marked with the family crests of historical castle lords, or the taiko gate which was restored in 1999."

    Beautiful castle and gardens, especially in cherry blossom season. The reflection of the castle on the water is stunning. Some of my tour group, including me, decided not to go in the castle as we...

  • Kotoku-in Temple (Kamakura Daibutsu)
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    4.5
    3085 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kanagawa Pref. Kamakurashi Hase 4-2-28
    A Pure Land Buddhist temple founded by the great priest Honen. The 11.3 meter tall, 121 ton giant copper Buddha statue known as the Kamakura Daibutsu, a National Treasure, is the temple’s principal object of worship and depicts a seated Amitabha. The original daibutsu was made of wood and was destroyed by a typhoon. The copper form of the current statue first began to be cast in 1252. This figure, too, was damaged by typhoons and earthquakes but was repaired each time, leading to its current excellent condition. The interior of the statue can be viewed and from here visitors can see evidence of the repairs that have been made.

    The image of the Great Buddha was one of the key drivers for the visit to Ksmakura. And the experience is incredible. You just look up in awe and pray with reverence.

  • Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
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    4.5
    1950 Reviews
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Tokyo Mitakashi Shimorenjaku 1-1-83 Metropolitan Inokashira Park In Saiten
    This is an animation art museum managed by Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki with a motto of “Let's get lost together.” In addition to displaying materials and storyboards of past Ghibli works, the museum always features various sections that will expand one's perception of animation such as the replicated animation studio and the screenings of short animated films made just for the museum. With a nostalgic building and a route that blends in greenery, this is a place that both adults and children can enjoy just as they please. Entry to the museum is only by reservation and the closest station is Mitaka Station.

    No photos allowed inside so ‘taken’ these from the official website. Hayao Miyazaki designed the Studio Ghibli Museum himself, using storyboards similar to the ones he creates for his films. Miyazaki...

  • Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center)
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    3.5
    681 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Tokyo Koutou-ku Ariake 3-11-1
    Located in the Ariake district of Tokyo's Koto City, this is Japan's largest convention center. It opened in 1996 and is used for various trade fairs and exhibitions throughout the year including business as well as cultural events. It is famous for hosting the Tokyo Motor Show and the Comic Market. The interior is mainly divided up into the Conference Tower, East Hall, East New Exhibition Hall, West Hall and Restaurant Avenue.

    Currently visiting this wonderful structure for a lengthy work assignment and Im blown away by how large, impressive and well-run it is.

  • Grand Torii
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    4.5
    3556 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Hiroshima Hatsukaichi-shi
    This huge torii gate serves as a symbol of Itsukushima Shrine, a Shinto shrine which is one of Japan’s most famous and which stands as an embodiment of ancient Heian period culture. The great ryobu-style wooden gate, situated out on the ocean, stands 16.6 meters above the surface of the water; its main pillars are 9.9 meters in circumference and its roof is 24.2 meters long. The current gate was rebuilt in 1875. The eighth gate built here counting from the Heian period, it is said that the search to find trees sufficiently large to construct it takes 20 years. About the same height as the great Daibutsu statue in Nara, the gate’s supports are not buried in the sea bottom; instead, the gate is affixed to the sea floor with pine stakes but otherwise simply stands via its own weight. Due to significant damage and deterioration, the gate has been undergoing major repairs to preserve it since June 2019.

    We visited Miyajima Island during the later afternoon. Arrived by fast ferry offered by the Hiiroshima World Heritage Sea Route (AKA Aqua Net Hiroshima). Where we departed from the bridge, near the...

  • Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine
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    4.0
    2100 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Fukuoka Pref. Dazaifushi Saifu 4-7-1
    The head shrine of 12,000 Shinto shrines across the country dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, known as the god of scholarship. The shrine’s origin lies in the deification of when Michizane, who passed away in this area in 903, was later deified and the main shrine building dedicated to him was erected in 919. The shrine’s charms, said to bring success in academic affairs, and paper talismans themed after the famous Tobiume plum tree said to have flown to the shrine in yearning for Michizane, are popular purchases among visitors. The best time to see the 6,000 Chinese plum trees on the shrine’s grounds is from the end of January to the beginning of March. A five-minute walk from Dazaifu Station.

    A nice temple, popular for students praying for good results. The temple was crowded with them. Of course selfie comes first. But in spite of the crowd, it is a nicely laid out complex. After walking...

  • Zenkoji Temple
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    4.5
    1982 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Naganomotoyoshichou 491-b
    "Located in Nagano City, this temple does not belong to any sect. Any sect is free to worship here, which has received veneration for having Japan's oldest Ikko Sanson Amida Nyorai as the main deity. During the Edo period, it was said that ""once in your life, visit Zenkoji Temple,"" The ""oasaji"" is performed every day during the sunrise. If you purchase a ticket for the inner sanctum, you can worship up close. The ""zenritsu honzon"" is performed once every seven years. About 15 minutes by bus from JR Nagano Station."

    If you’re anyway near Nagano you really must go and visit the temple. As well as being architecturally stunning, huge and impressive, it’s also a very soothing and spiritual place. All of the staff...

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
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    4.0
    58 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    A famous Buddhist temple located in Higashiyama Ward in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. The temple is said to have been started when the priest Enchin enshrined a thousand-armed statue of Kannon above the Otowa Waterfall in 778. The main temple nave enshrines a standing figure of an eleven-faced Kannon and is built in the elegant Shinden-zukuri style. The Kiyomizu Stage jutting out over the Cliffside offers a sweeping view of the streets of Kyoto and blooming cherry trees, verdant plant life, or autumn foliage depending on the season, making it a popular photo spot. The three channeled Otowa Waterfall is said to provide benefits such as long life and people line up to drink its waters. Bustling with students on a school excursion as well as tourists both domestic and international, the Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist sites.

    Its great fun watching everyone queueing for these three streams - which one will they want to go for? Apparently you should only choose one!

  • Atsuta Jingu (Atsuta Shrine)
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    4.0
    1771 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Aichi Pref. Nagoyashi Atsuta-ku Jingu 1-1-1
    This shrine located in Nagoya City’s Atsuta Ward has been known familiarly as “Atsuta Sama” since long ago. Reported to have been established in 113, it is revered as a Great Shrine ranking second only to Ise Jingu Shrine. The shrine is famous as a place that enshrines the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, one of the three sacred treasures that symbolize the Imperial throne. The approximately 190,000-square meter premises are thick with kusunoki (camphor trees) that have been living for more than one thousand years, and are scattered with numerous setsumatsu-sha (smaller shrines managed under the shrine). There are numerous events and festivals held at the shrine including Hatsu Ebisu on January 5, and it is constantly bustling with visitors for Shichi-Go-San (shrine visit by children aged 7, 5 and 3), omiya-mairi (the first shrine visits by babies) and even Hatsu Mode (the first shrine visit of New Year).

    It was raining quite heavily when we arrived here, plus we were under a time crunch, so didnt get to do/see as much as we wanted. We did see, however, the small museum on site and the beautiful and...

  • Byodoin
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    4.5
    1647 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Ujishi Uji Renge 116
    A Buddhist temple located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture that was founded in 1052 when Fujiwara no Michinaga, the father of Fujiwara no Yorimichi, turned a villa he had inherited into a temple. Due to the pessimism of the time which believed the world was coming to an end, Pure Land Buddhism grew in popularity, and the temple’s hall was designed to recreate the Western Paradise, a key aspect of the faith. The luxurious hall enshrines a seated figure of Amitabha created by the Buddhist sculptor Jocho. Most of the original temple excluding the main hall, Kannon hall, and bell tower were destroyed by fire. In the Byodoin Museum Hoshokan, however, visitors can view a Chinese Phoenix depicted on the ceiling and temple bell (National Treasures) as well as 26 of the 52 floating bodhisattva figures suspended from the ceiling of the main hall.

    I visited Byodoin Jinja early April 2023. While the cherry blossoms had bloomed early here in UJi a fair amount were still at close to full bloom. In addition there was lovely blooming lavender on...

  • Sapporo Clock Tower
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    3.5
    2657 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Hokkaido Sapporoshi Chuou-ku Kitaichijounishi 2-chome Former Sapporo Agricultural College Demonstration Center
    The clock tower familiarly, called “Sapporo Clock Tower” was originally constructed as a drill hall for the former Sapporo Agricultural College, the predecessor of Hokkaido University. Originally there was no bell tower but only a mechanism of pulling a rope to ring a small bell, however, the bell tower was constructed in 1881 under the direction of the Governor Kiyotaka Kuroda and since then a Howard pendulum type clock has been in use. It is about 10 minutes on foot from the nearest Odoori Station. The first floor serves as a museum displaying the history of the clock tower and on the second floor you can experience the atmosphere of the historic drill hall and view the workings of the clock.

    Definitely part of the city tour. There’s so much history in this small building. The clock tower that is actually still working takes the cake. They are giving away freebies such as CD’s and...

  • Rokuon-ji Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple)
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    4.5
    28 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Kinkakujichou 1
    This temple began when third generation shogun of the Muromachi shogunate Ashikaga Yoshimitsu inherited the Saionji family's mountain villa and called the villa “Kitayamadono.” After his death it was changed into a Zen temple named “Rokuonji.” The reliquary hall is a three-story building shining beautifully in gold and looks pretty reflected in the Kyokoike (mirror pond). This brilliant architecture was a symbol of Kitayama culture but burned down in a 1950 fire, then was rebuilt in 1955. In 1994 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    It was nice to sit quietly and have a bowl of matcha tea and a sweet while finishing our visit at kinkaku-ji. It wasnt busy at all despite the huge crowds at the temple and the tea was lovely.

  • Zojoji Temple
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    4.0
    2186 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Tokyo Minato-ku Shibakouen 4-7-35
    This temple that belongs to the Jodo sect is located in Shiba Park in Tokyo’s Minato City and is situated close to the base of Tokyo Tower. Zojoji Temple was founded by the monk Yuyo Shoso shonin in 1393 as an orthodox and fundamental nembutsu seminary for the Jodo sect. It used to be a large-scale temple with more than 120 buildings and more than 100 dormitories, and structures such as the Important Cultural Property Sangedatsumon (Three Gates of Liberation) that escaped damage from the war and the reconstructed main hall give an indication of the temple’s former glory. Tokyo Tower can be seen in the background behind the main hall, making this a popular photo spot. Inside the temple is the mausoleum of the Tokugawa family which contains six of the 15 Tokugawa shoguns.

    Zojo-ji Temple is located adjacent to Shiba Park, a short walk from the Tokyo Prince Hotel and the Tokyo Tower. The temple is peaceful and less crowded than many other attractions in Tokyo. The...

  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine
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    4.5
    1789 Reviews
    Travel / Tourism
    Nara Pref. Narashi Kasuganochou 160
    This is a Shinto shrine located in Nara City. Kasuga Taisha Shrine is the grand head shrine of approximately 1,000 Kasuga shrines nationwide. The origins to the shrine lie in the early days of the Nara period, when Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto from Kashima-jingu Shrine was enshrined at Mt. Mikasa. The main shrine of the Kasuga structure which is a National Treasure has four buildings lined up, and in addition to the majestic and splendid south Gate and middle gate, there are many things such as fine and industrial art objects which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties. The Bantoro Festival (Lantern Festival) event is held on the day of Setsubun (Bean throwing night) and on the 14th and 15th of August when around 3,000 stone lanterns and hanging lanterns are lit with fire, and many worshipers come to look at this magical sight.

    If you are in Nara its definitely worth visiting this shrine. The lanterns are fantastic and so plentiful. There is an indoor area with lit lanterns which is really spectacular. It wasnt as crowded...

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