Why travel to Japan? 20 best reasons to visit it

A Shinkansen In the Tokaido Shinkansen Line passing near Mount fuji

There are a endless number of reasons to visit Japan, as the country has something to entice almost every kind of traveler.

Whether you’re dying to explore Japanese history and culture at the variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, indulge in diverse Japanese cuisine, or experience a ride on the lighting-fast Shinkansen trains, a trip to Japanese promises adventure around every corner.

From the chance to visit some of the many impressive temples and castles around the country, to the opportunity to take a dip in an Onsen hot spring, below you’ll find the 20 best reasons why you should visit Japan.

It’s easy to get around on public transportation

Japan has one of the most efficient and reliable public transport systems in the world, with a wide range of travel options including bus, train, and subway services across the country.

Joetsu Shinaksen E4 series

One of the best ways to get between cities is to ride the Shinkansen bullet trains, which can reach a speed of up to 300 km/h and boast a range of luxury services onboard. The most cost-efficient way to travel by Shinkansen is to buy a JR Pass online before traveling to Japan.

Japan is very clean

The Japanese really pride themselves on their cleanliness, and upon first arrival in the country you may be surprised by how sparkling clean the streets are.

Hotels and restaurants tend to be absolutely spotless, filled with pleasant smells, and regularly and efficiently cleaned. One downside is that there tends to be a total absence of trash cans in public spaces. However, you can just follow the Japanese example and carry garbage with you until you find a place to get rid of it later on.

Japanese people are polite and friendly

The Japanese have a worldwide reputation for being uncommonly polite, friendly, and welcoming. Although the language barrier may prove a challenge at times, people in Japan usually try to be as helpful as possible if you ask anything of them.

Is Japan safe to travel?

It’s a good idea to brush up on Japanese etiquette tips before traveling: locals will appreciate your efforts to respect local customs!

The incredible natural landscapes

Although Japan is perhaps best known internationally for its technologically advanced cities, the majority of the country is actually taken up by a vast expanse of forested hills and mountains, and there is lots of nature to explore.

One of the most obvious beauty spots to visit is the iconic Mount Fuji, but you shouldn’t rule out a visit to lesser known natural gems such as the Arashiyama bamboo forest or the Ritsurin landscape gardens on Shikoku Island.

The large number of UNESCO sites

Japan boasts a total of 21 World Heritage Sites, including 17 cultural monuments and 4 natural landscapes, and there are currently 8 more sites pending UNESCO classification.

Toshogu shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Toshogu Shrine is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nikko

Travelers interested in Japanese history should definitely pay a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, which commemorates the victims of the 1945 atomic bomb, as well as Shirakawago and Gokayama, historic villages which feature unique thatched-roof dwellings.

The majestic temples in Japan

There are number of stunning historic temples and shrines in almost every town and city in Japan, while larger cultural centers can have up to 1,000 temples within their municipality.

One of the most impressive temples in Japan is the Byodoin Buddhist temple in Uji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back over a thousand years. The Toji temple in Kyoto, which boasts the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan and an extensive garden full of cherry trees, is also well worth visiting.

The unique castles

Visitors to Japan can dig deep into the country’s history by exploring the elegant architecture and fascinating family legacies of Japanese castles.

Hirosaki Castle during the sakura

Primarily serving as the homes for local feudal lords and their family during the Sengoku period of Japanese history, the castles in Japan are defined by their elegant façades and interiors, as well as extensive defensive features.

Some of the most impressive castles in Japan include the well-preserved Hikone castle, which dates back to 1622, and the castle in Himeji.

The spectacular cherry blossom season

Japan is one of the best places in the world to view the spring cherry blossom and attend a Cherry blossom festival.

Once the cherry blossom season peaks in April, locals and visitors alike flock to Japanese parks and gardens to engage in hanami (picnics beneath the cherry trees). Some of the best places to experience the blooming flowers include Hirosaki Castle Park and Shinjuku Gyoen, located in the heart of Tokyo.

The exciting summer festivals

If you’re visiting Japan during the summer months, you should plan to experience some of the colourful Matsuri festivals which take place all over the country.

Obon festival: floating lanterns (toro nagashi)

These traditional celebrations pay tribute to legendary historical events and different deities connected to an individual shrine in the towns where they take place. Many Matsuri festivals feature processions of enormous floats, colorful parades, and spectacular fireworks shows.

Christmas in Japan is magical

Spending in Christmas in Japan is worth the effort just to experience the range of extravagant winter illuminations that saturate the city streets during the festive period.

Those planning to spend winter in Japan are also advised to visit the Sapporo snow festival in Hokkaido, where you can see a range of incredible ice sculptures, many based on well-known pop culture characters.

The world-class powder snow

Winter sports enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the chance to go snowboarding and skiing in Japan at one of the many resorts across the country, as Japanese powder snow is considered some of the best in the world.

Kiroro Ski Resort, Hokkaido
Kiroro Ski Resrot – Photo credits: Kiroro Hotels Co.

Many of the best ski resorts in Japan are located on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, such as Furano, Rusutsu, and Niseko, as well as in the Japanese Alps on Honshu.

The chance to bathe in a natural hot spring

Onsens are Japanese hot spring baths filled with mineral-rich spring water heated by geothermal forces, somewhat like a natural Jacuzzi.

Onsen baths have been present all over Japan since at least the 8th Century, when the belief that hot springs had curative and rejuvenating powers was at its height. Taking a bath in an onsen is an incredibly relaxing experience, and popular with both Japanese locals and tourists.

The superb Japanese cuisine

Food is incredibly important in Japanese culture, and while in the country you’ll be able to sample a huge range of the many delicious dishes that make up Japanese cuisine.

Toyosu Market - Fish stalls

From worldwide favorites like sushi and ramen, to Sukiyaki (beef hot pot) and Yakiniku (Japanese barbeque), there are an endless number of dishes in Japan guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Japan is also the country with the most 3-star Michelin restaurants in the world, and there are are also a number of Matsuri food and drink festivals you can experience during your trip.

The fantastic architecture

You’ll be able to take in some incredible modern architecture while in the major Japanese cities, such as the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in the capital.

You can also find some exquisite examples of traditional Japanese architecture all over the country, such as the majestic Ise shrines on the Shima Peninsula.

The advanced technology

From futuristic capsule hotels with complimentary tablets, to high-tech public toilets, advanced technology is in full display in every corner of Japan’s cities.

Alfa X Shinkansen cabin
Inside the driver’s cabin of the Alfa X Shinkansen

If you feel like getting an inside look at technological advancements in Japan, pay a visit to the permanent robotics exhibitions at Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo’s Odaiba district.

Japan is a Mecca for manga and anime lovers

If you first fell in love with Japan through manga and anime, you’re bound to be in heaven during a visit to Tokyo, which boasts a number of anime-themed experiences.

Visit J-World Tokyo, an indoor amusement park based around popular manga characters, the One Piece Tower, or the Pokémon Mega Center Tokyo, a huge store which offers a range of Pokémon merchandise exclusive to Japan.

It’s the home of Studio Ghibli

Fans of classic Japanese animation films like Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001) shouldn’t miss the chance to see some of celebrated director Hayao Miyazaki’s creations at the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka.

Totoro is there to help you along the way from Mitaka Station to Ghibli Museum

Children can play on a huge replica of the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and watch animated shorts exclusive to the museum. There is also an ever-changing range of exhibitions exploring Ghibli’s creative process.

Japan is the birthplace of karaoke

If you love belting out your favorite songs, whether in front of a small group of friends or a crowd of random strangers, then you’ll want to take advantage of the huge karaoke culture while in Japan.

You might not be aware that Karaoke actually originated in Japan and continues to be incredibly popular: there are currently around 100,000 karaoke boxes and bars across the country.

The fashion

Fashion lovers arriving in Japan should head directly to Tokyo’s most stylish area, Harajuku, where most of the biggest Japanese trendsetters set up shop.

Takeshita Dori, Harajuku
Takeshita Dori, Harajuku, Tokyo

Those more interested in traditional Japanese fashion may want to pay a visit to Kyoto and try on one of the elegant kimonos or yukatas the city is famous for.

Japan is very safe

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.

Nevertheless,as when traveling to any foreign destination, visitors to Japan should still exercise caution in crowded places and use common sense.

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