One of the first things that comes to mind upon thinking of Japan are its cherry blossom trees. As beautiful as they are, Japan is bursting with breathtakingly beautiful places, making it a definite must-see travel destination. Narrowing our list down to 15 was no easy feat… but here are some spectacular natural wonders in Japan that certainly deserve a high ranking. Take a look:
1. Sagano Bamboo Forest, In Arashiyama
This spectacular forest is situated in Arashiyama, Japan’s second most popular tourist district in Kyoto. There is something incredibly serene and awe-inspiring when walking through the towering bamboo groves. It feels as though you are being transported to another world. Be warned though, it can get pretty crowded during the high season – this place is, after all, a must-see for anybody visiting the region.
2. Fields Of Shibazakura
The vibrant Shibazakura moss that grows over the Fuji Five Lakes area make this spot in Japan one to see. Every year, visitors flock to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival to see over 800,000 stalks of pink, white and purple moss covering field after field, stretching toward the spectacular site of Mount Fuji that lies in the background. The festival is held between April and June (depending on when the moss appears best) and is best seen in the early mornings.
3. Million Baby Blue Eyes In Japan’s Hitachi Seaside Park
This magnificent place is worth a visit at any time of the year – though September is probably the most ideal time to see a variety of flowers in bloom. If you’ve got your heart set on seeing these Baby Blue Eyes (as depicted in the photograph), be sure to plan your visit around April and May.
4. Natadera Temple In Winter
This ancient holy sight is beautiful at any time of year. Nevertheless, no season does this temple justice quite like winter. The temple is over 1300 years old. It was founded in 717 by a Buddhist monk who visited a nearby mountain in search of a goddess. Both Mount Hakusan and this temple remain the region’s most popular sites of worship today.
5. The Pagoda Of Seigantoji And Nachi No Taki Waterfall
The Pagoda of Seigantoji is the perfect combination of ancient history and breathtaking scenery. This three story high temple is an impressive sight to see all on its own. Yet, the fact that it lies just beside the Nachi no Taki waterfall (which is 430ft tall) makes a visit to this spot all the more spectacular.
6. Chureito Pagoda And Mount Fuji
A visit to Japan is not complete without a glimpse of the country’s most famous natural wonder. No view of the mountain is better than that from the Chureito Pagoda, a peace memorial that was built in 1963. Take our word for it, the climb up 400 steps is worth the effort.
7. A Rainy Day In Osaka
Rain or shine, a visit to Osaka will not disappoint. It is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo and is especially known for its striking architecture, bustling nightlife, tasty street food and of course, the Osaka Castle.
8. Keage Incline In Kyoto
The Keage Incline was once an important transport route during the Meiji Era – the remnants of an old railroad still remain to this day. When the cherry blossom is in bloom, the area becomes an especially magical place for a stroll. But don’t expect to be alone. This spot is incredibly popular with tourists and locals. If you’re interested in the canal’s history be sure to check out the free museum nearby.
9. Aogashima Island
Adventure seekers look no further than Aogashima Island. Situated in the Philippine Sea, 220 miles (350km) south of Tokyo, the only way to get to this island is by helicopter or boat. The island houses fewer than 200 inhabitants and is most well-known for its unique geological formation – the island has a volcanic crater at its center which sits in the middle of a second, larger volcanic crater. The journey to get to the island is long, yet rewarding, making a visit to Aogashima Island a truly memorable one.
Daigo means ‘ghee’ (purified butter). Its name is used as a figurative way of saying ‘crème de la crème’. This Buddhist temple is an important site for the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism and is one of the country’s many World Heritage Sites.
11. Red Autumn In Kyoto
From 794 to 1868, Kyoto was the country’s capital and the site of the emperor’s residence. Kyoto is an absolute treasure trove of Japanese history, culture, architecture and religion. If you only have time to visit one city in Japan, Kyoto should be it. It is best seen in the autumn, when the leaves turn into fabulous shades of orange, yellow and red.
12. Shirakawa Village
Located near Gokoyama village, Shirakawa is one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is a perfect day trip from Takayama and Kanazawa. If you’re looking for a more traditional experience, stay overnight at one of the characterful farmhouses in the village. 13. Bioluminescent Firefly Squid Illuminate The Toyama Bay
Toyama Bay is spectacular at any time, but when the Firefly Squid illuminate the bay it turns into a magical spot. This bay is one of the largest in Japan and each year it turns into an astounding natural spectacle when thousands of Firefly Squids emerge from the depths and surface to the shore. The bay lies north-west from Tokyo and can be reached with three to four hours by train. The journey will be worth the effort even if it takes double the time to get there.
14. Kifune Shrine Located At Sakyō-ku In Kyoto
The Kifune Shrine is located in Kyoto. It is sometimes also referred to the Kibune Shrine – Kibune meaning yellow boat, because according to legend, a goddess traveled in a yellow boat all the way from Osaka. The shrine is said to be built at the place where her journey came to an end. It is dedicated to the god of water and rain. Making this visit all the more fascinating? Visitors can obtain a written fortune that reveals their secret messages only when dipped into water.
15. Tea Garden Near Mt. Fuji
In traditional Japanese culture, tea plays a significant role. In fact, green tea is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in Japan – it is often drank in a powdered from known as matcha. A visit to the country is not complete without trying a cup of this tea. And for an authentic experience, be sure to sit in on a traditional tea ceremony, or visit one of the country’s tea farms (particularly those located near Mount Fuji).