Autumn leaves in Japan
Travel Tips

Where to Go in Japan – How to Choose Your Destination?

Mt. Fuji in Japan

Now you have your dates confirmed for your trip, you are imaging that sitting at 居酒屋( izakaya ) drinking Asahi or Sapporo beer and having BBQ skewer, you would like to try to be like what Japanese do, get your friends altogether and picnic under cherry blossoms ( 桜の木の下で sakuranokinositade ), or you just simply want to experience the busy nightlife in Tokyo, try to get drunk in カラオケ( karaoke ), you also wish to visit some famous attractions even you heard about the famous attractions in Japan are always packed.

Sounds like there are tons of options, so “how do I choose where to go in Japan?” This probably would be your first questions after you have decided off to Japan.

When we are offered too many choices we sometimes even easier to get stuck, to help you out with that here we have listed some ideas for you to choose where to go in Japan and 10 must see places in Japan.

How much time do you have for your trip?

No matter where you want to go, the first thing you need to consider in reality is “TIME“.

When you plan your trip, how limited or flexible your time is always a big role to play. Let’s say if you only have the weekend getaway, then pick one or two places that wouldn’t need the long transport time is the idea. You simply just don’t want to waste all your time transferring to somewhere maybe except for a train trip or a road trip on a motorcycle. In saying that, stay in an area with a few attractions close by might be a good idea.

For example, book a 温泉旅館 ( onsen ryokan, traditional Japanese hot spring inn ) in 箱根 ( Hakone ), and then visit the attractions at close range such as The Hakone Open-Air Museum ( 彫刻の森美術館 ), Venetian Glass Museum ( 箱根ガラスの森美術館 ) ( Mishima Skywalk( 三島スカイウォーク) to view Mt. Fuji ( 富士山 ). This would save your time from moving place to place and also make your trip pace looks just relax.

On the other hand, if you have a month, you may want to move from city to city, prefecture to prefecture or island to island. For example, plan your trip to start from 北海道 ( Hokkaido ) south down to 東北地区 ( Tohoku region ) and 関東地区 ( Kanntou region ), 東京 ( Tokyo ) to 京都 ( Kyoto ), 大阪 ( Osaka ), 神戸 ( Kobe ) and to 長崎 ( Nagasaki ) ( 沖縄 ( Okinawa ), and of course, the more places in your itinerary, the time will be compressed more.

The thing is, how fast ( slow you wish your trip to be.

Which season are you going?

Cherry blossom in Japan

As special as it is, doesn’t matter which season you plan to go to Japan, there is always something on. If you plan to see the world-renowned cherry blossoms, enjoy 花見 ( Hanami ) in springtime, or autumn leaves ( 紅葉 Momiji ), the easiest way is just to follow the cherry blossom and autumn foliage forecast chart, they tell you where to go in Japan for the season. Also, you don’t want to miss out the fireworks 花火 ( Hanabi ) in summer, so target a place with the fireworks festival and organize some surroundings would be a good idea.

The same idea, if you wish to see the snow in winter, as you wouldn’t expect snow in 沖縄 ( Okinawa ), so most likely you would like to go to 北海道 ( Hokkaido ). In some cases, the seasonal attractions might cross the long period such as 立山黒部アルペンルート ( tateyama kurobe alpine route ), this route is normally opened from between April and September every year, so you are still able to see this spectacular and impressive snow view in summer.

Again, the idea to go to Japan by season is the country like Japan, there is always something on and most of them are really worth to see.

What interests you the most?

Options are out there, what you would choose really depends on what interests you. Let’s say you are traveling for food and you are a food fanatic, even you can find 刺身 ( sashimi ) everywhere in Japan but you might still like to try the fresh fish market like 築地市場 ( Tsukiji shijyou ), 大田市場 ( Ota ichiba )…etc.

If hot spring is your thing, the three famous and oldest 有馬温泉 ( Arima onnsenn), 草津温泉 ( Kusatsu onnsenn ), 下呂温泉 ( Gero onsen ) would worth to go.

Beach lovers can also find the “must-go” beaches in Japan, here are some examples like 百合ヶ浜 ( yurigahama ) in 鹿児島 ( Kagoshima ), 与那覇前浜 ( yonaha maehama ) and 白浜 ( shirarahama ) in 沖縄 ( Okinawa ).

Skiing can be fun too, there are more than 80 ski centers in 長野県 ( Nagano Prefecture ) even more then what we expect in 北海道 ( Hokkaido ), one example is the 1998’s Nagano Cross-Country Skiing Venue “野沢温泉スキー場 ( nozawaonnsenn sukijyou )”, up to 10km skiing distance, altitude difference up to 1000m which are the features that people try to challenge.

What are you expecting from your trip?

Are you giving only a passing glance at things and places ( trying to experience the deeper local life?Snow in Japan

The answer can be very different, but don’t get me wrong, even you just want to have a quick and casual observation, you will still have more than adequate to see. Same as your time planning, if you wish to discover deeper about the local lifestyle, you might want to stay in a place for a longer time and you would probably pick only 1-2 places for your trip. You might even want to try the local homestay which is one of the best ways to immerse yourself.

Have your trip with tour sometimes is a really good idea to visit several places in a short time, which always gives you a rough idea what this country is like and you can always plan your next trip for in-depth visiting.

Who are you going with?

This can be a tricky question, even though Japan is literally a country that friendly to everyone, but ideally, you should still understand that pick a right destination for you and your travel partner would make your trip much more fun and sometimes even much easier.

Let’s give you some example, if you are going with your family including very young kids who still need to be pushed with a pram, then one of the busiest place Tokyo station “東京駅 ( Tokyo eki )” would probably not so recommended only because it is so busy and always have quite a bit distance between destination and station so that you would wish to choose somewhere easier for you.

On the other hand, Tokyo Disneyland is one of the best places for kids, even adults. You will truly enjoy your time with your kids and even when you finished you might still long for more.

If you are in your honeymoon, slow pace and relax are probably the idea of it, many people also find a “night view” can be very romantic, like the one in 函館 ( Hakodate ) where is one of the top 3 night scenes in the world.

Solo travelers or backpackers literally have all the freedom that you want, you might jump on the train to have an overnight train trip, or go some organic farm to be a volunteer just to experience, maybe just stay in the CBD of Tokyo and doing shopping all day. You wouldn’t need to worry about anyone else’s interest or convince but also you might not have people to share your instant excitement moment.

Must-visit places in Japan.

Kimono wafuku in Japan

If you still have no idea how to choose your destination, here we sum up a list by different topics for you as a reference so you can start from there.

  • Food – 北海道 ( Hokkaido ) is definitely a gourmet city, whether you are after Raman, dessert, curry, dairy, you won’t be disappointed here, especially for the seafood lover, just make sure you don’t miss out the delicious king crab.
  • Shopping – 東京 ( Tokyo) will satisfy you with pretty much all your needs. Big department stores and cosmetics are found all over the city especially in 新宿 ( Shinjuku ) if you are a gamer or wish to check out the 7-floor sex shop then you need to go to 秋葉原 ( Akihabara ).
  • Accommodation – Here we mean traditional Japanese hot spring inn ( 温泉旅館 onsen ryokan ). There are several hot spring inns are worth to give most of your time from your trip just to stay there. Such as つつじ亭 ( tsutsujite ) in 群馬県 ( Gunma prefecture ), 強羅花壇 ( Gora Kadan ) in 神奈川県 ( Kanagawa prefecture ).
  • Culture – 京都 ( Kyoto ) is the place for culture explorer, 金閣寺 ( Kinnkakuji, Golden Pavilion ), 銀閣寺 ( ginnkakuji ), 伏見稲荷大社 ( fusimiinari taisha, fusimi inari shine ).
  • Activities – Visit 沖縄 ( Okinawa ) if you wish to relax and doing water sports. 長野県 ( Nagano prefecture ), 北海道 ( Hokkaido ), 新潟 ( Niigata ) are the three best places for skiing.
  • Local experience – Wearing traditional 和服 ( wafuku, kimono ) and walking through streets and lanes is one way to experience the local culture, visit 京都 ( Kyoto ) if you wish to dress like a real Japanese. Or do you want to know what it feels like to be a 侍 ( samurai )? If you do then go to the samurai experience place in 大阪 ( Osaka ).

Your travel is unique and special.

Visiting Japan can be much more fun then you can imagine, follow the hint that we gave you and start to plan your trip. LandInJapan.com will also keep updating useful information about traveling around Japan, ideas of how to make your itinerary, keep an eye on our website, if you have any questions please feel free to leave your message below or send us to email contact@landinginjapan.com

We are here to help and share.

2 Comments

    • Jamie

      Hi Lily,

      Thank you for your message, I hope these ideas will help you find where you would like to go and really enjoy your trip to Japan!

      Feel free to let us know what would you like to know about Japan! We will bring out more information and recommendations regularly!

      Cheers

      Jamie

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