Places to Visit Overview–Japan

Tokyo:

To get to Tokyo Station from Narita Airport, take the Narita Express (free with the JR Pass or read more about it here) and get off at Tokyo Station.

Tokyo Station is the center of Tokyo, so getting to places like Shibuya and Harajuku all come out of Tokyo Station.

Asakusa Sensoji

 

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  • Used to be Tokyo’s largest pleasure district filled with gangsters, geisha courtesans, writers, artists, actors, and beggers.
  • Tokyo’s oldest temple
  • Was completely destroyed in WWII.
  • Most of the parts date back from the 1950s.
  • One of the few areas in Tokyo to see a geisha. Can be seen in the festival’s parades and put on a dance performance as a part of the Sanja Matsuri.
  • Hours:
    • Main Hall: 6:00-17:00 (6:30 from October to March)
    • Temple Grounds: Always open
  • Closed: No closing days
  • Admission: Free
  • Access:
    • Tokyo Station:
      • Take the JR Yamanote Line to Kanda Station (2 min, 140 ¥) and transfer to Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 min, 170 ¥)
    • Shinjuku Station:
      • Take the orange JR Chuo Line to Kanda Station (10 min, 170 ¥) and transfer to the Ginza Subway Line for Asakusa (10 min, 170 ¥).

Akihabara

 

  • Shopping district that is the epitome of electronics, J-Pop, culture, manga, and maid cafes.
  • First started as a black market for radios and electronic items since it was near an electrical engineering school (Tokyo Denki University) during World War II.
  • Specialization: electronics, gaming, and Japanese pop culture (otaku).
  • Sells parts and hardwares for electronics like robots, games, etc.

Ikebukuro

  • Famous for otaku, but more for female otaku.
  • Shops for anime, manga, butler cafes, etc.
  • Very young neighborhood.

Odaiba

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PC: http://www.popjapantravel.com/travel-guide/tokyo/odaiba
  • Large artificial island in Tokyo Bay.
  • Built to defend Tokyo after American warships were forced into trade agreements with Japan in 1853.
  • Best place to see Tokyo’s skyline, themed shopping malls, unique architecture, and more.
  • Observation Deck at Telecom Center

Hie Shrine

 

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  • Oldest shrine in Tokyo
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Dawn to Dusk
  • Address:
    2-10-5 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda 100-0014,
    Tokyo Prefecture

Imperial Palace

 

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  • Hours:
    • March–October 9:00 AM-16:30 PM
    • November–February 9:00 AM-16:00 PM
  • Address:
    1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda 100-8111, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Access:
    • Otemachi Gate is the easiest way to get there via Tokyo Subway. You can take any line to:
      • Nijubashi-mae Station: 10-minute walk
      • Tokyo Station (Marunouchi Central Exit): 15-minute walk
      • Otemachi Station (c13b Exit): 5-minute walk
      • Takebashi Station (1a Exit): 5-minute walk
  • Palace Celebrations
    • Ippan Sanga is one of 2 days in the year where the Palace will open the door to the public and meet the Emperor. Here they can enter the inner grounds of the palace and have an opportunity to see the Royal family.
    • Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, and other members of the Imperial family will greet the public and exchange greetings to the people.
    • This ritual begins at 9:30 AM until 3:00 PM.
    • Royal Family is protected by bulletproof grass.
  • Fun Fact:
    • The Emperors who have ruled Japan for over 1500 years all come from the same family.
    • Empress Akihito (#125) married Empress Michiko, the first empress that was not born into aristocracy.

Sugamo:

 

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  • “Harajuku for old ladies”
  • Main shopping street ⇾  Jizo-dori
  • Showcases what Japan looked like in the 1950s. Highly recommended for tourists.

Shimokitazawa:

 

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  • Very hipster-esque
  • Lots of places for “hipster”/artsy pictures
  • From my cousin’s opinion, “weird”

Yoyogi/Harajuku:

Meiji Shrine:

 

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PC: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3002.html

 

  • Dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and consort, Empress Shokon.
  • Close to the JR Yamanote Line’s busy Harajuku Station. Adjacent to it is Yoyogi Park.
  • Shrine was destroyed in WWII, rebuilt shortly after.
  • Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. Ascended the throne during the pinnacle of the Meiji Restoration where the feudal era slowly ended.
  • During this period, Japan became more westernized and modern.
  • Access:
    • A few steps from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line or Meiji-jingo-mae Station on the Chiyoda and Fukotoshin Subway Lines.
  • Hours:
    • Shrine: Sunrise–Sunset
    • Treasure House: 9:00-16:30 (until 16:00 from November to February). Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
    • Inner Garden: 9:00-16:30 (until 16:00 from November to February). Admission ends 30 min before closing time. Extended hours during the middle of June.
  • Admission:
    • Shrine: Free
    • Treasure House: 500 ¥
    • Inner Garden: 500 ¥
  • Closing:
    • Shrine: None
    • Treasure House: None, except national holidays
    • Inner Garden: None

 Takeshita Street

  • Narrow street in Harajuku.
  • Sells “Harajuku-esque” fashion, wigs, etc
  • Lots of 100¥ (US equiv. to the Dollar Store), cheap restaurants, crème restaurants.
  • Near Omotesando

Togo Shrine

  • A small shrine with a garden
  • Close by Takeshita Street, an escape from the intensity.

Ueno:

  • Lies along the demon’s gate (鬼門) of the Imperial Palace. The term demon’s gate refers to the NE direction, which is considered unlucky in Japan.
  • A little rougher around the edges compared to metropolis Tokyo.

Ameyoko Market:

  • AKA “Candy Shop Alley”
  • Street market with about 200 shops close to Ueno Station.
  • In WWII, used to be an open air black market
  • Sells food, clothes, & housewares
  • One of the few areas in Tokyo where can still bargain.

Ueno Park:

  • Ueno Zoo
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • National Museum of Nature and Science
  • National Museum of Western Art
  • National Museum of Eastern Art
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
  • Tokyo Bunka Kaikan
  • Sogakudo Concert Hall
  • The University Art Museum (Tokyo University of the Arts)
  • The Tokugawa Mausoleum
  • Shitamachi Museum


Ginza:

 

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  • Largest luxury shopping and entertainment district in Japan
  • Famous for luxury items, tea rooms, dining, architecture, entertainment, and attractions.
  • Lively night life after the department stores close.
  • Mainly an upscale hostess club.

Itoya:

 

  • Luxury stationary store
  • Address: 3-7-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
    Hours: Mon – Sat 10:00 – 20:00, Sun and Holidays 10:00 –  19:00
    Access: Ginza flagship store is 5 min walk from Ginza station on the Ginza line

De Beer Building:

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DeBeer Building. pc: http://www.archi-guide.com/VL/Jap/tokyoC.htm


Shibuya:

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PC: https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/things-to-do/101-things-to-do-in-shibuya

Dongenzaka Street*:

  • AKA Love Hotel Hill between Dogenzaka and Bunkamura St.
  • Lots of clubbing and concert houses

Tokyu Hands:

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Tokyu Hands PC: http://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en/
  • 8 levels, 3 subfloors each = 24 distinct floors
  • Flagship store
  • Luxury DIY Store
    • Address:
      • 宇田川町12-18
        Shibuya, 東京都 〒150-0042
        Japan Jinnan, Shibuya Station Hachiko-guchi, Shibuya Station

Shibuya 109:

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pc: http://tokyofashion.com/girls-generation-snsd-christmas-shibuya-109-pictures-video/
  • Small compared to other stores with only 10 floors.
  • Landmark and visible from Shibuya Crossing.

Koen Dori:

  • AKA Park Street
  • A shopping district with trends and trendy clothing stores

Don Quijote:

  • Chain of thrift stores that sells an odd array of items (Cartier to toilet paper)
  • Located in Bunkamura Dori

 

Hiroshima:

Itsukushima Shrine

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PC: http://japantourism.blogspot.com

Hiroshima Peace Museum

 

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  • Understand the history of WWII, the arrival of the atomic bomb, see human suffering, and rebuilding.No matter what you think, the dropping of the atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima were horrific events that should never be experienced ever again. The way that the Japanese people were able to overcome these horrendous event and become a leading force in the world is something truly admirable and is shown through their work ethic and demeanor.
  • Access: From Hiroshima Station, take tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu Mae Station. It’s about 15 minutes and costs about 160 ¥.
  • Hours: 8:30 – 18:00 (until 19:00 in August, until 17:00 from December to February)
  • Closed: December 30-31
  • Admission: 200¥.

Hiroshima Castle

 

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  • Originally built in 1589 for Mori Teerumoto, a powerful feudal lord.
  • Escaped demolition like many other castles experienced during the Meiji Restoration Period. But was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945.
  • Surrounded by a moat. With some shrines, ruins, and a few reconstructed buildings of Ninomaru.

Kyoto:

Take the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (or wherever) all the way to Kyoto Station.

Arashiyama Bamboo Path:

 

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  • Very touristy, best to go in the morning when there are less people.
  • Tenryuji Temple (Gwen Rec)
    • Zen Buddhist temple in the Arayshiyama district of Kyoto. The most significant and the largest temple complex in this area.
    • Endured many wars and fires. Burned down in 1358, 1367, 1373, 1380, 1447, 1467, 1815, and 1864.
    • Current building is from the 19th century.
    • Beautiful landscape and garden was the only remaining part of the temple that remains in its original form.
    • Hours: 8:30-17:30 (until 17:00 from late October to late March)
    • Admission: 500 ¥(+ 300 ¥ for entrance into temple buildings)
    • Closed: None
  • Okochi Sanso Garden (Gwen Rec)
  • Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple
    • Hours: 9 AM-4:30 PM
    • Long walk from the main parts of Arayshiyama. But the path is really beautiful.

Philosopher’s Path

 

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  • Received its name from Nisheda Kitaro, Japan’s most famous philosopher. It is said that he would practice meditation while walking this route everyday to get to Kyoto University.
  • Restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and smaller shrines/temples are found along the path.
  • Runs between Ginkakuji (Silver Pavillion) and Nazenji.

Ginkakuji

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PC: http://japantourlist.com/id/rekomendasi-spot-wisata-menarik-untuk-trip-satu-hari-di-kyoto
  • Silver Pavillion
  • A 30 minute walk from Kinkakuji (NOT THE SAME)
  • Hours: 8:30-17:00 (9:00-16:30 from December to February)
  • Closed: None
  • Admission: 500 ¥
  • Access:
    • Direct bus number 5, 17, or 100 from Kyoto Station (230 ¥)
    • Reach Ginkakuji by foot along from the Philosopher’s Path from Nazenji in about 30-45 minutes

Kinkakuji

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Kinkakuji
  • Golden Pavillion
  • Hours: 9:00-17:00
  • Admission: 400 ¥
  • Access:
    • Kyoto Station direct bus ride via Kyoto City Bus (#101 or 205) for 230 ¥. About 40 minute. OR take the Karusuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station and then a taxi/bus to Kinkakuji.

Kiyomizu-Dera

 

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Gion Corner:

 

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  • Exclusive entertainment districts
  • Hasn’t changed very much in the past 300 years
  • On weekends, you can see geishas or maikos (apprentice geishas) running to work.
  • Tea houses, geisha establishments, & fine restaurants.

Fushimi Inari:

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  • Hours: Always Open
  • Admission: Free
  • Access:
    • From Kyoto Station take the JR Nara Line (5 minutes) to JR Inari Station.

Nishiki Market:

 

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  • Hours: 9:00-18:00
  • Closed: Varies by stores, typically on Wednesday or Sunday
  • Admission: Free
  • Access:
    • Runs parallel to Shijo Ave, a block north of Shijo Ave. Walking distance is less than 5 min from Shijo Station on the karasumi Subway Line (210 ¥ from Kyoto Station) or Karasuma/Kawaramachi Station via Hankyu Line.

Maruyama Park:

 

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  • Prime area in Kyoto to find cherry blossoms and the changing leaf colors.
  • Lined with food carts and street food.
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Open all day, all year
  • Address:
    • 473 Maruyama-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
  • Access:
    • 5 minute walk from the City Bus Stop “Gion”

Potoncho:

  • Geisha and bar district
  • Drinking & smoking age in Japan is 20 years old.
  • Packed with restaurants from cheap Kyoto dishes to expensive modern Kyoto cuisine
  • Hours:
    • Most places open from 17:00-23:00, some are open for lunch.
  • Access:
    • Closest bus stop to Pontocho is the Shijo Kawaramachi (served by many bus lines like 17 & 205 from Kyoto Station).
    • Closest train stations are Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Line & Shijo Station on the Keihan Line.

Nara:

Todaiji Temple

 

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PC: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/14955301

 

Nara Park/Isuien Garden/Yoshikien Garden

 

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PC: http://www.keyword-suggestions.com/bmFyYXBhcms/

 

  • Viral videos of deer’s bowing
  • Typically very tame, but can be aggressive if you tease it with food. Deer crackers are sold around the park.
  • Deers are considered messengers of the gods in Shinto. Considered national treasures.
  • Established in 1880.
  • Many other attractions like Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, Kofukuji, and the Nara National Museum.
  • Access:
    • 5 minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station or a 20 minute walk from JR Nara Station.
    • Can be reached by bus as well.

Osaka:

A 30-45 minute ride on the Shinkansen from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station.

Kuromon Ichiba:

 

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  • LOTS OF DELICIOUS FOOD.
  • Have money and wear stretchy pants
  • Address:
    • 2-4-1, Nippombashi, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi,
      Osaka, 542-0073
  • Access:
    • Short walk from Nippombashi Station on the Osaka Municipal Subway Sakaisuji Line (K17) or Sennichimae LIne (S17)
    • Short walk from Kintetsu Nippombashi Station on the Kintetsu Nippombashi Station on the Kintetsu Namba Line or Kintetsu Nara Line
  • Hours: Varies according to shop/facility

Dontonbori & Namba Walk

 

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  • Dotonbori
    • Major shopping, food, and entertainment area in Osaka
    • Lots of arcades, bowling, gaming area
    • Plenty of shopping and food.
  • Namba:
    • Underground shopping area.
    • Many “local” Japanese-esque stores

Sumiyushi-Tasha Shrine

  • 1 of the oldest shrines in Japan
  • Hours:
    • April–September 6:00-17:00
    • October–March 6:30-17:00
  • Access:
    • Short walk from Hankai Line of Sumiyoshitoriimae Station
    • 2 min walk from Sumiyoshikoen Station of Hankai Line
    • 3 min walk from Summiyoshitaisha Station of Nankai Railway

Osaka Castle:

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  • Unification of Japan
  • Famous area for runners
  • Osaka Castle
    • Hours: 9:00-17:00, entrance until 16:30. Extended hours during various holidays and special exhibitions
    • Closed: December 28–Jan 1
    • Admission to enter the castle: 600 ¥.
    • Admission to see the castle from the outside: Free
  • Nishinomaru Garden
    • Hours: 9:00-17:00 (until 16:30 during November through February); open until 21:00 during cherry blossom seasons
    • Closed: Mondays (or following days if Monday is a national holiday and New Year Holidays
    • Admission: 200 ¥ (350 ¥ during extended hours of the cherry blossom season)

All photo credits belong to their respective owners.

Thanks to my cousin (Shara) for letting me use literally all of her experiences onto this blog post!!

PS: Just get Google Maps cause it’ll be way easier and more convenient to get directions.

 

 

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Any photos used does not belong to me.

4 thoughts on “Places to Visit Overview–Japan

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