There are so many beautiful places to visit in Japan, which makes it extremely difficult to choose only 70. But with recommendations from the whole Tokyo Weekender team and friends, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of must-sees in Japan per region. Although we may mention places you’ve heard of, there are some off-the-beaten-track places mixed in as well. Let’s get your travel plans started.
1. See the rolling fields of lavender in Furano in the summer.
2. Admire the four seasons from one of the many hot spring baths in Jozankei Onsen Village.
3. Float in a 3-meter elevated chair and gaze at the snowy mountains from the Cloud Bar at Hoshino Resort Tomamu’s Unkai Terrace.
4. Watch the floating candles and ice sculptures at Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.
5. Or play snow golf at Bibai Snow Land.
6. Walk on natural drift ice in the Shiretoko Peninsula.
7. Take a ride on the Shirakami Resort Train that runs from Aomori to Akita.
8. Or hike the Michinoku Coastal Trail on the East coast.
9. Forest bathe next to the peaceful streams of the Oirase Gorge in Aomori.
11. In winter, get cozy on a kotatsu boat ride on the Geibikei Gorge in Iwate.
12. Experience a spiritual rebirth on your hike through the shrines of Dewa Sanzan, the three sacred mountains.
13. Traipse through the restored Edo town of Ouchijuku in Fukushima, find a stuffed vegetable doll and enjoy traditional foods from the thatched houses that line the street.
14. Take a tour around the Sawanoi Sake Brewery in the countryside of Tokyo and enjoy a glass (or more) of sake while overlooking Tama River.
15. Try kusaya, Japan’s answer to surströmming, on one of the Tokyo islands (our recommendation is Niijima Island).
16. Walk along Kurazukuri street in Little Edo (also known as Kawagoe), and hear the old bell tower chime.
17. Admire the picturesque scene from the Chichibu Paleo Express.
18. Delight in watching the world’s most beautiful wisteria tree at Ashikaga Flower Park.
19. Or see a magical ocean of blue flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park.
20. Then travel further South, if you have the time, to snap a shot of the sunrise behind the Oarai Isosaki Shrine that stands on the rocks in the sea.
21. Visit the home of Daruma dolls in Takasaki.
23. Catch your reflection in the shallow infinity pool at Kiyotsu Gorge’s Panorama Station.
24. Take the ferry to Sado Island, hike through the natural cedar tree forest and visit Shukunegi Village, a traditional fishing town in the south.
25. Stroll through the towering cedar-lined corridor at Togakushi Shrine in Nagano Prefecture.
26. Or wander around Koke no Mori, a Hayao Miyazaki-esque forest with a blanket of moss — as if it came straight out of the anime Princess Mononoke.
27. Breathe in the fresh air, gaze over the crystal blue waters and look at a relief of the Japanese Alps in Kamikochi.
28. Observe the onsen-bathing snow monkeys at Jigokudani.
29. Rent a bike and cycle all around Mount Fuji’s Kawaguchiko Lake.
30. And get a one-of-a-kind view of Mount Fuji from the 79-meter-high rollercoaster Fujiyama at Fuji Q Highland.
31. Go weird museum hopping around Atami, Izu and Ito.
32. And afterward, be mesmerized by the fireworks at the beachfront in Atami during the seasonal Atami Fireworks Fair.
33. See the Japanese Maple (momiji) blooming alongside winter cherry blossoms in Obara Fureai Park in Aichi prefecture.
34. Run through the maze-like trail and among the grassy hills of the Site of Reversible Destiny.
35. Marvel at the water lilies and carps in Monet’s Pond, an almost exact replica of his paintings.
36. Stay in a Gassho house (a triangular thatched roof farmhouse) in Shirakawa-go Village, a serene town that looks like it belongs in an old samurai movie.
37. Visit the castle town of Gujo Hachiman, and if you’re lucky, you may see the castle floating above the fog.
38. Stroll through the expansive Kenrokuen Garden, known for its sublime landscape elements — it’s got everything you’d want from a Japanese park.
39. Venture out past Kyoto’s famous Arashiyama forest to Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, where 1,200 unique Rakan statues adorn the grounds.
40. Take a day trip from Kyoto to have a tea plantation tour and tea ceremony above the tea fields in Wazuka.
41. Go retro game hopping in Shinsekai, Osaka.
42. See the odd yet charming artwork Tower of the Sun, the symbol of Expo ’70.
43. Rise early and watch the sea of clouds over Takeda Castle Ruins in Hyogo prefecture.
44. Or visit the most elegant and imposing castle further south: Himeji Castle, a postcard image of Japan.
45. Watch one of the many rituals and ceremonies at Ise Jingu, where priests pray for prosperity, peace and harvest.
46. Worship the romantic atmosphere of the wedded rocks (Meoto Iwa), two rock formations at sea tied together with a sacred straw rope.
47. Walk the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, a religious rite of worship and purification, and a great way to explore the splendid nature of Wakayama prefecture.
Shikoku and Chugoku Regions
48. Travel at least a part of the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage, a trek that covers all of Shikoku Island.
49. Borrow a free broom and become Kiki from the anime Kiki’s Delivery Service in Shodoshima Olive Park.
50. Seek the hundreds of life-size dolls in Tokushima’s Nagoro Scarecrow Village.
51. Trudge around the coastal Tottori Sand Dunes on the back of a camel.
52. Climb Japan’s most dangerous national treasure, Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple — breathtaking but treacherous.
53. Run up the white marble steps to the Hill of Hope, an artistically sculpted platform with panoramic views off one of the islands in Hiroshima.
54. Sign up for one of many workshops, such as bamboo object-making and pottery in Takehara City, also known as “Little Kyoto”.
55. Soak in the volcanic hot springs and sand baths in the Northern Oita town of Beppu.
56. Climb to the top of one of Mount Kuju’s peaks and be blindsided by the magnificent views.
57. Rent a bike and pedal along Itoshima’s coastal road to the aesthetic Sakurai Futamigaura rocks, aesthetically captured through a white Shinto gate.
58. Go to Fukutsu’s Miyajihama Beach at sundown and low tide to experience an incredible sea mirror.
59. Encounter a taste of Amsterdam in Huis Ten Bosch, smell the tulips and leave with a Nijntje (Miffy) plushie.
60. Find all the cute fruit-shaped bus stops in Konagai Town, an hour from Nagasaki City.
61. Visit Udo Jingu, the caved-in oceanside shrine and throw a clay ball to make a wish.
62. Watch the koi fish in the streams next to samurai houses in Obi Castle Town.
63. Roam around the hauntingly beautiful cedar forest of Yakushima Island.
64. Plan a nature observing Eco Tour on the island of Amami Oshima.
65. Or row through the mangroves in a kayak in the Amami Mangrove Forest.
66. If you’re in for a little adventure, go caving in the limestone caves of Okinoerabu Island.
67. Explore ancient limestone caves and perfectly clear blue water in Ishigaki.
68. And make sure to rent electric motorcycles to tour throughout the whole island.
69. Dive or snorkel in Kerama Islands and watch the endless crevasses and largest coral reef in Japan packed with multicolored fish.
70. Interact with locals while you enjoy freshly cooked food in Makishi Public Market, or simply buy a snack to go and explore the area while you eat.