My Top 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Japan

Updated on January 25, 2018
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I have been working, traveling, and living in Japan since May, 20, 2017 and I am here to share with you my travel tips and experience.

My Top 10 Places To See in Japan

As someone who has traveled a vast amount of Japan in a short amount of time, I have seen so many different places. I've been pleasantly surprised by places like Hiraodai and the limestone caves, and would like to share the places I've enjoyed the most.

Here are my top ten most beautiful places to visit in Japan, as well as suggestions for when you may want to visit to best capture their beauty.

Hiraodai

1 and 2. Beppu and Yufuin

Why You Should Visit

When You Should Visit

  • In Fall. I personally visited for the first time on November 6, 2017.

Beppu and the nearby area of Yufuin has been my all-time favorite place to visit. There you can find amazing hot spring onsens as well as beautiful and unique hot springs called the Hells or Jigoku. You can cook food using the steam from the hot springs, a style called Jigoku Mushi. You can even get a steam bath for your feet at a place that's just a two minute walk from the steam cooking restaurant.

From Beppu's hot spring town you can catch a bus over to the Kintetsu Ropeway in Yufuin to see the beautiful nature parks and fall foliage there.

Finally, after visiting the hot springs and the ropeway, you can head back towards the ocean and visit Beppu Kaihama spa beach. Its hours are as follows:

Opening Hours

March to November- 8:30 ~ 18:00 (last reception 17:00)

December - February- 9:00 ~ 17:00 (last reception 16:00)

Bathing Fee

Cost: 1,030¥

Both the Beppu Hells and the different attractions in Yufuin are easily accessible by public transport since there's a bus that will take you to all of the big attractions. There are buses for Beppu and Yufuin nearby each other.

Yufuin also has plenty to offer, but my favorite place to visit by bus was the Kintetsu Ropeway. During fall you can see the beautiful changing leaves from the top of the mountain.

Beppu and Yufuin Highlights

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Onishi Boizu JigokuThe view going up on the Kintetsu Ropeway.  Time stamp: November 6, 2017Umi no Jigoku/ Sea Hell. This is my personal favorite.Chinoike JigokuJigoku Mushi cooking
Onishi Boizu Jigoku
Onishi Boizu Jigoku
The view going up on the Kintetsu Ropeway.  Time stamp: November 6, 2017
The view going up on the Kintetsu Ropeway. Time stamp: November 6, 2017
Umi no Jigoku/ Sea Hell. This is my personal favorite.
Umi no Jigoku/ Sea Hell. This is my personal favorite.
Chinoike Jigoku
Chinoike Jigoku
Jigoku Mushi cooking
Jigoku Mushi cooking

3. Mt. Aso- Kumamoto

When You Should Visit:

March, 2018

Why You Should Visit:

The natural beauty of the mountains, waterfalls, and an active volcano.

A strong earthquake hit Kumamoto in 2016, so if you visit be aware that some roads may be closed and the rope way to the top of Mt. Aso is currently set to open on March, 2018.

However, this is still an amazing area.

Please also note for safety reasons, you currently cannot drive on Laputa road, the inspiration for Castle in the Sky for those that are familiar with Ghibli films.

However, you can see all of the sites on the way up the mountain by either taking the local bus or driving to the mountain. It was absolutely gorgeous in the winter with the ice covering the ground. You can see the smoking volcano and on the way to Mt. Aso you can see beautiful mountain ranges and some waterfalls. I highly recommend this for a winter or spring visit.

Mt.Aso-Kumamoto

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4. Hiraodai and the Limestone Caverns- Kitakyushu/Fukuoka Prefecture

When You Should Visit:

Summer time would be best so you aren't too cold to swim out of the cave. I personally went in Winter.

Why You Should Visit:

To see a beautiful nature park that's off the beaten tourist path.

Admission Price:

Adults: about 800¥

Hiraodai is a gorgeous nature park with two long limestone caves. The water gets so deep at the end that you can even swim out of the cave. The surrounding mountains and greenery were beautiful in December, but because of the water in the caves I would recommend going in summer when you want to cool down.

Hiraodai and Limestone Cave- Kitakyushu

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5. Jigokudani Monkey Park-Nagano

I kept seeing videos of Nagano's Jigokudani Monkey Park and when I recently went to Kawaguchiko I decided to go and finally see the snow monkeys. I was completely swept away by how beautiful Nagano was. It was a winter wonderland. The sight of the mountains and small shops covered in snow was a sight to behold. The walk up to the monkey park does take awhile but it is well worth it.

Please keep in mind for the park that in the dead of winter this place closes earlier than normal, 16:00 for the monkey park and 15:00 for the hot spring.

Why You Should Visit:

To see the snow monkeys and enjoy an amazing little hot spring town. It's also an excellent place to go skiing.

When You Should Visit:

Right around ski season is best, so January-February.

Entrance Fees:

Adults- 800¥

Children (6-17 years old)- 400¥

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Click thumbnail to view full-size

6. Torohki No Taki Waterfall-Yakushima

Yakushima was one of my all-time favorite visits. My only reason for putting it a little lower on the list is that the lack of public transport can make getting around the island somewhat of a hassle. But there is still plenty to see and do on this beautiful island. Out of all of the sights I visited in Yakushima Torohki-no-taki was definitely the most magical for me.

When You Should Visit:

Summer or early fall is best because there is better access to public transportation and more tours are available.

Why You Should Visit:

This island is best known for its magical forest known as Mononoke Forest for inspiring the forest in Princess Mononoke.Yakushima is also a paradise complete with black sand beaches, white sand beaches, several waterfalls, natural hot springs, sea turtles during nesting season, an amazing river for canoeing, and several mountains that are perfect for hiking.

Getting there:

From Kagoshima station there is a bus to the ferry port. For the more expensive ferry that leaves every two hours the cost is 15,000¥ round trip.

Torohki-no-Taki Waterfall

Click thumbnail to view full-size

7. Nara Park (Deer Park)- Nara

The next on my list is Nara park. It's a kid friendly place since there are plenty of outdoor activities and deer wandering all around the city. You can buy food to feed them, but if you do be careful. They can get a bit pushy when there is food involved. This was one of my top picks because everything was walking distance and there were a variety of things to see and do.

When You Should Visit:

In Fall. I personally went on November 23 and the park was gorgeous and had brightly colored leaves swarming the park.

Why You Should Visit:

To see the giant Buddha, feed plenty of cute deer, and enjoy a nice day in the park with beautiful fall foliage.

Nara

Click thumbnail to view full-size

8. Kawaguchiko

Known for its fabulous views of Fuji it's a gorgeous place to visit. Thankfully, while there isn't much in the way of train service, you can buy a pass pass for unlimited rides. There's a red, green, and blue line. The red and green are the ones you will probably use most heavily unless you plan to go camping. Kawaguchiko doesn't just have views of Fuji though. They also have skiing (in the winter), an ice cave, a wind cave, bat cave, and several hot springs and onsens. You can even get those well known pictures with reflections of Fuji on the lake at a nearby lake called lake Saiko, the one next to Kawaguchiko.

When Should You Visit:

During the Winter so you can get amazing pictures of Fuji. I went to Kawaguchiko recently in early January and I was able to get stunning pictures of Fuji.

Why You Should Visit:

For a relaxing vacation with plenty of sights to see, and some mountain hiking like the one for Chureito Pagoda or for Mt. Kachi Kachi yama.

Kawaguchiko

Click thumbnail to view full-size

9. Arashiyama Monkey Park- Kyoto

This is a great place for when you want to escape the crowded central Kyoto, but don't want to stray too far from the center. Arashiyama has everything from boat rides, to bamboo and kimono forests, and especially their monkey park. Personally, I liked the monkey park the best from Arashiyama since you get to see the monkeys and get an amazing view of central Kyoto.

When You Should Visit:

In summer so you can best experience what Arashiyama has to offer.

Why You Should Visit:

To get excellent views of the central part of Kyoto and see some cute monkeys.

Arashiyama

Click thumbnail to view full-size

10. Nunobiki-Kobe

Another slightly off the beaten path I have visiting is Nunobiki in Kobe. This area is especially beautiful at the end of summer or early fall. There are several waterfalls you can view, a ropeway, and Nunobiki Herb Garden with an outdoor area with hammocks and tables to eat lunch. There is even a greenhouse where you can get a foot bath and see several types of the spices they grind up there.

When You Should Visit:

Late Summer or Early Fall.

Why You Should Visit:

For beautiful nature trails that display several waterfalls and a breathtaking lake, a scenic rope way ride, and a gorgeous herb garden.

Nunobiki

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Vote for Your Favorite

Which location on the list do you like the most?

See results

Beautiful places to Visit

A
Jigokudani snow monkey park:
Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, 6845 Hirao, Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture 381-0401

get directions

B
Beppu hells:
Japan, 〒874-0000 Ōita Prefecture, Beppu, 大字鉄輪559番地1

get directions

C
Hiraodai:
Hiraodai, Kokuraminami Ward, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture 803-0180, Japan

get directions

D
Kawaguchiko:
Lake Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

get directions

E
Yakushima:
Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan

get directions

F
Arashiyama monkey park:
Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama, 61 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefectur

get directions

G
Nara deer park:
Nara Park, Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan

get directions

H
Nunobiki falls:
Fukiaicho, Chuo, Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture 651-0058, Japan

get directions

I
Kintetsu Ropeway:
Japan, 〒874-0000 Ōita Prefecture, Beppu, Minamitateishi, 寒原10−7

get directions

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Betty 

        5 months ago

        Will check those out on my next visit!

      • bwhite062007 profile image

        Brianna W 

        6 months ago from East Coast

        Very informative and I loved all the stunning pictures!

      • CYong74 profile image

        Kuan Leong Yong 

        6 months ago from Singapore

        Thanks for sharing all these pictures. I love the one with the deer. (Was it requesting a cracker?)

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