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My Top 5 "Must See" Places in Japan

Updated on June 25, 2013
Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji

I have never been to Japan and don’t know if I will ever be able to go, but I find myself fascinated by the beauty and serene quality that seems to pervade the entire nation of Japan. After much study and contemplation I have decided that if I ever have the opportunity to visit this beautiful country there are five places that are a “Must See” for me and maybe it will help you in your contemplation of your bucket list.

The classic and first “Must See” for anyone making this journey is, of course, Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at a staggering 12, 389 feet. It is also still an active volcano although the last eruption was over 300 years ago in 1708. It is an often visited site by locals and tourist alike and is noted to be one of the “Three Holy Mountains” which it has the pleasure of sharing with Mount Haku and Mount Tate. The summit of Mount Fuji is reputed to be a sacred place and has been so since ancient times. Mount Fuji has been written about, talked about for centuries and has been the focal point of many a canvas, that’s why it is a definite “Must See” for me.

Himenji Castle
Himenji Castle

Next on my list is Himeji Castle, if you have never heard of it, you may have heard of its other names such as the White Egret or the White Heron Castle. It is the most visited castle in all of Japan and has been recognized as an UNSECO World Heritage Site as well as the middle moat area being designated as a Special Historic Site and there are five buildings in this impressive 83 building castle that are assigned National Treasure status. The first original structure was built in 1333 several years later that was taken down and rebuilt eventually evolving into what we now see today as a shining example of Japanese architecture.

Yonaguni Island
Yonaguni Island

Yonaguni Island is next on my list, not many people will have heard of this little island, it is the furthest western island inhabited in Japan, it is located about 65 miles from the eastern shore of Taiwan. This small island houses about 1700 people and is 11 square miles. The island is known for its great diving if you like hammerhead sharks as they seem to be in abundance. It is also known for the Yonaguni horses, which are only known to inhabit this island. The island is more notable throughout Japan for a 120 proof distilled rice beverage that is only made on the island, but as I am not a drinker that did not influence me in making it part of my bucket list.

Yonaguni Horse
Yonaguni Horse
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park made it onto my list because to me it shows the strength of the human spirit and the necessity of remembrance. This park is often referred to as the Atomic Bomb Dome or the A-Bomb Dome, why you ask, well due to the fact that a building called the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall withstood an almost direct hit by “Little Boy” the first atomic bomb. The dome of the hall and many of the structures walls were somehow able to survive the blast and to this day stands as a reminder of what should never happen again.

Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion
Kinkaku-ji or Golden Pavilion

Last but not least, Kinkaku-ji. A Zen Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, Japan is a “must see” for anyone who is bowled over by beauty, this temple, also known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, houses one of the most beautiful gardens. The Golden Pavilion has been designated as a National Special Historic Site and also a National Special Landscape, if you make it to Japan this is one of the most visited attractions in Kyoto, don’t miss it.

Please feel free to send me any of your “Must See” places of Japan as I can always keep adding to this list!

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