Japan is one of the most unique countries in the world. Its distinctiveness and variety encapsulate all types of beauty.

With majestic temples, natural beauty and historic castles, Japan’s diverse scenery is far from mediocre. From pretty pink cherry blossoms and iconic volcanoes all the way to Tokyo’s epic and futuristic aesthetic, you won’t find it challenging to find beautiful places in Japan.

Although Japan is well-known for its busy cities and futuristic technology, many natural destinations located here remain unaffected by modern society. Plus, the respectful atmosphere of Japan with its clean streets and welcoming locals is a genuine breath of fresh air. 

Japan is not the cheapest place to travel. But I promise the beauty of this place more than makes up for it. To avoid overspending, making sure you know where you want to visit in Japan is important.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of my top 15 beautiful locations in Japan so you can just get on with it! This list includes a balance of all things Japan, ensuring there is something EVERYONE will find beautiful. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? 😉

Ok enough chat. Here are the most magical locations to include in your Japan itinerary.

Girl posing for photo in front of Japan's tallest waterfall, Kegon Falls.
Japan is the most beautiful country I have ever been to!
Photo: @audyscala

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1. Shirogane Blue Pond

Shirogane Blue Pond Biei
I told you these locations were magical!

Located in Biei town in Hokkaido is the scenic Shirogane Blue Pond. You should know that this pond was made by accident. The construction of an artificial dam and the chemical composition (colloidal aluminium oxide to be exact for the nerds) that flows from the water in the Shirogane hot spring produced a pond with an incredible teal blue colour.

This is a stunning sight and everyone backpacking in Japan NEEDS to see this. It is to be noted though, that this is only a seeing activity… DO NOT attempt to swim in this blue hole as tempting as it may look, the waters are toxic!

Now, despite diverse weather conditions, the pond remains the same colour throughout the entire year and tourists often find this location truly unbelievable. It is the type of destination that you have to see in person to really appreciate it.

Although this area is great at any time of the year, it is particularly beautiful in the autumn as the orange foliage creates a gorgeous backdrop that contrasts against the blue pond.

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    2. Mount Fuji

    Considered to be Japan’s most recognisable symbol, Mount Fuji is simply a must-visit. A stratovolcano situated 3667 metres above sea level and 100km southwest of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is not just one of the most beautiful places in Japan, it’s arguably one of the best sights in the world!

    For the hardcore lot, you can hike the mountain. However, to get to the top it would take multiple days. Some travellers chose to do this and stay in Mount Fuji overnight at the hotels that are embedded within the mountainside. 

    Mount fuji standing proudly over Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan.
    Huge…
    Photo: @audyscala

    Regardless of your hiking abilities, Mount Fuji is for everyone. The views here are truly incredible. Mount Fuji can be seen in various areas of Japan but taking the trail towards the mountains is such an incredible experience.

    Most people just admire the sight from afar – it makes for some truly stunning photos too. If you can afford it, a full Mount Fuji day trip is an unforgettable experience that will take you to some awesome viewing points.

    The mountain is surrounded by five lakes, with Lake Kawaguchiko standing out as a beloved and easily accessible gem. You’ll have the best time biking around the lake while enjoying the views and exploring the old traditional towns near the lake. Don’t miss this Lake Kawaguchiko day trip itinerary for an epic experience!

    3. Kinkakuji Temple

    Known as the “Golden Temple”, the Kinkakuji Temple is a zen Buddhist temple in the heart of Kyoto. This temple is easily one of the most beautiful places in Japan as the top two floors of the building are covered in glittering gold leaf. 

    Kinkakuji Temple
    The Golden Temple!

    It’s a great activity for people trying to stick to a budget in Japan. The entry fee for adults is pretty cheap at 400 Yuen or nearly $3 (300 Yen for kids).

    After viewing the temple, travellers spend time in the stunning temple gardens. In the gardens, you can discover the Ammintaku Pond and statues where it is thought that if you throw coins at them, you will be granted good luck. There is also a souvenir shop and a tea garden that serves matcha, tea and sweets. 

    This temple is a popular attraction amongst tourists and you’ll see many visitors taking photos here. To avoid crowds, stay in a nearby Kyoto hostel and visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 

    4. Shirakawa-go

    Residing in Gifu prefecture is Shirakawa-go, a traditional Japanese village left completely untouched by modern architecture. Shirakawa-go is known as the Japanese village time forgot.

    Because of this, the three villages in this area were granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1995. As you can imagine, there are some spectacular Japanese Airbnbs to stay in.

    Shirakawa-go Japan
    Out with the new, in with the old

    In the village, discover gassho-zukuri-style farmhouses that have classic triangular thatched roofs that are unlike any other village you have seen. Whilst many of the buildings have been converted into restaurants that serve traditional Japanese-style cuisine, this scenic village is still 100% worth the visit.  

    The atmosphere here is extremely peaceful and the locals are welcoming. Just remember that people still live in this area; try not to take photos or enter their homes without permission to do so. Also, if you’re visiting in the winter, keep in mind that this area is prone to heavy snowfall. 

    5. Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture

    Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Himeji Castle has withstood many wars and natural disasters and is arguably the most famous castle in Japan. This castle was built in the 17th century and continues to attract tourists to this day. 

    5. Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture
    I just can’t get enough of this image

    To get the most out of the castle, you can book an English-speaking tour. One key safety tip for visiting is to use non-slip socks as you have to enter the castle without shoes and it can be slippery. It takes between 1.5-4 hours to properly get a look around the place so it makes a great half-day or day trip for any type of traveller.

    After exploring the castle, there are wonderful gardens to unwind in. Due to its popularity, there is an admission fee to enter the castle and you should expect queues. Around 1.5 million guests visit each year, so get there early to avoid the crowds (and get the best photos with no tourists in).

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    6. Zao Snow Monsters

    This is arguably one of the most unique places to visit in Japan. Step right into a fairytale and be amazed by the unusual phenomenon of the Zao Snow Monsters in Zao. 

    Ideal for a winter vacation, Zao is filled with some of Japan’s best ski resorts and endless amounts of scenic beauty. The monsters can be found near the top of the mountains, so you will need to hike or ski there to get the best views.

    Zao Snow Monsters Yamagata Japan
    Oh, to be skiing through Snow Monsters in Zao

    The Zao Snow Monsters are essentially trees covered in snow that have been warped by the wind. This formation creates trees that look like monsters and various characters, which makes for the perfect viral photo opportunity.

    If you’re in Japan during January and are into Japanese festivals (because who isn’t), you can even participate in the Zao Snow Monsters festival! It’s a wonderful sight as fireworks are set off into the clear sky. 

    7. Beaches of Ishigaki

    Whether you’re the type who wants to unwind or the type looking for unique experiences, the beaches of Ishigaki should undoubtedly be included in your trip planning.

    Beaches of Ishigaki
    Ishigaki has some stunning beaches

    Most people don’t think of bringing their beach gear when packing for a holiday in Japan. But trust me on this one, these beaches are stunning! Here you will find white sandy beaches and some of the clearest blue water I’ve ever seen. The water is actually so clear that you can easily see the fish swimming out in the ocean from the shore! (Well, at least I did). 

    There are many beaches here but my personal favourite was Sukuji Beach. Other well know beaches worth a visit include (but are not limited to) Kabira Bay, Yonehara Beach and Akashi Beach.

    Choose to soak up the sun on these gorgeous beaches or book a glass-bottom boat tour to discover the abundance of awesome sea creatures here.

    8. Oirase Gorge

    If you’re looking for a hiking trail, there isn’t another quite like the Oirase Gorge. Here you will be grounded within nature whilst getting a healthy dose of feel-good endorphins from walking the trail.

    The Oirase Stream is surrounded by vibrant red and orange trees and moss-covered rocks. There is also a selection of waterfalls littered throughout this area which only makes this location even better.

    Oirase Gorge Japan
    Bloody Gorge-ous

    I would recommend this activity to absolutely everyone visiting Japan and I will be extremely angry at you if you don’t go (I’m joking). But seriously, this hike is unforgettable and will be good for your body and mind.

    It will also be extremely good for your camera roll: it’s a great place to bring a good travel camera. This has been often described as one of the most picturesque places in Japan.

    Whilst the scenery gets better the further you go, the entire hike averages around three to four hours. However, if you can’t complete the entire 14km long trail, there are bus stops along the way with buses that will take you to different hotspots along the trail. 

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    9. Digital Art Forest, Kyushu

    The digital art forest in Fukuoka, Kyushu by teamLAB is an unreplicated experience. If you find yourself in town, you should definitely add this to your Fukuoka Itinerary.

    Teamlab Museum Japan
    Ever been to a digital forest?
    Photo: rabbit_akra (Flickr)

    During the day, you can discover historical landmarks such as the cave of 500 stone arhats. But, during the evening is when this area really thrives. As soon as nightfall hits, the forest is lit up with lights and all the trees and rocks transform into pieces of digital artwork. It is truly a sight to behold.

    Some of the featured favourites include the Azalea Valley, where the colours of the bushes change as you approach them and the “Ever Blossoming Life Rock” exhibit where a simple boulder becomes a canvas for unbelievable artwork. 

    This is a unique form of evening entertainment that is definitely worth stopping by.

    10. Shiretoko National Park

    When searching for the most beautiful place in Japan, Shiretoko National Park should seriously be considered. Located on the eastmost part of mainland Hokkaido, this national park is in one of the most remote areas of Japan. To access the park, you will have to walk or take a boat as no cars are allowed leading up to this area. 

    Shiretoko National Park
    Over the hill.

    If you’re anything like me (a national park fanatic who likes to be out in the sticks and away from people) or even if you just love the outdoors and all its natural beauty, you HAVE to go to Shiretoko National Park.

    Whilst in the park, you’ll find a completely unspoiled piece of nature. You’ll also get the opportunity to spot wildlife such as brown bears, foxes and deer. 

    Due to being in such a remote location, it is advised that you visit the park with a friend as it is unlikely you will get phone service whilst you are here. 

    11. Kabira Bay

    Kabira Bay Okinawa
    Bet you didn’t expect beaches like this in Japan!

    Kabira Bay is located on Ishigaki Island and is home to a spectacular green ocean and an immaculate sandy beach. 

    Visitors can relax and soak in the views of the small green islands. This area is popular amongst tourists, so visit early in the morning to avoid large crowds.

    12. Kamikochi

    Kamikochi Park Nagano
    And breathe…

    Kamikochi is a mountain resort in northern Japan and is an idyllic escape from the busy city centre. 

    During the summer and spring, a cool breeze flows through this area. During the colder months, the mountains and forestry get covered in snow which creates a tranquil winter wonderland.

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    13. Nachi Falls

    Guy snaps photo of one of the most beautiful temples in Japan, Kumano Nachi Taisha.
    Photo: @audyscala

    Sitting right by the stunning Pagoda of Seigantoji Temple is Nachi Falls. It’s the longest waterfall in Japan and one of the world’s most striking waterfalls.

    Take a scenic hike to the 133-metre-long waterfall and embed yourself in nature. The ambience here is incredibly blissful and allows you to reconnect with the earth and Japan’s extensive history.

    14. Unkai Terrace

    Unkai Terrace Japan
    Sea of clouds is accurate, huh.

    Unkai Terrace is in Hokkaido. To give you some context of this location, the word “Unkai” translates to the “sea of clouds”.

    Here, you’ll find a terrace located at 1088 metres above sea level creating an ethereal view of looking down on the clouds. Be warned it’s only open May-October.

    15. Shibuya Crossing

    Shibuya Crossing is in my top 10 places to visit in Japan. Anyone backpacking through Tokyo has to see this.

    Shibuya Crossing is one of the busiest crossings in the world. Approximately 1,000 people cross the street with every blue light. There’s SO much photography/videography potential here guys.

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    How to See Beautiful Places in Japan

    Japan’s transportation is very efficient. Public transport is rarely late and the process is an organised system. 

    The train is the most popular form of transport for all areas. There are also bullet trains that will take you through the countryside as well as the cities.

    Remember to access the trains, you will likely need to apply for a Japan Rail Pass before your trip. These passes cost approximately £192/$238 for seven days.

    It is essential that you keep this on you at all times. It’s almost impossible to replace whilst in Japan.

    Girl stands in front of train in Tokyo, Japan with her backpack on.
    Waiting in line!
    Photo: @audyscala

    Buses and taxis are also available and just as efficient. The taxi services are extremely friendly with most cars having doors that automatically open as the driver arrives. The prices for these forms of transport are determined by the distance you would like to travel. 

    I highly recommend checking out some Japan travel tips so that you get the most out of your experience while keeping your budget in check.

    FAQs about Beautiful Places in Japan

    Below are some FAQs about Japan’s beautiful places.

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    Final Thoughts on Beautiful Places in Japan

    When people talk about Japan, it sounds kinda mystical. Images of pink trees, kind people, and highly organised cities spring to mind.

    As well as that all being true, nature and society are so gorgeously structured, it makes it one of the most extraordinary places in the world to visit. This list of the most beautiful places in Japan is STUFFED with things that you should seriously consider adding to your itinerary.

    Whilst visiting a Japanese temple is an essential part of enjoying Japan, the Shirogane Blue Pond is also an unbelievable must-see attraction. Not forgetting the Digital Art Forest and Shibuya Crossing for a modern take on beauty.

    But for me, no Japan trip is complete without marvelling at Mount Fuji. It’s simply so beautiful and iconic, Japan wouldn’t be the same without it.

    Try not to rush yourself in Japan: taking a few extra moments to appreciate what’s around you will go far. These stunning sights mark your memories. It’s really something money can’t buy.

    girl smiles for photo at a famous shrine in Kyoto, Japan
    Photo: @audyscala
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