Japan has got to be one of the most beautiful, entertaining and interesting countries in the world. Immersing yourself in its culture is something you will find memorable. The eclectic mix of history and modernization makes Japan a worthy backpacking destination. Visiting various cities in Japan on a backpacker budget is very doable.
Major cities are your best bet as they have welcomed tourists with open arms and the locals are always friendly and welcoming. Backpackers will be at ease knowing that Japan is one of the safest countries to go backpacking, and the Japanese scenery is something that shouldn’t be missed out on. To help you out, here’s a list of cities in Japan to visit and the things to do in each city.
This capital city of Japan is the most populated city in the entire world. With roughly 38 million residents, Tokyo surely is as diverse as it gets. This capital of Japan is home to both modern urbanized skyscrapers and historically relevant shrines and monuments. You will never run out of things to do in Tokyo and there’s no better place to start your Japan journey.
Famous for its history and grandeur, the Imperial Palace is a good place to take a stroll and just have a relaxing walk. The palace is surrounded by a beautiful park with lush greenery and perfectly landscaped gardens. Also, you can visit Sensō-ji; the oldest temple in Tokyo with unique architecture. The surrounding streets offer something else as well, with food vendors around, you can have a taste of local street food that Japan is famous for.
Additionally, you can take in the hustle at Tsukiji fish market. Come early to have a taste of the freshest sushi and other seafood. Also in Tokyo, you can watch a Sumo practice at a sumo stable; Japan’s national sport.
On top of these exciting things to do, you should visit the perfectly manicured landscapes and traditionally molded greenery of Tokyo gardens; Happō-en or Yoyogi-kōen. While strolling through the gardens, take time to admire the cherry blossoms; one of Japan’s trademarks. Aside from these delightful trees, also visit the Tokyo zoo and museums in Ueno Park. A day trip to the park will surely be enjoyable.
There are many exciting and interesting things to do and places to see in Tokyo. Book a visit to Robot Restaurant, play with furry pets at an animal café, explore the MORI Building Digital Art Museum, delight the kid in you at Tokyo Disneyland and more.
Kyoto is another famous Japanese city. Much like the other major cities in Japan, Kyoto has the perfect balance of modern advancements and traditional relevance. However, unlike the capital cities, you will see more natural Japanese scenery than busy streets and towering buildings. Here’s a list of just a few things to do in Kyoto.
There are many things to see in Kyoto, Japan. This includes geishas in Gion and their colorful traditional dresses. Strolling around the district will give you a feel of old Japan with its wooden houses and paved streets. Also in Gion, there are numerous teahouses, shrines, restaurants, and shops open where you can have a great experience. Also in Kyoto, you can admire the golden temple of Kinkaku-ji; it is literally covered in gold.
For backpackers who are fans of manga comics, you can get your fill of this modern Japanese art form from the Kyoto International Manga Museum. This 3-story museum is filled with manga comics and they usually host manga-related events. Tenryuji Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has a very significant history. Although it has been ravished by wars, fires and forces of nature, the Tenryuji Temple is still a sight to behold.
Playfully coined as Japan’s kitchen, this city is famous for its culinary delights. This 3rd largest city of Japan is a perfect go-to destination for the foodie backpacker. But more than the food, there are other worthy attractions that merit Osaka a visit. Here, you should take a stroll through Hozenji Yokocho. Lined with traditional shops, eateries, and houses, this traditional Japanese neighborhood will give you the laidback vibe while soaking in bits of Japanese history and culture.
Japan’s culture consists of the major religion of Buddhism. While backpacking Osaka, you can pay a visit to Shitennoji Temple; Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple built in 593AD. Alson with the temple, you can take a trip to the Osaka castle for it’s a sight to see. If possible, come during spring so you can experience the cherry blossom trees surrounding the castle in full bloom.
While exploring Osaka, you can ward off evil spirits in the Lion Shrine. Locally known as Namba Yasaka, this shrine features a façade shaped and carved to resemble a lion. It is believed that the open mouth of the lion swallows unlucky and evil spirits. While backpacking Osaka, relish in Japanese and western art in Nakanoshima. Nestled between the Tosaborigawa River and Dojimagawa River, it is lined with various galleries, museums, and exhibitions including the Osaka National Museum of Art and the Osaka Science Museum.
When night falls, you can awe at Osaka atop the Umeda Building. This futuristic skyscraper will give you the best view of the city skyline. You can also be one with nature in Minoo Park. Soak in nature and relax in this quiet valley. Take an easy trek through the park and head to Minoo waterfall to see an astonishing natural wonder.
Another capital of Japan is Sapporo. This one of the most exciting Japanese cities with diverse activities to experience and locations to explore. The city is idyllic to visit during the winter season as it offers various winter attractions and the winter festival.
Easily one of the best parks in Japan with some of the best Japan scenery, Odori Park shows its beauty with sculpted fountains, stunning flower gardens and the lush expanse of bushes and trees. This park is usually the venue for Sapporo’s Winter Snow Festival. Also, one of the most popular places to visit is the Sapporo Beer Museum. Here, you can have a tour through their distillery and museum, after which you can have your fill of the famous local beer with food to match.
Find sweetness galore in the Ishiya Chocolate Factory. This factory is more appealing to travelers with children. However, a tour of the facility is quite educational and enjoyable. Plus, you get to indulge on sweet chocolates as well as a delectable cake buffet in their onsite restaurant. At the end of the day, you can also enjoy the local nightlife. Susukino is filled with bars, restaurants, high-end shops, cinemas, and karaoke clubs. The vibrant outgoing vibe of this neighborhood will certainly awake the inner party animal.
Hiroshima is filled with history. You can learn much about Japan’s history, especially during World War II once you visit this city. Although the city was once left in turmoil and destruction, it has since become a modern and vibrant tourist attraction. Here’s a list of things to enjoy in this culturally abundant destination. You can have a relaxing day at Miyajima Island. Here, you can pet a deer or just stroll around the place. Miyajima Island is perfect for distressing and just having a relaxed day outside.
In Hiroshima, you can also relive history in the A-Bomb Dome. Hiroshima is ripe with history and this historical structure is one with many stories. This structure, which has been reduced to rubble and debris after the atomic bombing during World War II, used to be a 6-story shopping center. It now serves as a memorial site. Additionally, visit the Itsukushima Shrine, say a little prayer and meditate. The shrine has pathways made of wood and the surrounding view is simply beautiful.
These are just a few things to enjoy some of the major cities of Japan. There are tons of more amazing Japanese cities to visit filled with things to do and astounding Japanese scenery. Of course, no matter what your destination in Japan is, do not forget to have a side trip to Mt. Fuji, it will be worth the travel regardless of where your primary destination is.