Best cities to visit in Japan: Where should foreigners go?

Japan is a nation where its old customs and historical culture coexist with its distinctive, inventive, and original culture. People from all around the world are believed to aspire to travel there one day.

This time, we’ll outline the important Japanese cities that we think international tourists should visit. Please consider what kind of city would be the best cities to visit in Japan if you were Japanese and were to advise Japan to foreign.

Which are the best cities to visit in Japan?


Japan’s capital is Tokyo. Additionally, it is the world’s most populous urban region. Another well-known domestic and international tourism attraction is Tokyo.

Best cities to visit in Japan

It is the world’s most populous urban region. (Source: Internet)

Narita and Haneda International Airports are located in the nation’s capital. Tokyo offers a magnificent fusion of tradition and contemporary history and culture. It would be highly worthwhile for you to return here frequently.

  • Prefecture: Tokyo
  • Features: Modern technology, cutting-edge trend locations, and the thrill of a huge city
  • Featured locations: Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree, Shibuya Scramble Crossing, Sensoji Temple, Meiji Shrine, Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall), anime/manga/game-related spots, “cute” spots…
  • Specialty dishes: Monjayaki, Ningyoyaki, Kintaro candy
  • Japan’s most well-known city is Tokyo. There are about 35 million people living in the 23 wards that make up Tokyo’s core region. 
  • Shibuya is also home to the “Scramble Crossing,” the busiest crossing in the world, where as many as 3,000 people are estimated to pass through at a single green light and as many as 500,000 people are said to pass through daily. 
  • Additionally, 3.4 million people use Shinjuku Station every day, making it the busiest railway station in the world.
  • The epicenter of otaku culture, Akihabara is home to a variety of stores selling video games, anime, and comics in addition to being the largest electronics market in Japan. 
  • Tokyo is well-known for being the capital of “kawaii” culture and fashion, but it also has a long history of traditional culture, with numerous festivals celebrated in temples and shrines all year long. It’s a very fascinating city where traditional and modern cultures coexist.


Do you like winter? Sapporo is the perfect vacation spot if you enjoy outdoor winter activities. Skiing and winter festivals are only two examples of the many winter-themed events. But Sapporo is unquestionably attractive all year round.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Sapporo is the perfect vacation spot if you enjoy outdoor winter activities. (Source: Internet)

You may travel to Japan’s most beautiful city whenever you like, and while you’re there, taste some of the world-famous Sapporo beer.

  • Prefecture: Hokkaido
  • Features: Winter, snow, a chilly environment, delectable seafood, an abundance of agricultural goods, and premium dairy products
  • Featured locations: Sapporo Snow Festival, Sapporo Beer Museum, Shiroi Koibito Park (Cookie Factory), Sapporo Factory (Shopping and Entertainment Complex), Seafood Market
  • Specialty dishes: Seafood bowl, soup curry, Genghis Khan, miso ramen, soft serve ice cream
  • Because of its frigid environment, Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, is a great place to spend the winter. 
  • This location serves as the setting for the renowned “Sapporo Snow Festival,” which attracts around 2 million visitors annually and features an array of breathtaking ice and snow creations. I will move it.
  • People who like skiing and snowboarding at the ski resorts and visitors to the Sapporo Olympic Museum, which features artifacts from the 1972 Winter Olympics, pack Sapporo. 
  • Hokkaido is renowned for having an abundance of seafood, so if you’re in Sapporo, we suggest you sample some of the delectable fish.


The major city in Japan’s Chubu area is Aichi. Additionally, it serves as the commercial and transportation hub for central Japan. When visiting Nagoya especially Aichi, tourists can go to amusement parks to learn about the region’s history, castles, and other distinctive features.

Aichi should be on your list of places to visit.

  • Prefecture: Aichi Prefecture
  • Features: Technologies and Transportation
  • Featured locations: Nagoya Castle, JR Central Towers, Toyota Museum, Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, Maglev and Railway Museum, Asahi Beer Factory, Nagoya City Science Museum, Osu Kannon, World Cosplay Summit
  • Specialty dishes: Miso cutlet, chicken wings, Kishimen, Tempura
  • The automotive and aviation sectors of Japan are based in Nagoya, which is also a technology hub for the quickly expanding robot sector. 
  • The city’s Science Museum, Maglev Museum, Toyota Museum, and Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology are good places to start if you want to learn more about Nagoya as a technological hub.
  • Nagoya has gained notoriety as the location of the World Cosplay Summit, where cosplayers from 20 different nations compete against one another in a cosplay parade.


South of Tokyo is the city of Yokohama. This city ranks second in population in Japan and serves as the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. It is well-known for tourist attractions such Yokohama Chinatown, the ancient Red Brick Warehouse, and the seaside city of Minato Mirai.

The creative Ramen Museum will appeal to those who like Japanese food. You may eat there, shop there, and tourists can even manufacture their own ramen noodles there in addition to learning about its history.

  • Prefecture: Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Features: Port city
  • Featured locations: Yokohama Brick Warehouse, Yokohama Landmark Tower, Marine Tower, Yokohama Chinatown, Yokohama Port, Nippon Maru Memorial Park, Yokohama Museum of Art, Cosmo Clock 21 (Ferris wheel), Ramen Museum, Minato Mirai 21
  • Specialty dishes: Beef hotpot, Sanmamen (Yokohama ramen), Spaghetti Neapolitan, Chinese food
  • South of Tokyo, on the picturesque west shore of Tokyo Bay, and facing the Pacific Ocean, is the port city of Yokohama. It is renowned for its architectural design, including the red brick warehouse that serves as the city’s landmark and Yokohama’s Chinatown, which was established in the 19th century by Chinese immigrants who moved there. 
  • It is also noted for being the first port in Japan to be formally opened in 1859. It is accurate to state that historical influences have formed Yokohama into what it is today.
  • After Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture has the second-highest population in Japan. Visitors to Yokohama can take in the harbor views from water buses and enormous Ferris wheels, go sightseeing, and shop at art galleries.

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Kobe is another worthwhile Japanese city that can be found on the island of Honshu. While in Japan, you can visit Kobe if you want to travel somewhere with a stunning view of the mountains or the harbor.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Kobe is another worthwhile Japanese city that can be found on the island of Honshu. (Source: Internet)

The monument honoring the tragic 1995 earthquake is the most well-known in Kobe. However, Kobe still has a lot of intriguing features that you may appreciate.

  • Prefecture: Hyogo Prefecture
  • Features: Lovely view of the ocean, steak
  • Featured locations: Kobe Harborland, Meriken Park, Nada Sake Brewery, Arima Onsen, Mt. Rokko, Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum
  • Specialty dishes: Kobe beef, Akashiyaki, Octopus Rice, Sake
  • To the west of Osaka is the port city of Kobe. One of the first cities in Japan to open up to foreign trade when the country ended its isolation was this one. 
  • The term “Kobe” is widely recognized as being connected with the premium meat produced in Kobe, and Kobe Bryant, a former NBA player, is supposed to have gotten his name from Kobe beef.
  • Arima Onsen, one of Japan’s oldest hot springs, is also close by, as is Mt. Rokko, a renowned hiking destination, which is also adjacent to Kobe. One of Japan’s top regions for making sake is Kobe/Nada. 
  • The city has now made a great recovery despite being one of the disaster sites of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. It would be a good idea to visit the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum in Kobe if you are in the city to get a sense of how things were back then.


Nara is the next-best city to visit in Japan. It is a city not to be missed for those who enjoy cultural excursions. Nara has many temples, so it will greet you with its collection of them!

Best cities to visit in Japan

It is a city not to be missed for those who enjoy cultural excursions. (Source: Internet)

You can visit each temple and have outdoor fun at Nara Park where you can encounter all the wild deer there because each temple has its own personality and tale to tell.

  • Prefecture: Nara Prefecture
  • Features: Blending of culture and nature
  • Featured locations: Historical sites in the ancient capital of Nara, Todaiji Temple and the Great Buddha, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara Park, cherry blossom viewing spots in Yoshino, Nara National Museum
  • Specialty dishes: Narazuke, persimmon dishes, Nara tea rice, mugwort mochi
  • Japan’s original capital is Nara. It is renowned as a haven for traditional culture and a spot to take in the surrounding beauties. 
  • The Heijo Palace Ruins and Kasugayama Primeval Forest are only a couple of the historical locations in Nara, which is also known for its “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara” designation and many more historical landmarks.
  • The deer in Nara Park are particularly well-known to visitors from abroad. If you visit Nara Park, where hundreds of deer reside, and feed them with “deer rice crackers,” it will add an extra touch to your vacation. 
  • It is supposed to be based on the traditional Shinto concept that deer are messengers of the gods. If you’re lucky, the deer might make a bowing motion to show its appreciation for you.


The third-largest city in Japan and its original capital is Osaka. Osaka, Japan’s second-largest metropolis after Tokyo, is regarded as a crucial economic hub.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Osaka, Japan’s second-largest metropolis after Tokyo, is regarded as a crucial economic hub. (Source: Internet)

Osaka Palace is among the most significant historical locations in Japan. When visiting Osaka, you should also be sure to visit Shinsaibashi, which is a great entertainment district.

  • Prefecture: Osaka Prefecture
  • Features: A lively and lovely city
  • Featured locations: Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, Osaka Kaiyukan, Universal Studios Japan, Floating Garden Observatory, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
  • Specialty dishes: Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Yakiniku, Kitsune Udon, Taiko Manju
  • The second-biggest city in Japan and the largest in the Kansai area is Osaka. The inhabitants of this colorful, energetic city are welcoming. 
  • Numerous attractions include Osaka Kaiyukan, one of the biggest public aquariums in the world, Universal Studios Japan, neon signs that brightly illuminate the city, well-known cuisines like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, and Dotonbori, Osaka’s busiest retail area.
  • It is also renowned as a location where you may take in examples of traditional Japanese culture like Bunraku puppet shows, Sumiyoshi Taisha, and Osaka Castle.


Best cities to visit in Japan

Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan, is the location of numerous Buddhist and Shinto temples. (Source: Internet)

Many people believe that Kyoto is the most beautiful city in all of Japan. Prior to Tokyo’s annexation of the government in 1868, it served as Japan’s capital. Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan, is the location of numerous Buddhist and Shinto temples. Every temple has a lengthy and fascinating history.

  • Prefecture: Kyoto Prefecture
  • Features: Traditional culture
  • Featured locations: Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Gion, Kyoto National Museum
  • Specialty dishes: Kaiseki cuisine, Yuba, Shojin cuisine, Yatsuhashi
  • The best place to experience traditional Japanese culture is in Kyoto, which has about 2,000 temples and shrines, including Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, famous for its Zen rock garden, and Fushimi Inari Taisha, which has 5,000 bright red torii gates.
  • The ”Geisha District” in Gion is one of the most talked-about neighborhoods in Kyoto. Geishas and maikos are rumored to be hard to come by, but if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Betsukai wearing a kimono! 
  • The Kyoto National Museum, which is home to over 230 national treasures and significant cultural objects, is a must-see for art and history enthusiasts.


The island of Okinawa is incredibly beautiful. It possesses untouched natural beauty and is situated at the southernmost point of Japan. Due to its attractiveness, this location has become a well-liked vacation spot for beach and nature lovers both.

Best cities to visit in Japan

The island of Okinawa is incredibly beautiful. (Source: Internet)

The island is home to numerous immaculate beaches with clear waters that are ideal for swimming, diving, and other water sports. With its distinctive traditions, customs, and cuisine, Okinawa’s distinct culture is also a top draw for tourists.

  • Prefecture: Okinawa Prefecture
  • Features: Island, Sea, Resort
  • Featured locations: Churaumi Aquarium, Sefa Utaki, National Okinawa Memorial Park, Shuri Castle, Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall, Tamatorizaki Observation Deck, various beaches
  • Specialty dishes: Bitter melon Champuru, sea grapes, Okinawa soba, Shikwasa
  • 160 islands make up Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture in Japan. It has a subtropical climate and is the habitat of numerous unique plants and animals. 
  • Pristine blue oceans, white sand beaches, and vibrant fish. Without leaving Japan, you can indulge in scuba diving and snorkeling at this location.
  • The islands, sometimes referred to by its prehistoric name Ryukyu, continue to have a distinct culture that is still present and provides a window into an alternative aspect of Japan’s traditional culture.


Hiroshima is thought to have been the first city in the world to be hit by an atomic bomb. However, Hiroshima is today one of the most popular vacation spots, making it one of the top cities in Japan.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Hiroshima is thought to have been the first city in the world to be hit by an atomic bomb. (Source: Internet)

Everyone is reminded of the bombing story when they visit this place. One of these is the Atomic Bomb Dome, also called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. But don’t worry, Hiroshima also boasts a ton of exciting locations and delicious cuisine.

  • Prefecture: Hiroshima Prefecture
  • Features: Structures that stand for both history and peace
  • Featured locations: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien Garden, World Peace Memorial Cathedral, Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine, Hiroshima Stupa
  • Specialty dishes: Oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, Hiroshima Tsukemen, Momiji Manju
  • The first atomic bomb ever detonated in the world took place at Hiroshima in 1945. Right after it, the city was severely damaged by the Makurazaki typhoon. Hiroshima as it is today has endured these catastrophes. 
  • The decaying city and demolished structures were later repaired and newly constructed, and the Japanese Diet designated it a “Peace Memorial City” in 1949.
  • In addition to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which has come to represent the city’s recovery, there are numerous additional buildings that promote harmony and collaboration. 
  • There are numerous places you should see at least once, including Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien Garden, and Itsukushima Shrine with its spectacular torii gate floating on the lake.

Observations before traveling to Japan

1. Prepare some cash in Japanese yen

Although larger retailers now accept debit and credit cards, most transactions in Japan are still done in cash. You’ll need Japanese yen in cash because small, independently owned stores frequently do not take credit cards.

Tickets for the Shinkansen can be bought with a card, but you need cash to pay for tickets for other forms of public transit, including trains, buses, and subways, as well as to charge IC cards.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Although larger retailers now accept debit and credit cards, most transactions in Japan are still done in cash. (Source: Internet)

If you’re short on money, don’t worry. ATMs located inside convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart allow you to withdraw Japanese yen using international credit cards.

2. Observe proper behavior when taking the train

The stations and train interiors in Japan are claimed to be clean and simple to use, and the trains are believed to operate almost on schedule. As soon as you board, you’ll realize how peaceful and cozy the inside of the vehicle is. The primary explanation given for this is that travelers are polite.

It is not permitted to use a cell phone, have a loud conversation, eat, or listen to music without headphones. Additionally, it’s bad manners to take up two seats by yourself or do anything else that can make other passengers feel uncomfortable.

Pregnant ladies, senior citizens, and those with disabilities are given priority seating. Offer your seat to the person who needs it if you are seated in a priority seat and they arrive.

3. Pedestrians stroll on the left

In Japan, the flow of pedestrians is typically orderly. The optimum side to be on when using the escalator, stairs, or sidewalk is the left.

The Osaka escalator is an outlier, with people standing on the right side of the machine.

Best cities to visit in Japan

The optimum side to be on when using the escalator, stairs, or sidewalk is the left. (Source: Internet)

4. Tip not necessary

From little convenience stores to well-known inns, Japan is renowned for its friendly customer service. Additionally, you do not need to pay extra to enjoy this amazing care.

I seldom ever give tips to hotel or restaurant staff. Service fees are incorporated into the price of lodging and meals, and tipping personnel may result in a refusal.

High-end eateries, however, could tack on a 10% service fee to the cost of your meal.

5. Lack of garbage and trash cans

When you visit Japan, you’ll see that the cities are cleaner and have fewer trash cans.

After consuming the snacks and treats you purchased at the supermarket, one of the challenges of traveling is waste disposal. Eat it right where you buy it to solve the problem. There is no issue if you discard it in the store’s trash can or give it to the staff members.

Since there aren’t many trash cans in the city, if you don’t take advantage of this chance, you’ll have to transport your rubbish to your next location or lodging.

Garbage is segregated and thrown away in Japan. Place paper, plastic bottles, and cans in the appropriate garbage bins.

Best cities to visit in Japan

Garbage is segregated and thrown away in Japan. Place paper, plastic bottles, and cans in the appropriate garbage bins. (Source: Internet)


1. What is the name of Japan’s number one tourist city?

Kyoto is home to many attractions that will make you want to visit again and again. There are many world heritage pagodas and temples here. Not only that, Kyoto also has a variety of souvenirs to help you easily choose the right gift for your friends and relatives. The cuisine here is also extremely special. This will definitely be a place you will never forget if you ever visit.

2. Which city in the world do tourists most want to visit?

According to the famous American travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, Tokyo tops the list of “cities in the world you want to visit”. Every year, this magazine organizes votes for readers to determine the ranking of the world’s best cities to visit.

In the latest 2021 edition, Tokyo was ranked first. The magazine describes Tokyo, Japan as “a city of bright neon lights, cozy alleys, and historic temples and pagodas”.

3. What is the ranking of cities you would like to visit?

Top 10 cities contributing to tourism GDP in 2022

  1. Paris 36 billion dollars (about 4.6 trillion yen)
  2. Beijing $33 billion (about 4.2 trillion yen)
  3. Orlando $31 billion (approximately 4 trillion yen)
  4. Shanghai $30 billion (about 3.8 trillion yen)
  5. Las Vegas $23 billion (about 2.9 trillion yen)
  6. New York $21.1 billion (about 2.7 trillion yen)
  7. Tokyo $18 billion (about 2.3 trillion yen)

4. What is the ranking of cities you would like to visit in 2023?

Below is the ranking of the world’s most popular cities in 2023.

  1. Oaxaca (Mexico): 93.53 points
  2. Udaipur (India): 93.33 points
  3. Kyoto (Japan): 92.06 points
  4. Ubud (Indonesia): 91.73 points
  5. San Miguel de Allende (Mexico): 91.19 points
  6. Mexico City (Mexico): 90.55 points
  7. Tokyo (Japan): 90.30 points

5. Which are the 5 largest cities in Japan?

Among the 1,741 cities, wards, towns, and villages in Japan, Yokohama City has the highest population with 3,741,317 people as of April 1 this year. Osaka City ranked 2nd, Nagoya City ranked 3rd, Sapporo City ranked 4th and Fukuoka City ranked 5th. These are the 5 Japanese cities with the largest population in the country.

6. Where is the most beautiful town in Japan?

Kiyosato is known as the most beautiful village in Japan. It is blessed with abundant water resources. The most typical is the Shari River. This is one of the most apparent streams in Japan. Besides that, there is the mysterious Mashu Lake and Kaminoko Pond.

These are all places that are said to have abundant underground water sources. This is a town blessed with natural tourism resources.

7. Which city in the world has the best aesthetics?

based on the findings of the yearly study, which Condé Nast Traveler released on October 7. Tokyo took the top spot in the “Ranking of the world’s most attractive cities” in 2019 for a fourth straight year.

For the first time, three Japanese cities were in the top 10, with Kyoto placing second for the second year in a row and Osaka placing fifth after placing 12th the year before.

8. In 2023, which city will have the best quality of life?

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s assessment of the world’s most livable cities for 2023 keeps Vienna atop the list. In order to compile this year’s list, 173 communities were polled, and points were assigned based on a number of factors, including infrastructure. Both Auckland, New Zealand, and Osaka, Japan, placed tenth.

9. Where in Japan is the finest spot to call home?

For the third year running, “Tokyo” has been rated as the best city to live in as well as the best location to live. Counted between 2019 and 2022, there will be 646,245 men and women throughout the country’s 47 prefectures (1,888 target municipalities).

10. What order would you give Japan’s most breathtaking views?

The top ten picturesque locations in Japan that “feel just like being abroad”

  • First place: Takeda Castle Ruins [Hyogo Prefecture]/Just like “Machu Picchu”
  • Second place: Ryuo Cave in Niigata Prefecture, which is like a “blue cave”
  • Just like “Uyuni Salt Lake” / Chichibugahama, Kagawa Prefecture came in third.
  • Similar to “Phi Phi Island”/Hirizo Beach (Shizuoka Prefecture), which takes fourth place.
  • Just like “Paine National Park” / Hotsugaura [Aomori Prefecture] earned fifth place.


If you shift your perspective one step from your usual perspective, you will see the best cities to visit in Japan that you have never seen before. In fact, the experience of enjoying the charm of Japan may still be dormant.

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About Yuu Sato

Yuu Sato has been working in hospitality industry since 2003. In the past, he used to work as a tour guide and now he is running his business of supplying comfortable accommodations in Japan. Thanks to this experience and his passion for writing blog, the articles by him provides awesome tips and things to do when you are traveling in the country of cherry blossoms.

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