Top things to do in Japan

Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Nikkō

Tōshō-gū

A Unesco World Heritage Site in an idyllic natural setting, Tōshō-gū is a lavishly ornate Shintō complex within which Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616), the first shogun and founder of the Tokugawa Bakufu (Japan's last fe…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Kōya-san

Oku-no-in

Oku-no-in, whose name means 'inner sanctuary', is perhaps the most intensely spiritual place in Japan. At its farthest reaches is the Gobyō, the crypt that Shingon Buddhism founder Kōbō Daishi entered to began his e…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Asakusa & Sumida River

Sensō-ji

Tokyo’s most visited temple enshrines a golden image of Kannon (the Buddhist goddess of mercy), which, according to legend, was miraculously pulled out of the nearby Sumida-gawa by two fishermen in AD 628. The image…
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nara

Tōdai-ji

Nara's star attraction is its Daibutsu (Great Buddha), one of the largest bronze statues in the world. It was unveiled in 752, upon the completion of the Daibutsu-den (大仏殿, Great Buddha Hall), built to house it. Bot…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Harajuku & Aoyama

Meiji-jingū

Tokyo’s grandest Shintō shrine is dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken, whose reign (1868–1912) coincided with Japan's transformation from isolationist, feudal state to modern nation. Constructed in 192…
Top Choice Mountain in Fuji Five Lakes

Mt Fuji

Fuji is divided into 10 concentric ‘stations’ from base (first station) to summit (10th), but most climbers start halfway up at various fifth station points, reachable by road. The most popular climbing route is the…
Top Choice Castle in Himeji

Himeji-jō

Himeji-jō is Japan's most magnificent castle, built in 1580 by general Toyotomi Hideyoshi and one of only a few original castles from that era (most are modern concrete reconstructions). Its white-plaster facade (an…
Top Choice Museum in Ueno & Yanesen

Tokyo National Museum

If you visit only one museum in Tokyo, make it the Tokyo National Museum. Here you'll find the world's largest collection of Japanese art, including ancient pottery, Buddhist sculptures, samurai swords, colourful uk…
Top Choice Spectator Sport in Asakusa & Sumida River

Ryōgoku Kokugikan

If you’re in town when a tournament is on, don't miss the chance to catch the big boys of Japanese wrestling in action at the country's largest sumo stadium. The key spectacle is around 3.45pm when the makuuchi (top…
Top Choice Sushi in Odaiba & Tokyo Bay

Sushi Dai

There is no better-value sushi in Tokyo than the omakase (chef's choice) course here. The menu changes daily (and sometimes hourly), but you're guaranteed to get 10 pieces of nigiri (hand-pressed) sushi made from se…