Japan is a country that’s so incredible to explore! From the stunning hiking trails, islands like Kyushu and the best cities in Japan to visit, there’s a little slice of the country that I’m sure everyone will love.
That being said, with so many of the best cities in Japan to visit, it can often be bamboozling to actually whittle down a handful to visit. This is especially true if you’re heading to Japan for a holiday or a short period of time.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my very favourite and best cities in Japan to visit on your next trip. Some are sprawling mega-cities like Tokyo, whilst others are a little smaller (like Fukuoka)…
…Whatever the case, I’m almost certain you’ll find a fair few that’ll take your fancy.
Take a look, below, at the best cities in Japan to visit on your next trip. Have the best time!
Best Cities In Japan To Visit
Tokyo is the biggest metropolis in the world and one of the best cities in Japan to visit for sure.
For me, the first thing that always strikes me on a trip to Tokyo is its sheer size. It’s properly huge! Once you’re here, make sure to pop over to Shibuya Crossing, see the Meiji Jingu Temple and explore TeamLab Borderless for one of the coolest art installations ever.
It’s also the perfect city to be located in if you want to mix your city time with some country exploration as it has some of the best links across the country to other, more remote, parts of Japan.
Honestly, Tokyo is one of those cities you need to visit a few times, it’s just so big that you won’t be able to fit it all in one trip. That being said, it makes for a great excuse to return.
Sapporo was the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, and it is known for its ski resorts.
Now, Sapporo is definitely a city defined by snow, it has a snow festival each year so do try your best to plan a snow visit. It’s a totally cool place and one of the best cities in Japan to visit in Winter.
Once you’re here, make sure to stroll through Odori Park, see the TV Tower and explore the amazing beer scene that the city is famous for.
Plus, each year, Sapporo is hosts a massive snow festival each year so do try your best to plan your visit around winter time.
A short train ride from Osaka, Kyoto was once the capital and still up there as one of the best cities in Japan to visit.
Now people visit Kyoto to get a glimpse of Japan’s rich history and culture.
Once you’re in Kyoto, make sure to explore; Kinkaku-ji, see the Fushimi Inari Taisha and explore the Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama. It really is a great city.
Also, pop over to Gion and you can see real geishas walking around or riding in carriages.
With its walkable city centre, friendly, laid-back citizens, and nice beaches, Fukuoka is one of Kyushu Island’s biggest cities. Plus, it’s easily up there as one of the best cities in Japan to visit as it’s often ranked as the most liveable cities in Japan.
Also when in Fukuoka, don’t forget to pop into the castle, stroll through Ohori Park and see the Shinto shrine of Dazaifu Tenmangū. Afterwards, see if you can book (well in advance) a few days onboard Japan’s most luxurious train, the Seven Stars in Kyushu.
The beautiful port city of Osaka has no shortage of backstreets where you stroll around to your heart’s content.
Once you’re here, make sure to visit some of the incredible sushi restaurants in the city, see Osaka Castle and explore the lively district of Dōtonbori. It’s a great place to go for dinner and a few cocktails.
Osaka is one of the best cities in Japan to visit that’s totally filled with character, history and plenty of yummy eateries.
Although Nara is Kyoto’s often overlooked neighbour, there are more buildings in Nara that are official Japanese national treasures than anywhere else in the whole country. This alone makes it one of the best cities in Japan to visit on your next trip.
Once you’re here, make sure to stroll through the Kasuga-Yama Hill Primeval Forest, see the Buddhist temple of Todai-ji and spot the imposing temple of Hōryū-ji. It really is a beautiful city with so much history.
Nagasaki has had a painful past that can’t be ignored, with atomic bombs dropped on it in 1945, it’s a city that’s been shaped by war. Yet, whilst the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park can be a deeply moving experience, there are other reasons to visit Nagasaki as well.
If you can, plan your trip around the Lunar New Year when the Nagasaki Lantern Festival starts. That being said, if you miss it, there’s still lots more to see and do in one of the best cities in Japan to visit.
Once here, make sure to explore Hashima Island (15km away), spot Mount Inasa and gorge at the Nagasaki Chinatown. You’ll leave stuffed.
Now, Naha is the capital of Okinawa, and a pretty big hub for other Japanese islands and beach exploring. That being said, it’s still one of the best cities in Japan to visit in its own right.
Once you’ve arrived in Naha, make sure to explore the 14th Century Shurijo Castle, chillout at Naminoue Beach and see the Chinese Garden of Fukushūen.
Nagoya has everything you could want in a city: museums, a vibrant culture, tasty restaurants, and plenty of independent shops.
Once you’ve arrived in Nagoya, head across to Nagoya Castle, see the Nagoya TV Tower and gorge at Atsuta Horaiken Honten. Though be prepared for a bit of a wait, this place gets busy.
It’s such a fun and historic city to visit in Japan and a perfect place to stay for a long weekend between the massive cities that are dotted all across the country.