25 Sightseeing Spots in Kansai and West Japan! att.JAPAN’s Top Picks All the Best Things to Do in Japan Vol. 4
- 53. Experience an Oise Mairi
- 54. Look for the hidden beauty of Lake Biwa
- 55. Observe the daily living in Kyoto at Kamogawa Delta
- 56. Start your day with delicious bread and coffee in Kyoto
- 57. Visit a village with traditional thatched-roof houses
- 58. Watch deer lured by the sound of a horn at Nara Park
- 59. Worship a hidden Buddha statue at Kinpusenji Temple in Yoshino
- 60. Go on a tour of the Pacific Ocean at Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN
- 61. Walking around the retro-cute town in Nakazaki-cho
- 62. Enjoy a great panoramic view of Osaka from the “Harukas 300” observatory
- 63. Get surrounded and healed by flowers and art at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
- 64. Feel the power of the mystical ground at Nachi Falls
- 65. Meet pandas at Adventure World
- 66. Climb Mount Rokko and Soak in Arima Onsen in Kobe
- 67. Experience the power of professional baseball at Hanshin Koshien Stadium
- 68. Make a tour of seven public bathhouses at Kinosaki Onsen
- 69. Travel by sleeper train “Sunrise Izumo/Seto”
- 70. Be stunned by the clear blue ocean at the Uradome Coast
- 71. Get impressed by ephemeral art at Tottori Sand Museum
- 72. Immerse yourself in the famous castle and wagashi culture in Matsue
- 73. Be impressed by the appearance and taste of kawara-soba
- 74. Appreciate the beauty of Japanese swords at Bizen Osafune Sword Museum
- 75. Relax in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter in a leisurely manner
- 76. Walk on the walking paths along the rivers
- 77. Wander into a mysterious world at Kosanji Temple
The multilingual free magazine att.JAPAN launched in the year 2000 and with this edition, proudly marks its 100th issue. Over the past 23 years, through firsthand reporting, we have brought the best of Japan to the world, from classic sightseeing spots to little known hidden gems, from food culture to festivals and performing arts.
att.JAPAN’s editors know every corner of this country, and here have selected 100 experiences they hope every traveler to Japan can try. Have faith in these recommendations as everything here was directly experienced by members of our team at att.JAPAN. You’re sure to uncover a new side to this island nation, and open the door to unforgettable experiences.
Whether you’re a first-time traveler wondering where to start, or a seasoned, well-traveled fan of the country, read on to find the perfect something for you! Find out what our writers found most moving, and one piece of personal advice learned from their experience! Have you been to the same place?
Please post on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #attjapan100!
53. Experience an Oise Mairi
Since long ago, it has been said that visiting Ise is a dream for once in a lifetime, referring to Ise Jingu Shrine. Ise Jingu consists of two main shrines, Naiku (inner shrine) and Geku (outer shrine). Naiku has a mysterious atmosphere, with the lush green grounds and simple buildings. After visiting the shrine, stroll around the temple town “Oharai-machi” and the “Okage-yokocho” district to savor delicious food!
|Address||Naiku: 1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise City, Mie|
|Access||Naiku: Isuzugawa Sta. (Kintetsu) → 30 min walk|
|Business hours||5:00-17:00 (October, November, and December), 5:00-18:00 (January, February, March, April, and September), 5:00-19:00 (May, June, July, and August)|
|Regular holiday||Open 365 days|
54. Look for the hidden beauty of Lake Biwa
In the area called “Okubiwako,” which is located in the northern part of Shiga Prefecture, there are beautiful things, just like hidden treasures, to be discovered in expansive, open nature. Go and discover the Karamon Gate in Chikubu Island in Lake Biwa, the statue of Eleven-faced Kannon, which is the National Treasure of Doganji Temple Kannondo (Kogenji Temple), and the beautiful scenery of the mountains and a row of dawn redwood (metasequoia) trees in Makino Town, and much more.
55. Observe the daily living in Kyoto at Kamogawa Delta
The delta-shaped area at the confluence of the Kamo River and Takano River is called Kamogawa Delta, where you can see many local people on sunny days, walking on stepping-stones and chatting at the river side. When I absently watch people enjoying themselves, while listening to the sound of the river, I derive happiness from a peaceful life.
|Access||Kawaramachi-Imadegawa bus stop → 5 min walk / Demachiyanagi Sta. (Keihan) → short walk|
56. Start your day with delicious bread and coffee in Kyoto
While Kyoto is well-known for being filled with the traditional culture of Japan, it has actually so many bakeries that it is said to have the largest consumption of bread in Japan. From the famous bakeries, such as “Shinshindo” and “Sizuya,”to smaller ones, you will be able to find a favorite while sightseeing in the city. It is also recommended to enjoy your breakfast with bread and coffee at an old-style café, such as “Inoda Coffee.”
★When you eat bread by the Kamo River, watch out for black kites! They stole my bread many times!
57. Visit a village with traditional thatched-roof houses
Located north of Kyoto City, Miyama Town in Nantan City has thatched-roof houses of 150 to 200 years old surrounded by the mountains. If you apply for a guided tour by a local guide, you can not only see the houses but also actually go into them as well as learn about the wisdom of living in the mountain village!
|Access||JR Hiyoshi Sta. → 60 min by bus → Kita (Kayabuki no Sato) stop|
58. Watch deer lured by the sound of a horn at Nara Park
The deer at Nara Park are wild animals designated as a National Natural Treasure and have been respected as messengers from the deities of Kasugataisha Shrine since ancient days. In Tobihino grass field within the shrine precincts, a “shikayose” event is held: deer are lured by the sound of a horn from the back of the forest in morning in summer and winter every year. In time with the melody of the Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven, a number of deer gather together, which is a scene you will never see anywhere else.
★ If you are lucky, you may see baby deer.
Shikayose in summer: Designated date from June to August Shikayose in winter: Designated date from December to February Once a day, approx. for 15 minutes
|Address||Tobihino, Kasugano-cho, Nara City, Nara|
|Access||Nara Sta. (JR, Kintetsu) → Kasugataisha Omotesando-mae stop by City Loop Bus → short walk|
59. Worship a hidden Buddha statue at Kinpusenji Temple in Yoshino
Located in Yoshino, which is famous for beautiful cherry blossoms, Kinpusenji Temple is the head temple of Kinpusen Shugen Honshu Sect (Shugendo). The main hall is one of the largest wooden buildings in Japan and enshrines “hibutsu”, one of the biggest hidden Buddha statues in Japan. Standing strongly, three Zao-gongen statues of seven meters of height represent the deity guiding people with the sprig of mercy and forgiveness (the statues are open to the public only during a special opening period).
★Highlighted in darkness, the blue-black statues of hibutsu are breathtakingly beautiful!
★I was happy to be given an eco-bag and wooden tag as a memento of my visit to the temple!
Fee: 1,600 yen (only during the special open period. Entering the precincts is usually free of charge)
|Address||2498 Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Nara|
|Access||Yoshino Sta. (Kintetsu) → Sanjo Sta. by Yoshino Ropeway → 10 min walk|
|Regular holiday||Open 365 days|
60. Go on a tour of the Pacific Ocean at Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN
KAIYUKAN has the biggest indoor aquarium in the world. You can watch huge whale sharks swimming in the tank that recreates the Pacific Ocean, as you walk down the stairs. After 5 p.m., you can enjoy the “night aquarium” with different illumination and music from daytime.
Fee: Adult 2,700 yen (varies depending on the season)
Ticket prepurchase online is recommended → https://webket.jp/pc/ticket/
|Address||1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka City, Osaka|
|Access||Osakako Sta. (Subway) → 5 min walk|
|Business hours||10:00-20:00 (varies depending on the season. Admission until 1 hour before closing)|
|Regular holiday||No fixed holiday (January 10-11, 2024)|
61. Walking around the retro-cute town in Nakazaki-cho
Located 15 minutes on foot from the entertainment district of Umeda in Osaka, Nakazaki-cho is a perfect spot for strolling with unique cafes and variety stores here and there in a retro-flavored streetscape with intricate webs of small back alleys. The area is so instagrammable that you cannot stop taking photos!
★As it is also a residential area, please pay attention to your etiquette.
|Address||Nakazaki, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka|
|Access||Nakazakicho Sta. (Subway) → short walk|
62. Enjoy a great panoramic view of Osaka from the “Harukas 300” observatory
“Abeno Harukas” is a skyscraper complex building with a height of 300 meters, where you can enjoy spending all day at the observatory, department store, art museum, and others. The observatory “Harukas 300” has Sky Corridor, whose floors, walls, and ceilings are made of glass. You can step on it and feel as if you are walking through the sky!
★The best point of taking my kids with me is that there is a resting space in the sky garden on the 58th floor, where you can relax with your kids!
Fee: Same-day ticket: Adult 1,800 yen
|Address||1-1-43 Abenosuji, Abeno-ku, Osaka City, Osaka|
|Access||Directly connected to Oaka-Abenobashi Sta. (Kintetsu) / Tennoji Sta. (JR, Subway) → short walk|
|Business hours||HARUKAS 300 9:00-22:00|
|Regular holiday||Open 365 days *Open hours may differ depending on the day. Please check the website for the latest information beforehand.|
63. Get surrounded and healed by flowers and art at Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
Expo ’70 Commemorative Park was opened at the venue used for JAPAN World Exposition, Osaka held in 1970. The park has two areas, the Natural and Cultural Gardens and the Japanese Garden. It is also famous as a great viewing spot for cherry blossoms in spring. The symbol of the park, “Tower of the Sun,” designed by Japanese artist Taro Okamoto, will look best in a photo taken from a spot just inside the Main Gate of the Natural and Cultural Gardens area.
★As there are many athletic facilities and play equipment, I can play with my kids! Get on “Mori-no-train” (“Forest Train”) running through the Natural and Cultural Gardens area, and you can travel easily and conveniently! (350 yen for riders 3 yrs. old and above)
*Please check the park’s website for the train operation situation and running route.)
Photo courtesy：Osaka Prefectural Government
Fee: Natural and Cultural Gardens/Japanese Garden: Adult 260 yen, Elementary/Junior high school student 80 yen, Tower of the sun/Expo’70 Pavilion: Extra fee required
|Address||Senri Banpaku Koen, Suita City, Osaka|
|Access||Banpaku-kinen-koen Sta. (Osaka Monorail) → 5 min walk|
|Business hours||9:30-17:00 (Admission until 16:30)|
|Regular holiday||Wednesday (***, April-September), Open everyday (October, November)|
64. Feel the power of the mystical ground at Nachi Falls
With a drop of 133 meters, a depth of 10 meters at the basin, and a ton of water falling per second, this famous waterfall has long been worshipped as an object of nature worship. With people purifying themselves by sitting under the waterfall, it also used to be a place for Shugendo mountain asceticism training. In 2004, this waterfall was registered as a World Heritage site along with Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails.
★The deep forest, cliff, and the sound of water create an overwhelming atmosphere that makes you feel in awe!
Fee: 300 yen
|Address||1 Nachizan, Nachi Katsuura-cho, Higashimuro County, Wakayama|
|Access||JR Kii-Katsuura Sta. → 30 min by bus → Nachizan stop|
|Business hours||7:00-16:30 (Admission for Otaki-haijo until 16:00)|
65. Meet pandas at Adventure World
Adventure World has as many as 1,400 animals of 140 species living in the zoo and aquarium. This place is famous for breeding research of pandas and there have been 17 pandas successfully bred. As of August 2023, you can enjoy watching four pandas relaxing in the zoo.
Fee: Adult (18 yrs. and older) 5,300 yen
|Address||2399 Katata Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro County, Wakayama|
|Access||Tennoji Sta. (JR) → 2 hr by train → Shirahama Sta. → 10 min by bus|
|Business hours||10:00-17:00 (varies depending on the season, for details see the website)|
|Regular holiday||For details see the website|
66. Climb Mount Rokko and Soak in Arima Onsen in Kobe
Mount Rokko with various levels of hiking routes is a great place for people who love outdoor activities. There is one route leading to the onsen area of Arima Onsen. Soaking in an onsen after hiking is really wonderful! It is also convenient that you can take a direct bus from Arima Onsen to major towns, such as Sannomiya and Umeda.
|Access||Ashiyagawa Sta. (Hankyu) → Hiking 4 hours → Arima Onsen|
67. Experience the power of professional baseball at Hanshin Koshien Stadium
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening in 2024, Hanshin Koshien Stadium is the oldest existing baseball stadium in Japan, and serves as the home ground for the professional baseball team “Hanshin Tigers.” You can not only enjoy the game but also the fanatic cheering of the Tigers fans. Each Tigers player has his own fight song. In Japan, it is common that fans sing the songs accompanied by trumpet calls. Let’s get excited!
★Also serving as the venue for the annual National High School Baseball Championship, this stadium is called the “sacred ground” of high school baseball.
|Address||Koshien-cho, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo|
|Access||Koshien Sta. (Hanshin) → 3 min walk|
68. Make a tour of seven public bathhouses at Kinosaki Onsen
With a history of over 1,300 years, Kinosaki Onsen features seven sotoyu (public bathhouses) with different atmospheres of the buildings and different temperatures of the water. So, one of the best things at Kinosaki Onsen is that it is really fun to go around public bathhouses wearing yukata. While strolling around the town, you can eat sweets and drop by a retro-looking game arcade in an onsen town full of character.
★The town is still bustling around 10 at night!
Fee: Yumepa (one-day pass): Adult 1,500 yen
|Access||JR Kinosakionsen Sta. → 5 min walk|
|Business hours||Varies depending on the bathhouse|
|Regular holiday||Varies depending on the bathhouse|
69. Travel by sleeper train “Sunrise Izumo/Seto”
Arriving at and departing from Tokyo Station, “Sunrise Izumo” and “Sunrise Seto” are sleeper trains with destinations of Izumo City, with Izumo Taisha Shrine, and Takamatsu in Shikoku, respectively. In a private compartment, you will feel like you are in a mobile hotel! It is a luxurious experience to see a great view through a large window of the train while reclining.
★There are showers and lavatories available on the train. It is another fun experience to take a shower in a wiggling train.
*Purchasing the “Shower Card” is necessary on the train. (The number is limited)
70. Be stunned by the clear blue ocean at the Uradome Coast
At the Uradome Coast in Iwami Town, you can see rugged natural landscape features, such as caves and steep cliffs, which are created by raging waves of the Sea of Japan and wind and snow. On the other hand, the ocean is surprisingly beautiful and has such a high clarity that you can see the bottom of the water. You will be more impressed by how beautiful the ocean is when you get closer to the water by sightseeing boat or SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard)!
★Iwami Town is the setting of the anime series “Free!” I was very impressed to see how the beautiful ocean perfectly corresponds to the sparkling images of the characters of the anime work!
|Access||JR Iwami Sta. → Uratomi Kaiganguchi stop by bus|
71. Get impressed by ephemeral art at Tottori Sand Museum
The Sand Museum in Tottori Sand Dunes is the world’s first art museum to exhibit sand sculptures. Based on the concept of “travel around the world in sand,” when one exhibition period of about one year is over, all the sculptures are then destroyed and new ones are created for the next exhibition. A row of huge sand sculptures that are far taller than yourself is quite a sight to see!
Fee: Adult 800 yen
|Address||2083-17 Yuyama, Fukube-cho, Tottori City, Tottori|
|Access||JR Tottori Sta. → 20 min by bus → Sakyu Higashiguchi or Suna no Bijutsukan-mae stops|
|Business hours||9:00-17:00 / 9:00-18:00 (Sat) (Admission until 30 minutes before closing)|
|Regular holiday||Open everyday during the exhibition period|
72. Immerse yourself in the famous castle and wagashi culture in Matsue
Matsue is a castle town at the foot of Matsue Castle, a National Treasure built in 1611. Since the 7th lord of Matsue domain was a tea master, the town still has many wagashi (Japanese sweets) shops offering wagashi essential to the tea ceremony. After visiting the castle, you should enjoy a delicious piece of wagashi made by the current wagashi master at “Café Kiharu” inside the Matsue History Museum next to the castle.
|Address||279 Tono-machi, Matsue City, Shimane (Inside Matsue Rekishikan)|
|Access||JR Matsue Sta. → Otemae Horikawa Yuransen-noriba/Rekishikan-mae stop by bus → 3 min walk|
|Business hours||9:30-17:00 (L.O. 16:30)|
|Regular holiday||Mon (If Monday is a national/substitute holiday, it will close the following weekday)|
73. Be impressed by the appearance and taste of kawara-soba
Kawara-soba is a local specialty dish of Yamaguchi Prefecture, especially around Shimonoseki City, and, surprisingly, it is cooked and served on a roof tile! Cha-soba noodles (to which matcha powder is added) and some ingredients, such as shredded egg crepe, beef, and nori seaweed, are cooked on a sizzling-hot kawara roof tile and the crispy noodles are just delicious! It is also amazing how various tastes and flavors, including the aroma of tea, sweet-salty taste of beef, and the sourness of lemon, are nicely fused together to create a delicious dish on the tile.
74. Appreciate the beauty of Japanese swords at Bizen Osafune Sword Museum
Located in Setouchi City, Bizen Osafune Sword Museum is a must-visit place for fans of Japanese swords. You can visit a museum exhibiting various famous swords as well as a workshop of swordsmiths. The powerful demonstration of ancient hammering by swordsmiths is a must-see (can be seen only on the second Sunday and requires a reservation in advance).
Fee: Varies depending on the exhibition
|Address||966 Osafune-cho, Osafune, Setouchi City, Okayama|
|Access||JR Kagato Sta. → 20 min walk / JR Osafune Sta. → 7 min by taxi|
|Business hours||9:00-17:00 (Admission until 16:30)|
|Regular holiday||Mon (If Monday is a national/substitute holiday, it will close the following day), the following day of a national holiday, December 28-January 4, exhibition renewal period|
75. Relax in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter in a leisurely manner
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter features traditional buildings with beautiful white walls and the river lined with willow trees. The historical streetscape is filled with must-see spots, including variety stores, cafes, and art museums. Parfaits with seasonal fruits from Okayama, such as Shine Muscat grapes and peaches, are really delicious! There are also various activities available in the area, such as kimono rental, rickshaw riding, and river boat riding, so you will never get bored.
★The streets are lit up until 9 pm, creating a dreamy atmosphere that you cannot feel during daytime!
|Address||1-4-8 Chuo, Kurashiki City, Okayama|
|Access||JR Kurashiki Sta. → 10-15 min walk|
76. Walk on the walking paths along the rivers
The central part of Hiroshima City, with several rivers flowing through it and lots of trees, has a relaxing atmosphere. Along the rivers, there are walking paths, which make it easier to visit famous spots on foot, such as Hiroshima Castle and Peace Memorial Park. As you can also see the Atomic Bomb Dome close by, you will be able to feel the history of this town in your bones.
★It is also nice and comfortable to take a rest at an open café!
77. Wander into a mysterious world at Kosanji Temple
Ikuchi Island is located in the middle of SHIMANAMI KAIDO cycling road, connecting Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture. On the island, you will feel overwhelmed by the colorful decoration of Kosanji Temple. As you go deeper into the temple, you will suddenly come across a world of complete whiteness! It is a huge white-marble sculpted landscape of 5,000 sq. m., “The Hill of Hope.” You will feel as if you have gone to an Alice-in-Wonderland world.
★Thousand Buddha Cave is worth visiting even if you have to walk through a cave with a total length of 350 meters at about 15 meters underground. Proceed through the nice and cool cave, and you will encounter one surprise after another.
Fee: Adult 1,400 yen
|Address||553-2 Setoda, Setoda-cho, Onomichi City, Hiroshima|
|Access||JR Onomichi Sta. → 40 min by taxi|
|Business hours||9:00-17:00 (Admission until 16:30)|
|Regular holiday||Open 365 days|