Top 10 Best Historical Places to Visit in Japan

Japan has grown to become one of the best commercial centers in the world and a most talked about destination for tourists. Crowded with a booming tourist industry and a lucrative economy to boast about, the country has come to take center stage in the world. This island paradise has some of the best historic places on the planet and when you visit those places you really fall in love. The rich history of some of these historic spots can be seen posted at the location for all to read.

While visiting some of the most renowned places in the country as well as learning their history will leave you with plenty stories to think about for a long time to come. You can pass on the memories of your visit to Japan along with pictures of awesome historic sites to your loved ones at home and even to generations that follow behind.

The list of 10 best historical places to visit in Japan:

10. Samurai Museum in Tokyo

Samurai Museum in Tokyo

Japan’s rich history stemming back from 800 years ago, is known to have many past Samaria fighters. In fact, the country is so keen on keeping their Samurai history alive, that they built an entire museum dedicated to its memory. The Samurai Museum is located in Tokyo City in the Shinjuku Kabukicho district. This spectacular museum location is nestled among love hotels, bright lights and busy streets where tourists and locals travel each day to go about their business. To some people, the surroundings housing the museum are irregular, but still it happens to be a most visited spot for curious visiting tourists who want to know a bit about the Samurai lifestyle. When visiting the museum, you will see fully clothed Samurai statues and gears of various descriptions.

The Samurais has a lingering history that changed dramatically throughout the years of their existence. They first came to be called elite warriors and later conscripted peasants. Later down in the years, they become unemployed in the kingdom and thus turned to marauding in an effort to make a living.

When you visit Japan, your stop at the museum in Tokyo will be a memorable experience and you will learn a lot about the wealthy history that these past warriors hold. Therefore, place Samurai Museum on your next bucket list stop when you are in Japan.

9. Kamakura

Best Historical Places to Visit in Japan

Kamakura holds an important position in Japanese history. The Kamakura period officially started way back in 1192 by military headman Minamoto no Yoritomo, whom at the time was the first shogun leader to take the place of prominence. The beginning of the Kamakura period is a sign that signaled the first movement of Japanese feudalism and the start of Samurai culture. It was in 1333 that the period came to an end at which Imperial rule was by then reestablished. Often tourists and locals visit the city in an effort to feel what it was like back then when Kamakura was alive. As Kamakura spread, so did Buddhism as well and to this day various temple buildings are left standing as a reminder of the past era when Kamakura as well as Buddhism were popular in Japanese society at the time.

Two Kamakura temples found at the location are:

The Great Buddha of Kamakura:

Visitors to Japan from all over the world flock the Kamakura town to view the Great Buddha of Kamakura statue, which is made in the image of Ammida Buddha. The statue’s location is on the same grounds where Kotouin Temple is located and together the two sanctuaries add a brilliant spectacle for all to see when visiting hours are in operation. Nearby the Kamakura temple are the famous Yagura Tombs where some of the brave Samurai fighters are buried.

Hasedera Temple:

The Hasedera Temple is a beauty to behold. It sits on a property full of exotic landscape gardens and runs alongside beautiful wooded hill. Since it has a magnificent architecture, it attracts tourists from all over the world. Visitors to this superbly build temple can see Kannon statue, which measures 10 meters tall and the must see goddess of Mercy with all its eleven heads on display.

8. Nikko

Nikko Bridge Japan
Nikko, Japan: Shinkyo (Sacred Bridge) stands at the entrance to Futarasan Shrine. The bridge is ranked as one of Japan’s finest bridges

Nikko town carries the slogan that says, “Nikko is Nippon”, which means that Nikko is actually the typical and exemplary Japanese destination no one really wants to miss out on. Its location is in the mountainous region and it has an abundance of shrines and temples to make you feel like what Japan really used to be like in past years. To start your grand tour of this historic site, you should first visit Toshogu shrine where you will find the grave of Tokugawa Leyasu, who was the founder and leader of the Tokugawa shogunate. The Tokugawa shogun reigned over Japanese Dynasty for over 250 years. The shrine is a perfection of beauty and on arrival you will see an array of pagodas and highly designed wood carvings to greet you.

While at Nikko town, you should consider taking a peep of the Rinnoji Temple. At the Rinnoji, you will witness Nikko’s three headed manifestations which are the Amida Buddha, The Buddha with the horse head and the Buddha that carries a thousand heads. These three appearances usually impress visitors and locals who pay a visit to Nikko town. Since Rinnoji Temple happens to be Nikko’s best and most beautiful temple location, UNESCO named it among the World’s Heritage site.

7. Shinjuku, Tokyo

SBest Historical Places to Visit in Japan

Shinjuku is a most talked about location in Japan and other parts of the world because of its commercial advantages. It consists of an array of shops and entertainment centers as well as night life districts. In addition, it houses Japan’s busiest train station. The 60s and 70s are reminders of the old days when political dissidents and beatniks filled the streets shouting protesting words as well as singing songs of protest so that their dissatisfaction could be noted by the then ruling authorities. This then is why Shinjuku was considered by the world to be a birthed counter culture of the 1960s and a place where one can visit if he or she wants to have a slight feeling of what it was like back in the old days.

Exploration of the area usually starts at the Shinjuku Station’s West Exit. The west exit area happens to be the historic place where many protest gatherings used to occur back then. Today, to continue the tradition, Seiko Oki who is a veteran from the early days of protests, chooses to still hold demonstrations each Saturday at the Exit.

With many changes to Tokyo’s infrastructure and way of life taking place over the years, the face and character of Shinjuku has changed as well in various ways and today plenty people view it as a place where danger lingers. Therefore, if you are thinking of paying a visit to this historic sight, make sure to be always on your guard just in case the wrong people are around when you are visiting.

6. Ni-chom

Ni-chome Japan

A short distance away from Shinjuku’s West Exit, you will find the lesbian and gay district known as Ni-chom. To date, unlike other parts of the world where homosexuality is banned, Japanese laws concerning the practice is non-existing because there are no anti-gay regulations passed. Still, despite the gay activities that is happening in Ni-chom, many visitors and locals find the area a suitable place to hang out, especially at nights. In Ni-chom, there are various clubs and over 400 bars present.

See also; 10 Most Bizarre Services from Japan.

Shinjuku plays an important role in Japanese culture and the government aims to keep it that way. Therefore, when you are in Japan and looking for a great historical sight to visit, make sure to put Shinjuku on your list of places.

5. Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum

The world knows that Tokyo has some of the most awesome and breathtaking architectures seen on Earth and taking a theme tour of the country’s capital is an ideal way of learning about the kingdom’s history. The Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum is a sight worth exploring. The museum is located at the edge of Tokyo City and when you reach there, you will be presented with a host of outdoor historic buildings some of which are being preserved while other edifices are in the restoration process. Most of the buildings seen on location are open to the public and when touring each room you will view the lifestyle of the inhabitants who used to live in them.

4. Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

In the Nikko circle of shrines, the Toshogu shrine is the most famous. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage shrines. The tomb of Tokugawa Leyasu who was the first shogun during the Edo period lies on the inside of Toshogu shrine where it remains in a peaceful state. In 1936, builders renovated the shrine to make it look like what it is today – a colorful architectural style spectacle that makes it stands out from the other shrines in the neighborhood. For example: the Yomei-mon gate at the shrine is a spectacular masterpiece of craftsmanship that visitors to the premises always love viewing.

The gate comprises of five hundred delicately chiseled 400-year-old carvings that helps to give the shrine its picturesque beauty. Other masterpieces seen on the property are the Sleeping Cat also known as the Numurineko carving and the sparrow carving. The Sleeping Cat’s carving is one of Nikko, Japan’s national treasures while the sparrow carving is symbolic of the peace that Japan wanted, especially during the shogunate period of Tokugawa.

3. Taiyuin Temple

Best Historical Places to Visit in Japan

Rated as another UNESCO World Heritage site, Taiyuin Temple sits comfortable on a mountainside in Nikko, Japan. It is in close proximity to Toshogu shrine. Tokugawa Lemitsu, whom was the third reigning shogun at the time, commissioned builders to construct two crypts, one for his founding grandfather Tokugawa Leyasu and first shogun leader during the Edo age and the other one for himself. To not overshadow his grandfather’s legacy nor cause any criticizing during the Edo period, the third shogun gave instructions to build the Taiyuin Temple smaller and less picturesque looking than Toshogu shrine. When you climb the stairs and enter the temple, you will see an array of gold pillars, paintings, sculptures and various ornaments. In addition, you will be able to enjoy nature at its best as you view the magnificent cedars surrounding the building.

The path to take to reach Taiyuin Temple is an uphill climb that begins from the Toshogo shrine and running along the Futarasan shrine. As usually, visitors to the site normally head to the heart of the temple and for them to reach it they must climb many stairs.

This shrine is one of Nikko’s best kept secrets and tourists flock to see its interior on a yearly basis. This is a must see if you should dare to pay a visit to Nikko, Japan.

2. Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park, Nikko

Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park, Nikko

The Tamozawa Imperial Villa Memorial Park is situated in Nikko. It has 106 rooms capacity. And, it is one of Japan’s most outstanding wooden-structure constructions still standing in the kingdom today. The park has a blend of traditional Japanese and modernized Western architecture. That makes it a popular visiting destination for locals and savvy holidaying tourists to the region. It was first the home of relatives of the Tokugawa family members. Authorities of the park later thought it best to move it to a different location and so it ended up in the city of Nikko where the temperature is cooler.

Apart from fantastic architectural buildings on the property, you will behold a breathtaking Japanese garden where you can sit and meditate if you like or view the different species of flowers growing on the compound. Your visit to Tomozawa Park will be a delightsome one and you can take as many pictures you want of it and its surroundings.

1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Best Historical Places to Visit in Japan

The Japanese and other nations around the world, can never forget what happened at Hiroshima during the war and so a memorial park was built in remembrance of that day. It was in 1945 that the Japanese people living in Hiroshima at the time went through an ordeal of terror as US war planes dropped atomic bombs on them killing millions of people and destroying many buildings. The park was designed by a former metabolist school practitioner known as Kenzo Tange and the constructed building site sits on an area where once a bustling commercial district was. The park’s centerpiece is where the A-Bomb Dome stands today and showing the skeleton remains of the closet building to the blast that miraculously survived the bombing.

Hiroshima Park became a World Heritage Site named by UNESCO some years ago and is a must see when next you visit Japan. Today, the park stands as a reminder of what happened back during the war and it is sending a message to the entire world in the hope that this type of atrocity never happens again.

Japan’s historic places are still kept today as a way of helping everyone to know the different eras the country has been through and visiting these sites during the year will help you understand the changing cultures and lifestyle of the Japanese people over the years. When you do pay these glorious places a visit, you will have much to think about and many memories to tell your loved ones at home for many years to come.