Looking to escape the cities of Japan and explore some nature? This country is full of natural beauty. Discover the most beautiful place in Japan.
When most people think of Japan, they picture the bustling streets of Tokyo or the geishas of Kyoto. Perhaps some lovely temples here and there along the main tourist route. But Japan has so much cultural and natural beauty that is nearly untouched by visitors from outside the country. Japan is beautiful!
While it’s definitely worth spending time in tourist hot spots like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, I highly recommend venturing off the beaten path and seeing more of what Japan has to offer. The beauty of Japan will genuinely blow your mind!
Before heading to Japan, be sure to read my tips for first-timers in Japan and my Japan trip planning guide.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Japan and instantly fell in love with the history, culture, people, and beauty of this amazing country. Here are some of the most beautiful places in Japan.
1. Miyajima Island
Miyajima Island is located in Hiroshima Bay in western Japan. The island is famous for its impressive Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is built over water and appears to float during high tide. You may also recognize this as the “Floating Shrine.” The shrine is considered one of the most scenic spots in Japan and attracts visitors from all over the world.
The island is also home to Nijonjika (Japanese deer) that are friendly, but sometimes too friendly. Keep an eye on your children and your food! It’s one of the best places in Japan to visit if you want a mixture of beauty and history. It’s conveniently located just a ferry ride away from Hiroshima.
2. Arashiyama bamboo forest
The Arashiyama bamboo forest, located on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan, is a breathtaking natural wonder featuring towering groves of bamboo that create a serene and mystical atmosphere. This enchanting destination is a photographer’s paradise, with countless opportunities to capture awesome photos of the bamboo trees, the interplay of light and shadow, and the surrounding temples and parks. A visit to the Arashiyama bamboo forest offers a unique and unforgettable experience that immerses visitors in the beauty and tranquility of nature.
3. Fushimi Inari Shrine
This is one of the must-see places in Japan. Truly a national treasure, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Kyoto, Japan, famous for its thousands of vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the forested hills behind the main shrine buildings. The shrine is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and prosperity, and is one of the most popular and revered shrines in Japan.
Before visiting a shrine or temple in Japan, be sure to read my tips for visiting a shrine in Japan.
You can explore the winding torii gates and hiking trails, which lead to panoramic views of Kyoto from the mountaintop, as well as various smaller shrines and offerings along the way. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is a must-see in Japan for its unique cultural significance and beautiful natural surroundings. This may be one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, but for good reason, it’s also one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
Possibly the most beautiful city in Japan, Hakone is a picturesque mountainous region located just outside of Tokyo, and known for its natural beauty and views of Mount Fuji. You can take a scenic cable car ride over the Owakudani Valley, explore the peaceful gardens and temples, relax in the natural hot springs, and cruise on Lake Ashi while enjoying gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Hakone is a great place to see both cherry blossoms during Sakura season and also the fall foliage. It’s also a great choice for experiencing traditional Japanese culture and relaxation. There are several ryokans to stay in and it’s also one of my favorite day trips from Tokyo.
5. Kamikochi, Nagano – Northern Alps
Far from a popular tourist attraction, Kamikochi is a stunningly beautiful valley situated in the Northern Japanese Alps, Nagano Prefecture, Japan, that offers crazy beautiful views of snow-capped mountainsand more. You can explore the valley through several hiking trails that provide views of the surrounding area. The valley is also a popular destination during the autumn season, as the leaves on the trees turn into vibrant shades of red and orange, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and hikers who want to experience the beauty of Japan’s natural landscapes. It’s one of the most stunning places in Japan to visit.
6. Kiyotsu Gorge – Tunnel of Light
Kiyotsu Gorge is a natural canyon located in the Niigata Prefecture of Japan that has been carved out by the Kiyotsu River over centuries. The gorge is surrounded by towering cliffs and dense forests, and it features unique art installations such as a tunnel of light that enhances the beauty of the natural surroundings. It is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the unique blend of nature and art in Japan. It’s one of the most beautiful landscapes in Japan.
7. Oirase Gorge, Aomori
The Oirase Gorge is a beautiful natural wonder located in the Aomori Prefecture of Japan. This picturesque valley that stretches for miles, with the clear waters of the Oirase River running through it. The gorge is famous for its waterfalls, lakes, and dense forests, which make it a a great place to hike and take in the views.
You can enjoy walking along the well-maintained trails, which offer views of the surrounding area, or take a leisurely boat ride along the river. The Oirase Gorge is a dream destination and one of the best places to see in Japan if you’re looking for a nature escape.
8. Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto
The Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is a famous Buddhist temple located in Kyoto. The temple is renowned for its iconic golden facade (which really just looks yellow to me, if I’m being honest), which is reflected in the pond surrounding the temple, creating a magical scene.
The temple was originally built in the 14th century as a villa for a shogun, and it was later converted into a temple. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Keep this in mind when you visit and try to go off-season and early in the morning. It can get quite crowded.
Mount Fuji in Yamanashi
9. Shirakawa-go in Gifu
Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the remote mountainous region of Gifu Prefecture. This picturesque village is renowned for its traditional Gassho-zukuri houses, which have steeply pitched thatched roofs that resemble hands in prayer. The village is surrounded by mountains and forests, and the peaceful and serene atmosphere makes it the perfect place for those who want to experience traditional Japanese rural life. You can explore the village, visit museums and exhibitions, and sample local cuisine, including soba noodles and sake. It’s some of the most beautiful Japanese scenery I’ve ever seen.
10. Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki
Is this the most beautiful place in Japan? This place looks straight out of a Windows 8 Screen Saver! (Raise your hand if you’re old enough to get this reference?) Hitachi Seaside Park is a breathtaking natural wonder located in Ibaraki.
The park is renowned for its vast fields of seasonal flowers, including the iconic baby blue eyes, which bloom in late April and early May, and the kochia, which turns bright red in autumn. Be sure to check the blooming schedule before you make the trek there. If you go at the right time though, it’s more than worth it! It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Japan.
11. Motonosumi Shrine in Yamaguchi
It’s no secret that the Japanese love their shrines. This one does not disappoint! The Motonosumi Shrine is a tranquil Shinto shrine located in the Yamaguchi Prefecture. The shrine is known for its red torii gates, which are located along the edge of a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan. Does it get any better than this?!
It’s one of my favorite views in Japan. You can take a walk along the winding path of 123 torii gates. The shrine is considered one of the most beautiful places in Japan and attracts visitors from all over the world.
12. Narai in Nagano
Narai is a charming and well-preserved post town located in Nagano, Japan, that dates back to the Edo period. The town is famous for its traditional architecture, including wooden buildings with latticed windows and clay walls, which have been carefully preserved over the centuries.
You can explore the narrow streets and alleyways, visit local shops and restaurants, and enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere of this historic town. Narai is the best place in Japan for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture, and it offers a unique and fascinating glimpse into traditional Japanese life.
13. Nachi Taishi Shrine- Kumano Kodo in Wakayama
The Nachi Taisha Shrine is a magnificent Shinto shrine located in Wakayama and is considered one of the most important spiritual sites in the country. The shrine is dedicated to the deity of waterfalls and the god of thunder, and it is located at the base of an impressive waterfall, the Nachi Falls.
The shrine’s architecture is impressive, with large wooden beams and a thatched roof that adds to its ancient and mystical atmosphere. You can participate in traditional Japanese rituals, including purification ceremonies and praying for good fortune, or simply enjoy the peaceful natural beauty.
14. Takachiho Gorge, in Miyazaki
If you’re looking for beautiful Japan scenery, this is it! The Takachiho Gorge is a remarkable natural wonder located in the Miyazaki Prefecture. The gorge is famous for its waterfalls and dramatic cliffs. You can walk along the trails that wind through the gorge, which offer views of the surrounding natural landscapes and the waterfalls. You can also take a boat tour on the river that flows through the gorge, offering a unique perspective of the rock formations and waterfalls. Its one of the prettiest places in Japan.
15. Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is a magnificent castle located in Hyogo Prefecture, known for its intricate and impressive architecture. The castle is famous for its complex system of defensive walls, gates, and moats, which date back to the 14th century.
Himeji Castle is one of the most well-preserved castles in Japan and offers visitors the opportunity to explore its many rooms and levels, providing great views of the stunning scenery.
16. The beaches of Ishigaki, Okinawa
he beaches of Ishigaki in Okinawa, Japan are world-renowned for their natural beauty and blue waters. You can enjoy lots of water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, to explore the vibrant coral reefs and exotic marine life.
The beaches are also perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun, with soft white sands and turquoise waters providing the ideal backdrop for a day at the beach.
17. Yakushima, Kagoshima
Yakushima is a remote island located in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan, known for its unique flora and fauna. The island is covered in dense forests that are home to ancient cedar trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.
You can explore the island through on foot through hiking trails. The island is also home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, monkeys, and loggerhead sea turtles, which make it a great place to visit for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
18. Zao Snow Monsters, Yamagata
This might well be the prettiest place in Japan in the winter. The Zao Snow Monsters are a breathtaking natural wonder located in the Yamagata Prefecture of Japan. The snow monsters refer to the trees on Mount Zao that become completely covered in snow and ice during the winter, creating surreal shapes that resemble monsters.
19. Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo
The Ogasawara Islands, also known as the Bonin Islands, are a remote archipelago located south of Tokyo. The islands are home to some incredible natural beauty and unique flora and fauna. If you’re looking for a great day trip from Tokyo that includes a beach day, you can enjoy hiking, snorkeling, and diving, to explore the islands’ natural wonders, including coral reefs and rare species of wildlife.
The islands also have a rich cultural history, as they were once an important stop for whaling ships and are home to a unique blend of Japanese and Western cultural influences.
20. Korakuen, Okayama
Korakuen is a beautiful and historic garden located in the city of Okayama. The garden dates back to the early 18th century and is considered one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, known for its incredible landscape design, featuring ponds, streams, and walking paths.
The garden’s attractions include a teahouse, a traditional archery range, and a plum grove that blooms in late winter. You can enjoy a peaceful stroll through the garden, taking in the beauty of the natural surroundings and the historic architecture.
21. Mount Yoshino
If you’re looking for beautiful Japanese landscapes, this is it! Mount Yoshino is a picturesque mountain located in the Nara Prefecture and is renowned for its beautiful cherry blossom displays each year during Sakura season. The mountain features over 30,000 cherry trees of various varieties, which bloom in stages from late March to early May, creating a breathtaking and magical sight.
22. Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido
Lake Kussharo is a serene lake located in the Akan National Park of Hokkaido. The lake is known for its hot springs that dot the shoreline, providing the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. During the winter months, the lake freezes over, creating surreal landscape that is perfect for ice fishing and ice-skating.
23. Gion District in Kyoto
The Gion district is a historic and picturesque area located in Kyoto, Japan, famous for its traditional architecture and geisha culture. The district features numerous narrow streets and alleyways lined with wooden buildings, many of which are now restaurants, tea houses, and boutiques. You can explore the area on foot, taking in the beauty of the traditional architecture and enjoying the serene atmosphere. The district is also home to several teahouses where visitors can experience the traditional tea ceremony and watch geiko (geisha in Kyoto dialect) and maiko (apprentice geisha) perform traditional dances and play music.
24. Ashikaga Flower Park
The Ashikaga Flower Park is a world-renowned botanical garden located in Ashikaga. The park is famous for its incredible displays of seasonal flowers, including wisteria, roses, and hydrangeas, which bloom in vibrant and mesmerizing colors. The park’s most popular attraction is the Great Wisteria, a 150-year-old wisteria tree that creates a magical tunnel of purple flowers in the spring.
25. Nara Park
Nara Park is a beautiful and historic park located in the city of Nara, Japan, famous for its friendly deer population and ancient temples. The park features over 1,000 wild deer that roam freely and interact with people. Again, watch your fingers and your food! The park is also home to several temples and shrines, including the Todaiji Temple, which houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
26. Meguro River, Tokyo
If you want to find one of the most beautiful places in Tokyo Japan, The Meguro River is a lovely waterway that runs through the heart of the city, famous for its extraordinary cherry blossom displays during the spring Sakura season. The river features numerous walking paths and bridges, offering a peaceful and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. During the cherry blossom season, the riverbanks are decorated with thousands of pink blossoms, creating a truly magical scene. Add it to your Tokyo scenery bucket list!
27. Shirakawa-go Village
Shirakawa-go Village is a historic village located in the Gifu Prefecture, famous for its traditional gassho-zukuri houses, which feature steep thatched roofs. The village is one of Japan’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and offers visitors a unique glimpse into traditional Japanese life and architecture.
28. Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine and Nachi Falls, Wakayama Prefecture
The Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine and Nachi Falls are two impressive and iconic attractions located in the Wakayama Prefecture. The Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine is a historic and sacred shrine that is part of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, and is believed to have been founded over 1,700 years ago.
The shrine is located near the Nachi Falls, a majestic waterfall that is the tallest in Japan, cascading down over 425 feet into a crystal clear pool below. You can explore the shrine’s architecture and learn about the area’s rich spiritual history, or take a walk through the surrounding nature.
29. Blue Pond, Hokkaido
Blue Pond is an amazing body of water located in the Shirogane Onsen area of Hokkaido, famous for its vibrant blue colo. The pond was created as a result of a dam that was constructed to protect the area from volcanic mudslides, and its bright blue color is due to the natural minerals and materials present in the water. It’s pretty any time of year, but especially surreal in the winter!
30. Miyako-jima, Okinawa
Miyako-jima is an island located in the Okinawa Prefecture, known for its white sandy beaches, and unique coral reefs. The island features several diving and snorkeling spots, where you can explore marine life and coral formations, including the famous Yabiji coral reef. Miyako-jima is also home to several historic sites, including the Painagama Well, which is believed to have healing properties, and several ancient tombs and ruins.
31. Hitsujiyama Park, Chichibu
Hitsujiyama Park is a picturesque and colorful park located in Chichibu, famous for its awesome displays of pink moss flowers that bloom during the spring season. The park features walking paths and hillsides covered in vibrant pink flowers, creating a truly magical sight.
32. Daigo-ji Temple, Kyoto
Daigo-ji Temple is a historic temple complex located in Kyoto, Japan, known for its natural surroundings and cultural heritage. The temple dates back to the 10th century and features several buildings and structures that showcase the traditional Japanese architecture and design, including the iconic Five-Story Pagoda.
33. Iya Valley, Tokushima, Shikoku
The Iya Valley is a remote and rugged valley located in the Tokushima Prefecture of Japan’s Shikoku island, known for its natural beauty and traditional Japanese rural lifestyle. The valley features steep mountain slopes, deep gorges, and rivers, creating a breathtaking and dramatic landscape that is perfect for hiking and outdoor activities. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
34. Wazuka Tea Fields, Kyoto
The Wazuka Tea Fields are a beautiful historic tea-growing region located in the Kyoto Prefecture, famous for its traditional tea production. The tea fields cover the surrounding hillsides and valleys, offering an incredible view of the vibrant green tea leaves that are cultivated in the region. You can take a tea tour and tasting session, learning about the traditional Japanese tea production process and enjoying the rich and flavorful taste of the tea. This is a great place to visit in Japan for tea lovers.
35. Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido
Shiretoko National Park is a beautiful and remote wilderness area located in the northeastern part of Hokkaido, Japan, known for its rugged and mountainous beauty. The park features towering cliffs, dense forests, and lakes and rivers. Honestly, you’d think you were in Wyoming! There is hiking and wildlife, including brown bears (Usuri) and eagles. The park is also home to several hot springs and scenic boat tours.
36. Goshikinuma, Fukushima
Goshikinuma is a natural attraction located in the Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima, famous for its colorful lakes. The name Goshikinuma translates to “five-colored ponds,” and the area features several lakes that are colored in different shades of blue and green, creating a unique landscape.
37. Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi
If you’ve ever seen a postcard or picture of Mount Fuji, it was likely taken from this lake. Lake Kawaguchi is a gorgeous lake located in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan, famous for its views of Mount Fuji. You take a cable car up to the nearby Mount Kachi Kachi Ropeway for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lake. The area is also known for its hot springs!
38. Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Fuji Gardens
This is one of those Japan pretty places you just have to see to belive. The Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Fuji Gardens is a colorful attraction located in the Kitakyushu City, famous for its vibrant and blooming wisteria flowers. The tunnel is made up of hundreds of wisteria vines that form a canopy of purple and pink flowers, creating a magical tunnel that is perfect in the spring.
39. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is a scenic mountain pass located in the Toyama Prefecture. The route features a variety of transportation modes, including cable cars, buses, and a ropeway, that offer a fun way to experience the natural beauty of the area. What it’s really famous for though, is it’s insane snow wall along the road! It’s a great place to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Japan if you love the snow!
40. Snow Monkeys in Nagano
This is one of the coolest places in Japan. The Snow Monkeys of Nagano are a group of wild Japanese macaques that are famous for their unique behavior of bathing in hot springs during the winter months. Located in the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano, you can observe these playful creatures as they soak in the hot springs and interact with each other. Monkeys aren’t really my thing (they kind of creep me out if I’m being honest), but it’s definitely a unique experience.
I hope you loved exploring all these most beautiful places in Japan with me. You’ll have no shortage of options to choose from during your time in this amazing country.