Last Updated: September 4, 2023

Famous Landmarks In Japan (From Ancient to Mind-blowing)

Japan is a country that is brimming with history, culture, and stunning natural wonders. There aren’t many countries, in my opinion, that have such a deep connection with their heritage than Japan and you can plainly see this when visiting the country.

There are thousands of hidden gems and famous landmarks in Japan from the beautiful unique parts of nature to their sacred shrines and temples and their amazing city landscapes but, you can’t see them all in one trip.

We are going to focus on the most famous Japanese landmarks, so on your next trip to this exquisite country, you can make sure you spend your time looking at the right places.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

The Shibuya Crossing is often referred to as “The Times Square of Tokyo.” Imagine standing at the heart of Tokyo, with colorful billboards flashing all around you, and the buzz of an energetic city filling the air. That is what it is like

When the traffic lights turn red, they do so at the same time in every direction. Suddenly, a sea of people – sometimes thousands at once – surge forward from all sides, crossing the intersection in what seems like organized chaos. But, somehow, it all works seamlessly!

And there’s more to Shibuya Crossing than just the iconic scramble. Surrounding the crossing, you’ll find shops, restaurants, and the famous Hachiko statue. Remember the touching tale of the loyal dog who waited for his owner every day? That’s Hachiko, and he’s become a popular meeting spot.

So, if you ever find yourself in Tokyo, swing by Shibuya Crossing. Maybe grab a coffee from a nearby cafe and watch the mesmerizing flow of people from a window. It’s an experience that truly captures the rhythm of the city.

Fushi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Fushi-Inari Taisha Shrine

Just on the outskirts of Kyoto, you’ll find a very famous landmark in Japan, the Fushi-Inari Taisha Shinto shrine. It is, in fact, Japan’s most famous Shinto shrine. It was built way back in 711 AD making it just over 1000 years old.

The shrine was built in dedication to the god of rice and today many people still climb the mountain to worship in the shrine and wish for good fortune. The area around Fushi-Inari Taisha and the Inari Mountain is also very popular for hiking and when you ascend the many steps to reach the shrine, you will see why.

From the base on the Inari Mountain, you will follow a network of hiking trails with the red torii gates leading the way. The pathway is paved making the hike easy but it does get rather steep in a few sections.

Tokyo Skytree

  • Opening Times: 8:00 am – 9:45 pm
  • Map: Click Here

Opened in 1958, the Tokyo Skytree soars above the skyline to a breathtaking 634 meters. It is one of the tallest towers in the world and the tallest structures in Japan.

The best place to enjoy the view is from one of the Observation decks:

  • The Tembo Deck is 350 meters high
  • The Tembo Galleria is 450 meters high.

On clear days, you can even catch a glimpse of the majestic Mount Fuji in the distance!

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

If you’re ever in Kyoto and feel like you need a break from the buzzing city vibes then visiting one of Japan’s most famous natural landmarks, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, will have you relaxed and peaceful in no time.

You’ll find the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest outside of Kyoto on the western edge of the city and it consists of pathways surrounded by towering bamboo that has grown up to 15 meters tall. Walking through this UNESCO World Heritage Site bamboo forest is nothing short of amazing as it takes you away from the city noise and into complete peace within a matter of seconds.

Now, going all that way to hang out in some bamboo might not be for everyone. Luckily, the bamboo forest is just outside of the northern gate to the Tenryuji Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the surrounding area is also home to various parks and the Katsura River.

Hakone Shrine

Hakone Shrine

If finding peace in nature is something you love doing, then this famous landmark in Japan is going to be right up your alley.

The Hakone Shrine sits right inside a national park along the shores of Lake Ashi. The Hakone Shrine is over 100 years old is home to a Shinto museum, stunning lake views, and the Torii of Peace which actually sits within the lake and appears to float on the water when seen from a distance.

A visit to the Hakone Shrine won’t take very long as the site is quite small but there is a lot to do in the Hakone region. It’s famous for its natural hot springs, and stunning views of Mt Fuji over Lake Ashi, and during springtime, the area is covered in beautiful wildflowers.

You also have the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park to explore while you’re there so if you love to hike and enjoy time on a lake, this is a great region of Japan to visit.

While traveling around the Hakone region be sure to use a Hakone Free Pass. This gives you 2 days of unlimited use of public transportation and includes the use of boats, buses, trains, ropeways, and cable cars, allowing you to fully explore the area.

Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls

Kegon Falls

  • Opening Times: 9 am to 4.30 pm
  • Map: Click Here
  • Ticket Prices: Top platform – Free, Lower platform – 600 Yen

A few hours north of Tokyo in the Nikko National Park, on the shores of Lake Chuzenji and at the base of Mount Natai lies one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, the Kegon Falls.

The Kegon Falls is thought of as the best waterfall in all of Japan. The water flows out of Lake Chuzenji and enters the Daiya River and drops some 100 meters. What makes them so special is how they were created. They were formed due to lava cutting through the landscape and re-routing the Daiya River.

There are two ways to see the falls:

  • The top viewing platform is free
  • The second lower platform costs 600 Yen to use and is accessed via an elevator.

The lower platform gives you a different view and the power of the waterfall is a lot more intense.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

You might not have heard of the city of Himeji as it gets overshadowed by its neighbors Osaka and Kyoto. While visiting Himeji city isn’t on the top of everyone’s Japan to-see list, you kind of have to go there to see the Himeji Castle.

The Himeji Castle was built way back in the 1400s and is the biggest castle in the country making it a very famous landmark in Japan. The castle has had multiple owners over the last 600 or so years and with each new reign, the castle has seen additions to make it even more stunning.

The Himeji Castle sits as its own island of greenery in the center of the city. You’ll find moats, pathways line with cherry trees, and a stunning castle with towers to gaze upon. A stroll inside will have you wandering past panels covered with the history of the castle and as you slowly ascend to the top of the towers you’ll find amazing views of the surrounding city and countryside.

The Himeji Castle gardens are also something to behold and it’s worth paying the extra 50 Yen for access. You’ll be able to stroll among the cherry blossoms in spring and past the moats.

Surrounding Himeji Castle is the Himeji Museum of Art, the Zoo, the Himeji Shrine, and the Koko-en garden so a trip to the castle can be made into a full-day event if you’d like.

Getting to the Himeji Castle is easy as it’s just a few minutes walk away from the main train station making day trips from Osaka or Kyoto an option. The Himeji Castle is open from 9 am to 4 pm and it costs 1000 yen to get in, or 1050 yen for access to both the castle and the gardens.




  • Opening Times: 6 am – 6 pm
  • Location: 1 Chome-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862, Japan
  • Map: Click Here

The temple of Kiyomizu-Dera is another famous landmark in Japan and in Kyoto that is a must-see. The Kiyomizu-Dera temple is a Buddhist temple that was built in 798 AD around a sacred spring. It is known as the Pure Water Temple and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Kiyomizu-Dera temple sits on the eastern edge of Kyoto on Mount Otowa. It’s most famous for its incredible views that reach out in all directions and are stunning to visit during autumn and spring.

During the fall, the autumn leaves of the area are absolutely amazing and in spring, the grounds are awash with the color of cherry blossoms.

The views are great, but so too is the temple. The main hall was built without the use of nails, the Jishu Shrine is dedicated to matchmaking (worth stopping in with your partner), the Otowa waterfall is on the grounds, and you can drink the holy water from the Otowa-no-Taki spring which is said to provide good health and long life.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

Arguably the most famous landmark in Japan is Mount Fuji or Fujisan as it’s referred to in Japan. Mount Fuji is an active volcano, is considered sacred, and it’s also the highest mountain in Japan at 3776 meters above sea level.

Mt Fuji is in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and its unique symmetrical cone shape and snow-capped peak are what make it such an iconic Japanese landmark.

The mountain is usually surrounded by fog and clouds making it a challenge to see. But, on a clear day, Mt Fuji can be seen from miles away, even from Tokyo!

You can only climb Mt Fuji during the months of July and August, but you can view it from afar any time of the year. Getting to Mount Fuji is very quick and easy. Either hop on a direct bus or train from Tokyo or catch the Bullet Train to Kawaguchiko Station for another unforgettable experience.

Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine & Waterfall

Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine

Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine

  • Opening Times: 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Map: Click Here

The Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine lies near the south-central Pacific coast of Japan and is part of the Kumano Kodo UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in Japan for both the historical relevance of the shrine and the stunning natural landscapes that surround it.

The Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine is the ending point for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail and the shrine consists of a red pagoda and a stunning red-faced temple that stands out beautifully from the green surroundings.

Just next to the Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine is the tallest waterfall in Japan, the Nachi Falls. These falls are 133 meters high and are a part of the relevance of worship of nature worship here for centuries around the shrine. Emperors, samurais, and Buddhists traveled to the shrine to connect with the spiritual landscape of the mountains, forests, and waterfalls of the area.

A visit to the Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine and Nachi Falls will require you to rent a car as the shrine is in a remote area close to the sea and in the forest. Entrance costs nothing unless you want to visit the treasure house inside which costs just 300 yen, and it’s



In the heart of Osaka lie Dontonbori, a canal-side entertainment area that is best visited at night. When it’s dark the illuminated boards and neon lights make you feel like you have suddenly be transported into the future.

It’s lined with many an icon too which states of a huge Glico running man plus a Kani Douraku crab and more. Dontonbori is a great place to go if you love shopping and for a night out as the canal is lined with lively bars and great restaurants.

The food along the Dontonbori is known for its kuidaore (eat till you drop) so be sure to arrive hungry and be ready to fill up.

Nanzoin Temple

  • Opening Times: 8 am to 5 pm
  • Ticket Prices: Free
  • Map: Click Here

In southern Japan just outside of the city of Fukuoka lies the Nanzoin Temple which holds of the most famous landmarks in Japan and when you get up close to it, it’s simply mind-blowing.

The Nanzoin Buddhist Temple was built in 1830 and it today houses a 300-tonne reclining Buddha that is 41 meters long and 11 meters high. The Buddha was built in 1988 as the resting place of the ashes of two of the disciples of Buddha, Ananda, and Maudgalyayana. The ashes were gifted to Japan from Myanmar and are now housed inside this amazing Buddha.

The architecture of the Nanzoin Buddhist Temple is quite remarkable. It’s only when you walk through the temple and into a large open square that you see the amazing 300-tonne reclining Buddha and the 4000-plus nokotsudo around it. 

It is an active Buddhist temple of worship and not a place for sightseeing tourists. You are very welcome to visit and walk around the grounds but it’s not a place for bad behavior.

Japan’s Landmarks

As you can see, there is a never-ending amount of both historical and cultural landmarks in Japan as well as a tonne of stunning natural ones too. Wherever you end up going in Japan, you’re never going to be far away from an amazing landmark worth seeing, especially considering you have access to the bullet train which can get you around the country in no time!

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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