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Things to Do in Japan - page 3

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Tenryu-ji Temple
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Located in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto, Tenryu-ji Temple is one of the five great temples of Kyoto. Make a stop at this sprawling Zen temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates from the 14th century, to experience its traditional Japanese landscape garden.

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Tokyo Skytree
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Since opening in 2012, the Tokyo Skytree has taken the title of Japan’s tallest building—and one of the tallest in the world—measuring an incredible 2,080 feet (634 meters) high. In addition to serving as a TV and radio broadcast tower, it has two observation decks affording spectacular views across Tokyo and the distant Mount Fuji.

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Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu)
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The Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingu) is the most important and popular Shinto shrine in Tokyo. Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken, in 1926, the shrine comprises buildings of worship, gardens, and a forest where each tree was planted by a different citizen of Japan wanting to pay respects to the emperor. A highlight of the shrine is the Meiji Memorial Hall, where visitors find more than 80 murals dedicated to the emperor.

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Kobe Maritime Museum
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Topped with commanding white steel framework in the shape of ship sails, the Kobe Maritime Museum stands at the center of Meriken Park in Kobe's port area. Travelers can visit to learn about the early history of the Port of Kobe and see historical artifacts and displays on the development over the years, as well as the port's latest features.

Half of the building is devoted to shipping, with a vast collection of model ships, from small to extra large. The outdoor Yamato 1, the first working prototype of its kind, is another special feature, having first successfully operated in the Port of Kobe in June 1992. Meanwhile, the Kawasaki Good Times World section focuses solely on the history, design and manufacturing of products produced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, a Japanese company with more than 100 years of history. This section is an interactive way for children and adults to experience the technology and manufacturing behind a wide range of products used for land, sea and air.

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Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)
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One of the largest public aquariums in the world, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is home to various species from the Pacific Ring of Fire and aquatic environments around the globe. Learn about local species such as Asian otters and giant spider crabs, and see other creatures, including sea turtles, sharks, penguins, and a host of tropical fish.

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UCC Coffee Museum
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Most visitors to Japan have likely tried some coffee from the Ueshima Coffee Company (UCC), renowned for having introduced the world’s first canned coffee. At the UCC Coffee Museum, you can immerse yourself in coffee culture, learn about how coffee is made, and experience it with all five senses.

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Odori Park (Odori Koen)
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Located in the heart of Sapporo and dividing the city into north and south, Odori Park (Odori Koen) offers a pleasant open and green space for relaxation and recreation. The city’s central park, which stretches for 13 blocks, is the main site for popular seasonal events and festivals.

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Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (Shinyokohama Raumen Museum)
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Stepping into the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (sometimes written Shinyokohama Raumen Museum) is a bit like stepping back into the Japan of 1958, the year Japan’s first instant ramen was invented. A replicated street-scape features nine ramen shops serving noodle styles from various regions of Japan (and operated by some of the country’s most famous ramen restaurant chains); a mini-size option means visitors can sample and find their perfect bowl.

Upstairs from the street-scape visitors can learn about the history of Japan’s iconic dish, as well as the different types of noodles, broths and toppings each region uses to construct the ideal bowl. The ramen museum shop sells packaged ramen from throughout the country, bowls, chopsticks and other ramen utensils. At the My Ramen booth, guests create their own brand of Japanese noodle. A traditional sweet shop packs an additional 300 varieties of old-fashioned candy for dessert.

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Jojakko-ji Temple
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Jojakko-ji Temple is not an ordinary temple; it was built on the side of a mountain in the thick of a famous bamboo grove. Finding it feels like an adventure, and climbing to the top feels like a workout. The view of Kyoto from the top of Jojakko-ji Temple rewards the effort mightily.

Located in the idyllic Arashiyama district of Kyoto, Jojakko-ji Temple was built in the 1500s, and the journey to it is all uphill from its gate. Its steep staircase leads to multiple buildings, including a main hall and a pagoda that houses a Buddha. The sites along the way offer respites from the climb, and one of the most popular of these resting points is a mossy area with the bamboos directly overhead. The top of the pagoda offers an incredible view over the city, and this hidden gem of a temple is undoubtedly worth the train ride out to Arashiyama.

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Rainbow Bridge
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Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the Shibaura Wharf and the Odaiba district in Tokyo Bay. It’s white during the day, but after dark it lights up with colorful solar-powered lights. Cross the bridge on the Yurikamome line train, by car, or by walking along a pedestrian footpath.

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More Things to Do in Japan

Tsutenkaku Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower

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Vintage fun comes to Osaka in the shape of the Tsutenkaku, Osaka’s answer to the Eiffel Tower. Tsutenkaku, translated into "tower reaching heaven," reaches 338 feet (103 meters) high, making it one of the tallest buildings in Asia when it was built in 1912.

Beautifully illuminated and outlined in neon by night, the tower has a decidedly kitsch but cute 1950s futuristic look. Take the elevator to the observation deck on the summit’s fifth level to visit the popular good luck symbol, Billiken, the God of Happiness. A popular American doll in the early 1900s, Billiken was enshrined in the nearby Luna Park, but went missing when the park closed in 1923. To revive the tower and park, a replica was put in the tower and is considered a good luck symbol. Each year thousands of visitors place a coin in his donation box and rub the soles of his feet to make their wishes come true.

Tsutenkaku also boasts some other cool features. The neon lights at the top of the tower are also a weather vane and will predict the next day's forecast. And the clock located on the east side of the building is huge - 18 feet (5.5 meters) across and weighing about 55lbs (25kg). There is also a theater and a few toy museums located within!

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Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

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Universal Studios Japan—Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park—is second only to the Tokyo Disney Resort as Japan’s most visited amusement park. Beloved characters like Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Spiderman are in attendance, and a spectacular variety of rides, movie simulators, and parades keep all ages entertained.

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Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine)

Yasaka Shrine (Gion Shrine)

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Host to Japan’s most famous festival, Gion Matsuri, Yasaka Shrine is located in the heart of Kyoto. Yasaka Shrine dates back to the 7th century, when it was known as Gion Shrine for its location near the Gion district, famous for the geisha that live and work there. The shrine consists of several buildings. The main hall houses an inner sanctuary and a secondary hall. One of the most prominent features of the shrine is a large stage out front lined with hundreds of lanterns. One of the most popular times to visit the shrine is in the evening or at night, when the lanterns light the stage.

The annual Gion Matsuri festival began more than 1,100 years ago at Yasaka Shrine. In modern times, it takes place every July. Originally, the festival sought to expunge the city of illnesses. Today, the festival celebrates craftwork. Intricate fabrics, textiles, and sculptures adorn floats that men carry through town. Music, costumes, and street food contribute to the festive atmosphere. Yasaka Shrine is also a popular place to visit during the Japanese New Year and during cherry blossom season.

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Mt. Fuji 5th Station

Mt. Fuji 5th Station

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At 7,546 feet (2,300 meters), Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station affords incredible views over Fuji Five Lakes and Hakone National Park. Easily accessible by road, 5th Station lies at the midpoint of the Yoshida Trail to Mount Fuji’s summit; many hikers begin their ascent here.

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Nara Park (Nara Koen)

Nara Park (Nara Koen)

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Located in the heart of Nara City, Nara Park (Nara Koen) is famous for the more than 1,000 semi-wild sika deer that roam its grounds. Spanning 1,631 acres (660 hectares), the scenic public park is also home to several popular attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, the Isuien Garden, and the Nara National Museum.

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Huis Ten Bosch

Huis Ten Bosch

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Named after one of the residences of the Dutch royal family, Huis Ten Bosch is a theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. Opened in 1992, this unique attraction is a recreation of a 17th­-century Dutch village, complete with authentic architecture, canals, windmills, and historic monuments.

Huis Ten Bosch’s Dutch­style buildings house hotels, theaters, museums, shops, and restaurants. Along with the iconic Dutch architecture and scenic canals, a number of gardens featuring seasonal flowers add to the park’s pleasant surroundings. Various events take place at different times of the year, including a tulip festival during the spring and a fireworks event in the summer.

The park is divided into two main zones. The Theme Park Zone features various amusements, including a haunted house, mirror maze, Ferris Wheel and a replica of the Domtoren (Dom Tower) of Utrecht. The Harbor Zone's main attractions include a theater and a replica of the Palace Huis Ten Bosch, which houses an art museum.

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Miyajima Island (Itsukushima)

Miyajima Island (Itsukushima)

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Miyajima Island (officially named Itsukushima) has been a Shinto holy place for centuries and is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine, a red gate (torii) rising from the water just off Miyajima’s shores. Other ancient shrines and temples speckle the island, nestled among a thick forest of maple and cherry trees.

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Shitenno-ji Temple

Shitenno-ji Temple

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Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.

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Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho)

Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho)

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The Japanese royal family lived in Kyoto Imperial Palace(Kyoto Gosho) until 1868, when the capital moved to Tokyo. It’s located within the Kyoto Imperial Park, which also houses other palaces and shrines. This must-visit attraction allows visitors to gain a greater understanding of Japan’s rich history and culture while enjoying landscaped gardens.

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Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko)

Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko)

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In the shadow of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko), is a scenic spot in Hakone National Park. Considered sacred by the Japanese, it is home to the famous Hakone Shinto shrine. Visitors come to see the shrine, take a boat out on the lake, or enjoy the many hiking trails in the area.

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Ginza

Ginza

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With its neon lights, towering department stores, and trendy nightclubs, Tokyo’s upscale shopping district of Ginza is a chic, cosmopolitan adventure. You can catch a Kabuki performance, check out the latest Japanese film or art exhibition, and dine at some of Tokyo’s best restaurants. And, then, of course, there’s the shopping.

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Shoren-in Temple

Shoren-in Temple

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Historically, the head priests of Shoren-in Temple were members of Japan’s imperial family. In fact, a 12th-century emperor built the temple originally as a residence for his son to study alongside a prominent priest of the time. The temple’s stately pedigree matches the allure of its tranquil natural surroundings. Shoren-in Temple rests at the foot of Kyoto’s Higashiyama mountains. Standing outside of the main temple building, trees tower above, and the wooded forest encircles the entire complex.

Shoren-in Temple is known for being quiet and peaceful, a respite from hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors are invited to walk through the rooms of the temple. These include a drawing room, where the main attraction is intricately painted fusuma, or traditional sliding doors. The drawing room opens to a pond, where visitors often go to meditate. The main hall is the primary place of worship. Outside of the temple are several walking paths. Some circle a garden, while another leads up to a teahouse.

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Nijo-jo Castle

Nijo-jo Castle

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UNESCO World Heritage Site Nijo-jo Castle, a fortified complex dating from 1603, was the official residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun. Walk in the pretty gardens or visit Ninomaru Palace to see fine Japanese artworks. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Kyoto, a city already full of must-visit attractions.

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Sapporo TV Tower

Sapporo TV Tower

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East of Odori Park, and standing 483 feet (147 meters) tall, Sapporo TV Tower is an iconic landmark of the city. Head up to the observation deck, pull out your camera, and enjoy postcard-perfect views of Sapporo, nearby mountains, the Ishikari Plains, and the Sea of Japan.

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