The easternmost tip of Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula juts out into the Sea of Okhotsk is an area which still has plenty of untouched nature. Shiretoko is most famous for the drift ice that forms on the Amur travels southwards and approaches the Shiretoko Peninsula slowly in late January. Shiretoko was designated and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural Site) in 2005. From taking onsen( hot springs), hiking in the summer to shoeing and drift ice walk in the winter, Shiretoko offers fun adventures depending on the season.
Nikko is known for its natural beauty such as Nikko National Park, Kegon waterfall, Lake Chuzenji, and the UNESCO World Heritage site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Observe the intricate craftsmanship and enriching details at Nikko Toshogu Shine. You can also enjoy Kinugawa Onsen in combination with the historical tourist spots in Nikko.
Gokayama is located deep in the valleys and mountains of Toyama Prefecture, not far from the sea of Japan. It consists of two villages, Ainokura and Suganuma, where traditional thatched roof houses and culture of the villages in this region have been carefully well-preserved even today. Some of the thatched roof houses are open as inns and museum where visitors can stay and observe the traditional customs and history. As you wander around the village, you will feel like you slip back in time to old Japan.
Mount Fuji is the highest volcano and highest peak on the border of two prefectures, Yamanashi and Shizuoka. It is a stratovolcano about 60 miles south-west of Tokyo, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013.
You can enjoy the visual delights of Mount Fuji with a nice natural surrounding around Fuji Five Lake (Fujigoko) region which surface reflects the perfect symmetrical shape of the mountain.
Shirakawa-go is situated at the foot of Mt. Hakusan in the north western part of Gifu Prefecture. The thatched roof village in Shirakawa-go was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995 together with Gokayama ( Ainokura and Suganuma). Its charm lies in surrounding untouched natural landscapes with picturesque rivers, mountains and rice fields.
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Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha
Located in the city of Fujinomiya, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha is the most important Shinto shrine in the region which worships the God of Mt. Fuji for protection from volcanic eruptions. It serves as the head shrine among 1300 subsidiary shrines throughout the country. A detached rear shrine (okumiya) is erected at the summit of Mt. Fuji which encompasses the entire summit including the crater and all of the land above the 8th Station. The shrine holds large ceremonies in early July and September to open and close the
climbing season of Mt. Fuji.
Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for about 1,000 years until the capital was transferred to Tokyo in 1868. It boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites including several castles, over 1,700 Buddhist temples and over 800 Shinto shrines.
Kyoto is the best place to experience the world of ancient Japan with abundant Japanese gardens, Japanese-style inns, and prewar buildings.
Nijo-jo Castle was the residence of the Tokugawa shogun in the west of Kyoto, who had been ruling Japan for over 200 years. It is not only a Japanese national treasure, but also a world heritage site, designated in 1994. In addition to this, over 1000 paintings on sliding doors and murals are designated as nationally important cultural properties in 1982. The outer stone walls are huge, but inside is elegant with beautifully decorated ceilings and painted walls.
Himeji Castle, a UNESCO world heritage site, is regarded as the most impressive and best-preserved castle in Japan. While many castles have been destroyed or reconstructed due to wars and fire, Himeji Castle remains fully intact for almost 700 years. It is also known as “White Heron Castle”for its white exterior and appearance of a bird taking flight.
The castle is also the best place to admire the natural beauty of four seasons. In spring, the landscape is serene and radiant with cherry blossoms; lush green leaves mark summer. In autumn, it is characterized by the changing colors of leaves. The castle is mantled in snow when winter comes.
Nara,located less than an hour away from Osaka and Kyoto, became the capital of Japan in 710 known as Heijo-kyo, and flourished as the administrative, political and cultural center until 784. Heijo-kyo was Japan’s first cosmopolitan city that modeled after the Palace of Tang Dynasty China. In 1998, eight historic monuments of the Nara period were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage sites, making Nara one of the best city to get a taste of the ancient Japan with temples, shrines and palace.
The Kumano area is located in the southern area of the Wakayama and Mie prefectures in the southeastern part of the Kii Peninsula. Kumano kodo is one of only two pilgrimage routes lead to holy Kumano Sanzan, three grand shrines in Kumano area, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
Koyasan is a sacred Shingon Buddhist temple complex on the beautiful forested Kii Peninsula, more than 800 meters above sea level, founded by the high priest Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi. Koyasan boasts abundant nature, hundreds of temples and temple gardens.
Okunoin Temple located at Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture is the largest graveyard in Japan. Crossing the Ichinohashi bridge will take you to the entrance into the forest that surrounds the cemetery. There are over 200,000 tombstones including mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, who was the founder of Shingon Buddhism and famous feudal lords such as Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen, and Date Masamune.
Over the past twelve centuries, the complex has grown to over 100 temples, and Mt. Koya has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Nestled in cedar forest, the OKunoin temple retains tranquil atmosphere and you can immerse yourself in the clear mountain air.
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima known for its vermilion floating torii gate. Back in the 12th century, a powerful ruler of Japan named “Taira no Kiyomori” constructed Itsukushima Shrine, and its complex has designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945.
It was designate as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, which collects and exhibits belongings left by the victims, photos, as well as materials that show the horror of that event, describing the history of Hiroshima before and after the bombings.
Oura Cathedral is the oldest church of Gothic architecture in Japan. It was built in 1864 by a French missionary in Nagasaki, in memory of the 26 martyrs who were executed in 1597 in a result of suppression of Christianity. The church was designated as a world heritage site in 2018 as one of the Hidden Christian Sites. Next to the church is the Glover Garden, exhibiting 9 Western-style architectures including the Glover Residence, another world heritage site. The garden offers a superb and an extensive view of Nagasaki
Harbour from its hill-top location.