Japan Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Public holidays

Date Holiday
January 1 New Year
2nd Monday in January Adult Day
February 11 Day of the founding of the state
March, 20 Beginning of spring
April 29 Day of green
May 03 Constitution Day
May 5 Children’s day
3rd Monday in July Navy Day
3rd Monday in September Reverence to old age
September 23rd Beginning of autumn
2nd Monday in October Health/Sports Day
November 03 Day of culture
November 23 Day of thanks for work
November 23 Birthday of the Emperor (Tenno)

Source: Countryaah – Japan Holidays

Cultural events


  • The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido in February is very popular and world-famous. Sculptures and huge architectures are created from snow and ice that last through winter. Setsuban: The Bean Festival is celebrated across Japan. People gather in the courtyard of a temple and throw beans to drive away evil spirits.


  • Hanami: The cherry blossom viewing is the most popular event in Japan. Once a year, when the Japanese cherry blossoms for a short time, the Japanese go to the parks after work, enjoy the spectacle of nature and celebrate the Hanami, the cherry blossom festival, with beer and wine. The weather report shows the development and spread of the cherry blossom nationwide on television.
  • Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) in Tokyo


  • Aoi Matsuri (Mallow Festival) in Kyoto
  • Sanya Matsuri (Buddhist Festival) in Tokyo
  • Sanno Matsuri (Historical Costume Festival) in Tokyo


  • Awa Odori (dance and song festival) in Tokushima
  • Tenji Matsuri (Boat Festival) in Osaka


  • Shichi-go-san (Shinto Festival for 3-, 5- and 7-year-old children) all over Japan.


  • Omisoka (New Year’s Eve) in Kanto.

Sporting events

  • Formula One car race: Osaka Grand Prix
  • Sumo wrestling, the six official competitions of sumo wrestlers are called basho tournaments and take place as follows:
    • Hatsu basho in Tokyo in January
    • Haru Basho in Osaka in March
    • Natsu basho in Tokyo in May
    • Nagoya Basho in Nagoya in July
    • Aki Basho in Tokyo in September
    • November banzuke basho in Kyushu

Baseball, like sumo and judo, is a national sport of the Japanese and during the season there is one game that is televised almost every day. Other popular sports are kendo, Japanese stick fencing, and golf.

National customs

Preliminary remark

Japanese are extremely polite. However, this courtesy requires the partners to observe many rules. It is clear to the Japanese that foreigners do not all know these rules. However, unlike tourists, foreign business people shouldn’t make mistakes. But even as a tourist you should know some customs:

Basic attitude

Japanese are deeply reserved, disciplined people in everyday life who are not allowed to show weaknesses and feelings in public. That means they would “lose face”. The hierarchy in society is also related to this. Respect is paid to those of higher rank such as teachers, superiors etc. by keeping the “face” of the higher-ranking person. That means, you don’t contradict or interrupt him and it is considered an honor to help him. Linguistically, one does the honor by adding the ending san to the names of people of the same age and rank. If you want to address higher ranking people, you add the ending sensei to their name.


It is not customary to shake hands. One bows with an approx. 5 ° incline. You bow by 15 ° when greeting employees. If you want to ask for something, you bend 30 degrees. If you meet for the first time, you hand over your business card, showing the writing with both hands, and bow. Then you take the other person’s business card with a bow. When entering a house or apartment, you take off your street shoes and put on slippers. When entering the toilet in the house, you change again and put on toilet slippers. Don’t walk around the house with those toilet slippers!

Eating and drinking Sipping

soup is allowed. Blowing your nose is improper when eating. Sipping is a sign that it is tasty. The person sitting next to you pours drinks. If you don’t want anything more, you leave a small residue in the glass. Soy sauce doesn’t belong on rice. The chopsticks do not belong vertically in the rice. You don’t hand your neighbors food with chopsticks. Thank you means ” arrigato “. When you want to eat you say: ” ita da kimasu“That means” Bon appetit “. You don’t have to wait for the others. The Japanese like to have a drink together after work. This is supposed to encourage team spirit. It is inadvisable to exclude yourself here. Strangely enough, Europeans are considered hard-drinking. None The Germans believe that they can not tolerate alcohol. As a foreigner, however, you should not go out on the street if you are drunk, otherwise you will lose “face”. Tips are unknown.


Soap and rinse the body beforehand. Then into the tub to relax. After a maximum of 20 minutes: out. In public baths, the tub is usually available to several people of the same sex. Sometimes men and women bathe together in public baths. It was only the English and Americans in the 19th century who taught the Japanese to bathe according to sex.


You show respect for the country’s language and culture if you at least try to say something in Japanese. Errors are not ridiculed. The Japanese can generally understand English, but are often intimidated when asked to answer something in English. Talking “with your hands and feet” often helps. If you want to ask for something, you put your hands together as if to pray. If you want to ask someone to come to you, move your hand up and down. If you point to another person, you do so with the whole palm and never with your index finger. If you want to say that something is impossible, you cross your arms in front of your upper body, and if you want to express embarrassment, you scratch your head. You have to apologize for a serious mistake

  • A note: If you want to learn more about traditional Japanese ways of life, you shouldn’t stay in the hotels or “business hotels”, but in the Japanese minshukus (family guest houses) or riokans (traditional hostels). The Minshukus in particular are an inexpensive and friendly alternative to the anonymous hotel, which is mostly operated in the western style and used by the Japanese for business trips.

Another tip

A Japanese address cannot be found in the same way as in Germany. Only major streets in Japan’s cities are shown on the map. First you have to find the neighborhood, e.g. Minami-Azabu. A number indicates a quadrant in the quarter. Then there is a sub-district, e.g. Minato-Ku, there you stand at the subway exit and have to decipher a local sign with further information on the streets on site. Don’t be afraid if the Japanese try to help. Japanese people who are unfamiliar with the area also stand in front of the local signs looking for addresses. It is therefore a good idea to get directions beforehand by telephone or fax. Many restaurants, shops and hotels also have a business card with a map printed on the back. Do you want to buy an architecture or art guide,


A marriage in Japan is sealed according to Shintu tradition by drinking sake (rice schnapps) three times.


In 1274 and 1281 the Mongol prince Kublai Khan (1215 – 1294), the grandson of Genghis Khan (1155 (?) – 1227), tried twice to conquer Japan with the help of a huge fleet. But both times the fleets got caught in a typhoon and were destroyed. In the second attempt a total of 100,000 of the conquerors are said to have died! These storms, which then saved Japan from the conquerors, were called kamikaze = divine wind. In memory of this (divine) salvation of their homeland, pilots threw their machines on American warships towards the end of the Second World War and accepted their certain death in the process. But manned torpedoes were also used against the Americans with seamen ready to kill themselves. However, these sacrificial acts were unable to make a decisive contribution to the war. Nevertheless, these deeds are still widely recognized today as a reminder of the country’s old samurai tradition.


Japan: climate

Travel times

The idea of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depends on a number of factors. The ideas of cultural travelers are certainly completely different from those of people who, for example, want to spend a pure beach holiday. The state of health or age can also play an important role. Therefore, our travel time recommendations are divided into the following two categories:

For sun seekers

For people who like to enjoy a lot of sun and for whom higher temperatures are not a problem, the following seasons are particularly suitable for a stay in the country: Summer months June to August. Japan has a more temperate climate, with the exception of the islands of Hokkaido and Okinawa. Hokkaido can have snow for up to four months, which is one of the reasons why it is a winter sports paradise. Okinawa has a tropical climate and it can get very hot there. Most of the beach resorts are in Kyushu.

For people who prefer a moderate climate

People who prefer a more moderate climate or slightly lower temperatures should rather use spring and autumn for a stay in Japan.

Climate table

It should be noted that the values in the table only provide a rough indication of the climate or the current weather in Japan. On the one hand, because the climate differs in the different parts of the country and, on the other hand, the values shown represent “only” average values over longer periods of time!

Month Average number of rainy days Mean maximum temperatures in (°C) Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)
January 04-06 07-09 -01 to -03
February 05-07 08-10 0 to -02
March 09-11 11-13 01-03
April 09-11 16-18 07-09
May 09-11 21-23 11-13
June 11-13 23-25 16-18
July 09-11 27-29 20-22
August 08-10 29-31 21-23
September 11-13 25-27 18-20
October 10-12 20-22 12-14
November 06-08 15-17 05-07
December 04-06 10-12 at 0

Japan: landmarks

Interesting places and regions


This small town has about 170,000 residents and is located about 50 km south of Tokyo. Easily accessible by train, the city was the capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333. There are 65 Buddhist temples and 19 Shinto shrines here. Most can be explored on foot. The most important of these temples and shrines are:

  • Daibutsu (Big Buddha)The nearly 12 meter high Daibutsu is the main attraction of Kamakura and the second largest bronze statue in Japan.
  • EngakujiThe Zen Temple was founded at the end of the 13th century in memory of the Japanese and Mongolian soldiers who perished in the Mongol attack. The relic hall is the oldest Zen building in the country.
  • Hasedera (Hase-Kannon-Tempel) Themain attraction is the 9-meter-high gilded eleven-headed wooden statue of the goddess Kannon.

Important buildings and structures

Imperial Villa Shugakuin in Kyoto

Located in Kyoto’s northeast, at the foot of the Hiei Mountain, this complex was built in the middle of the 17th century. It consists of three villas, the upper, lower and middle villa, each with its own garden. The middle villa was built for the daughter of the ex-emperor Gomino-o, Princess Ake. She had this converted into a temple when she became a nun. From the highest point of the complex, in the upper garden, you have a beautiful view of the man-made lake, which forms a unit with the mountains in the background.


A permit must be obtained from the Imperial Property Management (Kamigyo-ku) to visit the imperial palace as well as the imperial villas. You need your passport for this.

Hiroshima Castle (Hiroshima-jō) also: Carp

Castle (ijō) The former castle in Hiroshima was built in the 1590s by Mōri Terumoto, the daimyō (feudal lord) of the Han (fief) of Hiroshima at the time. The structure, unfortunately destroyed by the atomic bombing in 1945, was rebuilt true to the original in 1958. The interior of the castle now houses the Museum of the History of Hiroshima before World War II.

Kyoto Station

The Kyoto Station, the former capital of Japan, is an impressive architectural sin by Hiroshi Hara. The train station was built in 1997 and is a futuristic multi-storey building consisting of a train station, a shopping mall and restaurants.

Kyōto Tower (Kyōto tawā)

The Kyoto Tower rises 131 meters above the rooftops of the city. The building, which was completed in 1964, can of course also be viewed from the inside. There is also a viewing platform for visitors at a height of 100 meters.

Kanmonkyo Bridge

This road and rail bridge connects the island of Kyushu in the south with the main island of Honshu. The 712 m long bridge was opened in 1973. Japan’s express train, the Shinkansen, runs across the bridge.

Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Edo Castle was built on the site of the present palace in the middle of the 15th century. The palace construction began after the Meiji restoration in 1868. Much of the building was destroyed in World War II, but was rebuilt by the late 1960s. The area of the Imperial Palace is surrounded by a moat. The 110 hectare facility is only open to visitors for the Emperor’s birthday on December 23 and at New Years, on January 2nd accessible and then not complete. The rest of the time you can only visit the eastern garden.

Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace of Kyoto)

The Imperial Palace was built in 794, but has often been the victim of fires. The current facility dates from 1855, is a little smaller and is in a different place than the original one. Enthronement ceremonies still take place here. The parks that surround the palace and are freely accessible to every visitor are also extremely attractive.

Parliament (Kokkai Gijido) in Tokyo

The monumental 201 meter long building was completed in 1936. An application must be submitted to the administration for an inspection.

Museums and exhibitions

Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo

This museum in the Japanese capital Tokyo impresses with its fantastic architecture. In addition, there are the most interesting exhibitions dedicated to the modern art of Japan.

Kyoto National Museum (Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan)

The museum was built in the European style in the mid-19th century. It consists of two buildings. The sculpture “The Thinker” by Rodin stands in front of the entrance stairs of the main building. The museum houses an archaeological collection, a sculpture section and a large collection of Japanese paintings. In addition, there are regular temporary exhibitions with works of art from private collections or temples.

Hiroshima Museum of Art

The Hiroshima Museum of Art was founded in 1978 and shows European and Japanese art from the romantic to the modern period, as well as changing exhibitions on various topics.

Teien Museum (Tokyo-to Teien Bijutsukan) in Tokyo

The remarkable Art Deco building is the former residence of Prince Asaka. Changing exhibitions take place here. The beautiful landscaped garden is also worth a visit.

Temples, monasteries and shrines

Kiyomizudera (Temple of Pure Water) in Kyoto

The temple, located on a mountain slope, was founded in 780 by a Buddhist monk from Nara. It is located at the source of the Kizu River, which is said to cure diseases. The original temple was destroyed by power struggles between various monks. Almost all of the buildings seen today were built in 1633. From the platform of the main hall, which stands on 12 meter high scaffolding above a ravine, you have a wonderful view of Kyoto and the surrounding mountains. So that it stays that way, the temple bought the surrounding land to prevent building speculation.

Yasukuni Shrine (Yasukuni-Jinja) in Tokyo

The Shinto Shinto shrine got its name in 1879. It is a memorial for all those who died in defense of the empire, both soldiers and civilians. Today the shrine is very controversial, as the names of the main war criminals who were executed by the Allies have been listed here since 1978. In addition, the post-war constitution stipulates a separation of state and religion, but this does not prevent many members of the government from making a pilgrimage to the shrine on August 15, the day of surrender. This has sparked political controversy as it is seen as a sign that Japan has glorified its past and does not want to make admission of guilt. In addition to the main hall, the facility also includes a military museum (Yushukan),

Matsumoto Castle Matsumoto

Castle is one of Japan’s most beautiful castles. The castle is also called “Crow Castle” because of the black paintwork. It is a good example of the Hirashiro fortification style as it was not built on a mountain.

Ginkankuji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto

The “Silver Temple” of Kyoto has a Zen rock garden that depicts the Chinese West Lake and the Fujiyama and is one of the most important in the country. Contrary to its name, the pavilion of this temple is not silver. This was planned, but never carried out. It was built in 1482 as a country residence for the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, a grandson of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the founder of Kinkankuji.

Heian Shrine (Shrine of Peace and Tranquility) in Kyoto

The Heian Shrine was built in 1895 to mark the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. It is a replica of the old imperial palace, reduced to 2/3, which was built in 794 and burned down in 1227. The fascinating Heian Shrine is dedicated to the first (and last) emperor in Kyoto. It enchants with its daring mix of colors of crimson and poison green. Behind the shrine is a beautiful, large landscaped garden in which, depending on the season, you can admire the cherry or lotus blossoms or the red colored leaves of the maple tree.

Nanzen-ji (Southern Zen Temple) in Kyoto

This is a major Zen temple in Kyoto. It can be reached via the so-called Philosophenweg, at the southern end of which it is located. The temple was built in the 13th century as a retirement home for the emperor Kameyama.

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

The Fushimi Inari Taisha (Oinari-san) is a Shinto shrine in the Fushimi district of the city of Kyoto.

Meiji Shrine (Meiji-Jingu) in Tokyo

The shrine was built in 1920 in memory of Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and his wife Empress Shoken. It was bombed during World War II, but rebuilt in 1958. Behind the shrine you can see personal belongings of the imperial couple in the treasury. The area around the shrine has been planted with countless trees and bushes and offers a quiet pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Osaka Castle Osaka

Castle in the city of Osaka is one of Japan’s most famous castles and played an important role in the unification of Japan in the 16th century.

Todai-ji Temple in Nara

The famous Todai-ji Temple is located in Nara, one of the oldest cities in the country, which is also known as the cradle of Japanese culture. The Todai-ji Temple has the world’s largest wooden building and at the same time the largest bronze Buddha statue on earth.

More Attractions

Fish market halls in Tokyo

The fish market halls in the Japanese capital are not recommended because of their architecture, but because of the atmosphere, which is especially impressive at dawn. There are some very good sushi restaurants near the market.


Walk A very unique experience is a walk on the “Tetsugaku no michi”, the Philosopher’s Walk. This leads along the eastern slopes of the Japanese city of Kyoto and past some of the city’s most important temples.

Dōgo Onsen

Dōgo Onsen is the oldest hot bath in Japan and is fed from a natural hot spring. The history of the spring and the bath goes back well over 1,000 years. The current building of this public bath was erected in 1894. The spring and bath are located in the city of Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku, with a population of over 500,000.


Kyōto University (Kyōto Daigaku)

With around 22,000 students, the Kyoto University is one of the largest and best universities in Japan. It was founded in 1897 as Kyōto Imperial University and maintains the Katsura campus in the Nishikyō-ku district, the Yoshida campus in the Sakyō-ku district and the Uji campus in Uji. Kyoto University was the second university to be established in Japan and has had its current name since 1947. The most famous Kyōto-Daigaku graduates include Nobel Prize winners Hideki Yukawa (physics), Shinichirō Tomonaga (physics), Kenichi Fukui (chemistry), Susumu Tonegawa (medicine) and Ryoji Noyori (chemistry).

Hiroshima University (Hirodai for short)

This state university in Japan, founded in 1949, has its main campus in Higashihiroshima. The campus was opened in 1982 and is 2.5 km² in size. The university has the following faculties which currently have around 16,000 students:

BioproductionEngineering Sciences

Interdisciplinary Sciences Humanities

MedicineNatural Sciences Pedagogy




Keiō University (Keiō gijuku daigaku) in Tokyo

Keiō University is Japan’s oldest higher education institution and has a very good reputation both nationally and internationally. The private university, founded by educator Fukuzawa Yukichi in 1858, was also attended by Junichirō Koizumi, the Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. The main campus of the university can be found in the Mita district of Tokyo.

University of Tokyo (Tōkyō daigaku)

The university, also known under the name Tōdai, is the most renowned state university in Japan. In addition to the four campuses in Tokyo’s Hongo, Komaba, Shirokane and Nakano districts, it has another one in Kashiwa (Chiba Prefecture). There are currently around 28,000 students enrolled at it.

Gardens, zoos and amusement parks

Hiroshima Botanical Garden

The garden opened in 1976 and is located to the west of the city in Itsukaichi. It houses plants from all over the world. The main attraction is the greenhouse in the middle of the garden with around 1,000 tropical plants.

Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama in Kyoto

In the district of Nishikyō-ku is the Monkey Park of Kyoto. There you can marvel at around 170 Japanese macaque monkeys that live in the wild in the park. After paying your entrance fee, you climb a steep hill and can watch and even feed the monkeys from there. Since there are no fences whatsoever, the monkeys decide for themselves when and where to show up. However, they like to be attracted to food. You don’t have to be afraid, because animals are used to humans.

Kyoto Zoo

The zoo, opened in 1903, houses over 700 animals from over 170 different species on an area of around 34,000 m². The zoo is the second oldest in all of Japan and unfortunately does not always have modern enclosures or enclosures adapted to the animals’ natural habitat. In the zoo, visitors will find gorillas, lions, tigers, hippos, zebras, monkeys, ostriches and giraffes, among others.

Ueno Zoo in Tokyo

The oldest public zoo in Japan was founded at the end of the 19th century. It is located directly in Ueno Park and covers an area of approx. 143,000 m². Over 2,600 animals from over 460 different species live in the zoo. The main attraction of the zoo are the panda bears.

Peace Park (Heiwa-koen) in Hiroshima

The Peace Park was built in 1949 to commemorate the victims of the atomic bomb. It houses various monuments commemorating the atomic bombing, such as the Memorial Tower, the Children’s Peace Memorial or the Memorial Tomb.

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 and was the first Disneyland outside of the United States. Now it’s even bigger and more interesting than the Californian original. In September 2001, the newest theme park, Disney Sea, opened. There are 7 subject areas in it, all of which have to do with the subject of the sea.

Kairakuen Park in Tokyo

The park in Tokyo’s Mito district is particularly worth visiting in February. Then the plum trees start to bloom.

Atomic bombs dropped on Japan

Japan is the only country to have A-bombs dropped as a result of war – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A bomb on Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m. local time, the first A-bomb was dropped by a B 29 bomber on a city and the people living there at an altitude of 9,450 m above Hiroshima. The bomb exploded over downtown Hiroshima at a height of around 580 m. This bomb, called “Little Boy”, was three meters long and weighed four tons. It was a uranium 239 bomb with an explosive power of around 12 kt TNT – corresponding to the explosive power of 12,000 tons of the conventional explosive trinitrotoluene (TNT). The explosion took the completely unprepared city by surprise. As a direct result of the heat and pressure wave, between 90,000 and 200,000 people died instantly. and killed another 60,000 people in the weeks that followed. As a result of the radiation, more people died in the months that followed. And decades later, people were killed by cancer caused by radiation. You can find more information on the effects of radiation at Goruma atRadiation effects. Large parts of the city were razed to the ground.

A bomb on Nagasaki

After the bomb on Hiroshima, a plutonium bomb with an explosive force of 22 TNT was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 at 8:00 am. Originally the city of Kokura was chosen as the destination. But due to poor visibility, the pilot and his crew avoided Nagasaki. The bomb was named “Fat Man” and had a size comparable to the Hiroshima bomb. It is likely that around 25,000 people died immediately after the explosion and another 40,000 people over the next several months. As with the victims of Hiroshima, many people died from the rays as a result of cancer.

As a result of the enormous destruction, Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. The deed of surrender was signed on the warship USS Missouri. On September 9, the “China Army” with 1 million soldiers surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang-Kai-shek in Nanking. And finally, on September 12, the South East Asian Army surrendered in Singapore.

Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is next to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta/ USA the largest aquarium in the world and also impresses with its appearance designed by the architect Yukifusa Kokuba. The aquarium was inaugurated on November 1st, 2002 after four years of construction. A special feature is the so-called main basin with a water content of 7.5 million liters of water. The inside of the pool can be observed through a 22 m long, 8.20 m high, 60 cm thick and 134 ton heavy acrylic pane. Three whale sharks and manta rays live in the pool. There are a total of 77 pools with a total of 10 million liters of water. Every day, 360,000 liters of seawater per hour are pumped into the system from the nearby sea through pipes approx. 1.80 m thick. With the help of filters, part of the water is cleaned and pumped around,

There is also a deep sea basin, the water of which is kept at a temperature of 5 ° and which simulates all other conditions in the deep sea. There is also a coral basin in which natural conditions have been imitated so well that the very sensitive corals even multiply here. The sharks, including the very aggressive bull shark, will chase some visitors over the backs in their own shark tank. A curiosity in the aquarium is a dolphin, whose tail fin had to be amputated as a result of an illness. The animal is now romping around in its pelvis again with an approx. 2.5 kg prosthesis made of silicone rubber.

National parks

In Japan there are 28 national parks of which the most beautiful and most important are shown below.

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

Japan’s most visited national park is located about 100 km southwest of Tokyo. This is divided into four regions, each of which has its own special charm. There is above all the Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, which is venerated as a sanctuary, then the five Fuji lakes (Fuji-Goko), which lie north and east of the Fuji, Hakone with the picturesque Ashi-ko and the Izu peninsula. The transport hub of the Five Fuji Lakes area is the small resort of Kawaguchi-ko, which is located in the immediate vicinity of the lake of the same name. The four other lakes are approached from here. The largest of the five Fuji lakes is the Yamanaka-ko, on the banks of which there are, among other things, posh restaurants, chic hotels and beautiful villas. The Hakone area is also very beautiful. The Ashi-ko is nestled between several mountains and offers a fantastic view of Mount Fuji. Fuji itself can also be climbed, but this is not necessarily recommended for inexperienced people due to the difficulty.

Akan National Park

Akan National Park was founded in 1934 and covers an area of approx. 905 km². The park is located in the northeast of the island of Hokkaido. Together with Daisetsuzan National Park, it is one of the oldest national parks in Japan. The area of the park is of volcanic origin and the park is particularly famous for its excellent lakes, hot springs and the algae Aegagropila linnaei, the so-called moss balls. The water quality of the lakes should also be mentioned, so you can look into Lake Mashu up to a depth of 40 m. On some of the lakes you can also take a tour by kayak or canoe.

Kamikochi National Park

The national park is located in largely untouched nature and can only be reached by bus or taxi. The park is located in the “Japanese Alps” in Nagamo prefecture on the “main island” of Honshū, where Tokyo is also located. The national park extends at an altitude of around 1,500 m over a length of around 15 km in the valley of the Azusa river. In the park the visitor will find about half a dozen hotels. The park is open from mid-April to mid-November. The monkeys that live here are particularly attractive. The following mountain peaks rise near the park:

Okuhotakadake (3,190 m), Maehotakadake (3,090 m, Nishihotakadake (2,909 m) and the active volcano Yakedake (2,455 m).

Nikko National Park

The park was founded in 1934 and covers an area of approx. 1.4 km². The Nikko National Park is centrally located on the island of Honshu. In the park there are UNESCO-awarded shrines, volcanoes and volcanic lakes, moor lakes and the well-known waterfalls Kegon and Ryuzu.

Bandai-Asahi National Park

The park was founded in 1950 and covers an area of approx. 1,870 km², making it the largest national park in Japan. The Bandia-Asahi National Park is centrally located on the island of Honshu. The park is particularly impressive because of its wonderful landscape. The mountains Gassan, Haguro and Yudono can be found in it and the entire mountain region is considered sacred.

Daisetsuzan National Park

The Daisetsuzan National Park was founded in 1934 and now covers an area of approx. 2,270 km². The park is located in the north of the island of Hokkaido. The name of the park means something like “big snowy mountains” and describes the landscape of the park very well. In addition to the partly active volcanoes of the park, the fauna of the park attracts other visitors. Brown bears and other animals can be found in the park. Hiking in the park is an excellent idea and there are also hot springs. In winter you can even visit the Furano ski area to venture out on the boards.

More natural beauties

Koishikawa Korakuen in Tokyo

The garden, which was laid out between 1629 and 1659, combines Japanese and Chinese landscape motifs. Depending on the season, you can see the different trees blooming here. Even if only 7 hectares are left of the former garden, various leisure facilities were built on the remaining 18 hectares, a visit to the beautiful garden is worthwhile.

Sandankyō Gorge

The approximately 16 kilometers long Sandankyō Gorge, located in the northwest of Hiroshima Prefecture, should be visited especially in autumn. The sight of the discolored leaves is just wonderful there. Also very impressive are the waterfalls of the Shibaki-gawa River, which plunge 30 m down on 3 floors and generate a deafening noise.

Japanese Alps

Right in the center of the island of Honshu are the so-called Japanese Alps, which are of course particularly popular with mountaineers. Nagano, which lies in the northern Alps, was even the venue for the 1998 Winter Olympics.


This group of islands is located south of Kyushu and offers the visitor picturesque tropical beaches. The islands have only been part of Japan again since 1972. Nevertheless, a wonderful mix of Japanese and Southeast Asian cultural influences has been preserved on them.

Takashio Gorge, Aso-San volcanic landscape, Unzen-Amakusa National Park

The Takashio Gorge, the impressive volcanic landscape of Aso-San and the Unzen-Amakusa National Park are also wonderful natural beauties. All three are on Kyushu.

Little curiosity


cats were brought to this Japanese island to hunt mice. Because people lived here from silk production and mice are the natural enemies of the silkworms. But the increasing industrialization brought the local silk production to a standstill.

So the boys went where there was work.

Today over 100 cats live here – with around 70 mostly old residents. Since the residents believe that cats bring them luck, they are treated and fed well. Dogs are strictly forbidden on Tashirojima.

The cats are now leading to a real tourist boom. And even the architecture did not remain uninspired, for example a building for cats was inaugurated in 2000 by the artist Shotaro Ishinomori

The island is located 330 km (as the crow flies) north-northeast of Tokyo. You can get there by ferry from Ishinomaki Port (Miyagi Prefecture) – which goes to Tashirojima several times a day.


About 120 cats and only 15 people live on this small island.

There is no hotel or restaurant on the island, nor are there any cars or other motorized vehicles. The cats can therefore roam across the island undisturbed by traffic and sleep in the vacant houses of the previous residents.

Aoshima is located in the Seto Inland Sea on the west side of the island of Honshu – more than 800 km (as the crow flies) southwest of Tokyo.

Aoshima can be reached by boat that leaves from Nagahama Harbor (Ehime Prefecture) twice a day.

Japan: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Yakushima Cedar Forest (1993)

The island of Yakushima is located south of the main Japanese island. It rains there frequently and abundantly. The resulting incomparably beautiful forest is probably unique in the world. For example, animals threatened with extinction live there and there are many rare species of plants to be found. In 1993, the cedar forest of Yakushima was entered on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Himeji-jo Castle (1993)

This Himeji City Castle is one of the oldest surviving structures dating back to 17th century Japan. In total, the facility consists of 83 individual buildings. It is considered to be the most wonderful example of Japanese castle building. “Shirasagi-jō” is the nickname of the complex, which means “White Heron” in German. This name refers to the white outer walls of the castle. The castle, which was considered impregnable at the time, has been on the UNESCO World Culture List since 1993.

Shirakami Beech Forest (1993)

The beech forest of Shirakami is located in the mountains of Honshu, the largest island in Japan. This is where the last stands of beech trees, named after the Japanese researcher Siebold, can be found, which once covered the slopes of the northern Japanese mountains. The black bear, almost 100 different bird species and, uniquely, the serow, a kind of goat antelope, still live in the forests.

In 1993, the beech forest of Shirakami was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Buddhist shrines of Horyu-ji (1993)

The Hōryū-ji is a Buddhist temple and sanctuary in the city of Ikaruga. The oldest preserved wooden buildings in the world are located here, as well as numerous cultural assets from the country.

According to tradition, Emperor Yōmei, who was seriously ill around AD 600, made the vow that, when he recovered, he would build a temple and a statue of Buddha. But he could no longer keep this vow because he died. But his vow was fulfilled by his son and his wife. In 670 AD, a fire raged in the temple grounds. Not a single building is said to have been spared the fire. But they were rebuilt in the same way in the 7th to 8th centuries.

The Buddhist shrines of Horyu-ji were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993.

Monuments and Gardens of the Imperial City of Kyoto (1994)

In Kyoto, the former imperial city and today’s metropolis of modernity, there are numerous architectural gems such as Buddhist monasteries and beautifully designed gardens.

The city has around 1.5 million residents, with an area of 827.9 km².

In 1994, the monuments and gardens of the Imperial City of Kyoto were entered on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kinkaku-ji (1994)

The “Golden Pavilion Temple” is another Buddhist temple, which is located in the northwest of Kyoto. The building was built in 1397 and was then the retirement home of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It was later converted into a Zen temple by his son. The temple, destroyed by a Buddhist monk in 1950 and rebuilt in 1955, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994.

Historical Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama (1995)

Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are known for their special houses. They are thatched and have roofs that are up to 60 ° steep, reminiscent of hands clasped in prayer. In this region the houses are multi-storey. The attic was often used for breeding silkworms. Since the houses were often demolished in order to build modern houses in their place, it was forbidden to demolish the little remaining houses.

In 1995 the historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (1996)

Itsukushima Shrine is on Miyajima Island. The shrine was made in the 6th century and has been in its current form since 1168. Its construction was financed by a warlord. Ordinary citizens were not allowed to enter the island because it was considered sacred. The island could only be reached by boat through the Torii gate. It is now one of the most famous tourist attractions in Japan and belongs to the rare type of four-legged gates. The gate is 16 m high and surrounded by water at high tide. In 2004 the gate was badly damaged by a typhoon, but has now been restored. Next to the shrine there is also what is known as a Nō stage (a traditional Japanese theater). Five deities are worshiped in the shrine.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Dome Dome) (1996)

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 at eight fifteen. About 120,000 (the number is controversial) people died.

The ruins of the former building of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry are in the state in which they were immediately after the atomic bomb explosion. This is a memorial in Hiroshima, which is supposed to commemorate the first use of an atomic bomb. The dome, which goes back to the Czech architect Jan Letzel, was completed in 1915 and destroyed on August 6, 1945 by the “Little Boy” atomic bomb. However, many parts of the building were retained – as was the significant supporting structure of the dome roof. The monument owes its name to this. Despite objections from China and the USA, the dome has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Architectural monuments and gardens of the imperial city of Nara (1998)

Nara on the island of Honshu, southwest of Tokyo, was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. Most of the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines still preserved today date from this period. The local Tōdai-ji (Eastern Great Temple) is particularly well-known – a Buddhist temple that houses a huge Buddhist bronze statue.

The main hall of the temple has a width of 57 m, a length of 50.50 m and a height of 48.75 m. This makes this temple the largest building made entirely of wood in the world.

Several temples, shrines and ruins in and around Nara have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1998. The Nara Park with its sika deer is also known.

Shrines and Temples of Nikko (1999)

The city of Nikko has 19,000 residents and is located northeast of Tokyo. The area around Nikko is incomparably beautiful. Nikko has been considered sacred by Buddhism since the 8th century – and later also for Shintoism

A Shinto shrine can already be recognized by its entrance, which is the gate to the sanctuary. Around the upper part are mostly braided rice straw bands decorated with strips of white paper. The shrine can only be entered cleaned. To do this, you wash your hands in a basin and rinse your mouth. Many parents make a pilgrimage with their newborns on the 30th and 100th day after their birth to the shrine and pray there for their health. The construction has been designated as a state treasury with 24 buildings. Tokugawa Leyasu was a strong warlord. He had unified Japan and was immortalized as a deity in Tosho Shrine in 1617.

“Nikko wo minakereba kekko to iu na” (“Don’t say ‘kekko’ (gorgeous) until you have seen ‘nikko'”).

This is a Japanese proverb that still applies today.

Nikko has about 25,000 residents and is around 140 km north of Tokyo in the middle of the beautiful Nikko National Park, which is over 1400 square kilometers in size. In the park there is the holy mountain Nantai and Kegon, the highest waterfall in Japans. The city has been the country’s religious center since the 8th century. The main attraction of Nikko is the Toshogu Shrine, which is part of the Rinoji temple complex. It was built in the 17th century and combines Buddhist and Shinto elements. The monkey figures, which are located in the first courtyard at the holy stable of the White Horse and symbolize “hear, see and say no evil” with their gestures, are world-famous. It takes about 2 hours by train from Tokyo to Nikko.

In 1999, Nikko’s shrines and temples were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Archaeological Sites of the Ryukyu Islands Kingdom (2000)

The Ryūkyū Islands are a group of islands in the East China Sea that belong to Japan and are located south of the main island of Honshu. They are part of the Nansei Islands. About 1.5 million people live there, but almost 90% on the island of Okinawa Hontō. Naha, the capital of the Ryūkyū Islands, is also located here. There is rainforest on the Ryukyu Islands in the south. In a cave, the remains of bones of a person who probably lived around 34,000 years ago were found.

In 2000, the archaeological sites of the Ryukyu Islands were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountains (2004)

These holy places are located in the middle of the forests in the Kii Mountains southwest of Tokyo. Three holy places – Yoshino and Omine, Kumano, Sanzan and Koyasan – are united here. The surrounding forest with the holy places is an approx. 1,200 year old testimony to the worship of mountains. The place is rich in rivers and waterfalls. Some of the holy places are from the 9th century AD.

In 2004, the holy sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Shiretoko (2005)

The Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the easternmost part of the Japanese island of Hokkaidō and borders the Sea of Okhotsk. Much of the area can only be reached on foot or by boat. The peninsula is rich in game. The conditions for the survival of the various animal species are particularly good, as numerous types of deciduous and coniferous trees are native here and these offer good protection for the animals. Entering large parts of the peninsula is prohibited in order to protect the wild animals and the natural beauty.

In 2005 the island was added to the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites.

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and Cultural Landscape (2007)

Iwami-Ginzan is a former silver mine – located west of Tokyo in the mountains. The mine was built in the 16th century to mine silver and closed in 1923. The mine consists of about. 600 shafts and pits. The core area is 440 ha = 4.4 km². You can visit the former mines, settlements, tombs, shrines and ports used for silver mining.

In 2007, the mine and its cultural landscape were entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hiraizumi (2011)

Hiraizumi is a city on the Japanese island of Honshu, the largest island in the Japanese state, in Iwate Prefecture.

During excavations at the end of 1980 to 1990, the remains of a large castle and temples were found. Clay bowls, Chinese porcelain and clay figurines were excavated. The rulers of the city promoted trade to all parts of Japan and the city flourished and became rich. The city owed its great wealth to the lively trade relations with the rest of Japan. In the 12th century the city lost its importance, so that only a few buildings such as temples and palaces have been preserved. The city itself no longer exists. Many Buddhist temples are worth seeing, such as the Chuson-Ji, whose hall is lined with gold leaf and mother-of-pearl. Furthermore, the Geibiki Gorge and the Motsu-Ji Garden are exceptionally beautiful.

The ancient city of Hiraizumi was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2011.

Ogasawara Islands (2011)

Approx. 1,000 km southeast of the Japanese island of Honshu is the Ogasawara archipelago. In fact, there are two archipelagos and a few smaller islands. It includes the islands of Bonon, the volcano, the Rosario, on which there is an active volcano, and the Markus island. Only one island in this group – Bonin Island – is inhabited. Precious woods – cedar, beech, boxwood, rose and sandalwood – grow on the islands. The islands can only be reached by ship. There is no airport.

In 2011 the Ogasawara Islands were added to the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites.

Fuji-san (Chubu) (2013)

Every year between July 1st and August 31st, thousands of Japanese climb the highest mountain in Japan, the holy Fuji-San, to watch the sunrise. Mount Fuji is 3,776 meters high and is also known as Fuji. The mountain is about 100 km from Tokyo, but in good weather you can see it from Tokyo. The Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is also located here.

The mountain was included in the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in June 2013.

Silk spinning sites in Tomioka (2014)

The Tomioka silkworm farm as well as the spinning mill and the factory are located about 120 km northwest of Tokyo. In 1872 France bought machines for the spinning mill to produce silk.

With the purchase of the machines and the excellent silk product, a new era began in Japan. Industrialization had reached Japan with it. Technicians and students were sent abroad to learn how to operate machines and carry out repairs. It was hoped to be involved in developments through the training. All of these innovations required a broad mass of people to learn to read and write.

Since Japanese farmers have always made silk, the population was happy to adopt the innovation. European markets had temporarily tried to take over the trade in silk, but this failed suddenly when the silkworm plague broke out and almost completely wiped out the silkworms in Europe. This was a stroke of luck for Japan, because the domestic caterpillars were spared the plague and the silk trade was almost completely taken over by Japan.

The sites of silk spinning in Tomioka were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June 2014.

Sites of the Industrial Revolution in the Meiji Period (2015)

The Meiji period covers the period of the reign of Tennōs Mutsuhito (-1912) from January 25, 1868 to July 30, 1912. It followed the Edo period (1603-1867). During this time Japan began to develop from a backward feudal state into a modern industrial great power. The 23 industrial monuments at eleven different locations, which are spread over eight prefectures, are considered evidence of the country’s industrial revolution. This industrialization was based particularly on the establishment of an iron and steel industry, that of shipbuilding and coal mining. During the Meiji period, Japan forced the importation of technology from Western Europe and America in order to adopt Western technology. The monuments in detail:

  • Hagi, Yamaguchi PrefectureIn various places outside the city center of Hagi you can find a flame furnace, remains of the former shipyard and ruins of iron production. The sites also include the Shokason Juku School and the old castle town. Kagoshima.
  • Kagoshima PrefectureThe local sites in Kagoshima are related to the industrial complex in Shuseikan around the Senganen Garden, including the foundation walls of a smelting furnace, a machine factory – now a museum – and accommodation for foreign engineers. On the hills you can also find the remains of a charcoal pile and a sluice gate, which were used to supply the factory with charcoal and water.
  • Flame furnace in Nirayama, Shizuoka Prefecture The flame furnace in Nirayama on the Izu Peninsula was built in 1857. The iron melted here was used for cannons to defend the coast. The flame furnace consists of broken stone, of which the furnace housing and the four chimneys are still well preserved.
  • Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture The Hashino blast furnace in Kamaishi is located in the Tohoku region and was the first blast furnace built according to the western pattern in Japan. Unfortunately, only a few foundation walls and ruins are left of the three blast furnaces. The Iron and Steel Museum in central Kamaishi provides information about the city’s industrial heritage.
  • Ruins of the Mietsu naval shipyard, Saga prefecture The Mietsu naval shipyard in Saga prefecture was built in 1858 as a dry dock for shipbuilding and repairs – for example, Japan’s first steamship was built here. Unfortunately, there is practically nothing left of the shipyard. Therefore, visitors can only get a virtual view of the earlier systems with the help of virtual reality glasses. The glasses can be borrowed free of charge from the nearby Sano Tsunetami Memorial Museum.
  • Nagasaki, Nagasaki PrefectureThe port of Nagasaki is home to the first modern Japanese shipbuilding facilities and a naval academy. At the time, machines were used in the shipyards, some of which are still in operation today. On a hill on the other side of the bay is the home of the Scotsman Thomas Glover, who played a key role in importing western technologies and setting up the shipyard. In addition, there were coal mines on the islands of Takashima and Hashima (Gunkanjima), which supplied coal for the shipyard and steel mills in Kitakyushu.
  • Miike, Fukuoka and Kumamoto Prefectures On the shores of Lake Ariake in the south of Fukuoka Prefecture and in the north of Kumamoto Prefecture, a number of coal mines were built at the time, of which the best preserved – Manda and Miyanohara – became part of the World Heritage Sites. The nearby port of Miike and the now disused rail network between the port and the various mines are also part of the world cultural heritage. The port is still in use today and was considered a pioneering port at the time, as large ships could dock here even in strong winds and currents.
  • Misumi West Port, Kumamoto PrefectureThe West Port (harbor) of Misumi was established in 1884 and became one of the most important transshipment points for coal from Miike as well as for rice, wheat and flour. However, the port lost its importance after only ten years due to a new train connection. Today you can still admire the old stone quay and several restored historical buildings.
  • Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture The steel mills in Yawata, Kitakyushu, were built towards the end of the Meiji period and were of great importance for the development of the modern steel industry in Japan. Nowadays the facility is privately owned. But you can still find some historical buildings here, such as the former main office, the forge and the workshop.


    It is not permitted to approach the buildings or to take photos. They can only be viewed from a distant platform.

The Meiji Period Industrial Revolution sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015

The architectural work of Le Corbusier (2016)

National Museum of Western Arts

On July 17, 2016, 17 works in seven countries in honor of the architectural works of Le Corbusier were presented under the heading “The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement” at the conference in Istanbul added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Therefore, this world cultural heritage is considered to be cross-border. According to UNESCO, these structures are a testament to a new architectural language that had meant a break with the past. The award-winning structures were built over a period of around half a century. In addition to the local National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, there are plans for the new city of Chandigarh in Punschab in India, the house of Dr.

The National Museum of Western Art is located in the Taitō district of Tokyo. It exhibits European and North American works of art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and is considered the largest of its kind in Asia. The museum’s collection goes back to the art collection of the important Japanese entrepreneur Matsukata Kōjirō (1865-1950), whose collection located in France was confiscated during the Second World War. But at the end of the 1950s, France returned part of this collection to Japan as a gesture of reconciliation, which Matsukata Kōjirō had not experienced. You can find works by El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Gustave Courbet, Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, among others. Bronze casts of well-known works of art by Auguste Rodin can be seen in the sculpture garden, for example: The Thinker, The Citizens of Calais or The Gate of Hell. The planning for the museum building began in 1957 under the direction of Le Corbusier.

Together with the Japanese architects Maekawa Kunio, Sakakura Junzō and Yoshizaka Takamasa, a building was developed that was designed for possible growth. After two years of construction, the museum building was inaugurated in 1959.

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier (originally: Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) was born on October 6, 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. He was a Swiss-French architect, architectural theorist, urban planner and painter and furniture designer. Le Corbusier is one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, but his works also led to heated controversies and are in some cases still controversial today. He died on August 1965 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin near Monaco

Okinoshima Island (2017)

The sacred island of Okinoshima with its associated sites in the Munakata region gained religious importance, among other things because of the Okitsumiya shrine, which was built to worship the goddess of the sea mist. It can only be visited once a year by 250 men.

The preserved archaeological sites are largely intact and give a chronological overview of the development of the rituals practiced on the island between the 4th and 9th centuries.

As part of the rituals, offerings were made at various points on the island. Many of these objects are elaborately worked out and testify to the exchange between Japan, Korea and the Asian continent.

As part of the sanctuary of Munakata, Okinoshima Island is considered sacred to this day.

The island of Okinoshima and the sites in the Munakata region were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the meeting of the World Heritage Committee that met in Krakow, Poland, from July 2 to 12, 2017

Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region (2018)

The world heritage site in the northwest of the Japanese island of Kyushu comprises ten villages, a castle and a cathedral.

The Christian sites around Nagasaki still tell the story of the Christian missionaries who were persecuted in Japan between the 17th and 19th centuries.

The world heritage site is a “unique testimony to the special cultural tradition of the hidden Christians of the Nagasaki region”. The hidden Christian sites were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2018

Kofun Group of Barrows (2019)

The Kofun Group of Mozu-Furuichi is located on a plateau above the Osaka Plain and comprises 49 barrows. The barrows have striking shapes and were burial places of the social elite.

The graves are an excellent illustration of the Kofun period between the 3rd and 6th centuries. They testify to the social structure of this epoch, which also found its expression in a complex funeral system. The barrows of the Kofun group were inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2019.

About the author