The 21 Most Iconic Japanese Landmarks

The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine | © Joe deSousa / Flickr
The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine | © Joe deSousa / Flickr
Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer17 January 2019

Explore Japan’s most iconic landmarks, both natural and man-made, from the ancient temples of Kyoto to the bright neon lights of Osaka.

Shibuya Crossing

Often called the world’s busiest pedestrian scramble, Shibuya Crossing has become a symbol of modern Tokyo.

Tokyo’s most iconic landmark, Shibuya Scramble | © uniquedesign52 / Pixabay

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The beauty and mystery of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto have never been replicated anywhere else on Earth.

Kyoto’s serene and beautiful Arashiyama Bamboo Grove | © David Sanz / Flickr

Itsukushima Shrine

At high tide, the towering torii of Itsukushima Shrine appear to be floating over the sea.

The floating torii at Itsukushima Shrine | © Free-Photos / Pixabay


Osaka’s downtown Dotonbori district is possibly its most visited attraction, famous for its bright neon signboards and tasty delicacies.

Osaka’s downtown Dotonbori | © GagliardiImages / Shutterstock | © GagliardiImages

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is Japan’s most famous castle and one of the best surviving examples of feudal Edo architecture.

Himeji Castle, the most photographed castle in Japan | © LuxTonnerre / Flickr

Mount Fuji

With its wide stature and snow-capped peak, Mount Fuji is immediately recognizable at a glance. This beautiful mountain near Tokyo has become a symbol of Japan.

The most famous mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji | © oadtz / Pixabay


A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the picturesque village of Shirakawa-go is one of Japan’s top winter destinations. With the village lit up and covered with a blanket of snow, it’s a place unlike anywhere else in Japan.

Shirakawago Village, Japan | Mithila Jariwala / © Culture Trip

Ashikaga Flower Park

Ashikaga Flower Park’s stunning purple wisterias attract thousands of visitors each year. The wisteria bloom in late April to early May.

Wisteria trellis at Ashikaga Flower Park | © Horizon Images/Motion / Alamy Stock Photo

Nara Park

Once thought to be messengers of the gods, the local sika deer now roam free in Nara Park and have become an icon of the city.

Native sika deer in Nara | © ShuaiGuo / Pixabay

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a shrine in Kyoto. The long path of brightly colored torii leading up to the shrine has been featured in countless films.

Torii path of Fushimi Inari Taisha | © Paul Vlar / WikiCommons


Amanohashidate is a sandbar in Miyazu Bay, ranked as one of the Three Views of Japan (as chosen by 17th-century scholar Hayashi Gaho).

Amanohashidate, a sandbar in northern Kyoto-ken | © 663highland / WikiCommons

Kobe Port

Once the world’s busiest port, Kobe was decimated by the 1995 earthquake and now stands as evidence of the people’s resilience.

The unmistakable view of Kobe Port | © cowardlion / Shutterstock

The Hells of Beppu

The Hells of Beppu are a designated Scenic Place of Beauty by the Japanese government. It’s aptly named, as the water here is way too hot to go for a dip.

Umi Jigoku | © buttchi 3 Sha Life / Shutterstock


The group of islands known as Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture have long been cherished for their beauty, and are also one of the Three Views of Japan.

One of the islands of Matsushima Bay | © shoji / Pixabay

Hiroshima Peace Park

Hiroshima Peace Park is Hiroshima’s most visited attraction. Its compassionate, forgiving message of peace and remembrance touches the hearts of visitors from all over the globe.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park | © paulmuenzner0 / Pixabay


Naoshima is Japan’s island dedicated to contemporary art. Revered Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s spotted pumpkin is the island’s most iconic landmark.

Naoshima | © andrew_t8 / Pixabay


The Daibutsu, or Great Buddha, can be found in Nara, in the Buddhist temple Todai-ji. There are many Daibutsu scattered throughout the country, but this has garnered the most fame. This National Treasure is well over 1,000 years old.

The Great Buddha in Todai-ji, Nara | © Mstyslav Chernov / WikiCommons

Kyoto’s Machiya

Japan’s historic machiya are mostly concentrated in Kyoto. These traditional wooden townhouses are responsible for much of that ancient city’s charms, including the famous Gion and Pontocho geisha districts.

Machiya along the Shirakawa in Kyoto | © veronica111886 / Pixabay

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Jigokudani Monkey Park is famous for its population of hot spring-loving monkeys. These red-faced macaques are native to Japan, and the image of one taking a soak in a steaming onsen has become a symbol of wintertime in the country.

Japanese macaques warming up at the onsen | © PMS2718 / WikiCommons


This unique golden temple has become one of Kyoto’s most famous attractions.

Kinkaku-ji | © JordyMeow / Pixabay

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo’s original tower landmark will always be the one and only to some.

Tokyo Tower | © Kakidai / WikiCommons

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