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The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine | © Joe deSousa / Flickr
The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine | © Joe deSousa / Flickr
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The 21 Most Iconic Japanese Landmarks

Picture of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer
Updated: 28 November 2017

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.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

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

Itsukushima Shrine

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

Dotonbori

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

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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.

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.

Shirakawa-go

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

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.

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Ashikaga Flower Park Wisteria Flower Tunnel | © dktazunoki / Shutterstock

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.

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.

Amanohashidate

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

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.

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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.

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Umi Jigoku | © buttchi 3 Sha Life / Shutterstock

Matsushima

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.

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.

Naoshima

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

Daibutsu

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.

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.

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.

Kinkaku-ji

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

Tokyo Tower

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