Top 10 places to visit in Japan 2014
1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima / Hiroshima)
You can find the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, made by architect Kenzo Tange, in central city of Hiroshima, Japan. This museum was built by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall in August 1955. Today it is called the International Conference Center Hiroshima. The museum shows the facts of the atomic bombing and its bad effects all over the world. The purpose of the museum is to contribute to the abolition of nuclear weapons all over the world and promote peace at the same time.
It is divided into east building and main building. At the east building, the history of Hiroshima (Hiroshima-no-ayumi) dealing with the A-bomb exposure period is presented through picture panels, films, and figures concerning factors related to the historical background at the time. In the main building, the museum shows the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in detail. Peace Memorial Park, in which this museum is located, is known as a famous cherry blossom viewing site.
2. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto / Kyoto City)
Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari’s messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital’s move to Kyoto in 794.
Originally the god of rice, Inari now governs the modern equivalent: success and prosperity in business. Fushimi Inari Shrine draws thousands of businessmen and tradespeople seeking blessings for their enterprises, especially at the first prayers of the New Year.
3. Todaiji Temple (Nara / Nara City)
Todaiji Temple is a World Heritage Site that houses Japan’s largest statue of Buddha. Todaiji Temple (Nara) is largest wooden building in the world.
Todaiji Temple, also known as the Eastern Great Temple, houses Japan’s largest statue of Buddha and the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. In 1998 Todaiji Temple was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara” listing. Todaiji Temple is the largest wooden building in the world and one of the most famous Japanese Temples, which also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism.
The monastery-temple Todaiji was founded by Emperor Shomu (r.724-749) when Nara was the capital of Japan. It was the head temple of the network of provincial monasteries throughout Japan.
Todaiji is a temple of the Kegon sect of Buddhism, which reveres the Buddha Vairocana (Birushana in Japanese) as the cosmic, central Buddha. The principal image of the temple is a bronze statue of Vairocana, colossal in scale.According to legend, nearly 2,600,000 people helped construct the Buddha — but as that would amount to nearly the half of the people in Japan at the time, the figure is probably exaggerated. Nevertheless, by the time the Buddha was completed in 751, it had consumed most of Japan’s bronze production for several years and left the country almost bankrupt.
4. Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima / Hatsukaichi)
Miyajima (also known as Itsukushima), measuring 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) in length and 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) in width, is an island in Hiroshima Bay. With Itsukushima Shrine standing in an inlet backed by the surrounding mountains soaring steeply from the coast, the island is known as one of the three most scenic places in Japan along with Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture and Ama-no-hashidate in Kyoto Prefecture. Since ancient times, the island of Miyajima itself has been worshipped as a god, and living there was prohibited. Even today, Miyajima is considered to be sacred and some of the ancient rules such as no cultivation or burials on the island still remain.
This shrine is among the best in Japan with the superb architectural beauty of its bold and unique structure centered on the sea built in the elegant Shinden Zukuri architectural style. The shrine was built in its current form by Kiyomori Taira in the 12th century. The contrast with the greenery in the background is extraordinarily beautiful. Itsukushima Shrine was registered as a world heritage site in 1996 (Heisei 8). There are many cherry trees around the shrine, so many visitors come here in spring to enjoy the blossoms.
5. Golden Pavilion Temple (Kyoto / Kyoto City)
The Golden Pavilion Temple, also called Kinkaku-ji in Japanese, was built in 1397 and it is located in Kyoto, Japan. It was initially made to serve as a villa for retirement for Shogun Ashikaga. It was quite later that his son converted the building into a Zen temple. The Golden Pavilion burned down in 1950 when a monk set fire to the temple.
The Golden Temple is a building with three stories. The upper two stories are covered with a pure gold layer. The main purpose of the pavilion is to work as a shariden, storing relics of the Buddha. One can see a typical Chinese architectural style on the top floor. The second floor has a Zen style and the ground floor is made in the shinden-zukuri style.
The entire temple is surrounded by a beautiful garden with a pond in the front called the Mirror Pond. The stones in the pond give a representation of the Buddhist era. In the year 1987, some parts of the temple were recoated in thicker gold and some of the interior of the temple was remodeled in 2003.
6. Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto / Kyoto City)
Kiyomizudera (清水寺, literally “Pure Water Temple”) is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. The temple was originally associated with the Hosso sect, one of the oldest schools within Japanese Buddhism, but formed its own Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple’s primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon.
7. Jigokudani Monkey Park (the Nagano / Mountain City)
Jigokudani Monkey Park is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Parkand is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests.It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques,more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys.
Jigokudani is one of the best place you can see Snow Monkey. Snow Monkey in Jigokudani enjoy Onsen, and they look really relaxing especially in heavy snow in winter. The Boss Monkey in this park is named “Ryuou,” the king of Dragon.
8. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo / Shinjuku)
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (新宿御苑 Shinjuku Gyoen?) is a large park with an eminent garden in Shinjuku and Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. It was originally a residence of the Naitō family (daimyo) in the Edo period. Afterwards, it became a garden under the management of the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. It is now a park under the jurisdiction of the national Ministry of the Environment.
The shogun bequeathed this land to Lord Naitō daimyo) of Tsuruga in the Edo period who completed a garden here in 1772. After the Meiji Restoration the house and its grounds were converted into a experimental agricultural centre. It then because a botanical garden before becoming an imperial garden in 1879. The current configuration of the garden was completed in 1906. Most of the garden was destroyed by air raids in 1945, during the later stages of World War II. The garden was rebuilt after the war.
The jurisdiction over the Imperial Palace Outer Garden and the Kyoto imperial garden was transferred to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (now part of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) in 1947.
On May 21, 1949 the garden became open to the public as “National Park Shinjuku Imperial Gardens”. It came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Environment in January 2001 with the official name “Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden”.
9. Narita-san Temple (Narita Hill) (Chiba / Narita)
The Narita-san Shinshō-ji Temple attracts some 10 million (mostly Japanese) visitors annually. It is one of the main centre of the Buddhist Shingon sect in Japan and has several branches throughout Kanto.
The temple was founded in 940. The legend has it that a Goma rite dedicated to the image of Fudomyoo, which had originally been enshrined at Takaosan Jingoji Temple in Kyōto, help to miraculously suppress a revolt against Emperor Suzaku. An oracle proclaimed that the image, which had been transported from Kyōto to Narita, should stay where it was to relieve the locals from suffering. Emperor Suzaku then ordered the creation of the Narita-san temple to enshrine the Fudōmyō image.
The Great Main Hall is a reconstruction of 1968, but still conducts the daily Goma rite.
10. Tsukiji fish market (Tokyo / Central District)
Tsukiji fish market – Tokyo Fish Market – The Tsukiji fish market is the biggest seafood market in the world. The Tsukiji fish market is very popular with tourists.
Commonly known as Tsukiji fish market (Japanese: 築地市場, Tsukiji shijō), but officially is named Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market. Tsukiji fish market is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind.
The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo, and is a major attraction for foreign visitors (few Japanese casually visit the market), especially for visitors with jet lag who have arrived from Narita International Airport; the best times to visit are between 5:00AM and 9:00AM. Tourists may visit the market daily between 5 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. and watch the proceedings from a designated area. However, due to the increase in numbers of sightseers and the associated problems they cause, the Tsukiji fish market decided to ban tourist access to the tuna auctions during the period between 15 December 2008 and 17 January 2009. This ban has now been lifted, but access is now much more restricted.
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