The top 10 tourist attractions of the world - Japanese style!
Have you ever seen those lists that are compiled with titles like "the 10 most popular tourist attractions around the world"? They seem to do the rounds online and in travel magazines or even newspapers - and there tend to be a few places that regularly make the cut for where people want to head to.
You might be wondering what this has to do with Japan - well, no matter if you've always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty or Niagara Falls, or maybe Big Ben or the Great Wall of China, you'll find some pretty incredible alternatives here in Japan. Here are 10 of the world's most popular tourist spots - with some Japanese counterparts that you might want to pay a visit!
If you've always wanted to see Big Ben...
Try the Wako Department Store Clock in Ginza, Tokyo
This clocktower has been around since 1932, and is an iconic sight in the area. As well as sitting right on a prominent street corner, the art deco inspired building style stands out from other stores in the area. Ginza is known for being the high class, luxury area of Tokyo - and inside the building that the clock tower is attached to, you will find all manner of luxury goods, from watches to jewelry, handbags and more. Perfect if you want to add a spot of shopping into your day. A great runner up for unique clocks in Tokyo is this Studio Ghibli inspired steampunk clock in Shiodome, if you're seeking something less traditional in appearance!
If you've been dreaming of the Pyramids of Giza
Try the Tottori Sand Dunes
Surprised to see a landscape that looks like this in Japan? The Tottori Sand dunes span 16 kilometers in length, and have existed for over 100,000 years. There are even camels that you can ride across the dunes, making for a unique experience and some fun photos. You might be asking "but what about the pyramids?" and you'd be right - there are no pyramids here. In saying that, you can check out some pretty incredible sand sculptures at the Tottori Sand Museum - it's amazing just what the sand artists that are commissioned to do the works can create. Each year the museum takes on a different region of the world with their creations, and past examples have included Africa, the United States, and Russia. If you're interested, you can check out some more information about the Sand Museum on their website here.
Fascinated by the Sultan Ahmed Mosque? (also known as the Blue Mosque)
Try Nara's Todaiji Temple
If you want to see an incredible temple during your time in Japan, one that will take your breath away is Todaiji, located in Nara. It's an amazing structure and up until 1998 it was actually the largest wooden structure in the world - which is pretty impressive considering that the newer wooden structures that have overtaken it are courtesy of modern technology and more advanced machinery! The building also contains the world's largest bronze statue of Buddha, which is just another reason that makes it a unique and worthwhile visit. If you're headed to Nara this really is a must see, as well as checking out the deer that inhabit the city (that you can hand feed!).
If you've always wanted to visit Niagara Falls
Visit Nachi Falls
You'd probably find Niagara Falls at the top of any list about famous waterfalls - but Nachi Falls is one of Japan's most well known, and is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous in the world. As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, it is also the largest single drop waterfall in Japan (there are other larger waterfalls across the country, but they have multiple drops). The iconic structure that you see in the foreground of many pictures of Nachi Falls is the Sanjudo Pagoda at the Nachi Taisha Shrine, which is an incredible spot to snap some pictures from. The shrine grounds are always open, and are free to enter - another great bonus if you're traveling with a budget in mind.
Always wanted to check out the Taj Mahal?
Try Sendai's Zuihoden
The Taj Mahal might be the most well-known mausoleum in the world - but the Zuihoden in Sendai is also a mausoleum (and it's stunning to boot). It was built for Date Masamune, a powerful feudal lord who was the founder of Sendai itself. Bright colors and touches of gold adorn the building, and you'll find hidden details everywhere you look. You'll also get to experience the beautiful grounds that Zuihoden is set on - it's like being in your own personal forest. Adult admission to Zuihoden is 550 yen, which is only about a quarter of the price that you'd pay to visit the Taj Mahal. There are more details about Zuihoden available on their website here (in English).
Is the Colosseum on your bucket list?
Check out the home of Sumo at the Kokugikan
The Colosseum was the spot for gladiatorial battles back in the day - and if you head to Tokyo's Kokugikan, you can see modern day battles that are steeped in history. The stadium here holds the Tokyo Sumo Wrestling tournaments (there are three held here each year - in January, May and September), and outside of those times the arena hosts other events including pro-wrestling and concerts. If you are fascinated by sumo wrestling and the history behind the sport but can't get tickets to a tournament - or you're traveling to Japan outside of the tournament times - there's a neat (and free!) sumo museum here too. You can find more details about all things sumo at the website here.
The Grand Canyon is an amazing natural wonder...
And so is Takachiho Gorge!
Sure, if you are determined to see the Grand Canyon you might be wondering how this is a comparison - especially considering that the Grand Canyon has such a rugged desert landscape, and this gorge is lush, green and filled with water. Both the Grand Canyon and Takachiho Gorge were formed through geological processes though, showing just how incredible Mother Nature is. If you do pay a visit to Takachiho Gorge, you're able to rent a boat and row your way along, capping your adventure off at the 17 meter high Manai Waterfall for an incredible view. Boat rental at Takachiho Gorge is 2000 yen for a 30 minute timeframe, and you can find more details about it on their website here.
Does the Great Wall of China make you gasp in awe?
The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route should do the same!
The Great Wall of China may be seen as the most iconic wall in the world - but the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has a pretty incredible story behind it as well. The road passes through parts of the Japan Alps - hence the snowfall - and has to be carved out. Amazingly, those snow walls can get to around 20 meters in height! There are buses that offer tours of the route, but in April and May there's a section that is open to pedestrians, undoubtedly making for one of the most interesting walks of your life. You can find more information about the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on their website here - it includes information about getting there, the best times to visit and more.
Looking for romance at the Eiffel Tower?
Tokyo Tower can also have you feeling the love!
You may have noticed some similarities in the look and appearance of Tokyo Tower to the Eiffel Tower already - that's because the architect who designed Tokyo Tower modeled it after the French icon. Tokyo Tower was built back in 1958, and at the time of construction it was the tallest structure in Asia - and it's still the second tallest structure in all of Japan to this day (only overtaken by Tokyo Skytree, which was completed back in 2011). The tower has two observatories where you can get a great view of the city, and there are also regular special events scheduled here. It's worth checking out their website to see if anything fun is happening there when you're planning to visit.
Dreaming of seeing the Statue Of Liberty in all her glory?
There's a great replica in Odaiba, Tokyo!
It might be a bit of a mind trip when you head to Odaiba and see Lady Liberty there, overlooking the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay - the replica here is smaller than the real deal over in the States, but sure does look convincing! It's just a touch over 12 meters in height, and weighs around the nine ton mark (as a comparison, the original Statue of Liberty in New York is 93 meters high and weighs a whopping 225 tons). As well as getting to enjoy the views from where the Statue of Liberty replica stands, the Odaiba area is a wonderful spot for shopping, games and amusements - such as the giant ferris wheel that gives you a great vantage point to see Tokyo. If you'd like to visit the replica here, head to the Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station, and the statue is a short walk from there.
If you're a world traveler (or dreaming about being one) it's likely that you have a few spots that are on your bucket list. Japan truly has it all - from the traditional to the modern, and from beautiful natural wonders to amazing man made creations. You're bound to find plenty of additions to put on the must-see list, and you're all but guaranteed that one trip won't be enough - this country just keeps people coming back!
Enjoy Japan, and Happy Travels!
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