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5811 Travelers rated Japan highly for Temples and Museums

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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Your Japan vacation

Rickshaws. Bullet trains. Mount Fuji. Hello Kitty. This archipelago of contrasts has it all. From tiny cars to tempura, Japan's razor-sharp edge -- not to mention karaoke bars -- leaves visitors singing praises to the Land of the Rising Sun.

But before you say "sayonara," let Orbitz help you plan ahead. Our insiders dish on soba shops, geishas and Ginza, plus Japan's top 10 attractions.

Best time to take a trip to Japan

This island nation sports a complex climate. Northern regions are mountainous with distinct seasons, and the south is balmy, with its palm-studded islands and beach vibe. Cities facing the Sea of Japan get hard-core winters when Siberian air clashes with warm Pacific fronts. The result: huge snowfalls, ski resorts and cold snaps. The Pacific Ocean side sees less snow, while Honshu's big cities (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Kyoto) are chilly. Summers? Hot and sticky, with the exception of Hokkaido. June is Japan's brief rain season, and typhoon season is from August to October.

Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama are always buzzing, but nation-wide, peak holiday seasons are Golden Week (late April to early May) and the mid-August O-Bon (Festival of the Dead). But during Shogatsu (New Year) Japan basically shuts down.

Things to do in Japan

Shiretoko National Park

Located on the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park is one of Japan's most flawless natural beauties. Bathe in hot waterfalls (Kamuiwakkayu Falls), or take a cruise along the rugged coastline, where the park's remotest areas are visible only by boat or on foot. In winter, the Sea of Okhotsk coast offers an idyllic spot to see Siberian drift ice.

Harajuku, Tokyo

It's not Halloween, it's Harajuku. Here, teenagers outwit the fashion rules with some of their own: Kawaii (translation: cute) dress like kids toys with the help of decoras (fave colors and accessories). Cosplays are anime and/or cartoons, while wamono are Japanese/Western hybrids. From the hair to the handbags (not to mention shoes!), the shops of Takeshita Dori keep these youngsters cutting-edge. And just around the corner: the serene Meiji Jingu Shrine.

Tokyo

Tokyo is enormous, bright, uber exotic and astronomically futuristic. Whether you're in Mikimoto (world-renowned pearls) or Asakusa (temple district), wanderlust will accompany you everywhere. Shopping district Ginza will send you from kid-in-a-candy store glee to impenetrable confusion with its luxury retailers (Fendi, Prada) and basement food halls. (Mind your chopsticks -- in Japan, it's rude to eat standing up.)

Takayama Festival

Located in the mountainous hillside region of Gifu, Takayama is considered one of Japan's most traditional cities. And the Takayama Festival, held each spring and fall, is considered Japan's best. For two days, visitors marvel as yatai (giant floats) and mikoshi (portable shrines) make their way through Takayama's old town. The highlights are the tmatsuri (evening festival) and karakuri performances, where ornate mechanical dolls dance and caper.

Kyoto

Everything's zen in Kyoto. This former Japanese capital boasts soul-stirring beauty with its ancient temples, shrines and meditation gardens. The emperor's residence for over a thousand years, this populous (1 million plus) city's heart wins visitors with Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nishiki Market (seafood, trinkets). Walk the cherry-blossom trails of Philosopher's Path and stunning streets in historic district Higashiyama. Gion is geisha territory, while northern Kyoto is home to the gold-leaf-covered Kinkakuji temple.

Yokohama

It's hard to believe this urban metropolis was a remote fishing village some 100 years ago. It's now home to the world's biggest Chinatown and tallest inland lighthouse (Marine Tower), and you'll be wowed by Minato Mirai (ferris wheel), which doubles as the world's largest clock. Kannai, bound by the Ooka River and the sea, draws visitors to the heart of the city with its historic roads (the first in Japan to use gas street lamps). Sankei-en Garden is a must-see in Naka Ward.

Shogatsu

Celebrate New Year in Nippon! Say sayonara to the old year with a bonenkai party -- where Japanese leave yesteryear's cares behind. New Year's Eve is spent cleaning, eating toshikoshi soba (for good fortune) and decking the halls in pine, bamboo and plum trees. More modern twists include J-pop and enka performances on TV. It's traditional to watch the hatsu-hinode (sunrise) on New Year's morn and visit a shrine or temple. Plan ahead: Japan basically shuts down from January 1st to the 3rd.

Osaka

The Japanese rave about the castles here. Osaka Castle (near Kyoto) is one of Japan's most famous, especially when the hanami (cherry blossoms) bloom. Himeji Castle, a bit further out, flaunts poetic beauty with its hilltop perch and bird-like looks -- its nickname is Hakurojo (White Egret Castle). Hungry? Check out nearby Kobe, hometown of the famous beef.

Kirishima-Yaku National Park

Take Japan's rugged side head-on. Kirishima-Yaku National Park, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, packs a punch with its numerous volcanoes, craters and onsen (natural hot springs). On a clear day, trek up to the summit of Karakuni-dake, the highest peak in the region. But if your dogs are tired, there are plenty of easy paths and photo ops.

Insider tips for Japan travel

Theme restaurants in Tokyo

Far beyond quirky, Tokyo takes the cake for its nothing-short-of-awesome theme restaurants. You'll find wacky combos, from medical/prison themes to vampire cafes (blood orange cocktails!) and oversized/miniature worlds inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Culture pointers

Don't be alarmed if a little culture shock strikes. Japan is just as mysterious as it is accessible. Expect profound politeness and an almost pious sense of order. Money is exchanged on small trays (by hand is rude). Sugar is organized: liquid for cold drinks (doesn't sink), cubes for hot. And umbrellas have street cred -- the Japanese park them outside.

Yabu Soba in Kanda, Tokyo

This fifth-generation shop attracts visitors from all over Japan. Kimono clad waitresses serve classic dishes such as sashimi yuba, grilled nori and soba (both hot and cold). This place as delicious as it is authentic, and listen carefully: Your orders are sung to the kitchen.

Yoyogi Park in Tokyo

Elvis has made it to Japan. Lookalikes channel The King with pompadours, tight black tees and swiveling hips. Even the elite get giddy.

Money tip

Don't rely on credit cards -- they're more the exception than the rule. While most department stores, major hotels and some restaurants accept them, most businesses do not. In Japan, cash-and-carry is best.

Top Rated Hotels for your Japan Vacation

RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka
RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka
4.5 out of 5.0 5-3-68 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka-fu
$83
4.6/5 (24 reviews)

Our room was very comfortable and clean. They provided a multitude of toiletries including hair ties/clips, brushes, & toothbrushes in addition to the regular soap & shampoo. Although the restaurants were expensive, their free shuttle was available all day to take you to and from Osaka Station were ...

Reviewed on Dec 1, 2019
RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka features karaoke, an indoor pool, and a health club. Self parking is available for JPY 1500 per night. Multilingual staff at the front ...
BESPOKE HOTEL Shinjuku
BESPOKE HOTEL Shinjuku
3.5 out of 5.0 2-2-17 Kabukicho, Tokyo, Tokyo
Free Cancellation
$48
4.6/5 (5 reviews)

This hotel is awesome! Very conveniently located and great amenities and room!

Reviewed on Oct 13, 2019
At BESPOKE HOTEL Shinjuku, guests have access to free WiFi in public areas and laundry facilities. The 24-hour front desk has multilingual staff ready to help ...
InterContinental Yokohama Grand
InterContinental Yokohama Grand
4.5 out of 5.0 1-1-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa-ken
Free Cancellation
$89
4.5/5 (23 reviews)

Location is great right on the waterfront with easy access from Haneda Airport by direct Keykio limousine bus and the views from the room are simply amazing

Reviewed on Apr 9, 2019
Guests of InterContinental Yokohama Grand enjoy a full-service spa, a nightclub, and an indoor pool. Valet parking is offered for JPY 2000 per night. The front ...

^Savings based on all package bookings with Flight + Hotel made on Orbitz.com from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages.

*Price based on the lowest price found within past 24 hours and based upon one night stay for two adults over the next thirty days. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.