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Must Visits in Japan

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Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007, Japan
In western Kyoto, there is a very large forest of bamboo. As you can see in the photo, the shoots grow very tall, making those who stroll by look quite small. I'm sure there are times when this road is crowded, but when we were there, people were...
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Yanaka, Taitō, Tokyo 110-0001, Japan
On the east side of Tokyo, travelers can experience the city’s frenetic spirit. In the Ameyayokocho neighborhood, you’ll find seedy-looking love hotels, pachinko parlors, and chatty street vendors. When the chaos becomes too intense, escapeto...
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Japan, 〒107-6290 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 9丁目7−6 東京ミッドタウン・ガーデン内
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake created this experimental design museum, and star Japanese architect Tadao Ando constructed the building. The museum always has great installations by artists such as the industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa. —...
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Japan, 〒292-0009 Chiba-ken, Kisarazu-shi, Kanedahigashi, 3 Chome−1−1 三井アウトレットパーク木更津1階
I enjoy mountain climbing, especially at Kintoki Mountain in Hakone. When I need gear, I head to Montbell. People who climb, camp, cycle, or fish all rely on equipment from the Japanese outdoor brand. —Kashiwa Sato 1-8-12 Q Plaza, Ebisu,...
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29-3 Sarugakuchō, 渋谷区 Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0033, Japan
My wife’s favorite coffee shop in Daikanyama has an open terrace that’s perfect for people-watching. The space was inspired by 18th-century Italian cafés. —Kashiwa Sato 29-3 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku, 81/(0) 3-3770-9517. This appeared in the...
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Japan, 〒107-0062 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 7 Chome−13−12 南青山森ビル 2F
Owner Nobiyuki Nakamura’s whiskey obsession is on display at his scotch bar. He has a full collection of traditional Irish whiskeys and Scottish single malts. The whole place is obsessive, right down to the hand-carved ice cubes that go into the...
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Japan, 〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya, Sarugakucho, 17−5 DAIKANYAMA T-SITE蔦屋書店 1号館、3号館、2号館1階
A short walk from Daikanyama Station is one of the metropolis's iconic bookstores, Tsutaya at T-Site. Designed by Klein Dytham Architecture, the Tsutaya bookstore is celebrated not only for the beauty of its three buildings but also for the...
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Famous musicians come here when they want privacy. Order the fried octopus if it’s available. The mama-san [female manager] used to be a theater actress. —Kashiwa Sato 3-21-14 Kakuhari Biru 1F, Nishi-Azabu, Minato-ku, 81/(0) 3-5411-2906. This...
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Japan, 〒106-0031 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Nishiazabu, 4 Chome−22−10 プレステージ西麻布
The chefs put a French twist on classic Japanese-style iron griddle cooking, which makes Ahill a totally unique teppanyaki restaurant. I like that they always give you curry and rice at the end of your meal. —Kashiwa Sato 4-22-10 Nishi-Azabu,...
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Japan, 〒150-0011 Tokyo, 渋谷区Higashi, 3丁目16−10 アリティマ 1F
I go here when I want a really good burger or steak. They dry-age their meat, and steaks are charcoal grilled. —Kashiwa Sato 3-16-10 J Park, Ebisu Biru, Higashi, Shibuya-ku, 81/(0) 3-5447-0536. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue....
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6 Chome-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0062, Japan
Just down the street from fashionable Omotesando is the Nezu Museum, with an exquisite Japanese garden. Architect Kengo Kuma's touches include a warm welcome with a bamboo wall at the entrance and rooms with picturesque views of the garden. The...
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28-17 Sarugakuchō, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0033, Japan
Imagine a whole flea market crammed into one small space. That’s Hollywood Ranch, where I’ve shopped since college for jeans, T-shirts, and even incense. —Kashiwa Sato 81/(0) 3-3463-5668. This appeared in the January/February 2013 issue. Read more...
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Japan, 〒604-0846 Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Nakagyō-ku, Kinpukichō, Karasuma Dori, 御池上ル (元龍池小学校
What is Manga? I asked myself that same question. I saw a flood of Japanese teenagers outside this museum dressed up as these crazy anime characters. They were outside the Kyoto International Manga Museum. It's three floors of lined wall to wall...
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Japan, 〒111-0031 Tōkyō-to, Taitō-ku, Senzoku, 3 Chome−20−2 吉原神社
My wife and I were in Japan for her first visit, and we had resolved to stay in Japanese-style ryokans instead of Western-style hotels to save money as well as for the new experiences. Needless to say, before GPS, this resolution made it...
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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tokyo, 渋谷区神宮前6−2−4
This restaurant was recommended by the "Tokyo Guide" iPhone app I was using. It looked great, and I love dumplings. When we walked in, we were a bit worried because everything was in Japanese, even the menu. Donna, who knows Chinese, was trying to...
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104-0061, Japan
The Ginza district is home to Tokyo's oldest and most prestigious shopping department stores and high-high end luxury retailers. Chuo-Dori, the main artery in the tony shopping district of Ginza, is worth a walk-down if you're drawn to streets...
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5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chūō-ku, Tōkyō-to 104-0045, Japan
The Tsukiji Market is the world's largest seafood market, with more than 2,000 tons of seafood moving through it daily. There are two parts to the operation: the inner market, or jonai, accessible after 10 a.m., and the outer market, or jogai,...
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5 Chome-2 Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
Fresh anago eel battered and deep-fried until crispy. The tempura anago is then dipped into a savory soy broth and placed over a steaming bowl of rice. Tenfusa Tsukiji 5-2-1, Building #6
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1 Narita, Narita-shi, Chiba-ken 286-0023, Japan
Metal detail on the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple grounds. I believe this is the character for fish, more or less signifying abundance. This large complex is a 30-40 minute ride away from Tokyo's Narita International Airport and is worth a trip...
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Saiwaicho, Narita, Chiba Prefecture 286-0028, Japan
I had an eight-hour layover in Tokyo (Narita). After doing a lot of research, I realized that I wouldn't have enough time to go into Tokyo without feeling incredibly rushed to get back to the airport to catch my connection home. Instead, I decided...
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2 Chome-11 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan
From Shinjuku’s bar scene to Roppongi’s polished cigar bars and Shibuya’s all night karaoke, Tokyo nightlife offers something for everyone. Dogenzaka’s Love Hotel Hill is sprinkled with small Love Hotels, Japan’s kitschy themed rent by the hour...
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2 Chome-11 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan
If Manhattan’s famous music club CBGB were reimagined by a Japanese food fiend, the result would be Tatemichiya. The izakaya, or Japanese-style tapas bar, in Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighborhood, is the brainchild of punk-music fanatic Yoshiyuki Okada....
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4 Chome-4-13 Shibakōen, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 105-0011, Japan
Tokyo Tower may not be exactly the Eiffel Tower, but at night it is pretty damn close! Sitting near the base of this enormous TV tower is an amazing restaurant that offers fine tofu cuisine in a traditional Japanese garden setting and dojo-style...
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Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
It didn't seem to bode well that nearly a dozen buses were idling in the huge parking lot outside the giant modern building that overlooks Tokyo Bay from Kanaya Harbor. But the "tourists" that piled out of the buses were all Japanese, most from...
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9-19 Wakamatsuchō, 若松町 Hakodate-shi, Hokkaidō 040-0063, Japan
I've been quite adventurous with food in most cases, I eat sashimi (raw), both fish and meat in fact. But for some reason, Uni (Japanese for sea urchin) was one of the things that I never dared to try. Maybe it's the color, maybe it's the texture,...
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Japan, 〒160-0004 Tōkyō-to, Shinjuku-ku, 新宿区Yotsuya, 1 Chome−1−11 陽臨堂ビル 1F
When I took my beautiful wife to Tokyo to celebrate her birthday in March, because we only had three days in town we had to very carefully curate our dining choices. While we did visit an old favourite, most of the restaurants we visited were new...
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Japan, 〒102-0094 Tōkyō-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kioichō, 4−1 新紀尾井町ビル 1F
The Japanese have a love affair with the French; you can see it all over Tokyo and it is reflected in restaurants such as Aux Bacchanales, a bistro serving classic brasserie food as well as patisserie desserts.
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Japan, 〒106-0032 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Roppongi, 6 Chome−10−1 六本木ヒルズ ヒルサイド 2F
This two-Michelin-starred restaurant by Joel Robuchon is a replica of the L'Atelier in Paris and Las Vegas. Here they reinterpret French dishes with a bit of a Japanese influence. Counter seating makes any meal an event as you watch the chefs at...
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Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, 東京都 渋谷区宇田川町4−3
Noticeable by a bright yellow sign with a pig eating Ramen, Hakata Tenjin offers the best affordable Ramen in Shibuya. Perfect for the day after a late night out in one of the many bars in Shibuya. Address: Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Dogenzaka 1-5-4
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1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
Even in the middle of winter, the Imperial Palace Gardens are well worth a stroll. There are plants from all the prefectures of Japan, and the bamboo is lush year-round. The palace is about a 10-minute walk from Tokyo Station, and it's a...
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2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
Touring Tokyo via Rickshaw is something I never thought I would do. For whatever reason it always seemed wrong to have a man standing where a horse would be in other cultures. But then again, every country is different and I soon learned that this...
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1 Chome-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0005, Japan
Michelin-decorated chefs oversee three of the 10 restaurants at this newly rebuilt, 290-room hotel, which overlooks the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo. The dark-wood Royal Bar serves classic martinis. From $570. 81/(0) 3-3211-5211. This appeared in the...
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7 Chome-14-18 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 106-0032, Japan
Honmura An in Roppongi is famous for its housemade soba (chewy buckwheat noodles). Owner Koichi Kobari uses a sobabocho (soba knife) to cut the noodles each day. I always get the soba with tororo, which is grated mountain yam, and a cold beer. —...
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2 Chome-6 Sakaimachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0853, Japan
Sunday morning, 7:30 am. Blue tarps are spread out in prime grassy, shady spots along Hiroshima's six rivers. By noon the lucky people who claimed these spots in advance are picnicking under the cherry blossoms. I bought a bento box at one of the...
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1072 Amatsu, Kamogawa-shi, Chiba-ken 299-5503, Japan
The Torii Arch reaches skyward on a small islet off the Pacific coast of Amatsu-kominato in the Boso Peninsula of Chiba. I came across this after walking around the breakwater of the fishing port located in front of Tanjoji Temple, birthplace of...
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1 Chome-3-3番28号 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
I have found that one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a foreign culture is to attend a local sporting event. My husband & I happened to be in Tokyo during the annual sumo wrestling tournament. So we bought the cheapest tickets that were...
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368 Nagashimacho Urayasu, Kuwana, Mie Prefecture 511-1135, Japan
It's a wonderful amusement park south of Nagoya, Japan with ten dollar coasters, a water park and an outlet mall. The Steel Dragon 2000 is the longest coaster in the world.
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Lake Chūzenji, Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture 321-1661, Japan
The Chuzenji Temple in Oku-nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was originally founded in 784 by a Buddhist monk known as Shodo-shonin and is located on the shore of Lake Chuzenji, which is approximately 1,300 meters above sea level. In the middle of the...
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Midoricho-1613 Tsuruga, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture 380-8512, Japan
Shiga kogen national park near the town of yudanaka in nagano.
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Shibuya Station outside of Tokyo makes Times Square in New York look small in comparison. Great Sushi, Sake and People Watching! Take the Narita Express from Narita Airport to Shibuya for a day of great food, drinks and shopping!
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294 Kiyomizu 1-chōme, Higashiyama-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 605-0862, Japan

Kiyomizu-dera on Mount Otowa is one of the most famous temples in Japan, a place that appears in every sequence of Japanese travel photos. The landscape is all cherry trees and forest; it is among Kyoto's loveliest spots. The current structure...

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8 Chome-2-5 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0023, Japan
Learning the revered art of sushi usually takes years of apprenticeship, but Tokyo Sushi Academy’s eight-week course offers a deep first dive. Instructors lead a tour of the famous Tsukiji fish market, then students learn the precise way to cut...
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The Japanese have a proverb: "He who climbs Mount Fuji once is a wise man, he who climbs it twice is a fool." And after doing so I understand why; and it's something you must do in your life. Standing on the top of Mt. Fuji makes you realize how...
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2 Chome-8-1 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 163-8001, Japan
View of Tokyo at dusk as seen from the 54th floor observation deck of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Nishi-shinjuku. Admission to the observatory is free and well worth it for a fantastic, sweeping view of the Tokyo skyline.
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68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 612-0882, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha on Inariyama mountain is dedicated to the Shinto gods of rice and sake, but Inari is also the god of merchants and that brings a lot of businesspeople to worship here. Everyone else stops by to see the thousands...

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Japan, 〒250-0407 Kanagawa-ken, Ashigarashimo-gun, Hakone-machi, Ninotaira, 二ノ平1121
This is the view inside the Symphonic Sculpture by Gabriel Loire at the Hakone Open Air Museum (彫刻の森 in Japanese) in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The museum opened in 1969 as the first open-air art museum in Japan. The spectacular grounds,...
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Japan, 〒381-0401 長野県下高井郡山ノ内町平穏6845
I left tropical Southeast Asia for Japan in the dead of winter for one reason - to see snow monkeys. I'd always seen pictures like the one above, of zen macaques in steaming hot springs surrounded by snow, and had no idea how accessible they were...
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1 Kinkakujichō, Kita-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 603-8361, Japan
Built in the 14th century as a villa for a powerful shogun, Kinkaku-ji temple, commonly referred to as the Golden Pavilion, is an easy bus ride from the main bus terminal in Kyoto. The temple is one of the most popular buildings in...
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6 Chome-11 Hanasatomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken 506-0026, Japan
East of the picturesque city of Takayama you'll find the famous ice cave. It is the highest snow cave of Japan, located 800m above sea level. It is famous for its huge amount of helictites and stalactite formations. As you leave the caves put a...
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Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan
Under the tracks of the Yamanote line train, running from Tokyo to Shinbashi stations, you'll find hidden, unique dining experiences. Down here locals serve everything from specialty Japanese cuisines to unique international tastes—Thai, French,...
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1 Chome-12-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tōkyō-to 130-0015, Japan
A stone lantern and stepping stones on the grounds of Kyu-yasuda Teien (former Yasuda Gardens) in Ryogoku, Tokyo. This is a small Japanese garden located behind the Kokugikan (sumo hall) in Ryogoku that was once owned by Zenjiro Yasuda, founder of...
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Mount Nokogiri, Kanaya, Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture 299-1861, Japan
Trademark notch at the top of Nokogiriyama ("Saw Mountain") near Futtsu in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. The mountain features a distinctive sawtoothed profile of a Japanese saw, due in part to the mountain's history as a stone quarry during the Edo...
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409 Yamanouchi, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture 247-0247, Japan
This is a stone statue of Buddha (jizou in Japanese) positioned in front of a withered tree on the grounds of Engakuji Temple in Kita-kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The large temple complex comprises 18 temples and was founded in 1282 by a...
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The Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (首都圏外郭放水路), also known as the G-Cans Project, is an underground water infrastructure project in Kasukabe, Saitama. It is the world's largest underground floodwater diversion facility, built...
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3 Chome-5-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tōkyō-to 100-0005, Japan
The Tokyo International Forum is a stunning architectural masterpiece of glass and steel truss designed as a multipurpose convention and event space by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. It was completed in 1996 on the site of the former Tokyo...
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9 Chome-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tōkyō-to 107-0052, Japan
Here I captured reflections of surrounding buildings off of a plate-glass ceiling of the basement of the Tokyo Midtown shopping and office complex in Roppongi, Tokyo. At 6.1 million square feet, the complex was completed in March 2007. It includes...