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  • 1 Saiho-ji (Moss Temple) Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    56 Kamigayacho - Matsuo - Nishikyo-ku JPN - Kyoto 615 8286

    Saiho-ji is a good example of how an abandoned building can flourish. Founded in the 7C, restructured in the 14C by the gardener monk Soseki, twice set on fire then flooded with water, the temple finally fell into disuse. A huge variety of mosses pro..

  • 2 Miho Museum Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Museums and art

    300 Tashiro - Momodani - Shigaraki JPN - Shiga 529 1814

    There would be no trace of human civilisation in this vista of irregular mountains, were it not for the entrance to Miho Museum, whose glass infrastructure reflects the sun. This museum in the middle of nowhere, designed by IM Pei, is buried under th..

  • 3 Todai-ji Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    Parc de Nara JPN - Nara

    Built in 743 on the instigation of Emperor Shomu, Todai-ji centres on the Daibutsu-den, the main pavilion. There is a reason for its gigantic size (57m long and 50m wide): this wooden structure houses the enormous bronze statue of the cosmic Buddha, ..

  • 4 Horyu-ji Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    JPN - Ikaruga

    Horyu-ji is a unique piece of cultural heritage that takes you back to the time when Japan adopted Buddhism. This major change brought with it the architecture of Chinese temples, which blended with Japanese traditions. Founded at the beginning of th..

  • 5 Kumano Sanzan Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    JPN - Kii-Katsuura

    The enormous Kii peninsula juts into the Pacific between Osaka and Nagoya and its southern tip is a secret world of vigorous torrents and steep mountains wooded with cedars and bamboos. Thirteen centuries ago the Shintoists attributed many divinities..

  • 6 Himeji Castle Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    JPN - Himeji

    Also called "White Heron Castle", there is indeed something about the building with its immaculate white roughcast walls, upturned roof poised to take flight and gracefully shaped keep that rings true in this typically Japanese image. Himej..

  • 7 Koraku-en Garden Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Okayama

    Koralu Garden occupies a sandbank in the heart of Asahi River, which meanders through the park, getting slowed down in the marsh and then escaping via the waterfalls. Paddy fields, tea plantations, cypress and cherry tree woods, teahouses with the wa..

  • 8 Miyajima Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Itsukushima

    The great red torii emerging from the waves against the background of a sandy beach is one of the emblems of Japan and the most convincing argument for tourists to come to this highly sacred Shinto island. Nobody can be born here or die here (hence n..

  • 9 Itsukushima Shrine Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    JPN - Itsukushima

    Itsukushima Shrine (12C) is preceded by a large torii (16m) with vermilion-lacquered pillars made of rough boles of sturdy camphor trees. The torii stands in the sea and at high tide seems to float on the waves. It leads to one of Japan's most emblem..

  • 10 Ritsurin-koen Garden Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Takamatsu

    It took 120 years, between 1625 and 1745, to develop the definitive layout of Ritsurin-koen Garden! It would be difficult to enumerate all the assets of this Japanese garden: it is a true work of open-air art, occupying 16ha (75ha if you include Mt S..

  • 11 Dogo Onsen Honkan Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Architecture, castles and historic districts

    JPN - Matsuyama

    In Japan bathing is an integral part of enjoying life and you can indulge in the rituals yourself at Dogo Onsen Honkan. These hot, alkaline waters in the heart of a spa resort have attracted eminent figures throughout history. In this utterly astonis..

  • 12 Kyushu National Museum Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Museums and art

    Attenant au sanctuaire JPN - Dafaizu

    The Kyushu National Museum pulls off the bold move of setting its collections, which cover the history of Japan, in a modern museum design. The contemporary architecture makes for a fascinating juxtaposition: housed in a building designed by Kikutake..

  • 13 Yakushima Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Miyanoura

    The island of Yakushima, south of Kyushu, boasts a superb and imposing natural environment, as you will see for yourself... Dozens of peaks emerge at an altitude of more than 1 000m above the treetops of the incredibly lush forest, where the Japanese..

  • 14 Seibu Rindoh Forest Road Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Nagata

    Seibu Rindoh forest road (42km from Nagata to Yudomari) is a stunning but narrow coastal road that skirts around sheer cliffs down which icy streams tumble, crossing one of the wildest parts of the island of Yakushima. It is not uncommon to encounter..

  • 15 Kabira Bay Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Kabira 907 0453

    This superb bay to the north of Ishigaki is lapped by waters inhabited by impressive manta rays, which many divers come here to see. You can also observe the sea life from aboard a boat with a transparent bottom in this picture-perfect setting. Sukuj..

  • 16 Ise-Jingu Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    JPN - Ise 516 0037

    Dedicated to Amaterasu, sun goddess and mythical ancestor of the imperial dynasty, Ise Shrine is dismantled and built anew every 20 years. It includes an inner shrine, the Naiku, and an outer shrine, the Geku, as well as over a hundred small shrines ..

  • 17 Naiku Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Religious buildings

    JPN - Ise 516 0037

    The Naiku is the inner shrine of the Ise shrine. It is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, the mythical ancestor of the first Japanese emperor, Jinmu, and said to house the goddess's sacred mirror. The grand Uji Bridge leads visitors to the site,..

  • 18 Hida Takayama Museum of Art Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Museums and art

    Route de Hida-no-Sato JPN - Takayama

    Created by the collector Tetsuya Mukai, Hida Takayama Museum of Art boasts a fine collection of European Art Nouveau glassware, furniture and objects. The displays showcase delicate vases and paste jewellery by Tiffany, Lalique, Daum and Gallé. Sever..

  • 19 Shirakawa-go Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    JPN - Ogimachi

    The people of the Shirakawa-go Valley adapted their way of life to their isolated surroundings, combatting the isolation of their villages with a system of mutual cooperation between neighbouring families. Gassho-zukuri are traditional three- or four..

  • 20 Gokayama Highly Recommended Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

    Nature and gardens

    R 156 JPN - Ainokura

    This valley adjacent to Shirakawa-go Valley forms the enchanting backdrop to several hamlets with majestic and rustic gassho-zukuri, which stretch along the Sho River. As Gokayama is more difficult to reach than Shirakawa-go it gets about half as man..

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