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Reasons To Visit Japan Right Now
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Reasons To Visit Japan Right Now

A record-breaking number of people have visited Japan this year as the country wins new awards for affordability, walkability, and more. Discover why!

Top 10 Reasons To Visit Japan Now
Bonus Recommendations


Japan is more popular than ever and the figures back it up. This year, a record-breaking number of people visited Japan during the month of March. Alongside this, the country has also picked up a host of travel awards highlighting its many attractions for international visitors. The most recent saw Tokyo named one of the world’s most affordable destinations. This comes after it was named the No.1 trending city to visit in the world (three of the top ten cities were in Japan!) and it was also voted one of the most walkable cities. Clearly, Japan is at the top of the list of dream travel destinations at the moment so, here at JR Pass, we thought we’d look at some of the main reasons as well as why now is a perfect time to visit. 

Top 10 Reasons To Visit Japan Now

If we had the time, we could easily write a list of 100 reasons to visit Japan right now. This amazing country is practically the dictionary definition of ‘once-in-a-lifetime, dream travel destination’ and there’s never been a better time to visit. That’s just not our opinion either - there’s record number of visitors (more than three million in March 2024 alone!), international travel awards, and more, to back it up. Okay, so, without further ado, let’s look at ten great reasons to visit Japan this year: 

  1. There’s never been more to see and do

International travel is booming! People want to live for the moment and see the places they’ve always dreamed of now rather than waiting. Japan is at the very top of the list for millions of travellers and the country knows this. As such, there has been a massive increase in the number of new attractions, activities, buildings, landmarks, and more. Japan has thrown open its doors to international visitors and wants to wow the world with everything the country has to offer. There’s really never been more to see and do when visiting Japan. New attractions for 2024 include Ghibli Park opening in full, a new shinkansen ‘bullet train’ route to the Hokuriku region, two new attractions at Tokyo DisneyResort, the opening of the new teamLab Borderless digital art museum in Tokyo, the 1,000-year-old Kumano Kodo celebrating 20 years of being recognised by UNESCO, and much more. Read our guide to What’s New For Japan in 2024 for more. 

2.  It’s more affordable than it has been for years

Due to a fall in the value of the yen recently, Japan has suddenly become a lot more affordable for international visitors. This was confirmed in a new holiday money report by the Post Office which named Tokyo, in particular, and by extension, Japan generally, as the fourth most affordable holiday destination in the world based on value for money. For more on making your money go further in Japan, read our guide to 10 Amazing Things You Can Do In Japan for Free.

3.  Japan has three of the world’s top trending cities to visit

Japan is trending! In a recent poll of the top ten cities travellers want to visit, three Japanese cities made the list, which just goes to show how much this incredible country has to offer. This speaks volumes about how amazing Japan is as a country, and how spectacular and exciting its cities are. The three cities were Tokyo, Osaka, and Sapporo. The latter city might seem a surprising addition, but Sapporo is super cool in more ways than one and the capital city of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. Sapporo (and Hokkaido generally) are becoming more and more popular with visitors who want to see a different side of Japan, as well as those who love colder, snowier climates. Hokkaido is known for its spectacular snow and winter festivals and illuminations, its ski resorts and world-leading slopes, its regional food specialities, lush greenery in the spring and summer, wild national parks, and more - all of which make its capital, Sapporo, an increasingly cool destination as a gateway to the rest of the island. 

Of course, Tokyo and Osaka also made the list and they’re incredible cities too. Tokyo was recently voted the world’s No.1 place to visit in fact - beat that! For a further overview of Japan’s trending cities, read our guide to the Best Japanese Cities To Visit in 2024

4.  Go on a culinary adventure

Love food? Then you’re going to love Japan! The country has a huge number of culinary delights and regional delicacies to offer meaning it’s a paradise for foodies. Like Japan itself, the country’s cuisine is unique, diverse, and extra special. From Michelin-starred sushi and ramen to traditional Izakaya, where beer and food go hand in hand, to street food stalls at Japan’s colourful festivals, and more, Japanese cuisine has something for everyone. Sushi. Ramen. Sashimi. Gyoza dumplings. Yakisoba noodles. Miso soup. Yakitori. Kobe beef. Tempura. Takoyaki. Okonomiyaki. The list goes on and on. For more, read our Beginners Guide to Japanese Food and Regional Dishes

5.  Discover your spiritual side

If you’re seeking enlightenment, or even just relaxation, then Japan is one of the most spiritual countries in the world. Guided by its Shinto and Buddhist beliefs - the two main religions in Japan - the country is filled with temples, shrines, monasteries, and iconic Torii gates. Visitors can experience these temples and shrines for themselves in most cities and towns as well as seeking out the biggest and most famous in the likes of Kyoto. It’s even possible to go on a pilgrimage to some of Japan’s most spiritual places such as Koya-San - a holy mountain in Shikoku and the home and birthplace of Shingon Buddhism - and to stay in a Buddhist retreat or monastery to truly experience a simplified lifestyle. You can find out everything you need to know about Japan’s spiritual history and heritage and where best to experience it in our Spiritual Guide to Japan. As well as discovering your spiritual side, you can detox in the land that invented mindfulness. Read our guide to having a Detox in Japan to find out more.

6.  Visit Japan’s World Heritage Sites

For lovers of historic landmarks and spectacular sights, one of the many wonderful things about Japan is the exceptionally large number of World Heritage sites. In fact, there are 20 registered UNESCO World Heritage Sites across Japan, each offering a truly special experience for those looking to discover more about the history and culture of this amazing place. Whether it’s historic monuments, serene Buddhist shrines, or the sacred pilgrimage routes of the Kii Mountain Range, there are so many breathtaking places to see and visit when you are in Japan. As we mentioned earlier, 2024 is also the 20th anniversary of the 1,000-year-old Kumano Kodo being recognised by UNESCO - another special reason to visit now. 

7.  Japan’s public transport makes exploring the whole country a joy

It’s well-known that Japan’s public transport is the best in the world. In particular, its vast, interconnected train network, which stretches right across the country’s four main islands, from the north to the south, east to west, and back again. If there’s somewhere you want to go in Japan, then the country’s trains can get you there. They’re also fast, clean, safe, efficient, and enjoyable to use. And paired with a JR Pass for unlimited travel on the majority of trains, you can hop on and off at your leisure, giving you the freedom and flexibility to have the holiday of a lifetime.

8.  Visit the ancient Japan of your imagination

Have you fallen in love with Japan after watching TV’s ‘Shogun’ series? Or perhaps you’ve always been fascinated by the samurai, ninja, and geisha of old Japan? Thanks to Japan’s preservation of its rich history; its castles, temples, shrines, traditional towns and villages, and more, you can step back in time to the Edo period, and even earlier, on a visit to Japan. The country is steeped in ancient history and thankfully much of the country’s wondrous past is still present today (no pun intended). From the samurai and castles of Feudal Japan to the golden age of the Heian and the innovations of the later Edo period, the development of Buddhism and Shintoism over the centuries, to its modern day UNESCO World Heritage sites, Japan’s fascinating history is as rich as it is varied. Particular recommendations include the likes of Grand Ise Shrine, Himeji Castle, Nara, Nikko, Kyoto, the samurai city of Aizuwakamatsu, and Narai and the Nakasendo Trail. Read our guide to the Top 10 Destinations To Experience Japan’s History for more recommendations.

9.  Experience cities of the future

A visit to Japan can also be a gateway to the future. The country’s cities are famous for their size, neon lights, and futuristic architecture and offer a dazzling glimpse of urban life in decades to come. They’re also exciting, cool, vibrant, and packed with things to see and do, making them highly desirable and fun destinations. If Tokyo is high on your list of places to visit, read our ultimate guide to the futuristic Shibuya district - home to the world-famous Shibuya Scramble crossing. While there is enough to see and do in Tokyo alone to fill up a whole trip, could you go to Japan without visiting Kyoto, the cultural heart of the country with its beautiful temples and shrines? And what about Osaka, known as Japan’s Kitchen, with its stylish neon and wealth of places to eat and regional specialities. If seeing the country's major cities excites you, our recommended Best 7-day Itinerary for First-Time Visitors to Japan might be for you. This excellent travel plan will take you from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka, before returning to the capital, over one unforgettable week. All three of these cities are ideal as a base for day-trips further afield using the JRailPass and we would also be remiss if we didn’t recommend some of the country’s lesser known (but just as brilliant) cities to visit such as Kanazawa, Yokohama, Kagoshima, and Fukuoka, among others. 

10.   Enjoy unique Japanese experiences, from onsen to sumo to anime and computer games

Japan is packed full of experiences you’ll only find there. Where else could you watch the Honbasho (Grand Sumo tournament) or relax in a traditional Japanese bathhouse? What about a tea ceremony in Kyoto or racing around the streets of Tokyo in a real-life Mario Kart? And that’s not all of course! What about eating in a Izakaya (a Japanese style gastropub) where food and drink go hand-in-hand or staying in a traditional Ryokan (Japanese inn) with tatami mats on the floor, a futon to sleep on, and sliding rice paper doors (Shoji)? Meanwhile, for lovers of Japan’s contemporary culture, what about the sights and sounds of Tokyo’s Akihabara ‘electric town’ or the manga and anime of the famous Nakano Broadway? From the traditional to the contemporary, Japan has a wealth of activities, sights, and sounds that are completely unique to Japan.  

Bonus Recommendations

We have many more astonishing facts about Japan and a wealth of useful information in our many in-depth travel guides on the JR Pass blog. Here are a few suggestions for further reading as well as some extra advice: 

  • From advice on the best day trips from Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka to beginners guides to Japanese foods, to transport and budget tips, and insider knowledge, we’ve got it all on our blog. 
  • Planning to use your phone for language tips or live travel updates? How about posting photos on social media or keeping in touch with family and friends? If you do, it’s a smart idea to invest in PocketWifi to stay connected and avoid any unwanted data charges if you happen to need directions or language advice while you’re on the move.
  • Need a helping hand on arrival? Our dedicated Meet and Greet Service is like having a personal assistant for your holiday who happens to be an expert on Japan. We’ll take care of you from the moment you arrive in Japan. 
  • If it’s your first time in Japan, these tips might help. Check out our Top Ten Tips for First Time Visitors in Japan.

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