Places in Japan that made an impact on foreign visitors

By Oona McGee

Every year, seven to eight million foreigners make the trip to Japan. But where do they go sightseeing? And, more importantly, do these places come up to scratch? A list of the most impressive sightseeing spots for the year to date, as ranked by foreign tourists, has been released by the popular travel site TripAdvisor. And while you’d think the top spot might go to a beloved and well-known destination like Kyoto or Tokyo, it actually goes to a simple-looking, modern building in the south-west of the country, in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The number one place that foreigners say they’re glad they visited is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Located near the infamous Atomic Bomb Dome, it might not be the most traditional nor the most picturesque place in Japan, but it’s definitely unique as the site of one of the most unfathomable events in human history. The exhibits displayed at the museum and the emotions felt as visitors go back to that place in time make a profound mark on people. Despite the tragedy and sadness, or maybe because of it, visitors ranked this as a place that met and exceeded their expectations.

Here are what some foreign visitors had to say about the museum:

-- “I’ve been three times, and every time I go it makes a big impact on me” (Spain) -- “There are no heroes in war. I got the feeling that everybody is a victim. This is the most awesome museum in the world” (Australia) -- “To visit Japan without stopping by this museum would be a mistake” (India) -- “The displays are shocking but at the same time very significant” (Australia) -- “This is a museum worth visiting. You can feel the fear and terror of the sufferers. The exhibits make you wish for peace and hope that this never happens again” (China) -- “The exhibits deal with a very sensitive issue but people of all ages should see them. It will make them think profoundly” (Switzerland)

While the number one ranking might be surprising, the other places on the list are a little more in line with most Japanese itineraries. Get to know Japan again with the latest list of satisfying destinations below.

2: Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)

3: Todaiji Temple (Nara)

4: Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)

5: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)

6: Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)

7: Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano)

8: Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)

9: Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple (Chiba)

10: Tsukiji fish market (Tokyo)

11. Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa)

12. Sensoji Temple (Tokyo)

13. Nara Park (Nara)

14. Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto)

15. Sannenzaka Ninenzaka(Kyoto)

16. Nikko Tosho-gu (Tochigi)

17. Mount Fuji (Shizuoka, Yamanashi Prefecture)

18. Kenrokuen (Ishikawa)

19. Eikando (Kyoto)

20. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa)

21. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (Nagasaki)

22. Hase-dera (Kanagawa)

23. Sankei-en (Kanagawa)

24. Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)

25. Okuno approach (Wakayama Prefecture)

26. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)

27. Kotoku-Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kanagawa)

28. Chidorigafuchi (Tokyo)

29. Yanaka (Tokyo)

30. Sanjusangendo (Kyoto)

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Opinions Split on Whether or Not to Remove Mannequins from Hiroshima Museum -- 46 Things That Surprise Foreigners in Japan -- Japan’s World Heritages Fly Well Under Radar

© RocketNews24

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A handy list for those who are new to Japan and feeling overwhelmed by the number of places to visit. - thank you.

And if you're going to be in Okinawa, the Himeyuri Peace Museum is really worth a visit.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Very surprising how much of the top 10 are NOT in Tokyo.. the top 5 consist entirely of hiroshima and kansai!?

Sadly though, the very vast majority of tourists in Japan (Ive noticed especially Americans) bypass Kansai entirely and head straight for Tokyo for the duration of their stay. Lets hope this list makes them change their mind :D

1 ( +2 / -1 )

On a personal note, I am VERY disappointed to not see Koyasan in Wakayama on the list above. It is truly spectacular, in my opinion, and its serenity alone beats places like the Todaiji in Nara by leaps and bounds.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Access, cost and time are major factors limiting where one can visit. Koyasan does beat most of the places on that list. The Hongu Taisha and the whole Kumano Kodo area in Wakayama are also well worth seeing.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What? Nobody liked the Osaka Tower (Tsutenkaku)? Im not suprised hah.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The love hotel just on the east side of Tokyo Tower............

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think if the survey were tweaked to show the actual numbers of visitors to each spot, Kabukicho in Shinjuku would win hands-down. Every time I pass through there I see hordes of foreign tourists.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The hidden Japan is much more impressive than what's on the surface.......

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

There are much better places to visit. Japan alps for one in Toyama,which impresses me way more than Mt. fuji Hokkaido is a must,Shiretoko national park Shirakawago village in Gifu. Izu peninsula. If you have only seen tokyo or Kyoto your reall missing out on the real Japan .

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@maria - I agree, during one of my trips to Okinawa, we visited the himeyuri museum. The experience was... numbing, but in a good way. It really gave you an insight as to what was going on on the island during the closing days of WW2. And the story behind it was just so sad, not to mention the portraits of all the young girls along the walls who perished

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Been to these places, and they were amazing...

8: Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo) 9: Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple (Chiba) 11. Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa) 12. Sensoji Temple (Tokyo) 18. Kenrokuen (Ishikawa) 24. Meiji Shrine (Tokyo) 27. Kotoku-Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kanagawa)

Add to that the Nagoya sea life centre at the harbour, the beach at Kamakura (so beautiful... first time I had been at the ocean in the East), Nijo Castle in Kyoto, and so many other places.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are plenty of places to see that are not part of the standard tourist itinerary, but for a first-time visitor, I can understand staying just in Tokyo. It's an easy way to be introduced to the country.

I'll add a couple of Tokyo locations that I really enjoyed: Yanaka and Ikegami. They're great "shitamachi" type communities, and there are things to see. In Yanaka, you're just steps away from Ueno Park and all the great museums. In Ikegami, you're right at the doorstep of Honmon-ji Temple. Either neighborhood is great for just walking around and soaking in everyday life in Tokyo.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hiroshima Museum is number one but Nagasaki Atomic Museum is number 21...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The hidden Japan is much more impressive than what's on the surface.......

I disagree, because I've been to many of these places, and as I thought through the list I marvelled at what a treasure trove Japan really is. But, one of the true joys of Japan is finding those tucked away places that draw no tourists and just make you stop and take a moment of wonder when you find them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Weird, not a single mention of Sanrio Purolando.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And where are the shopping shrines in this list? Matsuzakaya, Takashimaya, Isetan, Mitsukoshi, Loft? A lot of people I know who went to Japan just want to return to see these depatos. They're unique, no doubt.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Wow, I read the title of the article before I read the article itself, and the first place that came to my mind was Hiroshima. The museum is a must-see for anyone, but other places in Hiroshima are also really lovely. Especially Itsukushima-jinja (Miyajima).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Weird, skewed, hit-and-miss list. I wonder how many tourists TripAdvisor interviewed?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And where are the shopping shrines in this list?

Lost@The most impressive place for shopping would be the Shinsaibashi promenade in Osaka. The flakiest (and most fun) is the Broadway Center in front of JR Nakano station.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Been going to Japan every year for the past 6 years and I've hardly seen that much... I think my problem is that I'm torn between going farther afield, or spending time with friends and loved ones I haven't seen all year. Even though I have 2 or 3 weeks in Japan the time always seems to go too quickly...

Must do better next year!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"#7: Jidokudani Monkey Park"

Hee hee!

What about the Sapporo Clock "Tower"?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was unlucky enough not to step on any deer poo in Nara Park at the lantern festival.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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