Top 5 worst places to visit in Japan

By Michelle

According to a recent survey conducted by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), as of September 2012, numbers of foreign tourists visiting Japan reach 430,000, an increase of 32.7%. Japan’s tourist industry suffered as a result of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, but it looks like tourism is on the rise in Japan once again.

When foreigners do find themselves in Japan, travel guidebook in hand, they are inundated with advice regarding must-see places. But the worst part about taking a trip is arriving to one of these “must-see” locations and realizing it isn’t all that great. That’s why we’ve gathered up a list of the top five most disappointing tourist spots in Japan as recommended (unrecommended?) by users on Reddit.

#1 – Roppongi

Roppongi is famous for catering to a large number of foreigners, but foreign tourists said they were most disappointed with their trip to this area. “Don’t go to the bars,” comments one user. “They are okay for gaijins (foreigners) wanting to spend time with other gaijins or hook up with locals who like gaijins, but for tourists they aren’t worth the time.” Another user commented on the large number of African immigrants who work in Roppongi trying to get foreigners to patronize bars. Many are said to use aggressive tactics. Even more disappointing news about Roppongi: “Even for someone who lives in Japan and is not there for tourism, it’s still just one expensive waste of time, unless you’re really keen on throwing down 4,000 yen cover to get into a nightclub full of westerners.” It’s understandable to think that a place with lots of foreigners must be a good tourist spot, but according to tourists, it’s anything but.

#2 – Tokyo Disneyland

Disneyland, known for its impeccable customer service and dream-like atmosphere. seems like a great tourist spot for foreigners visiting Tokyo. However, the crowds are enough to drive even the most dedicated Disney fan away. One user comments, “I loved the 20 minutes on the rides. I hated the 4 hours waiting in lines for those 20 minutes.” Another says they waited in line for 45 minutes just to buy popcorn. Tokyo Disneyland has worked up a bad reputation amongst foreign tourists, but Tokyo DisneySea is another story. “DisneySea is AWESOME, just get advice before you visit there,” cautions one Reddit user. “I went on a normal weekday once and walked right onto every ride. I went back on a New Year’s Day, and the lines were so long it was literally only possible to go on one ride in the whole day.”

#3 – Imperial Palace

Many Japanese also flock to the Imperial Palace right alongside the hordes of foreign tourists. However, one user doesn’t hold back his disappointment with the palace, stating, “There’s nothing to see. It’s a tourist trap.” Although there was harsh criticism of the Imperial Palace, there was enough praise to keep it away from the number one overrated tourist spot. One Reddit user praises the palace gardens, mentioning, “The Imperial Palace is only a few minutes’ walk away [from Tokyo Station], and while the interior is inaccessible, the surrounding greenery is really beautiful.”

#4 – Sapporo Clock Tower

Described by some as “a boring rip-off,” the Sapporo Clock Tower is considered a tourist trap by many. One user recommends that if you find yourself at the Sapporo Clock Tower, you should “have your picture taken (there is a platform outside for free) BUT do not go inside.” Others laugh at the term “clock tower” being used to describe this tourist attraction. Compared to Big Ben, London’s famous clock tower, the term is barely applicable due to its short stature.

#5 – Tokyo

When you think, “Japan,” what pops into your head? One of the first words is probably “Tokyo.” However, although Tokyo and Japan go together like peas and carrots, some tourists recommend avoiding the bustling city. “I would say DO at least explore rural Japan,” comments one user. “Especially for a tourist I think it can provide quite a few treats. DON’T get shrined-out and visit all the temples. Pick a few and enjoy them.” In addition, some tourists make the mistake of feeling they absolutely must visit Tokyo to get the “Japan experience.” However, one user is not convinced: “I don’t think there’s any one place in the world that typifies a ‘real’ experience of the entire country that it happens to be a part of.”

Source: Madame Riri

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Mostly looks like everywhere else, as most cities seem to.

-33 ( +17 / -50 )

5 - Tokyo

Considering the other JT article: The 51 busiest train stations in the world– All but 6 located in Japan, which has a lot of Tokyo stations listed ... so in a way, I would agree ... but only if the visitor isn't willing to experience Tokyo rush hour. But hey, you could set up a "where's wally" kind of picture down at Shinjuku crossing.

8 ( +8 / -0 )


Kyoto is fantastic, in fact my favourite city in Japan. I think some get put off as to enjoy to the full you need a good budget. Not the type of place English teachers would want to go, most places a bit too upmarket for them. Some great restaurants there, i always take my family from UK to a day trip to Kyoto when they come and they love it. Would never bother with places like Roppongi, if i want to hang around with dregs i can go back to the UK and go to the West End.

14 ( +30 / -16 )

Heh i cant argue with the no1 spot. Roppongi is utter and utter shite.

But disneylands crowdyness can be found almost anywhere in Japan, shibuya, asakusa, any thing that has something touristy. Should see Kyoto in the highseason, holy hell

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Not the type of place English teachers would want to go, most places a bit too upmarket for them.

Tell us what you really think. lol

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I agree with the view of Roppongi. When the sun goes down it's the trashiest place in Tokyo. Japan doesn't really know how to promote itself. Just take a look at the tourist website and compare that to, say, Hong Kong's tourist website.

And if Japan is trying to encourage tourism you'd think the big department stores would at least have their floor directories in English as well as Japanese (some do, some don't, some have partial English). Tourists from Asia love to shop, after all.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Hey, Kyoto is my hometown in Japan. I have been living there or going there for over 25 years. But the fact remains it is mostly pretty ugly - wires and poles everywhere, inappropriate and shoddy buildings in irrelevant juxtaposition, very little care taken over how it looks - a pig's ear of a place, with a few nice bits amongst the drabness. You have to be blinkered between the "upmarket" restaurants and sightseeing spots if you want to get the best experience. There is no excuse for the way it looks. Shame on those who have regulated the cityscape for the past 60 years.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

Not the type of place English teachers would want to go, most places a bit too upmarket for them.

"Most" places in Kyoto? Hmm, you must mean the jumble of the Family Marts, the 100-yen shops, the KFCs, in other words the unchanging and generic features of urban Japan.

True, Kyoto has a scattering of temples and a handful of scenic spots, but for the "most" part, its streets look no different from those in Kawasaki...or Osaka...or Nagoya. And there's nothing "upmarket" about that.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

I know someone who actually complained about Tsukiji Market smelling 'fishy'..... Yeah I wanted to slap the idiocy from out of them too.

14 ( +16 / -2 )


Obviously you couldn't afford to go to the other places or didn't look. By most places i mean decent eateries or decent stores for the females to shop in. If anyone thinks for the most part Kyoto looks the same the have never "really" been there. It is the nearest city to me, the lack of chav foreigners delights me, can't say the same for Osaka these days and central Tokyo is full of them.

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

Japan cab be what ever you make out of it, just like the USA and just like any other country, I do not like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro etc..would never take my family there, just too crowded, too many drunks etc..Shibuya nice for teens etc..but for families??

3 ( +4 / -1 )

While I totally agree on the general travel advice on Tokyo for #5, I wouldn't say that you can use that to justify putting Tokyo on the 5 worst places to visit. I think it's great to experience the urban and the rural together. That, and Osaka should be on that list LONG before Tokyo. It's far less convenient, USJ is too dated, and people are way more rude to you there. Tokyo just has a better feel of vibrancy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

When the weather is not too warm and not too cold, Roppongi is great for "people watching." Just sitting on a bench watching little dramas can be very interesting.

If you have nothing better to do that is.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If anyone thinks for the most part Kyoto looks the same the have never really been there.

I first lived in Kansai, for about two years. Made frequent weekend trips to "the ancient capital" (no, it's not actually "ancient," by the way.) and got to know it quite well. Remember "Bar Isn't It" in in Daikoku-cho? That basement dungeon was about as chavvy as anywhere in Japan, maybe worse than Roppongi?

If your point is that Kyoto boasts of a few hidden, classy and sublime attractions amid all the modern boxy buildings, tacky signboards and certain concrete landmarks like "Kyoto Tower," well that's true in any city in the industrialized world, like Slough, for instance.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Many foreign tourists have complaining Dirt in Shin-Okubo and ikebukuro. Now it's understandable.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

So the author came to Japan and visited Tokyo and Sapporo and decided to make this article. Anybody could have written this article. Once you visit every prefecture, then you have a right to an opinion on the entire country.

7 ( +10 / -3 )


Kyoto is not just the centre place where English teachers go to drink. You need knowledge from the locals and i don't mean grotty bars that attract the vermin, sadly every city has those. Sadly most who go to these places only know the places in the centre, so much more to explore and enjoy outside the tourist areas. I am sure even places like Tokyo have decent places but most foreigners are attracted to what i call the sleazy parts of town, guess that is all most of them can afford to go to.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

I'm afraid I have to agree about Kyoto - I've always said the difference between the (traditional) tourist spots and the day-to-day cityscape is shocking. But hey, I've done the tourist bit and I know what to expect. I still think it is worth a visit for first-timers, but best to go with someone who knows the way around.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Betraythetrust!: Seems like you have something against English teachers in Japan. That's a shame. In fact, I am an English teacher in Japan and I found Kyoto to be rather nice. I have been to a varitey of temples, shrines, parks and museums there and found that their prices don't deter tourist. Also, there is something for everyone if they take the time to research their plans ahead of time. You just have to make the effort to find the place that suits your fancy.

On a different note, I agree with the Roppongi comments in the article. It isn't a place that would rank high on my list for tourists or for the night life. When I lived in Tokyo, I visited the area 2 or 3 times for the amazing ethnic food restaurants and skipped out on the foreigner clubbing madness.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Kyoto is not upmarket.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The worst places I been to in Japan were definetely zoos, in any city. Poor animals, caged in a cubicle exposed to weather, to sadness. I remember clearly the gorilla in Nagoya zoo, such sad eyes. Japan is not a place for zoos.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

People bickering with each other over a few of the entries and their own added entries to the worst list (ex. Kyoto) are only proving that this is all relative and up to the person; it is not set in stone. The only one of these five I have NOT been to is the clock tower in Sapporo, but I have heard of it through word of mouth and books (novels, for that matter), and heard that it is NOT a good place to go out of your way to visit.

I wholeheartedly agree with Tokyo Disneyland and Roppongi as holes that are extremely overrated. It's one thing to visit the former if you've lived here for some time, and even then still hell in my opinion, but I think anyone who would visit Japan to go to Disneyland when they'd have a far better experience in California (or World in Florida), or even a better time in Hong Kong's Disneyland (far less attractions and attraction in general, but little to no wait by comparison). The ONE time I went to Disneyland we got on NO rides at all, as the minimum wait for even the lesser attractions was four hours. It took me an hour and a half to get popcorn from a popcorn cart, for that matter.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All big chest gets very tight in bad air.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Kyoto is great but and can be done on a budget if need be i guess but some of the best parts are expensive.

I've been to Kyoto as a penniless student, as a not-too-flush English teacher, and as a full-growed lady with money in my purse. Enjoyed it every time, on every level. Some of the 'high-end' restaurants are a bit of a rip-off, but no one forces anyone to go there. If you're taking tourists there, they'll probably enjoy Nijojo, Heian Jingu, the souvenir shops on the way up to Kiyomizudera and Uzumasa Eigamura. The 'modern' city is pretty dire to look at, though.

it's not actually "ancient," by the way

It was the capital from 794; how old does something have to be to be ancient?

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I would agree with numbers 1 through 4. I wouldn't choose to go see them voluntarily. Someone dragged me to Roppongi on my first evening in Japan back in 1998. And yeah. Meh!

I have found numerous spots by both accident and intent in the city and enjoyed them fully. There is much to see beyond the "tourist" spots in the city; however, some of those have their charms, too. Akihabara (to name only one of many I could list) especially the little warrens where geeks go to buy their electronic parts (and have done for decades) and the outre, jangling department stores just to feel the vibe right down to your marrow.

I agree that the Imperial Palace is a dud. (Kyoto's, too.) Not much to do but get your picture taken beside a moat. Who-o-ee! Again, this experience was on someone else's insistence. (One of the reasons I prefer solo travel.) It's so much nicer to experience a city when searching out places you are drawn to in some profound way as well as find places that draw you to them unaware.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Go to Disneyland on an off-season weekday, you'll be able to walk into most attractions and for the more popular ones, get the Fastpass - no queuing. I don't suppose anyone (especially from the West) comes all the way to Japan 'to go to Disneyland', but once they're here it's a fun day out and provides a pleasant break from temples and tofu.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@cleo: dont forget Pontocho. Probably one of my most favorite streets/alleys when dark is setting in. gorgeous

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Unless you are young, dumb and full of %&m, why would a tourist even consider Roppongi? So many more interesting places to eat and drink in Tokyo: Ebisu, Naka-Meguro, Shimokitazawa and many others. I agree that large swaths of Kyoto look exactly like any grey, dull, wire strewn city in Japan but there are market areas, restaurants and temples that are absolutely amazing. For starters, Kyoto Tower and Kyoto station are abominations and should be dismantled ASAP.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Like many of these lists, easy to take issue with some of the inclusions based on our own personal preferences. As for me Roppongi is not that bad. Not all bars charge huge cover, not all clubs are full of foreigners, if you are a single man in Tokyo it is easier to meet someone in Roppongi than (say) Ikebukero or other less gaijin friendly areas. The touts always get a bad name but they are just trying to make a living and, if you politely tell them you are going somewhere else, they will generally lose interest pretty sharp. Had some fun nights there. Putting Tokyo on the list is just silly. tokyo is everything from (yes) Roppongi, thru Shibuya, outlying suburbs that are way quieter, impressive architecture, good restaurants, some lovely parks, the river etc etc. One of the great cities of the world. Don't like Disney world anywhere, so agree with that one. And Sapporo Clock Tower is more a curiositty than anything else. Imperial Palace is lovely. Walls look good (especially in spring and autumn), moat has nice ducks to feed in winter (not allowed but hey), gardens around are nice for walking and lazing in summer...... Outside Tokyo too many lovely places to list

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I am wondering why they want to come to Japan in the first place. I think Japan is not so interesting place to visit. I cannot find anything special for Japan. Only thing you cannot see the similar thing in other countries is Otaku stuff or terribly busy trains?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I went to Kitakyushu once; there were beggars there in the shopping arcade. It does have a castle though.

We also went to some lakes in Fukushima prefecture a long time ago. The area was full of abandoned, dome-shaped chalets. A real eyesore.

Osaka and Nagoya are lacking in attractions, and attractiveness, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it's not actually "ancient," by the way

It was the capital from 794; how old does something have to be to be ancient?

I would class that as "medieval", not "ancient". "Ancient" means from the start of recorded human history to the start of the middle ages.

Kyoto is a bore. It's just a regular city with a load of shrines that all look the same.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )


You may class that as medieval but nobody else does, 794 is not the middle ages, strewth. Not an English teacher are you?

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Many foreign tourists have complaining Dirt in Shin-Okubo

Huh? Shin-Okubo happens to be one of my favorite places in Japan. It's gone through a renaissance for the last couple of years, and is filled with both foreign and Japanese tourists alike. Don't see much "dirt," especially compared with Kabukicho across the street.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Tsukiji Fish Market.

They sell fish, people. Wildly popular with gaijin, though...

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Nyuk, nyuk , nyuk. Gonna buy a 100Yen burger for my lunch and think i am funny walking round with 300 Yen in my pocket.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

If this writer had to pick a city, he should have picked Osaka over Tokyo. At least Tokyo has some nice parks and trees. Osaka is just one big drab concrete jungle. Mind you I do like most of the people there though.

4 ( +6 / -2 )


Yeah by American scholars and those dates are disputed even among their peers including those who don't look up facts on their ipads, lol!

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Since this comes from Reddit, I think we can consider it pretty representative of a meaningful range of opinion, both informed and completely wtf. Be interesting to hear from Lonely Planet, or some of the other hip sources. There're all kinds of tourists, ways to be a tourist, ways to tour, etc.

Here's my question: what are the top 5 places to visit and avoid tourists?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I agree with Cleo because she is right.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Kyoto is lovely by the way, and you don't need a lot of money to enjoy it. A car and guidebook is enough. As always in Japan you don't need to spend a lot of money to eat well, though a decent hotel was at least as expensive as you would pay in Tokyo. Personally I prefer temples and castles to shopping, but either way, it's very beautiful outside of the city centre.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The classical period of Japanese history is loosely parallel to the middle ages, Cleo, is it not? When lay people talk of historical periods, they go to what they know, which I suppose in this case is not Japanese history.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Getting back on topic, sorta; I haven't been back to Japan since '94, and I've got some friends going in March; what are some good places to go that are away from tourists? My friends aren't touristy types, and one of them speaks passable Japanese. They're gonna party in Tokyo, of course, and hit Kyoto & Nara, naturally, but they're not gonna do Disneyland, and wanna stay away from traps like Roppongi.

So, top 5 places that avoid tourists?

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I have to agree that Osaka should be on the list before Tokyo, too. Tokyo has some amazing parks and lot's of greenery. Osaka is just grey. Post-war Japan grey and ugly slabs of cement where ever you go. However, I love Osaka people - colorful, funny, always up for banter.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

D'oh! Osaka, of course! How's Dotonbori these days?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Within reach from Tokyo, Owakudani is rather lovely, Xeno. Nikko is also fun. Ild also put in a couple of days at a good resort onsen. I liked Kusatsu onsen, the food was nice too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I completely agree that Tokyo Disneyland is bound to be a bit of a let down, particularly if you're coming from North America. I've never seen the Sapporo Clock Tower so I've no opinion. As for Tokyo, it's a bit daft to write off a whole city, the largest city in the country, the capital and a city that is home to at least 10% of the country's population and within commuting distance to nearly a quarter. Love it or hate it, it is part of "the Japanese experience". Sure there's a lot about Tokyo that's not great but there's also a lot that's fun and interesting, especially to someone just visiting.

Personally, I'm not in the least bit interested in Roppongi but the guests we've had visit us have all wanted to go there, despite our protestations, and they've all had a great time. People who have grown up here or lived here for a long time forget that very often tourists just want to see things that are different from where they've come and while Roppongi may just be a drinking place to us, to visitors it's a fun place to people watch and to see a different side of Japan. That said, once is usually enough for most of them.

I completely disagree with the advice to avoid the Imperial Palace. In all of my years here, it's still one of my favorite places, especially in the spring and fall. Other than the bit up on the north east side where the sidewalk narrows, the sidewalks are nice and wide, pleasant for walking. The view is beautiful and it's a short walk from there to Yurakucho and Ginza, the former where you can find some interesting places to eat and the latter a place where tourists often like to go window shopping.

As for Kyoto, honestly I could take it or leave it. The temples are lovely but sadly stuck among some pretty ugly urban landscape. That said, a well-planned trip to Kyoto can be rewarding, even if you run into other foreigners (sigh.... I'm being sarcastic. I always find comments from foreigners who are so put out by the sight of other foreigners to be so annoying and pathetic. Yeah, heaven forbid you're not the only gaijin in town. Go back to your straw-roofed house in the village so you can be Mr. or Mrs. Exotic if seeing other foreigners is so traumatizing for you.)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Actually, Xeno23, Dotonbori's got a facelift lately, and just the way it should be in Osaka, it looks like lipstick on a pig.

And Osaka people, just like in the guidebooks, always have a witty riposte, eat takoyaki all day long and say "Mokarimakka" when they meet you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The five most crowded cities - Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo. Stay away from those and any other crowded cities if you want to relax.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Serrano: That's true but I've yet to meet a person who comes to Japan to relax!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

ambrosia - Yer right, it seems most foreigners come to Japan to pretend they don't see each other, lol.

I think Sky Tree would make the top 10 here. Tokyo Tower is much more pleasing to the eye, and the observatory with an equally good view is way cheaper.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Miyajima. The shrine itself is good, but the gangways and tourists shops, aggressive deer, and tinny speakers and hordes of tourists on the tourist shuttle boats make for a wincingly hard slog to reach it.

Ikura-do caves in Okayama. Just avoid, for 101 reasons.

Osaka Castle I saw again recently and changed my previously very low opinion of it. Despite the missing bits and the new central keep, there are miles of massive walls and all kinds of interesting hidden treasures to be discovered, now making more sense to me with some historical background under the belt. As a city though, I never discovered anything else to like there.

Kyoto has both good and bad. You need to find your way around first.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Xeno23: My friends aren't touristy types, and one of them speaks passable Japanese. They're gonna party in Tokyo, of course, and hit Kyoto & Nara, naturally, but they're not gonna do Disneyland, and wanna stay away from traps like Roppongi.

Unfortunately, if your friends are on a limited time schedule and limited budget, it's hard to avoid "touristy" things in Japan. The transportation and hotel systems aren't exactly designed to get you off the beaten path and in such a relatively small, densely populated county, it's not as if you're ever really going to get away from people or be the one to discover some hidden gem, though good on them if they're willing to try.

Still, my advice would be to be selective about the touristy things they want to do but to take advantage of Japan's excellent transportation system and the sites, even if millions and millions of others have already been there and done that.

If they've got a little more time, don't mind spending it on slow trains, and can get their hands on some tents and sleeping bags, I'd highly recommend camping. Places like Lake Nojiri, Lake Sai or any of the other five lakes around Fuji, along the Sagami River are good options and accessible by train and bus. I'm not going to lie, the campsites aren't the most fantastic in the world but it's generally quite easy to meet, hang out with and really get to know Japanese people when you're all together in such a casual setting. Bring a few extra beers to pass around and you'll have friends for life. I don't know when in March they'll be here so they may need to bring extra warm sleeping bags and long underwear but even then, there will be hardcore campers and people just looking to get out of the city for the weekend.

If they're relatively fit and interested, there are also some nice and fairly easy bike routes that are worth the time and effort.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Serrano: Or the cheapest yet because they're free, the observation floors in the government buildings in West Shinjuku!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

While there are many beautiful views in Japan, very few of them are beautiful in 360 degrees.

If you look at the old street of Kurashiki, it's very pretty, as long as you can shut out Okayama behind you.

The view from the top of Mt Hakodate is amazing, provided you ignore the muzak and don't look at the cheapo restaurant/coffee and souvenir shop.

Japan COULD be a beautiful place if they tried a little harder.

Putting the telephone and electric cables underground and getting rid of the concrete poles would be a start.

About the only town I have been to that has a real unity and a beauty about it is Obuse in Nagano.

That's worth a visit.

6 ( +7 / -1 )


...the river...

Which one?

To put Tokyo on this list is ridiculous. Tokyo is the tourist's paradise with lots and lots of things to do. Sure, the dump Roppongi is best not seen, but other places such as Ginza, Ningyocho, Naka-Meguro, Shibuya and Asakusa, to name a few, are definitely worth seeing. It's culture shock extraordinaire for most foreigners. The problem with Tokyo is that it takes time to find the good spots and you'd do well to have someone showing you around. It is not the most beautiful of cities but some places really have their charm.

One place I would like to mention is Yokohama. It is the little brother to Tokyo, filled with local Yokohamaites always praising how nice and liveable their city is when in reality it is a place without anything to offer.

Officials sometimes claim Japan wants more tourists. They don't. It's easy enough to understand - tourism marketing is virtually none. Compare that to many other countries that do want tourists, like Malaysia, Thailand, Spain etc and you'll see what I mean. Where's the promotion? Japan is a great place tourist in, but it costs quite a lot and is difficult to navigate with their horrible level of English.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Knox: To put Tokyo on this list is ridiculous. Tokyo is the tourist's paradise with lots and lots of things to do.

Absolutely! I've had dozens of people come to visit over the years and not a one has left having had anything but a great time and most of it spent in Tokyo. Mostly it's just a matter of trying to remember what it was like when you first got here and were bewitched by the lights, the fashion, the food and drink, the crowds, the oddly disjointed architecture, the newness and weirdness of everything and trying to let your visitors experience the same with fresh eyes. If you have a visitor who doesn't have a good time in Tokyo, you might want to consider what you're doing wrong as a host.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Not the type of place English teachers would want to go, most places a bit too upmarket for them.

Please do tell so that those of us who are rich and worthy can afford to go to such elite places in order to avoid those scurrilous English teachers.

Yeah by American scholars and those dates are disputed even among their peers including those who don't look up facts on their ipads, lol!

Lol! I know, right? Those American scholars are just the worst, aren't they?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Another user commented on the large number of African immigrants who work in Roppongi trying to get foreigners to patronize bars

Couldn't agree more.

Why is this ? Not very inviting The rest is okay.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Zichi: Why foreign tourists in particular? Aren't all tourists somewhat annoying by the mere fact that they're tourists? Personally, I can't say as that I've found busloads of Japanese tourists to be any less annoying than Europeans or Americans, who are far less likely to travel in big groups.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Actually, Xeno23, Dotonbori's got a facelift lately, and just the way it should be in Osaka, it looks like lipstick on a pig.

LOL. Yeah have to agree that Osaka has let touristy things to do than Tokyo, yet it doesn't make it any less fun. Just gotta know where to find the good stuff. Also Osaka is between Kobe, Nara and Kyoto, what more do you want :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It was the capital from 794; how old does something have to be to be ancient?

In Kansai, 5 years. 99% of Kyoto is not ancient.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'd rather go to Chichibu, than go to Kyoto.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'd rather go to Chichibu, than go to Kyoto

And, Chichibu is also good for camping.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes, papigiulio, the best thing about Osaka is it has many ways to get out of it.

But seriously, I recommend the bit of Tsurumi-Ryokuchi park that was the venue for the flower expo back in the bubble. It now looks like the end of the world somehow.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Xeno23: I would recommend Matsue in Shimane if the want to go to the countryside. They can go I a nice castle and see a traditional area for cheap. Foreigners get great discounts in Shimane. They could also go to the Adachi art museum which has an amazing garden and foreigners get half off the entrance price. Everything is easily accessible by bs or train and they have lots of English information. Or if it's too far, Hikone, 1 hour north of Kyoto has a beautiful castle near the station and the cherry blossoms are great in April.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hakone is a good choice on the side of Tokyo, there is a great shopping outlet, Gotemba Premium OUtlets, its cool.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I can't speak for Sapporo since I've never been, but any of the other 4 in this list are well worth going to. Bah.

No wait maybe the Imperial Palace is a bit boring. Outside facade is ok, but it is, as I've just described, just a facade.

Roppongi is ok...lots of different elements to it. Not representative of Tokyo but then where is? A whole bunch of different flavours. 31, even.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dang the clock tower in Sapporo wasn't THAT bad lol. I agree its NOT a tower but more of a little house with medium sized clock on top. Hey there weren't long lines and their staff was really nice....I mean I wasn't expecting much when I went so I guess I wasn't disappointed. Akarenga was kinda boring though. Otaru was Super boring. Even the cab driver who took us back to the station told us, "no fun right? Yeah this place booooooring."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

About ten years ago, I went back to the U.K. to visit. Driving across Westminster Bridge, late at night, I was stopped by police checking for drunken drivers. The policewoman took a look at my Japanese international driving license and said, "Oh! You live in Tokyo! Wow! I've got a cousin who lives in Hong Kong!"

My reply of, "What's her name? I probably know her," didn't go over too well. But she let me go. However it did make me think how little many people know about the world.

Osaka is known as a "gourmet paradise" yet I've NEVER had anything to eat there that was remarkable. Yet, I'm sure there are great places to eat in Osaka. I just don't know them.

People tell me that Okinawa is a dump, there's nothing to do there and the food is rubbish.

For me Okinawa is the most interesting place I've lived in in Japan. It's FULL of interesting places and the food is amazing. It would be a paradise without the US bases.

But, with no information about the place, not knowing what or where to eat, if I got unlucky, I'd probably think this was a dump with crap food too.

Here's an idea.

How about JT expanding this page into something more permanent.

"What to do and where to go in Japan."

Then we can post places that were memorable for us and other people might find out where to go.

I think that would be useful.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Clock Tower in Sapporo must have been magnificent when the city mostly consisted of hastily built huts. Nowadays, the poor thing is dwarfed by the buildings around it.

I understand how it can be a bit of a let down.

A better option is to get on the Chitose (airport) train and get off at Nopporo. Go to the Kaitaku Mura. It's interesting. They reconstructed a town from old (Taisho jidai) buildings, complete with horse drawn tram. It's a cheap day out. They have decent jingisukan (barbecued "lamb" (ram?) there, (or used to, I haven't been there for years).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In my humble opinion... I like Tokyo, I'm not such a big fan of Kyoto. Been there three times, that's it for the rest of my life... The best place: Miyazaki City, far away from everything, warm, small but all there you need, nice people and I can say Hi personally to every foreigner, because you see some only once in a while.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Oops, I just recommended things to do/visit in Japan & Tokyo was on the list (along with Imperial Palace). As part of "Tokyo" I included Imperial Palace/Ginza/Yasakuni Shrine, Shinjuku/Shibuya/Harajuku/Meiji Shrine, Ueno Park (esp in spring)/Akihabara, Asakusa Temple, Tsukuji (in 8 yrs, the one time we went it was closed), a day trip to Yokohama (Chinatown), a day trip to Kamakura, and then head to Kyoto for a few days.

Time to go through some photos & take a "virtual visit" (via Google Maps)....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1 Roppongi

Whenever I'm in Japan I avoid Roppongi like the plague. I'm not into boozing, dancing or that sort of stuff... and if I wanted to be surrounded by drunk westerners I would gone to Blackpool! I also don't like the fact that it's where some westerners go just to pick up women... just too seedy for me.

2 Tokyo Disneyland

I may be going there next year!

3 Imperial Palace

It's okay... bit like a car-park with a walled castle at one end though.

4 Sapporo Clock Tower

Not seen that.

5 Tokyo

I come from a city, so Tokyo is okay for me, and makes a good base for my holidays. I've been to the countryside, Nagano and Hakone, and they are beautiful, but every year I find something new to find in Tokyo, or any of the cities nearby. Have to say that Nagoya is an uglier city than Tokyo.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ummm Roppongi and the Palace are both IN TOKYO, so they essentially listed Tokyo as 3/5 of this list

3 ( +3 / -0 )

uzneko - They essentially listed Tokyo as 4/5 of this list, if we can count Tokyo Disneyland as Tokyo, ha ha!

1 ( +1 / -0 )


Kyoto is fantastic, in fact my favourite city in Japan. I think some get put off as to enjoy to the full you need a good budget. Not the type of place English teachers would want to go, most places a bit too upmarket for them.

Who took the jam out of your doughnut, buddy? I've been to Kyoto several times (incl. a few times as a STUDENT). Let me tell you, I was able to see all the sights on very little money thank you very much.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hmm, from my experiences in Japan I could say that Tokyo is really a very populated city where I do not want to live and I decided to keep it as the surprise city that can be visited 2-3 days and then leave for a period and come back later. I mean, moving around in the tourist spots of Tokyo is fine, a friend, herself a Japanese travel guide, made me like the best places of the Tokyo area, I just ask her "Do the choices, I only want to go to Kamakura, I leave the rest to you", and she showed me the best places of Kamakura and some nice places of Tokyo like Odaiba and Omotesand, as a plus she lead me to Yokohama. When I took the decisions the first move was almost a disaster, but I enjoyed the few places I had the chance to see. In the last two trips I was more focused to see specific places like Akiba, Chiba and Harajuku, it was not hard for me to enjoy these places at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And, BTW, Who is really interested to go to Tokyo Disneyland? Americans have two Disney parks, do they really need to go to Tokyo to see another Disneyland? I can understand of the Asian tourists as long as probably they have very far America from there. And the people that comes to Japan from Occident, I can bet that they would enjoy more an anime-themed park than Disneyland.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I want to go to Disneyland (again). I'm not an American or Asian tourist either (gasp).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

However, the crowds are enough to drive even the most dedicated Disney fan away.

Oh really.

One user comments, "I loved the 20 minutes on the rides. I hated the 4 hours waiting in lines for those 20 minutes."

You wouldn't be saying that if you had a pair of Minnie ears on your head. This is entirely your fault.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I remember clearly the gorilla in Nagoya zoo, such sad eyes

I remember the animals in the zoo back home. They weren't having a party either.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


Defending Roppongi

If you like Top 40 music or like dancing hiphop,salsa and etc. and drinking alot. Roppongi is for you.... A heaven for meet & greet foreign nationals and friendly japanese people who like speaking foreign languages.

Osaka, Roppongi, Ginza, Shibuya, Ikebukuro has the most (over 100 bars) gajin friendly bars in Japan.

Other large cities in Japan maybe less than 20 bars. Some cities like Utsunomiya, Ibaraki, Nagoya and etc. maybe less than 1o gajin friendly bars.

For people who do not understand Japanese people and their fondness for cartoons. Disney is the mecca & meeting place to enjoy western cartoons. Disney World (Orlando, Florida) is much worse get over it !!!! Waiting in line for hours is the norm.

They (in Japan) do have other amusement and water parks in Japan please try them. Low lines... But in Japan waiting in line is a common thing to do. Soooo please get over it !!!!!!!

Agree Kyoto and Imperial Palace is OVERRATED.... Please go to Kamakura, the Shrine next to Yoyogi Park, and Nikko are the best places to see traditional japan.

Also many other cities around Japan has traditional towns and etc.

Don't waste your time in Kyoto. Actually if you travel by bus or train you can see rural Japan. it's far more exciting than Kyoto. Old people are very friendly once you get out of Tokyo. If you have a translator app. It's great to communicate with the senior citizens of Japan.

Some will actually invite you to their house for green tea or coffee. SOME....

I like going to the park to ride a bicycle or enjoying the grass in the concrete jungle. I also like the park between the palace and Tokyo Station. Sometimes you can watch a Japanese western style wedding in the wedding/chapel/ restaurant with the water fountain.

Go to Hokkaido, Okinawa, and Kyushu by ferry and see ALL the same islands of Japan. It's fun ! ! ! !

Tokyo can be fun if you know how to take advantage of your time in Tokyo.

It's fun !!!!

Go to Okinawa it's fun !!!! Kyushu has great weather all year around.


Japan can be fun if you have excitement in your heart.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Though I can agree with a fair amount of your post, I strongly disagree with this bit:

For people who do not understand Japanese people and their fondness for cartoons. Disney is the mecca & meeting place to enjoy western cartoons. Disney World (Orlando, Florida) is much worse get over it !!!! Waiting in line for hours is the norm. They (in Japan) do have other amusement and water parks in Japan please try them. Low lines... But in Japan waiting in line is a common thing to do. Soooo please get over it !!!!!!!

Tokyo Disney Land is not a representation of Japanese cartoons so why bother sending someone from Europe or North America there? Why not send them to some place like Sanrio Puroland or Yomiyuri Land? As for which is better, I suppose everyone has their own opinion and tastes but I can't imagine what makes you think Tokyo Disney Land is better than Disney World, unless you've never actually been to Disney World. It's much bigger, has more attractions, more restaurants, more shops, more shows and more things to do right outside the park such as golf, a forest and the Epcot Center. I don't really think either is a great place to meet people. People are usually their with their families or friends and not really out to chat with strangers. There are far better places to meet people than in line at Disney Land. As for the lines, you'll wait in long lines at any of the Disney Parks but telling someone to just "get over it" is a bit silly. Most people don't travel to other countries or continents so that they can wait in long lines regardless if that's what the locals do or not. I've lived here for over 20 years and don't wait in long lines unless it is absolutely, 100% necessary because it's a waste of my valuable time. If you're comfortable waiting for an hour to get a donut because that's "the norm" here that's your business but no need to put it so aggressively when recommending that others waste their time too.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Osaka has a bar called Space Station and therefore should not be listed on any "Worst Places To Visit" list.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wierd poll, wierd answers.

Toyko?! I simply don't understand this response. Tokyo is one of the great cities of the world - usually ranked within the top 5 of any sensible and learned poll. Anybody who has done a bit of travelling knows this.

Roppongi is what it is at night, but has great galleries and other interesting places to go during the day. I'm curious why so many people are there in the first place, expecting some miracle. Actually, no I'm not. Tells you a bit about the respondents.

The Imperial Palace?! It's understated, private....but has great grounds and surrounds - especially on the Maronouchi side which are quite beautifully arranged. Not the worst place I have seen in Japan by a long shot. The Sakura around the moat are beautiful.

Tokyo Disneyland I have never been to, likewise, the clock tower.

My list?

Actually, on thinking about it, I don't have one.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Boring people are themselves boring.

They go somewhere and they take their boredom with them.

Almost ANYWHERE can be interesting.

It's a matter of attitude.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Im surprised Chiba city isn't on the list! I had the misfortune to go there once, as i had left a bag on the Sobu line, thought I would have a look around whilst there and found it very uninspiring!

One of my favourite areas to go is minami Izu, usually get the train down to Shimoda and stay by one of the beaches close by, such as Yumigahama and rent a car to explore around the nishi Izu coast line which is lovely.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

SpankiFEB. 08, 2013 - 12:45PM JST Im surprised Chiba city isn't on the list!

I'm surprised that you're surprised! A place has got to be at least worthy of considering for a visit in order to be rejected.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I like living in Osaka... my condo is next to the Ogawa River which is beautiful when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

From Osaka you can easily do day trips to Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama. One of my favorite places in Osaka is Mino Waterfall and the surrounding area. I often go mountain biking there.. so there is plenty of greenery.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


I agree. Minami Izu is well worth exploring.

Lovely area.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pretty hard to know Tokyo if you only stay for a few days. Amazing place really, but you just have to dig a bit deeper.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tsukiji Fish Market.

They sell fish, people. Wildly popular with gaijin, though...

I understand what you're saying, but I think it's only popular because for jet lagged North Americans it's about the only thing to go do when you're wide awake at 4 AM.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

1 Roppongi- Home to drunken neanderthals. 2 Tokyo Disneyland- Attracting mindless morons since April 15, 1983. 3 Imperial Palace- Waste of time and tax money. 4 Sapporo Clock Tower- Never been there. 5 Tokyo- Overcrowded and lacking in art and sophistication.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

WHen I visited Japan in 2007,I liked both rural Japan and the big cities such as Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo, but my favorite places were Takayama and Kamakura. Takayama is a jewel!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does anyone else find that 430,000 foreign tourists in a year to be absolutely laughable? For a country with over 100 million people and the 3rd largest economy, if I were a Japanese person, I'd be pretty ashamed by that number. While I love Japan, it's definitely not the most welcoming place to overseas people.

I really would like the 2020 Olympics to be in Tokyo, but if they really want it, they'd really have to do a complete attitude change and make the country much more accessible. Many of my students are against the Olympics coming to Tokyo because they say it'll make Tokyo "more crowded" . When I reminded them that Tokyo is always crowded no matter what, it's only for a month, and it could bring a lot of money into the country, they all looked flustered. I think they were all secretly thinking that the crime rate would skyrocket with that many extra foreigners already.

And I personally think Tokyo is one of the best places to visit. There are more things here than people know and I think a lot of people are just scared of how crowded it is.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tokyo is a great place to visit. Wouln't want to live there...

Anyhoos, my five favorite places in Japan to visit. Note: this is not list of the five "best places," just my five favorite places that I always want to go to when I get back to Japan:

Kochi, Japan.

Ok this city is actually not too special, unless one, you like to surf, and two, you have friends there. The surfing is really really good. Nice pleasant breaks, fairly long swells. A very easy place to learn, and the locals are welcoming once get the introduction.

Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo, Nihonkai

Just a real nice, traditional, hot springs resort. Can get crowded at some times of the year, but still, what a place. Great food, great atmosphere. I really miss not being there every fall, when the kani season starts.

Actually, I try to get to the Nihonkai every chance I get when I'm back in Japan. In the summer, its pretty muggy, but who can tell when you either soaking in the tepid ocean, or braising yourself in hot water?


It was me old stomping ground. For the tourist, check out any of the hiking trails behind Kobe. I really like Maya san, and Kikusuiyama.

Nagano, Winter Ski

Some of the best skiing in the world. No kidding. And we have a particular place we like to stay in Hakuba, named Mominoki Hotel. It is very convenient, clean, economical and, my favorite part, they have a little rotemburo that you can order hot sake or beer in.


The wife's home town. So, there you go. Things to see and do: everything. Kids love the Tokugawa Summer Palace, 'cause tall the floors squeek to alert gaurds against intruders.

Favorite ramen: yokozuna

And speaking of food, if you have never been to Osaka and eaten horomon, or okomiyaki, you really ought to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tokyo as #5 is a bit redundant, but disagree that it shouldn't be high on the list to see. Though I agree with the first four as far places that should be put lower on the list to see. Amazing places to see in Tokyo, include Shinkuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Odaiba, Akihabara, etc. There is a lot to see in Tokyo that isn't comparable to anywhere else in the world.

Disneyland >there is probably one very similar more nearby in the country you live in.

Imperial Palaca > would be amazing, but you can only see the wall from outside

Roppongi > department stores

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is my most favorite country and I'd have to say it's not for every tourist but it's a shame you can't put aside the usual tourist things you expect and soak in the day to day life and culture. every time I go i spend at least a week in Tokyo and just get lost , my most wonderful times are roaming around and discovering new things. I have never felt unsafe or in any danger what so ever. For a first timer I would spend at least a week in Tokyo even then you can't take in all the city.Love japan and the Japanese people and i'll be there in 6 weeks , I can't wait.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo is one of the greatest cities on Earth. I understand why someone might not want to live there, since not everybody is a city person. But to list it as one of the "top 5 worst places in Japan to VISIT" is stupid, quite frankly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Every top city in the world has its own version of these five places. How many times have you heard one say, 'avoid the city...' And if you are a tourist, why would you spend your limited time hanging out with foreigners at bars?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo as one of the worst places to visit in Japan? Lol no. It's such a big part of Japan and there is so much there that you can't just simply say that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm surprised that no one mentioned Kabukicho (in Tokyo), Juso and Tennoji (in Osaka) as these places remind me of Japanese toilet bowls.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Isn't it ironic that two of the capital's most acclaimed international hotels are smack dab in hideous Roppongi (also affectionately referred to as Reppugni)? The Ritz Carlton, where the Japanese who would rather be foreign go to try to actually feel foreign, and the office-building-gone-bizarre Grand Hyatt, Tokyo's glitziest love hotel. Despite Mori-san's ardent aspirations to gentrify Roppongi with his rapidly fading Roppongi Hills and his ho-hum Midtown, the area remains one of Tokyo's very sleaziest - alive with gaijin wannabes and gaijins who don't want to be here but are for the money.

Tokyo isn't really very attractive for tourists who come here to seek the traditional Japan - since there's damned little of the traditional left in Tokyo -- except in the intellects of the natives living there.

But almost all of Japan's cities look just like Tokyo. And the traditional, "classical" Japan so many dreamy-eyed gaijins come here to experience is almost gone, or, as someone pointed out, propped up in front of some hideous signs and garsih, nationalityless buildings or isolated somewhere like Nikko. Kyoto has pockets of breath-taking beauty but it, too, is a for the most part a hideous metropolis when viewed as a city.

Ugliness is something today's Japanese appear to be able to ignore or edit out of view. Visitors, on the other hand, may just not be able to do that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

actually for people who are disney fanatics like myself, tokyo disneyland has shows and souvenir items not available at the american parks. all the foreign based disney parks do. that alone makes it worth the trip. if you are not a collector of disney memorabilia or a fan of all things disney then disney would not be an ideal tourist spot. but it is cheaper and less crowded to go in the off season. truthfully my only reason to even go to japan, besides visiting family, would be to go to disney and akihabara

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I prefer the off the beaten path places, where the shinkansen doesn't go. As of the list, they are all basically Tokyo except for Sapporo. I like Tokyo, but I also like areas in Shimane. One of these days I plan to make the Japan see trek from Aomori to Shimonoseki with a stop again in Izumo Taisha in October.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


"Does anyone else find that 430,000 foreign tourists in a year to be absolutely laughable?"

Well of course, these figures are a few years old and come from a time when the yen was very strong and just a year after the tsunami and Fukushima disasters.

According to the JNTO, the number of international visitors to Japan in April 2014 was 1,232,000 - 3 times the total amount for 2012 in just one month.

I am a specialist in travel to Japan and can tell you that year on year, it's becoming more and more visited and that far from being 'unwelcoming', almost without exception, tourists return from Japan with nothing but the highest of praise for how welcome they were made to feel.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've lived in Sapporo for about a year and have to admit that the clock tower is simply not worth going to. I visited Kyoto for a week or so and have to say it's an amazing place; over 2000 shrines.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good list all true - if you want to see the real Japan get away from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto these three are good if you have a very short period of time - Kyoto is over rated what the Americans left standing after the pacific war the Japanese demolished and built modern buildings the old Kyoto is mostly gone. Roppongi is over rated the Japanese girls at the hotel told me to try the bars but they turned out to be just another group of bars. Disneyland / Universal Studios (Osaka) are American icons not Japanese save your time / money and see something Japanese in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whats all the fuss about"Japan",I have been living here for 5 yrs,xenophobic,extreme,and insecure society that hides most of itself from the rest of the world...........:)

Some great history and ancient culture,but no deloreans unfortunately.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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