TripAdvisor ranks Top 20 Japanese travel destinations for foreign visitors

By Mac Denny

The Japanese arm of tourism website TripAdvisor gathered user comments and evaluations from the past year and used them to rank the Top 20 travel destinations in Japan over that time. Hiroshima Prefecture maintained its popularity with two destinations in the Top 5 while five Kyoto sightseeing spots made the list.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and A-Bomb Dome moved to the top of the list after coming in second last year. Foreign visitors left glowing reviews, among them “Americans visiting Japan should include this spot on their itineraries at all costs” and “The exhibits present a surprisingly damning case and deeply move viewers with sadness, but they are not judgmental at all. They simply present what happened that day and how it affected what happened afterward.”

The second-place Hakone Open Air Museum was hailed as more beautiful than the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kyoto’s photogenic Fushimi Inari Shrine and its impressive scenery placed third.

Top 20 Japanese Travel Destinations for Foreign Visitors

  1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (*2) in Hiroshima

  2. Hakone Open Air Museum in Hakone Town, Kanagawa Prefecture

  3. Fushimi Inari Shrine (6) in Kyoto

  4. Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine) (1) in Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture

  5. Jigokudani Monkey Park (7) in Yamanouchi Town, Nagano Prefecture

  6. Kenroku-en (8) in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture

  7. Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, Kutchan Town, Hokkaido

  8. Kinkaku-ji (19) in Kyoto

  9. Todai-ji (17) in Nara City, Nara Prefecture

  10. Kiyomizu-dera (13) in Kyoto

  11. Arashiyama in Kyoto

  12. Historic Village of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture

  13. Nikko-Toshogu Shrine in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture

  14. Mitaka-no-Mori Ghibli Museum in Mitaka City, Tokyo Prefecture

  15. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea (4) in Urayasu City, Chiba Prefecture

  16. Narita-san Shinsho-ji in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture

  17. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Motobu Town, Okinawa Prefecture

  18. Nanzen-ji in Kyoto

  19. Hakone Ropeway in Hakone Town, Kanagawa Prefecture

  20. Matsumoto Castle (3) in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture

*(last year’s ranking)

The rankings were composed of comments and evaluations sent in by travelers from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Indonesia. Niseko Great Hirafu Ski Resort and Jigokudani Monkey Park were popular amongst Americans while European tourists preferred Kenroku-en and Miyajima. Visitors from Asia steered their vacations toward Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea and Universal Studios Japan.

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Hakone Open Air Museum??! You gotta being kidding. The "open air" spaces are roped off. It's got a keep-off-the-grass policy, which means everyone is confined to a narrow path of concrete. Kinda defeats the purpose of the grass setting.

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Jeff, "open air" just means outdoors.

Fushimi Inari Shrine is a wonderful place, but I have a hard time seeing how anyone can put it ahead of Itsukushima and the rest of Miyajima.

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I thought the tsukiji fish market would have ranked up there in the top 10 atleast.

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I thought Himeji Castle would have ranked on the list even though its under repairs its still one of if not the best castle in Japan

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Have to agree with Cletus about Himeji, damn good castle. Would take that over Disneyland and a ski resort any day. Wouldn't go near an aquarium either- and no mention of Kurashiki? See, there's your problem, these lists are always subjective. Visitors from small towns are always blown away by Shinjuku, especially at night. New Yorkers might not bat an eyelid. Will keep quiet about my other faves, lest hoards of tourists descend.

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Himeji Castle is the greatest in Japan, and Hikone on Lake Biwa is very nice during the cherry blossom. Matsumoto is a beautiful castle and a visit can be combined with Kamikochi in the red leaf, which is one of the best nature spots in the whole country. Haiku a in the Japan Alps with a summer climb or winter time with fantastic snow. Here in Kobe City, there are many good places to visit.

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