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What's your favorite city to visit in Japan and why?


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I've visited more than a hundred of all sizes, from the coastlines to the mountains in all seasons except winter, and picking one would give me an awful headache. But, I'll take two aspirins or just open a decent bottle of wine and give it a go. In no particular order:

Kanazawa for its gardens and crafts, and memories of a deceased friend and the gift his wife gave me.

Sendai because of the people I call my Japanese family who live there, have hosted me in their home and whose patriarch taught me calligraphy. The festivals are great, too.

Aomori for the floats, the harbour and apples.

Kumamoto, where a falling rock during an earthquake broke two of my toes while I was volunteering with emergency services for which I was rewarded with a beautiful doll in a glass case.

Okayama for a very long and walkable open promenade to the castle and gardens, and some really great art galleries.

Hakokate for its seafood and its nice street of 1800s European architecture.

But that's a lousy list considering how many other places I've visited and the new ones that are on my 4-week itinerary for this October.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hasn’t this been asked before on JT? Seems familiar, but I could be wrong. Anyway, as Trevor said, it would be very hard to choose just one, especially if you’ve visited many places (and he’s certainly visited a lot more than me).

At gun point, I would probably say Nagasaki because it ticked a lot of boxes for me. Coastal. Sea, port, mountains, greenery, islands, stunning views. A city, but not a big city. A historical melting pot of cultural influences that remain to this day, giving it a charm and character different to anywhere else I’ve been in Japan. Great events (love the Lantern Festival and the Spirit Boat Procession). Food (Sasebo burger for the win). My one and only experience of an open air bath, watching the sun go down over the sea. Probably other things I’m forgetting. Walking around some areas at night gave me a chill.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nagasaki has unique and beautiful landscapes (including the Tsushima island). Access to the city has become more efficient thanks to the new Shinkansen line. The local delicacy reflects the fusion of distinctive cultures, namely, Japanese, Korean, Chinese as well as Western (Dutch).

As another A-bombed city (pledged to be the last city under nuke-attack), Nagasaki is also a historically significant place. Hashima "Battleship island" is located off the Nagasaki harbor.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ono city in Fukui prefecture. Small and comfortable. Lots of history and local culture. Surrounded by mountains. It is far from the maddening crowd.

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Kinugawa(Tochigi pref.) and Chichibu(Saitama pref.) are my favorite. Both of them are near Tokyo area, apporximately within 90 to 120 minutes by train, so we are able to get there anytime easily compared to some resort areas. We can be relaxed in the cooler temperature there. At Kinugawa area, there are lots of hot springs to try. At Chichibu area, we can enjoy many kinds of nature activities such as keiryu-kudari(rafting). Moreover, the city is famous for its gourmet like waraji-katsu(pork cutlet which is the same size as regular sandal) and kakigoori(shaved ice, with a variety of flavors).

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My favorite region in Japan is where I live in Noto Cho on Noto Hanto. The natural beauty of Toyama bay and seeing the norther Alps from accross the bay is beautiful. The architecture of the traditional Japanese homes buit more than a century ago some even built during the edo period are very well kept. The traditional Kiriko Matsuri many small villiages all over Noto cho, Suzu City, Anamizu, and Wajima have them so there is one almost on any weekend in the summer and early fall. The Abare Matsuri in early July is the most popular. Also squid fishing in Ogi village and Ika no eki.

My favorite city in Japan is Kanazawa. Kanazawa is one of the most historic cities in Japan. Many Japanese people who visit Kanazawa say Kanazawa is just like Kyoto but locals say Kyoto is just like Kanazawa Kanazawa has many famous things to see ひがし茶屋街(Higashi Chaya Gai) this area is famous for its very traditional Japanese architecture, its full of cafes and restaurants. Kanazawa is also famous for Craft beer and it holds a beer festival usually in September show casing craft beers from all over the Kansai and Hokuriku Regions. 近江商店街(Omi Shopping street) This is a very popular destination in Kanazawa but its always crowded. There are other points of interest in Kanazawa too.

Kyoto/Otsu is my second favorite cities in Japan and I also lived here for about five years. I often go here many times a year on business. Some off the beaten path areas of Kyoto are 三条会商店 Sanjou Kai Shopping street. 晴明神社Seimi Jinja located on Horikawa near Imade gawa. I also enjoy walking all over the city.

Otsu city has Biwako which I really enjoy visiting. I also like to go to 石山寺(Ishiyama dera which is where Murasaki Shikibu worte the famous tale of Genji ) and seeing the 8 Picturesque View of Oumi. Otsu really has a lot of offer and its a great city to visit.

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Yokohama and Kobe.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Onomichi is my favorite so far, scenic little town, start of the shimanami kaido.

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I see Kobe and Onomichi mentioned above - I was thinking of the same places. Kobe for its geography - great views of the Inland Sea from some of the slopes. Fond memories of Onomichi and especially the island Mukaishima (but I think locally called Mukojima). I worked at a training center on the island a couple of times (before the Shimanami Kaido was completed), and the 5-minute ferry trip back and forth between the island and the main town was cool.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nobody reads my comments, but here I go anyway. Everyone who has been there would surely concur. Hands down, the best city to visit is Iizuka in Fukuoka. I filmed many music videos there because it has it all. Iizuka has beautiful Japanese nature, four distinct seasons, amazing food, lovely people with artwork on their skin, and a small town vibe despite being a city with a Don Quijote. Iizukans are a loving friendly people, as evidenced by the plethora of love hotels the city boasts. Romance is always in the air in Iizuka for people of all genders and orientations. So, people, get oriented and go visit Iizuka. Not because I said so, but because it is the best city in Japan and probably Asia. Do your due diligence and you'll see that I am right as usual.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

For me it Tokyo and Osaka both for same reason. I really enjoy going to the ball game on a Saturday. It starts with the commute where I bump into others ballgame goers even teams of children kitted out to play or to support their team. By the time you arrive at the station and enter the river of fans all heading to the dome. The nods, smiles and interactions are noted on my commute and this just add to a very enjoyable day.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I think the best city in Japan is Otaru!

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Came back to see what other people said, and remembered a wedding in a cavern chapel in Karuizawa, in October 2017. The young couple invited me after I got lost the year before and they helped me get the right train out in the country. Got an invitation in late 2019 to the early 2020 birth of their daughter, but couldn't go thanks to new Covid travel restrictions. Already had experience with Japanese hospitals thanks to the imminent departure of my calligraphy teacher in Sendai, so was worried about being allowed into the maternity ward. A blessing and a curse, considering both ends of the argument.

And what's not to like about Nagasaki? Loved the tall ships event when I was there, and it's old-time Dutch neighbourhood and gardens are quite the thing.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And now, thanks to some previous comments, I can alter the itinerary for my 4-week visit in October. Thanks for the mentions of Kinugawa, Chichibu, Ono, Onomichi and Iizuka. More homework!!!

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What's your favorite city to visit in Japan and why?

Does this mean favorite city outside Tokyo? It's not just Shibuya and Shinjuku. Tokyo has everything.

People are mentioning seafood, scenic walks, baseball, great views, nature, cafes, restaurants, craft beer, sea views, festivals and history.... Tokyo has all these and more.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Does this mean favorite city outside Tokyo?


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Does this mean favorite city outside Tokyo?

I assumed it meant a city you like to visit but haven't lived in.

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If we are talking MAJOR Japanese cities, like just the famous ones, I'll go with Sapporo hands down. But if we are talking about ANY city in Japan, my favorite of all time is Iga, Mie. (I'll throw Nabari Mie in there as I consider it a part of Iga since historically it was a part of Iga Province)

So Iga and Nabari in Mie.

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Tokyo has all these and more.

Tokyo is a concrete jungle. No beautiful nature, no beautiful seaside, lots of people and traffic and noise and dust and polluted air, high prices and many locals with difficult attitude. What else?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Kobe. It has some great views and also 3 Ijinkans, a beautifual tower and more.

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