All About Japan

Top Places to Visit in Each Prefecture (Pt. 2)

Castles Temples Shrines World Heritage Ruins Waterfall Beaches Temples & Shrines Osaka Kyoto Hyogo Nara Wakayama Kansai

While Part I of RocketNews24's bucket list focused on 25 prefectures of northeastern and central Japan, from Hokkaido to Shiga, Part II begins with Kyoto Prefecture and moves south through the country all the way to the islands of Okinawa Prefecture.

26. Kyoto Prefecture — Saihoji

Just for the record, it’s impossible to choose only place to highlight for Japan’s cultural heart and former capital city. However, instead of the heavily visited Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Kiyomizudera, or Fushimi Inari Shrine, we’ve decided to go with Saihoji, a slightly less known but just as rewarding spot to visit. Affectionately dubbed the “moss temple,” it’s particularly famous for its moss garden and pond shaped like the kanji for “heart” (心). Visitors should note that reservations are required for entrance as a measure to protect the delicate moss. All visitors must also agree to participate in a special spiritual activity which changes daily, such as sitting meditation or copying sutras.

27. Osaka Prefecture —Iwafune Shrine

This large, boat-shaped rock is said to house a Shinto guardian deity and to be the vessel on which the gods descended from the heavens. Explore the sacred caves and end near the Gate of the Celestial Rock Cave, the very door that the Sun Goddess Amaterasu is said to have secluded herself behind in the myths after her brother’s ill-mannered behavior, thereby depriving the land of light until she was enticed to peek outside again.

28. Hyogo Prefecture — Takeda Castle Ruins

Though no longer intact, the ruins of Takeda Castle are still a popular place to visit due to their location at a high elevation. In the right conditions, the site appears to be floating in the clouds, like a real-world castle in the sky.

29. Nara Prefecture — Horyuji

As with Kyoto, the former capital city of Nara houses so many important historical monuments that UNESCO decided to name them a World Heritage Site collectively. Buddhist temple Horyuji is included on the list and is a standard stop on any tourist’s agenda. Its importance for not only Japanese cultural history but world history is underscored by its five-tiered pagoda, which is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, surviving wooden structures in the world.

30. Wakayama Prefecture — Nachi Falls

30. Wakayama Prefecture — Nachi Falls

Nachi Falls is Japan’s tallest waterfall with a single, uninterrupted drop, measuring 133 meters (436 ft) high. It’s part of UNESCO’s “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” World Heritage Site. The falls are often photographed together with the three-story pagoda of Seigantoji nearby.

For the complete listing of all the gorgeous sites, click on the full story below from RocketNews24!

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