5. Fukuoka City (Fukuoka)
The largest city in Kyushu, Fukuoka has long been Japan's gateway to continental Asia. Head out for some signature Hakata ramen or chow down in the street stall on Nakasu Street. Visit the remains of Fukuoka Castle, or head a little further afield to visit Sasaguri Kyudai Forest or even the Toto Toilet Museum! If you're a feline lover, the so-called "Cat Island" of Ainoshima is also close at hand.
4. Sapporo (Hokkaido)
Sapporo is a foodie's paradise: from its ramen shops to its varied local cuisine, you'll find delicacies that will suit even the pickiest eater's palate. If you're looking to stay within a budget while in Japan, you may want to check into a budget hotel or hostel, especially if you go during the Sapporo Snow Festival, when hotels are in high demand. Sapporo can also serve as a base for visiting Arashiyama Zoo or Lake Toya—and of course, it's a fantastic starting point for any number of ski and snowboard adventures!
Tokyo may have Disneyland, but Osaka's got Universal Studios Japan, which is always trying something new to attract attendees, whether it's a Sailor Moon 4-D ride or a VR Final Fantasy adventure. Boasting plentiful department stores and affordable accommodations, the city is just a 30-minute train ride to Kobe and a 45-minute ride to Kyoto on the local lines.
If you happen to be in Osaka at the end of July, you won't want to miss the Tenjin Matsuri, the city's signature festival, which features people carrying portable shrines (mikoshi), lively music, dancers and fireworks.
2. Kyoto Prefecture
Since Kyoto was for 1,000 years the capital of Japan, the city is filled with ancient temples and shrines like Kiyomizu-dera and Kinkaku-ji. These sites are bustling with international and domestic tourists alike, but if you're looking for something off the beaten path, head north to Mount Hiei, or check out lesser-known spots like Tandenan Temple or Yasui Konpiragu Shrine. There are also plenty of unique inns and hotels, as well as one-of-a-kind cafés.
Being the country's capital as well as a bustling metropolis with tons and tons of things to do, places to stay and food to eat, it's no wonder this city takes the No. 1 spot! You can eat your way through Asakusa while stopping to take photos at Senso-ji Temple, head over to Akihabara to sip on some coffee at a maid café, or head over to Harajuku and Shibuya for the latest youth and underground fashion trends.
If you're debating where to go while in Japan, you've now got plenty of food for thought!