Japan is an ancient country with much to offer the tourist. Probably the majority of sites are religious in nature, although there are some modern structures which deserve mention. Here is my list of the top seven, to be followed shortly by a photo album.
1. Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto. This is one of the most revered of Japan’s temples. It sits on a mountainside and the complex contains a waterfall which is thought to have therapeutic properties. There are several other shrines within the complex as well. It is a World Heritage Site and was a finalist in the voting for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
2. Great Buddha, Kamakura. This outdoor, seated Buddha is over 40 feet tall and weighs 93 tons. It was cast in 1272. The city of Kamakura is only about 30 miles south of Tokyo so is a popular day-trip from the capital.
3. Kinkaku-ji, Kyoto. This temple, better known as the Golden Pavilion, sits on Mirror Pond and has a wonderful Japanese garden next to it. Its top two floors are covered with pure gold leaf.
4. Nijo Castle, Kyoto. This complex consists of two concentric rings of fortifications and houses the remains of two palaces and several gardens. It was built as a residence for the local Shoguns. One curious feature of the castle is its "nightingale floors," designed to squeak like birds when an intruder walks along the corridors.
5. Todaiji Temple, Nara. This Buddhist temple is thought to be the largest wooden temple in the world and houses a large, bronze, Daibutsu Buddha, over 50 feet tall, which was completed in 751 AD. The complex contains other buildings as well as gardens. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo. More appropriately known as the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, this is the largest fish market in the world, and a major tourist sight for visitors to Tokyo. It offers more than 400 different types of seafood and over 2,000 metric tons are handled each day.
7. Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto. This mansion is one of Japan’s architectural treasures and includes magnificent Japanese gardens, a tea house and other buildings, mostly done in the shoin style.
Other sights considered:
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Sento Imperial Palace, Kyoto