Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — In 2018 alone, Japan welcomed over 31 million tourists to their country — and it is only increasing every year. The seamless blend of the traditional cultures with modern technology and architectures makes this country a unique experience for everyone, ensuring that you keep coming back for more.
You will never run out of something new to see and experience which can get quite overwhelming especially if it’s your first time to step on the land of the rising sun. But no matter what type of tourist you are, Japan definitely has something to offer.
For history and tradition buffs: temples
For the tourists who really want to get into the traditions and spirit of the Japanese culture, no visit to Japan would be complete without checking out at least a few temples. These places can open as early as 6 a.m. so an early head start is ideal to see the sights without large amounts of people milling about.
Some temples that must be included in any agenda would be the Kotokuin Temple with its 40-foot bronze Buddha statue, the Kamakura Hasedera Temple with the 30-foot tall Kannon of Mercy statue, and the Jufuku-ji Temple, the final resting place of many chief priests, which is all located in the Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture just a few hours outside of Tokyo.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Horyuji Temple with its 32-meter wooden pagoda and the Todaiji Temple that is home to the biggest Buddha statue in Japan — both located at the Nara prefecture, a six-hour drive from Tokyo — should also be included in everyone’s itinerary.
For foodies: Tokyo, then Kyoto and Osaka
Those looking for the ultimate culinary experience will definitely feel right at home in any major city in Japan especially since Tokyo officially has the greatest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world — with Kyoto and Osaka coming in just behind it.
If the authentic street food is what you’re looking for, places such as Yokohama offers some of the best ramen and omurice in the country. Takayama on the other hand is highly recommended for anyone who wants to try fresh vegetable and beef Japanese dishes as well as the best sake.
Food museums are also located in different parts of the country such as the Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum, the Cup Noodle Museum, and the Shimizu Sushi Museum just to name a few.
For the budget traveler: public parks
For those with a more limited budget, Japan offers several free and budget-friendly attractions as well. The beloved Hachiko Statue by the iconic Shibuya crossing is on top of many lists as well as the colorful streets of Harajuku at night. Many parks, such as the Hibiya Park in Tokyo where a bust of Jose Rizal can be found, are also available to the public for free.
Even a few hours from a layover or an overnight trip can be maximized by simply planning your time well to see Japan’s rich and diverse sights and offerings.
For the shopaholic: Odaiba, Ginza, Harajuku, and Akihabara
Japan has a lot to offer for those who just cannot help but shop ‘till they drop — or even those who just want to snag some pasalubong for when they go home. From places such as Odaiba’s numerous shopping malls, to Ginza’s high-end boutiques and department stores, to Harajuku’s colorful parallel shopping streets, and Akihabara’s bright electronics shops, you will never run out of new places to go to.
For kids at heart: theme parks
For the adrenaline junkies, there is a long list of places to check out in Japan as well. Kids — and the kids at heart — can scream their hearts out through all the theme parks and roller coasters available in the country including Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea in Tokyo, Fuji-Q Highland in Fujiyoshida, Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo, and many more.
To get the full Japan experience, it is very important to properly plan out your itinerary. Japan is known to be a stickler for accuracy and punctuality, so it is even possible to plan out your days to the last minute.
Utilizing the right apps during your stay will also greatly help in making it the best and smoothest one yet. Some of the apps that may help includes Hyperdia for your transportation needs, JAL’s Explore Japan Wi-Fi for your on the go WiFi needs, and GuruNavi for possible restaurant suggestions. Apps such as Waygo, Papago, and TripLingo are also useful for any translation issues you might find yourself in and Ms. Green is an amazing app for any general tourist information you might need.
To truly maximize your stay and to really see more of Japan, getting on a red eye flight to get an early head start on your vacation is the best way to go. This is now possible through Japan Airlines (JAL) which offers the earliest arriving flight from Manila to Haneda and lands right before 5 in the morning.
This flight will also ensure that you get to experience the authentic Japanese brand of quality — from punctual schedules, to comfortable cabin experience to expertly prepared in-flight meals — even before you arrive in the land of the rising sun.