The Worst Tourist Traps in Japan

ByJustin Hanus
Mar 24, 2022

The Worst Tourist Traps in Japan

There are plenty of wonderful places to visit all over Japan, but many tourists go to just a few of the same spots. This results in these destinations becoming overcrowded — and decreases enjoyment. Besides, hot spots are not always the most interesting or unique. To make the most of your time in Japan, avoid these tourist traps and research better alternatives that are a little more off the beaten path.

1. Tokyo Disneyland

At the top of any list of places to avoid in Japan has to be Tokyo Disneyland. The sheer number of people who visit on any given day makes it almost impossible to have a good time. You’ll be waiting in line for hours for virtually any ride — and you may even need to wait just to enter the park. If you’re desperate for some Disney, a far better option is DisneySea, especially on a weekday (with the exception of holidays).

2. Golden Temple

Kyoto is full of temples, but one of the most popular with tourists is the Golden Temple due to its two upper floors being covered in gold leaf. Although it is undoubtedly impressive, this is one to miss. Unlike many other temples, it’s off-limits to visitors — the closest you can approach is from across a pond. This means you’ll only see the building and statues from quite a distance. You’ll have a better experience if you go to one of the many temples where the public can walk the grounds and take refreshments at a tea room.

3. Sapporo Clock Tower

It’s almost surprising that the Sapporo Clock Tower has become so popular with tourists. It’s true that the building is attractive and has historical importance, but almost everyone who pays to enter agrees that it isn’t worth it. If you want to see the clock tower, just view it from the outside.

4. Imperial Palace

Whereas the idea of seeing a traditional palace may be enticing, you need to realize that you’ll be unable to enter, which just leaves you staring at the facade. Whereas the gardens are impressive, Shinjuku Gyoen national park is arguably even better — and you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery in peace.

5. Tokyo Sky Tree

Many tourists head to Tokyo Sky Tree for views of the cityscape. Whereas you won’t find anything else equal in height (it’s the tallest tower in the world), you can find other observation decks that don’t require a long wait and a hefty entrance fee.

6. Nikko

Although it’s only a small city, Nikko receives a massive influx of tourists because it’s well known for its numerous temples and shrines. For an authentic experience when visiting holy places, it’s essential to find a sense of tranquility, which (unfortunately) is entirely absent from Nikko. The good news is you can find beautiful sacred sites across the country — such as Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture.

Avoiding the above places will help you steer clear of the crowds and push you to find more unique options in the cities you visit. In other words, you’ll experience Japan at its finest.

Basile Morin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Justin Hanus editor

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