Japan is famous for its gardens, known for its unique aesthestics both in landscape gardens and Zen rock/sand gardens. The nation has designated an official "Top Three Gardens", based on their beauty, size, authenticity gardens that have not been drastically altered, and historical significance. Those gardens are Kairakuen in Mito, Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, and Korakuen in Okayama. The largest garden, and the favorite of many travelers, is actually Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu.
Rock and sand gardens can typically be found in temples, specifically those of Zen Buddhism. The most famous of these is Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, but such temples can be found throughout Japan. Moss gardens are also popular in Japan and Koke-dera, also in Kyoto, has one of the nation's best. Reservations are required to visit just so that they can ensure the moss is always flourishing and not trampled.
world war ii sites
The three must-visit places for World War II buffs are Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the capital of Okinawa, Naha. Okinawa is where some of the most brutal battles occurred between Japan and the United States, and the area is crawling with remnants from its dark past. The Peace Park, Prefectural Peace Museum, Himeyuri Peace Museum, and the Peace Memorial Hall are some of the best places to learn more, see artifacts, and hear accounts of the battles that took place here.
While Hiroshima and Nagasaki are important World War II sites, because the bombings of these cities led to the end of the Pacific War, the sites and museums found in these cities also speak to many as visions of a grim future, should nations continue supporting nuclear weapons programs and nuclear proliferation. These two cities are the only cities in the world that have ever been hit by nuclear bombs, and each city has its own Peace Park and Memorial Museum where visitors can get a feel for just how destructive and horrific atomic warfare truly is. For many travelers in Japan, visiting at least one of these cities is a must.
Many people are curious about the possibility of visiting Iwo Jima. Currently, the Military Historic Tours Company (http://www.miltours.com/) has exclusive rights to conduct tours of the island.