Nos. 1-3 - Ranking of Recommended Tourist Destinations in Japan
Many people, when going on a trip to Japan, are overwhelmed by the amount of information available in travel magazines and on travel websites, and have trouble determining which spots are truly worth visiting. TripAdvisor, the world's largest interactive travel review website, has published a ranking of tourist destinations for people to refer to at such times. It aggregated all user comments from countries around the world posted from April 2013 to March 2014 to come up with "Popular Japan Tourist Destinations 2014."
No. 1 - Fushimi Inari-taisha (Kyoto city)
Fushimi Inari-taisha is a Shinto shrine where innumerable torii stand in a row. In Shinto shrines and some other places, a torii separates the world the gods live in from the one people live in. It is a kind of gate. Walking through the Senbon Torii (one thousand torii), in which torii stand in a row close together, forming a sort of tunnel, creates the illusion that a person has lost his way and entered another dimension.
The road approaching the shrine has restaurants where visitors can eat inarizushi and kitsune udon, two traditional Japanese dishes that are made using abura-age, or fried tofu. Many stone statues of foxes (kitsune) are enshrined in this location, and abura-age has served as an offering to them since ancient times. That is why dishes made using abura-age have become famous as local delicacies. TripAdvisor user comments gave Fushimi Inari-taisha high praise. They included, "The torii are the best part" and "It is a peaceful, beautiful and mysterious place."
No. 2 - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Hiroshima city)
This is a museum opened in 1955 with the aim of ridding the world of nuclear weapons and realizing world peace by informing people from around the world of the reality of the damage done by an atomic bomb. (Hiroshima was damaged with an atomic bomb in 1945.) Today it has developed into one of Japan's leading cities, and it may be hard to believe it took catastrophic damage some 70 years ago. That is why this museum pays an important role in conveying the memories of that time to posterity. Visiting the museum for sightseeing may put a person in a somber mood, but it is fair to say it is an essential destination for more deeply understanding Japan.
No. 3 - Itsukushima Shrine (Hatsukaichi city, Hiroshima Prefecture)
The site of Itsukushima Shrine is the ocean! When the tide rises, the main shrine building and corridor appear to be floating on the ocean. The shrine is the expression of a fantastic idea that changes its appearance moment by moment with the ebb and flow of the tide, and there is nothing like it anywhere in the world. It is said to have been completed with an appearance almost identical to today's in 1100 A.D., and its architectural techniques were surprisingly good for the time.
The large torii that serves as a symbol of the shrine is illuminated at night, taking on an even more mysterious appearance. We recommend you stay in a nearby ryokan, put on a traditional Japanese yukata garment at night and take a walk to the shrine. There are many user comments on TripAdvisor expressing admiration for the way the scenery changes depending on the time of day. They include the following: "I recommend you visit in the evening when the red torii becomes even more beautiful."