Japan was officially the best place to travel in 2018. Here are 15 photos that will make you want to visit ASAP.

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Slide 1 of 16: 
  
    Travel + Leisure named Japan its 2018 destination of the year.
  
  The magazine selects each year's choices among a jury of
  writers, editors, and relevant experts.
  
  Towering mountains, beautiful cherry blossoms, and
  neon-flooded streets make Japan a remarkable place.
  
  Some of the best things to do include taking the bullet train
  from Tokyo to Kyoto to see Mount Fuji on the way and walking the
  Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine for an unparalleled view of Kyoto.
  
  You can also take a dip in the natural hot springs at
  Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, which is widely considered the world's
  oldest hotel.
  
  Tokyo may be an impressive
  city, but that's not all Japan has to offer.
  The country's islands, shrines, world-renowned cuisine, and
  beautiful scenery are just a
  few reasons why it's a great place to travel. So it should come
  as no surprise that Travel + Leisure named Japan its 2018 destination of the year.
  From the bustling streets of Shibuya, Tokyo, to the majestic
  Mount Fuji, here are some things to see and do in Japan that will
  make you want to visit immediately.
Slide 2 of 16: 
  Traveling across Japan isn't a terribly difficult undertaking
  thanks to its Shinkansen bullet train
  network. With trains that travel at speeds of up
  to almost 200 miles per hour, passengers riding south from
  Tokyo to cities like Kyoto and Osaka can take the window seat and
  enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Fuji,
  a dormant volcano and Japan's highest mountain.
Slide 3 of 16: 
  The cherry blossom, or sakura in Japanese, is a revered flower in
  Japan. Considered a symbol of life and its
  vulnerability, many Japanese families congregate to practice hanami, or the
  tradition of publicly watching and celebrating cherry blossoms
  when they bloom in the spring.
  While there are plenty of festivals devoted to the flower in
  Japan, the southern city of Matsuyama is most famous for its
  historic cherry blossom-themed spring
  festival where the flowers bloom amid Matsuyama Castle each
  year.
Slide 4 of 16: 
  Tashirojima earned its nickname as "Cat Island" for good reason.
  While the island is home to around 100 humans, they are heavily outnumbered by their feline
  friends. Initially brought to the island for pest control,
  the cats are now taken care of by the island's residents, largely
  due to the good luck cats are said to
  symbolize in Japan.
Slide 5 of 16: 
  Kyoto is well known for carefully maintaining its many historical temples, shrines, and
  gardens, and the Sagano Bamboo Forest is no exception.
  Located on the outskirts of the city, the forest is often touted
  for its second-to-none scenery and
  beautiful soundscapes. The forest also contains manicured
  gardens and is a short walk away from Kyoto's Tenryu-ji Temple.
Slide 6 of 16: 
  In the city of Kamakura there's a centuries-old bronze statue
  dedicated to the Amida Buddha. The monument weighs
  around 121 tons, and was originally gold-plated; according to
  Atlas Obscura, some traces of gold can still be seen
  around its ears today.
Slide 7 of 16: 
  Fushimi Inari-taisha is one of Japan's most well-known and
  photographed shrines. Dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, the shrine's
  path is a strenuous hike; visitors have to pass
  over 5,000 of its signature orange gates along the way. But with
  centuries-old monuments and statues, along with an unparalleled
  view of Kyoto, it's worth the walk.
Slide 8 of 16: 
  The island of Yakushima is littered with forests and ravines,
  some of which contain trees that are over 1,000 years old. One of the most notable is
  the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine, a nature park with
  nearly-untouched creeks and cedar trees, along with accessible
  footpaths for easy hiking. The park was iconic enough to serve as visual inspiration for
  one of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's most famous films,
  "Princess Mononoke."
Slide 9 of 16: 
  Developed in 2003, Roppongi Hills is a residential and cultural
  project that was built to revitalize Tokyo's Roppongi
  neighborhood. Today, it features multiple contemporary art
  museums and galleries, a vast shopping and restaurant
  district, an observation deck of the Tokyo
  skyline, and a small garden touted for its beautiful greenery
  and cherry blossom trees.
Slide 10 of 16: 
  Located in the heart of the Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku,
  Takeshita Street is a busy shopping
  district lined with eclectic boutiques, cafés,
  and shops. Known to be a center for style and fashion, the area
  is especially popular with young people on the weekends.
Slide 11 of 16: 
  Built in 1920, the 178-acre Meiji Shrine is a
  dedication to the late Emperor Meiji.
  The shrine's walking paths, gardens, and monuments to the Shinto
  faith (such as Torii and Noh Theater stages), in addition to the 100,000+
  trees within its forest, make it a great place to spend a day.
Slide 12 of 16: 
  A former capital of Japan, Nara became home to
  many significant Buddhist and Shinto monuments. Among them,
  Tōdai-ji (or the Great Buddha Hall) is one of the most notable.
  Constructed in 752 AD, it was
  once the largest wooden building
  in the world and contains a 500-ton statue of the Buddha.
  When you go, you might also spot some deer; a population of tame
  deer from the neighboring Nara National Park regularly wander the temple grounds, making it
  a peaceful destination to visit.
Slide 13 of 16: 
  Once a market popular with Tokyo's
  seedy merchants, Akihabara has now become one of Tokyo's most
  eclectic neighborhoods.
  You'll find stores catering to the signature aspects of Japanese pop
  culture - manga, video games, and toys - along with
  multistory shopping complexes dedicated to electronics. The
  neighborhood's excessive neon signage and eccentric shops make it
  a must-see when in Tokyo.
Slide 14 of 16: 
  Fans of Studio Ghibli - the film studio behind iconic
  animated films such as "Spirited Away,""My Neighbor Totoro," and "Princess Mononoke" - will find themselves at
  home at its namesake museum.
  Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, it's both a museum that
  showcases the studio's vast body of work and an interactive playground built on the themes of its
  films. Children and adults alike can immerse themselves in
  the museum's exhibits, large park,
  and studio-themed cafe.
Slide 15 of 16: 
  Onsen, or natural hot springs, are
  scattered across Japan's countryside, and are considered a
  part of local culture.
  Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan -
  widely considered the world's oldest inn -
  located in the Yamanashi Prefecture has operated its hot
  springs for over 1,300 years and has served esteemed patrons such
  as Japanese samurai and members of the shogunate, Japan's former military ruling
  class.
Slide 16 of 16: 
  Hakone is approximately a two-hour train ride outside of Tokyo
  and is known for its beautiful view of Mount Fuji, its hot springs, and a
  myriad of historical and contemporary art. Home to the
  Hakone Open-Air Museum, the
  museum covers 750,000 square feet and is one of the city's most
  notable tourist attractions, featuring works from Picasso and
  Renoir, in addition to outdoor grounds that host a variety of
  contemporary sculptures.
  Visit INSIDER's homepage
  for more.

Tokyo may be an impressive
city, but that’s not all Japan has to offer.

The country’s islands, shrines, world-renowned cuisine, and
beautiful scenery are just a
few reasons why it’s a great place to travel. So it should come
as no surprise that Travel + Leisure named Japan its 2018 destination of the year.

From the bustling streets of Shibuya, Tokyo, to the majestic
Mount Fuji, here are some things to see and do in Japan that will
make you want to visit immediately.

Ride a bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto and see Mount Fuji along the way.

Traveling across Japan isn’t a terribly difficult undertaking
thanks to its Shinkansen bullet train
network. With trains that travel at speeds of up
to almost 200 miles per hour, passengers riding south from
Tokyo to cities like Kyoto and Osaka can take the window seat and
enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Fuji,
a dormant volcano and Japan’s highest mountain.

Visit a cherry blossom festival in the spring.

The cherry blossom, or sakura in Japanese, is a revered flower in
Japan. Considered a symbol of life and its
vulnerability, many Japanese families congregate to practice hanami, or the
tradition of publicly watching and celebrating cherry blossoms
when they bloom in the spring.

While there are plenty of festivals devoted to the flower in
Japan, the southern city of Matsuyama is most famous for its
historic cherry blossom-themed spring
festival where the flowers bloom amid Matsuyama Castle each
year.

Visit an island where cats outnumber people.

Tashirojima earned its nickname as “Cat Island” for good reason.
While the island is home to around 100 humans, they are heavily outnumbered by their feline
friends. Initially brought to the island for pest control,
the cats are now taken care of by the island’s residents, largely
due to the good luck cats are said to
symbolize in Japan.

Kyoto’s bamboo forest is a tranquil place to visit.

Kyoto is well known for carefully maintaining its many historical temples, shrines, and
gardens, and the Sagano Bamboo Forest is no exception.

Located on the outskirts of the city, the forest is often touted
for its second-to-none scenery and
beautiful soundscapes. The forest also contains manicured
gardens and is a short walk away from Kyoto’s Tenryu-ji Temple.

Pay your respects at Kamakura’s Great Buddha.

In the city of Kamakura there’s a centuries-old bronze statue
dedicated to the Amida Buddha. The monument weighs
around 121 tons, and was originally gold-plated; according to
Atlas Obscura, some traces of gold can still be seen
around its ears today.

Walk the path of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taisha.

Fushimi Inari-taisha is one of Japan’s most well-known and
photographed shrines. Dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, the shrine’s
path is a strenuous hike; visitors have to pass
over 5,000 of its signature orange gates along the way. But with
centuries-old monuments and statues, along with an unparalleled
view of Kyoto, it’s worth the walk.

Lose yourself in the forest that inspired “Princess Mononoke.”

The island of Yakushima is littered with forests and ravines,
some of which contain trees that are over 1,000 years old. One of the most notable is
the Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine, a nature park with
nearly-untouched creeks and cedar trees, along with accessible
footpaths for easy hiking. The park was iconic enough to serve as visual inspiration for
one of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s most famous films,
“Princess Mononoke.”

Look at modern art or shop your heart out at Roppongi Hills.

Developed in 2003, Roppongi Hills is a residential and cultural
project that was built to revitalize Tokyo’s Roppongi
neighborhood. Today, it features multiple contemporary art
museums and galleries, a vast shopping and restaurant
district, an observation deck of the Tokyo
skyline, and a small garden touted for its beautiful greenery
and cherry blossom trees.

Walk down the bustling Takeshita Street in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood.

Located in the heart of the Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku,
Takeshita Street is a busy shopping
district lined with eclectic boutiques, cafés,
and shops. Known to be a center for style and fashion, the area
is especially popular with young people on the weekends.

Nearby Takeshita Street, spend hours in awe of the Meiji Shrine.

Built in 1920, the 178-acre Meiji Shrine is a
dedication to the late Emperor Meiji.

The shrine’s walking paths, gardens, and monuments to the Shinto
faith (such as Torii and Noh Theater stages), in addition to the 100,000+
trees within its forest, make it a great place to spend a day.

Visit Tōdai-ji, or the Great Buddha Hall — once the largest wooden building in the world — in Nara.

A former capital of Japan, Nara became home to
many significant Buddhist and Shinto monuments. Among them,
Tōdai-ji (or the Great Buddha Hall) is one of the most notable.

Constructed in 752 AD, it was
once the largest wooden building
in the world and contains a 500-ton statue of the Buddha.
When you go, you might also spot some deer; a population of tame
deer from the neighboring Nara National Park regularly wander the temple grounds, making it
a peaceful destination to visit.

Get a concentrated taste of Japanese pop culture in Akihabara, Tokyo.

Once a market popular with Tokyo’s
seedy merchants, Akihabara has now become one of Tokyo’s most
eclectic neighborhoods.

You’ll find stores catering to the signature aspects of Japanese pop
culture – manga, video games, and toys – along with
multistory shopping complexes dedicated to electronics. The
neighborhood’s excessive neon signage and eccentric shops make it
a must-see when in Tokyo.

Fulfill your inner child at the Ghibli Museum.

Fans of Studio Ghibli – the film studio behind iconic
animated films such as “Spirited Away,””My Neighbor Totoro,” and “Princess Mononoke” – will find themselves at
home at its namesake museum.

Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, it’s both a museum that
showcases the studio’s vast body of work and an interactive playground built on the themes of its
films. Children and adults alike can immerse themselves in
the museum’s exhibits, large park,
and studio-themed cafe.

Take a dip in this 1,300-year-old hotel’s natural hot springs.

Onsen, or natural hot springs, are
scattered across Japan’s countryside, and are considered a
part of local culture.

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan –
widely considered the world’s oldest inn –
located in the Yamanashi Prefecture has operated its hot
springs for over 1,300 years and has served esteemed patrons such
as Japanese samurai and members of the shogunate, Japan’s former military ruling
class.

Beautiful scenery, notable museums, and spa days are all the norm in the mountain town of Hakone.

Hakone is approximately a two-hour train ride outside of Tokyo
and is known for its beautiful view of Mount Fuji, its hot springs, and a
myriad of historical and contemporary art. Home to the
Hakone Open-Air Museum, the
museum covers 750,000 square feet and is one of the city’s most
notable tourist attractions, featuring works from Picasso and
Renoir, in addition to outdoor grounds that host a variety of
contemporary sculptures.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage
for more.

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