Japanese Cities Voted ‘Best in Asia 2017’ by Lonely Planet

Minato Mirai, Yokohama

Lonely Planet has recommended Yokohama and Kamakura - two towns south of Tokyo - and Takayama as two top Asian destinations to visit NOW!

The two destinations have been voted into the top ten of ‘Best in Asia 2017’, an annual announcement by Lonely Planet that highlights the Asian destinations that travellers should see as soon as possible. 

Lonely Planet’s experts combed the world’s largest continent - from ancient lands to evolving cities and sublime islands - to bring curious would-be visitors to Asia a shortlist of the most exciting must-see spots for the next twelve months. Yokohama and Kamakura, two cities south of Tokyo, were together voted into the #2 position, while Takayama in Gifu prefecture in central Japan bagged the #6 spot.


Landmark Tower, Yokohama

‘Best in Asia’ drew attention to the twin cities of Yokohama and Kamakura as well worth a look-see on any visit to Japan, highlighting Yokohama’s “bayside location, eclectic architecture, microbreweries and tasty cuisine”. Japan’s second largest metropolis, Yokohama is only 20 minutes by train from Tokyo.

From 4th August until 5th November this year, the Yokohama Triennale will increase the city’s appeal even further, adding creative contemporary art projects to the mix. (For more information on the Triennale, see here or check out the official website.)


Great Buddha (Daibutsu), Kamakura

Alternatively, ‘Best in Asia’ recommends Kamakura, a “classy seaside town” slightly farther south of Tokyo. Today, the small city is known for its surfing scene. However, from the 1180s to the 1330s it was Japan’s first feudal capital, and it is packed with hordes of venerable shrines and temples.

Under an hour’s train journey from Tokyo, Kamakura is much more compact than Kyoto - the other temple town to which it is often compared - making it the perfect place to explore on foot. A leisurely stroll is also the best way to see the town’s myriad sacred buildings, huddled in the verdant hills surrounding the town. ‘Best in Asia’ also endorses the former capital’s “tempting selection of relaxed cafes and restaurants and an iconic giant statue of Buddha” at Hasedera Temple as worthy of note. 

Yokohama and Kamakura are both within easy day-tripping distance of Tokyo. The two towns are about an hour apart by train, but it is best to allow at least a full day to explore each of them if your itinerary permits it.


Merchant house, Takayama

Japan’s other entry is Takayama, a compact mountain town nestled in the Japanese Alps. While it has remained remarkably unchanged over the previous centuries up until now, thanks in part to its natural isolation and high altitude, Lonely Planet points out the gradual increase in its popularity in recent years, and urges that “the time to treasure Takayama is now.”
Steadily increasing numbers of tourists are arriving to sample Takayama’s winning blend of old merchant houses, riverside morning market, anime locations, secluded hillside temples and mouthwatering street food stands. However, Takayama is more than large enough to accommodate the current level of visitors, meaning that you can always find a quaint old-fashioned alleyway to stroll down all by yourself or snap for your Instagram account.
Takayama Festival
Other than its charmingly unchanged urban townscape, ‘Best in Asia’ picks out the Takayama Festival, as one of Takayama’s major draws. “One of Japan’s greatest festivals”, it is held biannually in spring and autumn, and is “as colourful and captivating as the seasons themselves”. The festival, which centres around parades or ornate floats several metres tall, was recently added the UNESCO World Heritage list (see here for more about this).

If you’re dreaming of an Asian escape and Lonely Planet’s lineup piques your wanderlust, then why not enter their competition for the chance to win an Asia adventure for two with World Expeditions. To enter, and to find out the other hot spots in Asia to visit over the next year, check out Lonely Planet’s website.
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