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Japan's Top 3

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East Asia : Japan : Japan's Top 3
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After the Three Views were composed in the 17th century, many authors have come up with their own lists of Japanese sites and attractions. While there are countless lists and variations thereof, here is a selection of the best-known ones:

Three Views

Floating torii, Miyajima

三景 Sankei in Japanese. The most famous list of them all, attributed to scholar Hayashi Razan back in 1643.

New Three Views


Three Famous Castles

Himeji Castle

三名城 Sanmeijō

The following castles are also considered National Treasures (国宝 kokuhō):


Three Famous Gardens

Korakuen Garden, Okayama

三名園 Sanmeien


Three Famous Mountains

三名山 Sanmeizan, also 三霊山 Sanreizan



Three Sacred Mountains

Okunoin graves on Mount Koya

三大霊場 sandai-reijo




Three Famous Big Buddhas

Great Buddha of Kamakura

三大大仏 Sandai-daibutsu


Three Great Festivals

Neputa Matsuri, Hirosaki

三大祭 Sandaisai

  • Gion Matsuri, Kyoto
  • Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka
  • Kanda and Sannō Matsuri, Tokyo

The Neputa/Nebuta Matsuri of Aomori and Hirosaki is also a top contender.

Three Great Festivals of Kyoto

  • Gion Matsuri
  • Aoi Matsuri
  • Jidai Matsuri


Three Hot Springs

Certainly one of the more hotly contested categories.

Sakinoyu Onsen, Shirahama

Three Great Hot Springs

三大温泉 Sandaionsen

Three Famous Springs

三名泉 Sanmeisen. This list, too, was authored by Hayashi Razan.

Three Old Springs

Bathhouse, Dogo Onsen

三古湯 Sankosen

Three Baths of Fuso

扶桑三名湯 Fuso-sanmeiyu. Fuso is a poetic name for Japan and this one is credited to traveling haiku poet Matsuo Basho.


Three Great Night Views

Osaka Bay at night

三大夜景 Sandaiyakei

New Three Great Night Views

新三大夜景 Shin-sandaiyakei

  • Kitakyushu seen from Mount Sarakurayama,
  • Nara seen from Mount Wakakusayama
  • Yamanashi seen from Fuefuki River Fruit Park


Three Holy Places of Ōshū

Sulphur pit, Mount Osore

奥州三霊場 Ōshū sanreijō are the three most famous pilgrimage sites in the ancient land of Oku (奥), now known as Tohoku.


Three Great Inari Shrines

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

三大稲荷 Sandai Inari

Note: As the head of all Inari shrines, Fushimi Inari Shrine is naturally one of the top three. The other top shrines have been proposed in various famous historical texts, so this particular "Top 3" is highly debated, often consisting of a list of more than three shrines (despite being a "Top Three" list). While it is generally agreed that Toyokawa Inari Shrine deserves the second spot, the third varies depending on the source. The most commonly listed are Saijo Inari and Yūtoku Inari Shrine. Most of the disputes regarding this list revolve around which of these two shrines should receive the third position.

There are a couple other Inari shrines that want to claim the third spot however, they are less commonly listed as such. They are Takekoma Shrine in Iwanuma and Kasuma Inari Shrine in Kasama.


Three Great Tenjin Shrines

Kitano Tenmangu, Kyoto

日本三大天神 sandai tenjin

All Tenjin (Tenmangu) shrines are dedicated to the worship of Sugawara Michizane. This top three list actually highlights his exile from Kyoto to Dazaifu. Along the way, he stopped in Hofu and built the first tenjin shrine. Official shrine dedication to him began after his death when a series of natural disasters and tragedies in the capital were believed to be caused by his restless soul seeking vengeance for his unjust exile. Kitano Tenmangu was built to pacify him.



Three Hidden Regions

Vine bridge, Iya Valley

三大秘境 Sandaihikkyō


Three Chinatowns

Chinatown, Yokohama

三大中華街 Sandai-chūkagai



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