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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[edit]

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[edit]


Himeji Castle

Three Famous Castles[edit]

三名城 Sanmeijō

Three Great Mountain Castles[edit]

三大山城 Sandaiyamashiro

Three Great Flatland Mountain Castles[edit]

三大平山城 Sandaihiroyamashiro

Three Famous Gardens[edit]

Korakuen Garden, Okayama

三名園 Sanmeien

Three Famous Mountains[edit]

三名山 Sanmeizan (Three Famous Mountains), also 三霊山 Sanreizan (Three Sacred Mountains)

Three Sacred Grounds[edit]

Okunoin graves on Mount Koya

三大霊場 sandai-reijo

Three Famous Big Buddhas[edit]

Great Buddha of Kamakura

三大大仏 Sandai-daibutsu

Three Great Festivals[edit]

Neputa Matsuri, Hirosaki

三大祭 Sandaisai

The Neputa/Nebuta Matsuri of Aomori is often considered to be one of the top three festivals, but it is actually only listed as one of the top three festivals of the Tohoku region (below).

Three Great Festivals of Tohoku[edit]

Three Great Festivals of Kyoto[edit]

  • Gion Matsuri
  • Aoi Matsuri
  • Jidai Matsuri

Three Hot Springs[edit]

Certainly one of the more hotly contested categories. (No pun intended).

Sakinoyu Onsen, Shirahama

Three Great Hot Springs[edit]

三大温泉 Sandaionsen

Three Famous Springs[edit]

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

Three Old Springs[edit]

Bathhouse, Dogo Onsen

三古湯 Sankosen

Three Baths of Fuso[edit]

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[edit]

Osaka Bay at night

三大夜景 Sandaiyakei

New Three Great Night Views[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

三大稲荷 Sandai Inari

As the head of all Inari shrines, Fushimi Inari Shrine is naturally one of the top three, but there is little historical or present consensus on the others, since sites only declare themselves to be a top 3 without mentioning the others. Takekoma Shrine in Iwanuma and Kasuma Inari Shrine in Kasama are also suggested by some.

Three Great Tenjin Shrines[edit]

Kitano Tenmangu, Kyoto

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 dedication of shrines 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 Great Hachiman Shrines[edit]

三八幡 San Hachiman

Three Great Torii[edit]

三大鳥居 Sandai Torii

Three Hidden Regions[edit]

Vine bridge, Iya Valley

三大秘境 Sandaihikkyō

Three Caves[edit]

Three Sake Towns[edit]


Three Chinatowns[edit]

Chinatown, Yokohama

三大中華街 Sandai-chūkagai

Three Luxury Beefs[edit]

  • Kobe
  • Matsuzaka
  • Yonezawa
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