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Travel topics > Cultural attractions > Japan's Top 3

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 ViewsEdit

Amanohashidate's "Bridge to Heaven"
  • Sankei (三景). The most famous list of them all, attributed to scholar Hayashi Gahō back in 1643. They follow the Snow-Moon-Flower (雪月花) aesthetic with Amanohashidate representing the snow (雪), Matsushima representing the moon (月), and Miyajima representing the flower (花), although the "flowers" are said to actually be the autumn leaves.    

New Three ViewsEdit


Three Great Night ViewsEdit

View from Mount Inasa

三大夜景 Sandaiyakei

New Three Great Night ViewsEdit

新三大夜景 Shin-sandaiyakei

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


Himeji Castle
Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, Takahashi

Three Famous CastlesEdit

三名城 Sanmeijō. A list written by Ogyu Sorai in the Edo Period. He chose these three castles as the top among those designed by Kato Kiyomasa and Todo Takatora who he considered to be the best castle designers. All three are modern reconstructions, since Kumamoto Castle burned down during the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion and Nagoya and Osaka Castles were destroyed during World War II. Himeji Castle, widely recognized as Japan's greatest surviving castle, didn't make the cut back in the late 1600s.

Three Great Mountain CastlesEdit

三大山城 Sandaiyamashiro

Three Great Flatland Mountain CastlesEdit

三大平山城 Sandaihiroyamashiro.

Three Famous GardensEdit

Korakuen Garden, Okayama

三名園 Sanmeien

It is unclear when these gardens were chosen or by whom. The first recorded list dates back to 1899, but a postcard bought by Shiki Masaoka from his visit to Korakuen Garden in 1891 has "Korakuen Garden, Number 1 of the Top 3 Gardens" written on the back. It is widely believed that the gardens follow the "Snow-Moon-Flower" (雪月花) aesthetic coined by a famous Chinese poem by Bai Juyi. Kenrokuen Garden, famous for its snowy scenery, represents the "Snow" (雪), Korakuen Garden, which to this day has an autumn moon-viewing event, represents the "Moon" (月), and Kairakuen, known for its early spring plum blossoms, represents the "Flower" (花). In addition, each of the gardens are strolling gardens built by famous daimyo (The Tokugawa built Kairakuen, the Ikeda built Korakuen, and the Maeda built Kenrokuen) which is also believed to have played a role in which gardens were given the prestigious designation.


Gion Matsuri, Kyoto
Nebuta Matsuri, Aomori
Gujo Odori, Gujo
Konomiya Naked Festival in Inazawa
Omagari Fireworks, Daisen

Three Great FestivalsEdit

三大祭 Sandaisai

The 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 TohokuEdit


Three Great Festivals of KyotoEdit


  • Gion Matsuri
  • Aoi Matsuri
  • Jidai Matsuri

Three Great Festivals of ShikokuEdit


Three Beautiful FestivalsEdit

日本三大美祭り (Nihonsandai bimatsuri)

The beauty list is often referenced interchangeably with the Three Great Float Festivals (日本三大曳山祭り Nihonsandai hikiyamamatsuri), which sometimes features Nagahama's Hikiyama Festival in place of the Chichibu Yomatsuri.

Three Great Obon FestivalsEdit


Three Great Naked FestivalsEdit


Some lists replace the Konomiya Naked Festival with the Hadakabo Festival in Hofu, Yamaguchi or the Furukawa Festival in Hida, Gifu.

Three Great FireworksEdit


Hot SpringsEdit

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

Shirahama Onsen

Three Great Hot SpringsEdit

三大温泉 Sandaionsen

Three Famous SpringsEdit

三名泉 Sanmeisen. Authored by Hayashi Razan, father of Hayashi Gahō.

Three Old SpringsEdit

Bathhouse, Dogo Onsen

三古湯 Sankosen

Three Baths of FusōEdit

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


Three Great Inari ShrinesEdit

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto
Usa Shrine, Usa
Kehi Shrine's Torii Gate

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. After Fushimi Inari, the list varies depending on the source. Takekoma Shrine in Iwanuma and Kasuma Inari Shrine in Kasama are also suggested by some.

Three Great Tenjin ShrinesEdit

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 ShrinesEdit

三八幡 San Hachiman

Three Great ToriiEdit

三大鳥居 Sandai Torii


Three Sacred GroundsEdit

Okunoin graves on Mount Koya

三大霊場 sandai-reijo

Three Holy Places of ŌshūEdit

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 Famous Big BuddhasEdit

Great Buddha of Kamakura

三大大仏 Sandai-daibutsu

Three PagodasEdit

三名塔 Sanmeitō

Three Hase TemplesEdit

三長谷 Sanhase


Mount Fuji
Osugi Gorge
Akiyoshido Cave, the largest in Japan
Kegon Falls
Mount Moriyoshi in Kitaakita
Yamataka Jindai-zakura
Kitakami Tenshochi in Kitakami

Three Famous MountainsEdit

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

Top Three GorgesEdit


Three CavesEdit


Three WaterfallsEdit


Three Pine GrovesEdit

三大松原 Sandai-matsubara

Three Snow MonstersEdit

三大樹氷 Sandai juhyo

Certain mountains in northern Japan have the right trees and weather conditions to cover the trees completely in snow to transform them into Juhyo (樹氷) or "Snow Monsters" (also sometimes called "Ice Monsters" in Japanese). These three places were chosen because they have Ski Lifts along with the snow monsters.

Cherry Blossom SpotsEdit


Cherry Blossom TreesEdit

三大桜 Sandai-zakura

Cherry Blossom Spots of TohokuEdit

みちのく三大桜名所 Michinoku Sandai Sakura-meisho

"Michinoku" is a term used to refer to the Tohoku Region. Traditionally, it excludes Akita and Yamagata Prefectures but over time has become synonymous with the entire region as demonstrated by the presence of Kakunodate in Akita Prefecture on this list.

Night Cherry BlossomsEdit



Vine bridge, Iya Valley
Kurashiki's Historic District
Chinatown, Yokohama

Three Hidden RegionsEdit

三大秘境 Sandaihikkyō

Three Sake TownsEdit


Three Historic Merchant TownsEdit


Three Lacquerware TownsEdit


Three ChinatownsEdit

三大中華街 Sandai-chūkagai


Kitakata Ramen
Sanuki Udon


三大そば Sandai-soba'


三大ラーメン Sandai-raamen


三大うどん Sandai-udon


三大和牛 Sandai-wagyu

Some sources also claim Yonezawa Beef (Yonezawa) is one of the top three beefs.

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