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 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


Himeji Castle

Three Famous Castles

三名城 Sanmeijō. Oddly, this list omits Japan's largest and most visited castle in Himeji.

Three Great Mountain Castles

三大山城 Sandaiyamashiro

Three Great Flatland Mountain Castles

三大平山城 Sandaihiroyamashiro

Three Famous Gardens

Korakuen Garden, Okayama

三名園 Sanmeien

Three Famous Mountains

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

Three Sacred Grounds

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

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

Three Great Festivals of Kyoto

Three Hot Springs

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

Shirahama Onsen

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 Fusō

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 Night Views

Osaka Bay at night

三大夜景 Sandaiyakei

New Three Great Night Views

新三大夜景 Shin-sandaiyakei

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

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 Shrines

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

三八幡 San Hachiman

Three Great Torii

三大鳥居 Sandai Torii

Three Hidden Regions

Vine bridge, Iya Valley

三大秘境 Sandaihikkyō

Top Three Gorges

Osugi Gorge

Three Caves

Entrance to Ryuga-do Cave

Top Three Waterfalls

Kegon Falls


Three Sake Towns

Sake Brewery in Higashihiroshima


Three lacquerware (漆器 shikki) Towns


Three Chinatowns

Chinatown, Yokohama

三大中華街 Sandai-chūkagai

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