When it comes to visiting Japan, most travelers think of the bustling cities of Tokyo and Osaka, the cultural heart of Kyoto, and the majestic Mount Fuji. While these iconic destinations are undoubtedly worth exploring, Japan also has countless lesser-known attractions just waiting to be discovered.
In this blog post, we’ll venture off the beaten path and uncover some of Japan’s best-kept secrets. From enchanting forests to picturesque coastal towns, prepare to be captivated by these hidden gems.
Japan tours should definitely include the Kiso Valley, located in the Nagano Prefecture, offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the Japan of yesteryear.
Lined with quaint, well-preserved post towns, the Nakasendo Trail that runs through the valley was once a major trade route between Tokyo and Kyoto. Walk along the historic trail and stay in traditional inns, known as ryokans, for an authentic taste of old Japan.
Tomonoura, a charming port town in Hiroshima Prefecture, is the epitome of picturesque beauty.
Known for its stunning coastal views, this sleepy fishing village has remained largely untouched by tourism. Spend a leisurely day exploring the narrow streets, visiting the ancient temples and shrines, and indulging in the local specialty, home-brewed sake.
An island paradise in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima is a haven for nature lovers. Boasting beautiful beaches, verdant olive groves, and dramatic cliffs, Shodoshima is also famous for its soy sauce production. Be sure to visit the 400-year-old Marukin Soy Sauce Museum to learn about the island’s rich culinary history. For an unparalleled view, take the ropeway to the summit of Mount Kankakei, where you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the surrounding islands.
Located on the island of Kyushu, Takachiho Gorge is a natural wonder formed by volcanic activity. The gorge’s towering basalt cliffs and the serene, emerald-green waters of the Gokase River create a truly enchanting atmosphere. Rent a rowboat and glide along the river, taking in the beauty of the surrounding foliage and the impressive 17-meter-high Minainotaki waterfall.
Tottori Sand Dunes
For a truly unique Japanese experience, head to the Tottori Sand Dunes, located along the Sea of Japan. Spanning 16 kilometers in length and 2 kilometers in width, these vast dunes are the largest in Japan.
Try your hand at sandboarding, or simply take in the otherworldly landscape, which is especially captivating at sunset.
Nestled in the remote mountains of the Toyama Prefecture, Ainokura is a tiny village that offers a glimpse into traditional Japanese rural life. The village is home to several well-preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are over 250 years old. Wander through the village, and stay overnight in one of the charming farmhouses for an immersive experience.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yakushima Island is a veritable treasure trove of natural beauty. Famous for its ancient cedar forests, which inspired the enchanted forest in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film “Princess Mononoke,” Yakushima offers a variety of hiking trails for adventurers of all levels.
Encounter the island’s diverse wildlife, including the adorable Yaku deer and Yaku monkey, as you explore this lush, mystical paradise.
Japan’s hidden gems are as diverse and enchanting as the country itself. From idyllic coastal towns to ancient forests, these off-the-beaten-path attractions showcase the rich history, breathtaking natural beauty, and captivating culture of Japan. So why not venture beyond the well-trodden tourist routes and discover the hidden wonders that await you? Your next adventure is just around the corner.