I’ve never been to Japan. I know!! It’s always been on my bucket list and living in Asia, it was always one of those “we’ll get there eventually” destinations. But sadly, we left before we made it. Boo!
Still I’m not giving up hope! So when I got offered some expert tips on some ‘top secret’ places to go in Japan, I figured I’d sneakily keep them up my sleeve, for ‘one day!’
Then I thought, hang on, it’s only fair I share them with you, right?
To this day, Japan is an alluring destination for travellers the world over. Not only does it have a great deal of amazing sushi (which had me at hello) super public transport and beautiful Cherry Blossoms (which FYI, are only in Spring), it also has an incredibly rich history and culture. (And writing all this makes me want to kick myself that we lived so close and missed it!)
Research shows, most of us only visit the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto; I guess it’s easier to go to the bigger cities when you don’t know a country well and/or you’re pressed for time.
Still experts say you should really get out there and see some of the most spectacular places Japan has to offer.
So without further ado, here are a few destinations that I’ve been told, you should make a note of, if Japan is on your holiday radar!
The Iva Valley in Shikoku is apparently a fantastic place to hike and raft along the river, if that’s your thing. You can also enjoy an abundance of natural hot springs and waterfalls. There, the island of Naoshima is renowned for being a haven for artists and has this fantastic selection of museums and galleries. I’m told, in recent years its magical atmosphere and incredible Benesse House has become a destination for travellers seeking the ultimate luxury. Yep put this one on the list, my friends!
Too many visitors to Japan miss the beautiful island of Hokkaido off their itinerary. In the country’s far north, this is a place to really escape the grind and indulge in some amazing natural wonders, not to mention some pretty spectacular wildlife.
Hokkaido also boasts some incredible hot springs and some of the best skiing in Asia. And I know how much avid skiers love to go to Japan for a run.
In the winter, resorts like Niseko come alive with brilliant places to ski and snowboard, and the Sapporo Snow Festival sounds like a definite highlight.
The colourful Furano Flower Fields are also a must-visit in the summertime, and Hokkaido is also famed for its fantastic food options – the seafood here is apparently as good as anything you’ll find anywhere in Japan.
This is apparently one of Japan’s most under-appreciated destinations. Okinawa is the spot to relax, enjoy the sunshine and experience some of the best hospitality anywhere in Japan.
The beaches are among the most beautiful in the country and the Ryukyu culture is still very much evident, influencing everything from art and culture to music and cuisine.
Naha is the busiest city in the archipelago of islands that make up Okinawa (and we can’t forget, it was previously the site of a US military base during the Second World War). The history, both recent and distant, is fascinating and in many places here, the old way of life still endures; so tourists can catch a glimpse of Japan as it was centuries ago.
This is a destination with so much to offer. It is one of Japan’s major islands and yet many tourists still tend to go elsewhere when they visit. The two biggest cities on the island are Fukuoka and Nagasaki, and between them they offer some incredible attractions, including volcanoes, hot springs and lush sprawling forests. Takachiho Gorge is stunning, having been formed by the remnants of a volcanic eruption hundreds of thousands of years ago. This site includes a series of jaw-dropping waterfalls and its colours change as the seasons pass. Experts say Autumn is definitely the best time of the year to visit what is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
Although this is officially Japan’s second largest city, many tourists still skip it as a destination in favour of Tokyo and Kyoto. Osaka is a modern city in every sense of the word; with excellent places to eat and drink and a vibrant population that knows how to enjoy itself.
Sake tasting is almost a sport here and the city’s most famous street food, Takoyaki, has to be experienced to be believed. Osaka Castle is well worth a visit and the park of the same name is a great place to spend an afternoon. The Kaiyukan aquarium is one of the very best in the world and would be a fantastic day out for families.
So, what are you waiting for. I know I’m even more intrigued after this….. Japan here we come.
This is without doubt one of Japan’s true hidden gems. Home to stunning natural beauty, it lends itself to an authentic Japanese experience, and, hello, isn’t that what we’re all looking for? I know some of the best trips I’ve ever done have been when we get to immerse ourselves well and truly with the locals and experience the ‘real’ place.
You can thank me later… 😉
And be sure to let me know if you have any other amazing destinations we can add.
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