Japan is home to a treasure trove of attractions, many of which are quite popular among tourists. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are just some of the top places that draw millions of tourists from all over the world every year. But with all the spectacular sights like ancient temples and shrines as well as the extensive list of things to do in these top tourist destinations, it is easy to miss out on the country’s hidden gems. To see and experience more than the usual in Japan, here are some of the stunning places to visit if you want to go off the beaten path.
Kiso Valley, Nagano Prefecture
The Kiso Valley was part of the Nakasendo or “path through mountains” route between Edo and Kyoto in the past. It is home to charming old post towns like Magome, Narai, and Tsumago. It also boasts of spectacular nature scenery with stunning views of mountains and verdant forests. Visit to see and experience historic and picturesque post towns in the midst of breathtaking scenery.
Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture
A visit to Kurashiki is like traveling back into another century. It is an old merchant settlement that boasts of an old canal that dates back to the Edo period. This canal area is lined with old storehouses and weeping willows that add to the place’s old-world charm. Some of the city’s top attractions include the Bikan historical district, Ivy Square, Ohashi House, and Ohara Museum.
Kyushu may be one of Japan’s main islands. But it is often overlooked by many tourists who end up missing out on its many historic attractions, bustling cities, and nature scenery. Its prefectures all boast of beautiful attractions to explore. It is known for hot spring towns like Beppu and the Kurokawa Onsen among many others. Best destinations include Fukuoka Prefecture (Dazaifu, Fukuoka, and Kitakyushu), Kagoshima Prefecture (Amami Oshima, Kagoshima, Kirishima, Satsuma Peninsula, and Yakushima), Kumamoto Prefecture (Amakusa, Aso, Kurokawa Onsen, Kumamoto, and Minamata), Miyazaki Prefecture (Miyazaki, Takachiho, and Udo Shrine), Nagasaki Prefecture (Hirado, Nagasaki, and Shimabara Peninsula), Oita Prefecture (Beppu, Kuju Mountains, Kunisaki Peninsula, Usuki, and Yufuin), and Saga Prefecture (Arita and Imari, Karatsu, Yoshinogari Park, and Yutoku Inari Shrine).
Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture
Mount Koya is home to the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism. It is a secluded woodland temple town surrounded by enchanting natural scenery. The Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage starts and ends in this place. Its many attractions include the Daishi Kyokai, Danjo Garan, Kongobuji Temple, Okunoin Temple and cemetery, Pilgrimage Trails, Reihokan Museum, Temple Lodging, and Tokugawa Mausoleum.