25.2 C
Saturday, June 15, 2024

8 locations to Uncover in Japan off the Crushed Path

Must read

Japan is a journey heyday proper now – and rightfully so – it’s an unimaginable nation.  In actual fact, it’s one among my favourite international locations to journey to. Nevertheless, in my quest to seek out the lesser-traveled locations wherever I am going, I spent plenty of time in Japan off the overwhelmed path on a number of journeys to Japan!

I’ll offer you concepts on going past the normal Tokyo to Kyoto route and getting away from the crowds.  I’ll introduce you to some favourite hidden gems from my travels in Japan, from the beautiful Iya Valley in Shikoku to the horse tradition of Tokachi to the snow-capped Japanese Alps and the wild shoreline of Tohoku. These locations reside within the shadows of Japan, which few worldwide guests learn about.

Overtourism in Japan

Based on the Japan Tourism Company, the variety of guests to Japan has returned to pre-pandemic ranges, with over 17 million individuals visiting between January and September 2023. The draw back to those guests is that they have an inclination to flock to all the identical cities; Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. These cities are phenomenal; nonetheless, they’re crowded.  The inflow of vacationers additionally brings elevated petty crime, waste administration points, noise air pollution, and overcrowding, which might negatively have an effect on the surroundings and disrupt the lives of locals. 

Vacationers in Japan additionally are inclined to flock to Mt. Fuji.  Nevertheless, so many individuals climbed the long-lasting Mt. Fuji, queues have been on the prime, and the surroundings was broken.

Japan overtourismJapan overtourism
Picture by Jason Goh at Pixabay

This has led the Japanese Tourism Company to create measures to ease this overtourism. They lately designated 11 areas throughout the nation as “mannequin tourism locations“, hoping to encourage abroad guests to discover past metropolitan areas whereas within the nation.

In that vein, I too have recognized a number of of my favourite Japan off the overwhelmed path locations! Discovering distinctive journey experiences and lesser-traveled areas on this planet is my specialty.  After in depth journeys to Japan, I’ve all the time loved these smaller villages, and lesser-known prefectures to the extra fashionable ones.

I hope you possibly can expertise a extra tranquil, much less populated aspect of Japan that immerses you additional into its distinctive Japanese tradition.

Add These Hidden Gems to Your Japan Itinerary

I haven’t been in every single place in Japan, however I’ve been to every of the locations listed beneath.  Some are extra hidden than others, however all of them are nice choices so as to add to any Japan itinerary with the intention to you should definitely expertise the slower, lesser-known aspect of Japan along with locations like Tokyo and Kyoto.  Truly – I additionally offered an off-the-beaten-path Tokyo neighborhood on this listing!

A few of these locations are very particular areas inside a prefecture, and a few are bigger areas you possibly can journey via which are much less traveled as an entire. Due to Japan’s unimaginable transit choices – all of those lesser-known locations are accessible by public transit.  Isn’t that unimaginable?!

Map of Japan Off the Crushed Path Suggestions

Tokachi – Hokkaido Prefecture

We’ll begin on the northernmost a part of Japan – Hokkaido. Most individuals follow Sapporo, the capital metropolis of Hokkaido prefecture. Tokachi is an space of southeastern Hokkaido surrounded by nationwide parks. It felt just like the Midwest of Japan with its landscapes dotted with small farms. The most important metropolis in Tokachi is Obihiro, the place I used to be based mostly throughout my go to. 

Japan off the beaten path Tokachi Japan off the beaten path Tokachi
Tokachi’s rural landscapes

Issues to do in Tokachi off the Crushed Path

Let’s be actual – just by going to Tokachi, you might be far off the overwhelmed path.  Only a few worldwide guests ever go to right here, which implies it feels untouched in a manner. 

It’s value spending a day or so simply testing Obihiro with its pretty parks and the Obihiro Metropolis Museum. Plus, since Obihiro is known for its meals, you should definitely attempt “buta-don” (pork rice bowl), a neighborhood specialty. Additionally, attempt “katsudon” (breaded pork cutlet over rice) at one of many metropolis’s many eating places.

In case you like mixology or Japanese Whiskey, then be sure you cease at A Glass Shot Bar.  You’ll meet the proprietor and award-winning bartender there, who mesmerized me along with his mixology expertise and strategies. We may solely talk via Google Translate and some props.

If you’re searching for one thing distinctive, Banei Horse Racing is the one race of its sort on this planet and takes place in Obihiro. Giant draft horses race on a particular course in a 200 m straight line whereas pulling an iron sled that weighs as much as 1 ton. And to make it much more particular, spectators can run and cheer on the aspect of the course with the horse.

That is additionally an incredible likelihood to expertise extra of the Ainu indigenous tradition that exists in Hokkaido. The native Obihiro Ainu tradition preservation society is beginning to provide vacationers cultural experiences to raised perceive the unique Japanese historical past.

Be sure you get out into the agricultural areas that Tokachi is known for through a cycle tour via the agricultural countryside. You’ll be able to expertise Tokachi’s uniqueness with all 5 senses as you meet farmers, stroll via the fields, and style the native produce, all whereas touring by bike.  

Don’t miss your alternative to soak in a uncommon moor scorching spring in Tokachi.  Tokachigawa Onsen is a “moor scorching springs” with a excessive content material of natural substances, together with crops.   Its excessive ranges of natural plant matter give the water a brown and purple shade, and it’s identified to go away the pores and skin feeling mushy and easy.  

Learn how to Get to Tokachi

The Tokachi space could be accessed from Tokyo or by public transport from Sapporo.

Fly from Tokyo to Tokachi-Obihiro Airport. It takes half-hour by automotive or 40 minutes by bus to Obihiro Station from the airport. It takes round three hours from Chitose Airport or Sapporo Station to succeed in Obihiro Station by practice.

Tohoku Area

The Tohoku area includes the six northernmost prefectures on Japan’s fundamental island: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Sendai, Yamagata, and Fukushima. Only a few overseas guests wander away the overwhelmed path to Tohoku, so that you’ll take pleasure in being an anomaly.

The realm boasts nice pure magnificence and an abundance of pure assets, similar to scrumptious contemporary seafood. There are a lot of sights to see, like essentially the most stunning cliffs in Japan, the marvelous surroundings of the Rias shoreline, the sheer abundance of the world’s third largest fishing grounds, and extra.

I visited Tohoku to take a look at Japan’s latest long-distance climbing route, the Michinoku Coastal Path, a 1000+ km path. The paved roads and forest trails tie collectively a area that joined in concord to rebuild after the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami. It’s an incredible addition to Japan’s different historic pilgrimage routes. Evidently – there’s loads of journey in Tohoku alongside the coastal path!

Tohoku Japan off the beaten pathTohoku Japan off the beaten path
The rugged Kitayamazaki Cliffs in Tohoku

Issues to do in Tohoku off the Crushed Path

Among the finest hikes from the long-distance Michinoku Coastal Path is the Urato Islands of Matsushima Bay.  The islands haven’t been developed as a vacationer locations, and guests can benefit from the conventional tranquil Sanriku island surroundings.  As well as, the bay gives beautiful surroundings consisting of oddly formed rocks eroded by the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Take a ship to see them up shut!

For an actual problem, hike the Kitayamazaki Cliffs.  The 200-meter-tall sheer cliffs boast essentially the most highly effective coastal great thing about any coastal panorama in Japan. This was my favourite hike as a part of the Michinoku Coastal Path!

Along with climbing sections of the coastal path, you can too bike it in lots of areas, similar to the world round Rikuzentakata Metropolis. You’ll be able to pedal via rice fields and untouched coastlines – an actual hidden gem in Tohoku.

You’ll be able to’t spend time in Tohoku with out paying homage to the 2011 tsunami that devastated the area. To be taught extra in regards to the catastrophe and, most significantly, the resiliency of the individuals within the area – cease on the Iwate Tsunami Memorial in Rikuzentakata Metropolis.

L’OreoleTanohata restaurant is actually hidden, tucked in between the timber and cliffs of the Rias Coast. At lunchtime, L’OreoleTanohata is a well-liked restaurant opened by a Japanese chef (French skilled)who’s captivated with native assets and goals to develop the native meals tradition. Dishes that deliver out the goodness of the substances themselves with out pointless seasoning convey the richness of the land. 

Take a look at Soma Metropolis the place the path begins.  You’ll be able to discover the Nakamura Shrine and take a look at some scrumptious Soma beef Menchikatsu right here. It’s beef that’s deep-fried on the spot when ordered! The new and juicy menchikatsu is wealthy and filled with taste!

Get pleasure from getting within the water at Jodogahama Seaside and Sanriku Fukko (reconstruction) Nationwide Park.  Cease in on the customer heart and stroll alongside the boardwalk to view the beautiful white rocks within the sea. The water is an exquisite turquoise and excellent for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, or swimming! I took a kayak tour, permitting us to stand up near the weird rock formations.

If you’re searching for a shocking place off the overwhelmed path to expertise cherry blossom season, plan to go to Hitome Senbonzakura alongside the Shiroishi River within the southern a part of Miyagi Prefecture. Right here you’ll discover 8 kilometers of cherry blossom timber alongside the river embankment, creating a shocking panorama with an impressive snow-capped Zao Mountains backdrop.

Learn how to Get to Tohoku:

Tohoku Shinkansen is a bullet practice that connects Tokyo with Aomori on the northern tip of Honshu. The Tohoku Shinkansen is operated by JR East. You’ll be able to make the most of the JR Go for this practice.

Yanaka Neighborhood Tokyo

Contemplating Tokyo is the preferred place for vacationers, it’s laborious to seek out hidden locations in Tokyo – however it’s attainable! Welcome to the Yanaka neighborhood.

This historic neighborhood positioned within the Taito ward of Tokyo, Japan is understood for its conventional, old-world ambiance.  It’s fashionable to go to if you wish to expertise the ‘previous Tokyo’.  Fortunately, not many vacationers need to see Previous Tokyo – they’d quite follow the glitzy areas.

Yanaka can be identified for its giant inhabitants of stray cats. Some locals and organizations have taken steps to look after these cats, making it a well-liked vacation spot for cat lovers like me!

Yanaka Neighborhood TokyoYanaka Neighborhood Tokyo
Yanaka Neighborhood Tokyo

Issues to do in Yanaka off the Crushed Path

Take a meals tour in Yanaka from Arigato Meals Excursions and hit lots of the areas listed beneath.  I did this final time in Tokyo and fell in love with the neighborhood. Plus – I realized a lot about Japanese meals and eating places that I may make the most of as I traveled all through Japan!

Wander the Yanaka Ginza Purchasing Road. The pedestrian-friendly purchasing road is lined with small retailers, cafes, and eating places. It’s an incredible place to discover and take a look at conventional Japanese snacks and souvenirs.

The Yanaka cemetery is a resting place for a lot of historic figures and a peaceable space with cherry blossoms in spring and colourful foliage in autumn. Take a stroll via this stunning house filled with 7000 gravesites, stone paths, and soak within the peaceable ambiance.

Nezu Shrine: A Shinto shrine with stunning vermilion gates, a pond, and a well-manicured backyard. It’s a serene spot for guests to discover.

Take part in a tea ceremony. The primary flooring of Gallery Okubo is stuffed with vintage tea utensils and pottery.  Nevertheless, wander upstairs and also you’ll discover a distinctive little tea room. Right here you possibly can expertise an genuine Japanese tea ceremony. One of the best half is that they make the most of vintage teapots and cups, they usually change in every season.

Scai the Bathhouse: This modern artwork gallery is housed in a renovated public bathhouse and options varied modern artwork exhibitions. In case you like modern artwork – you’ll undoubtedly need to cease right here.

Find out about my different Tokyo off the Crushed Path suggestions

Learn how to Get to Yanaka

You’ll be able to attain Yanaka simply utilizing public transportation. The closest practice station to Yanaka is Nippori Station, which is well-connected to the remainder of Tokyo through the JR Strains.

Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture

Matsumoto will not be essentially a small city however extra of a lesser-visited city.  The peaks of the Japanese Alps could be seen within the distance. Though the middle of city is fairly trendy, the town retains a lot of its heritage from olden instances, and lots of the vestiges are nonetheless seen within the again alleys and outlying areas.

It’s most likely finest identified for its fort, in-built 1504.  The unique moats and stone partitions nonetheless stay intact. The fort was one among my favourite issues to go to on this space so don’t miss it!

Matsumoto Castle Hidden GemMatsumoto Castle Hidden Gem
Matsumoto Citadel

Issues to do in Matsumoto off the Crushed Path

Tour the Matsumoto Citadel:  Matsumoto Citadel is one among 5 castles designated as ‘Nationwide Treasures of Japan’ and the oldest five-tiered, six-story fort tower remaining in Japan. You’ll discover a small stand close to the fort entrance that homes English-speaking tour guides.  They’re volunteers and their providers are free (no suggestions allowed).  I liked our information and realized a lot. It’s a good way to see the fort and be taught in regards to the historical past of the samari there.  They function year-round from 10:00 to fifteen:00 day by day.

Matsumoto Metropolis Museum of Artwork:  Get pleasure from conventional Japanese calligraphy and trendy artwork.  The museum actually focuses on native expertise together with Yayoi Kusama and her well-known works.

Go to Daio Wasabi Farm – A brief practice trip from Matsumoto, this farm is a delight to stroll round and study how wasabi is farmed and utilized in Japan. Be sure you plan your go to round lunch with the intention to attempt the various totally different dishes that embrace wasabi…even ice cream! Plus you possibly can add a enjoyable bike trip to this outing from the practice station to the farm and again.  It’s actually scenic and wonderful to do on a pleasant day.

Timepiece Museum:  Get pleasure from timepieces of all sizes and styles from all around the world. You’ll be able to’t miss the doorway with an enormous pendulum clock on the surface of the constructing.

Learn how to Get to Matsumoto

Matsumoto is definitely accessible through JR strains from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, Nagoya, and Nagano Metropolis. Or if you’re coming from Takayama, you possibly can journey by bus.

Shirakawago in Gifu Prefecture

Shirakawago was named a UNESCO World Heritage Website in 1995. This tiny village is stuffed with conventional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, lots of that are 250 years previous.  They’re identified for his or her thatched sloped roofs. 

Take a stroll across the homes, a few of which have museums inside. Be sure you cease on the Wada home and the Shiroyama viewpoint for a shocking overview of the valley and the Japanese Alps. You’ll be able to go to the previous village surroundings for a day or keep in a single day in a thatch house Ryokan. They even have pure scorching springs you possibly can take pleasure in whereas staying in Shirakawago.

Shirakawago off the beaten pathShirakawago off the beaten path
UNESCO village Shirakawago with Japanese Alps in background

Learn how to Get There to Shirakawago

There are a number of day by day categorical bus providers to and from Shirakawa-go from Takayama or Kanazawa. Nevertheless within the winter months it may be laborious to get to as typically it will get snowed in!

Takayama in Gifu Prefecture

This charming of-the-beaten-path small city is surrounded by peaks of the Japanese Alps.  The previous city has been superbly preserved and it’s what makes this city so particular. There may be additionally numerous shrines and museums dedicated to crafts, previous existence, and different native traditions.

Takayama off the beaten path JapanTakayama off the beaten path Japan
Takayama Previous City

Issues to do in Takayama off the Crushed Path

Stroll round San-machi Suji (Previous City).  The colourful slim streets are filled with previous buildings, craftsman workshops, conventional shops, eating places, and sake breweries. That is the proper alternative to essentially benefit from the previous structure.

Sake Breweries:  Talking of sake breweries, Takayama is a superb place to do a extra in-depth sake tasting.  You’ll acknowledge the sake breweries indicated by a ball product of cedar hanging exterior the store.

Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine: At this complicated, you should definitely cease on the Takayama Yatai Kaikan, a museum that homes some examples of the floats paraded twice yearly via the streets as a part of the spring and autumn festivals.

Hida Beef: Be sure you attempt the well-known Hida beef. It’s one among Japan’s particular kinds of finely branded beef identified for its distinctive aroma, texture, and style. It additionally has elaborate marbling, giving it excessive juiciness when cooked. Many native eating places serve it however attempt it at Kitchen Hida in case you can.

Learn how to Get to Takayama

Takayama is straightforward to entry from the primary cities of Honshu like Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka or Kyoto. The practice is one of the simplest ways to get to Takayama except you’re coming from Kanazawa, through which case a bus is your finest wager.

Iya Valley – Shikoku Tokushima Prefecture

The Iya Valley is also known as some of the distant areas in Japan.  It’s much less of a valley and extra of a steep and deep river gorge.   Many of the panorama is inaccessible, traditionally making it an ideal place for feuding clans to cover within the late twelfth century.

There may be not one straight street within the Iya Valley.  In actual fact – my finest tip is to deliver Dramamine. The entire roads appear to be perched on the steep hills with sharp drop-offs to the river gorge beneath. Nevertheless, with all of this ruggedness, comes an immense quantity of magnificence. 

Iya Valley remote JapanIya Valley remote Japan
Iya Valley

Issues to do in Iya Valley off the Crushed Path

The valley is stuffed with distinctive issues to do, however one of many prime issues to expertise is a stroll over the kagura-bash (Vine Bridge) that crosses the Iya River. This was once utilized by the locals as a manner throughout the gorge, nonetheless at present it’s only for vacationers. You pay a small price to cross the wobbly bridge, and it’s undoubtedly not for people who find themselves fearful of heights! Its vines are changed each 3 years, and metal cables are laced contained in the vines for security.

If vine bridges weren’t uncommon sufficient, take a look at Iya Valley’s Scarecrow Village.  Sure – that appears like a spot present in a horror film – nevertheless it’s an actual city – Nagoro in Iya Valley.  The streets, fields, and buildings are stuffed with a whole bunch of life-size ‘dolls’ full of paper.  The scarecrows outnumber the residents, of whom there are solely 30. Wander across the village and you should definitely go into the previous main college for an uncommon sight.

In fact, in such a lush surroundings, there may be some nice climbing to be performed.  Hike to the highest of the best mountain in Tokushima Prefecture and second highest in western Japan, Mt Tsurugi. And when you’re completed, you possibly can take pleasure in one of many many scorching springs across the valley.

For a extremely distinctive onsen expertise at Resort Iyaonsen, trip a cable automotive all the way down to the river on the backside of the gorge to benefit from the pure scorching springs.

Iya Valley vine bridgeIya Valley vine bridge
Iya Valley Vine Bridge

Learn how to Get to the Iya Valley

The best and most typical strategy to attain the Iya Valley from elsewhere is through practice to JR Oboke Station. Restricted Specific trains go to/from right here about as soon as an hour and most native buses head out from right here.

Kotohira – Shikoku Kagawa Prefecture

Kotohira is house to essentially the most well-known shrines in Shikoku, historic websites, and cultural belongings, making it an incredible place to walk via historical past. Although there are a good variety of memento retailers and guests, I nonetheless think about it off the overwhelmed path as a result of most of these guests are Japanese vacationers.  You received’t discover many worldwide guests in Kotohira.  

Kotohira climb to Kotohiragu Shrine Kotohira climb to Kotohiragu Shrine
Kotohira climb to Kotohiragu Shrine

Issues to do in Kotohira off the Crushed Path

The climb to Kotohiragu Shrine is memorable and difficult. There are 785 steps to get to the primary shrine, however there’s a lot to see alongside the best way, which offers plenty of little relaxation breaks.  You’ll be able to even cease and have lunch alongside the best way if you’d like!

When you attain the highest, discover the a number of shrines, ponds, and gardens, and take in the panoramic views of the city.   And if you wish to see an actual hidden gem, then stroll additional to the 2nd temple. Nevertheless you’ll must climb 583 extra stairs to get to the inside shrine and greet the deity!

Go to Kanamaruza Theater, a standard Kabuki theater positioned close to Kompira-san Shrine.  In-built 1835, the shrine has been meticulously preserved and remains to be used at present. Even in case you don’t watch a efficiency, you possibly can go to the theater to understand its historic and architectural significance. I didn’t get to see a efficiency, nonetheless the tour via the backstage was fascinating. 

One of the distinctive issues I did whereas in Kotohira was attempt their two well-known ice cream cone treats. Get a cone with Oiri (Japanese sweet) on it.  The colourful spherical candies are mild and candy – like cereal in your mushy serve cone. Or, if you’re actually adventurous, attempt the soy sauce ice cream with inexperienced onions.  I can’t say it was my favourite, however I used to be glad I attempted it!

Are you prepared for a cooking expertise you received’t discover wherever else?  Take a Sanuki udon noodle making class. You’ll be taught all of the steps to make your individual udon noodles and even get to eat them on the finish. Nevertheless – be ready for some surprises alongside the best way.  The category is form of half cooking class, half Japanese recreation present.  I assure that you should have enjoyable, and have a scrumptious lunch!

Learn how to Get to Kotohira

Kotohira is accessible from Takamatsu Airport on Shikoku , or from Okayama Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen. From Takamatsu Station, take a practice to both JR Kotohira or Kotoden Kotohira Station through Takamatsu-Chikko Station, subsequent to Takamatsu Citadel. Each journeys take about an hour.

Make the most of 12Go Get to Japan’s Hidden Gems

With so many public transportation choices to get round Japan, it may be complicated to determine find out how to evaluate costs and time tables. Nevertheless, 12Go helps you evaluate totally different modes of transportation in Japan simply from their web site or cellular app. You’ll be able to search on dates and site and discover the entire choices and ebook proper from the location – together with buses, ferries, trains, hotel-airport switch and extra.  

JR Pass JR Pass

Learn how to Plan Your Japan Off the Crushed Path Journey

I’ve utilized a number of firms focusing on creating itineraries that expose you to Japan’s hidden gems. As well as, I’ve discovered a number of of my very own!

I design Japan itineraries that may take you off the overwhelmed path on a custom-made foundation. Let me know your pursuits, timeframe, and finances, and I’ll put collectively a customized itinerary together with details about Japan transportation and suggestions. To be taught extra, contact me at [email protected]

Custom Japan Travel ItinerariesCustom Japan Travel Itineraries
I might help design customized Japan Journey Itineraries

Oku Japan makes a speciality of Japan off the overwhelmed path and climbing in Japan. I’ve performed a few excursions with them, together with the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, and love the distinctive experiences they provide with locals, similar to indigo dying, alternatives to fulfill monks, and extra. They function guided, self-guided, and customized excursions round communities deep within the countryside that protect the traditions of the previous.

You will get a 5% low cost off Oku Japan bookings if you use the code OTTSWORLD5. Visitors might want to enter the code within the ‘Notes and Particular Requests’ area once they ebook on OkuJapan.com to have the low cost utilized.

Inside Japan Excursions can be an incredible tour firm with nice guides who will immerse you within the hidden gems of Japan.  

Expertise Japan Much less Traveled

Japan gives a wealth of charming experiences past its well-known vacationer locations. Venturing off the overwhelmed path to any of those eight locations permits vacationers to uncover hidden gems, immerse themselves in genuine cultural encounters, and witness the great thing about Japan’s less-explored areas. By stepping away from the vacationer crowds and embracing the serendipity of discovery, vacationers can forge deeper connections with the nation’s wealthy historical past, tradition, and pure magnificence, making their go to to Japan unforgettable.


- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article