Between the diverse districts of Tokyo, the extraordinary temples of Kyoto, and the culinary splendors of Osaka, Japan is famous for its big cities and major landmarks — but there are breathtaking destinations and attractions across the country which will take you by surprise! Discover the most underrated places to visit in Japan which are far less crowded and will take you on an extraordinary adventure!
As one of the Five Fuji Lakes, Kawaguchi certainly offers no shortage of beauty. This breathtaking destination is known for its proximity to the tallest mountain in Japan and offers some of the best views of Mount Fuji in the country. The atmosphere is peaceful and quiet, and places such as Oishi Park, Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park, and the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine offer awe-inspiring vistas. Take a trip up the cable car to see the panoramic views of Mount Fuji, walk through the gorgeous gardens of the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, and take a mini-trip to Europe in the Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum. Kawaguchiko is also a short drive away from the Aokigahara Forest — a breathtaking and quiet place to visit… but keep in mind this is also considered to be one of the spookiest destinations in the world!
Unless you’re a biking enthusiast, you might not have heard about Shimanami Kaido! This extraordinary route — also known as the Nishiseto Expressway or “Sea Road” — is a series of bridges that connects six islands. This 70-kilometer road offers breathtaking views of the Seto Inland Sea which can be seen with a bike ride (that takes approximately four hours to complete) with pedestrian walkways and roads. This route can be reached by public transit (or by car) from the nearby city of Hiroshima, which will take you to Onomichi, from where you can start your journey to Imabari. If you are looking to get your blood pumping and escape to a mini paradise in the heart of Japan, traveling through Shimanami Kaido will make for a fascinating experience (which you can also drive through if biking isn’t your preference)!
While the Jigokudani Monkey Park might be a popular spot to see snow monkeys (and one of the best reasons to visit Japan), the regional capital of Nagano is a breathtaking and peaceful place to visit. Significant shrines and temples are scattered across Nagano, and ancient castle ruins and fascinating museums summon visitors to learn about the city’s rich history. Nagano is also home to the Zenkō-ji Temple, an extraordinary Buddhist temple built in the 7th century which the city was actually built around! This is a magnificent place to visit in the winter as the city transforms into a winter wonderland every year when blankets of powdery white snow fall over the streets and emphasize the powerful energy that is already roaring through the streets — or pay a visit in the spring to see the cherry blossoms come to life (late March through early April)!
Located a short 1.25-hour drive away from the Japanese capital, Chichibu is the perfect place for a day trip from Tokyo. This fascinating city might be home to Hitsujiyama Park, a popular destination known for its famous flower displays which blossom in the spring, but Chichibu itself is a vibrant place to visit that many travelers often skip. Shinto shrines and ancient temples mixed with magnificent mountains and fascinating ice formations (in the winter) can be seen across the city for the perfect trip that combines culture and nature. Traveling further west you can visit Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park to see gorgeous green colors in the summer or red leaves dropping in the fall, breathtaking waterfalls, and magnificent views of various mountain regions from the top — which can be reached by the beautiful hiking trails.
Known as the driest city in Japan, if you are worried about rain putting a damper on your trip then you will be pleased to hear that Okayama sees the least amount of rainfall anywhere in the country. This breathtaking city is home to the 18th-century Okayama Korakuen Edo Gardens — one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan! Okayama also boasts an abundance of museums and is the perfect place to dive deep into the world of Japanese art. The Okayama Castle is a fascinating sight to see and has earned its name as “The Castle of the Black Bird” thanks to its dark exterior. The gardens are filled with flowers and are delightful to walk through, and the significant shrines are oozing with history and energy. The city is located on the Shinkansen line, which makes it easy to reach one of the most underrated places to visit in Japan from many major cities!
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