Seeking fresh travel destinations or less-frequented spots in Japan? Whether you’re planning your second visit or wish to avoid tourist crowds, my compilation of top off-the-beaten-path places in Japan is a must-read!
These destinations remain relatively undiscovered and less crowded, yet they hold immense potential. Some are conveniently situated in or near renowned tourist hubs like Tokyo and Kyoto. So, if you’re including these cities in your travel plans, consider exploring these hidden gems alongside them. Rest assured, these places are on the brink of becoming a sensation!
Here are 6 lesser-known things to do in Japan that allow you to explore the authentic and offbeat side of the country, away from the usual tourist crowds. These activities promise to enrich your journey and provide a unique perspective on this enchanting country.
1. Visit Gyokusendo Cave
Gyokusendo Cave stands as a relatively well-visited yet less recognized attraction you must travel to as you visit Japan. Nestled in the Okinawa prefecture, this expansive limestone cave invites exploration through its carefully placed walkways, bridges, and staircases.
Illuminated by strategically positioned lights, an underground river meanders through the cave, enhancing the enchantment of the experience. Ideal for adventurous souls seeking to delve deeper into Japan’s treasures, Gyokusendo Cave offers the perfect escape. While there, consider exploring other caves like Ryusendo Cave, ensuring you make the most of your adventure in Japan.
2. Witness the beauty of Iya Valley
Explore the tranquility of Iya Valley, a hidden gem nestled within the Shikoku region. This unexplored paradise offers a serene retreat with its remote villages, picturesque hanging bridges, and lush landscapes—perfect for those seeking an escape from the hectic pace of modern life.
Stay in a traditional thatched-roof farmhouse called a “kominka” to experience Japanese culture. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the local community. You can go on a refreshing hike on the Kazura Bridge.
You can also enjoy a rejuvenating swim in the Iya River. By doing so, you will experience the untouched beauty of rural Japan. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Japan, this hidden paradise promises an unforgettable experience.
3. Explore Tottori Sand Dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes near Tottori City are a popular tourist spot along the Sea of Japan coast. Spanning 16 kilometers with heights up to 50 meters, they formed from river-carried sand shaped by winds and tides. The main area covers half a kilometer and offers great views and exploration.
Activities like camel rides, paragliding, and sandboarding are available, and the Sakyu Center has a panoramic observation deck. The Sand Museum nearby features intricate sand sculptures from global artists, with changing exhibits focusing on countries or regions. An ongoing Egyptian-themed exhibition highlights sculptors’ skills until January 3, 2024.
4. Awaji Island: Floral Paradise
If you’re seeking a revitalizing escape, Awaji Island, often dubbed the “Island of Flowers,” offers a perfect retreat. This lesser-visited paradise boasts flourishing gardens, a kaleidoscope of plant life, and breathtaking coastal panoramas. The Awaji Yumebutai complex is a must-visit, featuring enchanting terraced gardens that beguile the senses. Another natural wonder awaits at the Naruto Whirlpools, where the swirling tides create a mesmerizing spectacle.
What sets Awaji Island apart is its renowned cuisine, centered around the humble onion. This distinctive culinary tradition adds a layer of uniqueness to your journey. From savory dishes to delightful snacks, the island’s onion-based fare offers a range of flavors that reflect the local culture.
5. Explore Yanagawa
Nestled in Fukuoka Prefecture’s south, Yanagawa blends history and serenity effortlessly. This charming city, a haven from bustling crowds, echoes its storied past as a vibrant castle town. Its streets, with graceful willow trees and aged structures, create a captivating scene for leisurely exploration.
Yanagawa’s allure as “the City of Water” is entwined with its aquatic backdrop. Traditional Donko boats offer a chance to cruise the city’s waterways, immersing you in its historical charm. Glide along, and the gentle currents will embrace you with tranquility and picturesque beauty.
Yanagawa is a hidden treasure, embodying water’s calm and history’s echoes. It invites you to a world where time eases, where past and present blend seamlessly, and where the charm of streets and waterways promises a unique journey.
6. Try flowing Noodles at Chayakado
Nestled within Kamakura, a coastal city, you’ll find Chayakado, a quaint ramen eatery renowned for its expertise in Nagashi somen. This specialty involves delicate noodles streaming down a bamboo chute accompanied by cold water. This Tokyo gem offers a chance to engage in an authentic, communal dining tradition unique to Japan.
Chayakado is a unique place to visit in Tokyo if you want to try something different. It’s not common to find similar restaurants in the city center. Apart from this, don’t forget to try other Japanese food.
Beyond its remarkable dining concept, Kamakura offers further delights. Explore the city’s historic temples, including the iconic Great Buddha, or stroll along its scenic beaches. The city’s blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty provides an enriching backdrop for your culinary adventure at Chayakado.
As you plan your journey here, consider exploring these unique things to do in Japan. These lesser-known attractions provide an opportunity to escape the tourist crowds and create lasting memories that go beyond the ordinary. Embrace the spirit of adventure and uncover the hidden gems that make Japan an even more remarkable destination.
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