There are places I have yet to see for myself in Japan so I reached out to fellow travel bloggers that have been there to ask them some of their favourite places to visit in Japan.

Having spent several months travelling around Japan it’s easily one of favourite places to travel. I have since wrote many articles to help guide other travellers discover the best the country has to offer.

I wanted to show you more areas of Japan to discover from the perspective of others.

This is what they had to say.


Favourite Places in Japan to Visit


Yoshino

 

japan yoshino

“Not many people know of Yoshino, even though it’s one of the most mesmerising places in Japan. During Spring, the valley looks like a floating pink sea, with hills and endless forests. When we first visited, we stayed in Yoshino until late in the evening to see the mist coming down from the hills. It was a true spectacle.

Yoshino is such a great place, not just because of its landscape, but because of its settlement as well, with a quaint long narrow alley, lined with wooden houses all open for business. There is something dreamy about eating a matcha ice cream, admiring secluded shrines and meandering through the forested paths.

Getting to Yoshino, however, it’s not quite as easy, perhaps that’s why it only gets busy during the sakura season. However, its stunning beauty is worth the journey as Yoshino sure is one of the most interesting and beautiful places in Japan. ”


 

Koyasan

 

koyasan japan

Koyasan is a little town in the South of Osaka. It’s known to be the most sacred place in Japan and it absolutely became one of our highlights of the country due to its tranquility and peacefulness. More than 600 monks live and work in the 115 temples in this area.

Besides the amazing temples, in which you can eat and even stay overnight, the main landmark of Koyasan is its graveyard. It’s the biggest graveyard in Japan and simply beautiful. The big surrounding trees provide a mystical atmosphere all over the graveyard. Especially, when you take a walk early in the morning (around 6 am) when the monks have their morning ceremony.

When getting near the Onkunoin temple, you can hear the praying of the monks already from far. If you feel like, you can even join the ceremony and keep listening to the peaceful praying of the monks. Even if you can’t understand what they are saying, it is definitely a unique and amazing experience.

Getting to Koyasan is fun and unique as well. Since it’s located around 800 meters above sea level, you have to take the cable car in order to get there.




Furano, Hokkaido

 

After traveling Japan for a month, I can honestly say my favorite place was Hokkaido (the northernmost island of Japan). Hokkaido is a destination you visit because of the stunning nature: there are volcanoes, dense green forests, snowcapped mountains and beautiful lakes… But there are some great little villages too, my favorite one was Furano. 

Furano is a year-round destination but most famous for its lavender fields. When in town you have got to visit Farm Tomita, the most famous lavender farm in Japan. Make sure to try their lavender ice-cream, which tastes strangely good while reminding you of toilet freshener at the same time…

In Furano you can also find a wine factory and a cheese factory, I recommend visiting both (after all, wine and cheese are an excellent combination). 

If you visit Furano in winter, you can go skiing on the snow-covered slopes of the nearby ski area. In the evening, warm up at the the luxurious spa at the New Furano Prince Hotel. Nothing beats gazing at snowy trees while soaking your tired body in a hot onsen…

In conclusion: when in Japan, visit Hokkaido and visit Furano, you won’t regret it!


Takayama, Gifu Prefecture

 

Japan travel

The historic town of Takayama is nestled close to the foothills of the Japanese Alps in the Gifu prefecture of Japan. Visitors to Japan seeking an authentic, old-world experience should place Takayama high on their itinerary. We loved the time we spent there and staying in a traditional ryokan in Takayama was one of the highlights of our trip to Japan.

It’s often referred to as “Little Kyoto” and the well preserved old town, with its wooden inns and merchant houses, is like stepping back in time. The ancient temples on the hillside overlooking Takayama only add to the allure.

We tasted some of the best steaks of our lives during a meal in one of the many traditional restaurants dotted around the old town. The local speciality, Hida beef, which is bred in the Gifu prefecture, is considered by some to be better than the world-renowned Japanese Kobe beef.

It’s also relatively easy to visit the stunning Japanese Alps as a day trip from Takayama and the town is a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Shirakawa-go. We spent an afternoon in the mountains and rode the Shinhotaka Ropeway which offered amazing views of the Japanese Alps before exploring the mountain village of Shirakawa-go after leaving Takayama for Tokyo.

Contributed by travel bloggers – ShowThemTheGlobe


Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

 

snow monkey park Japan

One of my favorite places in Japan is Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park which is located near Nagano. The main attraction of the park are the Japanese snow monkeys, which are a group of Japanese macaques famous for soaking and relaxing in warm hot springs.

Watching the snow monkeys is an amazing experience. Not only do they soak in warm water but they also cuddle, groom themselves, and play. They also jump in and out of the hot springs, walk around the park and hang out in the snow just inches away from human visitors.

While the highlight of the park is the snow monkeys, the surroundings themselves are beautiful as well which you can enjoy on the fairly easy walk on the 1.6 km trail through the forest to reach the hot springs.

If you stay near the park rather do a day trip from Tokyo or Narita you can stay at one of the many ryokans (Japanese traditional inns) in the area and soak in an onsen yourself. While the park is open all year, winter is the best time to see these cute monkeys as everything is covered in snow and it is cold enough for monkeys to stay in the hot springs.


 

The Shimanami Kaido Cycle Way

 

shinanami bridge

The Shimanami Kaido cycle way is a network of bridges spanning a maze of islands. If you give it a day of your time you’ll find it one of the more scenic routes in Japan.
The 70km route between Imabari and Onomichi crosses six bridges and six islands on the Seto Inland Sea. The bridges have cycle paths and you’ll find some alongside the carriageway, while others curiously hang underneath. We hired our bikes at Onomichi Port (get there early if you want a decent choice) but there are thirteen other hire stations along the route. You can also hire electric bikes and cycle helmets.
In a single day, going at a leisurely pace we completed 30km, two bridges and a swim, all on hired ladies’ bikes with shopping baskets. A mid afternoon storm with vivid lightning didn’t manage to compete with the beauty of the bridges and islands, but it did cool us down.

Himeji Castle

 

himeji castle

Himeji Castle is the most beautiful castle in Japan and a must include on any Japan itinerary. It’s easily reached in 60-90 minutes from Osaka or Kyoto as a day trip. It was first constructed in the 14th century but extended over the centuries. Surprisingly it survived WWII without much damage and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site two decades ago. The castle is my personal favorite in Japan.

When you arrive at Himeji train station it’s a short 20-minute walk towards the castle. You can’t miss it as it towers high above the city. Himeji Castle is surrounded by a moat and large gardens. The main keep itself is relatively small but with the huge number of visitors does take 2-3 hours to go through. There are several other secondary buildings with exhibitions worth exploring too. I highly recommend doing that as you’ll find the best photo spots this way.

A visit takes up to 6 hours and might take up the full day. If you have time left, especially in summer it’s recommended visiting the Kokoen Gardens next to the Himeji Castle too. During peak season make sure to buy tickets in advance as they do sell out for the day. Himeji Castle is the most beautiful castle in Japan, so do include a Himeji Castle day trip on your Japan itinerary.


 

Shirakawa-go Unesco Village

 

takayama

Shirakawa-go Unesco Village is a popular UNESCO site known for its triangular houses with thick thatched cottage roofs designed to withstand the weight of heavy snowfalls in the region in the winter. And it is just a ridiculously picturesque mountain village, that will never be served justice through photos alone.

Personally, I fell in love with the village on my first visit in Spring, when I arrived by crossing the rope-bridge over gushing rapids, to find ourselves in a sanctuary of calm. As the village feels like a Shangri-La of sorts in Spring (April), having just woken from a harsh winter covered in snow, with sakura blooms, the smell of pine, and carp in passing streams. Yet there are still snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

That being said, the winter months (February) are also exciting in Shirakawa-go, given the waist height snows, and just lots of winter fun and shenanigans. And while it does a feel bit touristy these days, it also feels local as well with family businesses catering to tourists in cafes, local crafts, and matcha ice-creams in the Spring.

To reach the village there are various routes with tourist buses leaving regularly from various JR stations. Although Takayama station would be the popular/quicker route to reach the Shirakawa-go.


 

Mount Inasayama

 

mount inasa

Mount Inasayama, usually referred to as Mount Inasa, has a height of 333 meter and offers spectacular views on the city of Nagasaki.  The view is already fantastic during the day but it’s best to plan your visit to Mt. Inasa to enjoy the sunset.  The view was even voted 3rds world best Nocturnal view in 2012.

From the top of the mountain you are able to see Nagasaki nestled in the lush mountain slopes.  Next to Nagasaki you will see major areas of the port and ship wharf.  A light and music show is played every hour after sunset.  If you want to spend some more time up the mountain you could consider having dinner in the stations restaurant.  Prices are reasonable and the quality is good.

You can take the cable car to get up the mountain.  The cable ride itself is quite expensive (currently 1230 yen both ways) and you will most probably spend the 5 minutes cramped in the car with 32 other people.  As an alternative you can also hike up the mountain.  It will take you approximately 50 minutes and you can use google maps as your guide.

This was by far one of the best views we had in Japan.




 

That gives you an idea of some places to visit in Japan you may not have heard of before.

One of my own personal favourites is an offbeat group of islands on the far northern point of Hokkaido on Rishiri and Ruben Islands.

Take a look at what you should pack for a trip to Japan.

Happy travels!

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Jonny Duncan is a travel blogger and freelance photographer. He specialises in adventure and budget travel with over 20 years of experience. He started blogging in 2013 to give advice for other travellers. He has lived in Japan, Amsterdam, Kiev, and more.

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