From strolling among beautiful cherry blossoms in spring to being overwhelmed by throngs of people at the famous Shinjuku Crossing, Japan is a very popular destination among tourists worldwide. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg as Japan is full of natural wonders just waiting for you to discover. Take your trip to Japan to the next level; look beyond their mouthwatering bowls of ramen and architecture to their marvelous natural and manmade monuments with our list of 16 places that you need to see the next time you visit Japan!
1. Mount Koya
Embark on a spiritual journey at any of the 100 plus temples situated around Mount Koya. A couple of them offer visitors the option of staying overnight; giving you the chance to wake up to stunning views from all around the mountain. Moreover, Shingon Buddhism was discovered right on Mount Koya over 1,200 years ago by one of Japan’s most prominent religious figures, Kobo Daishi, making it a place of special religious importance.
2. Noto Peninsula
Ever wanted to experience what it would be like to be a local living in a small town in Japan? Heading down to Wajima City will give you the perfect opportunity to do just that! You will never be bored with activities like fishing, swimming, and camping to keep you occupied. Moreover, these activities will give you the chance to get in touch with the coastal and natural scenery that will leave you in awe of their beauty. When swimming, a Holographic Mermaid Ring Float is perfect to explore this stunning place.
3. Shikoku Island
Famously linked to reputable monk Kobo Daishi, this island is known for its 88 Temple route; many visitors come here to gain spiritual fulfillment as it is one of Japan’s highly regarded pilgrimages. Even if the island’s religious history does not interest you, the numerous amazing coastlines, mountain ranges, and rivers that you can hike through definitely will!
4. Kiso Valley
Littered with historic post towns, the Nakasendo trail is located in the Kiso Valley. The trail is between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. In the past, people traveled across this highway by walking and taking breaks at the post towns. These towns offer quaint inns and restaurants for travelers to feast and rest before continuing on their journey. Today, many tourists choose to walk a portion of the highway to get a taste of what past travelers went through. The post towns are still in existence and you can stroll through abundant forests as well.
If you love art and nature, Shodoshima is a must-go! This island organizes the Setouchi Triennale contemporary art festival and heading down during the festival will give you the ultimate chance to see how art is expressed by the Japanese in the form of installations. Fret not if you are unable to make it for the festival as outdoor installations from previous years’ festivals will still be dotted around the island. Besides that, spectacular beaches, coastlines, resorts as well as olive plantations are there to give you the ideal mini getaway from the city! While at the beach, an Orange Glitter Flower Ring Float will be perfect to admire the coastline from the sea.
6. Kenrokuen Garden
There is always something new to see each time you visit the Kenrokuen Garden. The garden never looks the same all year round as each season gives you the chance to marvel at another side of the garden’s quintessential beauty. More than just cherry blossoms in the springtime and different shades of maple leaves during autumn, you can explore the garden with its myriad of walking trails, teahouses, and countless trees and flowers.
7. Matsumoto Castle
This ancient castle dates back to the 16th century and is one of the last castles standing in Japan. It is surrounded by trees and flowers all year round and is known for its intricate designs and three-turreted main keep. Walking around and inside the castle will have you feeling like an ancient Japanese royal!
8. Nachi Falls
Towering at 133 meters (436 feet) high, this waterfall is the highest in the country and is accompanied by a breathtaking view of the Nachi Taisha Shinto shrine. The shrine is more than 1000 years old and is just one of many Buddhist and Shinto religious places that can be found when you take a walk around the waterfall. Plus, if you are seeking a spiritual and religious experience here, the shrine is just one of many Shinto and Buddhist religious sites littered around the waterfall.
9. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Regardless of what mode of transportation that you choose to take, this route will give you a wondrous view of the Tateyama Mountain Range. This route links Toyama City and Omachi Town so that you can experience both towns while traveling. What’s more, you can choose among ropeway, cable car, and trolley bus when deciding how you would like to travel by!
10. The Blue Pond
This mystical-looking pond will take your breath away as you look into its transcendent blue waters. It is located in Hokkaido and surrounded by trees which complement the beauty of the pond itself. Unlike the other natural wonders in Japan, this was artificially made for the purpose of preventing mudflows from ruining the area.
11. Hitachi Seaside Park
With more than 4.5 million baby-blue flowers in bloom every April, this park is captivating and will dazzle you with the allure of springtime. Standing anywhere in the park, you might not even be able to see the end as it borders 190 hectares. It is a sight to see during Autumn as well as the flowers are replaced with cherry rounded shrubs called kochia. After spending a day admiring the beautiful flowers, end off by going down to the beach and chill on a Glitter Peacock Ring Float.
Take a trip to the past by visiting the many classical farmhouses in Gokayama and Shirakawa-gō. They are more than a few hundred years old and have thatched roofs that allow them to stay guarded against snowfall. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but Gokayama is not very convenient to travel to; thus making it a superb place to visit if you are looking for some peace and quiet time to spend with your loved ones!
13. Tottori Sand Dunes
Bet you never thought that you could go sand dune sledding in Asia, let alone Japan! The Tottori Sand Dunes can make you feel like you are in the desert itself with 16 kilometers of sand dunes and even camels that you can ride on. Need a little cool-down? A Giant Round Rainbow Kiddie Pool will quench that desert heat!
14. Sagano Bamboo Forest
Take a relaxing stroll among rows of bamboo groves that rustle and make natural sounds soothing to your ears. This charming bamboo forest is serene and shades you from the sun during the summer months, allowing you to enjoy the silence. It is situated in Arashiyama, on the border of Kyoto and is frequented by tourists who come to revel at this tranquil forest.
15. Nishinomaru Garden
See the illustrious Osaka Castletower from afar at this ravishing garden where more than 600 cherry trees are in bloom every spring. Even if you are not a fan of cherry blossoms, you will definitely take pleasure in watching the garden light up at night with night-time illuminations when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
16. Aogashima Volcano
Hidden in a secluded part of the Izu archipelago is an island with no more than an estimated 200 inhabitants. Aogashima is the tiniest village in Japan and surrounds a huge double volcano. Although the island itself is a volcano, there is a smaller, second volcano at the heart of the village.
If you are ever thinking of going on a relaxing and spiritually fulfilling holiday, consider all these places. Japan has so much to offer and can give you the full package when it comes to vacationing. From shopping and eating to your heart’s content in cities like Tokyo and Osaka to immersing yourself in the countless number of natural beauties in this country, you’ll never run out of things to do!