Top 12 places in Japan (outside of Tokyo) for a breathtaking view
Explore the places beyond Tokyo
Tokyo is a must-visit for any first-time visit to Japan, but there’s so much more to the country once you’ve experienced the bustling metropolis. When you’re ready to dive into the full wealth of gastronomy, nature and culture that the Land of the Rising Sun offers, here’s where you should head to.
Located on the east coast of Japan’s Honshu island, Kanazawa is known for its well-preserved Edo-era architecture, historic teahouses, and geishas. Try your ninja warrior skills at Myoryuji (also known as the Ninja Temple because of its secret passageways and many trapdoors). Then, check out the produce at the bustling Omicho market, before taking a break at Kenrokuen Garden.
This little island town in the Seto Inland Sea has transformed itself into Japan’s premier art destination. Must-sees include the Benesse House Museum, and the Chichu Art Museum which has works from Monet’s Water Lilies series. Don’t miss Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculpture, which sits proudly on a dock at Miyanoura Port.
A UNESCO-listed site outside Hiroshima, this photogenic corner of Japan is known for the 6th century Itsukushima Shrine that rises from the sea, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. If you’re a seafood fan, try the fresh-caught oysters and eels.
Japan’s answer to Spain’s Camino de Santiago, Kumano Kodo is a meditative pilgrimage walk that passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes and villages of the Kumano region in Wakayama Prefecture. You’ll want to be pretty fit for this one, even if “meditative” means “slow and steady”.
A symphony of stunning natural landscapes, Hokkaido island is probably best known for Niseko, a world-class ski resort which offers snowboarding and skiing on powdery soft snow during winter. But there are also lush green forests and azure caldera lakes in places like Daisetsuzan National Park. Other attractions include Noboribetsu Onsen and the Russia-inspired town of Otaru. In the island’s lively cities – think Sapporo and Hakadote – expect to find plenty of fresh seafood and produce.
A tranquil nature retreat, Hakone has a little something for everyone. Indulge in an onsen experience with views of Mount Fuji (our favorite is Tenzan Tohji-kyo ), cruise along Lake Ashi, and check out the Hakone Open Air Museum for Art.
Even the Japanese refer to Fukuoka as “the real Japan”. For foodies, a trip to this destination is an absolute must. This culinary destination is home to the famous tonkatsu ramen, and has a wonderfully diverse – not to mention delicious – street food culture. There’s also a 17th century castle, some of Japan’s oldest shrines, and a quirky folk museum.
For true relaxation, be sure to add Kinosaki to your Japan itinerary. This all-in-one onsen destination boasts natural thermal baths to kick back in by day, and traditional ryokans to check into at night. Explore the willow-lined canal with its wildly Instagrammable wooden buildings and bridges. In winter, try crabs fresh from the Sea of Japan.
A four hour train-ride from Tokyo, Niigata prefecture is on the coast of the Sea of Japan which makes it a haven for fresh seafood. It’s also known for its famous high-quality rice and relaxing hotsprings. Niigata is also home to breathtaking coastal views and mountains that make the natural scenery something not to be missed.
Tucked away in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture, Takayama is famed for its eponymous biannual festival which celebrates spring and fall with grand parades. Sample the sake and Hida-gyu beef for which the town is famous, then wander through the 16thcentury Sanmachi Suji district which features wooden merchant houses from the Edo period.
Forget the fact that Okinawa is a US Army base. The island and its surrounds are so much more than that. In the capital, Naha, explore Shurijo Castle and the ancient Tsuboya Pottery Street, then head sound to see the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, or north to the Churaumi Aquarium. But you’re here for the beaches, so hop on a ferry and head out to explore the surrounding beaches and islands like Gahi-jima, Kume-jima, and Yaeyama.
Another heritage-listed UNESCO site, Nara was the Japanese capital during the 8th century and still possesses some important temples and artworks dating back to this period. The city’s most famous residents are the deer which roam freely around Nara park, which also houses two important Shinto shrines — Todai-ji and Kasuaga Taisha.