6 Under-the-Radar Hidden Gems of Japan

Posted on Sep 9 2018 - 11:56pm by Stella Ryne

6 Under-the-Radar Hidden Gems of Japan

Most visitors to Japan, straight out go to cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, all of which are considered prime tourist hotspots. Locations like Himeji Castle, Tokyo Imperial Palace and, of course, Mount Fuji are usually at the very top of the list. However, why restrict yourself to these common tourist destinations when you can get so much more out of your tour. With that in mind and without further ado, here are top six under-the-radar hidden gems of Japan.

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

History lovers are bound to visit Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, which is a smaller, lesser known relative of the Chinese Terracotta Army. Why? Well because the temple is surrounded with 1200 small Buddhist statues, each completely unique. One way to look at this is to call it the ancient garden gnome decoration plan taken to the extreme.

Umimirai Library

For any book nerd out there, a visit to the Umimirai Library in the city of Kanazawa should be a most definite must. This giant library is also an architectural wonder, which would, on its own, make it worthy of a visit. The very purpose of this place is to encourage you to stay and read in the library, instead of just borrowing a book to read back in your hotel room. In other words, this can customize your reading experience, making it much more unique.

Nozawa Onsen

Skiing and snowboarding fans have to acknowledge the fact that Japan is home to one of the oldest ski resorts, famous Nozawa Onsen. The hot springs beneath this place were discovered as early as 8th century. One of the most unique things about the place is the steam that can’t be contained by the thin surface layer, which makes it visible in all the streets, giving the place an even more mystical look to it. Some Japan snow packages offer everything from flight and accommodation in Nozawa to lift passes and guides, which makes them particularly appealing.

Zao Fox Village

If you ever wanted to have a pet fox, in Zao Fox Village you can come as close to this as possible without putting your life in danger. Here, you can get a privilege of mingling with (almost) domesticated Japanese red foxes, which you can even pet and feed. You can get appropriate snacks there, on spot for as little as $1.20. Keep in mind, however, that you still shouldn’t feed them by hand.

Kumano Kodo trail

For people who are interested in Shinto-Buddhism hybrid of Shugendo, Kumano Kodo trail is one of the first places they should visit. While this place is neglected since the Meiji Restoration, in the past it was one of the most important pilgrimage trails in the whole of Japan. The entire trip can be taken in a couple of days, and it is really an ultimate hiking experience.

Island of Yakushima

Those who want to see what Japan looked like before the civilization and urbanization reached its shores, should definitely visit the island of Yakushima. Its cedar forests amongst the most beautiful in the world and the western shore of the island is a home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls there are. All in all, it’s an incredible place definitely worth paying a visit to.

In conclusion

The main reason for writing this article in the first place was to remind everyone just how much fun can straying off course actually be. The best part comes from the cognition of how easy it would be to miss out on all of this and encourage you to customize tours you take in the future, as well.

Stella Ryne
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About the Author

Stella is an art historian, traveler, conscious consumer and a proud mother. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book.