Japan is a nation abundant in historical heritage, cultural richness, and natural splendor. While its popular destinations, such as Tokyo and Kyoto, attract millions of visitors yearly, many hidden gems remain undiscovered by travelers. From scenic landscapes to charming villages, Japan offers a chance to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in its beauty and culture.
According to Tourism.jp, the number of international tourists to Japan has been increasing considerably since October 2022 after the relaxation of the protocols for entry to Japan. As a result, the number of international tourists recorded in Japan in November 2022 was 934,500.
This article takes a look at six underrated destinations in Japan that offer a unique and authentic experience for first-time visitors.
Cautionary Tip: Know the Weather Conditions and Travel Prepared
Japan experiences four distinct seasons with varying weather patterns, so it’s crucial to pack accordingly. The winter can be cold and snowy in certain regions, while summers can be hot and humid. Spring and autumn offer milder weather with changing leaves and blooming flowers.
Be sure to check today’s weather and forecast for your specific travel dates and pack appropriate clothing for the weather. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella, rain jacket, or sun hat, depending on the conditions. Being prepared for the weather will enhance your travel experience and allow you to fully enjoy all that Japan has to offer.
According to TravelersWorldwide, April to May or mid-October to November are the optimum periods to bask in Japan’s alluring weather and stunning scenery.
Visiting during these months provides the bonus of witnessing the stunning transitions of flowers and foliage during spring and autumn. Although airfare to Japan is more costly during this peak season, you can explore alternative flights or secondary airports that offer more reasonable prices.
Spring weather in Japan is characterized by temperate conditions, with temperatures ranging between the 60s to low 70s in most parts of the country.
Explore these hidden treasures, and discover why they are worth adding to your itinerary.
Ise-Shima is a picturesque region located in the Mie Prefecture of Japan. Known for its stunning coastline, lush forests, and historical sites, Ise-Shima is a destination that should not be missed.
One of the region’s highlights is the Ise Grand Shrine, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu and considered the most sacred site in Japan. Visitors can also explore the nearby Toba Aquarium, the largest in the country, or take a scenic walk along Ago Bay for breathtaking views of the ocean and local wildlife.
The area is also renowned for its seafood, offering some of Japan’s freshest and tastiest dishes. Thus, whether you’re interested in history, nature, or delicious food, Ise-Shima has something for everyone and is worth visiting.
Shikoku is an island in the southwestern part of Japan known for its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. It is the smallest of Japan’s four main islands and is often overlooked by visitors.
Shikoku is a hub for traditional arts and crafts, with a long history of pottery, weaving, and wood carving. It is also home to the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, a 1,200-kilometer journey that passes through 88 temples and is considered one of the most sacred journeys in Japan.
According to Statista, Shikoku’s most visited tourist attraction in 2021 was Bunkanomori Park. It had 720,000 visitors on record. The place is visited by people who love nature. Shikoku is also famous for its scenic beauty, with rolling hills, forests, and waterfalls that offer a peaceful escape from the bustling cities.
The Seto Inland Sea is a body of water between the main island of Honshu and the smaller island of Shikoku in Japan. It is known for its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and rich history. The Seto Inland Sea is dotted with picturesque islands with unique charm, including historic temples, serene gardens, and charming villages.
Visitors can explore the region by boat, taking in the breathtaking views of the sea and its islands. The Seto Inland Sea is also a hub for traditional arts, with a long history of pottery, weaving, and wood carving.
For those seeking a peaceful escape, the Seto Inland Sea offers a chance to experience Japan’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Thus, whether you’re interested in history, nature, or traditional arts, the Seto Inland Sea is worth a visit.
Noto Peninsula (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Noto is located in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan, known for its well-preserved traditional architecture and rich cultural heritage. The city is located on the Noto Peninsula, surrounded by the sea on three sides, providing stunning views of the coastline and offshore islands.
Noto is famous for its traditional thatched-roof houses, or gassho-zukuri, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can also explore the city’s many temples, shrines, and museums, showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage.
Noto is known for its delicious cuisine, including fresh seafood and traditional dishes made with locally grown ingredients. For those seeking to experience Japan’s traditional culture and natural beauty, Noto is worth a visit.
Tokunoshima is a remote island located in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan. It is known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm, friendly locals. The island is surrounded by clear turquoise waters, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling, diving, and exploring the many small coves and beaches.
Visitors can also take a scenic drive through the island’s mountainous interior, admire the ancient stone monuments, and explore the local museums and shrines. Tokunoshima is also famous for its traditional festivals, where visitors can experience the vibrant culture and hospitality of the local community.
Tottori Sand Dunes
The Tottori Sand Dunes are a unique natural wonder located in the city of Tottori in Japan. The dunes are formed by winds blowing sand from the nearby shore onto the land, creating towering dunes reaching up to 100 meters high.
Visitors can explore the dunes on foot, ride horses, or take a sandboarding tour for a thrilling experience. The dunes are also a habitat for various plant and animal species, including several migratory birds.
Tottori is known for its hot springs and local cuisine, including fresh seafood and traditional dishes.
Japan has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and there is much more to discover beyond the well-trodden tourist hotspots. From the stunning Seto Inland Sea to the remote island of Tokunoshima, many underrated destinations offer first-time visitors a unique and authentic experience.
Whether you’re interested in traditional arts, natural beauty, or adventure, these destinations have something for everyone. Why not venture away from the conventional and discover Japan’s countless hidden treasures? You might be astounded by your findings.