8 Highly Underrated Spots in Japan You Absolutely Have to See
Covered in rugged mountains, dazzling coastline and stunning shrines and temples, Japan is full of out-of-this-word scenery that's dying to be discovered. Unfortunately the majority of tourists stick to the big cities, marveling at the high-tech, vibrant metropoli the country is famous for and miss out on a side of Japan relatively untouched by the foreign crowds. Here are some of the stunning views and scenery in Japan you should consider on your next trip here.
8 Highly Underrated Spots in Japan You Absolutely Have to See:table of contents
Kiso Valley (Nagano)
The Kiso Valley gets a trickle of tourists, mainly from Japan, but nothing compared to what it deserves. In the midst of the Nagano Alps, the valley is full of quaint traditional Japanese towns that make you feel like you've been whisked back to 18th-century Japan. The 'post-towns' as they are called, were used as stoppage and rest points for travelers walking through the mountains from Tokyo to Kyoto on the once famous Nakasendo trail.
Literally translated to 'mountain temple' the name certainty doesn't disappoint, this temple is perched on the perfect vantage point, with beautiful views into the valley and mountains below. Most visitors to Japan don't tend to travel much further north than Tokyo, which is a complete shame as the region known as Tohoku is famous for having some of the best scenery in the country.
The whole area of Okinawa is often overlooked as most visitors don't associate Japan as a pacific tropical paradise. However, Okinawa is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world with its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters a hundred different shades of blue and green. While the main island is a hub of activity, food and entertainment, to see the true beauty of Okinawa you really need to travel further out to one of the many islands in the Ryukyu archipelago. Easily our favorite island would have to be Ishigaki, one of the most southern points of Japan. The scenery here is out-of-this-world and easily holds a candle to some of the most popular island getaways like in the Philippines or Thailand.
Lake Suwa (Nagano)
This picturesque lake-side city is full of ancient shrines, mouth-watering restaurants and relaxing hot springs. Popular among locals as an onsen-town, many of the traditional inns or ryokans at the south of the lake have their own hot springs for guests to relax in. The larger of which often have outside baths on the upper levels which give a beautiful view over the lake while you're chilling in the mineral-rich waters. Be sure to try one of the numerous eel or unagi restaurants dotted around the towns here, the lake is full of eels which supplies and endless supply of these succulent treats. The mountains around the lake provide a number of great hikes, especially around the Takabotchi Highlands (pictured above) where on clear days you can see across the lake and as far as Mount Fuji.
While some travelers make it out to Hokkaido, many hit the main city of Sapporo and then head back without really seeing the stunning scenery the northern island has to offer. Easily one of the best night views you can find in the country, Hakodate sits at the southern tip of Hokkaido. The mountain right at the tip of the peninsula lets you look all over the spread of the city and out across the tail of the island. Located right on the coast, the area is also famous for its fresh seafood, which you can sample at the numerous fish markets there.
Izu Islands (Tokyo)
Most people don't tend to know there is a string of pacific islands included in the Tokyo metropolis, some of which are extremely beautiful and picturesque. While they count as part of Tokyo, the islands are about as different from the sprawling concrete jungle as you can imagine. The most unique of which is quite predominantly Aogashima, a volcano crater popping out of the pacific ocean so epic it looks like it should be the base of a Bond villain.
Nachi Falls (Wakayama)
The Kii Mountain Range is a sacred pilgrimage site and route through the mountains around Nara and Wakayama prefectures that have been traveled by Shinto and Buddhist believers for well over a thousand years. The region is not only dotted with historic temples and shrines but also contains a wealth of natural scenery and wildlife perfecting for trekking through the forests. One of the most impressive of all the sights along this trail is the Nachi Falls, Japan's tallest single-drop waterfall at 133 meters. The backdrop of the waterfall with the Shinto shrine in front is one the most picturesque scenes in the country, a sight which very few tourists make it out to see.
Few make it out to this subtropical jungle island covered in ancient forests and overgrown trails, but those who do are always pleasantly surprised. A real must-see for any nature-lovers, much of the forest covering the island is over a thousand years old with some trees thought to date back to 7000 years ago. Hiking around the forests is truly spectacular especially when mists forms giving it an eerie, enchanted feel to it.
When you start to venture outside of the 'Golden Route' i.e the areas around Tokyo, Mt Fuji, Kyoto and Osaka, you'll quickly discover Japan has a huge range of incredible sights that also manage to escape the crowds.