The Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Never Knew Existed

Photo by Matsuo Sato/Shutterstock

The Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Never Knew Existed

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. 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 stunning views and scenery in Japan you most likely never knew existed.

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The Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Never Knew Existed

Nachi Falls in Wakayama

beautiful view of Nachi Falls Japan

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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.

Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido

Shiretoko National Park in Hokkaido Japan

Photo by Shawn.ccf/Shutterstock

One of the most beautiful and unexplored of all the national parks in Japan, Shiretoko is a flawless example of the raw, untamed nature covering Hokkaido. The name of this area is derived from the local Ainu language meaning 'edge of the world' and it certainty feels like it as you trek around this wild, unexplored stretch of nature in Hokkaido's far north. Granted UNESCO World Heritage status for being one of the richest ecosystems in the world, Shiretoko is the perfect place for those who want to escape to nature.

It's recommend to go with a local guide or bring items to deter wild animals, this park has the largest concentration of bears in Japan and seeing one of the brown furry creatures is not that uncommon.

Takeda Castle Ruins, Hyogo

ruins of Takeda Castle, Hyogo prefecture, Japan

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Often referred to as the 'Machu Picchu of Japan', the nickname is a testimony for the incredible landscape and sweeping vistas seen from this hilltop settlement. Also known as the Castle in the Sky, if you're looking to take the iconic photo of these ruins surrounded by a mist of clouds, it's best to visit in the fall season during the early morning. However the sea of clouds also depends on the weather and can be quite sporadic.

Luckily unlike Machu Picchu, the ruins don't require a long hike through the mountains to get to. Despite its seemingly out-of-the-way location, there is a train station at Takeda which makes for an easy journey.

Lake Suwa, Nagano

incredible view of Lake Suwa in Nagano Japan

Photo by Takao Uchida/Shutterstock

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.

Yamadera, Yamagata

beautiful mountain temple in Japan

Photo by Teerasak Chinnasot/Shutterstock

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.

Izu Islands, Tokyo

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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.