Welcome to our guide on the top 8 unconventional destinations in Japan. If you’ve already been to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, there are still many more amazing places in Japan to explore. We have compiled a list of unique destinations that are off the beaten track and worth a visit.
1- Beppu City in Oita Prefecture
Beppu is a unique seaside town that is famous for its onsens. There is a lot of volcanic activity happening under the ground, meaning that there are many big giant vents throughout the city, making it picturesque and beautiful. A must-see is the Jigoku Hells tour, which are hot springs and onsens that are different colors and very impressive. Beppu also offers a sand bath experience and steamed food that is unique to the city. To get there, fly to Fukuoka Airport and then catch the train to Beppu Station, and then from there, you can access all the places listed via one of the buses that leave frequently from Beppu Station.
2- Tsubame Onsen and Sōfū Falls
Tsubame Onsen is a natural outdoor onsen located next to Sōfū Falls, a big and beautiful waterfall in the distance of the misty mountains. It is a unique location that is not well known but is definitely worth a visit. To get there, take the train to Sekiyama Station, and then catch a bus from there to the end of the ride at Tsubame Onsen.
3- Nachi Falls and the Big Beautiful Pagoda
Nachi Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is a little off the beaten track and less visited, but a really beautiful shrine with a tree you can climb inside of. It is also part of the famous pilgrimage hike, the Kumano Kodo. To get there, take the train to Kii-Katsuura Station, and then a bus bound for Nachisan, and get off at Nachinotakimaya bus stop.
Shirakawago is a beautiful and magical place that is surrounded by nature and has a lot of history. It is famous for its gassho-zukuri, a thatched-roof house that makes for the most beautiful photo. To get there, take the train to Takayama Station, and from there, it is a 50-minute bus ride costing 2,600 yen one way.
5- Aso Kuju National Park
Aso Kuju National Park is a massive park with a huge active volcano in the center that is constantly spewing out soft cigarette gases. There are many unique and interesting landscapes in the area, making it a great place to visit. To get there, it is easier by car rental, but if you don’t have a car, public transportation is available from Kumamoto Airport. Catch the Kyushu Odan Bus from the airport to Aso Kuju area.
Nikko is a lovely and slightly touristy town that is easily accessible from Tokyo. It is beautiful in autumn, and there is a lot of history and beautiful nature in the area. A must-try food is Yuba, which is kind of like layers of skin from soy milk that is chopped and made into different dishes. To get there, take the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya Station, then change to the JR Nikko Line, and get off at Nikko Station.
7- Yakushima Island
Yakushima Island is a nature lover’s paradise, with 90% of the island covered in lush forests. The island is home to ancient cedar trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old. The island was also the inspiration for the anime film “Princess Mononoke.” Yakushima Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. To get to Yakushima Island, take a flight from Kagoshima or catch a ferry from Kagoshima or Tanegashima Island.
8- Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is one of the most famous and beautiful castles in Japan. The castle was built in the 17th century, and it’s a stunning example of Japanese castle architecture. The castle is also known as the White Heron Castle because of its beautiful white exterior. To get to Himeji Castle, take the train to Himeji Station, and from there, it’s a 15-minute walk to the castle.
In conclusion, Japan has so much to offer beyond the usual tourist destinations of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. From the beautiful beaches of Miyakojima to the ancient cedars of Yakushima Island, Japan has something for every traveler. With the help of our travel guide “Beyond The Tourist Trail,” you can explore Japan’s hidden gems like a local. So avoid the crowds, support the locals, and get ready for a truly unique experience in Japan.