There are so many places to visit in Japan that it can be a bit overwhelming when deciding what to put on your travel itinerary, especially when you only have a limited amount of time. I’ve talked a lot over the past couple of weeks about the big hitters…Kyoto, Hiroshima etc but I’d really encourage visitors to add at least one of the less popular destinations into the mix as they still offer fantastic cultural and natural sights but with smaller crowds of fellow tourists and a slightly more relaxed vibe.
My favourite slightly overlooked destinations (in no particular order) are:
This beautiful castle (seen above) isn’t the easiest place to get to and so is probably visited less than the castles in places like Osaka or Hiroshima which fit neatly into standard itineraries. It is, in my opinion, though one of the finest specimens of Japanese castles and really worth a visit. And if your itinerary takes you to Nagano it is on the way so even easier to fit in!
For more details on Matsumoto check out the full post here.
The ancient capital city of Japan, Nara, often gets overlooked due to its proximity to its bigger counterpart Kyoto. If you don’t have temple fatigue the more manageable town of Nara has some beautiful shrines, wonderful gardens and a very rich history that are worth exploring. For more information please see this post.
On the east coast of Japan, Kanazawa is a bit out of the way and doesn’t necessarily fit in geographically with a typical itinerary but if you can make time for it (those bullet trains are speedy after all!) a visit to this lovely town with its unparalleled traditional Japanese gardens, wonderful folk art and crafts and lovely castle is well worth the detour. The seafood is pretty special as well (and that’s saying something given the fish throughout Japan is pretty spectacular).
As Tokyo is one of the world’s biggest metropolises it can sometimes feel a bit stifling and despite the abundance of urban parks true countryside calls. It might feels like a trip to the Japanese countryside would take up a lot of precious time in your itinerary however with just half a day out of your time in Tokyo you can get out into the beautiful countryside surrounding Kamakura which offers fantastic treks, the famous kotoku-in (a huge bronze Buddha which sits serenely in the open air) and hidden shrines. Definitely worth bearing in mind for when the bright lights of the city become a bit tiring…
For more details check out last year’s post here.
5. Miyajima Probably less overlooked than some of the other destinations on this list but I’ve included it because to miss out a trip to the sacred island of Miyajima when visiting Hiroshima would honestly be a travesty! Only a hop, skip and a short ferry ride away from the city centre the wonderful Itsukushima shrine (and the iconic ‘floating’ torii) alone makes the visit worthwhile. See the full post here for further info.