Discover Japan’s Must-See Spots

Japan’s beauty extends beyond the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Venture into rural destinations and lesser-known cities to see stunning landscapes, historic towns, and natural wonders. Whether you’re a history buff or a nature enthusiast, Japan’s diverse culture can cater to every curiosity and interest. 

Noboribetsu

Noboribetsu
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Japan’s hot springs are renowned for being the epitome of relaxation and wellness. Noboribetsu, located between Sapporo and Hakodate, is Hokkaido’s top onsen town. Its main attraction, Jigokudani or “hell valley,” features hot steam vents and scenic hiking trails. Visit in autumn for stunning fall foliage. Winter paths may close due to snow and ice.

Atami

Atami
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Just an hour by train from Tokyo, Atami on the Izu Peninsula offers hot springs, a tropical beach, and early-blooming plum trees. It’s a perfect getaway from the city life you’ll experience in Japan’s capitol. Enjoy year-round fireworks from Atami Castle and experience early spring blossoms as soon as January.

Beppu

Beppu
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Beppu, southeast of Fukuoka, is a top hot springs destination with the most onsen sources in Japan. Its unique feature is the city’s eight “hells,” which are hot springs that are too hot for bathing, like the red-colored Chinoike Jigoku. Enjoy the beautiful geological diversity here and try cooking food over steam from the thermal sites.

Fukuoka

Hakata specialty: Tonkotsu ramen
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Fukuoka, Kyushu’s capital, is a food paradise. It’s the birthplace of tonkotsu ramen and home to famed restaurant chains Ichiran and Ippudo. Known for high-quality mentaiko (spicy pollock roe), Fukuoka also boasts unique street food stalls with seating, offering comfort foods and drinks until late at night.

Nikko

Nikko
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Visit Nikko to see a UNESCO World Heritage national park with mountain landscapes and a serene lake. Highlights include the Toshogu Shrine, hot springs, waterfalls, and Lake Chuzenji. Enjoy scenic hikes around the lake or challenge yourself with a summit of Mount Nantai.

Takayama

Takayama
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Craving small-town charm? Visit Takayama in Gifu Prefecture. Its historic Sanmachi area features Edo Period wooden buildings, Hida beef stalls, and centuries-old sake breweries. Explore visiting traditional homes at the Hida no Sato museum or take a day trip to the quaint village of Shirakawa-go.

Kinosaki

Kinosaki
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Two and a half hours from Kyoto, Kinosaki is an onsen town with seven hot springs. Lined by willow trees and stone bridges, the town’s historic architecture will transport you back in time. Visitors can roam the natural spaces in town and explore shops, making Kinosaki a perfect getaway after busy sightseeing.

Naoshima

Naoshima
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In the Seto Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku, Japan’s art islands await. Naoshima, renowned for showcasing Yayoi Kusama’s yellow Pumpkin, features notable contemporary art institutions like the Benesse House Museum and Chichu Art Museum. Visitors can also admire Tadao Ando’s architectural works and the transformative Art House Project, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Sapporo

Sapporo
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Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is a culinary haven with top-notch produce, dairy, seafood, and beef. In Sapporo, the island’s capital, enjoy more than just the city’s famous beer—visit Sapporo Art Park and the Snow Festival to see the city in full swing. Experience winter’s heavy snow or summer’s beautiful flower fields, making Hokkaido a year-round destination.

The Nakasendo Trail

The Nakasendo Trail
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Interest in feudal Japan has surged due to the FX hit series Shōgun. Walk the Nakasendo Trail, a samurai route between Kyoto and Tokyo, and explore preserved post towns like Magome, Tsumago, Narai, and Kiso-Fukushima. Hike or take a local train to see traditional timber buildings and cobblestone roads firsthand.

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