Andrea Urbinati

Any Japan Less Touristy Places?

Di Andrea Urbinati

blogger, andrea urbinati, marketing, copywriting, seo
Any Japan Less Touristy Places?

Are you tired of the usual tourist spots in Japan? Looking for a more unique Japan Less Touristy Places? Well, you’re in luck! In this blog post, I’ll be sharing some of the best less touristy places in Japan that are definitely worth a visit. These hidden gems will not only offer you a more authentic Japanese experience but also help you avoid the crowds. So, if you’re ready to explore the lesser-known side of Japan, keep reading to discover these amazing destinations!

Unveiling the Japan Less Touristy Places

Have you ever longed for an authentic and untamed exploration of a destination? Japan, renowned for its bustling cities and cultural landmarks, equally holds treasures away from the typical tourist spots. Embarking on a journey to Japan’s off-the-beaten-path locales is a chance to unearth the nation’s raw beauty and soul-stirring essence.

Why Off-the-Beaten-Path is the New Cool

Traversing the less touristy areas of Japan offers an unparalleled opportunity to delve into the heart of the country. From the tranquil countryside to the serene temples nestled amidst nature’s embrace, these hidden gems present a pristine and unfiltered view of Japan. Experiencing the local lifestyle, savoring authentic cuisine, and engaging with the warm-hearted locals are all integral parts of the off-the-beaten-path adventure. This unconventional travel approach not only fosters a deeper connection with the destination but also allows for an escape from the homogenized tourist experience. It’s akin to unraveling a captivating story, with each step revealing a new chapter, a perspective untainted by mass tourism.

Low angle of empty staircase surrounded by lush green trees in garden of Fushimi Castle on sunny day Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata

Savor the Solitude in Hokkaido’s Biei

Visiting Biei in Hokkaido offers a delightful escape from the bustling tourist spots in Japan. This charming town is a serene paradise, where nature’s tranquility reigns supreme.

Ride the Patchwork Road Less Traveled

Hokkaido’s Biei town boasts a scenic drive along the Patchwork Road, renowned for its picturesque landscapes resembling a patchwork quilt. The undulating hills adorned with vibrant swatches of flourishing flowers create an awe-inspiring panorama. As I drove along this less-traveled route, I reveled in the unparalleled beauty that surrounded me, feeling like I had stumbled upon a hidden paradise. The sensation of being amidst such natural splendor was truly an otherworldly experience, allowing me to bask in the idyllic countryside scenery without the hustle and bustle of the more popular destinations.

Blue Pond – A Serene Splash of Color

Nestled within the quiet confines of Biei, the Blue Pond is a mesmerizing natural wonder that captivates with its ethereal beauty. The serene, turquoise waters, tinted by natural minerals, create a stunning contrast against the surrounding greenery. As I gazed upon this enchanting spectacle, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. The Blue Pond’s tranquil ambiance and surreal aesthetics make it an unparalleled sight to behold, evoking a feeling of calm and contentment.

Pagoda in Gray Scale Shot Photo by Pixabay

Picturesque scenery of peaceful pond in park with amazing blossoming cherry trees in Japan Photo by Akira Deng

Tottori Prefecture – A Desert Far, Far Away

When you think of Japan, a desert may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Tottori Prefecture is home to an unexpected natural wonder – the Tottori Sand Dunes. As the only desert in Japan, it offers a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience for travelers seeking something extraordinary.

Marvel at the Towering Tottori Sand Dunes

Green Bushes on Desert Photo by Francesco Ungaro

The Tottori Sand Dunes stretch along the coast, covering approximately 30 square kilometers. As I first set foot on the soft, golden sand, I was amazed by the vastness and the sheer beauty of this natural phenomenon. The dunes, some rising as high as 50 meters, create an otherworldly landscape that feels like it belongs in a different part of the world.

As the sun sets over the dunes, the scenery transforms, casting dramatic shadows and hues that make for a photographer’s paradise. Whether it’s capturing the perfect shot or simply taking in the breathtaking view, the Tottori Sand Dunes are an unforgettable sight that will leave you in awe.

Explore the Mysteries of the Sand Museum

After experiencing the grandeur of the sand dunes, I ventured to the Sand Museum, located right at the edge of the dunes. This unique museum showcases stunning sand sculptures crafted by artists from around the globe. Each year, a new theme is chosen, and artists expertly carve intricate designs that depict scenes, cultures, and historical events using nothing but sand.

Walking through the museum felt like entering a world of wonder and imagination. The attention to detail and the sheer scale of the sculptures left me speechless. I marveled at how the artists could transform grains of sand into such captivating works of art.

The combination of the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Sand Museum creates a surreal experience that’s full of surprises. It’s a chance to witness the unexpected and immerse yourself in a landscape that’s a world away from the traditional images of Japan.

Shikoku’s Iya Valley – Nature’s Secret Hideaway

Iya Valley, nestled in western Tokushima, is a hidden gem steeped in natural beauty and rich folklore. The region remains relatively unexplored by international tourists, making it an ideal destination for adventurous travelers seeking a rare glimpse into old-world Japan.

Cross the Vine Bridges Like a Local Legend

One of the most iconic attractions of Iya Valley is its vine bridges, an embodiment of the region’s intriguing history and ingenuity. These bridges, crafted from wisteria vines, offer a thrilling yet enchanting experience as you traverse the Iya River, evoking a sense of wanderlust and admiration for the local craftsmanship. The swaying bridges, renewed every three years, provide an unforgettable encounter with the valley’s mystical charm.

Scenic view of Iya Valley Photo by Akira Deng

Soak in the Scenery at Oboke and Koboke

The Hinoji bend at Oboke and Koboke gorges beckons with its picturesque allure, offering a mesmerizing horseshoe of emerald waters amidst towering tree-covered cliffs. Whether admiring the landscape from an elevated viewpoint or embarking on a serene boat tour along the river, the natural splendor of Oboke and Koboke gorges leaves an indelible imprint, captivating adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Iya Valley’s rivers also provide an exhilarating experience with Class three and four rapids, punctuated by stretches of tranquil waters, making it an idyllic playground for thrill-seekers and explorers looking to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of the region.

The Timeless Charm of Tsuwano in Shimane Prefecture

In the heart of Shimane Prefecture lies Tsuwano, a hidden gem exuding timeless charm. At Tsuwano Castle Ruins, history comes alive as visitors encounter the legacy of samurai culture. The remnants of the castle offer a glimpse into Japan’s feudal past, invoking a sense of wonder as one walks through the ancient grounds.

Encounter Samurai History at Tsuwano Castle Ruins

Photo by Bagus Pangestu

Stepping into Tsuwano Castle Ruins feels like embarking on a journey through time. The weathered stone walls and panoramic views from the top provide a captivating experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stories of samurai honor and valor. Each step echoes with the whispers of a bygone era, painting a vivid picture of Japan’s rich historical tapestry.

Tsuwano’s Koi Carp – Swimming Through History

Tsuwano is renowned for its vibrant tradition of koi carp breeding, adding a splash of color and cultural significance to the town’s landscape. The serene waters of the Koi Carp Castle Moat reflect the enduring legacy of these revered fish, symbolizing perseverance and prosperity in Japanese folklore. As these majestic creatures gracefully navigate the waters, they serve as a living testament to the enduring allure of Tsuwano’s heritage.

I found a stunning image capturing the essence of Tsuwano Castle: Tsuwano Castle by Bagus Pangestu.

Discover more about Tsuwano’s history and cultural significance at Tsuwano Travel Guide.

Discover the Artistic Soul of Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island, a hidden gem in Japan, offers a unique blend of contemporary art and scenic beauty. As I ventured into this artistic paradise, I found myself immersed in a world of creativity and imagination.

Get Lost in a World of Contemporary Art

From the moment I set foot on Naoshima Island, I was captivated by the fusion of art and nature. The open-air Art House Project, featuring a series of abandoned houses transformed into art installations, took my breath away. Each house tells a different story, creating a sense of wonder and curiosity as I explored the innovative artworks within.

The Benesse House Museum is a spectacular architectural masterpiece that seamlessly integrates art and accommodation. As I meandered through the museum, I marveled at the thought-provoking contemporary artwork displayed against the backdrop of stunning coastal landscapes. The tranquil atmosphere evoked a sense of introspection and inspired a deeper appreciation for art in a natural setting.

The Curious Pumpkin Sculptures by Yayoi Kusama

One of the most iconic attractions on Naoshima Island is the whimsical pumpkin sculptures by the renowned artist Yayoi Kusama. These vibrant and larger-than-life sculptures, positioned against the azure backdrop of the Seto Inland Sea, exude a playful yet enigmatic charm. Standing in awe of these colossal pumpkins, I couldn’t help but marvel at the artist’s ability to infuse simple forms with profound meaning, inviting visitors to embrace the unexpected and celebrate the unconventional.

Naoshima Island is a haven for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, offering a delightful blend of contemporary art installations and picturesque landscapes. Whether you’re drawn to avant-garde masterpieces or seeking artistic inspiration in a tranquil setting, Naoshima Island promises an unforgettable journey through the realms of creativity and imagination.

The Rustic Allure of the Kiso Valley

Photo by WithinStrikingDistance

On a fine autumn morning last November, I embarked on a day trip from Nagoya, venturing into the mountainous heart of the Chūbu region. My destination: two beautifully preserved post towns that once served an Edo Period highway. There, amidst the refreshing peace of the Japanese countryside, I relished an atmosphere far removed from the bustling city I had just left behind.

Step Back in Time on the Nakasendo Trail

The Kiso Valley, nestled between Nagoya and Nagano, boasts the ancient trade route, Kiso-ji. This route, later integrated into the famous Nakasendō, was strategically positioned with 69 “post towns” along its 500-kilometer length. Travellers on official business or personal journeys could find lodging and replenish their provisions at these towns.

Tsumago and Magome – Stroll Through Living History

Two of the preserved post towns, Tsumago and Magome, offer a unique glimpse into Japan’s storied past. Walking through these towns feels like stepping back in time, with their well-preserved traditional buildings and narrow stone pathways. The absence of power lines and traffic signals adds to the timeless allure, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the bygone Edo Period ambiance.

For an in-depth look at the travel options between Nagano and the Kiso Valley, check out my separate post here.

Yakushima – An Island of Enchanted Forests

Yakushima, an island nestled in the southern part of Japan, is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts seeking a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist spots. The island is renowned for its mystical cedar forests, which have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their ancient and untouched beauty.

Trek Through the Ancient Cedar Landscapes

Embarking on a trek through Yakushima’s ancient cedar forests is a mesmerizing journey through time. The lush greenery, moss-covered trails, and towering cedar trees create an enchanting atmosphere that feels like a scene from a fairy tale. As I ventured deeper into the heart of the forest, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the magnitude of these ancient giants that have stood for centuries.

The cedar trees, some of which are over a thousand years old, exude an air of wisdom and resilience, providing a surreal backdrop for hikers. The trails lead to captivating spots such as the famed Jomon Sugi, a colossal cedar tree that is estimated to be between 2,170 and 7,200 years old, making it one of the oldest trees in the world. The experience of being surrounded by such grandeur is truly humbling and leaves an indelible mark on the soul.

Find Serenity at the Moss-Covered Shiratani Unsuikyo

One of the most ethereal experiences on Yakushima is exploring the ethereal Shiratani Unsuikyo ravine, adorned with lush, velvety moss that blankets the landscape in a vibrant green hue. As I meandered through the tranquil pathways, I was captivated by the otherworldly ambiance created by the interplay of light filtering through the dense foliage and the gentle trickle of crystal-clear streams.

The serenity of Shiratani Unsuikyo is truly unparalleled, offering a sense of calm and introspection amidst the natural splendor. It’s no wonder that this mystical setting served as an inspiration for the enchanting forest in the renowned animated film “Princess Mononoke.” The time spent in this emerald wonderland is an invitation to reconnect with nature and revel in its untamed beauty.

I hope these vivid descriptions have drawn you into the alluring realm of Yakushima, offering a glimpse of the enchantment that awaits those who seek solace and wonder in the embrace of pristine forests.

Okinawa’s Iriomote Island – A Tropical Paradise

I’m excited to share my incredible experience exploring the hidden gem of Okinawa’s Iriomote Island. This off-the-beaten-path destination offers a tropical paradise that’s perfect for adventurous travelers seeking a unique escape. From paddling through the enchanting mangroves on the Urauchi River to basking in the beauty of the starry beaches of Hoshizuna-no-Hama, Iriomote Island is a nature lover’s dream come true.

Paddle Through Mangroves on the Urauchi River

As I embarked on a guided kayak tour along the Urauchi River, I was immediately captivated by the lush greenery and tranquil waters surrounding me. The towering mangrove trees created a natural tunnel, casting dappled sunlight on the shimmering surface below. The serenity of this untouched environment was truly awe-inspiring. The rich biodiversity of the mangroves provided a glimpse into the island’s ecological significance, and I felt a profound sense of connection to nature as I paddled through this captivating ecosystem.

The Starry Beaches of Hoshizuna-no-Hama

Hoshizuna-no-Hama, or Star Sand Beach, is a breathtaking stretch of coastline adorned with tiny star-shaped grains of sand that glisten like celestial bodies under the sun. As I strolled along the shoreline, I marveled at the natural beauty of the sparkling sands and crystal-clear waters. I couldn’t resist the urge to dip my toes into the inviting sea and soak in the tranquility of this unspoiled paradise. The ethereal charm of Hoshizuna-no-Hama left an indelible impression, making it a highlight of my Iriomote Island adventure.

Iriomote Island Photo by Henry Han

Iriomote Island is an enchanting destination that offers a myriad of natural wonders to explore. From its lush mangrove forests to its starlit beaches, this tropical paradise exceeded all my expectations and left me in awe of the unspoiled beauty that Japan has to offer.

The Tranquil Beauty of the Oki Islands

The Oki Islands are a hidden gem waiting to be explored by the adventurous traveler. Nestled in the Sea of Japan, these islands offer a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy destinations. The untouched natural beauty of the Oki Islands is a paradise for nature lovers.

Go Wild on Nishinoshima’s Hiking Trails

Embark on an exhilarating journey through Nishinoshima’s rugged terrain, where lush greenery meets the deep blue sea. The hiking trails offer a perfect blend of challenge and tranquility, allowing you to immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness. As you traverse the winding paths, you’ll encounter panoramic views that will leave you breathless. The experience of being surrounded by unspoiled nature is nothing short of magical.

Two People Standing in Forest Photo by Magda Ehlers

Dangyo Falls – A Waterfall Worth Whispering About

Dangyo Falls is a mesmerizing masterpiece of nature tucked away in the heart of the Oki Islands. The cascading water creates a symphony of peace and serenity, inviting you to bask in its beauty. As you stand in awe of the majestic falls, you’ll feel a sense of tranquility washing over you. The unspoiled surroundings further amplify the allure of this hidden gem, making it a breathtaking sight to behold.

View of Waterfall Photo by Pixabay


Exploring the less-touristy places in Japan can offer a refreshing and unique travel experience. From the serene landscapes of Hokkaido to the cultural richness of Tohoku, there are numerous off-the-beaten-path destinations waiting to be discovered. Embracing the tranquility of rural Japan, experiencing authentic ryokans, and venturing beyond the typical tourist spots can provide an enriching and memorable journey. Whether it’s the unspoiled beauty of Kyushu or the idyllic charm of Shikoku, these lesser-known regions offer a glimpse into a distinct side of Japan, away from the bustling crowds and tourist hotspots. So, why not add a touch of adventure to your Japan itinerary and explore these hidden gems for a truly offbeat travel experience?

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About the author
blogger, andrea urbinati, marketing, copywriting, seo

Hi! I’m Andrea, a passionate freelance writer with a knack for captivating storytelling.

With a decade of marketing expertise and a genuine love for crafting compelling content, I bring your ideas to life!

Let me know if you need a writer for your blog!

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