6 Unique Trips To Take In Japan

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When I think about Japan, cities like Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka come to my mind. But Japan is much more that visiting its capital. Traveling to Japan can be an amazing experience if you want focus on discovering its countryside and the local traditions.

 

Prepare your trip to Japan with Lonely Planet Guidebooks:

Japan travel guide, 15th Edition Aug 2017 by Lonely Planet Discover Japan travel guide - 3rd edition, 3rd Edition Nov 2015 by Lonely Planet Best of Japan travel guide, 1st Edition Nov 2017 by Lonely Planet Kyoto city guide, 6th Edition Aug 2015 by Lonely Planet From the Source - Japan (Cookbook), 1st Edition Sep 2016 by Lonely Planet

 

Find the cheapest flight to Tokyo:

 

Find the cheapest hotels in Japan:

 

The luxury train adventure:

Seven Stars

Seven Stars is the first luxury cruise sleeper train in the country, crossing the island of Kyushu and stopping along the way, allowing passengers to take part in different excursions. The interior of the train has been designed by Eiji Mitooka on the creation concept of JR Kyushu Chairman Koji Karaike. Local artisans have helped furnishing the interior with a fusion between Japanese and Western designs.

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There are two trips you can take on the Sever Stars: a 4-day/3-nights journey or a 2-day/1 night journey. There are only 14 rooms on board the train, keeping the journey quite intimate for its passengers. The prices for a 4-day journey in a regular suite start at 655,000 yens (about £4930).

 

Shiki-shima

The Shiki-shima is a concept of a sightseeing train, with two observation cars at each end, a lounge and a dining car, all having large panoramic windows. The train has specific trips for each season, with dedicated sightseeing stops and hot springs visits.

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The Shiki-shima has a dedicated team of professional cooks on board which will make every meal special, from squid and salmon roe rice bowl at breakfast to Japanese-French fusion dishes for dinner. All the ingredients are locally sourced and the meals are inspired by the traditions of the areas the train is passing through.

The train is unfortunately sold out until the end of 2018 but you can still apply for a ticket on their website.

 

Mizukaze

Mizukaze, or the Twilight Express, is a luxury train with large panoramic windows and a “nostalgic modern” design. With a capacity of only 34 passengers, the Twilight Express passes through the Sanyo and Sanin regions, from Kyoto to Osaka, with ground excursions organised in the cities along the way.

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The train’s dining menu has been designed by two chef Yoshihiro Murata, the owner of the Kikuoi restaurant in Kyoto and by Hajime Yoneda, the owner of Hajime restaurant in Osaka, featuring the traditional Japanese cuisine (washoku) based on ingredients sourced from along the route.

 

The Royal Express

The Royal Express is Japan’s newest luxury train, which started its service in September 2017. The train connects Yokohama (half an hour from central Tokyo – if you plan on staying in the capital check out this complete accommodation guide of Tokyo) to Shimoda City at the southern end of the Izu Peninsula. The journey takes around 3 hours and it includes live music and a meal. The price for a one-way ticket starts at 25,000 yens (around £170).

There are also cruise plan options with return tickets, overnight accommodation, meals and activities in Izu. The prices for a cruise option starts at 135,000 yens (around £930) based on sharing rooms.

The train has a capacity of 100 people and allows children on board as well.

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The unspoiled nature expedition:

Yaku island

Yaku is not your usual island when you go to sunbathe and enjoy the beaches. Almost the entire island is covered by a cedar forest in which you will find the oldest trees in Japan, many over 1000 years old but also one that is believed to be over 7000 years old!

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Yuku is a great destination if you like hiking because of the forest trails that cross rivers and waterfalls and go up high in the mountains, which are over 2000 meters high. Even if the island is quite small, measuring only 17 miles wide, you can s till spend quite a lot of time here enjoying the unspoiled nature. Because of the rainforest climate, the deep woods with moss covered trees and the crystal-clear rivers forming waterfalls which tumble down from the versants of the mountains, local usually say that the island has a mystical fairy tale feel to it.

If you are hiking on Yaku island for several days you should know that the mountain lodges are free for overnight accommodation but you need to bring your own food and sleeping bag.

The Yaku island is also home of the Yakushima macaque and the Yaku deer, so expect to meet them while hiking on the trails.

Naoshima island

Naoshima is also called the art island because of the numerous contemporary art museums on it and the sculpture installation that goes throughout the island. Most of the structures on the island have been designed by the well-known Japanese architect, Pritzker Prize-winning Tadao Ando. The public buildings and the schools on the island have been designer by another modern Japanese architect, Ishii Kazuhiro

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The island is owned by Benesse Holdings, Inc, a company which since 1995 is sponsoring the Benesse Prize at the Biennale of Venice, commissioning winners to create art specifically for this island.

The best place to stay on the island is the Benesse House, one of the first buildings designed by Tadao Ando in Naoshima. Each room is like a modern art gallery, offering beautiful views over the sea.

If you plan to visit Naoshima island in 2019 make sure to attend the Setouchi Triennale, a festival held every three years where 100 artists all over Japan are exhibiting their work here.

 

Yoron island

Think of Yoron island like the Maldives of Japan! With azure coloured waters, white sandy beaches, great tropical weather and many cultural traditions, Yoron is the perfect place to escape the busy megacities of Japan.

The entire island is surrounded by a coral reef barrier which you can see by taking a trip on a glass bottom boat or by snorkelling above them.

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One of the main attractions of the Yoron island is the Yurigahama phantom island. From April to October, during low tide, a sandbar appears about 2 meters away from Ooganeku Beach. The interesting part is that it seems to move and never appear in the same place twice.

Only on Yoron island you can experience the unique traditional drinking ritual called Yoron Kenpo, where locals drink Brown sugar shōchū (a local alcohol) while making offerings to the Gods. Some locals here still speak their own language, Yunnu Futuba, which is a dialect of the indigenous languages of the Ryukyu Islands from the Southern part of the Japanese archipelago.

 

Tokashiki island

Tokashiki island had two main beaches located on the west coast, where you can enjoy swimming and tanning, from May until October, when the temperatures stay above 20 degrees Celsius.

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The island is quite hilly, covered with forest in which you can hike to reach observatory decks overlooking the surroundings.

From January to March you can go on a tour to watch the humpback whales coming close to the shore all the way from the Bering Sea, searching form warmer waters to breed.

 

The cultural summer festivals experience:

Awa dance

Awa Dance is one of the biggest dance festivals in Japan, taking place between the 12th and the 15th of August each year in Shikoku, the smallest island out of the four main of Japan.

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During the festival, groups of dancers and musicians wearing traditional obon dance costumes are parading through the streets singing and playing local instruments like the taiko drums, the kane bell, the shamisen lute and the shinobue flute. The Awa Odori dance is performed in circles around a raise platform called yakura. The Obon is a festival of the afterlife, where the spirits of the loved ones who left the earth are believed to come back to visit the living.

 

Nebuta

The Nebuta festival takes place in Aomori and it is probably one of the most spectacular and colourful festivals in Japan. It usually takes place between the 2nd and the 7th of August.

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Every day there is a parade of giant lanterns floats made from painted washi paper over a wire frame, depicting on mythical stories and gods. These lanterns take a year to build because of their sizes, almost 9 meters wide and 5 meters high. They are pushed around town by human power, accompanied by team of drummers and hundreds of dancers. In the last day of the festival, the lanterns are put onto boats and paddled around the bay, while the sky is covered in fireworks.

 

Gion

Gion is a festival that borrows its name from the district with the same name in Kyoto. It lasts for the entire month of July, with two main parades on the 17th and the 24th of July, when floats called yamaboko are proceeding along the streets of Kyoto.

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During the evenings before the parade, Kyoto’s town centre is closed for traffic, becoming a huge pedestrian area. On the side of the streets there will be night stalls selling traditional food and sweets, while girls dressed up with summer kimonos will walk around the area.

During these evenings people from the old kimono merchant district will open their houses to visitors, to exhibit their valuable family collections and it’s a great opportunity to get to know how a traditional Japanese house looks like on the inside. This is a very popular festival so make sure you book your place to stay in Kyoto ahead of time.

 

All-Okinawa Festival

All-Okinawa is a festival that takes place during the last weekend of August, in Okinawa. Eisa is known as the traditional Okinawan folk dance and it is different from any other festival in Japan. The dance is performed by 20 or 30 men and women aligned in doubled lines or circles. It is a dance meant to honour the spirit of the ancestors, telling them farewell, and this is why the performers are usually quite young.

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The costumes of the performers are usually bright and colourful, depicting the local tradition and the gender of the dancer.

During the annual parade, over 1000 Eisa dancers are showing off their traditional and creative skills on the main boulevard of Naha.

 

Kanto

The Kanto Matsuri festival is held every year at the beginning of August in the town of Akita, in hope for a good harvest. The name of the festival actually means “Pole lantern festival”. The kanto pole has different sizes and can weight up to 50kg. On each pole there are attached paper lanterns with real candles inside. The festival is a skill show-off, as the poles are balanced by one person only using different techniques (some balance them on their palms, some on their heads, some on their backs or shoulders).

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The main event of the festival is the Night Parade, when different groups carry almost 250 kanto poles and show off their skills during a 90 minutes performance along the Chuo Dori street.

 

The cycling routes:

Shimanami Kaido

Shimanami Kaido is a 70 km long cycling route running from Onomichi City on Japan’s main island, Honshu, to the island of Shikoku, passing six other islands along the way. The road has a cycle path for the entire length and 14 shops to rent or drop off a bike.

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Photo taken by cotaro70s

The views over the Seto Inland Sea are breath-taking and you can stop on each of the islands to explore more and spend the night in a camping site. The route can be done in one day if you are a good cyclist but it’s better to just take your time and enjoy the ride. Along the way you will cross the longest suspension bridge in the world, Kurushima Bridge, 4045 meters long.

 

Biei

Biei is a small town in the Hokkaido region famous for its rolling hills and flower fields, best explored by bike. There are plenty of cycling routes here and if you rent a bike at a local shop in town, you will receive a map as well. Because of the hilly terrain you might want to choose an electric bike rather than a classic one.

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The streets around Biei are narrow and picturesque, no wonder the area is used in many commercials. One of highlights of the area is Shikisai Hill with over 20 different coloured flower gardens, including lavender. Visiting Shikisai Hill is free but a 200 yens (around £1.5) donation to mention the fields is encouraged.

 

Kamikochi

Kamikochi is also called the Alps of Japan because of its spectacular mountain ranges, the highest in the country. The scenery is unique because whilst Kamikochi is quite a flat valley, it is surrounded by mount Hotaka in the north and by active volcano Yake to the south.

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The Valley of Kamikochi is cut through by Azura river, forming ponds along the way. The best way of exploring Kamikochi is by foot but because the area is quite flat, you can cycle as well.

Be aware that there are only a few hotels in the area and the access is permitted only by bus or taxi. Private cars are not allowed to access the town. Also, the resort is only opened from mid-April until mid-November.

 

The traditional hot springs experience:

Hakone

Hakone is probably the most popular hot spring resort in Japan, with over 10 different bath houses. The best way to experience the hot springs like a Japanese is to stay in a Ryokan, a traditional inn where you can have a taste of the local lifestyle and hospitality. They include an elaborate dinner in the evening and breakfast in the morning cooked by the hosts. The rooms in a Ryokan come with traditional flooring, such as tatami mats, sliding doors made out of wooden frames covered with opaque or translucent paper and futons, the Japanese mattresses that are laid directly on the tatami.

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Photo taken by Thilo Hilberer

You can experience the hot springs from Hakone either in the Ryokan or at a public bath open to the general public.

 

Kusatsu

The hot springs in Kusatsu are thought to be able to cure every illness but lovesickness, which I think it’s a lovely saying. The high quality of the water made a German doctor recommend this hot spring for its health benefits.

Kusatsu is located up high in the mountains, at 1200 meters altitude, where in winter you can go skiing and in summer you can go hiking. Either activity you choose, in the evening you can relax your sore muscles in the waters of the hot spring at the public baths. There are many small community bath houses are town which are free, two of them offering a special experience called jikanyu. This is a bathing therapy where you take a dip in a 48 degrees Celsius hot water for exactly three minutes.

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Yufuin

Yufuin is a very scenic town at the base of Mount Yufu, alongside a river. The town itself is different than other resort towns because its main street is lines with cafes, small shops and museums, with the public baths hidden on the side.

Many of the local Ryokan with hot springs are opening their doors to non-staying guests during the day time.

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Yufuin is also known to have a very atmospheric scenery, especially in the mornings when the mist raises from the nearby lake Kinrinko.

 

Beppu

Beppu is one of the largest hot spring resorts in Japan, with plenty of bath experiences to choose from: hot water baths, mud baths, steam baths or sand baths. There are 2,909 different hot springs vents throughout the city, coming from 8 streams.

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One of the highlights of the city is the “Tour of Hell” path, 8 manmade ponds with very hot water, one of them being populated with crocodiles. The ponds have different colours and themes, like the “Sea Hell” – which is blue, the “Oniishibozu Jigoku” – which is in a pool of mud or the “blood pond hell” – which is red due to the clay at the bottom. There is even a geyser which erupts every 30-40 minutes called the “spout hell”.

 

Dogo

Dogo is located in Matsuyama on Shikoku Island, preferred in the past by the Imperial Family of Japan. The springs have also been mentioned in many books and were frequented by different writers as well.

While exploring the streets of Dogo you will see many Ryokan guests walking around town wearing their yukata, a light kimono used to cover the body after bathing in a communal bath.

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The main public bath in Dogo is Onsen Honkan, made from wood in a traditional Japanese style. The inside is a work of art as well, with different rooms, staircases and people walking around. The baths are gender separated and built out of stone. There is also a special room dedicated to the Imperial Family, the Yushinden, which you can visit.

 

The pilgrimage:

Shikoku 88 temples

Everyone heard of the Camino de Santiago but did you hear about the Shikoku pilgrimage from Japan? This is a circular route of around 1200 km long which passes 88 temples and 20 bangai. There are hundreds of temples on the islands but only 88 are considered to be part of this route.

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People are doing this pilgrimage as a healing journey. Some do it for religious reasons, some for the memory of a loved one who passed away, some to discover themselves.

Usually pilgrims are wearing white clothes, a conical hat and walking sticks. Locals tend to be very friendly and help pilgrims by giving them water and snacks along the route and allowing them to sleep for free at their humble homes.

 

Kumano kodo

Kumano Kodo is the only other Unesco World Heritage pilgrimage route, besides Camino de Santiago. There are seven trails under the name of Kumano Kodo, only a few still in good condition because of the modern development. The trails usually go through the forest, up the Kii Mountains. You can start either from Kyoto or Osaka.

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The purpose of this pilgrimage is to get to worship the three major Buddhist shrines: Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha.

 

Read More: The Japan Pass and Hokkaido travel itinerary.

 

Disclaimer: This psot has been written in collaboration with Japan Experience.

Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

95 Comments

  1. What a fun post! I think taking a trip on the luxury train for a few days would be a fun trip, no matter where I’d be going. And I think the art on Naoshima island would be super fun to check out, while island-hopping to the others!

  2. I’m lost for words. I felt I’ve read it all about Japan since it is one of my best countries. But here I am in amazement. Starting with the train to the festivals to other mind blowing activities, I must say I’m impressed. I had though Seven Star train was even something like an hotel. I’d love to explore every bits of all activities in this post. Thanks for writing about Japan. My love for the country is more reinforced.

  3. There are so many cool train trips in Japan! I would take any of them – but especially like the first sleeper train and the one that just opened in September 2017. Who knew train travel could be comfortable?? The Kanto festival looks like a lot of fun, and of course I’d love to check out the hot springs as well. Definitely need to make it to Japan soon!

  4. Train based journeys sounds interesting! There’s a similar one in India called Golden Chariot!!! I’m someone who always loves train journeys anyday than flights… There’s something romantic about trains. Seven Stars & Royal Express sound the most exquisite! But then its Japan… I just don’t think I’ll be able to afford it any day!!! Lolz..
    Yaron islands & Kamikochi look so incredibly gorgeous! Totally my kinda place. The hot springs are just gorgeous!!!

  5. You have just highlighted every reason why I long to visit Japan. Those luxury trains are exquisite and eye-watering expensive! Still, I’m adding it to my list. I’m a huge spa fan, so experiencing one or two of those hot springs in the Japanese landscape would be a dream come true!

  6. Wow, Japan looks like an incredible place to visit. I’d love to see the flower gardens that you mentioned, and those hot springs look so inviting. I’m not sure about the crocodile one though!

  7. Wow! I have been to Japan yet I don’t know most of the places indicated here. Indeed such an amazing place to visit. Now I have more reasons to revisit this country.

  8. Such an inspirational post, I must admit there were many more destinations on my list before Japan but this has provided such a fresh insight into the country! There is so much more than just cities and tech to discover, I don’t think we could ever afford to travel on The Royal Express though 🙂

  9. Wow, I’ve read so many posts about Japan recently that I really think I should plan my next trip to Japan! I love your post idea and that you included a lot of information. The Royal Express looks super amazing. I would love to go and discover all the beautiful temples there. Kumano Kodo sounds so interesting! It’s such a different culture there that it never gets old reading about their festivals and customs. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I’m eyeing Japan next year and hopefully it will be pursued. Heard a lot of wonderful things about Japan from its high technology toilets, unbelievable politeness of the Japanese people to the hotsprings where everybody loves to go and do as it relaxes them from daily chaos especially the office workers who work long hours. And I may not be surprised of how Shinkansen operates, the amazing trains that offer bed, dining and almost everything that you need can be found in one train. That’s beautifully surprising. Japan is a remarkable country.

  11. Dogo is definitely on my list. I’d love to visit Japan one day and stay in a ryokan. Mark Weins has a Youtube video reviewing his stay in a traditional ryokan and it looked amazing!

  12. Wow!!! That sleeper train looks incredible. Far more spacious than any I’ve ever seen before!
    The hot springs in Yufuin look like a complete dream destination. I would absolutely love to go to Japan. It’s definitely on my bucket list, I really admire their culture and I love Japanese food. The Alps Of Japan also look stunning. Just wow!

  13. There is no destination like Japan. Its quirkiness and uniqueness had always appealed to me. I would love to try out the luxury train experience. I am a train enthusiast and have tried luxury trains in India before. I hope they serve vegan food in the Japanese version though.

  14. I think Japan is one of those countries that has so much to offer and travelers usually only visit the bigger, more prominent cities. Your list of trips to take really does seem like an adventurous experience! I would especially love to try the trains and hot spring! Thanks for such a detailed, informative post!

  15. I would love to do one of the luxury train trips, they sound so romantic. Such a diverse and interesting destination, just need to find the time to go. Thanks for the inspiration and another destination on the bucket list.

  16. I love to travel by train, those all look amazing. We plan on taking our daughter to Japan when she graduates high school so this kind of post comes in very handy. I’m going to pin it for future reference. Thanks.

  17. Seven Stars and The Royal Express look absolutely gorgeous! Naoshima island sounds like a really interesting place to visit and I’d love to see the Awa Dance Festival. There’s so much more to see than first comes to mind when you think of Japan, great to see your insights

  18. I feel so bad after reading your post because I was in Japan this May and did not do a lot of the things mentioned here in the list! Seems like I missed out on a lot of stuff!!

  19. Japan is somewhere I have always wanted to visit and that Seven Stars train sounds like an experience I would love to have. I’ve always wanted to board a sleeper train as they seem so much fun and luxurious!

  20. Love your write up, certainly plenty of ideas for travels through Japan. Like the idea of taking the train, their train systems are incredible!

  21. Great posts with a variety of suggestions for things to do. I’m really interested in the hot springs. I actually wrote that down to look up later as I really want to do that. There’s also a lot of cultural things to do. I love that!

  22. Such a mix of amazing ideas of things to do in Japan! From the gorgeous outdoor hot springs to the luxury train journeys there seems to be something for everyone. I studied Japanese at school and have yet to venture out to Japan to test out my rusty language skills but I will definitely be referring to your recommendations when I do!

  23. Japan is indeed the perfect mix of cultural heritage and advance technology. I cherish my Japan memories. Greatly enjoyed your post with beautiful photographs.

  24. great list f unique trip here. I wish I had spent a longer time in Japan to explore and experience more of it. These festivals and islands looks amazing. I love spa treatments so Beppu is a must for me.

  25. I love your post Joanna and I am officially bookmarking it for when I go to Japan – you wrote about many things that usually people don’t know – like the festivals for example. I did El Camino de Santiago so the one you mentioned with 88 shrines would be something for me. The cycling routes look great too. The Hokkaido island is the one I always wanted to visit plus of course the hot springs (although my boyfriend has some tattoos not sure if they would let him enter). We were thinking about Japan for our honeymoon trip so keep your fingers crossed!

  26. I’d been to Japan, but I definitely didn’t ride any of those luxury trains and my god they are insane! They don’t look trains at all! I wanna experience them I really do. I’m also sure that they cost a fortune hahaha… But by the looks of it, it’ll be a money well spent. Hopefully I’d get to return to Japan real soon, so far, it’s my most favorite country.

  27. I absolutely LOVE Japan but have not had the chance to explore all these incredible places. I think Yoron Island would be incredible – I don’t usually associate Japan with snorkelling and beaches! Especially because we go there in winter for skiing and snowboarding! But these trips look gorgeous, especially those luxury train journeys.

  28. Japan has such a vibrant culture. And these are some really stunning mix of places to visit. Particularly the pilgrimage ones like Shikoku 88 temples . I would not want to miss any of these when I happen to visit Japan

  29. Japan is definitely on my bucket list! And the island trips are my favorites. Looks like a lot of nice experience and I like the festivals! When I go someday, I will include yself in such adventure like one of these festivals.
    Keep it cool!

  30. I am in a spin now! Will a months trip there be sufficient to see all of these. And the interiors of Royal Express makes it hard for me to believe that it is inside a train. Great post on Japan Experience!

  31. Japan is on the top of our bucket list! Would love to travel on the Seven stars … so luxurious. Kamikochi looks so enchanting and magical! Yoron island looks stunning! I have bookmarked this page!

  32. Japan went there last with with my hubby and one year old daughter but didn’t manage to get nice photos as yours. What a great post , enjoyed reading your blog:) keep writing:) thanks for sharing

  33. I get so excited every time I read something about Japan! Its such an interesting country and I have never been there 🙁 I would love to spend months there, and I know that my husband would love to go skiing 😛 The hot springs look amazing, I could easily spend a half day their 😀 Thanks for sharing this post, loved the pictures as well. Kind regards Nana

  34. Every item of this list is BEAUTIFUL but I’m really sold on the hot springs! What an awesome and fun experience to have. Japan is so beautiful… Pinning this for the day I go back 😉

  35. Japan is definitely one of those places that I want to take several weeks to see. There seems like so much diversity between big cities and the nature, that you really want to take the time to see it all!

  36. I really want to visit Japan one day, but I’d always been worried that it was so well known there was nothing new to discover. I will definitely be keeping these offbeat ideas for future reference!

  37. I have always wanted to visit Japan and this has only made me more eager to go!!! I love the idea of the trains you mentioned they are my bag!! Also love the photo of the hot springs what a beautiful place!!

  38. I always love traveling and exploring destinations by train. The Shiki-shima looks so wonderful and attractive, I would love to travel on it to explore the sights of Japan. I had never considered Japan as a destination for offbeat travel because most of the posts I have read earlier had the same destinations covered. But this post came as an eye-opener. There is so much more to explore in Japan which I discovered through your post. Thanks galore for writing such wonderful and comprehensive post.

  39. Good thing I stumbled upon your blog. I have a friend that will go to Japan next month. I’ll recommend this blog to her. ☺Great post and amazing pictures by the way. Thank you so much for sharing. 😊😊😊

  40. Wow! Just what I needed. Just about a week ago I met an old friend who went to Japan this spring with his new gf (they are still together btw 😉 ) – showed me a bunch of pictures & sparked my interest 🙂 Till now, Japan wasn’t really on my bucket list (mainly because it is way more expensive to go there compared to the other countries I usually travel to). But reading your detailled post (especially about hikes you can do (combining them with visiting temples & hot springs)) I might consider setting up some plans in the future… Bookmarked! 🙂

  41. I didn’t know you could do snorkeling in Japan. Yoron Island looks like a great place. I’m a huge fan of Japan culture but I always skip it because it’s expensive. I saved your post in my place to go list! I hope I hope I could get there soon.

  42. Great article, you’ve got some ridiculously nice pictures! Love finding out about new places to explore in Japan, especially when they’re beaches with white sand!! I’m stuck with dirt in Kamakura and Zushi…

  43. Wow, these are some unique experiences that you have compiled. My compliments to you on the same and your pics too. The royal express reminds me of the Golden Chariot and the Palace on Wheels in India. Bet it is all luxurious. And I sure would love to get to one of those islands.

  44. Wow, I have to say your photography and ideas really inspired me, had to pin some of your amazing pics! I have been dreaming to go to Japan and I#Ll take these ideas into consideration… I feel like I wanna follow your path! Thanks a lot for sharing!! <3 <3

  45. I have been to Japan 6 times and haven’t even hit up all these places just yet. Definitely loving your recommendations because I’m all about exploring beyond the popular destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto and Oaka, etc. Tokashiki Island is for sure the first I will visit and did you take the majority of these photos yourself!? I know you said the post was written in collaboration with Japan Experience but they are absolutely stunning and you must’ve stayed in Japan for an extended amount of time to know the country this well! Very impressed because I thought I was a Japan expert but apparently nothing compared to you hahaa.

  46. Such a hard working traveller you are Joanna. This is beautiful. All put together. One dream list for any one planning Japan. I would love to experience Royal express, it looks so royal ! Alps of Japan, wow.. and that water gushing down the slide is mind blowing. Would love to just sit there for sometime.

  47. I’ve always wanted to visit Japan but have heard that it is quite expensive there. You’ve shared some beautiful places. I would love to travel on the Royal Express and visit a hot spring. I’d also love to be there to take in a festival. I’m bookmarking this page so I’ll have a good reference when I decide to visit Japan.

  48. How I wish I’d seen this a few months ago. My kids went to Japan in August with their dad and loved every minute. In fact they raved about the Royal Express. They say it rivals our Blue train here in South Africa. They would have loved going through your list

  49. Firstly, I am mesmerized by all the pictures. Japan has been on my list for so long and the more I read about it the more I am excited to visit. Traveling in a luxury train would sure be an amazing experience. You have put together a great post. I have pinned it for my future reference.

  50. My family and friends are heading to Japan next August. I thought about the different trains I would like to ride. If I can find an Onsen that will allow me in because of my small tattoo I will do this as well or possibly a private one. Japan is one of those places I’ll visit more than once.

  51. Wow, all your pictures are so inspiring! I would love to visit Japan and will definitely consider your article when I’m going there!
    Cheers,
    Karo

  52. If my purse was kinder there isn’t a single one of these locations I wouldn’t hesitate to go! I never considered Japan by train before but they look so beautiful, a great way to sightsee and enjoy a little luxury! Naoshima island also sounds really interesting, I love seeing different types of art. Of course I need to mention each of these pictures are absolutely stunning and inspiring!

  53. I love Japan! My fiancee and I are planning a trip there in 2018. We are so excited! We might go for Tokyo only on our first trip but I would love to go to Kyoto and Okinawa too. I hope we can fit those in as well.

  54. Wow this is such an in-depth article, lovely photos, interesting information and loads of inspiration! To be honest Japan has never been on my radar but this post has put it there

  55. Japan has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager! I loved reading this post because it gave me ideas for plans I can make when the time comes to actually go. Like the luxury trains – I never knew they had those! The Seven Stars looks like the one I’d want to use. I definitely want to try a hot spring. I’ve been enamored with the idea of relaxing in such ways. I like the Hakone best of all.

  56. Oh my gosh. I never knew Japan was so diverse and interesting. I always think of Tokyo and lots of flashing lights whenever I think of Japan. The railways certainly look interesting and I would love to go to a spa.

  57. I love how you split each section up. It’s a good reminder of all the things to see & do outside of the capital cities. The trains are a unique way to experience views. I’d love to visit all of the islands & also the spas!

  58. This post is great. After reading it seems like August would be a good time for me to visit Japan because of two of the festivals I was interested in being during that time. Iafter taking the train to Machu Picchu I would love to take a train in Japan as well !

  59. I have never been to Japan and reading this it’s great! In some photos the nature seems totally out of this world, like a different planet. I didn’t know the train routes were a thing. I love trains and would definitely love to take one. And the hot springs for sure! We used to live in Hungary, where there are a lot of them, so now I really miss that here in Lithuania.

  60. I agree that Japan is so much more than its main cities. It is so full of culture that it blows my mind. Such an intriguing place.

  61. OMG I have always wanted to go to Japan. It has been on top of my bucket list for so long. I have pinned this post, so for when we are planning our trip I know where to look!

  62. Wow so beautiful and amazing photos, Japan is really one of the interesting places to visit.There’s a lot of adventure and fun moments to do there.

  63. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and this post makes me want to jump on the plane right now. Pinned this to my Travel board for later reference.

  64. Japan is on our list from a long time and we are planning somewhere around that sakura season to enjoy it to the fullest. I will bookmark this page to refer later on.

  65. I’ve been to Japan but it’s just a job. Soon I will travel to Shikoku Island of Japan. It’s great also on your list. I hope to come to the Awa dance festival is going on.

  66. I’ve heard incredible things about Japan, your post enhances my initial thoughts. These photos are absolutely beautiful! Hopefully I venture out that way soon, seeing Asia is on my to-do list!

  67. I really love to take travel to Japan because of its amazing and wonderful places. Those photos look so breathtaking and beautiful views.

  68. You’re right! These places look absolutely amazing! There are SO MANY you’ve listed here that look incredible places to visit. I’ve never heard of these. We are headed to Japan in the next couple of years and, of course, Tokyo is on the list. Now I have to rethink this. Printing this post out. Very awesome suggestions!

  69. Wow. So jealous that you’ve been to Japan! Look at those trains! My husband and I would love to go to Japan for our 40’s (so that’s in around two years time!). And as our son loves trains he’d love to be in one of those – bullet trains are his favourite. What a beautiful country!

  70. You are such a wealth of knowledge! Japan is a place that I dream to go to one day, it just might take a little bit more saving. Especially if I’m going to get one of those beautiful trains!

  71. This post is fantastic, so much useful information! I am going to Japan next year and I can’t wait to come back to this post! Maybe I’ll be able to afford one of the luxury trains, if not this islands it is for me!

  72. The island with its 1000 year old trees and with one 7000 year old tree, will make any escapade wild. Awa Dance costumes looks awesome. You have covered the country very well. Its islands, temples, dances, cycling areas, etc. It’s a remarkable feat by any standards. Kudos.

  73. I am a huge fan of Japan in every way possible and everything about it fascinates me. The wonderful aspect about it is that for a relatively small island, there are literally endless possibilities and just as is the case with this post, I discover something new to do every time I read about the country. Thanks for all the information.

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