6 Must-Visit Hidden Gems in Japan - Places to visit in Japan • Iva Says

Last modified: September 25, 2018

What to See in Japan

Japan is an interesting and colorful country that anyone would be lucky to visit. Their culture is one of the most unique in the world and the people are some of the best and funniest people you’ll meet. That being said, it’s not surprising that there are a lot of interesting things to see and do in Japan. Though, it’s a pity to stick just to the classical touristy stuff, as that only gets you a glimpse of this amazing place. Instead, you should look for the hidden gems that allow you to see into the true nature of Japan.


Nakasendo Way

Pink tree and Japanese style houses in Nakasendo Way, Japan.
Nakasendo Way

Walking down the busy streets of any city in Japan is one way to get to know the soul of the place, but so is taking a quiet walk. Nakasendo Way refers to an intimate, seven-part walk through Honshu. This is what connects Kyoto and Tokyo.

The pathway is centuries, giving you the opportunity to walk through Japan’s history. It’s around 310 miles long in total and starts from Kyoto’s Lake Biwa and goes through the most beautiful regions of Japan, finally ending in Tokyo. While tempting, it’s not recommended to walk all this way on your own, especially if you are not fluent in Japanese. There are a lot of walking tours you can join and experience this path safely.

Zao Fox Village

Zao Fox Village is actually a fox sanctuary near the mountain of Zao. It fosters over a hundred foxes of six different species. It’s a well-known fact that Japan cares about its animals and does a lot for them, and this fox village just contributes to that fact.

Here, you can freely walk around and get to know their foxes. There’s no need for any kind of fear as the foxes are accustomed to human presence and touch, and actually, like having people around. There’s also the option of buying some fox food in the sanctuary, so this way you can even feed them as you go along. Even though you can let them eat from your hand, it’s still advised to put the food on the ground. This makes them more comfortable and thus provides a more memorable experience, for you, as well.


Tall green bamboo trees in Japan.

Despite being one of the largest Japanese islands, Kyushu is often not visited by travelers. This is probably because, at first glance, it doesn’t have a lot to offer. Anyone who does a little research, though, will find out that Kyushu is the home of many natural wonders which you won’t be able to see anywhere else in Japan. After all, here you can visit the ancient forest, volcanoes, and many hot springs. On top of that, this is where some of Japan’s most famous dishes originated.

If you really want to experience Kyushu’s natural wonders, it’s best to head to Yakushima.

Kyushu is also where Japan’s most livable city- Fukuoka- is. It earned this title thanks to its tasty food, welcoming people, and agreeable weather.

Of course, Nagasaki, one of the most famous cities in history, is located here, too.

Nozawa Onsen

Public bath in Nozawa Onsen, Japan.
Hot springs in Nozawa Onsen

Aside from the mesmerizing forests and volcanoes, Japan is also known for its amazing hot springs and the way it looks during winter. If you’re looking to experience Japan during this beautiful time of year, visit Nozawa Onsen for one of the best ski holidays you could imagine.

The public baths have been maintained since the Edo period of Japan, which means they’re the perfect combination of authentic and modern. You get the comfort of the twenty-first century while being taken back in time to one of Japan’s most famous periods. What’s more, the town has an outstanding ski resort suitable for every tourist. In fact, it’s so world renowned that it held numerous events for the Winter Olympics.


This part of Japan is often overlooked, as well, yet it has a great bit of culture to offer. Hakodate is located in the north of Hokkaido. If you’re traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo, it’s a great spot to take a break and immerse yourself in the culture.

One of the most authentic things you can try here is the seafood. Because it’s located so far north, the seafood is a local specialty and it’s guaranteed it’s always fresh. Even though some of these foods are not really what we might be used to, it’s a great opportunity to try new things. On that note, be sure not to skip the hairy crab. Since this is what Hakodate is famous for, you’ll be able to find it on almost every menu.

For those who want to check out this specialty fresh, there’s always the morning market. It’s smaller than the one in Tokyo, but definitely contains more than enough fresh fish, crabs, and squids to make up for it.

Tottori Sand Dunes

Tottori Sand Dunes in the Sanin Kaigan National Park
Tottori Sand Dunes

Most people would say that Japan is famous for its unspoiled natural beauty and perfect skiing opportunities, so it comes as a surprise that it’s home to a desert, too. The Tottori prefecture is something that can’t be missed if you’re looking for really unique hidden gems.

The Tottori Sand Dunes are located in the Sanin Kaigan National Park, just a three-hour train ride from Osaka. You can trek through the desert as long as you desire, as it stretches for around 10 miles. When you get tired, there’s nothing stopping you from getting on a camel. Perhaps riding a camel in Japan is a hidden gem of its own, as it really isn’t a typical touristic experience.


As you can see, there are a plethora of things Japan has to offer aside from the standard touristic attractions. Planning your trip accordingly guarantees unique and fulfilling experiences not everyone walks away with. People say that you can’t really get to know a place if you don’t live there for some time, but if you know where to look, everything is possible.

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6 not to be missed and must-see spots in Japan

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