14 Charming Small Towns That Are A Must-Visit In Japan

Among people’s top ten travel destinations, the Japanese countryside is an excellent destination for an unforgettable vacation. The country of contrasts boasts unique landscapes, mountains, beautiful lakes, lush forests, temples, farmlands, rich history, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. People can choose between numerous activities, from high-tech cities to small peaceful villages in the countryside.

While visiting the countryside towns, travelers will meet people who have the wisdom to live so close to nature in quiet towns, full of greenery and free from the hustle and bustle of the city. These 14 are the best small towns in Japan that one must visit for multiple memorable experiences.

UPDATE: 2023/04/29 05:28 EST BY REENA JAIN

These 14 Charming Small Towns Are A Must-Visit In Japan

With the countryside dotted with charming small towns, visitors seeking a break from the city’s busy life are spoiled for choice. This list has been updated to include more of the best small towns in Japan that stun visitors with incredible natural scenery and make excellent locations for a nature retreat.

Related: 10 Of Japan’s Most Beautiful Villages Worth Visiting



14 Tsurui

Tsurui, Japan

Japanese Red Crown Cranes in the Setsuri River, Tsurui, Japan

Tsurui, located on the outskirts of Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, is a popular destination for those who enjoy the outdoors and wildlife photography because it is the home of the red-crowned crane, one of the rarest species of crane in the entire world. It is one of the least noisy areas in the nation and a location where one can get lost in the sounds of nature. Tsurui is also among the best small towns in Japan to visit in the spring when a variety of blossoming cherry trees burst into color, and in the fall, when it glows with a variety of orange and red hues.

13 Biei

Biei, Japan

Panoramic Flower Gardens of Shikisai hill, Biei, Japan

Biei, surrounded by majestic hills covered in vibrant flowers and imposing trees, transports visitors to a fairytale world, making it one of the best small towns to visit in Japan for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. Visitors are taken aback when they see the views from the Hokusei Hill Observatory or visit Patchwork Road and Panorama Road. Kanno Farm and Shirogane Blue Pond are other beauties that are near the town but add memorable delights to a Biei trip.

12 Kitashiobara

Kitashiobara, Japan

Winter beauty of Kitashiobara, Fukushima, Japan

Kitashiobara is a well-known resort town in Fukushima Prefecture, especially with skiers craving to hit the slopes during winter. It also draws hikers and nature lovers for its natural beauty, which is unlike any other. The Bandai-Asahi National Park, Lake Inawashiro, Lake Onogawa, Lake Akimoto, Lake Hibara, and Goshikinuma Ponds are some of the iconic Japanese locations that astound everyone. This town is also famous among art enthusiasts for housing the Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, which has the third-largest collection of Dali’s works in the world.

11 Totsukawa

 Totsukawa, Japan

Suspension Bridge, Totsukawa, Japan

Totsukawa, one of the remotest small towns in Japan’s Nara Prefecture, is blessed with incredible natural scenery and a rustic ambiance. It is an ideal location for those looking for a nature retreat away from the city’s crowd and bustle. With a range of exciting activities and attractions like the historic Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tamaki Shrine, Tanize Suspension Bridge, Moriyama Observation Deck, Sasanotaki, one of Japan’s most scenic waterfalls, hot springs, and Tosenji Onsen, this town can entice visitors to stay for days.

10 Shirakawa-go

Photo by Sorrawis Chongcharoen on Unsplash

Traditional homes in Shirakawa-go, Japan 

Shirakawa-go is a traditional Japanese town and a UNESCO heritage site located in the heart of the Japan Alps and surrounded by beautiful mountains. It is one of the most picturesque villages in Japan, famous for its traditional Japanese gassho-zukuri farmhouses, resembling two hands joined in prayer. The best way to experience the village’s beauty is to spend the night at one of the farmhouses, which have opened as guesthouses for visitors. This village is beautiful at all times, and people can catch sight of green fields in summer, whole bloom cherry blossoms in spring, orange leaves in autumn, and snow in winter.

9 Nara

Todai-ji temple, Nara

Todai-ji temple, Nara, Japan

Located 40 minutes from Kyoto and Osaka by rail, Nara features shrines, temples, museums, Japanese culture, and history. Home to the oldest temples in Japan, Nara is also famous for its beautiful scenic park, featuring hundreds of deer, making it a paradise for animal lovers. People visit Nara during the cherry blossom season to see beautiful pint petals highlight many of the trees and in November when the autumn color emerges.

Related: Wandering Through Japan: A Serene Journey Through 10 Iconic Landscapes & Vibrant Cities

8 Ouchi-juku

Ouchi-juku, Japan

Ancient village Ouchi-juku, Japan

Ouchi-juku is a traditional Japanese village that served as a small post station in the Edo period and boasted shops, traditional hotels, and restaurants for travelers. Located between Nikko and Aizu regions in Fukushima, it is now famous for its numerous untouched buildings lining its main streets. People will look out over the charming village from the observation spot up on a hill, a popular tourist attraction.

7 Hida, Takayama


Lovely town of Takayama, Japan

Located in the mountainous Hida region in the northern part of Gifu prefecture, Takayama is a beautiful mountain town in the north Japan Alps, famous for its well-preserved old district, woodworking, and magical snow festivals. Famous for its high-quality timber and the skill of its carpenters, the old town district is a must-see, as it is one of the best-preserved districts in the country. People visit it for its three best parade float festivals in Japan, held in April and October.

6 Ine – Kyoto

Ine, Kyoto

Funaya Boat House in Ine, Kyoto, Japan

Located in the north of Kyoto prefecture, on a wild hillside surrounded by mountains and forests, Ine is a beautiful village in Japan, built by fishermen and featuring clear emerald water with marine life. Famous for its beautiful Funaya houses facing the sea, it features stunning landscapes and lush greenery. The beautiful town of Ine is a popular destination among the Japanese and a peaceful and happiest place in Japan.

5 Wazuka

Wazuka, Japan

Tea plantation in Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan

Located South-east of Kyoto in a quiet valley, Wazuka is a small tea farming village set in a peaceful valley, surrounded by mountains and covered in tea fields. This enchanting place with natural beauty, history, and rural charm features a pristine river running through the valley, providing natural drainage and irrigation and a mountain soil rich in a nutrient for tea plantation. People take rental bikes to explore Wazuka peacefully.

4 Ainokura

Ainokura, Japan

Gassho houses in Ainokura town, Gokayama, Japan

Lying in the western Toyama Prefecture of Japan, in the Japanese Alps, Ainokura is a quaint little village that preserved its heritage and features 20 Gassho-style homes over 200 years old. Ainokura is famous for its Gassho-Zukuri farmhouses and is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is the calmest and most relaxed destination on earth. People visit it in summer and see the village covered in lush and green, and in winter, with snow.

3 Karuizawa

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, Karuizawa
Photo by lydiarei / Shutterstock

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan

Nestled in the mountains, the quiet town of Karuizawa offers a pleasing atmosphere with scenic nature spots, restaurants, and some of the most-visited tourist attractions. Lovely Karuizawa is blessed with stunning nature, waterfalls, and greenery. People make sure to visit the Kumobaike Pond, an open pond surrounded by lush green trees, and see the Shiraito Falls, the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, located in the forest north of the town.

Related: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Japan During Spring

2 Tsumago

Tsumago, Japan
Milosz Maslanka / Shutterstock

Scenic town Tsumago, Japan

In Kiso Valley, Tsumago is a well-preserved town in the Japanese Alps. It was built to accommodate commerce during the Edo period and connected the new capital city of Edo with the old capital Kyoto. The village is a traditional group preservation area, providing visitors with an opportunity to be a time traveler and seek beauty and tranquility. History lovers will enjoy visiting Tsumago, a hiker’s favorite destination in Japan.

1 Taketomi

Taketomi, Japan

Traditional town of Taketomi, Japan

Taketomi is a small island near the coast of Ishigaki Island and the site of a well-preserved area, the Ryukyu Village. It is famous for its traditional Okinawan architecture houses featuring red tiles roofs, culture, and special star shape sand. An enjoyable and exciting way to learn about the history of this place is on Taketomi’s very popular water buffalo cart rides.


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