June 21, 2024

For avid travelers seeking to delve deeper into the wonders of Japan, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has unveiled a captivating list of lesser-known destinations that showcase the country’s diverse beauty and unique experiences. This carefully curated selection, initially published by the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), captures the essence of Japan’s rich landscapes and cultural heritage, presenting eleven “model tourism” destinations that are waiting to be explored by the discerning adventurer.

Breaking Away from the Beaten Path

“The ‘Golden Route’ has become synonymous with the quintessential Japanese travel experience for many tourists. However, Japan has so much more to offer beyond the well-trodden path,” emphasizes Mr. Ken Toyoda, Executive Director of JNTO Toronto. “There are countless incredible destinations that have yet to be discovered by the average traveler. We saw an opportunity to introduce these quieter, but no less compelling, parts of Japan to the world.”

The Golden Route, a traditional itinerary popular among first-time visitors, usually begins in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and winds its way westward through Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima before returning to the capital. This well-known journey incorporates iconic experiences, such as ascending Mount Fuji, riding the cutting-edge shinkansen (bullet train), immersing in the therapeutic onsen (hot spring) baths, and staying in a traditional ryokan, a Japanese inn.

Embracing the Undiscovered

The release of the JNTO’s new list signifies their commitment to highlighting the allure of non-metropolitan and lesser-visited regions, encouraging travelers to embrace the unexplored countryside. Japan’s rustic landscapes, adorned with majestic mountains, ancient forests, serene beaches, and sacred shrines, are home to enchanting and historically significant villages. With the country’s exceptional transit infrastructure, even the remotest rural wonders are now easily accessible, inviting intrepid explorers to unveil a different side of Japan’s captivating character.

Here are just 11 of Japan’s Top Hidden Treasures

  1. Eastern Hokkaido: The northernmost island of Japan, renowned for its world-class skiing and famed beer, boasts a rugged, wintry landscape that captivates visitors with its untouched beauty and pristine allure.
  2. Nasu: Nestled in the temperate highlands of Tochigi Prefecture, Nasu is a serene retreat abundant in flourishing farms and natural hot springs. The landscape is adorned with Jizo statues, which are believed to protect travelers and bring good fortune.
  3. Hokuriku: A coastal region that is home to Kanazawa, where traditional Japanese culture thrives amid an atmosphere of tranquility, far removed from the bustling crowds of the major cities. Visitors can revel in the exquisite beauty of well-preserved heritage and soak in the ambiance of a bygone era.
  4. Mount Hachimantai: Bordering Akita, this mountainous expanse entices visitors with its vibrant autumn colors, breathtaking panoramic vistas, and charming hamlets, offering a peaceful retreat in harmony with nature.
  5. Tottori and Shimane: These two western prefectures are veritable treasure troves, renowned for their exquisite sword-making traditions, captivating art museums, and UNESCO-recognized silver mines. Immerse yourself in the captivating history and craftsmanship of the region.
  6. Okinawa and Amami: A mesmerizing fusion of Chinese and Japanese influences awaits in this picturesque region. Dense jungles, teeming with life, merge with serene mangroves, leading to idyllic beaches where one can bask in the sun while immersing in the cultural tapestry of the islands.
  7. Kagoshima, Unzen, and Aso: Venture to Kyushu, where an array of wonders awaits. Explore grassy plateaus offering stunning vistas, indulge in the traditional hospitality of Samurai-style lodgings, and witness the power and beauty of a volcanic caldera.
  8. Southern Nara and Wakayama: Delve into the depths of the enchanting forests, where ancient pilgrimage routes wind through a mystical realm. Stay in secluded temples, enveloped in serene solitude, and rejuvenate your spirit amidst nature’s embrace.
  9. Ise-Shima: Revered as the home of Japan’s most sacred shrine, this region offers a blend of spirituality, luxury, and cultural heritage. Discover the opulence of luxurious hotels and witness the extraordinary feats of the famous female free-divers, known as Ama.
  10. Matsumoto and Takayama: These alpine towns evoke a sense of timeless wonder. Immerse yourself in the splendor of Edo-period architecture, explore feudal castles, and savor the picturesque beauty of the surrounding mountains.
  11. Setouchi: Embrace the allure of this coastal region adorned with a tapestry of bridges. Discover historic port cities steeped in captivating tales and relish the breathtaking views of the azure inland sea, an ever-changing panorama that captures the heart.

“The release of this list is merely the first step in our ongoing commitment to promoting these hidden gems,” declares Mr. Ken Toyoda of JNTO. “We firmly believe in the richness and diversity of Japan as a destination, and we eagerly anticipate sharing even more of its dynamic character with travelers in the months and years to come.”

To learn more about travelling to Japan and the JNTO, please visit this website.


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