For a lot of places in the northern hemisphere, June means the start of summer–swimming, camping, barbecues, and all that fun stuff. But in Japan, June can be less fun, because it’s when the rainy season begins. A chance of rain on almost any day for several weeks in a row makes it hard to do outdoor activities, and it can also kill your motivation to travel. But if travel is what you’re after this June, don’t worry! There are plenty of beautiful places to visit even in the rain.
In fact, Japanese travel provider Jalan just released a ranking for “Charming Places with Superb Views even on Rainy Days”, which was determined by a survey done among Jalan’s users. The ranking includes a variety of places that provide a great experience regardless of the weather, including both natural landscapes and urban tourist attractions, and they all look great on Instagram!
9 (tie). Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces (Ishikawa Prefecture)
What could be more picturesque in the rain than layers upon layers of rice terraces set against the ocean? Plus, if you manage to catch the rain stopping at sunset, the reflection of the sun sinking behind the Japan Sea off the freshly filled paddies is sure to be to die for.
9 (tie). Bijin Bayashi Forest (Niigata Prefecture)
This hilly forest, made up of a dense growth of 100-year-old beech trees, is considered Japan’s most beautiful forest. It’s especially beautiful in the rain, as the water makes the many trunks and leaves of its trees sparkle. There’s a pond in the forest that also beautifully reflects the trees around it. The sound of the rain in the leaves and on the pond and the cries of the birds making this forest their habitat is sure to offer a chance for a spiritual reset.
8. Cape Togenkyo (Miyazaki Prefecture)
With 2,000,000 hydrangea bushes of several different colors spread out over an area four times the size of Tokyo Dome, Cape Togenkyo offers a beautiful garden view set against the backdrop of sparkling blue water. The colors pop even on a drizzly day, so it’s well worth visiting even in the rainy season.
7. Harunire Terrace, Karuizawa Hoshino (Nagano Prefecture)
The line of shops along the street of Haruine Terrace in the resort town of Karuizawa is covered with over 100 colorful umbrellas that will brighten up any rainy day, and at night, they’re lit up to give the space a magical ambiance. This year, rainbow bubbles also appear periodically throughout the day, making the space even more mystical, especially in the rain.
6. Oirase Gorge (Aomori Prefecture)
There’s no better time to visit the northern prefecture of Aomori than in the summer, when its milder temperatures offer a delightful reprieve from the sweltering heat of the more southern parts of Japan. Oirase Gorge, where the clear waters of the Oirase River wind through untouched forests and moss-covered rocks, offers some of the coolest temperatures and the most stunning natural views and was rightfully voted as one of the top places to visit in Japan before you die. Naturally, in the rain, the moss becomes even more vibrant. This is the kind of place that makes you just want to take in the fresh, natural air.
5. Sanzen-in Temple (Kyoto)
On the more urban side of things is Sanzen-in Temple and its two quiet gardens, Yuseien and Shuhekien. Yuseien might be the main attraction on a rainy day, as it’s filled with moss plants that look gorgeous in the rain and lined with cypress and cedar trees that glitter with raindrops. Its path also winds around a pond which offers a peaceful receptacle for the rain. On the other hand, Shuhekien is meant to be admired from the temple’s reception hall, where you can enjoy the view while still staying dry. Either way, both gardens offer a rainy day retreat.
4. Hakone Tozan Railway Hydrangea Train (Kanagawa Prefecture)
You may already know Hakone as a popular tourist spot in Japan for its high concentration of hot springs and up-close view of Mt. Fuji, but from the end of June to the beginning of July, square in the middle of the rainy season, it’s also known for the beautiful hydrangeas that grow on the mountainside around the Hakone Tozan Railway, which connects major train lines to the sights in Hakone. During this time, the small railway is dubbed the Hydrangea Train since it winds through beautiful blooming flowers of many different colors. During the period the flowers are in bloom, they’re also lit up, making them a spectacular view as you enjoy a leisurely train ride out of the rain to one of Japan’s most popular destinations.
3. Higashi Chaya District, Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Kanazawa is a popular destination for Japanese history tourists, but it has a few other things to offer, too. The Higashi Chaya district, for example, is full of shops selling things such as gold-leaf ice cream and traditional artisanal goods. The row of shops in the district is made up of traditional wooden styles and the pedestrian path is paved with stone, and in the rain, the streets glitter with the reflections of the streetlights, giving the place a very whimsical, old-world atmosphere.
2. Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki Prefecture)
The second natural landscape of Miyazaki to make the list, Takachiho Gorge is a seven-kilometer-long river ravine filled with geometric rock formations and sparkling emerald waters that has been voted as one of the best places to see autumn leaves. You can rent a boat and row down the river to see the beauty of this natural wonder, which will sparkle in the rain. There are even tour boats with resident kappa on them on rainy days!
1. Yakushima Island (Kagoshima Prefecture)
Rounding out this list of beautiful rainy day travel spots is one of Japan’s most beautiful natural landscapes: Yakushima Island. Often considered to be the inspiration for the setting of the famous Ghibli anime Princess Mononoke, this World Natural Heritage Site is full of wild nature, including the moss-covered Shiratani Unsui Gorge. Huge old cedar and hemlock trees mark this forest as an ancient place that will undoubtedly be beautiful in the rain–which it gets a lot of. Just be careful, however, as heavy rainfall may cause the waters in the gorge to rise and pose a danger to hikers and tourists.
Each of these destinations is amazingly beautiful and supremely Instagrammable, even in the rain, so if you’re feeling a bit stir-crazy this rainy season, consider taking a small vacation to one of these spots. As a bonus for traveling in the rain, you might find them less crowded than usual!
And do you know what else is great for rainy days? Hot springs! Check out 2020’s list of the most popular hot springs for more rainy season travel ideas.
Source, images: PR Times
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