From the nation’s snow-capped mountains to its wide open seas, Japan has plenty of natural beauty. But you don’t need an anime convention or a Tokyo sightseeing tour to find it — there’s so much more waiting outside your travel comfort zone. Here are three lesser known destinations that won’t disappoint.

The “nikko” is a small city in the northern part of Japan. It has many attractions and adventures that are perfect for travelers who want to see what Japan has to offer outside of Tokyo.

Japan's Smaller Cities Offer Lands of Discovery and Adventure

Tokyo and Kyoto aren’t the only important places to visit in Japan’s long history, but they’re typically the only ones that Americans are aware of. Its smaller towns have lots to offer, from a country where oriental white storks soar above to a historic town known for its hot springs to another known for its closeness to the majestic and beautiful Mount Fuji.

They’re also great additions to a lengthier journey of Japan, since they provide less congested places with just as much culture, history, and culinary experience as the major cities.

The Land of the White Stork is a place where you may see a lot of white stor

Toyooka City, on the northern coast of southwestern Japan, is accessible through Kyoto or one of the other cities in the area. It’s a lovely town with izakayas, or pub-style eateries, serving delectable regional specialties, where you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture at its most basic level.

The town is home to Kousetsu Ichiba, the country’s oldest wooden market, which sells locally produced vegetables and flowers. Toyooka, which is famed for its high-quality bags, has its own Caban Street, or bag street, where visitors may purchase a bag or wicker trunk with a heritage that symbolizes the town’s 1,200-year bag-making history.

Toyooka City Japan, Japan Toyooka City, Japan’s Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork. (picture courtesy of Toyooka City)

The village is nestled between two unique natural wonders. The first are the Genbudo Caves, which have staggeringly arranged basalt columns that climb to the sky. The kounotori, or oriental white stork, is the second. This beautiful bird was formerly common across Japan, but in the mid-nineteenth century, it was on the verge of extinction.

Residents of Toyooka City seized several of the remaining wild oriental white storks and started breeding them in an attempt to save the species. Today, Toyooka’s Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork is a free, family-friendly attraction featuring educational programs and animal viewings.

The Land of Steam and Snow

Kinosaki is a historic town in Hyogo Prefecture, immediately north of Toyooka City, located along the Maruyama River. Residents and visitors to the town have been basking in the town’s onsens, or hot springs, since the year 720 A.D!

Unlike many other public onsens in Japan, Kinosaki’s seven public onsens are tattoo-friendly, which means that visitors with visible tattoos will not be refused access.

This little village is lovely all year, but particularly so in the winter, when a blanket of soft snow blankets the tile rooftops and cobblestone streets. Skiing, snowshoeing, and trekking along the Ropeway Hiking Course, which includes a halt where hikers can see the valley below, are all available to visitors.

Kinosaki Japan, Kinosaki, Nishimuraya Honkan, honkan, Japanese honkan In the winter, the outside of Kinosaki’s Nishimuraya Honkan. (Flickr picture by Nishimuraya Kinosaki Honkan)

Kinosaki, being a historic town, offers an abundance of cultural and historical opportunities. Tea ceremonies, meditation, calligraphy classes, and a visit to Osenji Temple are all must-do activities for those interested in learning about Japanese culture.

The immersion continues at the Nishimuraya Honkan, where visitors may stay in a traditional ryokan-style residence complete with an indoor and outdoor onsen as well as a tranquil Japanese garden.

The Land of the Highest Peaks

Fujinomiya, in the Shizuoka Prefecture, is the nearest city to the revered and gorgeous Mount Fuji. The city serves as the starting point for two paths to Mount Fuji’s summit, making it a great location for adventurous travelers.

At the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, visitors may learn about the region’s historical importance before embarking on the Fujinomiya Trail or Prince Route, which leads higher into the sky. Families and vacationers who don’t want to hike the mountain may take excursions around it, which include anything from hiking to whitewater rafting and more.

Fujinomiya Japan, Japan, Mt. Fuji In Fujinomiya, Japan, a group of paragliders descends from Mt. Fuji. (Image courtesy of Tourism Shizuoka Japan)

Other visitors may experience Mt. Fuji Sengen Taisha Shrine, which has a 2,000-year history as one of the region’s most prominent shrines. Visitors may also buy and learn how to wear a traditional Japanese kimono, as well as sample locally manufactured sake created from Mt. Fuji’s runoff from the Shiraito Falls.

It is simple to get to Funjinomiya from Tokyo. Travelers may take the Yakisoba Express Bus straight from Tokyo to the town, making it an excellent complement to any Tokyo vacation.

The Adventure Land

Another hamlet near Mt. Fuji is known for its various adrenaline-inducing activities. Gotemba, home to the Fuji Speedway, many golf courses, and the start of Mt. Fuji’s longest route, has a lot to offer.

The Gotemba Trail is ideal for those looking for a lengthier, less congested climb up Mt. Fuji, since it is less popular and developed. Gotemba is also renowned for its many hot springs, which are ideal for unwinding after a chilly trek or an outdoor activity like as cycling or horseback riding.

Gotemba, Japan, Shizuoka Japan, Mt. Fuji In Gotemba, Japan, golfers play a round under Mt. Fuji. (Image courtesy of Tourism Shizuoka Japan)

Outdoor enthusiasts may now enjoy a deluxe camping experience with Fujino Kirameki in Gotemba. Travelers may experience the best of adventure travel without sacrificing luxury with gourmet meals, elegant lodgings, and activities such as woodland walks, trekking, cave delving, and more.

The Land of Extravagance

Travelers visiting the tea-rich Shizuoka Prefecture might choose Atami City, which is just 40 minutes by rail from Tokyo, as a perfect base for their explorations of Japanese culture and gastronomy.

For the adventurous eater, this seaside city has magnificent onsens, vistas of Mount Fuji, and lots of delectable seafood meals.

Three of the city’s premium hotels are also well-known.

Atami City Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture, Shizuoka Japan, Japan From the shore, a view of Atami City. (Image courtesy of Tourism Shizuoka Japan)

The Momoyama Gaen by The Curation Hotel has Japanese design made with locally sourced materials and craftspeople, as well as an onsen and Edo-period paintings. The Curation Hotel’s Tounoya-an is a classic Japanese kominka, a magnificent villa with an on-site onsen and contemporary suites.

Another kominka property, Suto-suien by The Curation Hotel, combines two Japanese traditions to produce a totally unique combination of wabi-sabi, the acceptance of imperfection, and Rinpa, an Edo era aesthetic style.

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Japan’s smaller cities offer lands of discovery and adventure. Hokkaido is a great place to start your journey in Japan. Reference: hokkaido.

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