Japan Hidden Gems – 18 Secret Destinations

We love exploring Japan hidden gems. Following our first and second part, we bring you six more wonderful destinations to explore.

18. Mifuneyama Rakuen (御船山楽園), Saga

Photo from photo.mifuneyamarakuen.jp
Image Source: Mifuneyama Rakuen

The Mifuneyama Rakuen in Saga prefecture, southern Japan, is an elaborated garden for flower-lovers. It is the most beautiful in spring, when the 20,000 azalea bushes bloom against the backdrop of Mt. Mifune. It reminds me of a cross between Hobbiton and the tea party at Alice-in-Wonderland.

In autumn, the view is just as stunning – the vibrant colours of the autumn leaves reflecting in the water. In November, there will also be a light-up. Don’t miss this breath-taking scenery if you are in Kyushu!

17. Tanizen Suspension Bridge(谷瀬の吊り橋), Nara 

Photo from Totsukawa Tourism

Image Source: Totsukawa Tourism

Crossing the Tanizen Suspension Bridge in Nara may take more courage than your average tourist bridge. It’s one of Japan’s longest steel-wire suspension bridges, at almost 300m long, hanging 54m above the valley. If you could take your eyes off the bridge, you will be amazed by the vastness of the beautiful mountains around you.

Every year on 4 Aug, you can catch a thrilling Japanese drums performed on the bridge. The event is called Yuredaiko, literally “Drums on the shaking bridge”. Now, it can’t get more apt than that, can it?

16. Lake Nishinoko, Shiga

Photo from www.shiminken.net

Image Source: Shiminken

Everyone knows about Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan. Lesser known, is Lake Nishinoko, one of the largest outlets of Lake Biwa. Surrounding Lake Nishinoko is a huge reed field. It is said that one of the most beautiful experiences in Japan is to stand amongst the maze of reeds, listening to the waterbirds and watching the sunset over the quiet Lake Nishinoko. 

Nearby is the old castle town of Omihachiman, one of the eight most beautiful spots of Lake Biwa. You can enjoy cruising through the small canals in traditional houseboats, taking in the scenery of the quaint old town as well as the beautiful reed field of Lake Nishinoko. A great “Japan hidden gem”!

15. Ryusendo (龍泉洞), Iwate

Photo from Iwate Prefecture Tourism Portal Site

Image Source: Iwate Prefecture Tourism Portal Site

Ryusendo is a beautiful limestone cave in Iwate and is a national monument! You can tour the cave and admire the emerald-green lakes in the caves. It is said the fourth lake is the deepest underground lake in Japan, and also one of the most transparent lakes in the world! A Japan hidden gem down under.

14. Yufugawa Valley (由布川峡谷), Oitayusendo (龍泉洞), Iwate

Image Source: Naoto Tsujimoto

Next door to the quaint little onsen town Yufuin, Yufugawa Valley (由布川峡谷) is steeped in mystery and natural beauty. From the main road, visitors can take a short but steep walk down to the valley floor, entering a magical world of ravine and waterfalls. 

From the Jakoshitouge (蛇越峠) observation deck, you can get a bird’s eye view of the onsen town and the valley. The best time is perhaps, autumn mornings, when the town is shrouded in the morning mist, enhancing the magical feel of the area.

13. Takeda Castle (竹田城), Hyogo


Castle in the Sky… No, it’s not Laputa. It’s Takeda Castle. Located on a hilltop in Hyogo, the ruins of Takeda Castle is often shrouded in the morning clouds, earning it its nickname, Castle in the Sky, or the Machu Picchu of Japan. The best season to catch this spectacular sight is in autumn, between September and December. 

It is easily accessible from Kobe or Kyoto city. Why not make a day trip to this mysterious place during autumn?

Enjoying these Japan hidden games?  Continue to destinations 12 through 7!

Read the comments on the forums!

If you are worried about travelling on your own in Japan, trippiece (en.trippiece.com) organizes free trips to off-the-grid destinations and events in Japan every weekend. Founded in 2011, trippiece is a social platform for travellers to link up with likeminded people for their next adventure in Japan. Stop wanderlusting and start travelling!


Author Bio
Shuu Ying

Shuu Ying

After being a JET in Sapporo, freezing in almost-Siberian climate, Shuu swore off winter vacations and has returned to tropical Singapore. She now works at a travel website for Japan, en.trippiece.com and spends her time discovering hidden places in Japan or planning her next diving getaway.


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  • Mike Morey

    Nice article and really cool site – thanks for the info about Japan.
    Eco Tours Japan has some really fun and unique things to do in Japan like hiking in the Minami Alps, cycling Mt Fuji World Heritage 5 lakes area, winery and wine tasting tours in Katsunuma, onsen tours and also visit some secluded mountain temples and shrines. They also offer amazing accommodation in their traditional Japanese mountain house in Yamanashi – great place to stay during the tour with excellent local food.
    Check them out here http://ecotoursjapan.com/

  • lucy

    I can’t find out any information on Lake Nishinoko online. Does it have another name? I’d like to work out how to get there