There are so many “Japan Off The Beaten Track” treasures that you can stumble upon. Following up on our first part last week, here are more great finds from off the beaten track.
12. Lake Nozori (野反湖), Gunma
Lake Nozori in Gunma is situated at 1,514 m above sea level and surrounded by 2,000 m high mountains. In the summer, it is a favourite spot for many outdoors enthusiasts, especially when the fields of local alpine flowers are in bloom. Hiking, camping and fishing seem to be the popular activities but of course no one will stop you if you just want to kick back, soak in the hotspring and take in the beautiful scenery.
11. Yamadera (山寺), Yamagata
Risshakuji Temple, also known as Yamadera (literally ‘mountain temple’), is situated in the mountains in Yamagata prefecture. The temple grounds covers a huge area and visitors have to climb 1,000 steps up the stone path to get to the higher parts of the temple grounds.
Along the way up, there are several small temples, stone statues and lanterns and places to rest, making it a pleasant hike. However, the best reward is at the top, where you can marvel at the scenic view of the valley and mountains. Its proximity to Sendai city makes it a great day-trip in the Tohoku region.
10. Shimanto River (四万十川), Shikoku
Known as “Japan’s last pristine river”, the Shimanto River is the longest river in Shikoku. The vegetation of the area and the lack of dams has allowed pure water to flow the entire 196km of the river. It is a great place to escape from the city and enjoy the tranquility and calm waters of the river.
In fall, there is a traditional fishing technique where fisherman will wave torches of fire above the water to scare eels, prawns and other fish into the nets underwater.
9. Okutama (奥多摩), Tokyo
In the western end of Tokyo prefecture, there is a lovely getaway called Okutama. This mountainous region is a huge contrast to the bustling city and is a local secret. Over the weekends, you can often find young locals visiting and hiking at Mt. Mitake, one of the more popular trails.
The natural landscape of the area is beautiful throughout all four seasons. In spring, the cherry blossoms along Lake Okutama are in full bloom, and in autumn, the bright autumn colours make a beautiful contrast against the green forest moss in Mt. Mitake. In winter, the mountain will be covered with snow and visitors have a chance to view the frozen waterfalls.
8. Akasoba no Sato, (赤そばの里), Nagano
Miles and miles of red carpet – this is what Akasoba-no-Sato in Nagano looks like. Nagano prefecture is famous for the soba (buckwheat) flowers which are usually white. However, this red species, called ‘Takane Ruby’, is native to the Himalayas and was introduced to Japan. Every September, the fields of Takane Ruby are in full bloom, creating a beautiful landscape against the backdrop of clear blue skies and green mountain ranges of Nagano. Isn’t it beautiful?
7. 48 Waterfalls in Akame (赤目四十八滝), Mie
The 48 waterfalls of Akame in Mie is a beautiful place to visit during all four seasons. There aren’t exactly 48 waterfalls, instead, “48” is chosen to indicate the large number of waterfalls in the area.
There is an easy hiking trail along the falls, but do not be shocked if you encounter the giant salamanders as this is one of their natural homes. If you are going in winter, it will be a good opportunity to view some frozen waterfalls!
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!
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.