When you close your eyes and picture Japan, you probably imagine bustling cities, towering skyscrapers, and neon lights. And while Japan is undoubtedly known as a high-tech country, it’s also has a more peaceful side with some of the most breathtaking and diverse natural attractions on the planet.
Don’t get us wrong – we love the action-packed vibe of Tokyo and Osaka, but sometimes it’s worth stepping outside the city limits to explore more off-the-beaten-path destinations.
From the colorful flower fields of Yamanashi to the jaw-dropping tiered riced terraces along the Sosogi Coast, Japan is teeming with undiscovered sights and attractions. To help you plan your next Japan itinerary, we put together this list of the top remarkable places in Japan you won’t want to miss.
1. Takachiho Gorge
Photo by Hiroaki Kaneko
The steep, rugged cliffs of the Takachiho Gorge have been carved over millions of years by the Gokasa River, resulting in a unique, winding canyon that is believed to look like the spine of a dragon. One of the best things to do here is to navigate the calm waters in a rowboat, although you can also admire the impressive 55-foot Minainotaki waterfall that flows through in the middle of the Gorge.
2. Motonosumi-inari Shrine
Photo By: Sean Pavone
Meandering towards a rocky bluff overlooking the Sea of Japan is a window row of 123 bright red torii gates, built to honor the white fox spirit. Although it was only built in the last 30 years, visitors from across the globe take refuge here and leave small offerings in return for financial success.
3. Zao Ski Resort
Photo by ZAO Ropeway
With over 30 different lifts and gondolas, the Zao Ski Resort is one of the most exhilarating places in Japan for outdoor enthusiasts. The snowy slopes cater to skiers and snowboarders of every skill level, although the whopping 6-mile long trek down the side of the mountain proves to be a worthwhile adventure for more experienced explorers.
4. Hitachi Seaside Park
Photo By: jiratto
Known for its dramatic ocean views and blooming flower fields, the Hitachi Seaside Park is one of the more remarkable places in Japan. There’s a different flower or tree that blooms every season (like the crimson Kochia bushes in fall and the vibrant baby blue eyes in spring), so you can enjoy the foliage no matter what time of the year you come.
Photo by Walter Mario Stein
Synonymous with peace and tranquility, the Sagano bamboo forest is the perfect place to find inner peace. Escape into the center of the dense forest of bamboo stalks, whose wispy leaves make a magical rustling sound when the wind rolls through. You’ll feel as if you’re completely immersed in nature itself.
6. Tottori-sakyu Sand Hills
Photo by Hashi photo
It’s no surprise that Japan has plenty of historic temples and bustling cities, but did you know they also have rolling sand dunes? The Totorri-sakyu Sand Hills are the only sand dunes in the country, and its location next to the Sea of Japan only makes it that much more mesmerizing.
7. Farm Tomita Lavender Farm
Photo By: ajisai13
The aroma from Hokkaido’s Farm Tomita Lavender Farm is almost as stunning as the scenic views of the flower fields themselves. The winding slopes of the hills are blanketed in purple lavender bushes, orange poppy flowers, and white baby’s breath bushels, which makes this beautiful place in Japan one of the most colorful.
8. Jigokudani Monkey Park
Photo by Fezbot2000
Spend time with Japan’s most adorable (and cheeky) residents at the Jigokundai Monkey Park. During your visit, you’ll be able to see hundreds of Japanese Macaques rummaging through the forests and even bathing in the warm waters of the soothing hot springs. As cute as they may look, we recommend enjoying their company from afar (after all, they are wild animals!)
9. Adachi Museum of Art
Photo by 663Highland
The picturesque gardens of the Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane is a must-see for any culture lover. In addition to the outdoor sculpture garden, the museum also houses over 1,500 Japanese paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.
10. Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Photo by Reginald Pentinio
Cast your gaze upon miles and miles of vibrant pink moss plants when you attend the annual Fuji Shibazakura Festival in Yamanashi. Although it’s one of the more popular festivals in Japan (over 500,000 people visit the festival each year), seeing the fields of bright pink flowers is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t want to miss during your trip to Japan.
11. Biei Blue Pond, Shirogane
Photo By: okimo
The otherworldly colors of the Biei Blue Pond water may be artificial, but it’s still a breathtaking sight to see. Thanks to the presence of aluminum, the water shimmers a vibrant shade of turquoise guaranteed to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
12 Itsukushima Shrine
Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata
The Itsukushima Shrine, or “floating gate,” is a sight that you cannot miss during your trip to Japan. At over 50 feet tall, this bright red torii gate looks like it’s floating in the middle of the sea (although you can reach it by foot when the tide is low enough).
Photo By: Phubet Juntarungsee
Shikisai-no-oka is a jaw-dropping landscape in the heart of Hokkaido where the colors of the rainbow come to life. This flower garden contains rows and rows of over 30 types of flowers, including red tulips, purple lavender, and yellow sunflowers.
14. Mount Aso
Photo by takahiro taguchi
As the largest active volcano in the country (and one of the largest active volcanoes in the world), Mount Aso looms over the island of Kyushu in the Aso-Kuku National Park. It stands over 5,200 feet above sea level and is the perfect setting for hiking, camping, and even taking a relaxing dip in a bubbling hot spring.
15. Shiroyone Senmaid
Photo by totti
Sprawling across the terraced hillside of the Sosogi Coast are the Shiroyone Senmaid rice fields. While the ocean-side paddies provide a beautiful backdrop during the day, they are even more breathtaking at night when they are illuminated by color-changing LED lights. The colors of the lights change every 30 minutes, so it’s worth staying for an hour or two to watch them.
16. Nanzoin Temple
Photo By: ajisai13 / Shutterstock.com
Japan is home to numerous shrines and temples, but the Nanzoin Temple in Fukuoka has to be one of the most remarkable places of them all. It’s famous for its gigantic reclining Buddha statue. Larger than the Statue of Liberty, the Buddha is believed to be the largest bronze statue in the entire world.
17. Mount Ishizuchi
Photo by Kanenori
The 6,500-foot Mount Ishizuchi is the largest of Japan’s seven sacred peaks. There are numerous hiking trails for all types of skill levels, although the trek to the peak is a worthwhile adventure for extreme hikers interested in lush green trails and sweeping vista views.
18. Milk Road
hoPhoto by Kohji Asakawa
As one of Japan’s best kept secrets, the Milk Road winds up to the rim of Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in the country. The Milk Road gets its name from the multitudes of cows grazing in the neighboring fields, making it a scenic and adorable trek for adventurous hikers.
19. Hamanoura Tanada Terraced Rice Field
Photo By: BlackRabbit3
The terraced rice fields in Saga’s northwestern prefecture look like giant staircases leading from the ocean up towards the sky. As you make your way to the top of Hamanoura Tanada, you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views from the observation deck. Try to get there for sunset – you won’t regret it!
20. Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden
Photo By: Chanawin Tepprasitsakda
Easily one of the most photogenic places in Japan Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden is home to two 330-foot tunnels draped in budding purple wisteria flowers. From the second you arrive, you’ll feel as if you stepped foot inside a fairytale. You can only see these vibrant blooms during wisteria season (April to May), although there are plenty of other flowers and plants to see the rest of the year in the park.
21. The Volcanos of Aogashima Island
Photo By: Ippei & Janine
Situated 200 miles south of, Aogashima is the most secluded and remote island in the Izu archipelago, which means it’s relatively untouched by mass tourism. Travelers who wish to spend a few days here can camp inside the inner crater and even relax in the on-site spa that’s completely powered by volcanic heat.
READ: Remarkable Places Community: Meet Ippei & Janine
22. Shiraito Falls
Photo By: Tsuneyoshi Saga/Shutterstock
Located at the foothills of Mount Fuji is Shiraito Falls, one of the most spectacular natural places in Japan. The water is supplied by the snow run-off from the mountain, which makes the cascading streams and sparkling pools scared to many locals. And with the lush surroundings and peaceful atmosphere, it’s easy to see why.
23. Tanegashima Island
23 miles off the coast of Kagoshima is Tanegashima Island, which is famously known as being home to Japan’s largest space development center. However, the landscape of the island is just as mesmerizing, with its ominous sea caves, colorful coral reefs, and tranquil white-sand beaches.
If you’re planning a memorable trip to Japan, which remarkable place are you most looking forward to visiting? And for those who have already spend time in the land of the Rising Sun, were there any cool, remarkable places that you stumbled upon that we left out? Let us know!