Thursday, 1st October 2015
In Japan Travel News,
Business Insider recommends best little-known destinations in Japan
Many people who travel to Japan head to the likes of Mount Fuji, Tokyo and Kyoto, as these locations are recognised as popular and with plenty to offer. There is more to Japan than these, however, and Business Insider recently set out to find some hidden gems that will get visitors to the country off the beaten track.
Using the social media platform Quora, the publication asked the question: "What are some of Japan's best kept secrets?" The response was overwhelming and it compiled a list of the top seven places not mentioned in many guidebooks that are definitely worth visiting.
Heading to the quiet town of Narai-Juku to the west of Tokyo is like stepping back in time, as everyday life has changed little in this corner of the Nagano Prefecture for centuries. Traditionally, Narai-Juku was used by merchants on the Kiso Way, as they travelled between Kyoto and the place formally known as Edo, which is modern-day Tokyo.
The town benefited from being on the trade route and saw strong wooden houses being built, which still stand wonderfully preserved to this day. Take a step back and take in the wider scenery too, as the Kiso Valley where Narai-Juku is located is also stunning.
Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel
Enter a subterranean world in Saitama to the north of Tokyo, where a huge network of tunnels has been constructed to help deal with the flood water that comes along with typhoon season. When it is not transporting up to 200 tons of water to the Edo River, the tunnels can be explored by visitors with guides to show them the way.
The complex of tunnels covers no less than four miles, 50 metres below the surface and is complete with 59 pillars and pumps to help do its job. While the tours are free, they are conducted exclusively in Japanese.
Upon visiting Yakushima rainforest on the island of the same name, it is not difficult to see why the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) made it a World Heritage Site. The ancient sugi, or Japanese cedar trees, form the backdrop to an ecosystem that supports 1,900 species and subspecies of flora, 150 types of bird and 16 varieties of mammal.
Tsukiji Fish Market
If you want incredible fish at bargain prices and are happy to forego the luxuries of seats and even chopsticks, Tsukiji Fish Market is for you. This establishment serves Tokyo's common workers and offers a more authentic experience than any restaurant ever could. Head to the bar and select a plate of whatever catches your eye and tuck in straight away.
Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku
Travelling to Japan and not visiting one of the country's onsen, or natural public baths, would be a crime. Rotenburo take the onsen experience one step further, as they include a traditional spa and hotel, with the Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku being one of the best. It can be found in Minakami-machi and demonstrates how the power of nature can be put to its best use.
It's important to understand the rituals and etiquette surrounding the use of onsen prior to any visit, as these bathing spots are part of the long-established Japanese culture. Always wash before entering the baths and remove all clothing.
Vietnam may be better known for its rice terraces than Japan, but the country consumes a large quantity of the staple and it has to be grown somewhere. These features of the landscape of Japan's countryside look different throughout the year, with the golden crops being harvested in the autumn and green shoots giving off an emerald hue in the summer. The mirrored effect of the terraces being flooded in the spring is particularly stunning.
Takao Beer Mount
Mount Takao in the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park features a beer garden and all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet. The views over Tokyo are incomparable and it is a comfortable place to sit and take them in. Those wishing to earn the vistas can climb to the top, while others may opt to use the train that runs up to the summit on a regular basis.