6 of the Must-See Places Off the Beaten Paths in Japan

Kayabuki no Sato

Japan is filled with many interesting destinations for first time and repeat travelers to explore. The attractions of Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo are so many that it would be easy no to venture out these well-trodden paths. But if you are thinking of seeing some of the country’s more hidden gems, here are some of the most stunning off-the-beaten-path places you need to visit now.

Akame 48 Waterfalls (Mie Prefecture)
Akame 48 Waterfalls
Akame 48 Waterfalls refers to the string of falls that include the five large ones collectively known as the Amake Five Waterfalls. The area has a scenic hiking trail that boasts of breathtaking scenery that changes every season. See the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, the vibrant green leaves of summer, the stunning foliage of autumn, and the frozen vista during winter. The place is also associated with the Iga-ryu ninja that once lived in the area during the 15th to 18th century.

Aogashima Island (Tokyo)
Aogashima Island
The bustling city of Tokyo holds a secret gem that not many people know – a remote and inhabited volcanic island with a population of roughly 200. Getting to the island can be a bit tricky since it is only accessible by boat or helicopter. But the scenery and tranquil atmosphere more than make up for the time and effort to reach this beautiful island. If you can, consider staying the night and watch the stars at night.

Aoshima – Cat Island (Ehime)
Aoshima - Cat Island
Aoshima is a sparsely inhabited island where cats outnumber the human residents. Ferry trips to the island run twice daily — bringing in a growing number of tourists who want to see the island’s famous feline inhabitants.

Kayabuki no Sato (Kyoto)
Kayabuki no Sato
The former Imperial seat of Japan is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and many other amazing attractions. But there is more to Kyoto than its most-visited temples and shrines. If you want to venture beyond the usual tourist spots, head out to Miyama to visit Kayabuki no Sato. The village boasts of beautiful and well-preserved thatched roof houses that sit in the midst of breathtaking nature scenery.

Koyasan (Wakayama)
Koyasan or Mount Koya is home to the seat of Shingon Buddhism. It is a great place to enjoy the scenery in a place that exudes a sacred vibe. Visit to see the beautiful temples and the graveyards at the cemetery. Experience a temple stay and bask in the sense of peace and solitude being in this place brings.

Takeda Castle (Hyogo)
Takeda Castle
Takeda Castle is not like the other famous castles of Japan. For one, it sits on top of a mountain at about 353 meters. It is touted as the “Castle in the Sky” in reference to the castle featured in the popular 1986 animation film Laputa: Castle in the Sky. The place offers breathtaking nature scenery with views of cherry blossoms in spring and the colorful foliage in autumn. But perhaps one of the best and unforgettable sights is to see the sea of clouds that surround the ruins. From afar, the ruins of Takeda Castle look surreal and whimsical as it “floats” above the clouds.

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