Hidden Japan; 13 Unusual Places To See
From snow-capped mountains and glistening cave formations to constellations of islands, Japan is home to natural splendor outside of its incredible cities.
Explore the natural beauty of Japan off the beaten path through these pictures below.
1. Hashima Island
Hashima island is an abandoned island about 9 miles from Nagasaki. Hashima Island, commonly known as Battleship Island, is an abandoned island lying about 9 miles (15 km) from the Nagasaki, in southern Japan.
Formerly the home of coal workers on the island in the first half of the 20th century, it is now known for its crumbling concrete buildings and surrounding sea wall. The island is open to tourists and has been featured in several movies, including the James Bond film “Skyfall.”
2. Ogasawara Islands
Ogasawara Islands is an archipelago of more than 30 islands. Also known as the Bonin Islands, the Ogasawara Islands are an archipelago of islands 966 km (600 miles) south of Tokyo.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been compared to the Galápagos Islands because of the abundance of unique plant, and animal life found there.
3. Shiretoko National Park
Shiretoko National Park is a remote national park in northern Japan. Shiretoko National Park is located at the northernmost tip of Japan.
The Shiretoko Peninsula, on which it is located, derives its name from the Ainu word meaning “the place where the earth protrudes,” and is one of the most isolated areas in the world, accessible only by boat or on foot. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005, the park is home to Japan’s largest brown bear population and offers views of Kunashiri Island.
4. Kumano Kodo Trails
Kumano Kodo is a sacred pilgrimage trails in Japan. Kumano Kodo is a series of ancient and sacred pilgrimage routes that cross the Kii Hantō, the largest Peninsula of Japan.
These trails are used for pilgrimage to Kumano Sanzan, a collection of three important Shinto shrines. There are three trail routes, up to 70 km in length, which were registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
5. Great Seto Bridge
Great Seto Bridge is the World’s longest two-tiered bridge system. The Great Seto Bridge is a series of double-decker bridges across a series of five small islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
These bridges were connecting Okayama and Kagawa prefectures in Japan. At 13.1 km, it is the world’s longest two-tiered bridge system. The bridge can be crossed by automobile or train.
Akiyoshidō is a large limestone cave system in Japan. Up to 100 meters wide and including nearly 9 km of passages, Akiyoshidō is the longest cave in Japan and one of the longest in Asia.
Visitors to the cave, which is part of a national park, can enter a 1-km-long section entering the cave at it’s lowest point and exit the cave via an elevator. This portion of the cave is also decorated with a variety of large and colorful mineral deposits.
7. Iwami Ginzan
Iwami Ginzan is a historic silver mine in Japan. For nearly 400 years until it closed in 1923, the Iwami Ginzan was the largest underground silver mine in Japan.
Located on the island of Honshu, it was discovered in 1526 and became home to the Haifukiho Method of mining. During its period of peak production in the 1600s, the mine produced silver coins for the Japanese empire. Today the mine and the surrounding buildings, including three castles built originally to protect the mine, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. Mount Yari
Mount Yari is a popular climbing mountain in Japan. A 10,433-foot peak in the southern part of the Hida Mountains of Japan, Mount Yari rises on the border of Ōmachi and Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture and Takayama in Gifu Prefecture.
Popular with mountain climbers, this four-ridged mountain has been called the Matterhorn of Japan due to its shape. Yari, which means spear, is said to reflect the way the peak thrusts into the sky.
9. Sumikawa Snow Park
Sumikawa Snow Park, a multi-level ski resort in Japan. A popular destination for off-piste skiers and snowshoers alike, Sumikawa Snow Park is located in the mountainous regions of the Miyagi prefecture.
The snow park’s mountain reaches a maximum elevation of 1,400 meters and has nine trails, the longest of which is 3,000 meters. The open season runs from early December to mid-April.
10. Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel
Water infrastructure project and tourist destination. The Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel, on the outskirts of Tokyo, is the world’s largest underground flood water diversion facility.
Completed in 2006, it was built to mitigate overflowing of the city’s major waterways and rivers during rain and typhoon seasons. Visitors to the site can take a free tour of the five concrete containment silos with 59 massive pillars connected to 13,000-horsepower pumps that can pump up to 200 tons of water per second into the Edo River.
11. Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park, home to wild snow monkeys in Japan. Located in the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in the Yokoyu River valley, the Jigokudani Monkey Park is home to a large population of wild Japanese macaques, commonly known as snow monkeys.
In winter, the snow monkeys climb down from the park’s cliffs and forest to sit in in hot springs, before returning to the forests in the evenings. There are no barriers in the park, leaving visitors able to see the snow monkeys up close.
12. Awa Dance Festival
Awa Dance Festival, an annual dance festival in Japan. Dancers and musicians take to the streets in Obon dance costumes as they perform in the Awa Odori/Awa Dance Festival, held every August in Tokushima Prefecture in Japan.
The festival, which draws its name from the old name for the province, Awa, has its origins in Japanese Buddhist Day of the Dead Festivals, called Bon, which dates from the 1600s. Today, the festival brings more than 1.3 million visitors to Tokushima each year.
13. Mount Nōtori
Mount Nōtori, a 10,000-foot mountain in Japan. Mount Nōtori or Nōtoridake, is one of the highest points in the Akaishi Mountains.
It has two peaks: its southeastern peak, Mount Nōtori, is 9,928 feet, while the northwestern peak, Mount Nishinōtori is 10,010 feet. Together with Mount Kitadake and Mount Aino, the peaks are known as Shiranesanzan or the three white summits.