Japan is one of the top destinations in the world, with cultural marvels including Unesco World Heritage sites in Kyoto and beyond, to world-class shopping in Tokyo. But if you really want the inside scoop on where to visit, take a look at our round-up of the best places to see, as recommended by locals.
Want to get the inside track on where to visit in Japan? You can’t go wrong with a local guide at your side on our epic 12-day tour of the country – packed with thrilling day trips and culture-embracing activities.
About 30 minutes by train from the prefectural capital Sapporo is the town of Otaru, home to the Otaru Canal. A water route that was used to support shipping in decades past, the canal is no longer in use but has been preserved as an historic site. The charming waterway lined with brick warehouses is just one of several attractions in Otaru, which include a German-style brewery and a music box museum.
This quiet, secluded village at the foot of Mount Haku in the Gifu prefecture is famous for traditional cottages with pointed thatch roofs. The area experiences some of the heaviest snowfall in Japan, which creates an arresting scene in the winter.
The Yakushima rainforest, on a small island off the Kagoshima coast, is a place of unspoilt natural beauty. With moss-covered rocks, 1ooo-year-old cedar trees, and an abundance of rivers, gorges and waterfalls, Yakushima is a must for lovers of the outdoors. However, it is one of the wettest places in the world, so don’t forget your rainproof gear.