airport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar
Seigantoji Pagoda and Nachi Falls, Japan
Seigantoji Pagoda and Nachi Falls, Japan | © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo
Save to wishlist

The 16 Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Didn't Know Existed

Picture of Jessica Dawdy
Updated: 5 February 2019

Japan is filled with countless places that inspire and enchant visitors. From historic castles and eye-catching floral displays to unusual landscapes that look pulled from a completely different country, here are some of the most beautiful places in Japan you have to see to believe.

 

Mount Koya

Buddhist shingon monks pray in Danjo Garan Monastery Complex in KOYASAN Japan

Buddhist shingon monks pray in Danjo Garan Monastery Complex in Koyansan, Japan | © Alberto Paredes / Alamy Stock Photo

Mount Koya is the spiritual home of Shingon Buddhism, a sect founded more than 1,200 years ago by one of Japan’s most important religious figures, Kobo Daishi. The sect’s head temple, Kongobu-ji, is set on the forest-covered mountaintop of Mount Koya. Over 100 other temples have been established around Mount Koya, many of which offer visitors an overnight stay.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Noto Peninsula

shutterstock_1274755951

Noto Hanto Peninsula coastline in Wajima Prefecture, Japan | © Bluesnaps / Shutterstock

Comprising the northern section of Ishikawa Prefecture, the Noto Peninsula is home to some of Japan’s most stunning coastal scenery and untouched countryside landscapes. Aside from admiring the natural scenery, the peninsula offers a number of spots for fishing, swimming, and camping. Its main tourist center, Wajima City, is home to fewer than 30,000 people and serves as wonderful place to experience Japanese small-town life.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Shikoku Island

The Kazuabashi Suspension bridge, Shikoku Island, Japan

The Kazuabashi Suspension bridge, Shikoku Island, Japan | © Terry Allen / Alamy Stock Photo

Shikoku is Japan’s fourth largest island, located southwest of the main island of Honshu to which it is connected via two bridge systems. This island is also tied to influential monk Kobo Daishi as the home of the 88 Temple route, one of the country’s most important pilgrimages. Aside from attracting those seeking spiritual fulfilment, the island offers some spectacular coastlines, mountain ranges, and tumbling rivers.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Kiso Valley

Nakasendo road passing through post town of Tsumago-juku, Kiso Valley, Gifu Prefecture, Japan

Nakasendo road, Tsumago-juku, Kiso Valley, Japan | © Brad Mitchell / Alamy Stock Photo

The Kiso Valley is home to the Nakasendo trail, one of only five Edo-period highways connecting Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. Travelers during this time made this long journey on foot and, as a result, the Kiso Valley is dotted with historic post towns where travelers once rested, ate, and slept along the way. It’s possible to walk a section of this old highway, between mountains and through thick forests, as well as visit some of the well-preserved towns.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Shodoshima

The pyramid in the quarries on the island Shodoshima in Japan

The pyramid in the quarries on the island Shodoshima, Japan | © Ryszard Stelmachowicz / Alamy Stock Photo

Shodoshima has a mild climate and a Mediterranean atmosphere, home to beaches, dramatic coastlines, resorts, and even olive plantations. The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima is one of the hosts of the Setouchi Triennale contemporary art festival, and outdoor installations from previous festivals can be seen dotted around the island.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Kenrokuen Garden
Park
Tea House in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan

Tea House in Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan | © Anthony Shaw / Alamy Stock Photo

Named one of Japan’s ‘three most beautiful landscape gardens’, Kenrokuen Garden is filled with charming bridges, walking trails, teahouses, trees and flower. Once the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle, Kenrokuen was opened to the public in the late 19th century. Each season reveals a different side of the garden’s beauty, from plum and cherry blossoms in the spring to colourful maple-tree leaves in the autumn.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
7:00 am - 6:00 pm

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Scenic, Photo Opportunity, Instagrammable

Matsumoto Castle
Building
Matsumoto Castle in Nagano, Japan

Matsumoto Castle in Nagano, Japan | © Damon Coulter / Alamy Stock Photo

Matsumoto Castle is one of only a handful of original castles remaining in Japan. Initially built in 1504, it was expanded to its current form in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Nicknamed Karasu-jō (Crow Castle), it’s known for its beautiful black-and-white three-turreted main keep.
More Info

Nachi Falls

Japan, Nachikatsuura. Nachi Falls with Hiro Shrine and torii gate. Tourists wandering around.

Nachi Falls with Hiro Shrine and torii gate, Japan | © Malcolm Fairman / Alamy Stock Photo

Nachi Falls is the tallest waterfall (with a single drop) in the country, tumbling down 133 metres (436 feet) into a rushing river below. The waterfall is overlooked by the gorgeous Nachi Taisha Shinto shrine, which is said to be more than 1,400 years old. Built in honour of the waterfall’s kami (spirit god), the shrine is one of several Buddhist and Shinto religious sites found around the waterfall.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Cable car at japan alps tateyama kurobe alpine route

Cable car at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Japan alps | © trus jomkhantiphol / Alamy Stock Photo

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route connects Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. The route can be experienced by various types of transportation, including ropeway, cable car, and trolley bus, all of which offer spectacular views of the surrounding Tateyama Mountain Range. The most impressive part of the route is the road between Bijodaira and Murodo, which is bordered by 20-metre-high snow walls from April to May each year.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

The Blue Pond

The Blue Pond in Biei, Hokkaido, Japan

The Blue Pond in Biei, Hokkaido, Japan | © EQRoy / Alamy Stock Photo

The Blue Pond in Hokkaido Prefecture, also called Aoiike, is known for its ethereal blue colour. Tree stumps protruding from the surface of the water add to its otherworldly appearance. This artificial pond was created as part of an erosion control system, designed to protect the area from mudflows that can occur from the nearby Mt. Tokachi volcano. The pond’s eerie blue colour is caused by natural minerals dissolved in the water.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Hitachi Seaside Park
Park
Carpet of Nemophila, Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan

Carpet of Nemophila, Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan | © Bunwit Unseree / Alamy Stock Photo

Hitachi Seaside Park is famous for its fields of baby-blue flowers, called nemophilas, which bloom across the park in the spring. The park encompasses 190 hectares (470 acres), and more than 4.5 million blossoms blanket its fields every April. During the autumn, the park’s rounded shrubs called kochia (bassia in English) turn a bright crimson colour, creating an almost equally mesmerising sight.
More Info
Mon - Sun:
9:30 am - 6:00 pm

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Scenic, Instagrammable, Photo Opportunity

Gokayama
Park
Shirakawa Go farm house, Japan

Shirakawa Go farm house, Japan | © Guy Nesher / Alamy Stock Photo

Gokayama is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also encompasses the nearby village of Shirakawa-gō. Both areas are known for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. These centuries-old houses feature distinct thatched roofs, designed to withstand heavy snowfall. Gokayama is less accessible than popular Shirakawa-gō, and, as a result, its villages are more quiet and secluded.
More Info

Tottori Sand Dunes

shutterstock_433568857

Tottori Sand Dunes, Japan | © yukihipo / Shutterstock

The Tottori Sand Dunes are part of Sanin Kaigan National Park in Tottori Prefecture. Stretching for 16 kilometres along of the Sea of Japan coast, the dunes are the largest in the country. Tide movement and wind causes the dunes’ shapes to change constantly, but they can be up to two kilometres wide and 50 metres high. Camel rides are widely available, causing the area to have an enchanting, desert-like atmosphere.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Sagano Bamboo Forest

 

Path inside the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama, Kyoto

Path inside the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama, Kyoto | © Andres Garcia Martin / Alamy Stock Photo

The Sagano Bamboo Forest is located in Arashiyama, a district on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Paths wind through towering bamboo groves, with the sun peaking between the green stalks and creating an enchanting effect. The bamboo forest is equally famous for its beauty as for the characteristic sounds created by the bamboo stalks swaying in the wind.

Find places to stay with our partner, Hotels.com

Nishinomaru Garden
Park
Osaka Castle and Nishinomaru Garden, Japan

Osaka Castle and Nishinomaru Garden, Japan | © Benny Marty / Alamy Stock Photo

Nishinomaru Garden is a gorgeous lawn garden that offers spectacular views of Osaka Castletower and the stone wall of its moat. The garden is covered with more than 600 cherry trees and more 95 different types of apricot flowers. It’s a popular spot for cherry blossom viewings in the spring, with night-time illuminations held during the peak blooming periods.
More Info

Aogashima Volcano

Aogashima is a tiny, tropical island in the Philippine Sea, which is under the administration of Tokyo. The most isolated island in the Izu archipelago, Aogashima is home to an enormous double volcano. The island itself is a volcano and there’s a second smaller volcano found at its centre. With around 200 inhabitants, Aogashima is also the smallest village in Japan.