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5 off-the-beaten-track places in Japan

04 September 2019 08:12

See a different side of Japan on your next visit

See a different side of Japan on your next visit

If you're heading for the rugby action in Japan this autumn, make sure you find time to take in some of these hidden gem destinations...

1. Kamakura

Located south of Tokyo on the sweeping Sagami Bay, Kamakura is often seen as a day-trip destination. But the city has plenty of attractions if you want to linger longer. One of the birthplaces of Japanese Zen Buddhism, the city has plenty of temples to explore. And when the sun goes down the lively waterfront bars and cafes become thick with locals and visitors from Tokyo until the early hours of the morning.

2. Nagano

The host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics might not sound like an off-the-beaten-track destination, but visit outside the busy ski season and you'll find a completely different place just waiting to be explored. The city is centred on the impressive Zenko -ji temple, while outside Nagano the Togakushi Shrine and the ever-popular Jigokudani Monkey Park are well worth the visit whatever the weather.

3. Tokashiki

Feeling more like Hawaii than Honshu, the tropical southern islands of Japan offer the more adventurous visitor a completely different slice of Japanese life. Sleepy Tokashiki, the largest of the Kerama group of islands, is mostly forested with excellent hiking trails, picture-perfect beaches and, of course, plenty of quality fresh seafood. The island is also a great place for whale-watching as humpbacks move into Okinawan waters in springtime to breed.

4. Otaru

About 30 minutes north west of Sapporo, you'll find the small harbour city of Otaru. The well-preserved canal neighbourhood near the waterfront offers visitors a very different Japanese experience, with the area's shipping heritage harking back to the days when Otaru was one of country's most prominent ports. In winter, the famous Snow Light Path festival sees the city lovingly decorated with lights and small snow statues.

5. Fukuoka

Many visitors dismiss Fukuoka as another busy port city, but if you dive deeper you'll be surprised at what delights you find. Its proximity to Korea and China gives Fukuoka more of a multicultural feel than many other Japanese cities, and this is reflected in the architecture, food and locals. To experience the buzz of the city, head down to the popular Yatai open-air food stalls to try various Fukuokan flavours with the lively locals.

Don't forget your insurance...

Before you explore this breath-taking country, make sure you've got the right travel insurance cover. At World First we offer dedicated Asia travel insurance that'll give you peace of mind when experiencing the magic of Japan.