Japan is quickly becoming a hotspot for travellers, with its eccentricities and diversity being embraced by visitors from the world over. Thinking of taking a trip there yourself? Here are five of its must-visit towns to consider visiting.
This town used to be the hub of the country, when samurai were Japan’s ruling class and Minamoto, the lord, declared it as such. Now, Kamakura has taken a back seat to the country’s bigger cities, but it’s a hidden treasure worth discovering.
Disembark at Kamakura Station and you’ll find yourself situated in Komachi Street, the town’s main shopping area with vibrant stores and restaurants to be discovered as you take a leisurely stroll. By the Enoden Hase Station, however, is the famed Giant Buddha statue which you simply need to see to believe.
Elsewhere, Kita-Kamakura is a quirkier, more niche part of the town, another shopping district but much more understated and refined than the aforementioned Komachi Street. Be sure to discover Kamakurakokomae too, the picturesque spot famed for its use in films and television.
Visit Otaru and you’ll be immediately transported back in time. Once a major fishing town and port, the offices and apartment buildings that have taken space within the old buildings of the town means it has retained its 19th century feel.
If you’re a seafood fan, you’re in luck – Otaru is, perhaps unsurprisingly, famed for its offerings. Be sure to visit one of the towns many markets for the best authentic dishes.
Otaru is a very relaxed, quiet town, but it still has its moments of excitement. The Snow Light Path is one of them, a peculiar festival with illuminated snow statues. Make sure to visit the City Museum to learn more about the fascinating history of this town, too.
It was the ancient capital of Japan around 1400 years ago, but Nara still holds up as one of the country’s very best towns to visit. Not far from Osaka and Kyoto, it’s a considerably popular destination but remains unspoiled by tourism, giving visitors one of the most authentic insights into Japanese culture and history.
There’s an abundance of temples in Nara to visit, eight of them being recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Todaiji Temple is perhaps the most popular of the bunch, with its incredible Buddha statue being its main attraction.
Elsewhere, Mount Yoshino is a prime example of Japan’s natural wonder with its cherry blossom trees, and Nara-machi is commonly referred to as Japan’s Old Town, with machiya houses being repurposed into stores and restaurants for you to explore.
Everyone is aware of the dark history of Hiroshima, but rest assured the town has blossomed in the wake of its devastating World War 2 attack. In the town’s centre you’ll find the Peace Memorial and Museum, complete with the hollowed-out dome which still stands a reminder of Hiroshima’s inspiring strength.
And you’ll find that the town truly has overcome being almost wiped out 70 years ago, with an absolutely thriving food scene and some incredible nightlife to lose yourself in.
Day trips here could be sobering if you’re discovering the history of the town, especially directly from the source, but the fun to be had in Hiroshima balances out its serious side.
Recommended as one of the best secret destinations in the world, Appi is a skiing resort that hasn’t been tainted by the influence of tourism. Sure, it lacks a lot of the luxuries that come with contemporaries such as Niseko, but that makes for the fun and the authenticity.
There’s 21 slopes here to choose from, all of which as good as the next – you’ll be spoilt for choice, especially if you’re a seasoned skier with plenty of experience under your belt.
You may need to brush up on your Japanese before coming to Appi, as English isn’t commonly spoken – but prepare sufficiently, and this is an escape like no other, as well as a showcase of the country’s incredible versatility.
Disclaimer: This post was written and provided by Lauren Miller
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