Hot spring in Hokkaido
Guides and Itineraries,  Japan

5 Japan Destinations to Visit for Returning Tourists

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If you’ve already visited Japan, we’re going to assume that you’ve already explored its most popular destinations: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. And yes, we’ve all heard about Tokyo’s neon lights, Osaka’s food scene, Kyoto’s historic temples, and Hiroshima’s historical sights — but there’s so much more to this incredible country than these spots in the Golden Route!

Buckle up as we discuss lesser-visited places in Japan that you can include in your itinerary for your return visit.

Travel Tips

Here are some handy tips to ensure your journey to Japan’s best-kept secrets is smooth, enjoyable, and full of unforgettable experiences.

1. Register via QR Code

To make your journey through the immigration and customs faster upon arrival to Japan, prepare the QR code and register on the Visit Japan website.

2. Do Your Research

When venturing to lesser-visited routes, doing proper research is key to making sure that you will have a good trip.

Look up which places require reservations in advance and check their opening hours. For instance, a lot of places tend to be closed on Tuesdays, and many restaurants and shop open late at 9:30 AM and close by 5 PM.

3. Learn Some Japanese Phrases

Learning a few basic Japanese phrases can go a long way in making your travels easier and more enjoyable. It’s also helpful especially when venturing to more remote areas, outside of major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto.

Simple greetings (“Konnichiwa” / hello, “Ohayo gozaimasu” / good morning), asking for directions, and other helpful terms (“omizu” when ordering water in a restaurant) are just some of the phrases that you should learn about.

Google Lens/Google Translate are also helpful applications that you can use when asking locals

4. Plan Your Transportation

Japan’s public transportation is fantastic, but venturing outside the major cities might require a combination of trains, buses, and ferries.

Check your itinerary and consider purchasing Japan regional train passes, which will let you explore the country region by region. A Japan regional train pass may offer significant savings and convenience. Another option is to rent a car, especially if you plan on reaching more secluded spots with flexibility and freedom.

5. Stay Connected

While Japan is known for its excellent connectivity, remote areas may have limited internet access. Consider bringing a portable WIFI decide or purchasing local SIM card after arrival to stay connected. This will help you navigate, translate, and stay in touch with loved ones during your travels.

Lesser-Visited Places in Japan for Returning Tourists

1. Hokkaido

Hot spring in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is known for its cool climate, beautiful seasonal scenery, and outdoor activities like hiking and skiing. It’s a year-round destination that you can visit whenever you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland vacation!

When in Hokkaido, make sure to visit Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital famous for its annual Snow Festival. Another place that winter sports will love is Niseko, famous for its powdery snow, excellent snows, and cozy lodges.

Before leaving this region, make sure to stop by Noboribetsu Onsen, a famous hot spring resort where you can warm your fingers and toes and relax!

2. Okinawa

Beach cafe in Okinawa

On the other hand, if you prefer a sun-kissed region where you can enjoy a subtropical climate and stunning beaches, then plan your trip in Okinawa.

Okinawa boasts some of Japan’s most beautiful beaches, including Emerald Beach in the Ocean Expo Park or Manza Beach, which is known for its soft, white sand and crystal clear waters. For snorkeling and diving spots, Kerama Islands offers the opportunity to see vibrant coral formations and swim alongside colorful fish and sea turtles.

But wait, we’re not yet done here! For those who love to island hop, visit Ishigaki for its stunning beaches and hiking, Miyako for pristine waters and diving spots, and Taketomi for its well-preserved traditional village.

3. Fukuoka

Food stalls in Fukuoka

For those looking for something “new,” Fukuoka offers a vibrant city experience with its rich history, bustling shopping districts, and delectable food scene.

That’s right — if you’re a foodie and love to discover more Japanese food, this place is heaven! Prepare your stomach (and budget) for their must-try dishes: Try the famous hakata issou ramen, mentaiko (spicy cod roe), motsunabe (offal hot pot), local sushi, and can we forget those fluffy pancakes? You should also visit Yanagibashi Market for fresh seafood and local produce.

Aside from eating, don’t miss out on exploring the city’s top attractions, including Canal City Hakata, the entertainment district of Nakasu, Kyushu National Museum, and various parks. Aside from this, Fukuoka also offers interesting day trips, which gives you the opportunity to explore more of the region while still enjoying a laid-back vacation.

4. Kanazawa


Another beloved destination that you shouldn’t miss on your return trip to Japan is Kanazawa. Often referred to as “Little Kyoto,” Kanazawa boasts well-preserved Edo-period districts, beautiful gardens, and a thriving art scene. It’s a great destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the Japanese culture, but in a more laid-back, lesser-crowded setting.

In addition, it makes a great base for exploring Hokuriku region (including Fukui, Toyama, Takayama).

Some of the places you should visit in Kanazawa include Kenrokuen Garden (regarded as one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens) and its adjacent Kanazawa Castle (a symbol of the city’s feudal past), Omicho Market (known as “Kanazawa’s Kitchen,” where you can sample fresh seafood, local produce, and traditional snacks), Myoryuji (or Ninja Temple), and D.T. Suzuki Museum.

Don’t forget to take a stroll through Higashi Chaya District, a historic geisha district with wooden teahouses and narrow cobblestone streets, and Nagamachi Samurai District, home to former samurai residences.

5. Yakushima

Wildlife in Yakushima Island

If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli’s “Princess Mononoke,” (who isn’t?) you’ll feel right at home on Yakushima. This island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its ancient cedar forests, with some trees aged over 1,000 years old! The mystical atmosphere, with moss-covered trunks and misty trails, will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale.

Hiking here is a must, so make sure to wear proper attire and shoewear. The most popular spots are Shiratani Unsuikyo (the inspiration for Princess Mononoke’s forest), Jomon Sugi (the oldest tree in the island, estimated to be 2,000 and 7,200 years old), and Yakusugi Land (an easier trail to experience ancient cedar trees compared to Jomon Sugi). Aside from the greenery, you can also visit numerous waterfalls, including Senpiro Falls and Toroki Falls.

Another must-try experience is visiting the island’s natural hot springs. Try the Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen, which offers an open-air relaxing bath right by the sea. Note: accessible only during low tide. Or Yudomari Onsen, another seaside hot spring.

That concludes our list of some of Japan’s best lesser-visited destinations just waiting to be explored! Each spot offers its own unique charm and adventures, far from the typical tourist trail.

Whether you’re seeking art, nature, history, or simply a break from the hustle and bustle, these destinations have something special in store for you!

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