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Travel Destinations Unique to Japan’s 47 Prefectures

March 3, 2018
#JAPAN47project: Travel Destinations Unique to Japan’s 47 Prefectures

Japan is not just Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka. It is a country as diverse as its 6,852 islands grouped into 47 prefectures and eight regions – Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu (including Okinawa). Bounded by several bodies of water including the Pacific Ocean, Japan Sea, and the East China Sea, Japan has a diversity of unique travel destinations.

My first international flight brought me to Japan. It was pure nostalgic. Like becoming a live character in one of my favorite anime series. From them on, I have been overly obsessed with the country.

A decade later, I went back to Japan. But despite the huge changes in structures and scenery, the childhood nostalgia that once greeted me has never diminished. The towering skyscrapers and age-old temples, the steaming bowls of noodles and flavorful Japanese confectioneries, and the traditional markets and vending machines all provide powerful contrasts yet equally complement one another.

Bliss in its purest form and I haven’t even gone past the Kanto Region.

So I am writing extensively about Japan. For starters, here are 47 travel destinations unique to each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. From traditional shrines to ultra-high speed roller coasters to bioluminescent squids, I am a hundred percent sure you will find one that suits your type of traveler.

In the next couple of months, there will be a total of 47 links leading to more detailed prefectural travel recommendations. Be sure to come back for updates or follow us on Twitter @noelcabacungan for the announcements.

1 Hokkaido: Lake Toya

Lake Toya is a caldera lake that doesn’t freeze even in the height of winter. The hot spring stretched along the lake makes for the best spa resorts in Hokkaido. If that is not reason enough to be a popular travel destination in the region, an active volcano beautifully rests near the lake, creating a marvelous spectacle regardless of the season.

Situated in the northernmost region of Japan, Lake Toya is an ideal ski destination as it receives heavy snowfall during winter. In summer, Hokkaido does not get very hot and humid which makes it a popular among bikers, hikers, and other nature lovers.

  • Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Winter / Fall

2 Aomori: Hirosaki Castle

Hirosaki Castle is originally a five-story fortress built by the Tsugaru Clan during the Edo Period. It was struck and burnt down by lightning in 1627 and rebuilt into its current three-story state in 1810.

In as much as the castle casts a picturesque contrast against a blanket of powdery white snow, there is no denying the fact that everything looks more stunning when propped by the gorgeous cherry blossom trees.

The Hirosaki Castle is flanked by over 2,500 cherry blossom trees at the heart of the Hirosaki Park, one of Japan’s best cherry blossom spots. When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, a festival is in order.

  • 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Spring. Check the cherry blossom season forecast to time your visit with the Cherry Blossom Festival

3 Iwate: Kenji Miyazawa Fairy Tales Village

Kenji Miyazawa is a renowned Japanese poet and author of children’s literature during the late Taisho and Showa periods. And in his honor, the Miyazawa Kenji Village of Fairy Tales (Dowa Mura) was built in his hometown in Hamanaki, Iwata Prefecture. Its facilities were designed for visitors to enjoy and learn about the world of fairy tales created in his works.

  • 26-19 Takamatsu, Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥350 (adults) / ¥250 (university and high school students) / ¥150 yen (junior high and elementary school students)

4 Miyagi: Zao Fox Village

There are over a hundred foxes in six different species at the Zao Fox Village. Though it’s a closed sanctuary, the foxes are not caged and can roam around freely in a natural habitat inside the facility. Visitors can interact closely with the foxes but it is highly advised not to feed them by hand as they are not yet domesticated.

The Zao Fox Village is accessible year-round but it’s best to visit during winter to see the stark contrast of the colorful foxes against a mantle of white snow.

  • 11-3 Fukuoka Yatsumiya Kawarago, Shiroishi, Miyagi Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1000 +¥100 for the fox food bag
  • Best season to visit: Winter

5 Akita: Nyuto Onsen

The mountainous eastern region of Akita Prefecture is known for the traditional and rustic hot spring baths collectively known as the Nyuto Onsen. Enjoy an open-air bath in the hot springs while appreciating the beautiful landscape surrounding the facilities.

  • Semboku, Akita Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Winter

6 Yamagata: Mount Haguro

Mount Haguro is one of the three ancient mountains of Dewa in the Shonai area in the Yamagata Prefecture. Of the three mountains, it is the only one accessible throughout the year.

The famous five-story pagoda (Goju-to) surrounded by 500-year old cedar trees and the stone path of 2,446 steps leading to the Sanzan-Gosai-den temple at the summit are both listed as Japan’s National Treasures.

  • Haguromachi Toge, Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Summer (The five-story pagoda is illuminated at night from June to September)

7 Fukushima: Abukuma Cave (Abukuma-do)

Abukuma Cave is a system limestone caves discovered on August 15, 1969, at the northeast of the city of Tamura. It is most noted for being the only publicly open cave in Japan where a unique honeycomb formation of the mineral calcite can be observed.

The cave is open year-round and it could be well noted how the temperature inside remains warm even in winter. The series of caves are lit with professional lighting to create a more dramatic appreciation of the rock formations. These rock formations are believed to have taken more than 80 million years to form.

  • 1 Takinemachisugaya, Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1200 (adults) / ¥800 (junior high school students)
  • Best season to visit: Winter. Visit the Abukuma Cave early in January for orchaestral performances at the main caves.

    8 Ibaraki: Hitachi Seaside Park

    The Hitachi Seaside Park is a 350-hectare nature park facing the Pacific Ocean side of the Japanese coast. Due to its geography, a wide variety of colorful flowering plant species which blooms wildly in the spacious gardens throughout the four seasons.

    The 200 hectares of land accessible to the public creates a surreal atmosphere and is ideal for nature lovers, video and photo enthusiasts, and those who just want to seek refuge away from the crowded metropolis.

    Other attractions such as an amusement park, grassland, cycling lanes, barbecue spots, and numerous cafes and restaurants can be found in various locations around the park.

    • 605-4 Onuma Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥4100 (adults) / ¥2100 (seniors 65 years and over) / ¥800 (children 7 to 14 years) + ¥6160 parking for 1 vehicle (¥4160 for seniors)
  • Best season to visit: Spring / Fall

9 Tochigi: Ashikaga Flower Park

The Ashikaga Flower Park is a 9-hectare park that features wisteria and several flowering plants. There are eight themes showcasing different flowers throughout the year.

Heralding Spring from early January to late February. Spring Flower Festival from March to mid-April. Wisteria Story from mid-April to mid-May. Rainbow Garden from mid-May to early June. Blue and White Garden from early June to early July. Water Nymphs from early July to late September. Purple Garden from early October to late November. Bejeweled Flower Garden from the end of October to late January.

The main feature of the park is a hundred-year-old wisteria tree whose branches are supported to create a huge umbrella of blue wisteria blooms.

  • 607 Hasamacho, Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥600 ~ ¥1800 (adults) / ¥300 ~ ¥900 (children). Prices vary depending on the season/event
  • Best season to visit: Spring (Mid-April to Mid-May for the Wisteria Story Theme)

10 Gunma: Usui Pass Heritage Railway Park

Usui Pass Heritage Railway Park, Gunma

Image via Flickr by Cory

The Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park is an open-air railway museum featuring various Usui Pass railways and several trains commonly used in the past eras. The main points of interest are the Green Breeze, Aputo-kun, and Mini-SL engines which visitors can ride within the park.

  • 407-16 Matsuidamachi Yokokawa, Annaka, Gunma Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥500

11 Saitama: Bell of Time Tower (Toki no Kane)

No less than the very symbol of the City of Kawagoe, Toki no Kane (Bell of Time Tower) was chosen as one of the “100 Soundscapes of Japan” by the Ministry of the Environment. The bell is being rung electro-mechanically by a metal hammer which swings and bangs the bell in four designated time each day – 6:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m.

Kawagoe is a small city in Saitama Prefecture in Japan. It earned the title “Little Edo” for having preserved both the cultural and architectural features of the old Edo Period (1603-1868). As CNN Travel dubbed, “it is the Japan of your historic, Samurai dreams.

  • 15-7 Saiwaicho, Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture

12 Chiba: Tokyo DisneySea

There may be several Disneyland Resorts all over the world but there is only one DisneySea. Inspired by ocean tales and legends, Tokyo DisneySea is a 176-acre theme park featuring seven water theme ports in Chiba Prefecture, just outside Tokyo.

And the best part of all, Tokyo DisneySea offers beer to its patrons (of legal age, of course).

  • 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu 279-0031, Chiba Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: 1-Day Pass Tickets ¥7400 (adults ages 18 and up) / ¥6400 (junios ages 12-17) / ¥4800 (children ages 4-11) / ¥6700 (seniors ages 65 and up). Multi-Day Passport, Night Passport, and Annual Passport tickets are also available.
  • Best season to visit: Summer

13 Tokyo: Akihabara Electric Town and Anime District

Japan visa

Image via Akihabara Electric Town by Noel Cabacungan

Akihabara is the personification of all our childhood nostalgia. This is the ultimate geeky pilgrimage for those who grew up watching Japanese anime or playing video games. Retro games and consoles? Go to Super Potato. The eight floors of Mandarake showcase goods for Otakus of every kind – comics, video games, action figures, cosplay suits, and more. Gachapons, arcade games, the latest gadgets, erotic paraphernalia? Name it, Akihabara has it.

  • Sotokanda, Chiyoda 101-0021, Tokyo Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Spring. Make it in time for the Kanda Matsuri on the Saturday and Saturday closest to May 15.

14 Kanagawa: Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinatown not only in Japan but also in Asia. The community started to develop in 1859 when the port Yokohama became the center of foreign trades.

Colorful gates welcome visitors at the four entrances as well as five others location within the Chinatown. Located in the center of this Chinatown is a large Chinese temple which the residents constructed for the Chinese god of good business and prosperity in 1873.

At present, the noodles bowls, steamed buns, and other various Chinese delicacies are the things that really draw tourists in the area. Chinese New Year and other Chinese events and festivals are being held in the Yokohama Chinatown.

  • Yamashitacho, Naka Ward, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Spring / Fall. Watch out for the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autum Festivals

15 Niigata: Bandai Bridge

Bandai Bridge is a bridge across the Shinano River in Niigata. The current bridge was the third bridge that was built and survived the Great Niigata Earthquake in 1969. It was declared a nationally Important Cultural Property in July 2004 and could easily be said to be the very symbol of Niigata City.

  • Bandai, Chuo, Niigata, Niigata Prefecture

16 Toyama: Hotaruika Museum (Firefly Squid Museum)

The Firefly Squid, also known as the sparkling enope squid (Hotaru-ika in Japan), is native to the West Pacific Ocean and millions of these bioluminescent squids gather in Toyama Bay each year to spawn, creating a magnificent underwater light show.

Hotaruika Museum is the only Firefly Squid Museum in the world. It showcases firefly squids show from March 20 through May 31 each year. Visit the museum to know more about the sparkling enope squid and why its bioluminescent properties best all bioluminescent creatures in the world.

  • 410 Nakagawara, Namerikawa, Toyama Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥800 (adult) / ¥400 (child) from March 20 to end of May; ¥600 (adult) / ¥300 (child) from June 1 to March 19. Group tickets are available at discounted rates.
  • Best season to visit: Spring. March 20 through May 31 for the firefly squid light show.

17 Ishikawa: Notojima Aquarium

When it comes to public aquarium facilities, it’s easy to say that when you seen one, you have seen them all. But Notojima Aquarium begs to differ.

This aquarium facility in Ishikawa Prefecture boasts of having a massive collection of marine species and sea creatures from all over Japan including the ones that inhabit the Noto Peninsula Coast. But the main catch is the aquarium center offers various interactive activities for visitors to enjoy such as feeding, touching, and playing with marine creatures.

  • 15-Bu-40 Notojima Magarimachi, Nanao 926-0216, Ishikawa Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1850 (adults) / ¥510 (junior high school students)

18 Fukui: Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum

Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is one of the “World’s Three Great Dinosaur Museums” along with the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Canada and the Zigong Dinosaur Museum in China. It is also one of the largest museums in all of Japan.

The museum holds many fossils found in the surrounding area in Katsuyama where it is located.

  • 51-11 Murokocho Terao, Katsuyama 911-8601, Fukui Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥720 (adults) / ¥410 (high school and college students) / ¥260 (primary and secondary school students). Annual pass tickets and group tickets are available at discounted rates.

19 Yamanashi: Do-Dodonpa Roller Coaster (Fuji-Q Highland)

Do-Dodonpa is a 52 meters tall roller coaster. It holds the record of being the 4th fastest roller coaster in the world. More than that, it holds the record of having the highest acceleration, reaching 180 kilometers per hour in 1.56 seconds from launch time.

It is located in the Fuji-Q Highland, an amusement park situated near the base of Mount Fuji. Some of the other attractions inside the park include a number of other taller roller coasters and two haunted attractions.

  • 5-6-1 Shin Nishihara, Fujiyoshida 403-0017, Yamanashi Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: 1-Day Pass ¥5700 (adults ages 18 and up) / ¥5200 (students ages 12 – 18)
  • Best season to visit: Summer

20 Nagano: Jigokudani Monkey Park

The wild Japanese macaques or snow monkeys largely inhabit the mountains of Jigokudani. These monkeys go down the mountains to take steaming water baths from the crevices on the frozen ground when it gets extremely cold in winter.

These snow monkeys are quite accustomed to people gathering around and are relatively safe. However, visitors are advised to still be cautious as these monkeys tend to snatch things out from the unsuspecting tourists.

  • 6845 Oaza Heion, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥800 (adults ages 18 and up) / ¥400 (students ages 6 – 17). Group tickets are available at discounted rates.
  • Best season to visit: Winter

21 Gifu: Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

The mountain villages of Shirakawa-go and the neighboring Gokayama were both declared UNESCO world heritage sites in 1995. These villages line the shores of the Shogawa River Valley and are famous for houses constructed in the architectural style known as Gassho-zukuri. It means “constructed like hands in prayer.” The steep roofs were designed to easily shed snow as the region usually receives two meters of snow every winter.

You could catch the special illumination events the village organizes on selected Sundays and Mondays in January and February from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  • Shirakawa, Ono District, Gifu Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Winter

22 Shizuoka: Snowtown Yeti

Snowtown Yeti is located at the Second Station of Mt. Fuji and is the best place to enjoy winter activities. Skiing with the stunning views of snow-covered Mt. Fuji is the highlight of tourism for Shizuoka Prefecture.

  • 2428 Fujiwara, Suyama, Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥4000 (adults) / ¥3000 (children/seniors) on weekends and public holidays. ¥3500 amd ¥2500 for adults and children, respectively, on weekdays.
  • Best season to visit: Winter

23 Aichi: Japan Monkey Center

Japan Monkey Centre is home to some 900 monkeys of over 60 different species from all over the world. It is located on a hillside surrounded by thick forests and the Kiso River, making it an ideal environment for the primates.

Visitors can interact with and watch the animals during feeding time. Additionally, an amusement park is also located in this huge facility.

A zoo and amusement in one.

  • 26 Kanrin, Inuyama, Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1600 (adults) / ¥800 (children)

24 Mie: Meoto Iwa (Married Couple Rocks)

There are two large rocks considered sacred by the locals of Mie Prefecture.

Meteo Iwa, or the Married Couple Rocks, are two large pieces of rocks in the sea tied with a thick rope called shimenawa to symbolize the union of deities. The bigger rock, 9 meters tall, is said to be the husband, while the smaller 3 meters tall is the wife.

People pay a visit to these couple rocks to pray for harmonious and lasting marriage.

  • Futamichoe, Ise, Mie Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Summer

25 Shiga: Koka Ninja Village

The Ninja was said to have originated in the city of Koka, Shiga Prefecture. And until now, a village is being maintained for those who would like to learn and live the life of a ninja.

At the Koka Ninja Village, there is a museum featuring ninja techniques, secret ninja panels and traps, shuriken throwing dojo, and many other activities to make a superb ninja experience.

  • 394 Kokacho Oki, Koka, Shiga Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1030 (adults) / ¥730 (children)

26 Kyoto: Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion)

Kinkaku-Ji or the Golden Pavilion requires no introduction. It is that iconic building whose top two floors are completely covered in gold.

Kinkaku-Ji, literally “Deer Garden Temple,” has been designated as a National Special Historic Site and a National Special Landscape. More importantly, it is one of 17 locations making up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto which are World Heritage Sites.

  • 1 Kinkakujicho, Kita, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥400 (adults) / ¥300 (junior high school and elementary students)
  • Best season to visit: Fall

27 Osaka: Hozen-ji Temple

While coins are usually tossed as an offering when praying at Japanese temples, the worshippers at the Hozen-ji Temple splash water on the statue of a deity after uttering their prayers. As a result, the statue is now covered in thick moss, which only made the shrine more popular.

The Hozen-Ji Temple is a small temple built in 1637 in homage to one of the five guardians of Buddhism.

  • 1 Chome-2-16 Nanba, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

28 Hyogo: Himeji Central Park

The Himeji Central Park is a safari park and the only safari park in the Kansai region. It was built in 1984, modeled after its “sister park” in Nairobi National Park. Visitors can tour the park either on foot or by car to marvel at the great beasts being side-by-side with the more docile herbivores.

Additionally, there is an amusement park, a nautical center, an ice rink, as well as restaurants inside the park. A perfect balance between nature and modern facilities.

  • 1436-1 Toyotomicho Kodani, Himeji-shi, Hyogo Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥3,500 (adult) / ¥2,000 (children) / ¥1,200 (infant). General admission tickets provide access to the Safari Park, Amusement Park, pool (summer only), and ice rink (winter only.)

29 Nara: Nara Park

Deers are considered the messengers of the gods in Shinto and has long been considered the symbol of Nara. Additionally, deer are designated as Nara’s national treasure.

Hundreds of deer roam freely inside the Nara Park where people can feed, pet, and interact with them.

  • 469 Zoshicho, Nara, Nara Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Best season to visit Nara Park: Fall

30 Wakayama: Nachi Falls

Nachi Falls is Japan’s the tallest waterfall with a single uninterrupted drop. It is one of the most popular known waterfalls in the country.

The two rocks at the top of the falls are believed to be the home of the god Hiryu Gongen, one of the three deities of the Kumano Sanzan shrines. The god is worshiped at Kumano Nachi Taisha, which is part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Nachisan, Nachikatsuura, Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture
  • Best season to visit Nachi Falls: Summer

31 Tottori: Tottori Sand Museum

The coastal winds of the Sendaigawa River created the sand dunes over thousands of years. Nowadays, the Tottori Sand Dunes is the largest in Japan and is the most popular tourist attraction of Tottori prefecture.

The Tottori Sand Museum is the world’s first museum dedicated to sand sculptures. It is Japan’s only open-air museum exhibiting sand sculptures.

  • 2083-17, Yuyama, Fukube-cho, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥600

32 Shimane: Nima Sand Museum

The Nima Sand Museum in Shimane Prefectures is known for its six large glass and metal pyramids sitting on a hillside. Inside the largest of the six pyramids stands the world’s largest functioning hourglass whose sands takes a full year to empty.

  • 975 Nimachoamagouchi, Oda, Shimane Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥700 (Adults and high school students) / ¥350 (Elementary and junior high school students)

33 Okayama: Maneki Neko Museum

The Maneki Neko is a popular Japanese figurine charm depicting a cat beckoning with its right paw. Usually made of ceramic, these figurines are prominent at the entrance of shops, restaurants, and other commercial establishments.

The Manekinko Museum features about 700 of these cat figurines collected from all over Japan. What’s most noteworthy is the unique look and character of each individual figurine.

  • 865-1 Kanayamaji Kita-ku, Okayama, Okayama Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥300 (Adults) / ¥200 (Students over Senior High School) / FREE (Junior High school and below)

34 Hiroshima: Hiroshima Peace Memorial

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in commemoration of the victims of the nuclear attack on August 6, 1945. It is also dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack.

It is located inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

  • 1-10 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Fall

35 Yamaguchi: Rurikoji Temple

The Rurikoji Temple is known for its five-story pagoda. It was one of Japan’s national treasures, one of the oldest and ranked among the country’s three greatest pagodas. Additionally, the Rurikoji temple is the only surviving memento of a famous samurai clan who ruled the region.

  • 15-778 Hommachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0981, Kyoto Prefecture
  • Best season to visit Rurikoji Temple: Fall

36 Tokushima: Otsuka Museum of Art

The Otsuka Museum of Art is one of the largest exhibition spaces in Japan. It houses over a thousand full-size ceramic reproductions of major works of art, including the Sistine Chapel, Scrovegni Chapel, triclinium of the Villa of the Mysteries, and Guernica.

  • Naruto-cho, Naruto 772-0053, Tokushima Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥3150 (Adults) / ¥2100 (University students) / ¥520 (Elementary, Junior High School students)

37 Kagawa: Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (Doraemon Museum)

Fujiko F. Fujio is a world-renowned manga artist whose most popular creation is Doraemon. A robotic cat from the future who helps kids in the present with futuristic objects from its front pocket. Fans all over the world can enjoy and experience his art and popular creations at the Fujiko F. Fujio Museum or the Doraemon in Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture.

  • 2-8-1, Nagao, Tama-ku, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Admission Fee: ¥1000 (Adults and University Students) / ¥700 (High School and Junior High School Students) / ¥500 (Children 4 years or older)

38 Ehime: Mount Ishizuchi

Mount Ishizuchi is the tallest mountain in Western Japan and in the island of Shikoku. It stands at 1,982 meters above sea level.

This mountain is one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan and also one of Japan’s Seven Holy Mountains. It is a popular hiking destination during fall for its colorful temperate trees. Though hiking is officially open between July and October, many hikers start climbing this mountain as early as spring by following the Seven Holy Mountains trail. Additionally, the mountain is also popular skiing grounds during the winter season.

  • Komatsucho Ishiduchi, Saijo, Ehime Prefecture
  • Best season to visit Mount Ishizuchi: Fall

39 Kochi: Cape Muroto Lighthouse (Murotomisaki Lighthouse)

The Cape Muroto Lighthouse is a Meiji period lighthouse built below the Hotsumisaki-Ji temple. With a lens diameter of 2.6 meters and a light projection reaching 50 kilometers, the lighthouse it is one of the biggest in Japan. The lighthouse is popular for its entirely white tower casting an elegant contrast against the background of blue sky and the sea.

It is designated as a Heritage of Industrial Modernization by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

  • Murotomisakicho, Muroto, Kochi Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Summer

40 Fukuoka: Ohori Park

The Ohori Park used to be part of the moat system of the nearby Fukuoka Castle. In present times, it is a popular garden park for relaxation or leisurely strolls. The tree islands at the interconnected by elegant stone bridges are said to have been designed in the style of the West Lake in China.

  • 1-2 Ohorikoen, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Fall

41 Saga: Saga Balloon Museum

Photo galleries, a large theatre, and flight simulators will let any hot air balloon enthusiast experience and learn about the history of the Saga International Balloon Festival in this museum.

The Saga Balloon Museum, which opened in October 2016, is the first permanent exhibit of hot air balloon in Japan.

  • 2-2-27 Matsubara, Saga, Saga Prefecture
  • Best season to visit Saga Balloon Museum: Fall. The Saga International Balloon Festival is an annual week-long event happening between the last week of October and first week of November.

42 Nagasaki: Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and National Peace Memorial Hall

The Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is built in remembrance and to tell the history of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki by the United States of America 9 August 1945 at 11:02:35 am.

These landmarks aim to be a reminder of the nuclear age and the destructive effect of nuclear weapons. They also signify the commitment to peace.

  • 7-8 Hirano-machi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
  • Best season to visit Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Memorial Hall: Spring, Fall.

43 Oita: Hells of Beppu

The Hells of Beppu is a group of hot spring areas in the onsen town of Beppu. These areas are not intended or recommended for bathing purposes as the temperature are extremely high. However, it is a popular tourist attraction in Oita Prefecture and is, in fact, a designated “Place of Scenic Beauty.”

  • 559-1 Kannawa, Beppu, Oita Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Fall

44 Kumamoto: Mount Aso

Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan and is one the largest in the world. It is located at the Aso Kuju National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture. It stands 1,592 meters above sea level and has an estimated diameter of over 25 kilometers and a circumference of more than 100 kilometers.

  • Kumamoto Prefecture

45 Miyazaki: Takachiho Gorge

Takachiho Gorge is a triangular gorge leading to a 17-meter high Minainotaki waterfall flowing down the Gokase River. People would usually reach the waterfall either by a boat through the river or by trekking the paved paths along the edges of the gorge. The lush foliage along the trails and the dense growth around the waterfall is a visual feast during fall.

Takachiho Gorge is located at the center of Kyushu Mountains in the northwestern part of Miyazaki Prefecture.

  • Mitai, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Fall

46 Kagoshima: Temperate Ancient Forest of Yakushima

Aside from a diverse variety of flora and fauna, the temperate ancient forest of Yakushima is home to the thousand-year-old Japanese cedar trees. A remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest unique in this region. There are three main trekking courses accessible to both beginner and advanced trekkers.

(1) The Yakusugi Land is popular for beginners as a vast Japanese cedar forest can already be seen as soon as one gets off the bus. Along the course are a huge river and a bridge which provides a majestic way to view the magnificence of the vast forest and gorge blending together.

(2) The Shiratani Unsui-Kyo Gorge course has an altitude range of 600 to 900 meters from the entrance to the forest. This course was said to be the inspiration for the forest in the epic 1997 animated movie Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki. This course takes about five hours to complete.

(3) The Jomon-sugi course requires an advance trekking experience as the single way trek takes more than 10 kilometers from the entrance and a round trip takes up to 10 hours. The course will take you to the very symbol of Yakushima Island, a Jomon-sugi. Jomon Sugi is a large Cryptomeria tree located on a UNESCO World Heritage site in Yakushima, Japan. It is estimated to be around 2,000 to 7,000 years old and is considered not only as the oldest tree in Japan but also one of the oldest trees in the world. Moreover, this course will also take you to the popular Wilson’s Stump, a huge Japanese cedar tree which fell over 400 years ago.

Yakushima forest’s unique temperate ancient forest has been a natural World Heritage Site since 1993.

  • Kumage-gun Yakushima-cho, Kagoshima Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Summer

47 Okinawa: Cape Manzamo

As much as it sounds Spanish, Manzamo is a three-letter kanji which means ten thousand people sitting in a wilderness.

Cape Manzamo is one of the most popular places among both Japanese and international travelers who visit Okinawa Island. This is primarily because of its large grass-coated land area facing the East China Sea, giving visitors a stunning view of the huge waves and access to a vibrant coral reef.

One of the popular features of Cape Manzano is the trout-like coral snout on a cliff. Thousands of tourists visit the area just to have their photos taken at this natural sculpture.

  • Onna, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture
  • Best season to visit: Summer

#JAPAN47project is an ongoing series of blog posts rounding up the most unique, if not the best, travel destinations in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. I, personally, do not prefer writing listicles and go-to guides. However, my obsession with Japan’s natural and man-made beauty and the opportunity to work with 47 other travel bloggers is just too amazing to pass on.

Are you enjoying the shortlist so far? Don’t forget to click on individual prefectural travel recommendations. You may also subscribe to our newsletter by filling up the form below.

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  • This is going to be an amazing project. I can’t air to see it develop on the next few months. I loved my time in Japan and I think this will bring back some happy memories

    • We’ll just as excited as you are. I’ll keep you guys posted. Thanks!

  • Denny

    Japan has been one of my dream destinations for a very long time. I’ve been drawing up an itinerary, and now, thanks to your post, I have a problem of plenty. I want to visit the Ancient Forest of Yakushima, Takachiho Gorge, Mount Aso and Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama among others. Now to fit all this into my itinerary…

    • I see that you’re drawn to eco-tourism. I’ll update you when we do the nature trails in Iwate Prefecture. Thanks for the visit.

  • That is one extensive list! I think I’ve only been to one of those (Nara Park)… I will have to refer back to this when the time comes to revisit!

    • There are more nature and animal parks to visit all over Japan. I’ll update you once we the series commence. Thank you for the visit!

  • Moi Mehr

    What a comprehensive list that is! Never been to Japan and like many others I too had only planned Tokyo and Kyoto as the must go destinations until I stumbled on your blog. Phew.. Never knew there are thousands of islands there. I am going to bookmark this for future reference. I must say that’s an amazing collection with intricate details. Will surely be back as and when you update more. Keep writing.

    • Thank you! There’ll be a series of other posts to support this one in the coming months. Please do visit again and happy travels.

  • TheGreatAmbini

    You have researched this so well, I really want to visit Japan and your photos are giving me massive wanderlust! Thank you for sharing

    • There will be more to follow after this list. Glad you paid a visit. Thanks!

  • Luke and Meagan, Two Restless

    Honestly, I’ve never seen a list of Japanese attractions that captured my imagination like this. So well researched and such gorgeous pictures – now I just wish airfare wasn’t so pricey…

    • Hi guys! Thank you for the compliments, I’m glad you liked this list. For cheaper airfares, you may want to check Google Flights ( from time to time as I usually find cheaper tickets there from Manila to Tokyo. For sure you’ll find cheaper tickets too wherever you’re coming from.

  • Medha Verma Bector

    I already have been thinking I need to go back to Japan because there is just too much to see and do and I was there for 2 weeks, and yet I only managed to scratch the surface! I went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Mt Fuji and Hiroshima. The temples, the landscapes, the flowers, the people, the food, the deer, everything was so amazing! I did not see much of the wildlife (I avoided monkeys because I am not a fan) but what a brilliant experience it was! I’d love to go back sometime.

    • You could even go back to the same places you visited but in different season and wonder how everything looked different than your previous visit. Thanks for coming by!

  • Luis Enrique

    There’s something entirely distinct about the mystique of Japan, which comes through in every image and content written. Well done on completing the 47! I have bookmarked this!

    • Thank you, Luis! Hopefully you’ll be able to visit again when we start publishing the series.

  • Nathan Ang

    I’ve only been to Japan once, but it was an amazing cultural experience. As I was on an exchange programme with a local college, I was literally travelling via train to and fro the college in Kanagawa Prefecture and the host family’s residence in Seijo, Tokyo. I would love to return to the country to see more of its sights!

    • That is more than any regular tourist’s experience can ever be. You’re so lucky! How long have you stayed?