Join our search for Japan’s best Hidden Beauties
We’ve sent two travel bloggers to opposite ends of Japan to uncover 31 off-the-beaten-trail places and experiences most travelers never find.
Follow the tour and you can help decide the winner of the 2015 Hidden Beauty Award!
Walking the Salt Trail in ItoigawaNiigata Prefecture / south
Hiking the ancient Salt Road and experiencing local traditions in Itoigawa, where the Northern Alps meets the Sea of Japan.
Art Around Lake KizakikoNagano Prefecture / north
Enjoying exhibits of contemporary art around Lake Kizakiko, a small lake south of Shinano-Omachi in Nagano Prefecture.
Nanto, home of faith and woodcarvingToyama Prefecture / south
Visiting woodcraft artisans in Nanto-city, Toyoma to see their elaborate sculpture works and studios in the classical townscape.
The Outdoors of MinakamiGunma Prefecture / north
Swimming, jumping and sliding down the rapids and waterfalls of the Tone River in the mountain hot spring town of Minakami, Gunma Prefecture.
Eating my way around Mount HakusanIshikawa Prefecture / south
Explore regional delicacies found around Mount Hakusan in Ishikawa Prefecture. Details to be announced.
Wasabi Farming on the Izu PeninsulaShizuoka Prefecture / north
Visiting a farm on the Izu Peninsula to learn about and experience wasabi cultivation.
Fifteen million autumns in MiyazuKyoto Prefecture / south
Joining a tour through the mountains of northern Kyoto Prefecture in search of fossilized leaves, fish and other creatures.
Soy Sauce Connections in ChoshiChiba Prefecture / north
Visit the most authentic and traditional shoyu (soy sauce) factory and eat freshly caught Tuna with your hand-squeezed shoyu.
A different Kyoto - forestry in KeihokuKyoto Prefecture / south
Experience with local forestry workers to go deep into the forested mountains north of Kyoto.
Kokia and Cosmos at Hitachi Seaside ParkIbaraki Prefecture / north
Visiting Hitatchi Seaside Park, a sprawling public park in Ibaraki Prefecture known for its spectacular displays of seasonal flowers and the fire-red kokia plants which cover the hillsides in autumn.
Smoked bonito and other delicacies in Ise ShimaMie Prefecture / south
Trying our hand at making katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes, used widely in traditional Japanese cooking.
Seven Colors of Hot Springs in ShiobaraTochigi Prefecture / north
Enjoying baths in many different hot springs in the historical bathing resort of Shiobara Onsen.
Ryujin Onsen, the mountain retreat of the daimyoWakayama Prefecture / south
Relaxing in the beautifying hot spring waters of historic Ryujin Onsen in the remote mountains of Wakayama Prefecture.
Hiking in UrabandaiFukushima Prefecture / north
Hiking the beautiful Goshikinuma Walk in the Urabandai Region of Fukushima Prefecture, that leads past several colorful ponds. The local autumn colors should be near their peak.
Wakame farming in NarutoTokushima Prefecture / south
Learning about wakame seaweed farming in Naruto, a city made famous by the tidal whirlpools which form in the nearby strait.
Omoshiroyama Kogen to YamaderaYamagata Prefecture / north
Hiking the steep Momijigawa Ravine via a thrilling riverside trail on the way from Omoshiroyama Kogen to Yamadera Temple.
Ogijima, a small island with plenty of characterKagawa Prefecture / south
Exploring the narrow lanes of Ogijima Island's sleepy hillside fishing village.
Oysters and more on the Karakuwa PeninsulaMiyagi Prefecture / north
Seeing and tasting how local oyster cultivation on the Karakuwa Peninsula in Kesennuma has recovered from the 2011 Tsunami.
The Kuniga Coast of the Oki IslandsShimane Prefecture / south
Discovering the sheer cliffs and rocky shores of Shimane's Oki Islands from both land and sea.
Kitayamazaki CliffsIwate Prefecture / north
Visiting the towering cliffs along the northern coast of Iwate Prefecture.
Shunan's industrial coastlineYamaguchi Prefecture / south
Joining an evening cruise along the illuminated refineries and factories that line the southern coast of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The Abandoned Osarizawa MineAkita Prefecture / north
Exploring the abandoned ruins of one of Japan's largest former mines in Akita Prefecture.
Toilets and robots in KitakyushuFukuoka Prefecture / south
Touring the Toto factory in Kitakyushu where the celebrated washlets and some of the world's most advanced toilets are being produced.
Japan's Most Scenic Train LineAomori Prefecture / north
Riding the Resort Shirakami train along the scenic Gono Line which follows the Sea of Japan coast of Akita and Aomori.
Okawachiyama, village of the secret kilnsSaga Prefecture / south
Exploring the traditional artisan village of Okawachiyama in Saga Prefecture, where Imari Porcelain has been produced for centuries.
Exploring Ainu Culture in NibutaniHokkaido / north
Visiting one of the best museums about the Ainu, Hokkaido's indigenous people.
Taketa - a story of waterOita Prefecture / south
A visit to Hakusui Dam, otherwise known as "the Queen of the Dams", a beautiful cascading waterfall in Taketa City, Oita.
Climbing Mount TarumaeHokkaido / north
Climbing Mount Tarumae, one of Hokkaido's most powerful and active volcanoes that towers over the idyllic Shikotsuko caldera lake.
Aoshima, island of the godsMiyazaki Prefecture / south
Checking out the devil's washboard coastline and a small shrine in the jungle interior of Miyazaki's small shrine island.
Trekking in Shiretoko National ParkHokkaido / north
Sea kayaking along the rocky coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, home to Japan's largest population of brown bears.
Sea kayaking in ZamamiOkinawa Prefecture / south
Exploring the deep blue waters around subtropical Okinawa's Zamami Island by sea kayak.