Top 10 Most Unusual Places To Visit in Japan

You’ve seen one too many Instavideos of the crowded Shibuya Crossing, faraway photos of Mount Fuji, and the sea of lavenders in Hokkaido taken from the same angles. You think to yourself, “There must be something more to Japan than these things.”

Of course there is! And if you’re not a fan of touristy areas and crowd, you can check out these unusual places that the locals prefer to visit:

1. Field of Red Soba Flowers in Nagano

Travel to Nagano during September and you’ll get the chance to see red soba flowers in full bloom on this little hill. During its peak, the field resembles a huge red carpet that stretches as vast as 4.2 hectares. The red soba flowers were brought to Japan by a professor from Yunnan, China. These crops were then used to make the unique red soba noodles, which you can try in a restaurant located near the field.

akasoba no sato, nagano, japan
Photo credit: ZEKKEI Japan

Address: Akasoba no Sato, Kamifuruta, Nakaminowa, Minowa-machi, Kamiina, Nagano.

Admission fee: Free

2. Meguro Parasitological Museum in Tokyo

If you’re adventurous enough and have a strong stomach, pay a visit to this unusual museum situated in the capital of Japan. The Meguro Parasitological Museum may be small, but houses 60,000 well-preserved specimens of various parasites. You can find among the exhibited specimens ranging from bacteria so small they’re only viewable under a microscope lens, to a tapeworm as big as 8.8m.

meguro parasitological museum
Photo credit: Japanize!

Address: 4-1-1 Shimomeguro, Meguro, Tokyo

Admission fee: Free

3. Tsumago-juku in Nagano

Time travel is possible in the ancient post town of Tsumago-juku. Step into this preservation site and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported 300 years back into the Edo period. It is one of the 69 post towns that connected Tokyo to Kyoto, and was briefly forgotten after the completion of a major railway that links Tokyo to Nagoya.

tsumago-juku town
Photo credit: Slow Tourism Japan

Address: 399-5302 Nagano Prefecture, Kiso District, Azuma 2159-2. 

Admission fee: Free

4. Kayabuki no Sato in Kyoto

Nestled in a valley in the mountain region of Kyoto is this charming little village. Kayabuki no Sato has over 40 houses with the traditional thatched roofs. There are only three houses open for lodgings, as the others are private homes owned by the locals. If you have the chance to stay overnight, you’ll get to fully experience the traditional Japanese way of living.

Address: Miyamacho-kita, Nantan city, Kyoto

Admission fee: 300 yen

5. Jimbocho in Tokyo

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Jimbocho is also called Book Town as it’s Tokyo’s publishing hub, and a must-go for every bookworm. This area of town also has many secondhand bookstores for you to look for a cheap bargain on any type of literature: ancient manuscripts, vintage comic books, classic novels, and even the latest mangas. You could say the whole town is a giant library!

jimbocho book town
Photo credit: Scoopnest

Address: Chiyoda, Tokyo.

Admission fee: Free

6. Sand Dunes in Tottori

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You probably won’t believe us if we told you that you can ride camels across a desert in Japan. Yet it’s true that you can get a desert experience there, right outside the city of Tottori. These giant sand dunes have been around for more than 100,000 years, which are unfortunately shrinking due to reforestation. Travel now while it’s still there!

camel-riding tottori sand dunes
Photo credit: Daisen Guide

Address: 2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori, Tottori Prefecture 689-0105

Admission fee: 600 yen

7. Road of Laputa in Kumamoto

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Does Laputa ring a bell? It’s the floating island from the famous classic Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, made famous again worldwide by the Studio Ghibli animation – Castle in the Sky. The trail will look as if it’s floating in mid-air when the clouds surround Mount Aso, earning it the nickname of Road to Laputa.

road to laputa
Photo credit: Planetyze

Address: Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture

Admission fee: Free

8. Kanda Myojin Shrine in Tokyo

While most people visit temples and shrines to get blessings for themselves, careers and families, people visit the Kanda Myojin Shrine to get blessings for their electronic devices. That’s right, this shrine may bring good luck and long lives for your laptops and smartphones. As the shrine is situated near Tokyo’s electronic district, Akihabara, gadget owners tend to head over to pray for protection in the digital realm.

kanda myojin shrine
Photo credit: The Huffington Post

Address: 2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021

Admission fee: Free

9. Sado Island in Niigata

This island off the coast of Niigita Prefecture has an unsavoury history and reputation as a place of exile. As a form of punishment, exile is second only to death, and people who were banished to Sado Island mostly do not live to return to their homes on the mainland. Despite that, people slowly flock to the island to enjoy its beautiful scenery and old school charm.

sado island
Photo credit: Rough Guides

Address: Niigita-ken, 952-1292

Entrance fee: 2,960 yen for the boat ride

10. Todoroki Valley in Tokyo

The best kept secret in Tokyo is this quiet little valley park that the locals visit to escape the hustle and bustle of their busy city. The Todoroki Valley has a 1km-trail that snakes along with the river, with shrines scattered along the way and a temple at the end. It’s the best place to seek your inner zen, as well as a great spot to observe the natural beauty of each season.

todoroki valley
Photo credit: Keith Crowley

Address: 1-22 and 2-37/38 Todoroki, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Admission fee: Free

Consider taking a basic Japanese language class to make your off-the-beaten-track experience in Japan more seamless as some of these places are known only to the locals. We have some professional teachers on Kaodim who can prepare you for your great Japanese adventure in no time. Let us know your requirements here and we’ll send you some free quotations ASAP. This way, you’ll save plenty of time from hunting around on Google or flipping through Yellow Pages! 

written by Esther Chung