Hidden Gems in Japan You Must Visit

by | Sep 6, 2022 | Asia, Destinations, Travel Tips

Best Hidden Gems in Japan

As one among many culturally influencing countries in East Asia, Japan has attracted many eyes to linger on its natural beauty and authentic culture, making it worthy of visiting and exploring. You can name all of the famous places in Japan, like Shinjuku, Mount Fuji, Tokyo, and so much more. In fact, there are absolutely many hidden gems in Japan waiting for you to discover.

So, if you are planning to go to Japan, we have provided you with a list of hidden gems in Japan you do not want other people to go to except you.

Lake Biwa

hidden gems in Lake Biwa
Copyright: Takeshi Shimizu

The first must-visit hidden gem in Japan is Lake Biwa, which you can find in the Shiga prefecture. Japan’s largest freshwater lake is one of the most beautiful places to watch the sunset in Japan. That being said, the lake is still considered an underrated place in Japan, which is good for you if you want to discover hidden gems in Japan without crowds. You can even explore the lake by boat if you want to do island hopping there. Interesting, right?

The iconic part of Lake Biwa is its Shirahige Shrine, which appears like a floating torii gate in the lake. There are also some annual festivals at the Shirahige Shrine on May 3 and September 5-6 every year. Despite its enchanting scenery, you can also explore the magnificent castles and traditional villages around the lake. You also must try its unique cuisines, such as carp and sweetfish. If you are a foodie, you definitely must like the cuisines.


Visiting Okinawa
Copyright: Ryo Yoshitake

The next hidden gem in Japan that you must visit is Okinawa. Being located in Japan’s westernmost and southernmost prefecture, Okinawa has gained a reputation as the “Hawaii of Japan.” The chain of islands of Okinawa has pristine beaches and sub-tropical jungles, making it also the perfect “tropical paradise of Japan.” In fact, Okinawa has a distinctly subtropical climate compared to other prefectures in Japan. 

Besides its beautiful nature, Okinawa also has UNESCO World Heritage sites on its main island, which are the ruins of the Tamagusuku area and Shuri Castle. Moreover, karate was actually first invented in Okinawa. So, not only do you expect to wander its pristine nature, but you can also experience the culture and history of Okinawa’s preserved heritage.

Izu Peninsula

Izu Peninsula
Copyright: Wanderplans.com

Located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Izu Peninsula is laid facing the Pacific ocean. You only need less than two hours by train to go to this mountainous peninsula from Tokyo. Although it has been known as a popular weekend getaway for tourists, this hidden gem is still less touristy. So, you will not need to worry about being a crowded pack of tourists while visiting.

There are many things you can explore on this peninsula. If you fancy outdoor activities, it is recommended to hike the trails along the coastal parts of the peninsula. There are also many hot springs you can enjoy and relax. If you consider visiting Iza Peninsula, we highly recommend you visit it during the spring season, especially between February and March. The town is home to Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival. Surely, you can expect the blooming cherry blossoms everywhere, coloring the town pink.

Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island
Copyright: Rena

If you are an art lover, you will definitely love this hidden gem in Japan. Naoshina Island, which is located in the Seto Inland Sea, is the home of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Benesse Art Site Naoshima is dedicated to a contemporary art museum, sculptures, and architecture that offers unique and artistic artworks you can contemplate to. Moreover, once you step foot on the island, you can feel the atmosphere where islands and arts are intertwined neatly.

The people of Naoshima Island are very friendly to visitors, and they will give you their brightest smile when you run into them on the street. The warm welcome of the natives completes the perfect atmosphere of life on the island. Besides many art installations being the magnet of the island, you can spend your time hiking around the island and enjoying the beautiful unspoiled beauty of Naoshima Island. Even so, you can stay in the guest houses on the island.

Shirakawa and Gokayama Village

Shirakawa and Gokayama Village
Copyright: Laurentiu Morariu

Moving from coastal and island hidden gems in Japan, let us move to the winter wonderland in Japan. Shirakawa and Gokayama Village must be on your bucket list of hidden gems in Japan since this underrated touristic site is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Traveling to Shirakawa and Gokayama Village can be a little tricky since this location is quite remote in Gifu city in Central Japan. However, it is worth the travel, though.

During the winter season, Shirakawa and Gokayama Village will enshrine their beauty. The steep thatched roofs of the cottages scattered in the villages will be covered with heavy white snow. The best viewpoint of the winter light-up nights is the Shiroyama viewpoint, where you can see the village of Ogimachi looking like an adorable small town from the storybook you read when you were a little child.

Budget tips

Many may say that traveling to Japan will drain your money away. Accommodation, transportation, and even food are sometimes pricey in Japan. Fret not! There are absolutely many ways for you to travel with a tight budget to Japan and still have a wonderful experience. 

Street food is the best

Street food in Japan
Copyright: Jérémy Stenuit

Japan is inarguably a haven for authentic, delicious street food. Besides, the prices are generally cheaper than dining in at a restaurant, so that you can save a handful of money. The price range for street food varies between cities and the types of food you want to order. Generally, buying street food will cost you €4 to €10 for okonomiyaki to monjayaki.

Transporting with a Japan Rail Pass

Train in Japan
Copyright: M.S. Meeuwesen

There is a discounted train pass for travelers to explore Japan, which covers train lines within six regions in the country. Each region has different types of rail passes for different numbers of traveling days. You can expect to spend at least around €21 for a day with Japan Rail Kansai to approximately €25 for a two-day trip with Japan Rail Hakone. On a side note, you must note that you have to purchase online the Japan Rail Pass prior to your arrival in Japan.

Staying at a capsule hotel

Capsule hotel in Japan
Copyright: Denys Nevozhai

Staying at a capsule hotel is definitely an excellent tip for budget-friendly travelers. You may think staying at a capsule hotel is not bizarre, yet the experience is really fun. There are enough amenities you can get by staying there, such as a single bed and TV in your own futuristic pods. Additionally, there are also some shared areas such as storage, bathrooms, and common rooms. With these amenities and facilities, you only need to spend approximately €20 to €40 per night.

Traveling together in a group

Traveling in group in Japan
Copyright: Jérémy Stenuit

Traveling together in a group is the most fun way to travel on a budget. By traveling together, you can share and split the payment you have made for accommodation and transportation. Or maybe, you can also get discounted price if you make a payment together. Also, if you travel together and decide to stay in a shared house with a kitchen set, you can make food together and split the bills afterward. That way, you can definitely save a lot of budgets!

Explore Japan with JoinMyTrip

Explore Japan with JoinMyTrip
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All and all, Japan is genuinely an interesting place in East Asia you must visit. Among many touristic destinations in Japan, some hidden gems are yet to explore. This is your chance to discover those hidden gems in Japan. JoinMyTrip offers you this experience at an affordable price where you can explore the country from north to south and the hidden gems in Japan.

What are you waiting for? Come and join JoinMyTrip and explore Japan and its hidden gems with our inspiring TripLeaders!

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