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12 Gorgeous, Hidden Pearls of Japan

Japan has a lot to offer beyond its bustling cities and stunning landscapes. Its charming and peaceful villages and towns provide a glimpse of traditional and ancient Japan. These remote places have a peaceful, calm and even magical atmosphere, which is often overlooked by tourists. These villages reflect Japan's rich history and cultural heritage and have preserved their traditional architecture. They are popular destinations for tourists interested in Japanese history and culture. These villages are located either in the mountains or along the coast, each with its unique charm and beauty. If you plan to visit Japan, consider visiting 12 of the most charming and peaceful Japanese villages and towns.

1. Biei

Biei is a charming village located in Hokkaido that offers picturesque views of rolling hills and lavender fields. It's no wonder why nature and photography enthusiasts flock to this town. The landscape changes with the seasons, showcasing the beauty of cherry blossoms in spring, sunflowers and lavender in summer, reddish leaves in autumn, and snow-covered boulevards in winter.
The Blue Pool is a well-known attraction in town that is renowned for its color, which changes depending on the time of day and lighting. The pool is surrounded by trees and rocks, creating a serene and peaceful environment. Furthermore, Bayei offers a variety of dining options that feature Hokkaido's cuisine, adding to the overall experience.

2. Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is an incredible village and one of the most remarkable places in Japan. It's impossible not to feature it in this list of villages and towns. The village is located in Gifu Province's mountainous region and is famous for its exceptional architecture, which features traditional buildings with pitched roofs that resemble hands clasped together in prayer.
The village's buildings, constructed over 200 years ago, were designed to withstand heavy snowfall and have since become a significant cultural heritage site. Tourists visit to enjoy the local cuisine, including buckwheat soba noodles and miso hoba.

3. Tsurui

Tsurui village, located on the east coast of Hokkaido, is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty. It is home to a population of red-crowned cranes, a national symbol of Japan that is at risk of extinction. The landscape features rolling hills, peaceful lakes, and expansive flower fields, each offering a unique sight to behold.
The Ito Tancho sanctuary is definitely worth a visit if you want to see the famous cranes in their natural habitat. They offer fascinating tours that include performances and exhibitions, allowing visitors to learn more about bird conservation. Additionally, the sanctuary is home to cultural sites like the Tsurui Dosenko Farm, where visitors can experience traditional Hokkaido-style farm life and participate in various activities like milking cows and making butter.

4. Higashinaruse

Higashinaruse is a beautiful village nestled in Akita Prefecture, surrounded by natural beauty, hot springs, and traditional rural culture. One of the most popular events in the area is the Yokote Kamakura Festival held every February. Locals construct igloos called "Kamakura," decorated with lanterns and filled with offerings like sweet sake and mochi.
The Oyasukyo river channel is a must-visit spot in the village. It is a stunning canyon with hot springs (Oyasukyo) that offer a refreshing mineral water bath, surrounded by picturesque mountains and lush forests. Besides this, the village boasts of historical temples and the Kakunodate Samurai quarter, which showcases traditional houses of samurai families from the Edo period (1603-1868).

5. Karuizawa

Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture is an excellent location for those who wish to experience the beauty of Japanese nature. It is also a highly recommended destination for those seeking a luxurious vacation. The village offers various hiking trails, and the Shiriato Falls are a breathtaking sight that should not be missed. 
Additionally, the Usai trail viewpoint is also worth a visit.

In Karuizawa, you'll discover a variety of unique attractions that are worth checking out. For instance, the picture book museum is a one-of-a-kind place dedicated to showcasing picture books from all over the globe. You can even participate in a workshop to create your own picture book. Another enjoyable activity is visiting the serene Kumoba Lake, where you can rent row or pedal boats or simply have a delightful picnic by the water. 

6. Nagiso

Moving on to Nagiso, a small town located in the Kiso Valley, it boasts natural and traditional Japanese beauty that is simply breathtaking. The town is surrounded by lush forests, slow streams, and rice fields, and the buildings and streets are reminiscent of the Edo period, making it a must-visit destination.

7. Taketomi

Taketomi is a quaint town situated on an island in Okinawa Prefecture. The place is picturesque and ideal for exploring, especially on a rented bicycle or a cart pulled by an Asian buffalo - a traditional mode of transportation used on the island for hundreds of years.
The island of Taktomi is surrounded by coral reefs that provide a great diving experience. You can also explore Iriomote Island, which is known for its waterfalls, mangrove forests, and rare animals like the Iriomote cat. Taktomi has a rich history and heritage that you can experience by touring traditional Ryukyu houses.

8. Ainokura

Ainokura is a village located in the mountains of Toyama Prefecture, on the central island of Honshu. The village has preserved its natural landscape and traditional style sloping roofs. Visitors can take a road trip and enjoy the stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. During winter, the village turns into a ski resort. 

9. Wazuka

An exceptional place to explore in Kyoto Prefecture, with its hidden green hills that offer a serene and peaceful atmosphere, this place is renowned for its tea fields and traditional Japanese architecture, and is considered to be one of the largest green tea producers in Japan. You can take a guided tour of the tea fields, learn about tea preparation, and participate in tea picking, followed by a hot and fresh cup of tea in the picturesque surroundings. Additionally, the town itself is a must-visit, with its narrow streets and well-preserved teahouses that showcase traditional Japanese building features. Cycling at your own pace is the best way to explore this charming location, and don't miss out on trying Wagashi, a delicious Japanese candy made from bean paste and rice flour.

10. Yoshino

Yoshino is a renowned tourist destination that is situated in the Nara Prefecture. It is mostly famous for its seasonal landscape, particularly the cherry blossoms that create a stunning appearance in springtime. The place is flooded with floral pink, which gives it a magical vibe. Tourists from all around the world come to witness this beauty, and on their way, they can explore many other attractions. Besides its natural beauty, the place is also rich in Shinto and Buddhism culture, with numerous temples that can be visited.
The Kinpusen-ji Temple is the most famous among them, and it is considered one of the largest wooden buildings in Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village is surrounded by mountains, making it perfect for a refreshing walk, especially in the nearby Yoshino Kumano National Park. The area also has many hot springs that can be enjoyed.

11. Ine

Between the mountains and Ina Bay, there is a small town with 1,900 inhabitants. What is so special about it is the tradition of the style of fishing practiced in it, which has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years; The residents fish in boats that are intended for both living and fishing, and the village itself was built on a thin strip of land between the mountains and the sea, where you can see something there that you have not seen anywhere else - houses with parking for a boat.
Here you can also watch the amazing view towards the Sea of ​​Japan surrounded by mountains, and it is recommended to buy some Tsukudani there - preserved seafood that is a kind of souvenir for tourists.

12. Kurashiki

Located in Okayama Prefecture, this charming historic town is known for its preserved architecture from the Edo period. One of the most fascinating features of the city is its canal area, on the banks of which grow weeping willow trees, and sailing between them is an unforgettable experience for a lifetime.
Korshiki has numerous historical sites and museums that are worth exploring. One of the most impressive museums is the O'Hara Museum of Art, which boasts a vast collection of Western art, including works by renowned artists like Monet, Gauguin, and Picasso. Another must-visit site is the Folklore Handicrafts Museum, where you can admire a stunning collection of pottery, textiles, and other handicrafts. To experience the local cuisine, you must try kibi dango, which is a delightful sweet millet flour dish.
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Related Topics: photos, travel, places, Japan, Sites, villages, sights
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