Japan is a country that brings together places like Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and other cities and places of indescribable beauty. But in this article we will not focus on the world-renowned tourist attractions of the Japanese archipelago.

Let’s take a look at a selection of the rare places in Japan that are rarely on tourists’ itineraries, but are worth visiting.

1. Isla Aogashima

Island administratively attached to Tokyo lost in a remote area of ​​the Philippine Sea, 358 km south of the Japanese capital, with just 200 inhabitants. Its 8.75 km2 area is in the territory of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

The entire island is a volcanic crater with a smaller volcano inside. A virgin space unaffected by mass tourism, making it an ideal place for camping days with natural saunas due to underground activity.

Although the volcano had its last eruptive season between 1781 and 1785, it is still classified as active.

You can visit Aogashima by helicopter and the ascent of the inner crater is one of the favorite sports of the place.

2. Wakkanai Harbor Breakwater Dome

Wakkanai is a city in the far north of Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island. It is the northernmost of the Japanese archipelago and from Cape Soya, where it is located, the Russian island of Sakhalin is visible.

Wakkanai Harbor is a historic site, having been a submarine base for the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

The port breakwater has a curious semi-dome structure supported by columns. It was built in 1936 as a station on the old Sakhalin sea route, as protection against strong winds and heavy waves.

The arch is 427 meters long, 13.6 meters high and is supported by 70 Roman-style columns.

The breakwater dome is a popular meeting point during the summer where karaoke events are held and a market is set up.

3. Cataratas by Fukiware

The gradual erosion of the rocky layer for more than 10 millennia allowed the formation of these spectacular waterfalls, located 2 hours and a half from Tokyo.

Also known as the Japanese “Niagara” Falls, they have a height and width of 7 and 30 meters, respectively.

Autumn is the best time to visit because of the beautiful contrast between the yellow, ocher and red of the foliage of the trees, with the blue and white foam of the water.

A suspension bridge was built over the falls that serves as a viewpoint. The place is closed between mid-December and April.

Just 4 km away is the famous Oigami Onsen hot spring resort, within the city limits of Numata, Gunma Prefecture.

4. Oya Stone Museum

This stone mine and museum on the outskirts of the city of Utsunomiya, the capital of Tochigi Prefecture, is one of Japan’s rare places worth visiting.

It is an underground quarry that was a source of wealth, since stone was a common construction material before the massification of concrete.

Oya’s igneous rocks were formed from lava and volcanic ash. They have been used for Japanese buildings since the 17th century, with the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo being a prominent example of their use.

On a walk through the underground mine, you can admire works of art and spaces illuminated with various colors that create a magical and surreal atmosphere. His “salons” have become popular for weddings, commercials, and music videos.

5. Ryusendo Cave

With a proven length of 3,631 meters, though it is believed to be longer, and a depth of 249 meters, Ryusendo is among the 3 largest limestone caves in Japan. It is in Iwaizumi, Iwate Prefecture in the north of the country.

The cave has 8 underground lakes of which only 3 are accessible. The deepest of these reaches 98 meters deep. One of the lakes not open to the public has a drop of 120 meters.

The cave system was declared a natural monument in 1934. It is the habitat of several species of bats, including the greater horseshoe bat, the largest of its kind capable of living more than 30 years, and also one of the longest-lived of the order. The cave houses an exhibition on its geology.

6. Monte Shirouma

Although Mount Shirouma is not as famous as Fuji and only ranks 26th among the highest peaks in Japan, its flowery fields in spring and summer are one of the most beautiful natural spectacles in the Japanese archipelago.

It is in the Hida Mountains of the northern Japanese Alps with a peak at 2,932 meters above sea level, in the Chūbu-Sangaku National Park, a protected area of ​​1,743 km2 decreed in 1934.

The park is home to several peaks over 3,000 meters above sea level (Kamikōchi, Mount Hotaka and Mount Tate) with gorges, escarpments and ravines ideal for practicing outdoor sports. It is the most important place in Japan for hiking.

Mount Shirouma has year-round snow in the deep Shirouma Gorge and Shirouma Dai Sekkei, making it a favorite spot for Japanese rock climbers.

7. Yaguras of Kamakura

Group of yaguras (tombs) in artificial caves dug into the slopes of the hills, given the scarcity of flat land to bury the dead. They are in Kamakura, a city on the eastern coast of central Japan.

Although Kamakura is now a small city, between the 13th and 14th centuries it became the most populous in the country and its de facto capital.

The caves were dug during the Middle Ages to bury samurai, priests, and other high-ranking people. Some decorated tombs served as inspiration for the construction of cenotaphs, two of them dedicated to Minamoto no Sanetomo and the female samurai Hōjō Masako in the Jufuku-ji cemetery.

The heyday of the construction of caves as necropolis occurred between the end of the 12th century and the middle of the 14th century, during the shogunate or Kamakura period.

The tombs can be visited between Saturday and Monday and are a must for samurai fans.

8. Oigawa Railway

A picturesque 65 km railway that runs along one of the banks of the Oigawa River, leaving the city of Shimada (Kanaya station) bound for Senzu, in Shizuoka prefecture.

The route of the ordinary and steam locomotives includes the steepest section of Japan and the views from the windows of the cars are spectacular.

The train runs between spring and early December with only one trip per day.

In summer, a locomotive similar to the one in the popular British animated series, Thomas and his friends (Thomas and Friends), runs, which is very attractive to children.

The price of a one-way ticket for an adult on the ordinary locomotive is 1720 yen (304 MXN), with a surcharge of 800 yen (141 MXN) on the steam locomotive. The journey lasts 80 minutes and runs through a beautiful valley between tea fields.

9. Torre Nakagin

This tower of interchangeable capsules for residential and commercial use ranks high among the rare places in Japan. It was built in 1972 according to the design of the Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa, being the first tower with the concept of habitation capsules, a way that assumes that the building must change over time.

This style received the name of Metabolist Movement. Kurokawa was one of its founders.

The Nakagin Tower is a curiosity in the architectural landscape of Ginza, a district in Tokyo’s Chuo neighborhood. It is made up of 2 interconnected cement towers with 140 prefabricated modules (which are the capsules) each with an autonomous space.

The capsules are held by 4 screws that keep them attached to the main core and make it easy to change.

The spaces are minimal and the bathroom is similar to that of an airplane. Some believe that the tower should be demolished as an impractical housing concept, while others believe that it should be preserved as it represents a valid idea for Japanese culture.

10. Akame 48

There are 48 waterfalls along a beautiful journey of several kilometers upstream of the river in the province of Iga, island of Honshu. Water falls in a place of wild and enigmatic beauty among gigantic amphibians, mysterious paths and the spirits of ninja warriors.

The waterfalls are reached by following a hiking trail. With luck, you might come across a giant salamander from Japan, which can reach a length of one and a half meters, making it the second largest in the world.

Although they can be visited all year round, the best seasons to visit the waterfalls are spring and summer.

The ninjas were formed spiritually in the mountains of Akame. A school is still preserved where the history and legacy of these famous fighters is studied. There you will learn to move with the stealth of a ninja with his secret techniques to escape without leaving a trace.

11. Isla Aoshima

On this island in Ehime prefecture, near the city of Ozu, there are more than 30 cats for every human being, a premeditated action to combat rats when the island was a fishing settlement.

It is an island with few residents, most of them elderly. The tourists who visit it feed the cats, whose population exceeds 200 specimens. It is reached by taking a ferry that departs from JR Iyo-Nagahama Station, in Port Nagahama, in a half-hour journey.

Cat sterilization is a measure to control the cat population with little local collaboration. It is a place for those who are truly passionate about these animals, since Aoshima lacks tourist services.

12. Shimoguri no Sato

This village embedded in a mountain in Nagano is one of the rare places in Japan to visit, especially for the ancient Shimotsuki-matsuri festival and the houses lined up on the steep slopes.

The village is part of the city of Lida, 1000 meters above sea level in the central part of the archipelago.

Shimoguri no Sato gives the visitor a feeling of weightlessness in the middle of the Southern Japanese Alps and its winding paths and deep valleys are spectacular.

The sun bathes the southern slopes where villagers grow potatoes, vegetables and the buckwheat used to make soba noodles.

Shimotsuki-matsuri is an ancient winter festival held in December at 9 Shinto shrines in the mountains of Nagano.

The locals dance around boiling cauldrons inviting the gods and spirits to take a warm bath. The festival inspired the famous Japanese animated film, Spirited Away.

13. Puente Tsujunkyo

This aqueduct bridge is 84 meters long with a 27.3-meter-wide stone arch, the widest of its kind in Japan.

It was built (Yamato, Kumamoto Prefecture) in the village of Yabe by the community leader, stonemasons and farmers, in 1854.

Listed as an Important Cultural Property by the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs, this humble stone bridge made by villagers from the 19th century is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the country.

The purpose of the aqueduct was to bring water from the Sasahara River to the Shiraito Plateau using the siphon principle. The water irrigates about 100 hectares devoted to rice cultivation.

14. Takeda Castle

The ruins of this 15th-century mountaintop fortress seem to float through the clouds on early autumn mornings. In spring, the cherry blossoms provide a lovely pink and white frame for the castle, while in autumn the different shades of the foliage are postcard-worthy.

Takeda Castle is located on a hilltop in the city of Asago, in the heart of Hyogo Prefecture. It was built by the Otagaki clan in 1443 and its position for the time was strategic, since it dominated the surrounding valleys and was located on the limits of the old provinces of Tanba, Tajima and Harima.

The lord of the castle was Akamatsu Hirohide in 1585, who built the outer defenses to protect the silver and copper extracted from the Ikuno mines, located 20 km from the fortress.

After Hirohide’s death, the fort fell into disrepair, being recovered a few decades ago as a tourist attraction.

15. Of course

The Koyasan or Mount Koya, south of Osaka in the Wakayama mountains, is the main Buddhist center in Japan of the Shingon school. It is next to the village of Koya surrounded by 8 peaks.

The first settlement was founded in the 9th century by the monk and Grand Master Kukai, initiator of the sect, as the headquarters of the Buddhist current.

Over time, the 120 temples and other sacred places found in the valley would be built, including the Okunoin, the largest cemetery in the country. The necropolis contains some 200,000 tombs, including the Kukai mausoleum.

The most important temple is Kongōbu-ji, which means: Diamond Mountain Temple, declared a World Heritage Site in 2004 along with other sacred sites on the Kii Mountains pilgrimage routes. It has a rock garden that is the largest in Japan built in 1984, to commemorate the 1,150th anniversary of the Grandmaster’s ascension to eternal meditation.

16. Isla Hashima

This small uninhabited island 480 meters long and 150 meters wide belongs to the Nagasaki Prefecture. It is also known as Gunkanjima (Battleship Island) due to the shape of an armored warship that it acquired when it was walled in when its rich coal mine was in operation.

The mine, 20 km from the port of Nagasaki, operated for 87 years between 1887 and 1974 and the wall was built to protect the island from the intense waves and typhoons that hit it.

The mine managed by the Mitsubishi company came to produce up to 410,000 tons a year in vertical tunnels that reached the seabed, and the island went from being uninhabited to having a population of about 3,000 people.

The mine marked several milestones in Japan, housing the first concrete building (year 1916) and the tallest building in the Japanese archipelago, an apartment building erected in 1917.

After its closure and abandonment, the facilities acquired a ghostly appearance that attracts tourists. It was the scene of the TV series Earth without humans.

Weird Places in Japan: Rabbit Island

Okunoshima is a small Japanese island in the Seto Inland Sea, in Hiroshima Prefecture, in the south-west of the archipelago. The strange thing is not that it is called Isla de los Conejos because of its number of rodents, but because of the reason the animals came there.

In Okunoshima, the poisonous gas used by the Japanese Imperial Army in China during World War II was manufactured, and rabbits were the animals used for the tests. Then they reproduced in the wild and today they are a tourist attraction.

The tame rodents eat from the hands of visitors and their hunting is prohibited, as is the introduction of other animals that could harass them (dogs, cats).

The island has a hotel, a small golf course, a camping area and the Poison Gas Museum, which explains the atrocious way this chemical weapon kills.

What is the place that you found most beautiful and strange? Share this article with your friends so they can also learn about the weird places in Japan that you shouldn’t miss.

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