Cleanse Your Soul! Eight Recommended Spots to Enjoy Japanese Nature
There is a lot of amazing scenery around the world that soothes the soul. With approximately 60% of its land mass covered in mountains, Japan also has many fabulous scenic spots surrounded by nature! Here are eight recommended spots.
1. Kushiro Marsh (Hokkaido)
Kushiro Marsh, located in eastern Hokkaido, is Japan's largest wetlands. Registered under the Ramsar Convention, it is a place where you can see valuable flora and fauna such as the Japanese crane.
The Hosooka Viewpoint in the eastern part of the wetlands offers a spectacular view of the vast wetlands and the Kushiro River meandering through it. It is also known for its spectacular sunsets. If you want to see an even more beautiful scenery, the Kirakotan Rise deep inside the wetlands is recommended. It is private property designated as a special protection zone, so you must hire a tour guide to visit.
2. Shirakami-Sanchi (Aomori)
Shirakami-Sanchi is an untouched mountain range with a mystic air covering southwestern Aomori and northwestern Akita. A vast mountainous area with one of the largest remaining virgin beech forests in Asia, it is registered as a World Heritage site.
There are beech trees as old as 400 years in its quiet forests where the sounds of wild birds echo! The mystic Aoike lake that changes its color depending on the season and time of day is also a must see.
3. Akiyama-go (Nagano/Niigata)
Akiyama-go is the general term for the villages scattered around the valleys upstream of Nakatsu River in the southern part of Niigata and the northeast of Nagano. It is an area where one can see Japan as it used to be, with people living in harmony with nature.
There is an observatory at the top of the mountain behind Maekura Village with a view of the beautiful gorge and the mountains, including Mt. Naeba, which symbolizes Akiyama-go. It is known as a great place to see the autumn foliage, with the view from Maekura Bridge over Nakatsu River being particularly beautiful.
4. Aogashima (Tokyo)
Aogashima, located about 360km to the south of Tokyo, is an island made by a rare double-cratered volcano. With no direct flights from the main island, it is truly a "solitary island in the distant seas." To get there, you must take an airplane or the nine-seater helicopter that flies once a day.
The attraction of this island is the strange terrain unique to double-cratered volcanoes and the cobalt blue Pacific Ocean that surrounds the island. At night, you can enjoy a romantic scenery with skies filled all around with stars! There are minshuku inns and campsites, so you can stay overnight.
5. Kurobe Gorge (Toyama)
Kurobe Gorge in the eastern part of Toyama is Japan's deepest V-shaped gorge. With breathtaking cliffs, clear, emerald green streams, and trees that transform with the season, it is a place where you can enjoy the beauty of nature as it is.
There is a Kurobe Gorge Train that runs through the gorge, so that you can enjoy its many tourist spots and fabulous scenery while riding through numerous bridges and tunnels! You'll be able to get your fill of the gorge with its harsh and thrilling beauty.
6. Torokawa Gorge (Hyogo)
Torokawa Gorge in northern Hyogo is also a place with beautiful scenery. It is a mystic gorge covered with virgin forests, and is on the list of Japan's 100 top hidden destinations.
There are maintained hiking paths so that you can walk along the stream. You will be refreshed by the scenery created by green trees, moss-covered rocks and the beautiful, clear stream. The 55m-high Torokawa Falls deep inside the gorge is also worth seeing.
7. Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki)
Takachiho Gorge in northern Miyazaki is a gorge that is designated as one of Japan's places of scenic beauty and a natural monument. Lava flow from ancient eruptions cooled and hardened and were eroded over the years to create the sharp, overhanging cliffs that characterize this gorge. With an average height of 80m (maximum 100m), the gorge expands about 7km from east to west.
The Manai Falls, a symbol of Takachiho, are spectacular falls that is one of Japan's top 100 falls. You can rent a boat and go right up to it!
8. Yonaguni Island (Okinawa)
Yonaguni Island is Japan's southernmost island located about 509km to the southwest of the main island of Okinawa. It is one of the Yaeyama Islands but has a unique landscape, culture, and history unlike any other.
The island's symbol is the 30m-high Tachigami-iwa rock to the southeast of the island. Yonaguni islanders have worshiped it as "god's rock." The coastline of sheer cliffs and the panoramic view of the East China Sea seen from the 85m-high Tindabana are also must sees.
This is a wide area from Hokkaido to Okinawa, but each spot is worth making a special trip for! Go on a journey to experience the fabulous views created by nature.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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