I'm thinking of going to Japan this April and would prefer not to spend my time in the big cities (I've done that a few times already). Can anyone suggest any out of the way towns or villages worth visiting? I can speak passable Japanese so the language barrier won't be too much of an issue.
I lived in Saitama for a couple of years, near the foothills of the Okuchichibu Mountains. Some suggestions:
Kawagoe - about 45 minutes northwest of Tokyo, home to the last remnants of Edo Castle. The 18th century warehouse district shopping area and the bell tower will make you feel like you're stepping back in time. The 500 stone statues at Kitain Temple are an impressive site.
Chichibu - My wife and I loved Chichibu for the outdoor activities - great hiking in the mountains and gorgeous flower displays at the phlox festival near Golden Week. It's two hours from Tokyo. There's great shrine/temple hikes along the train line and a wonderful onsen near Yokoze Station.
If you're into Studio Ghibli, you can see the inspiration for My Neighbor Totoro in Tokorozawa.
If you find yourself in Hiroshima, take the train to the old sake brewing town of Saijo. You can get a walking map at the train station to visit several old sake breweries. Each offers samples and info on the area history. One of my favorite stops!
http://www.cascadianabroad.com/tag/hiroshima/ over 2 years agoAnswered by Cascadian Abroad via WorldNomads.com
I remember some fascinating fishing villages towards North end of Okinawa. Near or beyond Monza Beach?
I was there long ago. The had just opened wildlife exhibit near highway heading north and before underwater observatory was built near Monza Beach! over 2 years agoAnswered by Steven via WorldNomads.com
I really enjoyed seeing the firefly squid in the Toyoma Bay. stayed in a little town near Americawa. truly unique and enjoyable. they take a tour boat out around 2 a.m. there is also a museum for the squid and a small restaurant that serves the squid and other foods. (i had the fried glass shrimp). very interesting. over 2 years agoAnswered by Vicki Frigo via WorldNomads.com
Okayama International Villages almost 2 years agoAnswered by Tobias via WorldNomads.com
Izu Hanto, at the far end, has some great week towns and beautiful scenery. Shimoda, Matsuzaki, Kumomi.
In the Gifu mountains there are some stunning places, and in mountains of Tottori and central Hyogo-ken.
Also Shimane has some lovely areas. almost 2 years agoAnswered by Tobias via WorldNomads.com