The Little-Known Secrets Of Small towns in Japan

When it comes to Japan, readers always think of Tokyo and Osaka. Because it is the capital, a large city in Japan, acting as the economic center of Japan. Small towns in Japan are rarely mentioned, but they always bring new feelings, something exciting and attractive to visitors.

Coming to Japan, do you think you will live in the city or in the countryside? In fact, you always choose to learn to live with contrasts, and what makes a great place to live is also what makes it such a horrible place to live. For example, in the city, there are many people and many shops, … and in small towns in Japan are few people, living space is comfortable, and relaxing but a little lonely.

Small towns attracted by what?

A place to be chosen to live needs a lot of criteria, as it directly affects your quality of life. Small towns in Japan will have less population than big cities, so crime rates will also be lower. Residents know each other more, are close and can call “neighbors”.

The level of work pressure will be lower, the stress is reduced when the small cities in Japan have comfortable and healthy living spaces. Walking and socializing, and experiencing the feeling of belonging will make you happier.

Secrets of some small towns

Shirakawa-go

small-towns-in-Japan

The houses in Shirakawa-go are covered in white snow. (Source: Internet)

Shirakawa-go is a beautiful fairy-tale village, the most famous landmark of Gifu Prefecture, attracting many tourists. The houses here have a very unique design, with the roof weighing up to 60 tons, linked together by ropes. It is thick enough, and can completely resist the 2-3m thick layers of winter snow. And this village is also most beautiful in winter.

Shirakawa-go gives tourists a peaceful feeling with the mountains and the idyllic people here. But don’t ignore Gifu’s really interesting experiences. Are you curious about what that interesting thing is? It’s a Gouden Route.

When to go to Shirakawa-go

The 4 seasons in Shirakawa-go are all beautiful and extremely attractive. But you will see its prominence in winter, especially at night time. When the lights are on, it seems more brilliant, a bit mysterious, immersed in the white snow. In addition, there is also the Winter Light-up festival, which is extremely wonderful.

Interesting places

  • Wada House: the largest traditional house in Gassho-zukuri architecture in the old village of Shirakawago.
  • Shiroyama Observatory: where visitors can admire the entire scene of the volcanic island of Sakurajima.
  • Temple-Museum Myorenji: a place to display traditional artifacts for farming since ancient times.
  • Museum Gassho zukuri Minkaen: art museum, see firsthand the robot army in the work “Castle in the sky”.

Instructions on how to move

The ancient village of Shirakawa-go is about 350 km from Tokyo, about 5 hours.

From Tokyo:

  • Take the Kodama train, the cost for this trip is about 5400 JPY/way (~$38.94) to Nagoya Station.
  • From Shinkansen Hokuriku to Tayama station, the cost of a ticket is 12730 JPY/way (~ $91.81), which takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. And continue to Shirakawa-go takes 1700 JPY / way (~ $12.26) for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Kamakura

small-towns-in-Japan

Kamakura – marks a period in Japan’s history. (Source: Internet)

Put on the ancient, peaceful nature of Kamakura. It is attracted by the long beaches, white sand, and sacred temples. The Great Buddha is associated with each period of Kamakura’s history.

In 1252, the great Buddha Kamakura was cast, located on the grounds of Kotokuin temple, made of bronze. There are many domestic and foreign tourists coming. Over time, the majesty of the great buddha did not disappear.

Visit Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine with its ancient structures, home to a large number of wonderful old Zen temples.

Unique Cuisine

Have you ever heard of famous dishes, extremely eye-catching and sophisticated dishes in Kamakura? The aesthetics of the dishes here are highly appreciated. Enjoy a Matsutake that cannot be missed. The main fuel that makes up this dish is rare mushrooms. Tofu Kaiseki is a recommendation for those who love tofu. Whitefish in Shirasu-don, served with white rice, is perfect.

Interesting places

  • Joju-in Temple: a stately temple built in 1219.
  • Yuigahama: a popular beach for those who like to surf, sunbathe, or walk on the beach.
  • Genjiyama Park: The goal of seeing the giant Buddha of Kamakura
  • Sasuke Inari Shrine: a little-known place. Come to this temple to pray for good luck and prosperity.

Instructions on how to move

From Tokyo:

  • Travel from Tokyo Station to Kamakura by the Yokosuka Line.
  • Costs 920 JPY (~$6.63), and takes about 57 minutes.

From Narita Airport:

  • Travel by Narita Express train and JR Shonan Shinjuku line to Kamakura.
  • Cost 4780 JPY (~ $34.47), takes about 2 hours.

From Haneda Airport:

  • Travel by express Limousine Bus and Yokosuka line to Kamakura.
  • Costs 890 JPY (~$6.42), and takes about 1 hour.

Hatsukaichi

small-towns-in-Japan

The scenery is amazing in Hatsukaichi. (Source: Internet)

Hatsukaichi is a city in Hiroshima Prefecture and is famous for its coastal business district. If you have the opportunity, try once to come here to enjoy fresh seafood and have plenty of time to see how beautiful the scenery is.

Explore the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Treasure of Japan. It has existed for more than 4000 years and has very deep historical and cultural significance. Enjoy the beautiful appearance and the peaceful atmosphere at high tide. There are also many beautiful places to visit in Japan.

Interesting places

  • Miyajima: the most visited area in Hiroshima Prefecture.
  • MT. Misen: is the highest mountain on Miyajima Island. It offers spectacular views.
  • JR Nishinihon Miyajima Ferry: enjoy the view in front of Itsukushima Shrine.
  • Daisho in Temple: one of the most important temples of Shingon Buddhism.
  • Senjokaku: located on top of a high hill overlooking Itsukushima Shrine.

Instructions on how to move

  • Travel by bus within the city of Meipurupu. Cost 200 JPY/adult (~$1.44); 100 JPY/child (~$0.72)
  • Traveling by tram is popular means for people and tourists. Cost 700 JPY/adult (~ $5.05); 350 JPY/child (~$2.52)

Iwakuni

small-towns-in-Japan

Going to Iwakuni- where do you want to go? (Source: Internet)

A small city in Japan is not to be missed Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The peaceful town is famous for its blooming cherry blossoms and for having the largest bridge in Japan. Built-in 1673, to ward off enemy attacks on the territory. The bridge has been repaired a lot due to the destruction of nature.

The bridge is 210m long, and 5m wide, and the pier is 6.6m high. A building that uses engineering to build up. A place you cannot miss.

Special food

Especially where Iwakuni has a unique square-shaped pressed sushi. Colorful ingredients such as sliced ​​fish, chrysanthemum leaves, lotus root, shiitake mushrooms, and sliced ​​eggs, are arranged like a cake with filling.

More impressively, it is also a famous ice cream spot. Variety of flavors like green tea, sakura, and limited edition seasonal flavors.

Instructions on how to move

Traveling by Shinkansen bullet train, the arrival time is less than half an hour.

Kurashiki

small-towns-in-Japan

The scenery is so charming and poetic. (Source: Internet)

Kurashiki is known as the denim capital that always welcomes believers from all over the world. A small city in Japan with beautiful white houses. Along the beautiful river are stone bridges crossing. The river is dotted with large and small boats carrying passengers back and forth.

Shopping in Kurashiki

This area has many amusement parks and shopping centers. Shops selling traditional crafts, and grocery stores line up to go in and buy. Do you like shopping? This place cannot be missed!

Interesting places

  • Betty Smith Jeans Museum
  • Old Shimotsui Tonya Museum
  • Kanryuji Temple
  • Achi Shrine

Instructions on how to move

Travel by train to Kurashiki, and then walk for 10 minutes

See more:

Hakone

small-towns-in-Japan

Hakone- rich nature. (Source: Internet)

A small village in Japan Hakone covered with snow, in the mountains near Mount Fuji. Visiting Japan, Hakone is the most worth-visiting tourist city, because of the nature here, and the famous lake surface. Moving to Tokyo is also not difficult.

Interesting places

  • Hakone Yumoto
  • Miyanoshita
  • Gora
  • Sengokuhara
  • Sounzan, Owakudani

Instructions on how to move

  • Travel by train Odakyu Romance Car from Shinjuku. Cost: 2080 JPY (~ $15.00), takes about 1 hour 25 minutes.
  • Travel by Hakone Cable Car to climb the mountain. Cost: 420 JPY (~$3.03), which takes about 9 minutes.

Furano

small-towns-in-Japan

The sea of lavender is in bloom. (Source: Internet)

July – when the fields of the town bloom with a sea of lavender. It is the flower that represents Furano. Next to Furano is Biei, a town with beautiful undulating hills. It is an ideal place for couples, or groups of friends to ride bicycles to enjoy the scenery.

Interesting places

  • Furano Marche: visitors can experience the local culinary culture, enjoy and prepare.
  • Furano Cheese Factory: souvenirs made from milk.
  • Aoiike: Lake Aoike with mysterious blue color, and fanciful beauty.

Instructions on how to move

Traveling by train, bus, or car takes about 50 minutes.

Takayama

small-towns-in-Japan

If you come to Takayama, you must definitely join the festival. (Source: Internet)

For those who love ancient features, Takayama city is the most reasonable choice. Famous for the ancient world heritage village of Shirakawa-go and many attractive tourist activities. Coming to Takayama, you will enjoy the uniqueness of 300 years old and experience the lifestyle of the people here.

Jazz pubs, and craft galleries, preserve many traditional cultural features dating back to the last century. At this very place, immerse yourself and listen to the flow of the Yasu River, relax, relax.

Sake wine

The essence of traditional Japanese Sake helps to improve health. The main ingredients in the wine are Sake rice, Koji mushrooms, sake yeast, and purified water. It becomes delicious, especially because of the elaborate and meticulous recipe, bringing the essence of traditional Japanese cuisine.

Interesting places

  • Hida Kokubunji Temple
  • Kami-Sannomachi. Old Town
  • Nakabashi Bridge
  • Hida Ancient Village

Instructions on how to move

  • Travel by train from Shin Osaka station. Cost 9820 JPY (~$70.82), takes about 3 hours 30 minutes.
  • Travel by express bus from Osaka Higashi Umeda. Cost 5000 JPY (~$36.06), takes about 5 hours 20 minutes.

Otaru

small-towns-in-Japan

Otaru at night is shimmering and fanciful. (Source: Internet)

Known as Otaru is a nostalgic port town with a romantic canal. Where artisans create beautiful music boxes and glass crafts. The scenery is also very romantic, and the seafood dishes are great. Passion is the passion of many people. In the cold winter in Japan, bathing and immersing in hot springs is so much fun.

Mount Tengu

Considered the symbol of this city. It is also one of the most attractive ski destinations. The scenery here does not disappoint, enjoy the beautiful night view under the chilly air of Hakodate.

Interesting places

  • Otaru. Music Box Museum
  • Otamoi . Coast
  • Otaru Aquarium
  • Sankaku Fish Market
  • Takinami seafood rice shop

Instructions on how to move

  • Travel to Otaru by JR rapid train. Cost 520 JPY (~$3.75), takes about 30-40 minutes
  • Travel by express bus for people carrying a lot of luggage. Costs JPY 1270 (~$9.16), and takes about 50-80 minutes.

Nikko

small-towns-in-Japan

What places will you go to Nikko? (Source: Internet)

From Tokyo city to Nikko – a small city in Japan it takes only 2 hours by train. The Nikko site is the setting of Shinto and Buddhist worship. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it includes 103 architectures spread across 3 zones.

Mount Nantai is the highest, most sacred, and most climbed mountain. When you climb to the top, you can see the entire view of Lake Chuzenji, the architecture is very beautiful.

Interesting places

  • Senjogahara Field
  • Irohazaka Route
  • Yunoko Lake
  • Lake Chuzenji

Instructions on how to move

Transfer from Shinkyo Station to Nikko Lake Side Hotel costs 1050 JPY (~$7.57)

Beppu

small-towns-in-Japan

There are a lot of hot springs here. (Source: Internet)

The second largest city in Oita Prefecture, favored by nature, it is the hot spring capital of Japan. There are 2,217 hot springs in total, making the city the second most hotbed in the world. Beppu city has hot springs up to 60 degrees.

Shopping

Beppu’s location is a convenient place to shop for clothes, toys, souvenirs, cosmetics, etc. There are two prominent shopping centers, Tokiwa Department and Youme Town. The items sold at these 2 stores are quite cheap at only 100 JPY (~$0.72).

Tour Beppu

Jigoku is also known as the seven hells of Beppu. Mysterious and hot springs boil. Water spewed violently from the ground. It scares the locals. The greatest hell is Umi Jigoku. It is about 200 meters deep. And is the oldest hell in Beppu.

Interesting places

  • Chinoike Jigoku
  • Umi Jigoku
  • Beppu Park
  • Anrakuji Temple

Instructions on how to move

From Hakata:

  • Travel by direct express bus.
  • Costs JPY 3190 (~$23.01) and take about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

From Osaka:

  • Traveling by train to Beppu
  • Cost 17000 JPY (~$122.60), and takes about 4 hours.

FAQs

      1. Living in an abandoned house in Japan, can you do it?

Buying a property in Japan, abandoned or otherwise, does not grant you automatic residency status. And although foreigners can buy one of these homes, there are limitations to keep in mind. For example, some akiya purchase contracts require the buyer to live in the house permanently.

      2. In Japan, where is the highest level of happiness?

According to the Brand Research Institute’s 2022 regional survey, Okinawa Prefecture topped the happiness scale for the second year in a row. With the aim of promoting regional sustainability among the residents of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

      3. In Japan, where do most foreigners choose to live?

According to statistics, about 32% of the total population lives in 3 areas such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. And they come to Japan to work mainly in big companies like Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Honda.

      4. Is the problem of loneliness in Japan serious?

According to the first national survey of its kind, many people in their 20s and 30s, about 40% of Japanese people are lonely in their daily lives. And the factor that affects this situation is social factors.

      5. Is shyness a defining characteristic of being Japanese?

Since the time of the Samurai, expressions such as silence and composure have been called virtues by the Japanese. When talking to strangers, Japanese people tend not to like being too friendly.

Conclusion

Small towns in Japan are not uninhabited. Although it is not as crowded as the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka, it brings the unique beauty of a small village in Japan. Places with local customs and traditions, places included in the World Cultural Heritage have always been preserved and maintained. If you have the opportunity, try once to visit the beautiful places in Japan.

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.