Located among steep 350 – 500m mountains, the narrow and winding streets lined with old traditional-style shops and restaurants run through the old town, and the intricate terrain grants the town a unique atmosphere. Even though the town lies in a natural mountain setting, it is close enough for Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto residents as an easy and popular day trip or weekend getaway.
The bubbling waters of Atami have been luring bathers as far back as the Nara period (710-94). Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) was so enamored of their healing properties, he had the water delivered to him in Edo (present day Tokyo). The large footbath in front of Atami Station is named Ieyasu no Yu (hot water of Ieayasu). Today, Atami Onsen is a favorite destination for couples. It is also a favorite day trip for people from Tokyo, as well as overnight guests also.
When the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and obliterated nearly everything within a two-kilometer radius.
Jigokudani Monkey Park Add-On Tour
The Jigokudani Monkey Park offers visitors the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The monkeys live in large social groups, and it can be quite entertaining to watch their interactions. Accustomed to humans, the monkeys can be observed from very close and almost completely ignore their human guests. Naturally, it is prohibited to touch or feed the monkeys.
Kanazawa is an important city and serves as the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums. But Kanazawa’s main attraction is Kenrokuen, one of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens” (Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito being the other two) and by many considered the most beautiful of the three.
The real draw to Kinosaki Onsen are its seven public bath houses (sotoyu). Visitors staying at a local ryokan can use Kinosaki’s seven public bath houses for free between check-in and check-out with a special pass that they receive from their ryokan. In fact, many guests skip their ryokan’s bath in favor of a sotoyu meguri (bath stroll), walking around sampling the various public baths. In the evenings guests of the local ryokan stroll about town in yukata (cotton kimono) and geta (wooden clogs), visiting the numerous public baths and nostalgic game arcades.
Staying overnight at one of the many temples offering accommodations at Koya-san is an experience of a lifetime. All visitors are welcome, and not only can you see the inner workings of Shingon monastic life, you can also take part in prayer services. You can also enjoy a shojin-ryori meal, a vegetarian Buddhist cuisine made entirely of seasonal vegetables and edible wild plants. Specialties include koya dofu and its sesame-flavored relative, goma dofu.
Magome to Tsumago Trail Add-On
The trail between Magome and Tsumago is a well-maintained section of the former Nakasendo, the route that ran along the Kiso Valley and connected Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo Period. The trail is relatively gentle and is well marked in English and Japanese. It is about 8 kilometers long and takes around 2-3 hours to walk at a leisurely pace.
Naoshima (直島) is an island in the Seto Inland Sea. In addition to its tiny traditional fishing villages, you’ll find modern art museums, stunning architecture, and sculptures. With its laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere, sandy beaches and sunny weather, Naoshima is a relaxing getaway from Japan’s big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Naoshima is just a short ferry ride from Japan’s main island of Honshu. Many of Naoshima’s museums were designed by the well known Japanese architect Ando Tadao.
Tokyo is Japan’s capital and the world’s most populous metropolitan area. Prior to 1868, Tokyo was known as Edo. In the 16th century, Edo was a small castle town that was Japan’s political center, when Tokugawa Ieyasu established his feudal government there.
In the middle of the most populous metropolitan area in the world lies two theme parks with a Japanese spin on the worldwide famous creator of magic, Walt Disney. Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside of the United States. Modeled after Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland is made up of seven themed lands and features seasonal decorations and parades.
Yaeyama Islands (Okinawa) Add-On
With their tropical atmosphere and laid back, rural lifestyle, the Yaeyama Islands are a popular getaway destination for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of Japan’s metropolises. This island paradise offers beaches, snorkeling, diving, outdoor activities as as well as just relaxation.
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