Japan may be famous for the bright lights of Tokyo and towering skyscrapers, but many people don’t realize that Japan’s vast countryside holds countless hidden gems. Here are a few of the most scenic towns across Japan.


Starting in Kyoto, Higashiyama is easily one of the most photographed and visited towns in Japan. The winding roads are lined with buildings and homes that look like they were plucked from ancient times.

With the AUD to JPY being so strong, you should certainly spend a few days exploring this ward, as it has so much to offer that gives you a true insight into what Japan was like decades, even centuries ago. 

Hida Takayama

Referred to as a city but most closely resembling a town, Takayama is a gorgeous spot in Gifu’s mountains. Due to its high altitude and isolation, Takayama has developed a unique culture and way of life.

Once again, the architecture reflects the old way of life that locals enjoy here. With stunning views, plenty of trails and paths to explore, and a very fun and quaint market, Takayama is one of the best places to get away from the crowd for a weekend.


Found on a high plateau above the Sho River, Ainokura is made up of 27 farmhouses built on the foundations of local, ancient stone. Once a mulberry-producing town, the village shifted to rice in the 1950s. 

Ainokura is beautiful and worth a visit due to its simplicity. It isn’t filled with all the modern-day bells and whistles, but with super-friendly locals, lots of delicious, fresh food, and breathtaking views, it should make its way onto your travel itinerary. 


Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone is an idyllic town located only 100km from the capital. If you want to explore Japan’s natural beauty, there are arguably no better places to do so. 

With exceptional mountain and lake views and plenty of forest to explore, Hakone is littered with walking and hiking trails that will take you deep into the wild but beautiful Japanese landscape. Plus, there are several ancient shrines and structures to discover along the way. 


Himeji is one of the most gorgeous coastal towns in Japan. It is roughly an hour outside of Kyoto by train. While the ocean views and fresh seafood are enough for many, one huge draw that draws in tens of thousands of visitors is Himeji Castle

Construction was finished in 1333, and it was used as a fortress to deter local shoguns. It also housed many samurai, artisans, and merchants. There are 83 buildings in the complex, and it is easily one of the best things you will ever see during your time in Japan. 


Shirakawa-go is to Japan what Lapland is to Europe. This magical mountain town looks like something out of a fairytale or Studio Ghibli film, and while it can be tricky and a bit tedious to get to, you will certainly not regret visiting. 

Filled with farmhouses built between the 17th and 20th centuries, this mountain village gets covered in snow during the Winter, and with plenty of delicious food and local handicrafts, it is one of the cutest places to spend a night. 


Serving as a gateway to Nikko National Park, the town of Nikko can be found just two hours outside Tokyo by train. Nikko is all about nature and its natural beauty, with dozens of waterfalls, mountain trails, and foliage to explore. 

Another massive draw of the town is its numerous shrines and temples. The 103 structures are UNESCO-protected, with Toshogu being the most famous, dating back almost 400 years. 


Kanazawa was one of the few major hubs not targeted by bombing raids during WW2, and this has allowed it to keep many of its traditional buildings and architecture. The narrow streets wind around old samurai and geisha districts, with many Edo-period canals making their way through the town. 

One reason the town is so popular with visitors is that it perfectly combines the old and new, as it fully embraces modern technology and advancements, while keeping many pieces of its old history. 


Magome was once an important rest stop for travelers as it sits in between Tokyo and Kyoto. Travelers making their way along the Nakasendo Trail would use the town to recover and resupply before making their way along the second half of their journey. 

Nowadays, the town sees plenty of visitors looking to take the same route, as you can walk and hike a 5-mile long portion of the route yourself. The main street of the town is lined with many resorted buildings, and is closed off to vehicles, making it ideal to walk and explore with ease. 


Furano is a small city in Hokkaido and is famed for its farmland vistas. July is the most popular month in Furano, as that is when the lavender blooms and the fields become flooded in shades of purple. 

If you are visiting in Winter, Furano is still the place to be, as many local and international travelers visit the area due to the brilliant snowy conditions, making it the ideal spot for skiing and Winter sports. 

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