When you hear the word Japan, the metropolis city of Tokyo which is one of the most famous capitals of the eastern world comes in the mind. And you might think of Kyoto temples or its technological museums or exhibitions. But in reality, this country boasts incredible nature. From whirlpools, valleys, forests, hot springs, mountains, caves to dunes- this island country has everything.
Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori Sakyu)
Visited by over two million people a year, the mini Sahara desert stretches 16km lengthwise and 2km wide. The constant shifting of sands is the product of thousands of years old ocean winds blowing in from the Sea of Japan. This coastal dune formation along the Tottori shoreline is incredibly 40metre deep. Adventurous activities like cable ride, paragliding, and horse-drawn carriages are all present to explore the dunes.
Takachiho Gorge (Takachiho-cho)
Imagine a gorge filled with blue-green water with at least 100 meters walls of basalt rock erected upright on both sides with moss, giving the vertical cliffs green color at the bottom. Would that not be a heavenly sight? Yes, that is what Takachiho Gorge is about. The overgrown trees on top of the cliff coupled with even a more beautiful Minainotaki waterfall give this place such a magical feel. You can enjoy this splendor either on foot or by boat. There is a one km long pathway running adjacent to the cliff top for the pedestrians.
Naruto Whirlpools (Naruto-no-Uzushio)
The powerful Naruto Whirlpools are formed by the rush of tides between the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean through the narrow channel known as Narito strait. Seeing these whirlpools is such a beautiful natural phenomenon to experience. These spectacular wonder occurs twice a day and can reach up to 65 feet wide. Times vary according to the patterns of the tide and season of the year and they are more pronounced in summer and winter. You can either experience the force from an observation deck on Naruto Bridge or make use of the sightseeing cruises for a closer look.
Arashiyama Bamboo Groves
Bamboo forests are located in Tokyo as well as Kyoto. One of the most photographed bamboo groves is of Arashiyama (Kyoto) which consists of 20 meters tall trees with dappled sunlight pouring in. The beauty is overwhelming especially when the light breeze is flowing and trees swaying, making you stop for a moment and stare. Although the path is just 200 meters long, you can still relax and visit nearby Nonomiya shrine and Tenryuji Temple.
Jigokudani (Hell Valley)
Jigokudani is also the name of Japan’s prominent monkey park. So don’t be confused. This is not a steaming pool of monkeys; instead, this is a volcanic crater full of sulfurous geysers and pond of bubbling mud. Because of its steamed landscape and darker feel, Hokkaido’s Hell Valley is very popular among the tourists across the country and beyond. The place is open 24 hours a day and is free to visit. A lot of people are attracted to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the mineral loaded hot springs which are equally beautiful to look at as they are wonderful to step into. You will find many thermal spa resorts at Noboribetsu.
A perfect dream world with crystal clear azure waters striking against the wind and is located right on the north coast of Ishigaki Island in Okinawa. Swimming in this beautiful tropical beach is strictly prohibited because of the presence of strong currents and innumerable jellyfish. Instead, you can enjoy the boat ride or go cruising on a glass-bottomed boat to see coral reefs and marine life. Carefully monitored snorkeling is also another option to enjoy.
Mount Fiji (Fuji-san)
Japan’s snow-capped highest peak with over 12000 feet in Yamanashi is seen even from Tokyo although it is 60 miles away from the capital. Mount Fuji is a famous landmark of Japan that can be mounted on- not be the easiest thing. To get a good mountain view, you can visit Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida or go to the Fuji Five Lakes District.