If you’re looking for something completely different — something remote, wild, and unspoiled — look to the cluster of islands on Honshu’s west coast, the Oki Islands, and let Japan surprise you. There are four main islands — the biggest, called Dōgo (Okinoshima), and three Dōzen islands (Nishinoshima, Chiburijima, and Ama).
Rich merchants here in Onomichi built temple after temple around the hills facing the sea, and by doing so created a place that attracted artists and writers, as its picturesque beauty was beyond belief. Traces of and references to all artists and poets who have been inspired by the town can be found all around the city, in the form of carved rocks, statues, famous writers' feet moulds, museums, residences.
Shimane Prefecture sits on the southwestern portion of Japan's main island, and is the perfect spot to visit if you're looking for an off the beaten path travel experience. Often overlooked by visitors in favor of better known destinations, the region has culture, nature and history by the bucketload – just without the massive crowds to battle!
It was a place I knew nothing about and yet all the major Shinkansen lines stopped there on the way to Hiroshima, so I assumed it must be a place of some significance either historically or economically.
Home to some of the best and oldest sake breweries throughout Japan, Hiroshima Prefecture holds an annual sake festival in the town of Saijo. It serves as a huge sake sampling venue with more than 1000 kinds of sake from breweries all over the country.
Kurashiki is one of the most beautiful places in Japan, and yet remains unknown to many people.