Photo: 宮崎大輔 on Pakutaso

5 Cities Where You Can Travel Around the World Without Leaving Japan

Japan is a tourist hot spot famous for its ancient shrines and temples, Zen gardens, modern architecture and unique culture. There are also some really cool places in Japan that let you experience a taste of the world without having to leave the country. If you are looking to experience something a little different without the expense of a world trip, check out these fantastic tourist destinations that offer you the chance to travel the world without breaking the bank.

Kurashiki – The Venice of Japan

The Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter. Photo by Japan Australia on Flickr.

Kurashiki is called “The Venice of Japan” due to its old architecture and historic canal. The water city is only a short 17-minute train ride from Okayama City and offers you the chance to experience one of the most picturesque old merchant towns in all of Japan. Walk the ancient narrow streets which are lined with traditional 17th century kura storehouses, merchant homes and surprisingly, European-style architecture. Just like Venice in Italy, the best way to see Kurashiki is from the water by touring the canals in an old-fashioned boat. 

Huis Ten Bosch – Holland

Windmill at Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki. Photo by User: (WT-shared) Onyo at wts wikivoyage on Wikimedia Commons.

Huis Ten Bosch recreates the Netherlands with its old Dutch brick buildings, picturesque canals, tulips and old-style iconic windmills. The theme park located in Sasebo, Nagasaki celebrates all things Dutch and reflects the long historic relationship between Japan and the Netherlands, which started way back in 1609 when a trading post was opened by the Dutch in Hirado, not far from Sasebo. If you are looking for a unique experience, make sure to stay at the ‘Henn na Hotel’, the world’s first hotel run by robots, which is located within the park.

Ushimado – The Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea

The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado. Photo by Japan Australia on Flickr.

Ushimado is a seaside resort town located in Setouchi City in Okayama Prefecture. The picturesque town overlooks the many beautiful islands that make up the Seto Inland Sea, which is called, “The Aegean Sea of Japan”. The hills lined with olive groves, old-style windmills, boats and beautiful blue water give the impression that you are on a Greek island rather than in the “Land of the Rising Sun”. The Hotel Limani & Spa in Ushimado will let you take the experience even further with its blue and white Greek-style architecture and authentic Greek food prepared by the head chef, a Greek-Australian.

Takeda Castle – The Machu Picchu of Japan

The Ruins of Takeda Castle. Photo by Baku13 on Wikimedia Commons.

Takeda Castle in Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture is one of Japan’s best castle ruins. Situated around 353 meters above sea level, the spectacular ruins of the ancient castle have earned Takeda Castle the cool nickname of "The Machu Picchu of Japan". Takeda Castle was originally built in 1441 by a retainer of the local samurai lord, but was unfortunately abandoned soon after the greatest samurai battle of all time at Sekigahara. The castle then slowly disintegrated over time until the ruins were restored in the 1970’s and 80’s. The best time to visit the castle is the early mornings of autumn in October and November when you can catch the spectacular illusion of the castle floating on a sea of clouds.

Kagoshima – The Naples of the Orient

Kagoshima with Sakurajima as a backdrop. Photo by Jody McIntyre on Flickr.

Kagoshima City is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture, which is located at the south western tip of Kyushu. The picturesque city with its bay location, hot climate, palm tree lined streets and active volcano, Sakurajima has earned the nickname, “The Naples of the Orient”. Kagoshima is blessed with an abundance of spectacular scenery with the landscape closely resembling Naples, its Italian sister city. Kagoshima also has the personality to match its sunny climate having been voted Japan’s friendliest city. Venture a little further off the beaten path to check out Yakushima, an island in Kagoshima Prefecture which is known for its ancient cedar forests and out of this world mystical forests. 

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