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What is your most memorable off-the-beaten-track experience in Japan?


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How sublime the hiking trails around Nikko were in Autumn.

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A good soaking after a shower in a wooden tub in rural Kumamoto. Awesome !

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If you avoid the main roads and the main tourist venues Hokkaido in summer cannot be beaten. There is plenty of open space, open roads, natural scenery with fewer eyesore tree plantations and peace and quiet. Mostly better to avoid the coastline though, which Japan seems to have an unparalleled knack for uglifying.

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Similar to SenseNot, using mountain bikes to ride the cross-country ski trails in Nikko in autumn. Despite the weekend in peak season, the trails were empty. The hordes in Nikko was walking or in cars on the concrete roads, and mountain bikes cutting through the forests were the perfect transportation mode, although no one except us seemed to realize this.

There, I've let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

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We experienced that too, Jeff: the trails were empty.

Don't tell anyone!

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Eating fresh picked melon with farmers in a melon field in Hokkaido during sunny August. Catching crayfish in a river in Amakusa and then frying them up. So many over the years.

I agree, also, that mountaintop roads and trails are virtually empty in the off season. Even near a large city you can go all day without seeing a soul. Japan can be ridiculously crowded, but it can also be ridiculously deserted if you go at the right times.

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numerous Haikyo. Japan has some of the best in the entire world! Some are "well known" in the underground circles, with a little internet sleuthing you can find some maps, or GPS coordinates, but its not hard to find some new and undiscovered one yourselves. I found a few in the mountains of Ono in Fukui. Old logging summer stations of some sort. Calanders dating back 30-40 years, Handcrank records players. The snow has since taken the building to the ground. Just be VERY careful, many are very dangerous, many are illegal to trespass. So please dont break any laws, take nothing and leave only footsteps please. But to see some off these old buildings, if only from the outside, is a majestic snapshot of a Japan slowly fading away.

The The Nakagusuku Kogen Hotel in Okinawa is VERY easy to find and has some of the most amazing graffitii I have seen in my life.

And of course if you want to 100% make sure you are on the right side of the law you can buy a ticket to visist Gunkanjima in Nagasaki, but its just a tourist trap now... but it is what got me interesting in discovering my own haikyo

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The wife is from Kagoshima. On one visit we hired a car and just drove at random through the mountains/hills. Came across tiny little villages that were locked into a time gone by (apart from the vending machine). Stopped on one hill and everything was bamboo - almost like a forest, And the wind was blowing and the higher bamboo was knocking against each other like chimes. Quite magical.

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@SimondB - Take me next time, please !

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Pretty much any time I go deer hunting in the mountains of Fukuoka!

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I missed the last bus to Aomori when I was hiking around Oirase falls. I was stranded by myself, and it was getting dark and cold. I thought I was going to have to spend the night sleeping in the "witches house". Fortunately, I saw a JR bus coming along the road. I ended up staying the night at an old ryokan in the area and woke up to an 10 cm blanket of wet snow. I learned to always check the bus schedule when off the beaten track after that experience.

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I came across one of those old abandoned temples that litter the forest while doing some mountain bikng in Kanto. There was a big crane (shirasagi, maybe) standing on the roof, a kingfisher, the one and only I've seen in Japan and my favourite bird, nesting under the eaves, and a family of pigs were sleeping in the shade. I thought I'd stepped in to a Miyazaki film.

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Love your stories, @Risky and @wontond ! (really like them all )

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A two week vacation in Hokkaido, visiting places along the drive (drove 1200 km over the 14 days). Saw the Russian islands from Japan, ate very fresh uni, and went to an amusement park that had zero customers (middle of June at Rusutsu)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kumano Kodo (Sacred paths of Kii) in Wakayama...especially near dusk.

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