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Beyond Tokyo: Exploring Japan’s top five rural areas for tourists

Venture off the beaten path and discover Japan’s hidden gems! Explore the top 5 rural areas beyond Tokyo that offer a unique experience for tourists.

Although Tokyo may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about visiting Japan, you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice to ignore the wonderful and relaxing rural areas the country has to offer. While the former is a massive modern metropolis, the latter add a nice contrast to it thanks to their more traditional and laid-back vibe.

If there’s ever been such a thing as the “true” Japanese lifestyle, you stand the best chance of finding it by willing to venture off the beaten path. The only real drawback to these hidden gems is that certain remote areas may give you a hard time with connectivity, but that’s nothing a SIM for Japan can’t fix. Getting an eSIM for Japan prior to your travels ensures complete transparency regarding the pricing while giving you the peace of mind to enjoy your travels, knowing that you always have a reliable way to browse the web.

If this has gotten you excited to pack your bags to see what the traditional Japanese lifestyle is all about in person, we’re here to lend you a helping hand and introduce you to Japan’s top 5 rural areas that tourists are bound to find exciting:

1. Otaru
When talking about a remote rural destination in Japan, Hokkaido is a good place to start. But if you truly want to experience Japanese tradition at its finest, treat yourself to a trip to the northern part of the region. There, you will find Otaru, a mecca for traditional Japanese glass-blowing products.

Surrounded by water, it has its own port as well as a scenic canal. It’s also the place to visit to satisfy your sushi cravings. You will find yourself surrounded by buildings of historic origin, taking you back to a certain time in history. If any of that intrigues you, make sure not to miss out on the amazing Otaru Music Box museum.

2. Kamakura
In case you do decide to include Tokyo in your itinerary, you’ll be glad to know that Kamakura is only a day trip away. Just like Otaru, it lets you feast your eyes on the sea for hours on end. It’s also a fine place to walk around and visit one of the numerous shrines and temples that can be found in this area.

If your values resonate with those of Buddhism, there’s a real treat waiting for you in Kamakura – a giant statue of Buddha that’s much more than mere eye candy. In fact, due to its rather plentiful dimensions, you can actually go inside and explore. Once you hear your stomach growling, there will be plenty of stalls and restaurants to choose from as you step outside. Since it’s a seaside town, you can bet on finding some mouth-watering seafood here.

Buddha is one of the key religious symbols of Buddhism.

3. Hakone
Hakone is a well-known tourist and relaxation spot among the Japanese. It’s well known for its hot springs that many visit when they want to get a break from all the work-related stress. At the same time, it’s also a stunning countryside worth exploring. There, you will find the all-time tourist favorites such as Mt. Fuji and Lake Ashinoko.

Should you decide to ride the Hakone Tozan railway, the country’s oldest mountain railway, there will be more than plenty of opportunities to snap a gorgeous photo of the landscape. And let’s not forget that Hakone is in the vicinity of Tokyo, so it won’t be hard to plan your trip around it.

Mt. Fuji is quite a sight to behold.

4. Kanazawa
Head on to the west coast of Japan and you’ll find Kanazawa, a historically relevant city that stayed true to its cultural roots. Many Japanese traditions are still alive and kicking here, and to see it from up close, be sure to taste the tea in one of its tea-house districts.

In Kanazawa, you will also find its fabled castle, right along its charming garden that’s worthy of a photo or two. Whenever you feel like doing some shopping the old-school way, stop by the Omicho market that’s been around well since the Edo period.

5. Nara
If your love for the history of mankind is as strong as your love for Japan, you will find plenty of archaeological sites to gaze at around these parts. Mix that with mesmerizing gardens and traditional architecture, and you’ll be on the brink of discovering something new.

For those looking for a recommendation, Naramachi, an old street, is a must-visit. It has plenty of street shops to check out if you’re on foot. Alternatively, hire a rickshaw to kick back and take in the scenery.

Most tourists can’t miss out on visiting Japan’s capital city, securing themselves an eSIM for Tokyo well ahead of their travels. However, if you truly want to experience the Japanese tradition in its purest form, the rural areas we listed above will give you a glimpse into how people used to live in the times gone by. Happy travels!