A quaint little village, a rabbit island, and giant turtle babies… all these and more are some of the surprises you can find while you travel to Japan.

Travel Japan to The Kiso-ji Picturesque Village

The Kiso-ji or Kiso Way was no secret two and three hundred years ago. It was a major route for traders, who traveled regularly from Edo (Tokyo the capital) to Kyoto.

Kiso is situated at the high point of the Kiso-gawa River, near Nagano and Gifu.

This entire section is one of the loveliest areas of Japan and truly feels like a step back in time. A real effort is made to preserve the old-fashioned aura; fr example, power lines are cleverly concealed. This is probably what Tokyo looked like before the fires, earthquakes, and bombs dropped during the war.

Naraijuku (Narai), found along the Kiso-Way, is a picturesque village that looks like an old movie. Added bonus: due to the high elevation, even in the summertime you can look forward to cooling breezes and temperatures. Travel time from Tokyo is about three hours.

Yakushima – Turtle Island

Yakushima has the distinct privilege of being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This seemingly mystical island, found south of Kyushu has a special place in Japanese traditions. Nature-wise, it features a variety of Japanese trees; some of them have been determined to be 2000 years old!

Visit at the beginning of the summer and you will probably catch the awesome sight of the gigantic sea turtles and their babies near the shore. The island offers deluxe hotels and steaming hot natural pools. A ferry ride away from Kagoshima, it is well worth visiting.

Japanese Onsen Towns

Onsen – Volcanoes and Japan are like bread and butter. You’ll find them and their by-products – thermal springs, scattered throughout. Many have become the center of resort towns. Note! All hot springs are not created equal!

Different minerals, outdoors or indoors, men and women separated or all together, private or public, with all kinds of amenities or as is.

Research and find what works for you – and try to find an outdoor hot spring that is part of Ryo-kan, a Japanese-style hotel complete with tatami mats, Japanese food, and paper doors.

Ōkunoshima – Rabbit Island

Ōkunoshima Rabbit Island is found in the Inland Sea of Japan between Shikoku and Hiroshima. It served as a perfect hidden military site for the Japanese Army during World War II. Today, the foremost residents are rabbits! Some claim that these cuddly pets were transferred to Okunoshima to check the strength and consequences of the toxins the army produced there. Then, when World War II ended in 1945, thankfully, these rabbits gained their freedom. Others maintain that eight rabbits were brought by a group of students visiting in 1971. No matter how they got to Okunoshima the sight of hundreds of rabbits scampering around is pure joy.


The ASO Boy! Train, designed by Eiji Mitooka, a renowned designer, is a whimsical entertainment center, delighting adults and children. Much attention to detail makes the ride in many ways like a Disney Cruise ship. The main character of the train is a black puppy named Kuro.

The Kuro character appears on food packages, the railway platform, the Kuro Cafe, Kuro Club, and in the library and kid tea ceremony room. Asoboy connects passengers between Kumamoto, Miyaji, and Aso. It is an easy and fun way to get to Mt. Aso, a not-to-be-missed active volcano – one of the largest in Japan It takes only ninety pleasurable minutes to get from Kumamoto to Aso, where a bus will take you straight to Mt. Aso.

For further information and train schedule, visit the official JR Kyushu English website: JR Kyushu

Tokyo Trip Checklist

  • To make sure you have all the important things covered see my first-time-in-Tokyo guide
  • Get your 1,2 or 3-day Tokyo Unlimited Subway Pass to easily get around Tokyo
  • If you want to travel on bullet trains you can save big with a Japan Rail Pass. Here’s why is worth it.
  • You’ll need a prepaid sim or Portable WIFI to stay connected in Tokyo.
  • Check out my detailed Tokyo packing list to make sure you’re prepared.
  • The best site to book hotels in Tokyo is almost always Booking.com. And remember to book early, especially during busy times.
  • For travel insurance (which you need) Word Nomads offer great coverage in Japan and are highly recommended.

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