Everybody knows about the most common things to do in Japan like visiting Tokyo and Mount Fuji. But what about some of the more alternative locations which you can sink your teeth into on holiday?
The name is the giveaway here. Cat Island is quite literally an island that’s totally inhabited by feral felines – albeit with the animals not actually reported to attack locals or tourists.
Tashirojma, as it’s officially known, became infested with cats after a small percentage were brought in to deal with the mice in the area. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on whether you like cats or not), they failed to neuter them, leading to a mass outbreak.
Today you can visit the island, which is ever-growing in popularity as a result of the fluffy friends you’ll see round every corner.
Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay
Have you ever been to a party and seen people wearing one of those colourful (yet slightly pointless) glow sticks? Imagine that, but spread out across an entire bay. The Firefly squids in Toyama are a special breed of creature, with organs known as photophores attached to the end of their tentacles.
These organs emit a luminous blue colour, which turns the bay into a mixture of stunning deep and fluorescent light blue shades. The high numbers of squid located within this one patch of land mean there’s a constant supply of mystical aqua light the whole year round.
It’s an even odder sight when these creatures are hunted between March and June, with the fishing boats they’re hauled up onto turning into luminous blue beacons.
Vine Bridges of Iya Valley
When taking a trip through the vine bridges of the Iya Valley, one could be forgiven for thinking they’d stepped into the Japanese past. The area consists of a lot of houses which are built into the trees – only accessible via a series of the famed bridges.
In truth, it feels a little bit like a scene out of Indiana Jones, with the precarious-looking walkways a rare sight in the modern world. Just to add to that mythos, the bridges were actually built by bandits who needed a quick path to traverse through the trees when on the run.
Gajumaru Treehouse Diner
As kids we all dreamed about building our own treehouses – only to find the time, effort and money it would take just wasn’t worth it. Thankfully for us, the Gajumaru treehouse stands as a testament to our childhood hopes and aspirations.
A giant Banyon tree was left standing in the middle of a busy grid in the city, which has now been converted into a diner restaurant. Guests can enjoy a spectacular view out over the Naha Harbor, while savouring the delights of the treehouses’ cuisine.
Ski trails like Hakuba and Nagano are reasonably well known in Japan, but there’s one mountain range which falls under the radar. As revealed by Secret Traveller, the remote Appi has 21 tracks to tackle and offers an immersive Japanese experience for anyone looking for a region with strong links to their native culture.
The locals don’t speak any English for the most part, meaning you’re not going to be dealing with a touristy resort which has been specifically catered to people from the western world. If you’re all about culture, this could be the spot for you.
Yunessun Spa Resort
Who doesn’t love a spa resort? Imagine instead of bathing in a tranquil pool of serenity, you’re swimming about in immense quantities of red wine, green tea and ramen broth. While for some people that probably doesn’t sound all that appealing, for others it could equate to paradise.
How many times in your life are you going to be able to boast you took a bath in a huge pool of red wine? This one certainly isn’t something to casually brush off, with the rest of the spa also offering state-of-the-art services. There are coffee and wine-pouring ceremonies which also take place every day.
These are just six of the best alternative spots in Japan for tourists. Why not check some of them out when you’re next in the country?