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Avoid the Crowds - Top Off-Season Destinations in Japan
Japan has a lot to offer. Bustling commercial streets, ancient castles, and serene beaches are just a few reasons to go. If you want to avoid the crowds, January or February is your best bet. Here are our top off-season destinations.
Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto is an ancient city with over a thousand years of history. Before the Meiji Emperor moved the capital to Tokyo, it was the traditional home of the Japanese royal family. After thousands of years, from legends of ghosts and gods to history and culture, the air and atmosphere in Kyoto is filled with a great mystical charm. When Kyoto was constructed, its street layout and architecture was influenced by the style of Chang’an, and it still retains the same ancient charm. In the Higashiyama District, temples, shrines and altars embody the spiritual side to Kyoto, while the area around Arashiyama carries a classical and elegant atmosphere. No visit to Kyoto would be complete without a taste of traditional delicacies, a stroll along the flowered paths, or a fascinating geisha show.
Japan Off-Season
Hiroshima, Japan
If, while in Japan you are looking for a modern, cosmopolitan city with a lot of great food and nightlife head down to Honshu Province in Southern Japan and stop in the port city of Hiroshima. More than just a city, with good food, Hiroshima boasts many museums, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, along with several art museums. If festivals are your thing, then you might want to visit the city during the Flower or Sake Festivals. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to see there in the abundant natural beauty of the sea and mountains that surround Hiroshima.
Japan Off-Season
Kobe, Japan
Located in Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe has prospered as an international trading port. This means it has been influenced by many exotic foreign cultures over the years. It has long been known for its unique multicultural streets. If you find this kind of western style to your taste, you should come to Motomachi and the Kobe Kitano Museum to see the old foreign style houses. However, Kobe is most famous for Kobe beef. Almost everyone who comes to Kobe has to try the best steak in the world. Kobe also has beautiful scenic spots like Mount Rokkō and the Arima Onsen. Prosperous since ancient times, it exudes antique Japanese atmosphere and is a popular tourist city.
Japan Off-Season
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is the capital city of Japan. Despite being a hub of commerce, fashion and finance, the city has still managed not to lose sight of its ancient traditions. It is a leader in Asian fashion and a city of art, with its warm and intimate "izakaya" (pubs) hidden away in small side alleys, blend of people of different backgrounds in the Shimokitazawa District, animation and high-tech companies. It is also distinctly international, home to people from all over the world. The city features attractions like Ginza District, a center for several world-famous stores, the fantastic Disneyland Resort and beautiful cherry blossoms in Ueno Park in Shinjuku. Known as the city that never sleeps, Tokyo’s districts also include Asakusa, which preserves the essence of Japanese traditional culture, Shibuya, the birthplace of modern Japanese fashion, and the futuristic Odaiba Island. There’s a place for absolutely everyone in Tokyo.
Japan Off-Season
Yokohama, Japan
Yokohama is the prefectural capital of Kanagawa. The prosperous city is full of a veritable forest of skyscrapers. It is known for its romantic night view. This busy modern port city has beautiful harbor views, Western architecture and the most lively Chinatown in Japan. Many Chinese visitors first come to stroll on the romantic beach front and then go to Chinatown to catch a taste of home. Because transportation between Yokohama and downtown Tokyo is extremely convenient, it is a good place for a day trip.
Japan Off-Season
Nagoya, Japan
Nagoya is located in the center of Japan, between Tokyo and the cities of Osaka and Kyoto. It serves as a metaphorical and literal bridge between Eastern and Western Japan. The ancient history here runs deep, being the birth place of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, three heroes of Japan’s Warring States Period. If you want to feel as though you live in the time of heroes, pay a visit to Nagoya Castle. Atsuta Shrine and Osu Kannon Temple are excellent locations to learn about the culture of Japan. If you feel more at home in modernity, then the avant-garde Oasis 21 shopping center and the prosperous Sakae District are great locations for shopping and snacking alike. JR Central Tower is considered the gateway to Nagoya, a perfect destination for food, shopping and entertainment.
Japan Off-Season
Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo is the capital of Hokkaido and a must-visit for many tourists to Hokkaido. It is also a veritable center for dining and shopping. Sapporo has many iconic buildings, such as Sapporo Clock Tower, the red-brick Former Hokkaido Government Office, the Sapporo TV Tower and Hokkaido University. Most structures are elegant and beautiful in design, adding a lot of color to the cityscape. Sapporo’s Odori Park has ice and snow festivals in the winter and hosts the Sapporo Beer Festival in the Summer. Shiroi Koibito Park is a beautiful confectionery and a great place to see how chocolate treats are made, while Sapporo Ramen Republic is perfect for sampling Hokkaido’s delicious specialty ramen.
Japan Off-Season
Naha, Japan
Naha is the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. It is beautifully landscaped with lots of palm and betel nut trees, green and tall Okinawa Pines, colorful flowers, blue skies and white clouds. The scenery here is very southern. Shurijo Castle still retains the same style from when it was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The stone paths nearby have a very local flavor to them. If you want to taste the local cuisine or go shopping, you have options ranging from department stores to souvenir shops all of which will give you an absolutely rewarding experience. At night choose one of the local favorite pubs to try Okinawan cuisine.
Japan Off-Season
Osaka, Japan
Osaka is the center of Japan’s Western region, known for being a hub of gourmet cooking, the nation’s water capital and the “Vice President” of Japan’s cities. A symbol of the metropolis, Osaka Castle is a must-see attraction that is representative of the continuous historical changes in the city. Universal Studios is another destination well worth a visit, with its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Minions and Sesame Street attractions all waiting for a fun-filled family visit. If you’ve got a small child in tow, fun awaits at the mysterious underwater world at Osaka Aquarium, or the nearby Tempozan Ferris Wheel from the top of which you can get a beautiful view of Osaka Bay. In terms of shopping, Osaka Umeda District in the north, Namba in the south, along with Shinsaibashi and Midosuji offer endless stores and malls to discover. Be sure to visit a couple times in case you miss something your first time in Osaka.
Japan Off-Season
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