My Top 5 Pinpoint Destinations In Japan

I start my 20th year in Japan very grateful to all the kind/great people by my side here whether for 1 minute or 1 decade. Thank you! As a promoter of Japan travel & hospitality, I’d like to repay some of that kindness today by sharing my top 5 pinpoint destinations, which can all benefit from more tourists and can all make your Japan stay even more memorable, immersive and authentic! If you need support to plan visits there, let me know 👍

Once upon a time – Izumo

I loved Izumo-taisha (oldest Shinto shrine + National Treasure) with its massive rope, many shrines, tall trees, cloudy mountains (hence cloud patterns as local decorations)… and appreciated the English/French/Brazilian/… signs at nearby shops. Besides:

  • Saké’s roots: Japanese myths tell that a god revealed in Izumo Province how to brew rice wine, and saké is first mentioned in the Kojiki chronicles when Susanoo gets an 8-headed dragon drunk in Izumo to kill it.
  • Matchmaking deities: Shinto gods from all over Japan gather in Izumo during the 10th lunar month, notably to discuss human destinies. Singles looking for a soulmate visit at that time, praying for good luck during a unique festival.
  • Yomi gateway: Izumo is the (sealed) entrance of the underworld.

27 centuries ago – Kashihara

I visited Kashihara-jingu year after year for photos with its giant votive plaque matching the Chinese zodiac (dragon now). Besides:

  • Foundation day: Japan’s 1st emperor, Jimmu, was enthroned (and is buried) here.
  • Ancient landscapes: Archaeological sites blend with the countryside. I guided at Ishibutai Tumulus among cherry blossoms and clouds!
  • I enjoyed the rooftop bath of Candeo Hotels Nara Kashihara, and am excited by the opening of Accor Grand Mercure Nara Kashihara.

7 centuries ago – Mount Minobu

  • Spiritual sanctuary: It’s 1 of the 3 great Buddhist mounts of Japan, temple stays are possible, and working holiday visa holders support guests in several languages.
  • With priests & pilgrims: Join early morning prayers to experience Nichiren Buddhism firsthand.

3 centuries ago – Kurokawa-onsen

  • Hot-springs hopping: A pass helps experience diverse architectures & waters (many colours, smells, sensations).
  • Private bliss: Enjoy privacy with your own outdoor bath at some inns!
  • Timeless ambiance: Traditional buildings, warm shops, intimate streets, and visitors in kimono preserve the charm of the village.

20 years ago – Kamikatsu

  • National leader: Kamikatsu’s zero-waste declaration in 2003 stopped waste collection there. Raw waste becomes compost, recycling exceeds 80% as residents sort “resources” into 45 categories, tours include a second-hand shop…
  • World inspiration: Newspapers in several languages featured the town.

Note: I work with a businesswoman in Minobu but my Top is based on genuine experiences/interests. Japan has many great destinations so my best advice is to come live here, exploring during days off based on this and your specific interests 🙂