Japan Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Ewingjr98
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Ewingjr98
  • Upper Waterfall
    Upper Waterfall
    by taigaa001

Japan Off The Beaten Path

  • Day Trip out of Tokyo

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Koshu Highway, or Route 20, in Hachioji is famous for its street lined on both sides with ginkgo (or ichou) trees, which turn bright yellow in the fall. For one weekend each year in late November (16-17 Nov 2013), the city holds a festival to celebrate the colorful leaves, the changing of the season and the vibrant town of Hachioji. We arrived on...

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  • Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, beautiful buddhist stone sculptures. In Arashiyama, go to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji, where one can walk the bamboo grove. pass this temple, follow the walking path north,till one reaches the orange torri, walk through it and continue walking for another 10 mins. the Otagi temple is on your left side, hill slope. the Otagi Nenbutsu-ji...

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  • Sightseeing outside Osaka

    Osaka Off The Beaten Path

    Osaka is just two hours from Hiroshima by bullet train, making this a practical option for a day trip – especially if you have a JR Pass as we did and can travel “for free”. So on our second day here that is what we opted to do, and had an excellent day out. There are some that consider a visit to Hiroshima to be a bit macabre, but we didn’t feel...

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  • Shrines and Temples

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Our wanderings in the side streets off Nakamise Dori led us here, to this tranquil tucked-away shrine devoted to the deity Otanuki-sama (tanuki means raccoon-dog). This deity is thought to protect people and their homes from disasters such as fire and theft and is also, according to a sign I saw here, a god of “the art of public entertainment”. The...

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  • Ohara Area

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Ohara is a major stomping ground for Japanese 'aki-front' followers; when the nation gets bored of pining for cherry blossoms and instead glues its eyes to NHK for the first news reports of Kyoto's maple leaves turning autumn red.

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  • temples & shrines

    Osaka Off The Beaten Path

    We came accidentally to this small garden with a shrine and a cemetery inside and had a look around: Shinko-in Temple A ceremony had started shortly after we came and we were invited to participate. We took off our shoes and sat on small chairs and listened to the singing and praying, before we finally left after some 10 minutes or so. We had a...

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  • Shinjuku

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    P!ss Alley, or Memory Lane, is one of Tokyo's best street food areas. Though covering a very small area, they somehow packed about 40 restaurants into this alley, plus another 10 or so on the parallel alley to the east. This alley earned its name appropriately, as it was originally a narrow alley with numerous restaurants, but no restrooms, so...

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  • Hozu River

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Old Cliffie is a bit too old for white-knuckle pastimes such as bungee jumping or whitewater rafting. But he did enjoy the 'Hozugawa Kudari' - trip down the river Hozu - near Kyoto. Take the train (20 minutes) from Kyoto to Kameoka, from where it's a ten-minute walk to the river. The trip lasts just under two hours along a deep, twisting gorge...

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  • shopping

    Osaka Off The Beaten Path

    This almost went in as a "warning" tip, but I think seeing things like this are essential if you want to get a good sense of a foreign country. On Sundays there is a flea market west of the pedestrian overpass by Tennoji Station called the "Thieves' Market." They will have a lot of strange things for sale: replica pistols, toys, Japanese...

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  • Local People and Lives

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Don't speak much or any Japanese and looking to meet some friendly Japanese people who do? Com Inn is a cozy, little English conversation cafe in Ebisu, near the Doutor building. Most of the time it serves as both a school for Japanese or as a place where Japanese talk to foreigners to improve their listening and speaking skills. But twice a...

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  • Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Two train stops south out of Kyoto, a brilliant walk right from Fushimi station takes you to the temple of Fushimi-Inari, and continuing up the hill through 10,000 red torii dedicated by companies to the gods of business. Once you reach the top, the descent on the other (northern) side is much more wild and unkept, and the trail comes out by some...

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  • culture & history

    Osaka Off The Beaten Path

    This little gem hides in a sub-urban area of Osaka. Located in the heart of Hattori-Ryoukuchi Park. It contains a collection of 11 old Japanese Farmhouses from all over Japan. Most of them are Gassho-zukuri, or straw thatched roofs, similar to the ones in Shirakawa-go. The museum is not crowded, and have the occasional painters and artists doing...

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  • Experience

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    It is common to see the beautiful Mt Fuji from the window of the Bullet train (direction: Kyoto, Osaka). It is particularly a superb experience to see the snow-covered Mt. Fuji in early Spring (April). The first picture is rare: Mt Fuji surrounded by a cloud ring!! The second is Mt Fuji captured from a rice filed near Gotenba (a resort city...

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  • Hyogo Prefecture

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Many say that one will not need to visit any other castle after seeing the most beautiful castle of Japan, the Himeji Castle. Although a bit far from Kyoto than other nearby places, this castle is worth a visit. It is white in colour and a World Heritage Site too. The main highlight of Himeji is this castle. NOTE : Please refer to my Himeji Page...

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  • Parks, Yards, Gardens and Squares

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    The Ueno Zoo is just like most every other metropolitan zoo. The calling card for this one though is its Panda Bears. The panda's are pretty cool to look at, and there are a few other animals which I didn't see in the usual American zoo's. The hardest part about going to the zoo is getting there. I was lucky and a co-worker drove me. Ueno is on...

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  • General

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Kyoto is not really a very large city, although there are many places to visit! The bus, train, and subway system really makes most of the city very easy to access. What many people consider to be "off the beaten path" are lesser visited sites, but they are actually very easy to access and very much "ON the path"! Because of this, I have put my...

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  • Theatres and Museums

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    The Yebisu Beer Museum is one of those places you can only find in Tokyo. The admission is free, although the beer isn't. It is in the Yebisu Garden Palace, and is a place that commemorates the history, sicence and technology of all thing beer! There is a beer tasting available, but the best bet is to go to the "Beer Station" restaurant nearby and...

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  • Nanzenji Temple

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    This is a huge temple complex situated in the eastern part of Kyoto at the foot of the hills, and can be considered off the beaten track as it doesn't seem to get as much visitors as the other more "celebrated" world heritage site. Nanzenji Temple is a very attractive temple situated on the Philosopher's Walk route and entrance into the temple...

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  • Shibuya

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    In a small arboreal area outside the Shibuya train station, you can find a statue to a small dog that epitomizes loyalty and undying love. Little Hachiko used to walk with his master, a Tokyo University professor, to Shibuya station everyday as he went off to work and greeted him every evening as he exited the train station on the way home. Sadly,...

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  • Otsu City

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan and among the top largest lakes in the world. It is actually surrounded by a few prefectures, one of which is Shiga. All the usual lake activities can be found there, like canoeing etc. The lake is also the place where they hold the national school rowing boats competition.

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  • Ikebukuro

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    The world's biggest car showroom is just under the railway bridge in front of sunshine city. On five floors you can see all Toyotas cars, including some that only seem to be made for the Japanese market. It also includes historical stuff, good exhibitions about Formula 1, safety and loads of interactive exhibits - which are excellent, especially...

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  • Arashiyama

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    If you fancy something different to do in Kyoto or simply suffering from temple fatigue and like animals, how about a trip to the Monkey Park at Arashiyama. You enter the park strolling up a steep mountain path, when you get to the top you get to the feeding area which has an incredible view of Kyoto and lots of monkeys (the park has around 170...

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  • Odaiba & Ariake

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    What greeted me next was quite a surprise (even for a liberal thinker such as myself!) & even though I had mentally prepared for it. A sea of women of all ages and a few girls, were changing out of their yukatas in readiness for the best part-the bathing ritual. Here, I was handed a big towel & a small towel & had brought along a 100 yen coin for...

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  • Nara City

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    By basing in Kyoto, there are other areas in the Kansai region that you can visit fairly easily as the transportation system is efficient enough to bring you anywhere in Kansai in the fatest time. Nara is a historical site and definitely worth visiting. It is home for many World Heritage Sites too. Being an ancient capital of Japan, Nara has lotsa...

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  • Museums

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    John Lennon once said "It's not a waste of time if you had fun." While he may have been refering to some of his heroine trips, he could have equally been describing a couple of hours spent at the John Lennon Museum, adjacent to the Saitama Super Arena in suburban Omiya that opened in 2000. A little hagiographic, the museum is still an good way to...

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  • Otani Mausoleum

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    A little unusual, but we found this by accident. Rather than following the main route up to the Kiyomizu Temple with all the usual stalls selling souvenirs we found a path at the bottom of the hill just by the main freeway intersection that took us up the hill through a graveyard. Space being at a premium in Japan the graveyards are built on the...

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  • Ginza

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    I stumbled across this small shop on my way back to Ginza from the fish market. I was drawn in and I couldn't help it - it's so beautiful. It's only like 5 mins walk from all the Ginza glitz and it's a small family-run handmade jewelry business and they make everything in their basement workshop - which you can see from peep-holes in the glass...

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  • Osaka City

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Osaka is a big and bust city. We were there mainly for shopping. 2 places we went, Umeda and Namba. These are great shopping start points. Dotonobori is a must go. Just observing the busy lifestyle of the people is also interesting. As for turist attractions, I would say there are a few : - Osaka Castle - Osaka Aquarium - Dotonbori - Tennoji Park

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  • Ameya Yokocho (AMEYOKO)

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    At every city that I visit, I always love to drop by at the local markets. This is because I find that shopping and browsing at local markets to be far more interesting than shopping at typically nondescript supermarkets, which are not particularly inspiring replicas of one another, and not too different from what you can find back home. Indeed,...

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  • Yoshino City

    Kyoto Off The Beaten Path

    Yoshino is south of Kyoto, located in Nara-ken. It's a famous place of watching cherry blossoms and red leaves. About 2 hours of trains from Kyoto, with a change of train at Kashihara-jingu-mae, you'll arrive the skirt of Yoshino-yama. From where, you can either take the ropeway or the bus to get to the mountain area. If you're lucky enough to go...

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  • LaQua

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    LaQua is a whole city unto itself. There is shopping, roller coasters, water rides, shows, restaurants and more. But the best reason to go isn't any of these. It is the spa! Underneath a roller coaster near the Tokyo Dome is this odd little building. It doesn't really look like it belongs there, but is actually part of the Tokyo Dome City...

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  • Tsukiji Market

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Though not a fishing trip in the usual sense of the word, you will see more fish here than you ever have before. I struggled to find a way to describe it. I have come across the following passage from A Cook's Tour, the fine book by Anthony Bourdain that describes it as well as I have seen (note that even Tony struggles)... "While I had visited...

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  • The Suburbs (***AMACHI)

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    In Ningyocho/Suitengu area, the Tokyo Grain Exchange has a beehive of Japanese bees on the 7th floor of their building that you can see for free. You can see them quite close and not be afraid that they will sting you or anything, because it is just outside a large window pane. Kinda cool to think that there is a bunch of bees collecting nectar in...

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  • Sports

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Unlike any other big city in the world, people talking to some one who sit next to he or she, people smile to each other some one you don't really know, people saying hi to each other, but in Japan almost no one doing this. Not even for the Japanese, amongst the foreigner vs the local, most of the time foreigners has really hard time to know the...

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  • Kanda & Ochanomizu

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    You know what - I think you should visit the neighbourhood of Kanda! Here are lots of bookstores, both second hand and new ones. This is the place to buy a supply of great Japanese novels translated into English, that you could have a hard time finding in your own country. I recommend Kawabata (my favourite being 'The old capital'), Ariyoshi (e.g...

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  • Tokyo Tower

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Is it any coincidence that next to what represents a pyramid of sorts (Tokyo Tower ... not really a pyramid but it is triangular) is a Masonic Temple. Who are these guys? Well the Masons have a thing for ruling over people. They won't exactly tell you that but there's enough history to go around to tell us that they have significant influence. From...

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  • Imperial Palace

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    When exploring the grounds, though a lot of the area is blocked off due to the palace being closed, there are a lot of nice paths to the side that are more quiet and you can see the real beauty of the gardens.

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  • Tokyo Stock Exchange

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Not many people knows you can visit Tokyo's stock exchange market building, for free! It is not a remarcable touristic spot, but you can spend 30 minutes walking by the empty futuristic corridors, while brokers are "playing" from their homes and offices: yes, there's nobody inside, but a few stock controllers and the guys of some specialized TV...

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  • Yebisu Garden Place

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    A great rainy day site in Tokyo that isn't crowded with hordes of tourists is the Museum of Photography, conveniently located near the Sapporo Beer Museum in Yebisu Gardens. I really enjoyed the exhibits, which rotate periodically. The highlight while I was there was an exhibit of the top press photos of 2005, which included some moving shots of...

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  • Tokyo International Forum

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    Tokyo International Forum is located between Otemachi and Ginza, 3 minutes walk from the Yuraku-Cho Station. There are few halls and ball rooms manage to contain at least 20,000 audients. This new giant hall is popular for the international exhibition, world class famous singer concert and international convention.

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  • University Of Tokyo

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    I've never imagined before that the Tokyo University has this big size lake in the middle of its campus. It might be good for the campus couples. :) In fact, the campus per se did not meet my expectation. Many buildings are old, streets are dirty, and I was not allowed to take a look inside the library. Someday, I want to come back and feel the...

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  • Sumida River

    Tokyo Off The Beaten Path

    After visiting Hama Rikyu Gardens (a 10 minute walk S. of Tsukiji Fish Market), you can take about a 40 minute ride on the Sumida River to the pier near Asakusa. Cost: 620 yen (one way). It makes for a nice change in pace and you get to sit down and see the areas along the river. Caution: There are a few low clearances under a few of the bridges if...

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  • Hamura Sakura Festival

    Each year in April, the town of Hamura, on the western edge of Tokyo, hosts a Cherry Blossom Festival. This small event features 200 massive cherry trees towering over the ancient Tamagawa Waterway. Along the canal, you will also find 40 or so vendors during the festival, selling food, drinks and toys. At night the trees are lit with bright pink...

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  • Ome Plum Blossom Festival

    Plums are the first flowers to bloom in the early spring in Japan, around February or March, well before the famous cherry blossoms appear. Since the Nara era, in the 700s, plum blossoms were celebrated as the spring flower.Ome Plum Blossom Festival, or the Yoshino Baigo Plum Festival, takes place in Ome Ume-no-koen Park. There are more than 1,500...

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  • Lake Okutama

    Lake Okutama, formed by Ogochi Dam, lies at the far western edge of Tokyo in the town of Okutama, Nishitama District. The large lake was constructed from 1938 to 1957, and it is the largest source of water for the city of Tokyo. At the time of its completion the Ogochi Dam was the world's largest, with a dam height of 149 meters and a length of 353...

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Japan Off The Beaten Path

Reviews and photos of Japan off the beaten path posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Japan sightseeing.
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