A long form guide to Japan by Expatbets notes how more visitors are exploring the rural areas of the country including Kitashiobara in Fukushima and Totsukawa and Yoshino-cho in Nara. This significant boost shows how more rural prefectures are now able to attract more visitors.
According to the recently released 2019 White Paper on Tourism, around 28.5% of overall tourist spending, amounting to $9.67 billion, was done in Japan’s countryside.
So, if you’re deciding which of the 39 rural prefectures in Japan you have to visit, here’s 5 you should check out:
Known for its broad beaches and colorful coral reefs, Okinawa is probably the most popular on this list. For a land filled with a long history of wars—both modern and ancient.
Okinawa is one of the prefectures where super centenarians are common. It used to be a different country so the villagers speak a different dialect of Japanese.
This laid-back region is made up of more than a hundred islands with pristine beaches and virgin sandbars. From Ishigaki, you can head towards the many diving sites or camping grounds in the prefecture.
Just north of Tokyo is the rural area of Miyagi. This prefecture is a Pacific Ocean facing area with 250 rocky islands. Most notable for the Sendai Castle that’s still in its capital, there are lots of things to do in Miyagi.
One highlight of Miyagi is an island called Tashirojima that is now known as “cat island”.
MSN reports that there are only around a hundred people on the island, and that cats now outnumber them. The island can be accessed through Oodomari and Nitoda.
Home to the iconic Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka is another popular prefecture. Visit the Mount Fuji World Heritage Center, which has a museum on the mountain that details its volcanic seismology, history, and cultural significance.
Another UNESCO heritage in Shizuoka lies in the most rural portion of the prefecture— Omori Town. Epitomizing rural Japan, the town features traditional architecture that will transport visitors back in time.
Kochi is one of the most tranquil rural areas in Japan. See the famous statue of Sakamoto Ryoma—an imperial samurai in the 1800s—overlooking the beaches along the Pacific Ocean. The Ryugado Cave is also popular with the increasing number of tourists in the area.
Kochi is also home to famous rivers of the country. The Niyodo River has the best water quality in Japan, and you will not find any other river as calm or clear as the Shimanto River. Canoeing is one of the most popular activities on the Shimanto River. Alternatively, some operators offer rafting along the river flow from Ekawasaki to Nakamura.
Known for its numerous hot spring towns, Ōita is a must visit in Japan. The remote mountains in the prefecture provides unique onsen experiences for tourists. Most notable is the Chinoike-Jigoku which literally means “the hell of blood” for its reddish water.
Ōita is also home to the virgin grounds of the Aso-Kuju National Park which got its name from the largest active volcano in Japan—Mt. Aso.