Finding a beautiful small place in Japan
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jun 22, 2013 3:20 PM Last Post By: rhythm_blues
Jun 9, 2013 2:34 AM
Finding a beautiful small place in JapanHello,
I am finding myself in Japan for another few days and just being tired of concrete, shopping, amusement halls and all the other blessings of the 21st century. Please do not get me wrong; I love Japan, it is an amazing country. Having said that - I was wondering if anybody out there has an experience of a more ancient place. Not like Kyoto - where I am right now - but something serene, simple and nurturing.
I have to fly out of Tokyo on the 19th of June, so another obstacle is to find this place in a manageable distance to Tokyo.
Thank you for your advice and shared experience.
Jun 9, 2013 4:02 AM
1Hmm, if you don't like concrete, shopping and amusement halls then you may have picked the wrong country to visit.
Nevertheless there are some nice areas not too far from Tokyo. Kamakura and Nikko are very nice, you can also join the procession of people and vending machines up Fuji San, though I was content with Fuji Five Lakes.
I'm not sure how nurturing any of this will be, though if you want to try and get a bit of spirituality then if you rock up at a temple they have to give you food and lodging or the night. I know a very thick skinned Canadian guy who managed a mostly free vacation in Kyoto in such a manner.
Its a tradition thats more honoured in the breech than the observance though and eventually even he admitted that he wouldn't do it again.
Jun 9, 2013 8:52 AM
2Beautiful, small, not like Kyoto, more ancient, serene, simple and nurturing within a manageable distance of Tokyo
No concrete, shopping, amusement halls
It might help to clarify how close to Tokyo you want to be (2 hours journey or one day).
If you are really looking to get off the beaten path from a tourist stand point, many small towns would fit your description.
For something more remote, I would suggest looking at some options on the Seto Inland Sea--staying at one of the islands and maybe visiting Naoshima and/or Teshima via ferry.
Mt. Koya meets many of your requirements as well, very serene and ancient lots of temples and very cool graveyard where many of the great historical Japanese figures rest.
Toward Tokyo, maybe try Kiso Valley (Tsumago/Magome), both are very small rustic towns with a lot of character.
Jun 9, 2013 9:47 AM
3of a more ancient place
Given all the earthquakes, typhoons and wars, there are no really ancient places. Below some suggestions for quieter more nature places which are still interesting.
I second ruggedtoast on Nikko and Kamakura: little concrete, lots of green and some fine temples/shrines.
Kamakura is perfect for leisurely strolling and can be fully explored on foot if you wish walking among the hills on small streets, passing many temples along the way: a bit like Philosopher's Path but with fewer people. A very quiet small town with little traffic, small (non-chain) cafes and crafts shops.
In Nikko you'd have the famous temples/shrines set in a beautiful old forest; then there are some minor sights around Nikko town like: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3810.html or http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3808.html and a bit further (requires bus ride) you have Nikko National Park with waterfalls, Senjogahara marsh, Yumoto Onsen, good for day or longer hikes.
Nokogiriyama also makes for a good day to combine some easy hiking/walking in nature with some culture.
Parts of Hakone would also match what you are looking for.
Jun 9, 2013 12:12 PM
Not ancient, but the sankei-en garden in Yokohama is very nice to stroll around. It has a history blending in with the ancient art of the tea ceremony. Did I just make a joke? blending in... No. Ok. LOL. And it beats the senses out of any 'garden' in Tokyo. You'll even see a few ladies in Kimono wandering around if you're lucky. It's big and you can see a few pagodas and tea houses as well as a view of Fuji if the weather is clear enough.
As mentioned Kamakura is a very lovely little town and IMO the most friendly and genuine place I've ever been to so far in Japan. The locals I met were seriously helpful in giving directions, which you will need as the map at the tourist office is a joke and the little alleys in certain places are wonderfully labyrinthine. Kamakura has a beautiful vibe if you don't get caught in the temple touring and just walk around it.
I know there's a little island called Enoshima off the coast near Kamakura but have never been there. Has a cave, which might be a bit spiritual.
I found Nikko National Park very beautiful and spiritual, especially the walk through the beautiful woods to Lake Sainoko. There's a 'green hybrid' bus that goes through this area as well which you can hop off of at any point and costs about 300 yen. It does a loop. Senjogahara is breath taking, but you'll have ten million schools kids walking along the wooden boards through his marshland with you. I swear they ship 'em in... So repeating 'konnichiwa' a zillion times may be a bit tiresome. Waterfalls help get rid of negative energy, and there's plenty of them around the Park. The hike from Senjugahara to Lake Yunoko was relatively quiet when I did it of an autumn and that's the start of momiji season!
Get the Oku-Nikko hiking guide map from the tourist office on the village main street and plan to hug the trees...
Jun 10, 2013 10:30 AM
5I think it is easier to find these "serene, simple and nurturing" places near Kyoto than Tokyo. A few places come to mind. North of Kyoto is all mountains and I think many of the smaller valleys fit the bill.
Right within the City of Kyoto is Ohara. It is located northeast of the urban area of Kyoto in a small valley. The pics I have seen seem serene and quiet. The most famous site here is the Sanzen In which you can probably find in the LP or online.
There is Kinosaki Onsen on the coast. As onsen go this one is pretty famous in Japan. The pics look nice enough. It is located in a river valley in next door Hyogo near the Sea of Japan.
Kyoto Pref. is full of mountains, as is the rest of Japan, and many small valleys you find may fit the bill. Just hop on the JR San'in Line from Kyoto and see what's out there.
My suggestion would be to seek this place in the environs of Kyoto and not Tokyo. Tokyo is located in the biggest plain in Japan and it makes it much farther away from the mountains than any other place in Japan.
Jun 10, 2013 4:12 PM
Jun 22, 2013 3:20 PM
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