7 incredible Japanese destinations that tourists haven’t discovered yet

Japan is often known by tourists for its most popular attractions, like Mount Fuji, the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, and its amazing shrines and temples.

But there’s a lot more to the island nation than that.

We took a look at a Quora thread that asked, “what are some of Japan’s best kept secrets,” and rounded up some places that might not be in all the guidebooks, but are definitely worth a visit.

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Nagasaki’s hundreds of beautiful islands get newspapers from boats, planes, 2,285 delivery people

Although Nagasaki is one of the most populous cities on the island of Kyushu, many neighborhoods are built on steep coastal hillsides that are inaccessible by car. Then there’s the rest of Nagasaki Prefecture, which is dotted with isolated communities on its hundreds of islands.

But with the prefecture’s unique beauty and culture, it’s not hard to see why many residents of Nagasaki are happy living where they do. And while there may be some inconveniences that come with living in such remote homes, they can at least be assured of receiving their newspapers every day, as this surprisingly moving video of the incredibly complex delivery process shows.

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Google Street View now lets you tour the glowing samurai, dragons of the Nebuta Matsuri festival

Just about every community in Japan puts on a local festival in the summer, but few are as spectacular as Aomori City’s Nebuta Matsuri. For almost a solid week, gigantic floats topped by lanterns shaped like samurai and dragons are paraded through the streets, accompanied by dancers and musicians.

But while Aomori is one of the largest cities in the largely rural Tohoku region of Japan, its relatively remote location in the northeastern corner of the country’s main island of Honshu means not everyone can make it out to see the festivities in-person. As long as you’ve got an Internet connection, though, you can get a taste of the fun with Google’s awesome Nebuta Matsuri Street View that lets you see the amazing floats even closer-up than spectators standing on the sidewalks the towering works of art are carried by.

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Stunning merger of animation and music “nowisee” is gorgeous, hypnotic, perplexing【Video】

Japan is a pro when it comes to creating confusing things. Whether it’s food, anime, toilets, or even methods of relaxation, it’s not uncommon to be baffled at the beginning, still not quite sure what happened at the end, and yet, for some reason, craving more when it’s all over.

So let’s welcome the latest awesome but very confusing thing Japan made: nowisee (pronounced “noise”). Is it an anime? A music video? A promotional video? Something… else? The answer to all of the questions is a resounding maybe, and the only way you can begin to understand is by watching it.

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Do you agree with this list of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Animated Movies of All Time”?

Despite what some people might think, animation is not, and never has been, “just kids’ stuff.” Many adults around the world enjoy watching animated works, and Japanese anime in particular has raised the genre to an art form, with many masterpieces crafted to elicit raw human emotion in viewers while dealing with a multitude of adult themes. In other words, there are plenty of animated works of art out there that aren’t just for quieting crying children.

Some animators spend their lives crafting these sophisticated animations, but every now and then a work comes along that far surpasses even the highest expectations of quality. In their latest video, CineFix decided to pay tribute to ten such animated films whose visuals are so far ahead of the game that they deserve special recognition. The list features movies released between 1926 and 2014, but can you guess what they are?

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Real-life Ghibli clouds appear as awesome thunderhead forms in the Tokyo skies 【Videos】

If you’ve ever spent the summer in Japan, you know that it’s not the heat, but the humidity that makes many people want to take refuge indoors with the air conditioning blasting. But the silver lining to this cloud is the clouds themselves, as all that moisture in the air can turn Japan’s summer skies into a stunning puffy white landscape.

On the evening of August 5, skywatchers in the Tokyo/Yokohama area that turned their eyes to the west saw a towering, lightning-spitting thundercloud so powerfully majestic it immediately drew comparisons to one of Studio Ghibli’s most beloved anime.

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Japanese photographer captures gorgeous photos of timeless building facades in Tokyo

It must take Hitoshi Kobayashi a long time to walk anywhere if his collection of photographs is any indication. The photographer has been gaining attention online for his galleries of photos dedicated solely to the facades of local buildings tucked away in the quiet streets and alleyways of suburban Tokyo. In fact, taking a stroll through his pictures is almost like being spirited away to another world and time altogether. 

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This “natural planetarium” island could have Japan’s most beautiful view of the stars

Next week, people across Japan will be celebrating Tanabata, the age-old festival dedicated to the folk-tale of two lovers separated by the Milky Way, being reunited only once a year, on July 7th.

While in this romance story the Milky Way is nothing but an obstacle for the lovers, for the people of Aogashima, an island south of Tokyo, the Milky Way is an important part of their life and happiness. The uniquely shaped island has been gaining popularity lately, being dubbed a “natural planetarium.” Needless to say, the view of the night sky from Aogashima is outstanding.

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Abandoned Chinese fishing village gets a natural facelift and it’s awesome 【Photos】

There’s something about abandoned buildings, such as Nagasaki’s famed “Battleship Island,” and the ghost skyscraper in Bangkok, that is so creepy and mysterious that we just can’t get enough of them. One Shanghai-based photographer recently journeyed out to the nearby Zhoushan Archipelago to document the remains of a once-prospering fishing village, now abandoned and being consumed by nature.

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U.S. baseball player joins Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants, but it’s his wife that’s getting the attention

People really love sports, don’t they? If, like me, you grew up lacking the gene that makes watching a bunch of strangers whack balls around somehow fascinating, then it sometimes seems like a whole alien world. Still, I can appreciate that televised sports bring a lot of excitement to people’s lives. What I can’t understand, however, is when people get all excited about sports players’ wives and girlfriends.

Miles Mikolas, a baseballer from the U.S., joined the Yomiuri Giants for the 2015 baseball season and it seems that a lot of people in Japan are much more interested in his beautiful, blonde wife than in him. And this is a guy who apparently ate a lizard whole during a game.

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Art Aquarium returns to Tokyo with goldfish, beautiful lighting, soothing sounds, delicious sake

As the weather starts to get warmer in Japan, many people will cope by cranking up the air conditioner. But there’re also traditional options for beating the summer heat, such as whipping out a folding fan, and also psychological cooling tricks such as listening to the soothing sounds of a wind chime or taking a few moments to gaze at a tank of water filled with gracefully swimming goldfish.

If that last idea sounds like your kind of thing, you’re in luck, as the Art Aquarium exhibit is returning to Tokyo this July with its unique combination of artistic displays, DJ performances, fine sake to sip, and late-night viewings of aquatic life.

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Short film ‘Tokyo Roar’ is an arrestingly beautiful homage to the enigma that is Tokyo【Video】

Filmmaker and travel enthusiast Brandon Li’s latest venture ‘Tokyo Roar’ is a love letter to the world’s ultimate metropolis. This remarkable short film encapsulate’s Tokyo’s unique blend of traditional and modern, urban and nature – all in under four minutes.

But it’s not all rose-tinted positivity here. While Li’s video takes us on a winding tour of Tokyo’s dazzling streets – through pachinko parlours and hobby shops, before peeping in at bamboo groves and Shinto shrines – we also glimpse homelessness, loneliness, the grind of the daily commute.

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15 million flowers are in beautiful bloom right now at Saitama’s field of Heavenly Poppies

As Japan gets ready to flip the calendar from May to June, it’s a perfect time to get out of the house and spend some time outdoors. If you’re the sort who hates cold weather, it’s finally warm enough to spend the afternoon outside with no need of a jacket, and if you can’t stand the heat, you’ve only got a few weeks left until the onset of the steamy rainy season and sizzling midsummer weather patterns.

And to sweeten the deal, right now there’s a perfect spot for your sojourn with nature, this breathtaking field of over 15 million flowers in Saitama Prefecture known as the Heavenly Poppies.

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Strange lights appear in the skies of Japan, but thanks to fish, not aliens

Way at the western tip of Honshu, the main island of Japan, you’ll find the town of Shimonoseki. Shimonoseki is especially famous for its always delicious, naturally poisonous, and occasionally canned blowfish, but fishermen catch all manner of tasty seafood there in the waters off the edge of Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Wherever you have boats and coastlines, you’ll also want to put a lighthouse too. But on a recent night the beacon of Shimonoseki’s Tsunoshima lighthouse wasn’t the only thing shining in the darkness, as observers also roughly a dozen mysterious-looking lights in the night sky.

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These beautiful flower arrangements are actually desserts from Tokyo Station

Whether you call it Bavarian cream or Bavarois, the classic dessert generally isn’t much to look at. Since traditional Bavarian cream itself is just a beige lump (being cream, after all), many chefs choose to drizzle a brightly colored fruit sauce on top of it. And while that definitively adds some much needed visual pizzazz, if you’re after a dessert that’s as captivatingly beautiful as it is mouth-wateringly tempting, this Tokyo pastry shop’s Bavarian cream that includes edible flowers is basically a work of art that you can eat.

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Young Japanese artist crafts exquisite animal-shaped candy at his shop in Asakusa

Remember those traditional Japanese sweets from last summer that were simply divine? Oh, and let’s not forget those cupcakes that were almost too beautiful to eat!

Japan sure knows how to elevate its food to an unparalleled level of art, and today we’d like to introduce you to the works of another master Japanese craftsman of sweets. His life’s passion is creating exquisitely detailed animal-shaped candy, which are so astoundingly intricate that it probably won’t be long before a museum asks to put them on display!

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Kitakyushu’s spectacular wisteria tunnel is blooming! You don’t want to miss it!

You guys, it’s May, so that means you can finally go see the beautiful wisteria tunnel that we told you about last October! If you find yourself anywhere near northern Kyushu or have time for a weekend getaway, head to Fukuoka Prefecture’s Kitakyushu City. If you think we’re exaggerating or doctoring the pictures to make them more beautiful (we’re not), at least trust the opinion of the Japanese Twitter users gushing over the wisteria’s beauty! 

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Japan celebrates Children’s Day by flying beautiful carp streamers 【Photos】

While people in Japan put up decorations to celebrate different holidays, most of them are placed inside the home, such as the dolls for Girls’ Day/Hina Matsuri in March or the vegetables displayed during Obon in the summer. Out in public, though, though, you’d be hard-pressed to tell one Japanese holiday from another, with the exception of Children’s Day/Kodomo no Hi on May 5.

That’s because when Children’s Day rolls around, all you have to do is look up at all of the beautifully awesome carp streamers flying overhead,

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Couldn’t catch the cherry blossoms in full bloom? We’ve got a unique idea for you!

Of all the beautiful sights in Japan, there is nothing quite like cherry blossoms blooming in spring. As soon as the winds of winter end, these tiny buds start growing and cities are filled with various shades of pink. However the cherry blossom season is very short, and just as soon as the sakura have come, they’re falling off the trees in a downpour of petals.

But when these petals fall into a river, or cover a paved street, another magical sight can be enjoyed. Let us show you another way you can enjoy cherry blossoms once they have blown off the tree with breathtaking pictures of hanaikada, cherry blossoms floating atop a river.

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Free Sakura app means cherry blossoms could be blooming on your monitor right now

As of yesterday, it’s officially cherry blossom season in Tokyo, with media outlets reporting the first flowers of the year spotted inside the capital. While we’re still a week or two away from the sakura being in full bloom, their incredibly short life span means they’ll be gone before you know it, so most people are looking to spend as much time watching the delicate pink flowers as they can in the coming days.

Much as we’d like to, though, most of us can’t spend all of the next few weeks stretched out on the grass under a cherry tree. But should you find yourself stuck in front of a computer monitor with work or social responsibilities to take care of, you can still soak up a bit of the cherry blossom atmosphere with this app that produces a cloud of sakura petals on your desktop.

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