An Alternative Way to Experience Classic Japan

An Alternative Way to Experience Classic Japan

Finding experiences related to samurai, geisha, anime and sushi culture is often at the top of the agenda for travelers to Japan. However, if you’re keen to take a road less traveled, you can too. From hiking remote national parks to finding peaceful temples in Kyoto, here are five ways to explore the country’s diverse nature, history and culture, as well as an alternative to classic travel.

Visit the Samurai Armory

Characterized by masked helmets and bristling mustaches, it’s easy to imagine why the samurai is so intimidating. Japan’s feudal samurai class, although long gone, is still famous the world over. Tourists flock to glimpse the remnants of an ancient samurai culture hidden behind glass in museums and hidden in historic districts, but in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, part of the samurai remains.

The masters at the MARUTAKE Armory handcraft original samurai armor using methods dating back 300 years. Every detail is designed to the client’s specifications and each piece takes a year to complete.

“I was blown away,” Joshua Lassman, chief executive of Untold Japan, said of the armorer’s craftsmanship. “I’ve seen countless pieces of samurai armor in castles and museums, but these are some of the most beautiful artifacts I’ve ever seen.”

Try making traditional pottery

Many of Japan’s arts and crafts are internationally renowned, from origami to manga and bonsai. But one of the most prolific and historically important objects is pottery. Japan’s history and culture can be traced through pottery, and excavations in 1998 revealed pottery from 14,500 BC: some of the oldest pottery ever found.

Pottery crafts in Japan are still thriving, with different styles and types in different regions, prefectures and even cities. Pottery classes offer visitors a hands-on way to get up close and personal with ancient Japanese culture. By visiting pottery workshops, visitors can learn from the masters how these traditional ceramics are made. An informative tour will cover everything from clay collection, the molding and design process, to painting and firing in a traditional kiln. Even better, it results in a one-of-a-kind keepsake—an authentic Japanese piece to take home.

Learn about Kyoto from a new perspective

Kyoto is off the beaten track, but it’s worth exploring the city’s more than 2,000 lesser-known temples, often overlooked for their famous sights. Get away from the crowded Kinkaku-ji Temple and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, where you can explore 17 attractions.the thA centuries-old temple known as Kodai-ji Temple. The temple is in the same Higashiyama district as lively Gion, but it’s always peaceful, with rock gardens and matcha.

In the evening, consider visiting one of the city’s oldest tea houses. You can spend an authentic evening with top geisha (Kyoto equivalent of geisha) and maiko (apprentices). It is popular with locals and usually includes good food, live music and traditional games.

Seto Inland Sea Cruise

Sandwiched between southern Honshu and the Shikoku ceiling is the Seto Inland Sea. There are many beautiful islands in Setouchi, the most famous of which is Naoshima. Naoshima, known for its art and Kusama pumpkins by the harbor, is a must-see.

The Seto Sea connects 11 prefectures, each with its own character, coastline and islands. For example, explore the cat-filled alleys of Onomichi, the cafe-lined alleys, or the salt ice cream of Hakata Island. There’s also idyllic Shodoshima, known as “Olive Island” for its centuries-old olive farms.

One of the best ways to enjoy the stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea is by boat, explains Untold Japan’s Joshua: “While enjoying the view, enjoy the best local ingredients, from wagyu beef to sushi dinners using locally caught sushi.”

explore remote nature

Rishiri and Rebun are located in southern Sakhalin, Russia, two mountainous islands known for their wildflowers, deep green coastal waters and pristine scenery. These remote spots make up Japan’s northernmost national park and are rarely found on tourist trails. But the terracotta cliffs, verdant volcanoes and sea lion colonies of neighboring Todo make the trip well worth it.

Hikers, botanists and bird watchers enjoy a heavenly feeling on the edelweiss-covered clifftop meadows of the Peach Rock Hike, while the hiking trails feature many highlights, including majestic Mount Rishiri, panoramic stargazing platforms and A swamp full of birds.

Visitors can also sample specialties from the island. Rishiri Rebun produces one of the country’s prized kelp, and local farmers traditionally harvest and dry the popular Rishiri kombu. The region is also known for its sea urchins, whose creamy, saffron-colored flesh is a beloved delicacy.

plan your trip

To experience Japan with an expert guide, visit unold-japan.travel

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