While novice tourists in Japan might find themselves enchanted by the futuristic landscapes of Tokyo, the true spirit of the nation lies in places less frequented, sculpted by breathtaking natural expanses and deeply rooted in time-honored practices. Venture south to revel in the unmatched beauty of the Seto Inland Sea through a splendid cruise, or head to the untouched north, where rugged volcanic islands present invigorating hiking expeditions and a rich gastronomic legacy.
Japan is also a gateway to the days gone by: engage with some of the last remaining craftsmen constructing samurai armor; grasp the enduring techniques of pottery makers; or engage in a refined tea ceremony directed by Kyoto’s esteemed geikos—a special class of entertainers exclusive to Kyoto and western Japan. These experiences collectively unveil the untold, venerable, and untamed sides of the Land of the Rising Sun.
- Embark on a Samurai Armory Adventure
With their iconic masked helmets and bristle-adorned mustaches, samurai have always been a subject of fascination and terror. Though these legendary warriors of feudal Japan are a thing of the past, their memory is preserved in museums. Yet, in the southern Kagoshima prefecture, the masters at Marutake Sangyo armory continue to breathe life into samurai culture by handcrafting original armor using techniques that are three centuries old. Commissioning custom-made armor from the Kagoshima workshop offers a one-time opportunity, with each piece requiring up to a year to complete.
“Visitors often find themselves entranced by the excellence in craftsmanship,” remarks Joshua Lassman, founder of Untold Japan, a tour service that includes visits to the workshop. “Unlike the armor pieces in castles and museums, here, visitors find themselves face to face with living history.”
- Dive into the Art of Traditional Pottery Making
From origami to manga, Japan’s cultural exports have touched the world. However, its pottery tradition, dating back to 14,500 BCE, holds particular significance. The bustling pottery scene today, with its varied styles across regions, can best be appreciated in remote locales like Arita, Imari, and Karatsu in the Saga Prefecture. Engage in pottery classes led by local masters that cover the entire process, culminating in an authentic piece of Japan to cherish.
- Uncover Kyoto’s Secret Corners
While Kyoto’s popular landmarks like Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion and Kiyomizudera lure many, there’s more to discover. Consider the serene 17th-century Kodaiji temple, offering an opportunity to meditate in its peaceful rock gardens or partake in a traditional tea ceremony. For a real treat, attend an exclusive evening with a geiko and her apprentice, an experience enriched with meticulously crafted bento boxes, live music, and traditional games.
- Set Sail on the Seto Inland Sea
Winding between Honshu and Shikoku, the Seto Inland Sea offers a unique voyage that transcends mere sightseeing. Consider a luxury houseboat like guntû, blending opulence with Japanese tradition. Joshua of Untold Japan says, “Guests indulge in the finest local delicacies, including Wagyu beef and Seto Sea sushi, enjoy unlimited beverages, and even unwind in a Hinoki bath with views of the Inland Sea.”
- Journey to the Remote Volcanic Islands
The northern Rishiri and Rebun islands offer wild landscapes and rare experiences. Hike the trails of the Momoiwa trek, spotting over 300 flower species, or explore Todo island, inhabited by sea lions. Culinary delights like prized kombu and succulent sea urchins are another attraction.
Planning Your Unusual Journey to Japan
Flights to Tokyo depart from Heathrow on average five times daily. Seek a different perspective of Japan with Untold Japan, a specialist travel agency offering personalized itineraries and luxurious stays in lesser-known destinations. For more details, visit untold-japan.travel.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Japan
What are some alternative ways to experience classic Japan besides visiting Tokyo?
You can explore classic Japan through a variety of activities such as visiting a samurai armory in Kagoshima, crafting traditional pottery in Saga Prefecture, exploring the hidden side of Kyoto, cruising the Seto Inland Sea, and hiking on remote volcanic islands like Rishiri and Rebun.
Can I learn about traditional Japanese crafts like pottery and samurai armor making?
Yes, you can engage in hands-on experiences like visiting Marutake Sangyo armory to learn about samurai armor crafting, and you can join pottery classes in places like Arita and Imari to create an authentic piece of Japanese pottery.
Where can I explore Japan’s natural beauty away from the city?
The Seto Inland Sea provides a stunning aquatic landscape, the remote volcanic islands of Rishiri and Rebun offer wild and unspoiled vistas, and even Kyoto has lesser-known tranquil temples and gardens like the Kodaiji temple.
Is there an opportunity to interact with traditional Japanese entertainers, like geikos?
Yes, in Kyoto it is possible to partake in an exclusive evening with a top-level geiko and maiko, hosted in one of the city’s beautiful historical teahouses.
How can I explore the lesser-known areas of Japan like the Seto Inland Sea or the remote volcanic isles?
Through expert-led agencies like Untold Japan, you can uncover lesser-known destinations with personalized itineraries and luxury accommodation, such as boarding luxury yachts in the Seto Inland Sea or hiking the terracotta cliffs of Rishiri and Rebun islands.