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Most Beautiful Places in Japan You Need to Visit (part 1)

January 21, 2015 4 min read 7 Comments

Japan is full of natural wonder and beauty. While Tokyo and Kyoto might get all the attention, there are some jaw droppingly beautiful places in rural Japan. In this multi-part post, we’ll explore places which have officially been named, “The Most Beautiful Villages of Japan.”

日本で最も美しい村連合(Nihon de mottomo utsukushii mura-rengō)or “The Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan” was established in 2005 to help conserve and enhance the Japanese rural heritage. As part of their work, the association names certain area of Japan as “the most beautiful villages in Japan”. Towns that receive this recognition get many benefits, such as conservation development, tourism awareness, and government sponsored local craft/food fairs. Currently there are 49 villages that have received this prestigious designation.


Criteria for recognition include:

  • Less than 10,000 population
  • Having regional sustainable resources
  • Previous and on-going efforts taken for sustainable use of local resources
  • Local resources must be protected by public means, such as zoning and Ordinance

In part 1 of this series, we’ll explore the gorgeous places in Hokkaido.

Biei (美瑛), Hokkaido

Biei is famous for its wide fields and hills, and is used as a backdrop for many Japanese commercials and TV programs. The bright colored farm fields attract thousands of visitors. The “Road of Patchwork”, “Hills of Zerubu” and “Shikisai-no-oka” have some of the most spectacular views. The hills are painted with lines and patches of alternating colors,  which can be explored not only by foot, but also by bicycles and golf carts — definitely a must-see in Hokkaido.
Biei Hokkaido
Although the hills may look like vast parkland open to the public, but most of them are actually private property of farmers, tending to various crops such as pumpkins, potatoes, melons, wheat, beans, sweet corn, and tomatoes. So once you’ve enjoyed the view, you can head over to the shops and buy various products that are actually produced in the field. Don’t miss the different seasonal flavors of soft-serve ice cream including melon, lavender, and pumpkin!

The Blue Pond (Aoiike) is also a must-visit place especially for photographers, where the natural minerals gives the water an extra blue. The reflection of the trees and branches are magical and spectacular to see.

regional japanese snacks

⛩ Discover Authentic Regional Snacks You Can Only Find in Japan

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Akaigawa (赤井川), Hokkaido

Akaigawa is a small village with a population of 1,264 on the west coast of Hokkaido surrounded by mountains. Yamanaka farm serves Hokkaido’s rich and creamy soft-serve ice cream.

Those who visit in the winter cannot miss the soft think layer of fresh powder great for skiing in the surrounding areas of Akaigawa. The Kiroro Resort in Akaigawa is one of the hidden treasure not known to many, with beginners to advanced ski courses, family playgrounds, and gondola rides to the beautiful scenery.

Shiroi Koibito
On your way back, stop by Sapporo and buy some Shiroi Koibito white chocolate cookies as a souvenir for your friends and family. Shiroi Koibito was first introduced in 1976, and for a long time was only available in Hokkaido. The name of the snack itself was inspired by the beautiful landscape of Hokkaido on a snow day after skiing. 

You can also visit the Shiroi Koibito Museum while you're in Sapporo too and see how these tasty snacks are made (and try some experimental flavors) ! Check it out here. 


Shibetsu (士別), Hokkaido

Shibetsu is a town of 5,825 people situated at the east coast of Hokkaido. 68% of its land are forest area stretching out to the Sea of Okhotsk. Despite being a small town, the Shibetsu river basin enriches the surrounding area, developing a foundation perfect for large-scale dairy production and fishing. It is famous for its rolling hills and sheep farms.

Jaga Pokkuru is a potato stick snack, seasoned with the salt from Okhotsk Sea, distilled and simmered in the kettle for a mellow smooth flavor.Calbee uses only Hokkaido-grown un-skinned potatoes and named the snack after Koropokkuru, a dwarf from Ainu folklore.

Visitors who enjoy donuts can also find cute Shiretoko donuts made with honey and fresh Hokkaido milk. The donut is unique because of a little Kumagoron panda-figured dough placed at the center hoping to fill the loneliness following the loss of a panda in Ueno zoo.

Check out this past Snakku box where we featured a bunch of locally made snacks from Hokkaido!

jaga pokkuru  shiretoko donuts  

Tsurui (鶴居), Hokkaido

Tsurui is a tiny village with a population of 2,596. 
The spring in Tsurui starts in May as cherry trees start to blossom. The nearby Kushiro Marsh, stretching a massive 183km square kilometers, sheds its wintry colors and becomes covered in fresh green. 
This is the time of the year when thousands of visitors come here to see the Tancho, a rare Japanese Red-crowned Crane, return to the Marsh in pairs in order to raise their new breeds and feed on corn and fish in the surrounds of Tsurui.
During late winter, Tancho showcases their beauty with a spectacular performance by calling and dancing with their partner in preparation of the breeding season. 

Kyogoku (京極), Hokkaido

Kyogoku is mountainous region with the famous Mount Yotei, which bubbles out natural hot spring water. Meters of snow that pile up during every winter is absorbed by the mountain filtering through rocks decades later as pure, tasty spring water. Visitors come to this town to drink that spring water, as it is believed to have healing properties.

At the base of Mount Yotei, water flows out at a rate of 80,000 tonnes a day into the beautiful surrounds of Fukudashii Park. Here you could try coffee jelly made with coffee drip and spring water in the shape of a mountain where you can add syrup at the crater.    

Be sure to check out our post exploring "Off the Beaten Path" places of Japan. 

7 Responses


November 10, 2019

I want to go to all these beautiful places badly!

Amara Smith
Amara Smith

February 08, 2020

Japan is one of the most popular tourist destinations. This blog that you have shared is truly informative and good to read. I have once visited Japan’s top destinations with the help of Indochina Travel. This travel agency helped me a lot to explore the country.

Nouralhuda abdin
Nouralhuda abdin

November 10, 2019

I loved this site, japan is my dream country I wish I will be able to visit these amazing places one day.


May 25, 2017

Thanks for checking out our site and reading the blog.
Yufuin is my personal favorite onsen village to go to! It’s so relaxing and quaint.

Hokkaido is definitely a good choice as it’s really beautiful and cool during the summer. However, Hokkaido is a bit more modern so you won’t find a lot of traditional buildings.

Matsumoto is on the cooler-side as it’s right at the base of the Japanese alps. It’s a small city with lots of history. There are a lot of great onsens nearby too.
This ryokan onsen has a bus from Matsumoto to the inn.

Kurokawa is in Kysuhu which can get a bit hotter during the summer but it’s a beautiful little town. I recommend staying here for a night but then visiting some other places in Kyushu like Fukuoka or Nagasaki.

Takayama has been getting very popular and for good reason. It’s a small city in the Gifu prefecture and has lots of history and things to do.
The are has lots of good onsens and the very close to many traditional attractions like Shirakawa-go and Furukawa. They are also known for making the 2nd best beef in town (after Kobe-beef).

Hope this helps and let us know if you have any questions!


May 25, 2017

Hi Shigeki

Thanks for your very interesting and useful and beautifully presented blog.

I was hoping to get your advice about a 2 week trip I want to make to Japan this July with my partner and two babies, and maybe a friend as well. Because the babies are young they need to have frequent naps so we will be restricted in how much we can do in a day, and we don’t want to travel around much. We would also prefer to limit car travel as one of the babies hates it.

We are thinking that staying in one or two towns would be best. Ideally we would like to go to a pretty onsen town with nice scenery, pleasant easy walks, and shops and restaurants. Traditional architecture would be nice. Great onsen with views are a high priority.

We were thinking Hokkaido might be best as it will be a bit cooler in July, and it looks beautiful.

I lived in Ehime for a couple of years more than 15 years ago, and during that time I had a lovely Golden Week break in Yufuin in Kyushu. Somewhere like that would be perfect. I am interested in your discussions of Kurokawa and Matsumoto. I assume both places are very hot in July? Could you suggest somewhere in Hokkaido with similar attractions? Or any other ideas?

Thanks so much


Ruben aguilar
Ruben aguilar

December 20, 2015

Tokyo most beauty advance tecnology and place on earth Mexican respect the culture


February 10, 2015

loved this post!

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