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Top 10 Nature Experiences in Japan

Endangered Red-Crowned Crane Sanctuary

A magical sun rises over Hokkaido, as hundreds of red-crowned cranes gather by Setsuri River. Usually found painted on scrolls and ceramics, these iconic birds are protected in Kushiro Shitsugen, a sanctuary constructed to encourage the repopulation of this rare breed. They breed in marshy meadows and wetlands and spend the winter in fields, marshes, and other open areas. The enclosed nature in this sanctuary provides a perfect chance to photograph the birds up close and seize the moment to take in a northern sunrise in the company of the majestic Tancho Cranes.

Featured Tours: Journey to the East

Sub-Tropical Japan Yakushima and Amami Ooshima

Find the best of nature both on land and underwater, in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Yakushima, with lush green forests for hiking and diving areas along the north coast. Amami Ooshima, a more recent addition to UNESCO (2021), is also a sub-tropical paradise with wonderfully clear waters and an abundance of coral reefs and semi-tropical aquatic life. Coral canyons and arches make for a colourful seascape, with year-round warm weather on both islands. Find marine life of all shapes, sizes, and colours, as well as the curious, slow-moving sea turtles that hatch on beaches from May to the end of July in Yakushima.

Featured Tours: Wonders of the West, Traditional and Tropical


Nakasendo Walking Trail – Tsumago to Magome

Roam the rural route of Edo travellers from retro samurai postal towns Magome to Tsumago along the Nakasendo trail in southwestern Nagano. Historic paths pave through the beautiful Kiso Valley. From Tokyo to Kyoto there were 69 post towns with rest stations spread out every 10km. Glimpse Japan as it was yet with a prevailing hospitality. Take a few hours to walk the leisurely 8km from Magome in Gifu, where Edo life is visible with a functioning water wheel and at traditional soba restaurants. Travel through the peaceful countryside to reach Tsumago for traditional Ryokan Inns.

Featured Tours: Ancient Trails

Gardens of Japan

Seeking to replicate a perfect world of feng shui and religious stories inspired by structure and symbolism, with islands, turtles, and cranes. Ise Shrine was built to honour the rugged landscapes in Japan. Lakes encourage water features alongside flora and species of trees rich in seasonal variety. Shinto brings a reverence for nature and purity in white. Niwa means cleansed, to welcome the gods. Emperor pleasure gardens rejoice at carp in a pond, perfect places for poetry festivals. Heian courts connect lakes by bridges. A large empty area of sand and Zen brings the simple, spontaneous, and modern to unique Japanese gardens.

Featured Tours: All Tours

Japanese Macaque (Snow) Monkeys

In Nagano, enjoy a short hike up the mountainside to discover the natural habitat of a community of interesting snow. A protected species also known as the snow monkeys are known for their expressive facial features and playful expressions. In adulthood, their faces and bottoms become red. Get to know their personalities, cheeky and obedient, as you observe how they interact with each other in the warm natural springs of Yudanaka onsen in Joshinetsu National Park. Snow monkeys are wild animals free to roam, thus, their presence cannot be guaranteed.

Featured Tours: Japan Discovered, Traditional and Tropical

Lakes and National Parks of Hokkaido

The volcanic activity of the Chishima Volcanic Zone created Akan-Mashu National Park. Composed of three caldera landforms the Akan Caldera, Kussharo Caldera, and Mashu Caldera. Covered in a coniferous forest of Yezo spruce, Sakhalin fir and Erman’s birch. With several volcano-lakes, the Akan area includes Mt. Me-akan and Mt. O-akan overlooking Lake Akan and Lake Onneto. In the Mashu (Kawayu) area, see one of the most transparent lakes in the world Lake Mashu, as well as Lake Kussharo. Look out for the unusual plants called Moss Balls that grow in Lake Akan, now designated as a National Special Natural Monument.

Featured Tours: Journey to the East, Hokkaido Blooms

Active Volcano at Unzen and Mt Aso

This beautiful National Park has been a summer retreat for foreign visitors since 1889, protected nature flourishes in all seasons in the eight mountains collectively called Mount Unzen. Japan’s First National Park since 1934 has been protected since ancient times. Discover wild birds and highland plants, seasonal sweeps of colour and the natural therapeutic properties of acidic springs at an early Meiji-era resort. Mount Aso, situated in Kyushu, is Japan’s largest active volcano and a key attraction in the prefecture. A prime destination for hiking and sightseeing, it is part of the Aso Kuju National Park. With its peak towering at 1,592 meters above sea level, Mount Aso offers a breathtaking mountainside view from Aso city.

Featured Tours: Wonders of the West

Kumano Kodo

The Kumano Kodo, ancient pilgrimage routes leading to the three Grand Shrines of Kumano (Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine, Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine, and Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine), have held UNESCO World Heritage status since 2004. Gain enlightenment of the ages along the 10km Nakahechi section. Remote and mystical, wind through the peaceful countryside on a one-day hike. Follow a mountain trail from Takijiri-oji shrine by Tonda River to pause in the village of Takahara, a small ridge-top settlement. Capture the mountain range wrapped in mist, like a sea of clouds in the valley below. Then pass Oji shrines to descend into Chikatsuyu village. Reach Tsugizakura-oji having absorbed the rich historical and spiritual atmosphere. Complete the full five-day Kumano Kodo route to reach Kumano Sanzan, the three Grand Shrines.

Featured Tours: Ancient Trails

Rural Farmlands

Visit a family farm in Tono where old-time country life endures in idyllic landscapes. Learn about rural lifestyles on a real Japanese farm. Discover traditions in fieldwork and farm tasks and how life changes depending on the season. Sample produce fresh from the fields and savour the hearty home cooking. Appreciate the sacrifices and hard work required to maintain traditional methods in this warm community. Commune and chat with farmers to learn more about family life in wonderful nature and the benefits of rustic living in Japan.

Featured Tours: Tohoku Trails, Japan Discovered, Traditional and Tropical, Shikoku Secrets, Ancient Trails

Hokkaido Lavender Fields

In the heart of Hokkaido’s summer, the air becomes fragrant with the sweet scent of lavender. Fields upon fields in Furano bloom into vibrant hues of purple, a spectacular canvas that stretches as far as the eye can see. From late June to August, this northern haven transforms into a floral masterpiece, inviting visitors to bask in its beauty and tranquility. It’s not just a feast for the eyes; local festivals celebrate the season with lavender-infused treats, beckoning travelers to immerse themselves in the essence of summer in Japan.

Featured Tours: Hokkaido Blooms