5 sites in Japan that you didn’t know you could see here

In Japan, comparing and contrasting tourist attractions with other, more recognized destinations has become somewhat of a vogue. As an example, “Come to Okinawa, it’s the Hawaii of Japan!” or “Visit Kagoshima, it’s Naples of the East!”

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Even though it’s a shame that any of these places are marketed as little more than a cheap replica of somewhere else, this list does highlight Japan’s incredible diversity. There are very few areas in the world where one section can claim to be the Galapagos and another the French Alps.

After much deliberation, here are just a handful spots in Japan you probably didn’t know existed…

Hawaii

Hawaii and Japan’s Okinawa islands share a striking resemblance. In my opinion, it’s just too much. Hawaiian clothing, Hawaiian pancake shops, Hawaiian this, Hawaiian that… Tiki interpretations of renowned pop songs still haunt me after three months there.

Okinawa, you have a wonderful culture all your own! Keep it out of the Hawaiian skirt and don’t refer to it as a pineapple any longer.

The Netherlands

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Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki Prefecture is an odd locale to include in this list. Hoofdhuis Ten Bosch is a Dutch theme park with life-sized replica Dutch buildings, parks, hotels, and houses as well as canals and gardens. As long as it’s in Dutch, you may find anything here!

Why? You may have a question about this. Considering that Nagasaki used to be the only site in Japan where foreign traders could live and conduct business (although on a manufactured island in Nagasaki Bay), there has long been a Dutch and Portuguese influence in the area. However, I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything about the creation of a “Casa Na Floresta”.

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Venice

As a result, “Venice of the East” has been given to a wide range of cities in Japan, from Kyoto to Kurashiki, via Hiroshima and Kagoshmi to Sakai and Matsue — and probably more if you bother to look. Phew. It’s no secret that Japan aspires to emulate Venice.

After World War II, the city’s waterways played a major role in its development as a major centre of power in feudal Japan, earning Osaka the nickname “The Water City.” Visitors today, on the other hand, will be sorely disappointed if they expect to find a little piece of Venice.

More convincing contenders include Matsue, sandwiched between two lakes, and Kurashiki, with its old-fashioned canals lined with weeping willows. However, Ine Bay in Kyoto Prefecture may be the most convincing “Venice of Japan.”

Machu Picchu

While Takeda Castle may not be as large or as dramatic as Machu Picchu, it is no less impressive and shares more similarities with its ancient Inca namesake than you might expect. Takeda Castle was built in 1441 and Machu Picchu in 1450, and both were abandoned after about a century of use. Each site is atop steep hills, often above the clouds, but Machu Picchu has a distinct advantage: at 2,430 meters, it is more than two kilometers higher than Takeda. That’s a lot of information to digest.

Miami Beach

In spite of the fact that locals refer to it as Japan’s “Miami Beach,” it’s difficult to draw comparisons between Enoshima Beach in Kamakura and the setting of Miami Vice and Scarface. There’s not much else I can think of besides the beach…

3 thoughts on “5 sites in Japan that you didn’t know you could see here

  1. I live in Japan and have visited most of the places in this blog. Apart from the artificiality of Huis Ten Bosch, they are all pretty amazing. But like you I think it’s a great shame that the Japanese have to think of them as ‘Japan’s X’ rather than lauding them in their own right. Okinawa, for example, and I’ve been there three times, is unique in its landscape and culture and has no need to hide behind a Hawaii label. Perhaps Miami Beach should describe itself as America’s Enoshima (which I also know well!), but only if you can get soya grilled squid while watching the sun set over Mt Fuji!

    Liked by 1 person

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