Places in Japan that don't look like Japan!?

Chubu Tour Hakuba 2019.06.14
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Take a second, close your eyes, and imagine Japan... What natural landscapes come to mind? Mountains? Rocky shores? Maybe some flat rice paddies? Sprintime cherry blossoms? Well, Japan has plenty of that kind of scenery, but today we'd like to introduce you to five places in Japan that don't look like that! From Japanese deserts to the Alps... of Japan, and everything in between, we're about to take you on a journey around the world (but stay right here in Japan!) Where shall we start...?
1. Sun Messe Nichinan, Miyazaki 【サンメッセ日南、宮崎県】
  • The Moai of Japan (which you might recognize from their far more famous cousins on Easter Island!)
Moai, the monolithic stone statues... of Japan?

In Miyazaki Prefecture, you can see seven Moai statues built on the hill by the shore of Sun Messe Nichinan. 

How did they end up here? You might well ask.

These seven Moais were actually built here in commemoration of the Japanese people who helped the restoration of the original Moais on Easter Island. Generally, reproductions of the Moai on this scale are forbidden around the world, but these seven were specially allowed as a token of appreciation. They are also said to symbolize the ancient explorers of Easter Island (traveling far to reach Miyazaki, clearly!)
  • A glance of Easter Island in Miyazaki.
  • Plus, nearby, thinking rainbows?
A group of Japanese people were a big part of restoring Easter Island's Moais back in the '90s. Back then, a group of the local tribal chiefs allowed those Japanese people to recreate a copy of the Moai in Japan in commemoration.

So, these Moais here are pretty much an official copy of the ones in Easter Island. (Mind you, the rocks that these statues are made of are different from the original ones, because the rocks from Easter Island are not allowed to be brought elsewhere.)

Sunmesse Nichinan (サンメッセ日南)
Address: 2650 Miyaura, Nichinan, Miyazaki
(closed Wednesdays)
Admission: Adults: 700 yen, Junior high school students 500 yen, Children above 4 years old 350 yen 
Official Website (Japanese)
2. The Tottori Sand Dune, Tottori【鳥取砂丘、鳥取県】
Walking along the sand dunes~

A desert in Japan?  Tottori Sand Dunes

A major tourist destination in Tottori Prefecture is a gigantic coastal sand dune, with a length of 16 km (10 miles) west to east and 2 km (1 mile) north to south. Experience a camel ride, paragliding, mountain biking, and other sandy activities on the largest sand dune in Japan! 

Since there are no obstacles in the wide desert, it's a great spot for paragliding if you're just a beginner! Or you can be a little less adventurous and just slide down the sand like you're sledding on snow.

Tottori Sand Dune
Address:  2164-661 Fukubecho Yuyama, Tottori
Official Website (Japanese) 
  • Landscapes like a painting.
  • Rolling in the desert.
You don't get to experience the freedom of running and rolling down a slope in a desert often do you? Besides, it is beautiful enough to just admire the evening glow on the sand and sea every sunset.
3. Tsunoshima Bridge, Yamaguchi【角島大橋、山口県】
The blue ocean is beautiful on its own, but with a bridge over it that looks like it might go on forever... Well, it makes it even more spectacular.

This is the Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It was built in the year 2000, to connect the mainland part of Japan (starting at Shimonoseki) and Tsunoshima Island. This bridge was voted to be the best bridge in Japan in 2015, according to TripAdvisor.
  • That is one long bridge there!
  • Emerald green ocean with the island at the back.
It's definitely worth finding a way to drive along the bridge itself, so you can enjoy the scenery all the way from Shimonoseki to the island. Another summer destination, perhaps?

Tsunoshima Bridge
Address: Tsunoshima, Toyokitacho Oaza, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi
4. Fukugi-Namiki, Okinawa【フクギ並木、沖縄】
  • Riding in the buffalo carriages.
A little like the Hawaii of Japan, we've arrived in Okinawa! Fukugi-Namiki Road is known for its unique maze-like path through dense island greenery. As in the picture, you can ride along in a buffalo carriage with a local guide, or take a walk through to enjoy every step. They even have rental bicycles if you want.
  • Riding a bike around is one way through.
  • A beautiful ocean view once you get out of the jungle.
The place is also popular as a site for wedding photos, giving everything an island rainforest vibe, despite still being in Japan! The dappled light filtering through the green leaves lends a lovely mysterious effect to the photos here.

Fukugi-Namiki Road
Address:  389 Bize, Motopucho, Kunigami-Gun, Okinawa
5. Hakuba, Nagano【白馬、長野県】
  • Nagano is famous for its ski resorts.
  • Mountain covered in snow all year long.
The Japanese Alps

This beautiful mountain area is genuinely called the Japanese Alps, and there is something of a resemblance to the namesake! The dramatic peaks are snow-capped year-round, and while the winter brings skiers from around the world, hikers flock by in the warmer months. The slopes are so good, the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan were held here, as well.

Hakuba, Nagano
Address: Hakubamura, Kita-Azumigun, Nagano
  • Ever seen this picture before? It's the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which connects the mountains of Nagano Prefecture to Toyama Prefecture.
Are you lost yet...?
Traveling through Japan, experiencing other countries... we understand it's a little confusing!
  • As a bonus, we present to you:
    The Statue of Liberty... in Odaiba, Tokyo
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