Connect with us


“It’s a crime to miss these!” 6 Hidden Gems in Japan That Should Be On Every M’sian’s Bucket List


Jntomascots Header 1
Source: @iamgimbo/IG & @prossimafermatagiappon/IG

We Malaysians really LOVE everything Japanese. From their high-quality food and products to eclectic anime and cultures, it’s no wonder so many of us have Japan on our travel bucket list. However, when we finally do get to travel there, there’s one thing we must never do: only visit tourist spots, which are far from the true Japan experience!

Instead, do as the locals do, and check out these off-the-beaten-path locales in Japan to get a taste of what a real Japanese holiday feels like!


1. Iya Valley: Home of the woven vine bridges

Jntomascots Iya Valley Bridge Drone Official

Japan is hardly short of natural escapades, but this secluded valley in the Tokushima Prefecture has a few highlights on its sleeves, most notably the three historical vine bridges of Iya Kazurabashi (as long as 45 meters! About 12 Myvi’s ?) and the Oku-Iya Kazurabashi pair.

Legend has it that ancient locals used actual vines to create these bridges, so it’s easier to cut down in case of invaders – a true test for those with acrophobia a.k.a. fear of heights!

118307896 682937035658147 7523991925883600433 N

252690455 1107770653362596 5218929716187171499 N

That’s not all there is though, as Japan’s Grand Canyon has more to offer:

  • SIX majestic mountain ranges for nature lovers like you to explore, which can take either a few hours or days to finish, depending on how adventurous you feel.
  • To top it all off, finish your expedition with some onsen R&R at the Iya Onsen Hotel, boasting an open-air bath that lets you enjoy both the scenery, cool air and hot springs. Sounds so zen!

73446513 138690044088448 4708690709693846705 N

187297502 800319203939433 6814922951707313938 N

44752242 192390824999613 6799527402895522821 N

Jntomascots Iya Valley Hotel

? Iya Valley, Tokushima Prefecture


2. Hozenji Yokocho Alley: The ultimate foodie lorong in Osaka

61076991 329602554380026 8629013573535726452 N

You know what they say, if a lot of locals are queueing up to dine at Place A, then you’re in for a treat! Fortunately, there’s plenty of traditional eateries and classic izakayas (Japanese pubs) with that kind of reception along the narrow-ish cobbled walkway of Hozenji Yokocho Alley in Osaka Prefecture.

31060779 164594904232380 6812326230382084096 N

With around 60 cafes, bars and restaurants, here’s a glimpse of what kind of feast you can expect at Hozenji Yokocho:

Jnto 26872547 622437844814275 6282569944592809984 N
Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M: Beer-fed cows that result in the best yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) ever!

242697622 267851341914944 1797621839344848332 N

After a few hearty meals, be sure to take a stroll through the lantern-lined alley and feel like you’re in an indie high art movie, as well as pay your respects at the titular Hozenji Temple to make your wish come true!

16464672 1099366803523444 7250847747127902208 N

96501963 242130060358071 3578153194853274564 N

? Hozenji Yokocho Alley, Osaka Prefecture


3. Kurashiki: Pamper yourself with history, art & beauty in Japan’s “Little Venice”

272720041 468383728189630 4355361469822645857 N

From a tranquil boat ride through soothing waterways to discovering four centuries worth of history dating back to the Edo Period, history buffs who enjoy their holiday to be on the gentler side of life would LOVE Kurashiki (“town of storehouses”) in Okayama Prefecture.

241410615 1002947543836338 4763920416164058110 N

Jntomascots Kurashiki Canal Top

The storehouses of this former rice distribution centre have since been transformed into kissaten (tea-shops), boutiques, and – Kurashiki’s biggest highlight – museums.

  • Don’t miss the Ohara Museum of Art, the first Japanese museum to showcase European art alongside Chinese paintings and local folk artwork, before sipping hot tea along the canals of Bikan District.
  • Finally, tuck in for the night at a ryokan (traditional inn) for the quintessential Japanese experience.

35575724 238538116877156 3448911493771296768 N
Ohara Museum of Art

Jntomascots Kurashiki Ryokan Kurashiki
Ryokan Kurashiki

? Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture


4. Matsuyama: Home of the Spirited Away bathhouse!

Jntomascots Matsuyama Dogo Onsen

Not to worry, you won’t have to hold your breath to cross a bridge and enter Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. It’s one of the oldest bathhouses in Japan (around 3,000 years old!), with ancient rumours saying that it’s a favourite imperial retreat due to its mythical healing properties.

248755940 473442880549426 7988401733377368890 N

272233089 929978497721758 3387073784141671466 N

272578432 482830636798283 5519909300876969122 N

But, that’s not all Matsuyama City has to offer:

  • A wide array of shopping opportunities that’ll make any shopaholic weak in the knees, including the Okaido Shopping Arcade and Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street.
  • Decadent desserts and hearty local food, especially local favourites:
    • Botchan dango (skewered sweet mochi dumplings)
    • Taimeshi (sea bream rice dish, either slow-cooked with rice or served as sashimi)
  • Known for their mikan (mandarin oranges) like the rest of Ehime Prefecture, with more than 20 varieties that range from sweet to tangy and even bitter.

269888101 661683631513578 4150831509828953867 N

Jntomascots Matsuyama Okaido Shopping Arcade

256614326 639940974054679 6547006754190318575 N

Fun fact: The capital of Ehime Prefecture is so famous for oranges, that there’s a bar in Matsuyama Airport which sells everything orange-related: juice from tap, gelato, jelly and more!

Jntomascots Matsuyama Orange Bar Shop

? Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture


5. Izu Peninsula: Beach vacay, here we come!

Jntomascots Izu Peninsula

Finally, somewhere that beach lovers can rejoice at, though there’s plenty more to enjoy at Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. It is known for its white sandy beaches and hot springs, in addition to breathtaking nature walks to waterfalls and majestic mountain ranges.

241732507 605354030635218 1095631421673613790 N

162788441 455348779040985 2981698662581351063 N

  • Get your beach fix on at as many as seven beaches, with Iritahama Beach as the underrated beauty.
  • There are SO MANY hot spring resorts to savour, though these are pretty interesting:
    • Inatori Onsen: Sulfate hot springs that are good for skin and pain issues.
    • Amagiso Onsen: Thunderous waterfalls as the background.
    • Izu Nagaoka Onsen: Alkaline water that whitens skin and cures aches.

240391118 539363710725708 6161464149449278016 N

240700874 255605096420855 8009034940722943011 N

? Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka Prefecture


6. Yakushima Island: A magical ancient forest await in this hidden getaway

244500961 205720404989931 8137753642696716319 N

Yakushima Island at Kagoshima Prefecture isn’t exactly unknown – it’s a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, after all – but because it’s not as accessible as the rest of Japan, you’ll experience solitude like never before.

Hiking through the vast ancient moss-covered cedar forest is as other-worldly as they come, with 7,000-year-old trees (affectionately called yakusugi by the locals) that contain so much history and daily rainfall that’s usually light and pleasant to freshen up your senses.

61366241 624986857982112 7321716115523283112 N

271121722 153983983651065 5460614891999445043 N

271142103 675911620444934 8054406984508015503 N

End your day by watching the mesmerising sunset dip into the ocean, and snooze at Yakushima Island’s plethora of seaside lodges. If you’re lucky, you might even have the rare chance to witness sea turtles laying eggs along the shoreline.

Jntomascots Yakushima Yaedake Sanso Lodge 05 1
Lodge Yaedake Sanso

Jntomascots Yakushima South Village Airbnb
AirBnB in Yakushima South Village

? Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture


No wonder lah everyone wants to go Japan! Everything is so beautiful

Japan is truly one of the best destinations in the world, rich in culture, amazing food, unique experiences and gorgeous sightseeing that’ll guarantee a memorable holiday. If you want to travel to Japan on your next holiday, especially once the pandemic is over, we recommend familiarizing yourself with its prefectures so you can plan your dream holiday.

In fact, here’s a fun way that the Japan National Tourism Organization Kuala Lumpur (JNTO) came up with to help you learn more about Japan’s prefectures and win prizes at the same time:

Jnto Homebanner19Jan2022

Introducing the Ready Go JAPAN! contest, where you can play minigames to win awesome goodies like the Sony Cyber Short camera, Apple Watch Series 7, and more!

Jnto Screencapture Ready Go Japan My How To Play 2022 02 11 14 05 07 1

All you have to do is follow the below steps:

  1. Play three levels of a minigame to unlock and discover different prefectures in Japan.
  2. Finish the contest by completing the final challenge. (Tip: check out the prefecture after each game to get hints and win the last round.)
  3. Fill in your details and share them with your friends and family after the final challenge.
  4. Players with the shortest completion time will be in the running to win these prizes!

Jnto Screencapture Ready Go Japan My Campaign2 Level1 2022 02 11 14 05 40

Jnto Screencapture Ready Go Japan My Campaign2 Level2 2022 02 11 14 06 14

Jnto Slide Banner 2


Win expensive goodies AND learn more about our favourite country? Count us in!

Hell Yeah Thats What Im Talking About

Hop on board and join the Ready Go JAPAN! contest today by clicking here. If you love Japan as much as we do, then it’ll definitely be worth your while. Contest ends 20th February.


Have you visited any of Japan’s prefectures before? Share them with us in the comments section!

Source: @iamgimbo/IG
Source: @mii6387/IG
Source: Japan Cheapo
Source: @nobu4901/IG
Source: Kyodo News
Source: Tokyo Cheapo
Source: @muuu34/IG
Source: TripAdvisor
Source: AirBnB
Source: JNTO
Source: JNTO
Source: JNTO
Source: JNTO
Source: JNTO
Source: Tenor GIF

Just In

Collage 2024 06 19T113144.133 Collage 2024 06 19T113144.133
News12 mins ago

Study: Malaysia is the 20th Oldest Population in Asia, Yet Forever Young at Heart!

As people get older, they often discover joy and fulfillment in things they might not have appreciated when they were...

Collage 2024 06 19T085653.495 Collage 2024 06 19T085653.495
News2 hours ago

Cleanup Crew Finds Strange Looking Mattress on Bali Ocean, Shocked to See Fully Grown Sea Turtle Inside!

Our oceans are full of trillions of plastic pieces that can stick around for ages, breaking down into microplastics. These...

Feat Image Thai Legalise Same Sex Feat Image Thai Legalise Same Sex
News20 hours ago

JUST IN: Thailand Becomes 1st ASEAN Nation to Legalise Same Sex Marriage After Passing Landmark Bill

Thailand made history today after its Senate approved a landmark bill to allow same sex marriages in the Kingdom, making...

Feat Image Competitive Feat Image Competitive
News21 hours ago

Indonesia & Thailand Overtake Malaysia in World Competitiveness Ranking for 1st Time as We Drop to 34th

The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) has released its latest edition of the World Competitiveness Ranking which made for...

Collage 2 2 Collage 2 2
News22 hours ago

50yo M’sian Man Gets Beaten by a Stick for Hanging Out With Another Man’s Wife Too Much

Sometimes, things may NOT go our way but there is never a reason for us to get violent on someone....

Feat Image Rasuah Feat Image Rasuah
News23 hours ago

“Over RM1 mil already given” – Civil Servants Who Report Bribery Will be Rewarded Same Amount by Govt

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki has revealed that civil servants who report corruption cases until...

Collage 48 Collage 48
News23 hours ago

“I expected more” – Former PM Muhyiddin Yassin “Thanked” PMX for 3 Sen Reduction in Egg Prices

When PMX announced the good news about the 3 sen lesser in egg prices, many Malaysians were not impressed and...

Feat Image Fahmi Feat Image Fahmi
News1 day ago

Fahmi Fadzil: Cooking Oil Prices Remain Low & Eggs Drop by 3 Sen Thanks to Diesel Blanket Subsidy Removal

The removal of the diesel blanket subsidy in favour of a targeted subsidy mechanism has been all the headlines in...


Latest Videos