10 Places in Japan that don’t Feel Like Japan

superb architecture in Jove Janssons Moomin Valley Places to visit in Japan
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Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

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For those of you here just visiting Japan for a little bit, this may not be the most enticing array of locations for you, especially if you’re trying to immerse yourselves in Japanese culture! With that being said, it is considerable fun to see how Japan is able to replicate the authenticity of various other countries and cultures. For those who may live in Japan and have the time and desire to escape from the day-to-day or just the typical scenery, then one of these locations may be perfect for you. Whether you want to go all in at a theme park, take a lazy stroll around a pleasantly themed village, have a museum experience, or just have a look, then you’ll have no problem deciding on a plan after you read this list.

1. British Hills

photoantenna, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), via flickr.

Check out this highly accurate British style area in the southern area of Fukushima! You’ll be able to get a thorough experience here on the nearly 60 acres of British inspired infrastructure. You’ll be able to enjoy food, accommodation, architecture, sports, gardens, language, crafts, and much more. The expansive resort was originally constructed by the Sano Education Foundation as a destination to experience all of the above. So, if you’re interested in immersing yourself in British culture, be sure to check it out!

2. Villa Santorini

Reico, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), via flickr.

When someone mentions Greece, do you automatically think of the beautiful white buildings with blue domed roofs lining the coast in Santorini like we do? Well if you’re trying to experience that in Japan then look no further than Kochi! This hotel down on Shikoku island has gotten the Greek vibes down to a tee! Here you’ll be able to enjoy views of the sea from your room, try authentic Greek and Italian dishes, a terrace and swimming pool of course! 

3. Huis Ten Bosch

Nagasaki is home to a theme park made to look like a Dutch village! Huis Ten Bosch is a great place to go if you’re fascinated with Dutch culture. The name comes from a Dutch royal family’s residence. The theme park is split into two areas that both offer free and paid attractions, one being the theme park and the other being the harbor. Enjoy the authentic Dutch essence by checking out the windmills, ferris wheel, Dom Tower replica, and even things like a haunted house and mirror maze! Overall the town is a great, fun representation of a dutch village and will certainly inspire you to go and visit the real thing someday.

4. Hakusekikan Stone Museum

Has Egypt not quite made it to your list of destinations to go yet? Well, if you’re still interested in pyramids, then head to Gifu to find the largest one in Japan consisting of 5500 stones! You’ll even be able to go inside to find a sarcophagus as well as stones from actual Egyptian pyramids. While this attraction is pretty astounding, you’ll also be able to enjoy a wide variety of other stone-themed attractions and activities. Plenty of rare stones and other minerals are on display and offer plenty to learn about! 

5. Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park

Get a taste of Finnish culture and head to Saitama! The Children’s forest park is filled with Tove Jansson’s Moomin character motifs among some very intricate and impressive architecture. In fact, the location used to be known as “Moomin Valley”, and used to be somewhat of a secret. Social media growth in recent years has resulted in the attraction becoming much more popular. It’s a great place for children to explore, and the weekend light up event where all the structures are illuminated is quite enjoyable. Be sure to check out their other seasonal events as well. Johnson town, an American style town, is also in Saitama if you’re further trying to feel outside of Japan!

6. Akasaka Palace

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Tokyo’s Akasaka Palace is quite an extravagant experience. This baroque style building is mostly used to welcome foreign heads of state. Much like England’s Buckingham palace, the facility boasts a very “royal” atmosphere and is complete with various dining halls and elaborate decorations. The building was initially built in the Meiji period (1868-1912) and was one of the biggest constructions of the time period. This is a great place to feel immersed in a truly luxurious aesthetic that also holds great historical meaning.

7. Hikaru Museum

Andrea Hale, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), via flickr.

Gifu offers another incredible experience that is worth any stone-enthusiasts’ time! While it’s not dedicated to stones like the other location, the Hikaru Museum’s exterior is certainly a sight to see. Inspired by Mesoamerican architecture, it has an undeniable pyramid/temple sort of atmosphere. Inside you’ll find tons of historic artifacts like fossils, paintings, crafts, and even some Ukiyoe prints.

8. Kobe Kitano Ijinkan-gai

During the late 19th century when there was a considerable amount of trading with other nations, Hyogo became an important location. In Kobe Kitano Ijinkan-gai you will find various houses designed for individuals from various countries like France, Italy, England, China, and so forth. These houses are maintained quite well and can be viewed by the public! It is somewhat surreal to see how in depth they are decorated.

9. Jiyugaoka

If you’re searching for more European aesthetics, then you also need to check out Tokyo’s Jiyugaoka area! It’s known as “Tokyo’s little Europe” and for good reasons.this stylish, sophisticated area is both an adventure for nationals as well as those visiting Japan. Here you’ll also be able to avoid large crowds while you shop at fancy boutique stores as well as enjoy some decadent foods. Stroll around this seemingly always-sunday town and enjoy the elegant Japanese elements intertwined in pleasant European vibes.

10. Shima Spain Village

inunami, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), via flickr.

Immerse yourself in spanish culture and vibrant, exciting fun at the Shima Spain Village in the Mie prefecture! This theme park is complete with plenty of enthusiastic entertainment as well as a variety of imported goods from spain. Between the dances, rollercoaster, fireworks, food, and great shopping available, you’ll surely be able to create a memorable experience.

Japan Wonder Travel Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help you organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are visiting, our knowledgeable and friendly English speaking guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if yu have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo and try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake with one of our friendly and knowledgeable English speaking guides! 

tsukiji tour

Tokyo 1–Day Highlights Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
There’s no better way to explore an area than taking a tour with a knowledgeable local guide. You will have the chance to learn about the history and interesting background stories of Tokyo, as well as discover some hidden gems which can be hard to do without a guide.

Asakusa Tokyo private tour

Mt. Fuji Day Trip Bus Tour from Tokyo
Experience the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji by visiting the highlights of the area on our guided sightseeing bus tour! Departing from Shinjuku in central Tokyo, you can travel comfortably to all of the best spots in the area by bus.

mount fuji chureito pagoda

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