As 2024 unfolds, a new wave of travel trends is sweeping across the globe. Amidst the popular destinations, a rising trend in seeking unique and off-the-beaten-track experiences is taking center stage. In this article, we will explore the six underrated cities that are poised to steal the spotlight in 2024. From hot springs to serene landscapes, each destination offers a distinctive charm, making them cities to visit in Japan in 2024.
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1) Beppu, Oita Prefecture
Located on the island of Kyushu, Beppu stands out as one of Japan’s most geothermally active cities, creating a landscape of steam and hot springs, known locally as onsens. Surrounded by mountains, Beppu is home to over 2,000 hot springs, each with its distinct mineral composition and therapeutic properties. The city’s commitment to harnessing the Earth’s natural warmth has led to the development of various types of baths, including mud baths, sand baths, and even baths filled with citrus fruits.
In 2024, as the travel industry places a renewed focus on wellness and relaxation, Beppu’s hot springs offer the perfect retreat. The healing powers of these thermal waters have long been celebrated for their ability to soothe muscle aches, improve skin conditions, and promote overall well-being. Recommended experiences in Beppu include the Hell Tour, exploring the “Jigoku” or Hell Tour, a collection of multicolored and steaming hot springs showcasing the raw power of nature. Beppu earns its well-deserved place among our top picks for underrated cities to visit in Japan in 2024.
2) Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture
Karuizawa is a top pick on our list of underrated cities to visit in Japan in 2024. Situated in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture, Karuizawa unveils itself as a serene resort town, celebrated for its refreshing cooler climate and abundant lush greenery. The town’s strategic location in the Japanese Alps not only promises a reprieve from bustling city life but also provides an immersive experience amid picturesque landscapes.
In the ever-evolving landscape of travel preferences, Karuizawa takes center stage as an ideal destination for those seeking to reconnect with nature in 2024. As travelers embark on a quest for authenticity and tranquility, Karuizawa stands out with its charming boutiques and a peaceful atmosphere that sets it apart from more crowded tourist spots. The town’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty is evident in its well-maintained parks, such as the Kumoba Pond, where visitors can stroll amidst vibrant flora or enjoy a serene boat ride.
3) Hakodate, Hokkaido
Situated at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate stands as a historic port city celebrated for its captivating blend of tradition and modernity. Renowned for its rich seafood offerings, Hakodate invites visitors into a culinary paradise. The city’s fresh seafood markets showcase a vibrant array of delectable catches from the surrounding seas.
Moreover, Hakodate’s allure extends beyond its culinary delights. The stunning views from Mount Hakodate, accessible by a scenic cable car ride, provide panoramic vistas of the city and its picturesque surroundings. This breathtaking scene, often described as one of the best night views in Japan, perfectly encapsulates Hakodate’s blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication. Its unique cultural heritage, accessibility, and the perfect combination of tradition and modernity put Hakodate firmly on our list of underrated cities to visit in Japan in 2024.
4) Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture
Tucked away in the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture, Kyotango unfolds as a coastal city, celebrated for its enchanting combination of scenic beaches and serene ambiance. The city’s untouched natural beauty is a testament to its commitment to preserving the pristine landscapes that line the Sea of Japan.
In 2024, as travelers increasingly yearn for experiences away from typical tourist crowds, Kyotango becomes an ideal travel destination for this. Beyond its natural allure, the city boasts a rich history that adds depth to its charm. You will have the chance to explore historic sites, and charming fishing villages, and enjoy the local culture that has thrived along these shores for centuries.
5) Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture
Located along the coastline of the Kansai region, Kobe stands as a city synonymous with maritime elegance and culinary excellence. Renowned for its picturesque port and vibrant cityscape, Kobe seamlessly blends the old and the new. The historic district of Kitano-cho showcases charming Western-style houses from the Meiji era, while the bustling waterfront and modern architecture reflect the city’s contemporary spirit. Beyond its captivating aesthetics, Kobe is perfect for food enthusiasts. In particular, try the world-famous Kobe beef, known for its unparalleled tenderness and flavor. In 2024, Kobe’s unique blend of maritime allure, cultural richness, and gastronomic delights make it an underrated gem deserving of exploration.
6) Awaji Island, Hyogo Prefecture
As we conclude our list, one city stands out as a true hidden gem, often overlooked despite its exceptional offerings. Awaji Island, situated at the crossroads of the Seto Inland Sea, unveils a tapestry of historical significance, breathtaking nature, and a culinary scene that rivals the best in Japan.
Known as the first island in Japan, Awaji Island holds historical importance that echoes through time. Its serene landscapes, framed by the Seto Inland Sea and the lush greenery, create a wonderful backdrop for exploration. Yet, it is not just the captivating scenery that defines Awaji, the island is perfect for food enthusiasts. You can try the island’s amazing gourmet offerings, showcasing the freshest local ingredients and culinary traditions that have flourished for generations.
With sustainable and eco-friendly travel on the rise this year, Awaji Island also offers great destinations and initiatives that reflect these elements. In recent years, the island has embraced innovative strategies to promote zero hunger within its community. Awaji Island’s initiatives revolve around utilizing local farming resources and establishing facilities and restaurants that prioritize sustainable agriculture and food security.
As society embraces the trend of prioritizing health and wellbeing, Awaji Island emerges as a highly recommended destination. The island strategically aligns with the evolving needs of modern travelers by promoting attractions dedicated to fostering wellness. Notable among them are serene spaces like Zenbo Seinei for tranquil Zen meditation and the secluded glamping facility, Grand Chariot.
So, how was our list of underrated cities to visit in Japan in 2024? In the ever-evolving tapestry of travel trends, 2024 beckons a new era of exploration. These underrated cities in Japan, carefully curated for their distinctive charm and alignment with emerging travel preferences, stand as gateways to redefined experiences. Beyond the typical tourist hotspots, these destinations promise unique adventures, authentically capturing the essence of Japan. As the world of travel evolves, may these hidden gems become the backdrop for unforgettable journeys