5 Cool Things To Do In Japan (That Are Not In Tokyo, Osaka, Or Kyoto!) The Great Escape

There’s so much to see and do outside of Japan’s 3 most commonly-visited cities.

Whether you’re a frequent traveller or are planning your maiden voyage to Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun offers a wide variety of activities beyond just shopping and eating.

1. Watch The Hills Burn In … Nara

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Every January, Nara holds a festival where the people burn down Mount Wakakusa. The word for it is “yamayaki”, which literally means “mountain burn”. Legend has it that the practice started because two temples, the Todai-ji and the Kofuku-ji, could not settle a boundary dispute and as a result, the entire mountain was set ablaze. Today, priests from both temples participate in the ceremonial lighting, which is then followed by a fireworks display. Other legends say that yamayaki is done to chase away evil spirits hiding in the mountains or scare away pestilence-carrying insects. The sight of an entire mountain of dry grass being burnt down is spectacular and, yes, they do put out the fire after.

2. Catch A Glimpse Of Russia In … Wakkanai

Everyone loves Hokkaido but instead of visiting crowd-favourites like Sapporo and Niseko, stretch your legs and make a trip to Wakkanai. Why? There, geography and history buffs will get to see the Russian island of Sakhalin from Cape Soya, the northern most point of Japan. A disputed territory, Sakhalin was claimed by both Russia and Japan over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. When Russia took back the territory in the final days of WWII, some 400,000 Japanese lived in southern Sakhalin. Most of them were evacuated back to Japan but 12 female phone operators remained behind and eventually took their own lives for fear of being raped by Russian troops.

3. Discover Dinosaur Fossils In … Fukui

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Fukui might not be top of mind when you think of places to visit in Japan, but it’s worth putting on your bucket list if you ever want to see what “real” Japan looks like. Fukui has a beautiful rural landscape with green rice and golden barley fields stretching for miles on end. But the area’s biggest attraction has to be the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum. One of the best of its kind in the world, you’ll get to see life-sized recreations of dinosaurs as well as fossils of fantastic beasts that were native to this area: the Fukuiraptor and Fukuisaurus. Housed in a beautiful building designed by celebrated architect Kisho Kurokawa, it’s worth setting aside a full-day to explore the many fascinating exhibits housed here.

4. Hop Onboard Thomas The Tank Engine In … Oigawa

Watch your childhood storybook comes to life on the Oigawa Railway, which is a 65km-route encompassing  Shimada City and Kawanehon-cho. The life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine appears on selected times of the year, such as summertime and over the Christmas period, on the Oigawa Main Line. As you chug along the railway tracks, you’ll be able to take in gorgeous views of towering mountain ranges, deep V-shaped valleys, and sparkling emerald lakes.

5. Admire The Life’s Work Of Itchiku Kubota In … Yamanashi

The Japanese are known for taking extreme pride in their work – their fastidiousness and meticulousness are second to none. For a personal look at this incredible work ethic, visit the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum. Itchiku Kubota was a revered Japanese textile artist, renowned for reviving and modernising a lost textile-dyeing and decorating technique from the late-15th to early 16th-century called tsujigahana. Kubota’s intention was to create a series of 80 works representing the four seasons, painstakingly translated onto silk kimono using the tsujigahana technique. The intricacy of each piece and the dedication behind each work of art is simply mind-blowing.

While he didn’t get to complete all 80 pieces before he passed away, Kubota is confident his life’s work will be fulfilled by other dedicated individuals, just like how many of Antoni Gaudi’s followers are committed to completing the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. In fact, the Itchiku Kubota museum is modelled after the architecture of famed Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who died before work on the La Sagrada Familia was complete. The museum, which sits in the middle of a garden with views of Mt Fuji,  feature asymmetrical corridors and Roman-esque stone pillars. After you’re done with the museum tour, why not spend a few moments strolling the picturesque museum grounds?


Can’t quite make it to Japan this year? Then here’s an Instagram contest you’d want to get in on. From now till February 2017, tag “@scentbysix” to your holiday snaps and include the hashtag “#wishSIXwashere” on Instagram.

At the end of the contest period, all holiday snaps bearing the hashtag #wishSIXwashere will stand a chance to win a pair of air tickets to Boracay.

1. Follow @scentbysix on Instagram.

2. Tag @scentbysix and use the hashtag #wishSIXwashere in your holiday photos.

3. Tag the friend you want to take with you to Boracay!

Of course, you have to be residing in Singapore to qualify for the prize and terms and conditions will apply with regards to travelling dates.

So start tagging your holiday snaps now! Make sure your Instagram account is set of Public so we can see it!


For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.

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