It’s officially June – in other words, it’s rainy season in Japan. However, you don’t have to let the weather dampen your spirit and ruin your travel plans. Come rain or shine, there are many beautiful destinations around the country worth visiting. Japanese travel site Jalan recently conducted a survey amongst their readers to rank Japan’s most scenic attractions that are particularly photogenic on rainy days.
From heritage temples to hydrangea-lined railways, these spots are worthwhile additions to your travel list. Just don’t forget to bring your umbrella. Since the ranking is in Japanese, we’ve reproduced the top ten here in English.
1. Yakushima Island, Kagoshima
Claiming the top spot on the list is this nature paradise in Kagoshima prefecture. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations in Japan, Yakushima Island is a Unesco World Heritage Site, famous for the moss-covered Shiratani Unsui Gorge and home to some of Japan’s oldest trees. When it rains, the river’s water level rises and the moss-covered area looks even more magical.
2. Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki
Takachiho Gorge in Miyazaki prefecture is known for the jaw-dropping 17m-high Minainotaki waterfall. The area is covered in dense green foliage, with volcanic basalt cliffs that never lose their appeal even on rainy days. Bring your raincoat and rent a boat to paddle through the gorge.
3. Higashi-Chaya District, Ishikawa
This popular tourist attraction is a teahouse district famous for its numerous shops selling sweets and traditional crafts. The time-worn, quintessentially Japanese streets are particularly photogenic on rainy days when the streetlights are reflected on the pavements.
4. Hakone Tozan Railway Hydrangea Train, Kanagawa
This stretch of railway between Hakone Yumoto and Gora stations is bursting with colourful hydrangeas from mid-June to mid-July every year. As such, the train is affectionately nicknamed the hydrangea train and the journey is one of the best ways to admire these rainy season flowers.
5. Sanzen-in Temple, Kyoto
The beautiful moss-covered gardens are the main draw at this quaint Kyoto temple. When it rains, the grounds become extremely lush. If you want to stay dry, take in the views from the temple's guest hall.
6. Oirase Gorge, Aomori
The Oirase River in Aomori prefecture flows from Lake Towada through the enchanted forest of Oirase Gorge. Filled with lush trees and spectacular waterfalls, this popular hiking destination offers some of the best summer and autumn scenery in Japan, more so when the green moss-covered rocks and boulders have been kissed by the rain.
7. Karuizawa Hoshino Area Harunire Terrace, Nagano
This heritage shopping street in the resort town of Karuizawa is covered with a cute installation of over 100 umbrellas. Bubbles also appear periodically over the street, making for a magical sight.
8. Cape Togenkyo, Miyazaki
This gorgeous destination in Miyazaki prefecture is home to approximately 2 million hydrangea bushes in a rainbow of colours. They look even more stunning than usual against the blue water of the Tomi Peninsula.
9. Bijin Bayashi Forest, Niigata
Two destinations tied for ninth place, one of which is the Bijin Bayashi Forest in Niigata prefecture. This otherworldly forest is home to 100-year-old beech trees and they look surreal on a rainy day when the trees sparkle with fresh rain drops. The forest pond is so still its mirror surface will have you seeing double.
9. Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces, Ishikawa
Also tied for ninth place is Shiroyone Senmaida Rice Terraces in Ishikawa prefecture. The jaw-dropping sight, set against the Sea of Japan, looks even more amazing after a rainy day when the sunset is reflected on the water-filled terraces.
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