Miyako Island

Japan is a country blessed with a significantly large variety in what nature has to offer, meaning that the Land of the Rising Sun has something to offer and appease all tastes throughout the entire year and its four glorious seasons.

One common characteristic that Japan shares with most of its Southeast Asian neighbors is an abundance of beautiful beaches and small islands that make perfect getaway spots for relaxation and fun. And let’s face it – who doesn’t enjoy lazing around in the sun on a clean sandy beach with the infinite sights of the Pacific Ocean right at one’s feet?

Miyako Island is one of the best destinations Japan has to offer to its locals and tourists when it comes to taking advantage of the blazing summer heat and desire to spent it at a beach. Miyako Island is commonly referred to as Miyakojima, lies roughly 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the main island of Okinawa and belongs to the same Okinawa Prefecture. Miyako Island is the fourth largest island in the entire prefecture and is generally known for its status as one of the best diving and snorkeling spots in that part of Japan. Population wise the island is rather small and lacks any significant mountains or other forms of heights and is thus covered in a few towns, many restaurants and sugar cane fields. Tourism is the main industry of the island and it shows in its wide offering of accommodation, restaurants and activities to enjoy when visiting.

The beaches offered on Miyakojima are often referred to as some of the most scenic and prolific throughout all of Japan. The two best beaches are called Yonaha-Maehama and Yoshino Kaigan respectively. Yonaha-Maehama beach is located in the southeastern corner of the island and is suited for those looking for some fun and relaxation. Spanning over 7 kilometers, the beach proves itself ideal for engaging in water sports, swimming in the crystal clear water or simply lying at the beach to enjoy the famously stunning sunsets of Miyako.

The other contender for the spot of the best beach on the island is Yoshino Kaigan beach. Yoshino beach has a bit of a different target demographic than Yonaha-Maehama as it is generally considered the best spot on the island to SCUBA dive and snorkel in. Visitors can enjoy the colorful underwater wildlife of the island with some rented gear and relax at the picturesque beach afterwards.

First image by keiko.com on flickr.

Second image by reefcentral.com

 

Minakami, Outdoor Sports Paradise

If you’re planning to visit Japan soon and you’re looking for a more exciting and thrilling adventure than a city tour, Minakami is the place to go for you. Minakami is a resort town in the mountainous region of Japan which is relatively near Tokyo. This is considered an outdoor paradise because majority of the popular Japanese outdoor activities can be done within this area. Going to Minakami any time of the year is worth it since they offer exciting outdoor activities in any weather. At the beginning of the April, after the snow melts, it is an ideal time to try any of the water sports in the area. The town offers whitewater rafting, canyoning and kayaking to name a few water sports. Whitewater rafting is not for the faint hearted, it involves manoeuvring through the river under rough water conditions. This activity may seem extremely difficult but there are beginner courses available with English speaking instructors. Canyoning on the other hand is fusion of swimming and hiking, it involves traversing down the river with only your body. This is one of Minakami’s most popular summer attractions. Kayaking is ofcourse available for those who prefer a more laid back boat ride along the river.

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Hot Spring in Minakami

During summer water sports aren’t the only thrills available, Minakami also offers bungee jumping. Near the town center at Suwakyo Bridge, a 42 meter fall is available for all adrenaline junkies out there. Hiking is also one of the main outdoor activities which involves a breath taking trail through Mount Tanigawa. The mountain is a clean green during spring while in autumn it showcases a myriad of colors ranging from red, orange and yellow. Mountain biking is also popular as there a couple of good trails available for the cycling enthusiasts. Come winter time there are snowboarding and skiing resorts available for those who wish to try the white powdery snow of Japan. Minakami is clearly a centre for all outdoor activities year round and it pays to be within the area. It is just important to note which activities are available since they differ year round depending on the season. If you though that Minakami couldn’t get any better for an outdoor enthusiast then you might have not known that this town is also known for one of the Japanese favourite activities. Soaking in the hot springs of Minakami is a popular attraction within the region, it is one of top four hot springs available in the Gunma region of Japan.

Image by Japan Guide

 

Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan

The winter sports in Japan has recently been gaining popularity in recent times, it has long been underrated as a winter sports destination. The geography of the country is mountainous, so when winter hits, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of skiing and snowboarding destinations available. The snowfall in Japan is heavy and the powder conditions of the snow is usually ideal which makes it such a great spot for Skiing and snowboarding. This can be attributed to the Siberian air mass which is the coldest in the world, because of this Japan has colder temperatures than even European countries.

The Skiing and Snowboarding season of Japan usually starts December and ends around April. It is recommended for enthusiasts to go during January to February since temperature isn’t as cold, not only the temperature but snow conditions are also just right at that time of the year. Skiing is the more popular option among the Japanese these days but snowboarding is catching on, and with a trip to Japanese skiing resort you’ll sure to be able to try both. There are over 500 resorts available in Japan and a lot of them come with a hot spring. Just the thought of skiing or snowboarding during the day while enjoying a hot spring bath after is the greatest allure of these Japanese resorts. Other than enjoying the hot springs after a hard day of skiing, there are plenty of other activities that can be done. One can enjoy the famous ice sculpting activities or the traditional tea ceremonies. If these don’t appeal to your taste then simply a good meal of traditional Japanese food and drinks such as sushi and sake will surely give you an experience you will not forget.

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 Skiing and snowboarding first-timers have no problem trying out the sport since rentals are common-place at resorts which makes trying so much easier. There also other rental options such as snow bikes and snow scooters. One also has the option to use the skiing facilities for half-day if schedule or budget does not permit a lengthy stay. Japan is definitely becoming one of the premier winter sports centre in the world, it is a trip that should not be missed. Tokyo, Osaka and Okinawa aren’t the only places that offer a great experience of Japanese culture. Skiing destinations such as Nisesko and Rusutsu are also to be enjoyed in a trip to Japan.

Image by Business Week