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Top Scenic Drives in Japan

For most foreign tourists, driving is not the form of transportation that comes to mind when thinking about Japan. While the high speed bullet trains get the job much quicker, driving gives sightseeing a new perspective and makes it easier to get off the beaten trail. From volcanoes to farmland, there is plenty to see on a road trip around Japan. Stock up on gas and explore the parts of Japan that should not go unnoticed.

  • Kaimondake Volcano in Satsuma

    Kaimondake Volcano in Satsuma

    Kaimondake Volcano in Satsuma

    At 924 meters high, the Kaimondake volcano rises above the Satsuma Peninsula in the southern area of Japan. Kaimondake’s pointed peak shadows Mt. Fuji and it frequently gets referred to as Mt. Fuji’s southern sister. However, Kaimondake deserves its own fame. The last eruption was in 885 and is safe to climb, and in much less time than it takes to climb Mt. Fuji. Ibusuki, with its viridescent farmland and hot springs, is the best area to see Kaimondake. The dark, conical formation has a striking contrast with the farming landscape and bright yellow sunflowers in summer.

  • Drive Along Mt Aso's Winding Roads

    Drive Along Mt Aso's Winding Roads

    Drive Along Mt Aso's Winding Roads

    Japan has three major mountain ranges and multiple peaks for hikers to climb. A trip to Japan would not be complete without a perilous-feeling trip up a winding road and the ascent up to Mt. Aso can feel a bit precarious indeed. Mt. Aso and its sky blue Nakadake crater are a must for any traveler in Kumamoto. The Nakadake crater is one of the only places in Japan to experience active volcanic activity up close and personal. Driving up the peak uses relatively easy directions with major roads and many people opt to skip the bus for an adrenaline rush in their own car.
    Since Mt. Asao is still an active volcano, the peak is occasionally closed due to poisonous gases and volcanic activity. Be sure to double check before entering.

  • Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line

    Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line

    Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line

    Ever thought about driving across water? The Aqua Line, or the Trans Tokyo Bay Highway, cuts across the Tokyo Bay and into an underground tunnel from Kawasaki in Kanagawa to Kisarazu in Chiba. The Aqua Line has been open for twenty years and is still one of the most popular drives for both the locals in Tokyo and curious out of towners. The Umihotaru rest house is the focal point of the Aqua Line. A resting point in the middle of the sea, visitors can see the Tokyo Skytree, the Yokohama cityline as well as the Yokohama ship ports and airplanes flying to and from Haneda from observation decks. There is a toll entering and exiting the Kisarazu side at the controversial price of 3,090 yen. However, the Aqua Line is a rite of passage for the road tripper in Japan and cannot be missed.

  • Nirai Kanai Bridge In Okinawa

    Nirai Kanai Bridge In Okinawa

    Nirai Kanai Bridge In Okinawa

    Of course Okinawa is known for its peaceful seaside views and lush greenery but where is the best place to see these sights? The Nirai Kanai bridge is the most famous bridge in Nanjo, in southern Okinawa. The bridge is less than a mile long but provides a view of the ocean on one side and a vast forest on the other. The bridge is actually a connection of the Nirai and Kanai bridges and is used to reach either end of the Nanjo coast. Too distracted by the majestic view? Be safe and check out the observation deck at the top of the tunnel. It is also possible to walk or cycle along the bridge, on a separated sidewalk.

  • Yamagata Towards Sakata

    Yamagata Towards Sakata

    Yamagata Towards Sakata

    Located in northern Yamagata prefecture, Sakata might not be on every tourist must see list but is still a peaceful place to relax by the sea. The port town is reminiscent of old Japan with its Edo style storehouses and restaurants. Sakata is one of the best places to experience a small, friendly Japanese town very much off the beaten path. It is difficult to access with the best way being a small road trip from Yamagata city. The drive up from Yamagata is picturesque, with its farmland and winding mountains.

  • Fuji Five Lakes

    Fuji Five Lakes

    Fuji Five Lakes

    By far the most famous drive outside of Tokyo is around Mt. Fuji’s five lakes. Lake Motosu is the most prominent lake and is featured on both the 5,000 yen and 1,000 yen note. Best known for its reflection of Mt. Fuji, Lake Motosu can get popular in the wintertime, when the clear skies and snow capped peak create the best view. Driving, rather than taking the bus, is a more personal way to explore the lakes. Get there early to avoid the crowds!

    Kaimondake Volcano
    Address
    Kagoshima Pref. Ibusukishi Kaimonjucchou
    Phone
    0993325566
    Nirai Kanai Bridge 
    Address
    Okinawa Pref. Nanjoushi Chinen Chinen
    Phone
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