My Japan Bucket List… True Taste Tokyo Recommends

We asked some of our writers at True Taste Tokyo what is on their Japan Bucket List, and we will share their dream destinations with you in our ongoing series.  First up, world traveler and language student, originally from Shanghai, Ms. Saki Akane. 

Everyone Needs a Japan Bucket List

There are so many interesting places in Japan that you can visit  for a whole year and only scratch the surface. These endless travel opportunities are the main reason I fell in love with this country.

Spring: there are cherry blossom activities. Summer: there are a variety summer festivals and lovely beaches. Autumn: time to visit some national parks and enjoy the red and gold leaves. Winter: enjoy a nice onsen or go skiing at the famous skiing resorts in Hokkaido and Nagano.

Here is my bucket list of where to travel in Japan. Reflecting my passions– my list includes art, design, nature and history.

 1. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

21 century museum
Photo from 21 Century Museum Official Website

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is based in Kanazawa, Japan. Kanazawa is in the middle part of Japan. This innovative facility is not a typical museum.  Inside you will also find a library and several workshops.

“The Swimming Pool” project is one of the famous must-see spots in the museum. You can stand at the bottom of the swimming pool inside the swimming pool and experience the water above. If you like art, design, and architecture, this museum is a must-visit spot in Japan.

Getting there:  Access and Directions

2. The Hakone Open-air Museum

hakone open air museum
Photo from Hakone Open Air Museum

The Hakone Open-air Museum is located in Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa. It was built in 1969 as the first outdoor museum in Japan. The Open Air Museum combines natural beauty and sculpture. If you prefer modern art or want to experience something a bit different this is a fantastic spot. Same as The 21t Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the Hakone Open-air Museum is on my top must visit list in Japan.

Getting There: Access and Directions 

3. Benesse Art Site Naoshima

benesse art site naoshima
Photo from Benesse Art Site Naoshima official website

Naoshima is an island with multiple design museums and lots of modern architecture. The island is in Kagawa Prefecture. I found out about Naoshima because of one of my favourite Japanese artists, Yayoi Kusama.

Naoshima Pumpkin Photo by Shibuya246
Naoshima Pumpkin Photo by Shibuya246

Her famous art uses dots to represent herself. She also uses pumpkins as a part of her art. There are couple large pumpkin sculptures with her signature dots around the world. One of those pumpkins is proudly displayed on Naoshima. The art pieces and architecture on the island are surrounded by the Seitou Inland Sea. If you want to avoid the popular sightseeing spots full of tourists, Naoshima is a perfect place to relax and enjoy art.

Getting There: Access and Directions

4. Hashima Island

 Gunkajima Photo from Google maps hashima-island
Photo from Google

 Hashima (Gunkanjima) is located in southern Japan, an abandoned island with buildings  surrounded by the sea. During WWII, people discovered coal on the island, at that time, they built huge accommodations for coal workers. Later the industry on the island closed down and finally, the whole island was abandoned. Now the local government reopened the island for travelers. You can go there by joining a local travel agency tour. One company offering tours is Gunkanjima Concierge.

The island has become popular for photographers, urban explorers and people who are interested in the history of this “mystery” island. The island has also been used in films the most famous probably being the Jamese Bond, blockbuster, Skyfall.

5. Shimanami-kaido (Nishiseto Expressway)

Japan Bucket List for Cyclists Photo from Shimanami Kaido official website
Photo from Shimanami Kaido official website

This is a popular tourist spot for cycling lovers. If you love to travel by bike then this route needs to be added to your Japan bucket list. The Shimanami Kaido connects multiple small islands, the whole expressway including different bridges that across the Seto Inland Sea. The view is incredible there, combining the sea, nature and each individual island. Special Bike routes making traveling her a fantastic experience for both serious and beginner cyclists.

Above are just a few of the spots on my Japan bucket list. I hope you enjoyed reading about them and maybe even adding them to your own must-see travel plan. If you have other great hidden gem spots to recommend, share them in the comments.