Touring Japan can be such a rewarding experience for any nature-lover. But for a photophile (a person who loves photography), the feeling is other-worldly!
So, on my last trip, I explored the Fukushima and Yamagata Prefectures. Fukushima Prefecture, located in the Tohoku Region, boasts not only the third-largest land area in Japan but also the grandeur of nature. You'll find peaches, pears, and apples in almost every corner. You'll also find a similar terrain in Yamagata.
But it's the mountains, temples, and hot springs that make these Prefectures genuinely sensational.
To help you get a feel of my experience (I love sharing great things), let's dive into the areas I visited.
Ginzan Onsen, Japanese for "Silver Mountain Hot Spring," is a secluded hot spring town that sits amid the mountains of Yamagata. The area is a sight to behold, and there's no wonder it's regarded as one of Japan's most beautiful towns, with ancient ryokan (Japanese inns) situated beside the river.
One of the best moments to be in Ginzan Onsen is in the evening when the ryokans are all lit all, and the streets glow with gaslights. And in the winter, the heavy Japan snow decorates the rooftops and walkways, enhancing the scenery by the hundreds.
Ginzan Onsen, indeed, is a lovely sight to behold.
Oh, Yamadera, the stunning, scenic temple that sits amid the mountains northeast of Yamagata City. How the grounds extend out steeply, giving you a sightly view of the valleys below. And the trees, oh how beautiful they stand!
One of the best times to visit Yamadera is in the "Koyo," the time when the fall colors ideally bring out the beauty of the area. You will be stunned!
Dewa Sanzan means "three mountains of Dewa." Each of the three mountains has a shrine.
A journey to these mountains offers you a chance to refresh your mind, body, and soul. Why, the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan have been the site for mountain worshipers for over a millennium!
Each mountain represents a different phase of life: Mt. Haguro denotes birth, Mt. Gas-san death, and Mt Yudono rebirth. The mountains are typically visited in that order.
The areas surrounding these mountains are nature-packed, with walkways and trees on either side. In winter, it becomes difficult to walk through because of the thick snow. So summer and autumn are the best times to visit the three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan.
The unpaved main streets of Ouchijuku are beautiful spots to enjoy locally caught char fish roasted on sticks alongside soba noodles. Several shops, restaurants, and inns line up along the streets, making the place rather boisterous.
One of the most notable attractions in Ouchijuku is the principal inn for high-ranking government officials, which is now open to the public as a museum. If you desire to travel back in time for a glance into the elegant, traditional home decor of the Edo Period, the principal inn is the place to go.
Also notable are Ouchijuku's shrine and temple. The temple offers you an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the main street and surroundings, while the pleasant atmosphere around the quiet shrine makes for a sensational visit.
The JR Tadami Line is one of the most popular attractions in the Oku Aizu region in Fukushima Prefecture. Oku Aizu is a forest area with several mountains, and the Tadami line runs across to Niigata Prefecture.
The awesomeness of the Tadami Line lies in the beauty of the scenery as it passes through the rivers and forests. And did you know? The Tadami Line has been ranked amongst the top 5 most scenic lines. If you love nature photography on a train, then the Tadami Line is one you'd want to board.
You can capture picturesque spots any time of the year along the Tadami Line. And what's more? The ticket is incredibly cheap.