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Ourdoor Garden

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Bicycle along the lake near Mt. Fuji
A wild monkey family bathing in a hot spring during the winter and are enjoying a hot bath.
family seal, Kamon
Hot spring Ryokan inspired Hayao Miyazaki

Nature and Outdoor

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Page notes: “For outdoor sports, please see my "Sports/Motorsports" section.”

National Parks

Japan offers a range of landscapes and views throughout the changing seasons and geographies. Depending on where you are and when you travel, you can see everything from emerald-green oceans to snow-capped mountains. The nation’s 34 National Parks can all take your breath away.

Check out the National Parks of Japan and the Ministry of the Environment website to discover the beauty of the country’s natural surroundings.

National Parks
Japanese Zen gardens

Japanese Garden, Zen Gardens

Influenced by Buddhist and Shinto philosophies, a Japanese garden symbolizes tranquility. Plants, rocks, water, and seasonal floral blossoms are used as elements to create a Zen environment. I truly believe it's simply spectacular. In this map by Oniwa, you will find 1400 traditional gardens available to tourists throughout Japan. You can browse 20,0000 photos with more information about the gardens and their home pages.

Japanese Garden Map 

From Wisteria to Hydrangeas, Japan is home to beautiful flowers in every season. Even if you miss magnificent Cherry blossoms, you can always find a place to enjoy beautiful flowers. Live Japan has a well-developed list of the 20 most beautiful flowers in Japan with details about when and where to see them.

Flower gardens
Fruit picking

Fruit Picking

Fruit picking is one of the most popular family activities in Japan. Enjoy super sweet and juicy fruits and the great outdoors by picking fruit the Japanese way. The most popular fruits to pick are strawberries, cherries, peaches, apples, grapes, pears, and oranges.


Japan Fruits/The Way of Japan 

Hot springs

Hot Springs/Onsen

There are some pretty impressive statistics on hot springs, or ”Onsen” in Japan. There are approximately 3000 hot spring resorts and over 20,000 hot spring facilities throughout the country. Over 130 million people visit them every year. 


I personally believe that going to an Onsen resort is one of the best ways to experience Japan. Each hot spring has different mineral content and has unique efficacy. Japanese people especially enjoy outdoor Onsen in mountain regions or by the sea. According to Nippon Onsen Research Institute, the top 10 areas for Onsen are Hokkaido, Shizuoka, Nagano, Oita, Kagoshima, Aomori, Gunma, Kumamoto, Fukushima, and Niigata prefectures.

Recommended Resources

  • JW-Web Magazine can tell you some of the most famous Onsen.

  • Tofugu can give you the names of places called "hitou," which are not so well-known, hidden-gem onsen if you want to stay away from the crowd.

  • IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIP: When planning your onsen trip, please see my “Art & Design" section if you have a tattoo. 

    • Tattoo Friendly shows you many places that are tattoo-friendly. 

    • The Real Japan  has an informative article about finding tattoo-friendly Onsen.

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Guided & Group Tours

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If you like the convenience of joining a tour or economizing with package deals, you can search your destinations or activities in the following travel companies. They are the most prominent and reputable companies in Japan. They have English web pages. 

Wild animals


Wild Animals

There are many wild animals indigenous to Japan. If you'd like to interact with animals without trekking deep into the forest, there are several easy ways to do so. I highly recommend snow monkeys in Nagano and deer in Nara or Hiroshima. You can also find islands of rabbits or cats. 

Recommended Resources:

Japanese dogs

Japanese Dogs

Japanese dogs like Shiba and Akita have been gaining popularity outside Japan in recent years. If you’d like to, you can meet these dogs in their homeland and natural habitat while traveling in Japan.



You can meet Kishu Dogs in Wakayama. If you are not be familiar with Kishu dogs, they are medium-size dogs who were used for hunting wild animals in the Kishu region, known today as Wakayama and Mie. You can visit the Wakayamajo Park Zoon 

Animal Cafes

Animal Cafés

You'll find different types of animal cafes around Japan: Owl cafés, Shiba dog cafés, cat cafés, hedgehog cafés, reptile cafés, and more.  Below I have focused on "hogo" animal cafes. These cafés have a critical mission: to help animals get rescued and find their permanent homes. If you can stop by and support their operations, the proceeds will help to sustain the facilities.

Cat Cafés 

  • Café Love-Lab
    The first Hogo Neko Café is located in Fukushima. It opened in October 2014. They have been able to facilitate over 1000 cats to be fostered or adopted, and they are working to keep a 100% foster/adoption rate. Their mission is: no cats left behind.  Some cats have disabilities, such as Anzu with cerebral paralysis and Merumo who is a two-legged kitty due to abuse she received. Love-Lab helps them to live comfortably, but the end goal is to find them all a permanent home.


  • Cat Café Orphanage: Neko no Ma in Kamakura, Kanagawa generally has around ten cats living at times. They live in a comfortable space under medical supervision by a local vet. Since early 2020, they have fostered/adopted over 100 cats. The café is near the Great Buddha. Be sure to stop by if you visit the beautiful Kamakura. 


Dog Cafés 

Animal shelters & Zoos

Shelter & Zoos

Below I’ve listed animal educational facilities, shelters, and zoo whose missions are to rescue animals. 


  • Oouchiyama Zoo Is a private zoo in Mie Prefecture. There are 70 different kinds of animals. Half of the 400 animals here are rescued. 


  • The Nogeyama Zoo in Yokohama City, Kanagawa opened its doors in April 1951. Over 50,000,000 visitors have since come to enjoy the park. They've made history by breeding rare animals in Japan. One of their critical missions is to rescue injured or sick wild animals.   


  • The Kushiro City Zoo in Hokkaido has brought 50-100 injured or sick wild animals to this zoo to be rescued. Many of them are owls, eagles, hawks, and falcons. They have also recovered seals nd a few other types of mammals.


  • Tokiwa Park Zoo in Yamaguchi rescue injured and sick wild animals. They have local animals such as Japanese macaques and owls. 


  • Adventure World in Wakayama is a large zoo with an aquarium and a theme park combined. They are one of the most popular destinations in the region. The best attraction is the Giant Pandas. Their primary mission is to study and breed this rare animal, so they don't heavily advertise their panda tour.

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Working animals

Animals at Work 

  • Cat Station Master. Nitama, the station master, works all day at Kishi station of Wakayama Electric Railway.  


  • Cat Station Master, Basu, Love, and Peach work at Ashinomaki Onsen Station of Aizu Railway.

Animal live cameras “Live”!

Animal Live Cameras








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Torii, Japanese traditional gate or arch in temples and shrines
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