Shinano Town in northern Nagano transforms from snow country to a cycling and hiking destination every spring. The first two-day tour is on May 7-8 and will take cyclists to the mystical ninja town of Togakushi, where you can try local soba noodles and walk along the giant cedar trees of Togakushi Shrine. The next day, you’ll cycle to St. Cousair Winery, a scenic vineyard, restaurant and cafe overlooking mountains and valleys.
The second tour on May 21-22 starts at Kurohime where you’ll cycle to Lake Nojiri and take a guided forest therapy walk with a macrobiotic Japanese bento lunch. The next day you’ll cycle to the impressive Naena Falls before refreshing your tired legs at Akakura Onsen’s footbaths.
When: May 7-8, 21-22
Where: Shinanomachi, Nagano
Local sustainable brewery Baird Beer celebrates their eighth anniversary at their Shuzenji location tucked in Izu Peninsula’s countryside. Enjoy all-you-can-drink beer for ¥3,000, a cornhole challenge, live music and camping with family and friends at this spacious brewery and campsite. Baird Beer has also expanded their camping areas to include the Dark Sky site and West Coast site. The West Coast site includes RV and camping van sites and cabins.
When: June 4-5
Where: Shuzenji, Shizuoka
Active Okinawa is a new tour operator in the less-crowded northern part of Okinawa’s main island. Their tours are designed to get people off the resorts and enjoy a variety of adventures while exploring Okinawa’s pristine natural environment. They specialize in small groups, flexible tours while supporting local communities where they operate so participants can enjoy authentic experiences while meeting locals and enjoying their holidays. Enjoy stand-up paddle boarding, jungle hiking, river trekking and more.
When: All year
Where: Nago, Okinawa
Go back in time at this refurbished, luxurious lodge situated in the charming Narai-juku post town on the Nakasendo Trail. This lodge used to be a historic sake brewery and features a restaurant, sake tasting bar and a shared bath. While most resorts are inclusive, this accommodation encourages travelers to explore the local area by presenting guests with byaku fuda, cards introducing 100 local experiences.
Where: Narai, Nagano
Enjoy glamping at this new campsite at Hakuba Happo-One Ski Resort. From P Hakuba offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountains while remaining within walking distance of restaurants and hot springs. There are dining options as well using seasonal local ingredients. After a day of hiking, tennis, mountain biking or other green season activities, restore your body in one of four Finnish-style saunas.
Where: Hakuba, Nagano
Wake up to views of the Pacific Ocean at this resort in Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, a popular diving spot in Shikoku. This resort includes a stunning outdoor restaurant serving local seafood and organic ingredients (open to non-staying guests as well), luxurious rooms and a rotenburo (outdoor hot spring). An organic farm and residential housing is currently being built. Aside from diving, guests can enjoy fishing, looking for sea turtles, snorkeling and cycling.
Where: Ashizuri-Uwakai National Park, Kochi
This retreat is a welcome getaway embracing everything zen from meditation, rooftop yoga, rotenburo, and tofu-based vegetarian meals. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, this impressive and meticulously designed wooden hotel is perched on a ridge and offers 360-degree views of the forest. It is located along the 135th meridian, significant as it is the standard meridian for all of Japan, allowing precise times to be fixed. The resort is a perfect stop while journeying around the Seto Inland Sea.
Where: Awaji Island, Hyogo