By Jane Woodhams
Last updated on: November 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo is a whole new world to explore. Here are some of our favourite things to do beyond Japan's busy capital.
Take a (skinny) dip in an onsen
Get ready to shake off any insecurities because this experience can only be had in your birthday suit.
Japan is famous for its public baths, and Saki-no-yu in Shirahama, Wakayama prefecture, is said to be one of the oldest in the country at more than 1300 years old.
Once favoured by emperors for its reported therapeutic benefits, the unassuming little building perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean offers gender-separated pools of differing temperatures, all in the open air. Bring a towel and enjoy the ocean view for just Y500.
Once your fingers and toes have sufficiently turned to prunes, get an energy boost just down the road in the form of an onsen tamago, or hot spring egg. The elderly woman who sells these delicacies has been doing so for generations.
Useful info: Saki-no-yu is closed Wednesdays. Opening hours change throughout the year.
Play with a hedgehog at an animal café, or island
Cat cafes have been around for a while now, but have you ever been to a hedgehog café? Owls, bunnies, dogs, snakes, goats – if you can pet it, you can almost guarantee you will find it in a café dotted around one of Japan’s major cities. Most animal cafes charge an entry fee, which often includes a free drink or two.
If a café isn’t enough, you can always take a trip to Tashiro-jima, a small island off the Honshu mainland which has in recent years been overrun with cats, or nearby Usagi Shima (Rabbit Island).
Hot tip: If you do venture to a hedgehog café, wear the gloves provided to handle them. Your fingers can look giant, juicy mealworms to a hungry hedgehog, and these little guys have sharp teeth.