We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Crista Priscilla (@cristapriscilla) shows us her favorite spots across Japan.
Isso Beach, Yakushima
There’s a reward in traveling far. In Yakushima, one of the remote islands of southern Japan, that reward comes in the form of long, white-sand beaches and pristine turquoise water — something that is rarely found on Japan’s main island.
It took me three train rides, two delayed flights, and an hourlong bus ride to get to this place. I stayed there in late summer, the perfect time to visit — when pink sunsets serve as afternoon delights and baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean. Every day ended with a relaxing dip in the ryokan’s onsen (Japanese traditional bath) overlooking the Pacific, followed by an abundant seafood dinner. This island is certainly worth traveling for.
I can hardly believe this place is only two hours from buzzing Tokyo. It’s hidden deep inside the lush Minakami mountains, and has survived modernization since Japan’s late Showa period. The ancient rotenburo (Japanese outdoor baths) are nestled in the river of Takara, and when you soak in them, the quietness of the surrounding forests, the calming sound of the running stream below, and the healing elements of the warm water suddenly envelop you in an indescribable peace. At dawn, early mist creeps down around the mountains, and, if you dip low inside the rotenburo, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the old Japan, far away from our hectic, modern days.
About an hour train ride from Shibuya sits this harbor city I dearly love. To me, Yokohama is an escape for when I tire of Tokyo. Its chilly sea breeze and myriad of European-influenced architecture are perhaps the reason why people are instantly more laid back.
Whenever I’m in Yokohama, I take an afternoon stroll through the famous Yamate neighborhood, where historic buildings from the early 1900s line the hilly streets. The walk ends at Harbor View Park, which overlooks the scenery of the city while a pink-toned sunset starts to seep slowly onto the horizon. Yokohama is also the home to rows of cherry blossom trees, a perfect hanami spot — absolutely stunning, quiet, and under the radar.
Yokohama English Garden
Although Yokohama is beautiful year round, it’s especially gorgeous during late spring and early summer when the roses bloom around the city.
In the English Garden, you’ll find yourself lost inside a vast labyrinth of the most vivid and fragrant roses. The sight continues down Yamate main street and up to Harbor View Park, where every corner looks like a page from a children’s storybook.
People usually go to Takayama for Shirakawago, the famously preserved Japanese historical village. But I always avoid the crowd and opt for a more off-the-beaten-track travel experience.
On one occasion, I headed northwest of Takayama to the Okuhida area, where the area was thick with snow and fenced with white forests. It was snowing hard that morning, and nothing was more comforting than soaking inside the hot onsen overlooking the frosty Hotaka mountains. Before leaving, I made sure to have a quick stop at Hida Folk Village in the city center, a miniature of Shirakawago minus the packed crowd, and another walk through the Old Town on my way back. Only then was my craving for historical Japan satisfied.