Sure, Tokyo and Kyoto are nice, but this northeastern city is their favorite place to travel to Japan.
When you think about traveling to Japan, the first places that come to mind are probably the most popular: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and maybe Hiroshima. But Japan is a large country with a huge range of beautiful off-the-beaten-path destinations, and it seems that this knowledge is reaching more and more travelers.
american newspaper The New York Times recently released list of 53 places to visit in 2023and second on the list was a Japanese citybut no one expected it. It was the second most recommended destination for 2023 after London Morioka, the capital of Iwate Prefecture in Northeast Japan.
▼ Morioka Castle Ruins Park
Morioka is surrounded by mountains and crossed by many riversso despite not having many famous places to visit, its beauty sets it apart as the top destination in Japan for 2023. The New York Times highlighted Morioka Castle Ruins Park in fall, dressed in the reds and oranges of fall leaves as a particularly beautiful scene.
▼ Some of the mountains around Morioka
The New York Times described Morioka as a beautiful place for leisurely walks without the crowds and a quick train ride from Tokyo. I liked the paper too a mixture of city architecture from the Taisho era (early 20th century), old Japanese-style inns and modern hotelsand the natural beauty of the city’s many rivers also played a major role.
Morioka is also famous for wanko soba, which is an experience in itself, and The New York Times mentioned numerous restaurants in the city, including a jazz cafe with a 40-year history. Within an hour’s drive, you can also visit the fantastic hot springs, although many locals will tell you that there is an even better one just one stop away by train.
▼ Wanko Soba is served in individual bowls consisting of such small portions.
Due to its high ranking by a world-renowned newspaper, Morioka is expecting an influx of tourists this year, and deservedly so! This would be a great place to stop and slow down after a hectic tour of Tokyo.
If you’re wondering here is the full top 10:
1. London, UK
2. Morioka, Japan
3. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, USA
4. Kilmartin Glen, Scotland
5. Auckland, New Zealand
6. Palm Springs, USA
7. Kangaroo Island, Australia
8. Vjosa River, Albania
9. Accra, Ghana
10. Tromso, Norway
The only other Japanese city to make the list was Fukuoka, Japan, which ranked 19th. Fukuoka Prefecture itself has become a popular place to move to, so maybe they’re up to something!
Source: NHK news by Hachim Kiko, The New York Times, End of Time
Top image: Pakutaso
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