Japan is every otaku and nature lover’s dream destination.
If you have the luck to get there, where do you start?
Here are 12 destinations to start your dream vacation.
Rockhounding Japan (Getting Started)
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Let’s start with Japan’s most iconic landmark.
Everyone knows about Mount Fuji.
There have been several pictures and paintings of it.
Every tourist destination will have this listed on their must-see tourist list for Japan. It is easy to see why.
Mount Fuji is a beautiful, active volcano. It is also the tallest mountain in Japan, standing at 12,389 ft. Everyone wants to come and take a look at Japan’s national treasure.
This beauty is made of basaltic rock.
No other mountain in Japan is made of this. Mount Fuji can be found in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures near the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
And rest assured, Mount Fuji is practically dominant despite it being listed as active. The bus is the best way to get to Mount Fuji.
Here is a little spot for those who like nature and horror. There’s something spooky about Aokigahara.
There have been many stories. It is said that people go missing or worse here. Still, Aokigahara is really popular for ghost hunters and the curious alike.
But what is it really? For starters, the forest sits at the foot of an active volcano.
This makes the floor of the forest made of iron-rich volcanic rock. That fact in itself is rather amazing, considering you wouldn’t think of a volcano at Aokigahara.
Mineral deposits make it hard for people to use a compass the right way, adding to the spooky atmosphere the forest is notorious for.
Because it is easy to get lost in Aokigahara, there are ropes to help people find their way back to the trail. You can just drive to the forest.
Japan is known for its hot springs or onsen. Everyone loves an onsen or two.
You have seen the onsen in many anime, Manga, TV shows, and movies. There are many reasons why. People see the hot springs as romantic or a way to relax.
Some even go for health reasons. The latter makes sense when you look at the properties in the water.
It makes sense since Japan is located in the Ring of Fire.
Because of this, there are plenty of hot springs to go around. Japan has both man-made and natural to choose from.
Some nature lovers will argue that natural is much better. Looking into the water of any hot spring is easy to understand why.
According to research, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and even radium can be found in the water.
No wonder health nuts would fall madly in love with Japan. You can take trains, buses, taxis, or cars to get to any hot springs of your choosing.
Japan has many other mountains than Mount Fuji.
Mount Haku is one example.
This dormant stratovolcano’s name translates to “White Mountain”.
What is so great about it?
For starters, Mount Haku is one of the Three Holy Mountains. (Mount Fuji and Mount Tate are the other two.)
You can find this mountain at the border of the Gifu, Fuki, and Ishikawa prefectures.
Most tourists will take the path through the latter to get to Haku. You can access the trail through the other two prefectures.
This mountain isn’t for the faint at heart.
You have to be a skilled mountaineer to master this trail. If you do decide to take the hike, you will be rewarded with andesite, basaltic andesite, dacite on this mountain.
Your best bet for getting to Mount Haku is taking the Hokutestu shuttle bus.
This is the third and final mountain in the Three Holy Mountains.
If Mount Fuji has the beauty that all tourists seek and Mount Haku has the challenge that mountaineers are looking for, what does Mount Tate have?
Well, hikers will love this one. It’s not too easy and not too hard.
It’s the happy medium that most hikers are looking for. You will be able to find Mount Tate at Tateyama, Toyama.
You’re going to want to bring your own water for the hike.
There is no water on the trail.
However, you will find granite and gneiss as your prize to collect for your rock and mineral-loving needs.
You can either get to Mount Tate by car or train.
In English, Jigokudani means “Hell Valley”.
The name comes from boiling water and steam coming out of the cracks from the frozen ground.
This place is surrounded by cliffs and less than kind forests.
However, this place isn’t as bad as the name suggests.
First, there is a park full of monkeys in the snow.
That’s right. If you are an animal lover, you can see real, living monkeys in person.
They can even see them bathing in the natural onsen.
How can a frozen land have any rocks or minerals that you are interested in?
Well, there are the cliffs to think about. Granitic rocks can be found all over the valley.
It would make sense since Japan is in the Ring of Fire.
You can either get to Jigokudani by a twenty to forty-minute walk through the forest or a ten to fifteen-minute walk through the parking lot.
The forest requires taking a bus to the Kanbayashi Onsen from Yudanaka Station, Shibu Onsen, or Nagano Station.
The parking lot requires a narrow walk through Shibu Onsen.
Here is another mountain you can go and visit.
Mount Aso has the honor of being Japan’s largest active volcano, along with being the largest in the world. You can find it in Kyushu.
In recent years, Mount Aso erupted in 2016 and this year in 2021 alone.
For the safety of visitors, the crater is roped off due to poisonous gases, bad weather, and volcanic activity.
The best thing to do is to check volcanic activity before you go visit.
When you do go visit, it will be worth it.
You will get to see beautiful volcanic rocks in various colors. You can look, but you can’t touch. You can take a thirty to a forty-minute bus ride to the crater.
Are you interested in exploring the caves in Japan? Abukumado Cave is the perfect place to start.
The inside is massive.
Rock lovers and adventure seekers will go crazy about this place.
Abukumado Cave was first discovered in 1969.
Rock lovers will come to enjoy 3000 miles of limestone around them.
Take in the 80 million years of formation that it took for nature to create such beauty.
The streams have stalactites and stalagmites in them.
There are no days when tourism in this cave is closed.
If you are feeling really adventurous, you can take the 120-meter long exploration course to the narrow side of the tunnel.
Take the Kanmata Station along the JR Banetsu East Line and then take a twenty-minute taxi ride to your destination.
Akiyoshi Limestone Cave
Here is another cave for you to explore.
Akiyoshi Limestone Cave is Japan’s longest and largest limestone cave.
You will enjoy nine kilometers of touring.
Akiyoshi has so much space and is really easy to get around.
Plus, there is plenty of light for you to get around in.
The paths and steps are level and well-paved.
This cave will be perfect for beginning cave explorers.
For 300 yen, you can get a challenge with more slippery and a little more challenging paths to navigate.
You can get into the cave via an elevator.
Then it’s a five to ten-minute walk to the observation deck.
There is a plateau that comes with it.
You can see both if you go to either Yamaguchi or Hagi and then take the bus or drive.
There are no trains to take you to this destination.
Rock formations at Kitayamazaki
You know that rocks can be a work of art, right?
Kitayamazaki has what you are looking for.
You are going to be by the sea for this one.
All you have to do is take a boat and look at the rock formations.
There’s nothing more simple and beautiful.
You will get to enjoy the view for five miles.
Take as many pictures as you want from the observation decks.
They are just as beautiful as Mount Fuji itself.
The pictures of the cliffs speak for themselves.
The cliffs are made of chert. The best way to get here is by car.
We come back to the mountains for this one.
Mount Iwate is another stratovolcano in Japan.
This is the highest mountain in the area. Next to Mount Fuji, Mount Iwate makes the list of the 100 Most Beautiful Mountains in Japan.
People can proudly call this mountain Mount Fuji’s twin.
The more adventurous types will love various trails.
You have seven trails to choose from.
At the top, there are several craters to check out. One of them is a lake called Lake Onawashiro.
You can get to Mount Iwate by bus, taxi, and car.
Tottori Sand Dunes
Finally, we come to the sand dunes.
This is Tottori’s most famous tourist attraction.
You can find it along the coast of the Sea of Japan.
The Tottori Sand Dunes are part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park.
The tides will always shape the coastline, showing off the beauty of nature.
You can even pay a little visit to the Sand Museum.
What is so great about sand?
Well, sand has many minerals in it.
First of all, sand is glass.
The sand in this area has clay minerals as well.
Usually, sand has things like quartz and sanidine. You can take the bus (city bus or Kirin Jishi Loop Bus) or a taxi.
Japan is more than anime and manga.
The country boasts its own beauty for the world to see.
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