Japan is a country blessed with a plethora of things to see and do, and a range of incredible landscapes to appreciate. In saying that, some places may have you questioning if you really, truly are in the land of the rising sun or you've been whisked away to a spot on the opposite side of the globe! Come and discover these 10 spots that are most definitely in Japan -- but on first glances may have you thinking otherwise!
Where it really is: The Tottori Sand Dunes
Tottori's Sand Dunes are a major tourist attraction for the prefecture, and with good reason - they are the only sand dunes in Japan and have existed for over 100,000 years! Visitors can stroll out on the dunes themselves, take sand boarding lessons, or even go on a camel ride and appreciate the spectacular views.
Where it really is: Okuma Beach, Okinawa
If you're after a tropical beach vacation, Okinawa Prefecture has no shortage of stunning options to choose from. Azure waters, lush green foliage, and some incredible options for diving and snorkeling make it a getaway spot to remember - and one you'll want to keep coming back to.
Where it really is: Nagasaki's Huis Ten Bosch
Windmills? Check. Tulips? Check. Canals? Check. Nagasaki's Huis Ten Bosch really is a little slice of The Netherlands, and this may not come as a surprise given the city's trading history with the Dutch. The theme park has on-site hotels and various European-style eateries to really round out the experience.
The Arctic Circle
Where it really is: Onboard the Garinko II Icebreaker ship, Monbetsu, Hokkaido
As well as those tropical beaches down south, Japan also has an icy north in the winter months - so much so that the sea has ice floating on it! Tours are available on the Garinko II Icebreaker ship, where you can see this natural phenomenon up close. Pack your winter woollies - you'll need them!
Where it really is: Tokyo's Shin-Okubo
Korean Barbecue restaurants and nods to K-Pop abound in Tokyo's Shin-Okubo area, also known as Korea Town. This bustling part of the city will make you feel like you've taken the short flight over to Seoul without having to set foot out of Japan. For lovers of Korean cosmetic brands like Tony Moly and Etude House, you'll find stores selling their products, too.
Where it really is: Hakone's Little Prince Museum
Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture is a popular destination for its onsen culture, and there are a range of great museums here too. One of them is the Little Prince Museum, based around the famous children's book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The grounds are designed like a charming village in France, and there's also an on-site restaurant offering a range of delicious meals inspired by the story.
Where it really is: Venus Fort, Odaiba
This isn't Venice - it's actually the inside of the Venus Fort shopping mall in Odaiba, Tokyo! The mall is a shopaholic's paradise, with a range of both Japanese and international brands including Nike, Billabong, Zara, Diesel, and Polo Ralph Lauren to name a few. You'll also find several restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops available when you need a pick-me-up.
New York, USA
Where it really is: Odaiba's Statue of Liberty replica
Still in Odaiba, you'll also find a glimpse of the Big Apple - New York's famous Lady Liberty is here in replica form! How did Tokyo end up with its own Statue of Liberty? Back in 1998, France temporarily sent over a replica statue to commemorate the relationship between the two countries. It ended up being so beloved that a permanent replica went up in the year 2000!
Where it really is: British Gardens, Shuzenji Niji-no-Sato, Izu
Shizuoka's Shuzenji Niji-no-Sato is a leisure park which has both Western and Japanese inspired sections. As part of the Western section, you'll find an area that looks just like an English village. There are even floral arrangements designed like the Union Jack, and a double-decker red bus which has been turned into a cafe.
Where it really is: Arita Porcelain Park, Saga Prefecture
For pottery aficionados, Arita in Saga Prefecture is a must-visit. Regarded as the birthplace of pottery in Japan, you'll find both traditional and modern interpretations of this art form, as well as spots like Tozan Shrine which has its torii arch made from porcelain, too! The Arita Porcelain Park is a popular spot for visitors, and it's built like a traditional German village - including an impressive replica of Zwinger Palace.