This Is the Off-the-Beaten Destination You Should Add to Your Japan Bucket List

It's full of stunning natural beauty!


With so many amazing destinations to choose from, one trip to Japan is undoubtedly not enough to get the full experience. So to help you make the most out of your next vacation, here's a tip: Add a day tour to the countryside to complement your usual Tokyo-Kyoto itinerary.


One of the rural spots you can visit is the picturesque Mie Prefecture. Here are just some of the attractions you can expect to find:


Aoyama Kogen
Kachiji, Iga City, Mie Prefecture
Contact: +81-595-54-1321 (Iga City Sightseeing Information Center inside Menard Aoyama Resort)
Open 24 hours daily.
How to get there: It's a 24-kilometer drive heading north on National Route 165 and Prefecture Route 512 from Ise Expressway Hisai IC.


Marvel at these picture-worthy white windmills that are 75-meters high.


If you like long, scenic drives, then Aoyama Kogen is the perfect getaway for you. Featuring around 90 windmills near the 800-meter summit, the 22-kilometer long sightseeing road at the border of Iga City and Tsu City is definitely a journey you shouldn't miss. Add to that the strong winds and the amazing view in the higher lands--since there are not so many tall trees--that will make you feel like you're driving through air. There are also pavements and spaces for picnics along the route for when you want to take a break and grab a bite.


The road going north from the Wind Farm offers a lot of relaxing greenery.


The scenery of the three wings of the windmill turning with a low sound is a spectacle in itself.


Aside from the breathtaking road trip, Aoyama Kogen is also a great subtropical destination that will indulge all your senses because of its beautiful scenery, delicious dishes, and great hot springs.


During the day, these German chamomiles herbs which have been loved from a long time ago in Europe are a sight to behold. They have a sweet apple-like scent. At night, you can look up at the sky full of stars.


If you are lucky, you might even see a fox! Be careful not to touch them, though.


Menard Aoyama Resort
2356 Kiryu, Iga City, Mie Prefecture
Contact: +81-595-54-1326
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


The herb garden in Menard Aoyama Resort is a theme park where 300 kinds of fragrant herbs grow. It's best to plan your visit around mid-June to July when the garden is open for longer hours due to their festivals. This year, the Chamomile Festival was held until June 17, while the Lavender Festival happens from June 16 to July 16.

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The field blossoms with lavenders in July.


Witness a sea of fireflies lighting up the surroundings at night!


There are four most recommended dishes at Menard Aoyama Resort. The first is 
Margherita Extra (¥1,000) at Pasta and Pizza House Mustunicola which is made using authentic Italian ingredients.


Margherita Extra (¥1,000)


The second is the 
Matsusaka Beef Sauce Pasta (¥1,200), also at Pasta and Pizza House Mustonicola, which features the rich-tasting Matsuzaka Beef, a beef brand produced in Mie.


A rich dish with Matsusaka beef meat sauce


The third recommendation is Herb Garden's 
lavender ice cream for ¥380 which is created using a lot of lavender extract. This gives it a refreshing taste and a nice floral scent.


Lavender ice cream (¥380)


Last is this 
herb tea (¥550) at Herb Garden which can be enjoyed hot or iced. There are many blends you can choose from, including beautiful skin blend and relaxing blend.


Herb tea at Herb Garden (¥550)


Shirazaki En
2643 Sata, Hakusan, Tsu City, Mie Prefecture
Contact: +81-59-262-4126
Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, except Mondays.


Enjoy the hot springs with the majestic view of the windmills.


End your day trip by soaking in these hot springs at Shirazaki En which is located at the foot of Aoyama Kogen. The water in the hot springs here is alkali which is popular for its relaxing and skin-revitalizing benefits. You can see windmills from the free flowing hot spring tub outside.


Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokai Walker™ (24 April 2018)


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