With the rise of coronavirus outbreak in japan, making it the 2nd most affected country in the world, is Japan still safe to travel? What if you already bought your air tickets and booked your hotels, and you don’t want to cancel your trip? In this blog post, I’m going to share with you Japan Top 5 Places to Travel Despite of Coronavirus Outbreak.
As of February 10, 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reports 161 known cases of novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV (link in Japanese). Of these, 135 are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama bay.
Sounds scary? But think again. In fact, I just came back from Japan last week, and Japan is perfectly safe! The reason is because, the government is containing the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama bay, and the number of reported cases of those not on the Diamond Princess has not been increasing significantly.
There are no reported deaths so far, and four people have fully recovered and are no longer receiving treatment.
On top of that, Japan is taking a proactive approach to limiting the spread of the virus by isolating known cases and by closing the border to travelers from Hubei Province.
But to make sure we are safe from virus when traveling, it’s always wise to avoid very touristy and popular places. So here are the top 10 places in Japan that are less popular compared to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, but still as beautiful and most importantly, has very little crowd!
Atami (熱海) lies at the northeastern base of the Izu Peninsula, less than an hour west of Tokyo by shinkansen. What I love most about Atami is beautiful seaside scenery, delicious Sashimi fresh caught from the sea, and its amazing hotspring, often known as onsen in Japanese.
Earlier this month when I was there, I even caught sakura blossom, which was super beautiful with the Seaview at the backdrop!
I also stayed at a very spacious and modern hot spring hotel at the top of the mountain, and went to an interesting sex museum right next to the cable car station. The seafood nearby was fantastic too.
Most importantly, the place wasn’t crowded at all when I was there, making it a perfect from the virus and the crowd! I was also lucky to catch sakura in the middle of Feb!
2. Snow Monkey Park
The Jigokudani Monkey Park (地獄谷野猿公苑, Jigokudani Yaen Kōen) offers you the unique experience of seeing wild monkeys bathing in a natural hot spring. The park is inhabited by Japanese Macaques, which are also known as Snow Monkeys. It is located in the monkey’s natural habitat, so all the monkeys you see there are wild and most importantly adorable!
Although the park is open all year round, the bathing monkeys are particularly photogenic when the area is covered in snow. So that was why I decided to go there during feb, and guess what! I didn’t see them bathing at all!
This year Japan is particularly hot and the weather is really sunny. It’s perfect for sightseeing as we don’t need to embrace the cold, but that also means the monkeys won’t go into the hotspring! What a waste!
So I waited in the monkey park for at least an hour, but to no success. The monkeys were just sitting at the edge of the hotspring, instead of going it. How sad!
However, a traveler who stayed in the ryokan right next to the monkey park, told me that he saw wet monkeys in the early morning. I guess the weather in the early morning is cold enough to encourage monkeys to take a dip. So if you want to catch it, make sure you go there in the morning.
Oh yes, when I was there! The park although had people, but it wasn’t crowded. And most visitors are from European countries, so it’s definitely safe from virus!
Nikko (日光, Nikkō) is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan’s most lavishly decorated shrine. The shrine is also famous for 3 monkeys, no see, no hear no evil. When I went there in December, I was really amazed by the shrine’s beauty. I have to say it’s the grandest shrine you can ever find in Japan, with the elaborated decoration.
The shrine is popular during autumn and spring, but it’s rarely visited during winter. So it’s really a great spot to avoid the crowd and the virus, while enjoying the serenity of the shrine.
On the other side of Nikko, there also lies a Ninja village, which is also called Edomura. Once you stepped into the village, you will see everyone wearing traditional Japanese costume, as if you are traveling back to Edo era! I did a detailed blog post on the interesting Ninja village, as well as other best day trips from Tokyo. Feel free to check it out!
4. Kinukawa Onsen
Not too far from Nikko, there’s a traditional hot spring place called Kinukawa onsen. The place used to be a very popular hotspring resort but its popularity has decreased over the years. When I visited there in December, I really felt the whole town was very empty. Literally no crowd at all, only a handful of Japanese tourists.
Another reason why I like this place, is it’s very close to nature. You can go and explore riverbank and waterfall at Ryuokyo, which is translated into king of dragon valley. The colour of the water is enchanting blue and you can almost see no one during the easy hiking course. Absolutely recommended if you love nature and hiking.
Yokohama is a very beautiful city near to Tokyo. Even though it’s a huge city, you can enjoy little crowd if you visit the Minato Mirai district, which is the bay area of Yokohama. The bay area is very spacious and the view is modern and beautiful.
On top of that, you can also visit the adorable aquarium located in Yokohama, and interact with many cute sea creatures like dolphins!
it also has the MOST AMAZING sea animal performance I’ve ever seen in my life. FYI, I’ve been to aquarium in Hongkong, Singapore and Okinawa, none of them can beat this performance in Seaside Paradise!
The park is also an amusement park where you can rides roller coaster too! And very few people were there when I visited the park. 🙂 perfect!
So here are top 5 safest locations to visit in Japan, despite of the coronavirus outbreak. All of them are very accessible from Tokyo and they offer so many amazing things to do with no crowd around, safe and fun!
But of course, please do your own safety precautions to prevent the virus. Wash your hands often with soap and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Have fun traveling and see you next week!
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