While the amazing metropolis of Tokyo is a place that everyone should visit when in Japan, it is definitely not the only city you should restrict yourself to. After all, Japan is made of four islands and while the striking and surprising balance of skyscrapers and traditional sushi houses is something that Tokyo boasts to have achieved masterfully, these cities are no less impressive. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Kyoto

Housing the bamboo forests and verdant greens of Japanese gardens along with the ornate Buddhist temples and classic Japanese architecture, Kyoto is the antidote to bustling Tokyo. Sit yourself down at a tea house and take your time to appreciate the serene and almost paradisaical setting of this quaint-little Japanese city.

2. Osaka

The third largest city in Japan, Osaka often misses a visit by tourists. For those who feel overwhelmed by the urbanity of Tokyo, Osaka packs a compact version of it while also balancing it with places like Osaka Castle and Shitennoji Temple. No matter what you do in Osaka, do not forget to check out the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum and the Wanaka Honten known for their octopus dumplings made on custom copper hot plates.

3. Hakone

Hakone brings you closer to Mt. Fuji, offering views that very few other places can boast of. Besides, there is an open-air museum along with those of Pola, Okada and Hakone museums of art. You can relax in one of the several traditional inns. Hakone also has onsen (public baths), which is one of the hottest socialising scenes in the area. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which bestows this city with many viewing spots to ogle at the majestic Mt. Fuji.

4. Saga

One of the least visited prefectures in Kyushu, the views Saga offers will leave you mesmerised. The Genkai Sea and Arianke Sea surrounding Saga city, gifts it with fresh seafood — expect to have one of the best squids of your lifetime here. Some very impressive porcelain pottery from Imari and Arita might surprise you as well. For those interested in culture and history, the Yoshinogari Historical Park offers a window into the Yayoi Period. If you plan to visit Saga City, try scheduling it during the pompous Saga International Balloon Fiesta, which sees the skyline of the city dotted with larger-than-life hot air balloons.

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