The ultimate bucket list for Ghibli fans

This piece was written in collaboration with Skyscanner.

Japan is home to many magical and mysterious places, with some looking like they’re straight out of a fairytale or anime. While it’s hard to narrow down any list like this, these are 10 places to get you started on a journey to Japan that will transport you to the world of Studio Ghibli!

1. Yakushima

A subtropical island in the in Kagoshima Prefecture, Yakushima is home to a mystical moss forest. In fact, Miyazaki (co-founder of Studio Ghibli) was so taken with this secluded island that he immediately got working on the script for Spirited Away! Yakushima is a 2-hour ferry ride from Kyushu, but it feels like another world entirely. Ghibli fans simply cannot miss this one.

2. Takachiho

In Kyushu, you can find the Takachiho Gorge, where the gods are said to have first landed on earth! This Miyazaki landmark not only looks but also feels divine, and is the place to experience the ancient legends of Japan firsthand. Take a day trip to Takachiho Gorge and listen to the whispers of the ancient myths surrounding those stunning rock formations.

3. Shiretoko Peninsula

Photo Credit: Flickr

The Shiretoko Peninsula is a UNESCO World Heritage wilderness area in Hokkaido, home to trackless forests, all sorts of animal life, hot springs and more. Spend a day there and you’ll feel like Princess Mononoke herself as you ramble through. You can also enjoy breathtaking views of Shiretoko Cape with a sightseeing cruise.

4. Shirakawa-go, Gifu

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic villages of Shirakawa-go are the main attractions in the Gifu district. Quaint houses with roofs peaked and thatched dot the fields of this village, transporting you through time. With hundreds of years of history, this Japan cultural treasure is worth visiting with a Shirakawa-go day trip!

5. Kanaguya Ryokan, Nagano

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

One of the sources of inspiration for Spirited Away, this historic hot spring inn simply drips with charm. The quintessential Japanese experience, hot springs are perfect after a day of winter fun. Make a visit to Kanaguya Ryokan and find out why the spirits kept coming back for more at Yubaba’s inn.

6. Kyoto

Kyoto is a well-preserved slice of ancient Japan that thrives in the modern world. The winding streets climbing towards gold-clad temples traversed by kimono-clad courtesans will leave indelible memories. An experience for all the senses, Kyoto is a must-visit for travellers to Japan.

7. Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Yamanashi

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is officially the oldest business in the world, having first opened its doors in 705 AD. Of course, the building has changed and guests can expect all modern amenities, but the history lies thick here and you will feel transported. Also, just down the road from Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a historic temple town of Minobu.

8. Gunkanjima

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hashima Island is also commonly known as Gunkanjima, which translates to “battleship island”. Just off the coast of Nagasaki, rising eerily from the ocean, it is a sight to behold. Reminiscent of the crowded cliffside homes of Laputa (Castle in the Sky), it’s viewable via boat tour, and is a bucket list sight for many intrepid explorers.

9. Seibi-en, Hirosaki

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Seibi-en is a lovely landscape garden in Aomori, within which you can find the grand mansion which was the model for the house in The Borrower Arrietty or The Secret World of Arrietty. Besides the enchanting garden, this quaint northern town will charm in other ways as well.

10. Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

An outdoor museum featuring historical structures you won’t normally find in Tokyo, the Edo-Tokyo Open-Air Architectural Museum has to said to have inspired some of the buildings in Spirited Away. You can visit this museum plus a couple of Ghibli locations with the Ghibli Museum, Hotel Gajoen Tokyo and Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum Tour on Klook.  

Japan essentials

Stay connected throughout your trip in Japan with a 4G WiFi Device and SIM Card. Travel around Japan at ease with none other than a JR Pass. Read more about Japan on the Klook blog for inspiration on your next travel adventure!

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