- Onsen The salty, calcium-rich waters of coastal thermal spas and iron- and sulfur-heavy springs in the mountains make your skin smooth, your bones strong, and set your mind at ease.
- Hiking The Japan Alps offer staggering views and a serious workout. Trails wind through peaks and ridges, and summer brings wildflowers to the highland slopes and valleys.
- Skiing The resorts around Nagano attract outdoor enthusiasts, particularly on weekends. Shiga Kogen, near Yudanaka, and Happo-o-ne, near Hakuba, are among the best areas.
- Feudal Japan Visit the former samurai quarters in Kanazawa's Naga-machi section. Matsumoto Castle evokes the history of a strictly hierarchical society.
- Folk art Kanazawa is renowned for dyed silk and pottery, while Matsumoto has excellent wood craftsmanship. Lacquer is a specialty of the Noto Peninsula.
Need a break from the big city? View 42-hour itineraries from 13 cities.More