To not forget Fukushima itself: the prefecture shouldn’t be nearly nuclear power plants, but can also be famed for its samurai heritage as embodied by atmospheric Aizu-Wakamatsu, plus its wintertime ski resorts and engaging gyoza dumplings. InsideJapan Tours (0117 244 3380; insidejapantours.com) uses an expansive network of local contacts to create a few of the most effective insider Tohoku trips, including its popular Northern Soul group tour in addition to self-guided trips.
11. Socially distant luxury
Never mind cloud-brushing skyscraper hotels. Those keen to avoid the crowds should check into one among a growing variety of small but perfectly formed hotels with only one room.
Among the many chicest is Trunk(House) (from £4,771 per night; trunk-house.com) – a sleekly renovated 70-year-old former training house for geisha, hidden amongst a warren of lanes in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka district. It’s home to an edgy fusion of old and recent – from Japanese gardens, a tatami-mat tearoom and around-the-clock service from butlers and personal chefs, to contemporary Tom Sachs art installations, a hinoki bath sufficiently big to swim in and mid-century design classics. To not forget the World’s Smallest Disco, a small neon-lit space with glitterball popcorn cocktails and state-of-the-art karaoke – all for yourself.
12. Serene Seto Inland
The scattered silhouettes of tiny fishing islands scatter the serene blue waters of the Seto Inland Sea, a body of water that connects three of Japan’s essential islands. With its temperate climate, it’s been dubbed the Mediterranean of Japan (one island is famed for its olives). The region is probably most well-known for its art islands, specifically Naoshima, which is topping creative wish lists this yr, having just opened two recent galleries – Tadao Ando’s minimalist, angular Valley Gallery, crammed with Yayoi Kusama’s countless reflective metal balls (a part of her Narcissus Garden artwork); plus the brand new Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery: Time Corridors, showcasing 30 artworks by the long-lasting artist (benesse-artsite.jp).
A much-needed recent hotel addition to the island is newly opened Naoshima Ryokan ROKA (rooms from £640; roka.voyage): chic, boutique, creative, a highlight are its 11 minimalist guestrooms, with private sunken wood baths and retractable partitions of glass.
Meanwhile, Guntû (three-day voyages from £3,390; guntu.jp), a mini Noah’s ark-style “floating ryokan” boat by architect Yasushi Horibe, stays perhaps probably the most stylish solution to get across the region. And the most well liked ticket on the Hiroshima side of the Seto Inland Sea? Azumi Setoda, a classy modern tackle a conventional ryokan inn by Aman founder Adrian Zecha on tiny Ikuchijima island (rooms from £452; azumi.co).