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There are the places that everyone recommends you visit… the temples of Kyoto… Nara’s giant Buddha statue… the cement jungle that is Tokyo…

To those people I say “bah” and “pshhh, you don’t know what you’re missing out on,” because there’s a whole category of places you’d never think of visiting in Japan that aren’t on the radars of pretty much any Japan travel resources. Some of these areas are what’s known as Bkyuu (B級 = B-rank) spots. As in, where the “Akyuu” spots are the Golden Pavilions and the Todaijis and the Tokyo Towers of the world, the “Bkyuu” spots are the less touristy, weirder, and usually harder to get to. Luckily for you, these are the places I tend to spend most of my time in.

Some of these places we’ve written about – others we’ll be writing and doing video about in the future. All of them are Bkyuu and off the beaten track. The kinds of places people aren’t telling you about.

Okunoshima aka Rabbit Island

rabbit-island

In WWII, Okunoshima had a big ol’ poison gas factory. Now, it’s an island covered in rabbits (and possibly some buried containers of poison gas, but that’s just in case the rabbits grow intelligent, I’m sure). One theory is that after the war they were going to kill all the rabbits to help hide the evidence, but local youngsters let them all free before anyone could do that. Today, with a lack of predators and 50+ years of breeding time, there’s a rabbit infestation. Thankfully, tourists seem to like rabbits. It’s also home to a government-run hotel (very nice, I’ve been there), a museum, and some haikyo (ruins) if the rabbits aren’t doing it for you. If you like to feed rabbits, hang out on islands, and walk/bike around a lot, Okunoshima’s your very own rabbit paradise. Be warned, it’s gotten pretty popular in the years since I’ve been there, so grab a reservation to the hotel a few weeks in advance.

Location: Map

Makomanai Takino (aka Easter Island, Japan)

moai-japan

You could go to see the the Moai statues over on Easter Island, or, you could just head on up to the Makomonai Takino Cemetary in Hokkaido, Japan for a somewhat less original experience. It’s a little ways outside of Sapporo, and hard to get to in the winter (all that snow!), but seems like a nice and relaxing (and bizarre) day trip to me. I’m hoping to make it here the next time I’m in Hokkaido when it’s not during blizzard season. If the Moai statues aren’t enough for you, there’s also a Stonehenge replication and daibutsu (giant Buddha) there as well and 1,800,473㎡ worth of land to explore. It’s also a cemetery too.

Location: Map

Meguro Parasite Museum

parasite-museum

A half-day is all you need to visit the Meguro Parasite Museum in the Meguro district of Tokyo. Why would you want to visit a parasite museum, let alone this one? Well, first of all, this is the only parasite museum in the world. So, if you’re going to visit one, it’s going to be this one. Second, you’re never going to be able to see things like this in person unless you’re the proud host of said parasites. Come here to enjoy giant tape worms, parasitic turtle heads, educational maps, and more! We spent maybe an hour or so here, but it was very educational and interesting. So, if you’re into science, or if you’re just into weird things, head on over to the Meguro Parasite Museum. Give them a donation, though, they need your yens to do all that parasite-related research upstairs!

Location: Map

Jesus Christ’s Gravesite

jesus-grave-japan

We wrote about how Jesus trekked over to Japan (while letting his brother die on the cross) a couple thousands years ago, but it’s worth bringing up again for this Bkyuu list. Why? Well, I think it’s an interesting story. That being said, I wouldn’t make a pilgrimage out here (even for the Christ Matsuri), but if you are in Aomori already, perhaps traversing the distance between Hokkaido and Central Japan, it might be worth the trip. You may even meet one of Jesus’ Japanese ancestors, if you’re lucky!

Location: Map

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

instant-ramen

I’m not super into Osaka, but there were times in my (younger) life where I was really into instant ramen. Of course, the king of instant ramen is Cup Noodle, and yes, there’s a Cup Noodle Museum. Not only can you learn about the history of Cup Noodle (pretty interesting, actually!) but you can also make your own Cup Noodle, which I think is the best part. I’m not going to be eating mine… that is until some future night where I’m really hungry and really desperate.

tofugu-cupnoodle

Oh, and if you haven’t eaten Japanese Cup Noodle, you’re in for a treat. It’s quite different from the non-Japanese version and actually tastes good, I think. You’d be surprised at the difference.

Location: Map

Yoro Park: The Site Of Reversible Destiny

yoro-park

Also known as the “Site of Reversible Destiny” (that should give you an idea), this park was made by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins, and is one of the most bizarre places I’ve ever been. It’s designed to be that way, though, so you can go there expecting upside down buildings, giant dangerous tree holes, and places scary for people who don’t like heights.

I also made a video about it a while back, when I visited with my friend Hiroyuki.

This was one of the most interesting places I’ve been to, I think. Every turn was a mini-adventure with something to explore and discover.

Location: Map

Tashirojima, aka Cat Island

cat-island-japan

A “bizarre places Japan” list wouldn’t be complete without Cat Island! I visited here a couple months before the Tohoku Earthquake. Then, we visited it again in February of this year (“Return To Cat Island” anyone?). If you’re into cats, this is your cat paradise. The island has had it rough with an aging population and damage from the Tohoku Earthquake, but you can get there again now and there are plenty of cats ready to try and murder you for sustenance the moment you turn around…

Here’s Part 1 of the Cat Island Trilogy…

Bonus: Did you know a group of cats is called a Clowder? There are many clowders here.

Location: Map

Robot Restaurant

robot-restaurant

While some of these places have been around a while, this one is fairly new. The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo is… uh… I don’t know how to describe it, to be honest. You pay your 4000ish yen, you go inside, you sit, and you eat your terrible bento (you’re not here for the food, that’s for sure). Then, the show begins. Scantily clad ladies do battle in giant robot / panda / Captain America suits. Then, they ride out on giant robot ladies. Then there are dinosaurs. Then, people fly around slowly and you give them high fives. Not sure how else to describe it, but it’s a weird experience leaving me scratching my head while smiling and laughing at the same time.

Location: Map

Jigokudani (aka Monkey Park)

monkey-park

I’ve been here a couple times now, and it’s verging on not being a Bkyuu spot anymore, but I’m going to include it anyways. You can do a day trip from Tokyo to here, but I recommend staying the night somewhere nearby so you can arrive early. There are other things to do here, but of course the main attraction is the macaques. They spend time warming themselves in the hot springs (uh oh, they’re leaaarrnninng). They’re also very tame, and will often let you get within inches of their face to take pictures. Don’t blame me if they tear off your face with their monkey strength. They’re still wild after all.

Mostly, though, I’d recommend you get there early. People will snag the best spots and never, ever leave (I’m looking at you Australian tourists). I’m thinking that they’re peeing into catheter or wearing Depends™. It’s the only way.

Location: Map

World’s Shortest Escalator

escelator

We found this gem thanks to hippikiller (his video below)… the world’s shortest escalator! This is like… ironic tourism at its best. You can go down this escalator hundreds of times if you want, and nobody will care, you included! Afterwards, I recommend going up one of the longer escalators so you can really feel the difference. Also, go to the game center in the building because you’ll probably be really bored by this point.

Still, it’s an easy day-trip out of Tokyo, so if you need to mark another check off your Guinness Book Of World Records checklist you can do it quite easily (and quickly).

Location: Map

More Bizarre Japanese Tourist Spots

So, I know there’s a lot more out there worth visiting, but these were my ten. I was thinking about throwing in Naoshima for the James Bond Museum or perhaps Zauo, the restaurant where you can catch your own fish (indoors!). What (odd/Bkyuu) places do you recommend in Japan? I know there’s a million more Bkyuu places in Japan worth (or not worth) visiting, so what are your tops?

Bonus Wallpapers!

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  • Yuuya Smith

    My friends and I were able to visit Okunoshima, but I’ve always wanted to go to Cat Island. Wanna see me some clowders.

  • Latrice Willis

    Wait there’s a whole CAT ISLAND!?

    ::packs bags and heads back to Japan::

  • http://www.tokyotako.com allie

    That escalator is hysterical xD

  • HongVan

    Rabbit Island, Cat Island, and Yoro Park?
    It time to get my visa and my money…..

  • Shelly

    Bunny island. . . cat island. . . .is there a puppy island X-D

  • Jon

    You know what? I think it’d be interesting if they had some sort of place where history was reenacted for tourism. Kind of like a Japanese version of a wild west show or a renaissance fair.

  • Scott Lavigne

    The instant ramen museum is a lot cooler than it sounds, just saying!

  • mmmfruit

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been to both the Monkey Park and Okunoshima, and hands down, of all the places I visited, Okunoshima was MY FAVORITE PLACE in all of Japan. I wrote a blog about it here with more photos. Bunnies galore AND abandoned buildings!? Oh yes please. http://mmm-fruit.com/2011/10/poison-gas-glass-and-bunnies

  • Datte baru

    World’s shortest escalator ? I have to go to Japan to see this !

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    oh gosh, if only

  • Ben Brady

    Sounds like Edo Wonderland might be the sort of thing you’re after :)

  • alpacainspace

    Robot Restaurant. I remember when this first came out, and it’s had a surprisingly long run considering how quickly nightclubs in Japan expire. I truly hope it stay around long enough for me to become a pilot in a giant robotic amazoness as well.

  • Macaca

    Aokigahara?

  • shiro

    The Monkey Park is hardly bkyuu…

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    i agree, that’s why I posted I was hesitant to post it.

    I wish it hadn’t got so popular so I could have it to myself :(

  • http://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/ BuildingMyBento

    Shourinzan in Takasaki, Gunma-ken is the epicenter of Daruma. You can see them kickin’ back, piled up on the terrace of the temple, one looking like Super Mario, another being Slimer.

    Although I think the whole country is a bit out-there. I recall walking into swish supermarkets in Aoyama and Azabu and often hearing heavy metal music. That’s just the amuse bouche though…

    Jonathan
    https://buildingmybento.wordpress.com/
    http://collaterallettuce.com/

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    Haha! Cat Island is a great place, especially in spring and not that hard to get to! ^^

    Here’s information about the island and how to get to it: http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/tashirojima-cat-island/
    You should also watch the uber-cute Tofugu videos of Cat Island! ^___^

  • DAVIDPD

    World’s. Shortest. Escalator.

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    Rabbit Island has been on my list for a while now.

    You can also see Moai like that in Miyazaki’s Sunmesse on the Nichinan Coastline: http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/miyazaki-sunmesse-nichinan/
    I think that might be a good alternative for people who can’t go to Hokkaido.

    I wouldn’t say the monkey park in Nagano is “B-rank”. It appears in many guidebooks and is a very popular tourist spot.
    Nevertheless it’s absolutely worth visiting. I know you guys had a lot of fun there and so did I! ;)

    I’m surprised that you decided not to list the “suicide forest”! *g*

    I have a lot of “B-rank” places I could recommend to people. To name just two: Gunkanjima and Mt. Osore.

  • http://zoomingjapan.com/ zoomingjapan

    So many cute photos. Thanks for sharing! ^^

  • Latrice Willis

    Cool pics! Shoot I wish I’d travelled more when I was in Japan. I missed out on too much. :(

  • http://japan-australia.blogspot.com/ Japan Australia

    Very cool post! I’ve seen a lot of the main attractions in Japan now, so its these less touristy ones I’m really interested in. I’ve been to Yoro Park before and can highly recommend it. It was a lot of fun and very crazy :)

  • Jason Huber

    Kanye West is sooo gonna sample the song in the ナニャドヤラ奉納舞い video. ;)

  • kingdomofnot

    How about Ushiku-daibutsu? It’s my best Bkyuu spot!

  • wombatarama

    I found the parasite museum kind of disappointing. There’s not much info if you don’t read Japanese. Of course, it’s only fair to say that it would have had to be REALLY amazing to be worth it considering that I got lost getting there and walked like half an hour out of my way straight uphill in 95 degree heat. Don’t ask.

  • Io

    OMG, I LOVE Okunashima and I’m SO glad it was on the list (and at the top for that matter) Not because of toxic gasses, but because of the bestest creatures in the whole wide world!
    I have wanted to go there SOOO badly for some time now!

  • Ashley

    What’s cat island like for radiation damage? Its not so far from Fukishima?

  • http://www.tofugu.com koichi

    The city of Fukushima is okay on radiation damage, so Cat Island is very okay. Just old. Very ollld.

  • sam

    you sir! I need to ask you many questions! I am going back to japan in 10 months but I want to go really far off the beaten track but finding information is difficult ! I want to experience rural japan (spent 2 weeks in tokyo last time) I will be going to fuji …but so far thats all I got… I want to stay in places along the way, should i just take a big back pack?

  • SamuraiAvenger

    Meguro Parasite Museum………..lol
    must be your favorite place!

  • YunFang

    Can share the details with me how to go Rabbit Island & Cat Island.? go from tokyo to the 2 places….

  • RJ

    Here’s are more weird things to be found in Japan to add on to this list http://en.blog.govoyagin.com/post/76326945292/10-wacky-and-weird-things-to-do-in-tokyo