A man in a black jacket walks under the gate of a historic Japanese temple on an overcast day.

Off the Beaten
Path in Japan

When you travel to a new country, do you prefer to see the main attractions, or seek out lesser-known hidden gems? Both are rewarding and both were on the itineraries for our ANA Ambassadors. After landing in Tokyo, they took off on adventures through historic street food markets, across the hillside farms of Kyoto, and to the temples of the Gunma and Nagano Prefectures.

Carousel of images featuring two hands holding soft serve matcha ice cream cones, an Asian man and woman smiling for the camera at a street market, a man strolling underneath a canopy of cherry blossom trees, and a field of matcha plants.


Trying Japanese food is one thing, but Linh had other goals in mind – like seeing where the ingredients are grown and learning traditional preparation techniques. Over her first weekend in Japan, Linh traveled to Daio Wasabi Farm, where the vibrant plants were in full bloom, and Kyoto’s dan dan cafe, recommended by Japanese local Stan (@worldofxtra), which overlooks fields of matcha.

A standout experience for her was attending a traditional tea ceremony and bento-making class.

  • I loved cooking and conversing with Eiko, an Osaka local. I learned how to make onigiri and tamagoyaki. I felt right at home! (And we bonded over being cat parents).”



Karl was specifically in search of roads less traveled to take photos that capture the spiritual side of Japan. He headed into the mountains of the Gunma Prefecture, an area known for its hot springs, lush gardens and temples.

  • One thing I love about Japan, apart from its delicious food and very vibrant cities, is the sense of peace you can get in some of its spaces. I explored the Gunma region with ANA looking for some of the least photographed, yet most stunning spaces, and I struck gold. Take the temples. We spent all afternoon adventuring around the area and we didn’t come across another single person. It’s so peaceful.”



Ewa and Jeromy took the Osaka street food scene by storm, first by visiting Dotonbori, where the market dates back 400 years. Among their favorite spots were Osaka Tonkatsu (formerly Katsudon Chiyomatsu), owned by a sumo wrestler, and Mitarashi Dumpling, where they capped off their day with dango dipped in sticky soy sauce.

They also visited the less busy, but still fascinating Shinsekai district, a colorful neighborhood full of izakayas, street food stalls and retro arcades.

  • Some of the best dishes we tried here were kobe beef skewers that blew us away, a beef cutlet sandwich where an auntie jumped in to masterfully butter the bread, and perfectly swirled soft serve ice cream cones from a neighborhood OG.”


You can’t go wrong exploring major cities like Osaka and Kyoto, but secluded spots and hands-on experiences with locals turn an ordinary day of sightseeing into lifelong memories.

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