The Japanese Coast
The rugged coastline of Japan makes for a perfect end to any tour through this fascinating country. Head to the Shima Peninsula and to Ago Bay on the southernmost tip of this unspoilt region. Famous for its pearl cultivation, and close to Japan’s oldest and most sacred shrine, you are just three hours from Kyoto by train.
Located in Mie Prefecture, the Shima Peninsula – also known as Ise-Shima National Park – is a fusion of rugged beauty, spiritual sites and Japanese culture. The riverside Inner Shrine is considered Japan’s most sacred, while its sister, Outer Shrine, is shrouded in forest. At Ago Bay, or the Bay of Pearls, immerse yourself in local tradition by seeing female pearl divers. These brave women free-dive into the Pacific, with nothing but a mask and rope. For a spot of culture, the art museums of Naoshima Island showcase modern, international collections.
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Naoshima Island, Japan
Best for: Couples, Culture, Off the beaten track
Sitting opposite the Seto Inland Sea on the arty island of Naoshima, Benesse House feels more like an art gallery than a hotel and that's mostly because it is. It is a contemporary museum with rooms and is an extraordinary place to stay for art lovers.