Asuka Village (Nara Prefecture), a short train ride away from its bigger, more illustrious neighbour, Nara, is a hidden gem.
A place of great beauty and interest, with an established tourist infrastructure - Asuka has excellent English signage at all tourist places, English leaflets readily available, rental audio guides in English and free wi-fi in many places. Though it is not yet on the main tourist routes, perhaps it soon will be, given the town’s plan to register and obtain World Heritage status.
Asuka was once the political centre of Japan, from 592 to 710, before the Imperial Palace moved to present-day Nara. Thus, Asuka is filled with ancient sites of historical and cultural importance - temples, mystical stones, imperial tombs and ancient burial mounds.
One of the 100 hidden towns in Japan chosen for this publication.