Located in Oita Prefecture, Saiki’s coastal location yields an abundance of opportunities for diverse marine sports, as well as hiking galore thanks to lush, forested mountains a pebble’s-throw inland. A storied past means there’s plenty of historical discovery to be getting on with, too. An uncharted destination on your average Japan travel itinerary, Saiki City offers an off-the-beaten-track adventure that’s still wonderfully relaxing.
Our top pick? Fujikawachi, a secluded valley that springs from the towering Kannon waterfall and winds in and out of otherworldly rock formations for eight kilometers. There’s no shortage of natural phenomena to gaze at, particularly in autumn when the river sets alight in a blaze of red and orange foliage, but hikers should keep an eye out for the huge white granite slabs sculpted over centuries by the Kuwabara River.