If you end up in Luwuk and don't know what to do, go and see the waterfall at Hanga-Hanga. It's claimed that the waterfall should be 75 m high, but it's not possible to see the full length of the fall, only the last couple of cascades, as its covered by the forest. To reach the fall take a ojek (motorcycle taxi) from Luwuk to the power plant in the suburb Hanga-Hanga, about 3 km from the town center. The guards will let you through, so you can reach the base of the last cascade. There are several shelters in bad shape, which locals use for picnics – a strange discovery, as hardly any of the locals we met knew about the waterfall.
There are several waterfalls in the countryside of Tomohon. Some can only be reach by hiking, while others are easy accessible – that is if you can find the way, for there are not many signs. The pretty waterfall of Tumimperas, about 6 km from Tomohon, is fairly easy to find. The drop is about 25 m into a small pool, where green ferns cling to the steep rockface. There is a staircase to the base which give you nice views over the jungle below.
Mountainous Central Shikoku has many pretty valleys to choose from, so which one to visit? Iya Valley is the obvious choice for many, since it has the natural beauty, the sights and the hot springs. Even the crazy mountain roads zigzagging into Iya Valley is a spectacle of its own, with plenty of amazing views down the deep rocky gorge. Iya Valley also has hiking trails, waterfalls and three old traditional bridges made out of vine - and a less-impressive little statue of a peeing boy on an outcrop. When tired after a long day of driving and sightseeing, relax at some of the hotels' outdoor onsen.
The volcano Fujisan is the icon of Japan and something you have to at least see, but even better hike. Its symmetrical cone is easily visible from Tokyo on a clear day and it's only getting more impressive the closer you get. The trek to the summit is fairly easy (though cold) and there are huts and tea houses along the routes that are open in the season (1st July to 27th August). It's probably the most trekked mountain in the world with more than 200,000 trekkers per year, but it only adds to the pilgrim experience to do it in crowds.
The mountainous centre of Shikoku is gorgeous. River cutting through steep sided valleys covered in forest with a winding road clinging to the hillside. Oboke Gorge is one of those spectacular sceneries, but with a few more tourist facilities as the racing Yoshino River below is attracting both white water rafting groups and tourist boats (obviously not on the same stretch). The train even runs along the gorge, which must offer some pretty amazing views. It's popular to combine Oboke and Koboke Gorges with a visit to the even more spectacular Ivy Valley.
When you approach popular Sesoko Beach from the paid parking lot, you will pass the usual Japanese setup with lockers and venders of floating toys before standing on a beautiful white beach with views over the aquamarine waters. To the left people crowd with parasols and beach tents in front of the enclosed swimming area with lifeguards informing over the loudspeakers to stay within the designated area. However, to the right the beach is almost empty. A few people have taken cover in the shade of some limestones. Further to the right the limestone boulders get bigger. Here some overhangs the beach providing paradiselike pockets of shaded privacy with views of only the blue sea.
The Tengu Highlands are known for its beautiful karst landscape and alpine meadows with grazing cows. On clear days the views from the plateau can feel endless, but it isn't any less spectacular on cloudy or snowy (in winter) days as the sweeping grasslands get enveloped in fog (or snow). The journey to get to Tengu Highlands is half of the adventure with twisting mountain roads with hairpin bends. Many sections are too narrow to let two cars pass, so one has to reverse. Route 383, which traverses the plateau, is also known as "the road of the sky".
Todoroki Waterfall is one of the most easy-to-access waterfalls on Okinawa. It's only a few steps along a boardwalk from the parking lot. There are viewing platforms and a groomed park for picnics. The actual waterfall has three steps with a total height of 43 meters. There is a pool at the base of the fall for those in need of a refreshing dip.
This pretty alpine lake sits at 3000 metres above sea level and is ringed by mountain peaks reaching 3500 metres in height. You cannot walk for more than an hour along its shores before spotting a cluster of yurts. A few are especially for tourists and run by Community Based Tourism (CBT), but the majority are shepherds up here with their flocks. Either way, if they see you on your own, they will likely invite you in, CBT in the hope of gaining some business or shepherds simply out of interest and desire to have a chat with a foreigner over a bowl of kumis (fermented mare's milk). It's possible to hire a car or book a tour to come here from the towns of Kochkor or Naryn, but you can also hitchhike, cycle or trek. There are dozens of tracks and paths leading over the mountains to come here. One, passable only on foot or by horse, comes from the village of Kyzart near Jumgal to the north of the lake, while another mind-blowingly beautiful one comes from Ak-Tala to the south and is passable by car.