Don't miss out on these must-see sights the next time you're in Japan.

By Talia Avakian
October 17, 2016
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According to a recent report by the global consulting firm McKinsey and Company, some of Japan's most stunning destinations remain relatively unknown to Western tourists.

The firm recently published an assessment that included results from a survey conducted this April, which asked 3,077 Western tourists whether they knew of 36 attractions in Japan.

Sights included a mix of natural and cultural attractions, beaches, entertainment spaces, and shopping venues often cited in guidebooks and considered "major destinations" by residents.

Mount Fuji was the only destination 50 percent of tourists recognized, while some of Japan's other famed attractions didn’t even come close.

Kamakura, for example, is a coastal city less than an hour from Tokyo, and it was only recognized by nine percent of participants. Yet the city is home to stunning Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, surf-worthy beaches, and attractions like the famed Great Buddha of Kamakura—one of the country's tallest Buddha statues, which includes a hollow opening visitors can walk through to admire its construction.

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And only seven percent of tourists were aware of attractions in the Nara Prefecture, which is home to famous temples such as Tōdai-ji: a temple complex with one of the world's largest wooden buildings and one of the largest bronze statues of Buddha.

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Five percent of participants knew of Nikkō's offerings, most famous for the lavish Tosho-gu shrine, and its scenic surroundings of mountains, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, and hiking trails.

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The Himeji Castle, which UNESCO refers to as the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, also made the list. But it was recognized by only eight percent of participants.

When respondents were asked if they would be interested in visiting the attractions, 42 percent said they would travel to Japan or extend their trip to see Kamakura, while 38 percent said the same for the Nara Prefecture, and 36 percent said they'd be interested in Nikkō.

Consider this incentive to check out Japan's most underrated destinations—before they finally appear on Western tourists' radars.