Regions of Japan
Regional cultural assets
An archipelago of contrasts
The wild heart of Japan
Hokkaido continues to represent the untamed wilderness with many great national parks. For many visitors the scenery resembles northern Europe, with rice paddies and concrete warrens typical of the rest of Japan replaced by rolling fields and faux-German cottages. However, the ubiquitous hotspring resorts in much of the island serve as a reminder that you are still in Japan. Hokkaido is by far Japan’s largest prefecture, consisting of Japan’s entire northern island and its surrounding islets. Hokkaido is cooler than the rest of Japan, and the merciful lack of Japan’s muggy summers and rainy season makes it a very popular domestic destination between May and August. Most of Hokkaido was settled by the Japanese within the last 100 years, compared to the thousands of years of Japanese history and pre-history. Before that it was only inhabited by the hunter-gatherer Ainu culture. As a result, its architecture and cities are much more modern, and mostly based on western-like grid layouts.
The beautiful and mysterious blue of the Kaminoko Pond (Child of God Pond) in Kiyosato.
The natural paradise
Traditionally a poor rural backwater with a harsh climate, today’s Tohoku offers the traveller some of the best scenery in Japan.
In winter, the Snow Country (Yukiguni) of the western Japan Sea coast racks up some of the highest snowfall figures in the world, which also means great skiing and lots of hot springs to warm up in.
Tohoku also has many castles and samurai residences, making it a good place to take in some history.
It also serves as a good backup plan for cherry blossom viewing, since the trees blossom a few weeks later here than they do in Tokyo/Kyoto.
The Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, one of Japan’s most colourful and spectacular summer festival.
The vast plain
The Kanto region of Japan, on the eastern side of the main island Honshu, is a broad plain dominated by and nearly synonymous with the megalopolis of Tokyo and its suburbs.
Anchored by Tokyo, the Kanto region also has rustic mountain getaways and gorgeous subtropical islands.
Allow yourself to discover Kanto’s hot spring resorts, unspoiled mountain gorges, pristine beaches, UNESCO World Heritage sites and cultural treasures.
The diverse port city of Yokohama and the immersive nature of Gunma, Saitama and Ibaraki The Tokyo Islands which offer a subtropical getaway with endemic wildlife and clear water.
Kanto’s culinary options are as varied as the landscape—restaurants serving cuisine from every corner of the globe abound at every price point.
Nikko wo minakereba « kekkō » to iu na. or « Don’t say ‘magnificent’ until you’ve seen Nikko».
For True Adventure
Chubu region is the central region of Japan’s Honshu island.
Chubu means “middle region”, accurately reflecting its position straddling and stretching between Kyoto in the west and Tokyo in the east.
Over here, there is plenty to see and do from hitting the bustling cities to the calm and serene mountains and it’s also the ideal place to experience a slice of Japan from the past.
Often ignored by foreign tourists, who only glimpse the region as a blur through a bullet train window, the region of Chubu is filled with traditional towns, the massive Japan Alps, Mount Fuji and beautiful northern coastline.
Anything around or atop Mount Fuji.
Japan spiritual culture
Kansai is the western region of the main Japanese island of Honshu, second only to Kanto region of Eastern Japan in population. The area is also known as Kinki District, literally “near the capital” (referring to ancient capital Nara and Kyoto), and its three big cities — Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe — as Keihanshin.
Over thousands of years, as pilgrims converged in Kumano, in Wakayama, a blending of spiritual and cultural traditions took place in Kansai.
Differences between Kansai and Kanto (the eastern region dominated by Tokyo) are slight but numerous. Kansai people speak a distinctive dialect of Japanese, use lighter-colored soy in their cooking, ride on the other side of escalators and are renowned for humor and their love of food.
Kansai’s cuisine runs the gamut of gastronomy from street stall snacks to the nation’s representative high-end dining traditions.
Himeji Castle, the Famous White Heron Castle.
The Underrated Japan
Chugoku is the westernmost part of the main Japanese island Honshu. Aside from Hiroshima, most of Chugoku is probably well off the beaten track for a brief visit to Japan; but if time permits, you’ll find a region full of memorable sights and experiences, and a side of Japan that’s completely unlike the better-known destinations in Kansai and Kanto.
You’ll discover idyllic seaside towns and island-hopping opportunities on the Seto Inland Sea, with onward paths to Kyushu and Shikoku.
Wander inland on the road less traveled, and your efforts will be rewarded with divine natural landscapes and the excitement of discovery like in Shimane and Tottori.
Ushi-zumo or bull sumo in Oki Momo Dome, Shimane.
The Unknown Island
Shikoku is an oft-forgotten island in Japan. The smallest of Japan’s Big Four, it lies to the south of Honshu.
Surrounded by the tranquil Seto Inland Sea and the dynamic Pacific Ocean, Shikoku has everything a traveler could wish for: seas, mountains, rivers, delicious food, traditional culture, and a long and fascinating history. We are sure that in Shikoku you will find an abundance of attractions that will create memories to last a lifetime.
The island is thought of as a rural backwater, with few must-see attractions, but a visit there can wash away those doubts; Surrounded by the tranquil Seto Inland Sea and the dynamic Pacific Ocean, Shikoku has everything a traveler could wish for: seas, mountains, rivers, delicious food, traditional culture, and a long and fascinating history.
It is also the home of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
Kotohira-gu Shrine in Kagawa and the view after its long stone-step path (785 steps).
Kyushu is the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan. The climate is slightly warmer and more tropical than Honshu, and the southern and eastern coasts are regularly battered by typhoons each year.
The terrain is generally mountainous with very fertile valleys, much like the rest of Japan, except for the wide plain area at the top of the island – the location of the largest cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu.
Kyushu is also one of the most geologically active areas in the world, with several live volcanoes and known as a hot spring Mecca, with every prefecture having some areas for an onsen bath; several of them are among the most popular and best in Japan.
The name Okinawa means “rope in the open sea”, a fairly apt description of this long stretch of islands between the four main islands of Japan and Taiwan. Consisting of 49 inhabited islands and 111 uninhabited islands, Okinawa has a subtropical/tropical climate.
Seven Stars, the luxury train of Kyushu.