Thank you for visiting our destinations page! Here, you will find the inspiration and information needed to choose the best areas to visit on your trip to Japan.
Japan is a long and diverse country, with different geographic regions that stretch thousands of kilometres from end to end. Each region is proud of its unique culture, which not only attracts visitors from abroad, but local Japanese visitors too.
The four distinct seasons of Japan have a long history of influencing food, lifestyle and culture. This influence remains prominent in modern Japanese life and is something you can experience on your visit to Japan. As the seasons change, each region offers something different and allows you to experience a fleeting snapshot of the local life. Whether it is the blazing colours of the autumn leaves in the forests of Tohoku, the blooming cherry blossoms in spring around Kinki, the pure winter landscapes of Hokkaido or the tropical summer paradise of Okinawa, a visit to Japan in any season will reward your spirit and your tastebuds.
Take some time to get to know each of the nine regions in Japan and design a journey that suits your needs.
Situated at the northern most end of Japan, Hokkaido offers a vast array of seasonal activities for local and international visitors year round. Known for its wide open spaces, natural beauty and high quality fresh produce locally, and for perfect powder snow internationally, the island of Hokkaido offers something for visitors of any age who love the outdoors. The capital of the region, Sapporo, is home to around 2 million people and provides all of the excitement and buzz of any other large Japanese city, while being on the doorstep of some of the best ski fields and naturally beautiful locations in the country.
Stepping away from the urban areas of Sapporo, Hokkaido offers vast open fields which grow what is regarded as some of the best produce in Japan. From vegetables and dairy products, the quality of the produce which comes out of Hokkaido is renowned across the nation as being of the highest quality due to the fertile volcanic soil and cooler climate. The farms and forests of the region provide the backdrop for many outdoor spring and summer activities such as cycling, hiking and camping.
In winter, Hokkaido is transformed into a white landscape as it records some of the coldest temperatures and heaviest snowfall in all of Japan. Opportunities for snowboarding, skiing and other winter sports are plentiful in resorts like Niseko and Furano, while a visit to the northern coast of Hokkaido, near Abashiri, allows you to step out on to the passing natural phenomena of floating sea ice.
Hokkaido is also home to a variety of exciting and lively festivals that occur all year, from the Sapporo Snow Festival held in February to the Yosakoi Soran Festival which take place in June, the locals of Hokkaido offer hundreds of big and small festivals and a diverse range of community and cultural experiences to witness.
Connected to the main island of Japan, Honshu, by air, sea and also the undersea Seikan rail tunnel, it means that accessing Hokkaido is within easy reach for anyone who visits Japan. With so much on offer, it is hard to think of a reason not take some time to venture to a part of Japan which has a long history of being a year round holiday destination for many Japanese.
Hokkaido is an internationally popular tourist destination as it has cool summer with pleasant weather and cold winter with lots of power snow best for skiing. Niseko, a popular ski resort 2 hours driver from Sapporo, welcomes 1.6 million people combining both summer and winter tourists. Now international direct flights connect Hokkaido with neighboring Asian countries from Korea to Thailand, more people enjoy the rich nature and food of this northern island, throughout four seasons.
- Snow Festival (Sapporo)
- Lavender field (Furano)
- Canal cruise (Otaru)
- Ryuhyo Walking Tour (Shiretoko) *Ryuhyo = Ice floe
- Ski (Niseko)
Located north of Tokyo, and taking in the northern end of the island of Honshu, the region of Tohoku provides visitors with an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle the larger cities and relax by enjoying the open space and peace that can be found here. Like much of Japan, the Tohoku region offers spectacular scenery, delicious food and the opportunity to try new experiences. What makes Tohoku different is that as the region is largely mountainous and therefore relatively undeveloped.
The mountain ranges that run through the region offer the opportunity to be immersed in natural forests which change colour with the seasons. The Shirakami Sanchi is an expansive mountain range that runs between Aomori and Akita prefectures and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its untouched beech tree forests. The forest here provides a playground for lovers of nature and the outdoors to explore the beauty of this region throughout the changing seasons.
During winter, the opportunity to get off the beaten path and visit some less visited ski resorts such as Geto Kogen, Shizukuishi, Zao Onsen or Mount Bandai. These resorts are less frequented than those in other regions of Japan, so can provide the serious snowboarders and skiers the opportunity to have the fresh powder snow all to yourself.
A visit to the cities of the Tohoku region such as Sendai or Aomori, again provide visitors with the opportunity to travel to locations which are less frequented by foreign guests. As a result, these cities provide visitors with the opportunity to witness ordinary life in Japan and experience local culture and festivals which occur year round. Sendai is the home of Tanabata Matsuri in August while Aomori hosts the annual Nebuta Festival, also in August. Both festivals offer visitors to experience the colour, sounds, smells and atmosphere of traditional Japanese summer celebrations.
Access to the region is easy either by bus, bullet train or by air, however the beauty of this region comes from going a little further, so take the opportunity to explore little further for an even better experience.
Home to Tokyo and Yokohama, making it one of the most populated and the largest continuous urban areas in the world, the Kanto region of Japan is the centre economically and geographically of Japan. The capital of Japan since 1868, it is not possible to sum up Tokyo in words. It is a place that should be experienced in order to start to understand it. Even after visiting Tokyo will you only begin to scratch the surface of what is on offer.
From endless restaurants and bars, boutique shopping and large shopping malls, Tokyo is home to every urban experience imaginable. The forest of soaring glass skyscrapers provides a backdrop to a bustling life of the city’s residents but is also the place where visitors can endlessly explore and discover something new. Due to its scale and diversity of people attracted to the city, Tokyo offers every experience imaginable.
Outside of the sprawling metropolis, the Kanto region is the location of various spots of natural beauty from Mount Takao which is located about an hour west of Tokyo. Here you have the opportunity to enjoy some fresh air and greenery in the forests that surround the mountain. Nikko is also within easy reach of Tokyo and is an area of dense forest and to the northwest of the capital. Here, you can be surrounded by dense forests, enjoy staying at a traditional Japanese style inn and visit some of beautiful and historic sites such as Toshogu, one of the most ornate shrines in Japan.
Both Mount Takao and Nikko allow visitors to Tokyo be a surrounded by nature, which is something that can be difficult to find in the confines of the city. In Autumn is the unmissable chance to see the changing of leaves on the trees. The landscapes here are transformed from a lush green to fiery reds and yellows and the cool air sets in to strip the forest of its foliage.
Visiting the areas throughout Kanto is easy, as everything is centrally connected to downtown Tokyo which means that even taking a day trip to one of the surrounding towns or areas is within easy reach from the central city.
Chubu is one region of Japan that encapsulates the diversity of experiences available in Japan. From the industrial and urban areas of Nagoya and surrounds, to the coastal areas taking in both the Sea of Japan to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, and with the Japanese Alps and of course Mount Fuji at it’s heart, Chubu features many of the possibilities available when visiting Japan.
The iconic silhouette of Mt Fuji is known the world over. Even more remarkable is a visit to the mountain itself. Whether you choose to make the climb to the 3776 metre summit in summer, or prefer to appreciate the view of the perfectly shaped volcano from further down, viewing Fuji-san from any angle is a breathtaking experience.
Visiting one of the 5 lakes around the base of Mt Fuji in the Chubu region including, Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko, Motosuko and Yamanakako, not only offers visitors to Japan a different perspective of Fuji-san, but also of Japan and the smaller towns and cities in the area. The surrouding area is looked over by Mount Fuji and provides those who enjoy outdoor activities an opportunity to appreciate this unique environment or visit one of the tea farms situated in the foothills.
Now connected by Shinkansen from Tokyo, Kanazawa is a regional city with history and culture. Dotted further afield, are the numerous mountain towns and villages such as Takayma, home to the thatched roofs of Shirakawago and clear waters and cold climate which creates the perfect environment for brewing Japanese sake.
The mountainous area of Nagano and the picturesque towns and high altitude farms of the area not only produce some of the best fruit and rice in Japan during the summer months, but in winter, become a wonderland for for snow sport enthusiasts with a multitude of slopes for skiers and snowboarders to choose from. A great way to experience the outdoors in Japan is to enjoy a visit to one of the hot spring towns in the Nagano area where mineral rich waters bubble up from under the earth and have been used for bathing and relaxation for hundreds of years. So enticing are these waters that the local native monkeys from Yamanouchi can be found keeping warm and playing in the waters of the rock pools.
The imposing Matsumoto Castle is also an amazing feature of the Chubu region. Situated high up in the Japanese Alps, Matsumoto Castle is one of the few original surviving castles in Japan’s history that has not been destroyed by war or nature. You will surely be rewarded for making the trip to this area, not only from being able to soak up the natural beauty and delicious food of the area, but also through your experience of venturing beyond the main tourist routes.
Close to the major centres of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, the Chubu region is within convenient reach of the most populated areas of Japan by bullet train, bus and air.
Located on the island of Honshu, and stretching from the Sea of Japan in the north, to the Pacific Ocean in the south, the Kinki region of Japan hosts many destinations in Japan that have evolved over thousands of years to be to be the vibrant and exciting places they are today. The juxtaposition of modern and ancient Japan is no more apparent in the nation than in the Kinki region and the cities of Osaka and Kyoto.
Osaka is the industrial heartland of Japan with factories sitting alongside soaring apartment buildings and seemingly endless shopping arcades which were rebuilt after the area suffered significant damage during World War 2. A mere 60 kilometres away, the ancient capital city of Kyoto thrives as one of the most popular destinations in the country as visitors flock to see some of the 17 UNESCO world heritage sites in the city. Roaming the narrow streets and laneways lined with timber fronted shops and townhouses takes you back in time as you stumble past shrines and temples which have stood on the same sites for a thousand years or more. As Kyoto was the political and cultural capital for such a long time, the architectural and cultural legacies remain in abundant supply. The layers of history and culture from traditional and modern life are on display in both Osaka and Kyoto for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Further west along the coast from Osaka, is the proud port city of Kobe, rebuilt better and stronger following the devastation of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Known globally for its delicious beef, Kobe is also a vibrant seaside city that sits geographically in the shadows of Mount Rokko and the popular Arima Onsen hot spring village. The city boasts a broad calendar of festivals which take place year round, along with exciting shopping and dining options to suit every taste.
Moving further west, the city of Himeji is home to the ancient Himeji Castle. Recently experiencing a surge in visitors following a complete restoration, Himeji Castle is one of the best and well preserved examples of a fortified building to have survived Japans turbulent past.
The city of Nara, another one of Japan’s former capital cities, is also in the Kinki region. It is in Nara that you will be greeted by local wild deer who have right of way in traffic and roam freely amongst visitors and locals. Less crowded and developed than Kyoto, Nara features significant temples and shrines that can be enjoyed away from larger crowds that may be encountered elsewhere.
If all of this isn’t enough, the shrines and temples of Mount Koya and Ise in the south of the region offer an experience of pilgrimage that many Japanese would be envious. Throughout this diverse region you will be spoiled for choice of hot spring resort towns and local cuisine while having the chance to interact with the charming and friendly locals.
Kansai International Airport (KIX) provides easy international and domestic access while the main centres are connected by an extensive rail network.
- Cherry Blossom in Kyoto (Kyoto)
- World heritage temples and shrines (Kyoto)
- Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo)
- Kuromon Market (Osaka)
- Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine (Nara)
- Cherry Blossom in Mt. Yoshino
- Temple stay in Mount Koya (Wakayama)
- Kumano Kodo Trail (Wakayama)
- 7 Days
As you move further away from Tokyo and start heading west, the pace of life starts to slow down a little and take on a much more easygoing atmosphere. The Chugoku region at the western end of Honshu, is the gateway to a more laid back way of Japanese life.
Near the centre of the region is Hiroshima, the city which prides itself on promoting peace following the destruction the city and it’s people experienced as a result of the atomic bomb damage during World War 2. These days, Hiroshima attracts school children from across the nation, along with locals and other international visitors who come to learn more about the consequences of war and also to pay their respects to victims lost. A visit to the A-Bomb Dome is a haunting reminder of the destruction that nuclear weapons can have while visiting the Peace Memorial Museum can help all understand the story of the people of Hiroshima during and after the war. The Peace Memorial Park provides a pace for reflection and remembrance, and all three sites are are a must for anyone to this region.
Not too far from Hiroshima city is Miyajima Island where you can enjoy the picturesque sight of the sunset enveloping Itsukushima Shrine as it seemingly floats in the rising tide off the coast of the island. This idyllic spot is the perfect place to enjoy after strolling the local streets on the island and interacting with the wild deer and monkeys which greet visitors and locals alike.
The Chugoku region is also an art lovers paradise. From the internationally renowned art island of Naoshima, the Adachi Museum of Art in Matsue, this region is home to a diverse collection of modern and historical pieces.
For those who enjoy outdoor activities, a visit to the sand dunes of Tottori allows thrill seekers to go paragliding or enjoy a camel ride surrounded by the expansive dessert environment. The coast along the Sea of Japan also features many opportunities to explore the outdoors with clear waters and and sandy beaches a playground for locals in the summer months.
Well connected by bullet train, the main centres of Chugoku are easily accessed while the lesser known gems are still within easy reach by train, bus or ferry.
Located a little out of the way, off the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, Shikoku can be easy to skip over when planning a trip to Japan. It would be unfortunate to travel to Japan and then miss the chance to which boasts its own unique culture, scenery and cuisine. The rugged terrain of Shikoku, Japan’s fourth largest island, has managed to avoid much of the denser urbanisation or industrialisation as the rest of the nation. The resulting landscape is a treasure for the rest of Japan as Shikoku provides locals and visitors alike with much needed breathing space, clean air and nature.
Surrounded by the Seto Inland Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south, a prominent feature of this region is the coastline. The influence of this location enters the daily life of many locals in their work, but also heavily influences the diet and cuisine on offer. An abundance of seafood features heavily in the local diet and the regions some of the best beaches outside of Okinawa.
Home to the ’88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku’ along the 1200 kilometre circuit, this region also attracts religious pilgrims pursuing natural beauty and spiritual understanding as they follow the path to visit the 88 designated sacred sites. It can take up to six weeks to visit all sites on foot, or the process can be sped up by joining a tour which will allow you to visit them all in around 10 days. If your goal is to visit 88, or just one of the sites, a visit to Shikoku will ensure you can slow down and enjoy the slower pace of life.
Hiking and camping are popular activities around Shikoku, particularly in the mountainous regions of the island. There are plenty of hiking trails and camping grounds that can be accessed for those seeking some peace and quiet and to enjoy the outdoors.
These days, Shikoku is connected to mainland Honshu by three bridges, the first only being connected in 1988. Each of the bridges are tourist attractions in their own right due to the engineering achievements they demonstrate. Shikoku is a popular destination for cyclists as the roads of the region are less congested and provide the perfect path for enthusiasts to explore on two wheels. This is particularly so knowing that cyclists can access the island by riding across from Honshu along the Shimanami Kaido chain of islands connected by bridges which hop across the inland sea.
Access to the island is also possible by ferry and air so there is no reason not to include this region in your travel plans.
- Shikoku Pilgrimage
- Naoshima, the Art Island (Kagawa)
- Iya Valley (Tokushima)
- Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima)
- Shimanami Kaido Cycling Road (Ehime)
- Dogo Onsen Village (Ehime)
The westernmost of Japan’s four main islands, Kyushu offers an experience of laid back Japanese life combined with milder temperatures, magnificent natural scenery, picturesque coastlines and unique food and friendly locals.
The economic and technology of Fukuoka is developing a reputation as it attracts your tech entrepreneurs. This developing scene is reflected in the restaurants and bars all over the city. Not just recognised for its developing tech industries, Fukuoka is also widely known for its outdoor food stalls selling the local version of ramen with egg noodles. Fukuoka has a long history of welcoming visitors from China and Korea due to its far western location, and this tradition continues with visitors from across the world welcome to experience everything the city and region offers.
Nagasaki which was ravaged by destruction in Wold War 2 now breathes as a provincial city with one of the best night views in Japan from the summit of Mount Inasa. Close to the coast of Nagasaki is the abandoned island known as Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island, which was the former home to a coal mine and it’s workers from the late 1800’s until the island was abandoned overnight when the mine closed in 1974. Remaining virtually untouched until recently, it is now possible to take a tour of the island and get up closet the extreme industrial decay that sits as a contrast to the surrounding sea and islands off the coast of Kyushu.
The volcanic and seismic activity of Japan is obvious in many parts of the country, but particularly so in Kyushu. The turbulent geological history of the region has created the rugged landscape dotted with active volcanoes and hot springs around Beppu and Kagoshima that is embraced today. Visitors come from around the country and the world to take up the healing and health benefits of the rich mineral waters which bubble up from deep beneath the earth.
Getting to Kyushu is possible by undersea bullet train and rail connections, or by air or ferry. Rail and bus networks will take you to every corner of the island, or you could hire a car and enjoy a Japanese road trip at your own pace.
- Onsen in Beppu (Oita)
- Mt. Aso (Kumamoto)
- Takachiho (Miyazaki)
- Gunkanjima - Battleship Island (Nagasaki)
- Yakushima (Kagoshima)
Everything most people associate with Japan are the hectic urban environments, mountain hot spring retreats, or traditional wooden architecture. Not often do people consider Japan as a tropical beach destination with wide sandy beaches for swimming and relaxation or tropical reefs that are perfect for scuba diving and other water sports. With crystal clear water, perfect white sandy beaches, warm weather year round and a unique culture of its own, the region of Okinawa is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Japanese people year round.
Trailing off for hundreds of kilometres into the East China Sea towards Taiwan, the islands of Okinawa are made up of hundreds of inhabited and uninhabited islands dotted in the tropical waters off the southwest coast of Japan. The main centre of Naha hosts the most developed urban area of the region. The shops in Naha sell goods from around the world alongside locally made goods, restaurants offer a range of local dishes and international cuisine and here you will also find a wide selection of accommodation that will give you somewhere to rest at the end of days spent enjoying everything on offer. The lively charm of the streets here are just an introduction to the relaxed atmosphere and holiday mood found in some of the more remote islands of the region.
Ishigaki, a further 450km southwest of Naha features views and experiences that travel guidebooks are made from. Covered with dense jungle and palm trees, and rimmed by pure white sands, Ishigaki hosts a range of accommodation options and provides a launching pad for visitors to snorkel, hike and explore the surrounding islands without the compromise of crowds. If you chose to visit one of the populated areas of the region, or seek somewhere more isolated, you will be able to enjoy the warm waters of Okinawa which are considered some of the best in the world for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Access to Ishigaki and Naha is easy by air. The adventure continues in this region when you set off for some of the more remote islands which are only accessible by sea. Whatever the purpose of your visit to the region, whether it be for relaxation, adventure, family holiday or a romantic getaway, Okinawa offers an experience that suits everyone.