Japan’s 5 Best Tanabata Festivals in 2023・ Summer Events, Japanese Folklore, and a Romance for the Ages

  • X
  • line

These summer festivals around Japan are inspired by the literally star-crossed lovers of Japanese legend.



Each year, on the seventh of July, two stars appear to dance around each other in the nighttime sky, and in Japan this day is celebrated as the festival called Tanabata (七夕). Japan's Tanabata story focuses on two stars, which they call Orihime (the weaver star) and Hikoboshi (the cowherd star) but these are actually two very real stars in the sky – we usually call them Vega and Altair in the English-speaking world. The legends of Orihime and Hikoboshi come from the movements of the heavenly bodies above, and now that the lovers have become the stars of a great romance in Japanese mythology, the 7th of July is a day to celebrate their story. Some even like to call Tanabata a traditional Japanese take on Valentine's Day, making it a particularly fun day for couples. (Although Japan takes actual Valentine's Day quite seriously as well!) But anyone can celebrate the holiday by visiting shrines or gathering with loved ones, writing down their wishes for the year, and hanging them on long lengths of bamboo in hopes that they come true. Like Japan's other major festivals throughout the summer, Tanabata events around Japan are fun to check out no matter who you're with, so don't miss this summertime holiday!

Jishu Shrine’s Love Fulfillment Tanabata Festival

The Jishu Shrine is a little Shinto shrine in the shade of the larger Buddhist Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto. But it has its own popularity and a strong following, since it's dedicated to the Shinto gods of love! (Since even before the formation of Japan itself!) Whether you're looking for new love, hoping to maintain a strong relationship, or even trying to fend off a love rival, this shrine is set up to aid you in your attempts. During the shrine's Tanabata festival, you can write down your heart's desires on little paper dolls of Orihime and Hikoboshi, and hang them on the conveniently placed bamboo plants.

*In 2023, the shrine is actually undergoing restoration work, so many of the festivities are being downgraded (or put on hold), but instead you can actually order a special prayer on your behalf through the internet! If your love life isn't much to write home about, ask the Shinto priests for a little help!



Image Source: Jishu Shrine

Jishu Shrine's Love Fulfillment Tanabata Festival (地主神社の恋愛成就七夕祭) *scaled down for 2023
Address: 1-317 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama, Kyoto
Date/Time: July 7, 2023 | 14:00~
Access: From Tokyo Station, take buses 86, 206, or 100 to Gojozaka Bus Stop, walk 10 min., or 30 min. walk from Keihan Kiyomizu Gojo Station.
Official Website (jp)

Sendai Tanabata Festival: Colorful Streamers Abound!

Thanks to differences in the lunar calendar and Gregorian one, Sendai chooses to have its Tanabata festival in August! Probably the biggest Tanabata celebration in the country, the most striking feature of this festival are the brightly colored streamers and paper decorations that are hung above the streets and shopping arcades. The Sendai Tanabata celebration has been going on since the time of Date Masamune, who became the first lord of the Sendai area in the 17th century. Now the locals work hard to create these paper decorations and transform the area into a scene straight from the Japanese fairytales, in the sunshine and long after dark. There's even a big fireworks festival in Sendai the night before Tanabata is celebrated, making it a perfect time to check out this city in Japan's northern Tohoku region.



Image Source: Sendai Tanabata Festival

Sendai Tanabata Festival (仙台七夕まつり)
Address: Sendai City Center, Miyagi
Date/Time: Aug. 6~8, 2023 | 10:00 – 21:00
(Fireworks the evening of Aug. 5th.)
Access: Sendai Station
Official Website (jp)

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival: Dancers and Much, Much More

The Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is always a major Tanabata celebration in the Kanto region, and this year shouldn't be any different. With traditional ceremonies, parades and impressive floats, Tanabata weddings, stages with a variety of performances, and more, it's an event with plenty to do. The three-day festival includes plenty of Japanese festival stalls and classic festival fun around Hiratsuka Station, but one of the particular draws is a parade of 1,000 dancing participants. Dressed in yukata, the dancers make their way through the streets, attracting locals and foreign visitors alike to watch the progression.



Image Source: Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (湘南ひらつか七夕まつり)
Address: Hiratsuka Station Area, Kanagawa
Date/Time: July 7~9, 2023 | ~20:00 (final day ~19:00)
Access: Hiratsuka Station
Official Website (jp)

Asagaya Tanabata Festival: An Intersection of Traditional and Pop Culture

The Asagaya Tanabata Festival has been going on for more than 60 years since its start in 1954, and it's so popular that other festivals have supposedly been created to compete for popularity. But the festival has evolved with the times in a fascinating way, taking advantage of the Japanese Tanabata tradition of large paper lanterns, and showing off some extremely modern forms. From anime and movie characters, to athletes, political figures, cute animals and more, visit the festival for a variety of interesting paper creations. If you're interested to see how the decorations have changed over the years, from (slightly) more traditional lanterns to the modern ones we see today, the festival's web page includes links to great galleries from past years' celebrations!

If you're near Asagaya Shrine a little earlier in the year, don't forget to take a look at the shrine's adorable cherry blossom season protective lace bracelets.



Image Source: Asagaya Tanabata Festival

Asagaya Tanabata Festival (阿佐谷七夕まつり)
Address: Asagaya Station, 3-1-20 Asagaya, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Date/Time: Aug. 4~8, 2023 | 10:00 – 22:00
Access: Asagaya Station
Official Website (jp)



Located in the Fussa area of western Tokyo, the Fussa Tanabata Festival has lots of local flair. With more than 100 stalls set up as part of the street festival, there are plenty of neighborhood shops out and ready to serve food and fun to the masses. Plus, the festival includes a stage scheduled with lots of performances from neighborhood residents, in addition to their yearly Princess Orihime Contest. 

Fussa Tanabata Festival
Address: Fussa Station, Honcho, Fussa, Tokyo
Time/Date: July 8~9, 2023 | 13:00 – 21:00
Access: Fussa Station
Official Website (jp)

So, do you have plans for Tanabata yet? If you're in Japan during July or August, go find your nearest celebration!

Or, if you want some other fun things to do in Japan this summer, take a train to enjoy some beautiful hydrangeas, see some of the world's best fireworks, or take a trip down to Okinawa.

For more info and updates from Japan, check Japankuru for new articles, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Details

NAME:Tanabata (七夕)

MAP

PROFILE

Follow us @Japankuru on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

  • facebook
  • line

COMMENT

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

FEATURED MEDIA

VIEW MORE →

⚔️The Robot Restaurant is gone, but the Samurai Restaurant is here to take its place. Check it out, and don't forget your coupon!
🍣신주쿠의 명소 로봇 레스토랑이 사무라이 레스토랑으로 부활! 절찬 쿠폰 발급중
💃18歲以上才能入場的歌舞秀,和你想的不一樣!拿好優惠券去看看~
#tokyo #shinjuku #samurairestaurant #robotrestaurant #tokyotrip #도쿄여행 #신주쿠 #사무라이레스토랑 #이색체험 #할인이벤트 #歌舞伎町 #東京景點 #武士餐廳 #日本表演 #日本文化體驗 #japankuru #japantrip #japantravel #japanlovers #japan_of_insta

⚔️The Robot Restaurant is gone, but the Samurai Restaurant is here to take its place. Check it out, and don't forget your coupon! 🍣신주쿠의 명소 로봇 레스토랑이 사무라이 레스토랑으로 부활! 절찬 쿠폰 발급중 💃18歲以上才能入場的歌舞秀,和你想的不一樣!拿好優惠券去看看~ #tokyo #shinjuku #samurairestaurant #robotrestaurant #tokyotrip #도쿄여행 #신주쿠 #사무라이레스토랑 #이색체험 #할인이벤트 #歌舞伎町 #東京景點 #武士餐廳 #日本表演 #日本文化體驗 #japankuru #japantrip #japantravel #japanlovers #japan_of_insta

Japanese appliance & electronics shopping with our KOJIMA x BicCamera coupon!
用JAPANKURU的KOJIMA x BicCamera優惠券買這些正好❤️
코지마 x 빅 카메라 쿠폰으로 일본 가전 제품 쇼핑하기

#pr #japankuru #japanshopping #kojima #biccamera #japaneseskincare #yaman #dji #osmopocket3 #skincaredevice #日本購物 #美容儀 #相機 #雅萌 #日本家電 #일본여행 #면세 #여행꿀팁 #일본쇼핑리스트 #쿠폰 #일본쇼핑 #일본브랜드 #할인 #코지마 #빅카메라 #japankurucoupon

Japanese appliance & electronics shopping with our KOJIMA x BicCamera coupon! 用JAPANKURU的KOJIMA x BicCamera優惠券買這些正好❤️ 코지마 x 빅 카메라 쿠폰으로 일본 가전 제품 쇼핑하기 #pr #japankuru #japanshopping #kojima #biccamera #japaneseskincare #yaman #dji #osmopocket3 #skincaredevice #日本購物 #美容儀 #相機 #雅萌 #日本家電 #일본여행 #면세 #여행꿀팁 #일본쇼핑리스트 #쿠폰 #일본쇼핑 #일본브랜드 #할인 #코지마 #빅카메라 #japankurucoupon

Which snacks make the best Japanese souvenirs?~ Jaga Pirika ~
일본과자 선물 뭐하지?~자가피리카 편~
#pr #calbee #jagapokkuru #japanesesnacks #japanesefood #japanesesouvenir #japantravel #japantrip #naritaairport #hokkaido #나리타국제공항 #일본여행선물 #흔하지않은기념품 #일본쇼핑리스트 #일본과자추천 #고구마과자 #일본간식추천 #일본면세점쇼핑 #개별포장 #일본감자칩 #도쿄나리타공항면세점 #현지인추천 #일본여행 #일본기념품리스트 #자가포쿠루 #자가피리카

Which snacks make the best Japanese souvenirs?~ Jaga Pirika ~ 일본과자 선물 뭐하지?~자가피리카 편~ #pr #calbee #jagapokkuru #japanesesnacks #japanesefood #japanesesouvenir #japantravel #japantrip #naritaairport #hokkaido #나리타국제공항 #일본여행선물 #흔하지않은기념품 #일본쇼핑리스트 #일본과자추천 #고구마과자 #일본간식추천 #일본면세점쇼핑 #개별포장 #일본감자칩 #도쿄나리타공항면세점 #현지인추천 #일본여행 #일본기념품리스트 #자가포쿠루 #자가피리카

Niki Golf offers a huge selection of new and used golf gear in Ueno, Tokyo. Between the weak yen and the shop's willingness to haggle, there's never been a better time for beginners or seasoned experts to pick up some clubs, golf wear, or limited-edition Japanese golf equipment!
#ueno #nikigolf #golfshopping #golfgear #🏌️ #golflife #golf #golftips #golfjapan #jpangolf #golfclub #honma #ameyoko #二木ゴルフ #二木ゴルフアメ横本店 #nikigolfameyoko #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyoshopping #japantrip #japantravel #japanlovers #japan_of_insta #japankuru #pr

Niki Golf offers a huge selection of new and used golf gear in Ueno, Tokyo. Between the weak yen and the shop's willingness to haggle, there's never been a better time for beginners or seasoned experts to pick up some clubs, golf wear, or limited-edition Japanese golf equipment! #ueno #nikigolf #golfshopping #golfgear #🏌️ #golflife #golf #golftips #golfjapan #jpangolf #golfclub #honma #ameyoko #二木ゴルフ #二木ゴルフアメ横本店 #nikigolfameyoko #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyoshopping #japantrip #japantravel #japanlovers #japan_of_insta #japankuru #pr

Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is home to the famous real-size 20m-tall Unicorn Gundam, and the popular shopping center has even more Gundam on the inside! Check out the Gundam Base Tokyo on the 7th floor for shelves upon shelves of Gunpla, and the Gundam Base Tokyo Annex on the 2nd floor for cool anime merchandise. Both shops have tons of limited-edition items!
#pr #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #PR #divercity #divercitytokyoplaza #tokyoshopping #gundam #unicorngundam #gundambasetokyo #anime #otaku #gunpla #japankuru #오다이바 #다이바시티도쿄 #오다이바건담 #건담 #일본건담 #건프라 #건담베이스도쿄

Odaiba's DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is home to the famous real-size 20m-tall Unicorn Gundam, and the popular shopping center has even more Gundam on the inside! Check out the Gundam Base Tokyo on the 7th floor for shelves upon shelves of Gunpla, and the Gundam Base Tokyo Annex on the 2nd floor for cool anime merchandise. Both shops have tons of limited-edition items! #pr #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #PR #divercity #divercitytokyoplaza #tokyoshopping #gundam #unicorngundam #gundambasetokyo #anime #otaku #gunpla #japankuru #오다이바 #다이바시티도쿄 #오다이바건담 #건담 #일본건담 #건프라 #건담베이스도쿄

|

MAP OF JAPAN

SEARCH BY REGION →

    • HOKKAIDO

      VIEW MORE →

      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).

    • SAPPORO

      VIEW MORE →

      Sapporo, in the south-western part of Hokkaido, is the prefecture's political and economic capital. The local New Chitose Airport see arrivals from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, alongside international flights. Every February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is held in Odori Park―one of the biggest events in Hokkaido. It's also a hotspot for great food, known as a culinary treasure chest, and Sapporo is a destination for ramen, grilled mutton, soup curry, and of course Hokkaido's beloved seafood.

    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

    • Akita Prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, in the northern reaches of Japan's northern Tohoku region. Akita has more officially registered important intangible culture assets than anywhere else in Japan, and to this day visitors can experience traditional culture throughout the prefecture, from the Oga Peninsula's Namahage (registered with UNESCO as a part of Japan's intangible cultural heritage), to the Tohoku top 3 Kanto Festival. Mysterious little spots like the Oyu Stone Circle Site and Ryu no Atama (Dragon's Head) are also worth a visit!

    • FUKUSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

      Fukushima Prefecture sits at the southern tip of Japan's northern Tohoku region, and is divided into three parts with their own different charms: the Coastal Area (Hama-dori), the Central Area (Naka-dori), and the Aizu Area. There's Aizu-Wakamatsu with its Edo-era history and medieval castles, Oze National Park, Kitakata ramen, and Bandai Ski Resort (with its famous powder snow). Fukushima is a beautiful place to enjoy the vivid colors and sightseeing of Japan's beloved four seasons.

    • YAMAGATA

      VIEW MORE →

      Yamagata Prefecture is up against the Sea of Japan, in the southern part of the Tohoku region, and it's especially popular in winter, when travelers soak in the onsen (hot springs) and ski down snowy slopes. International skiiers are especially fond of Zao Onsen Ski Resort and Gassan Ski Resort, and in recent years visitors have been drawn to the area to see the mystical sight of local frost-covered trees. Some destinations are popular regardless of the season, like Risshakuji Temple, AKA Yamadera, Ginzan Onsen's nostalgic old-fashioned streets, and Zao's Okama Lake, all great for taking pictures. Yamagata is also the place to try Yonezawa beef, one of the top 3 varieties of wagyu beef.

    • Japan's most densely populated area, the Kanto Region (関東地方) includes 7 prefectures: Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba, and Kanagawa, which means it also contains the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. In modern-day Japan, Kanto is the cultural, political, and economic heartland of the country, and each prefecture offers something a little different from its neighbors.

    • Gunma Prefecture is easily accessible from Tokyo, and in addition to the area's popular natural attractions like Oze Marshland and Fukiware Falls, Gunma also has a number of popular hot springs (Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, Shima)―it's even called an Onsen Kingdom. The prefecture is popular with history buffs and train lovers, thanks to spots like world heritage site Tomioka Silk Mill, the historic Megane-bashi Bridge, and the Watarase Keikoku Sightseeing Railway.

    • TOCHIGI

      VIEW MORE →

      Tochigi Prefecture's capital is Utsunomiya, known for famous gyoza, and just an hour from Tokyo. The prefecture is full of nature-related sightseeing opportunities year-round, from the blooming of spring flowers to color fall foliage. Tochigi also has plenty of extremely well-known sightseeing destinations, like World Heritage Site Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and Ashikaga Flower Park―famous for expansive wisteria trellises. In recent years the mountain resort town of Nasu has also become a popular excursion, thanks in part to the local imperial villa. Tochigi is a beautiful place to enjoy the world around you.

    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

    • Nagano Prefecture's popularity starts with a wealth of historic treasures, like Matsumoto Castle, Zenkoji Temple, and Togakushi Shrine, but the highlight might just be the prefecture's natural vistas surrounded by the "Japanese Alps." Nagano's fruit is famous, and there are plenty of places to pick it fresh, and the area is full of hot springs, including Jigokudani Monkey Park―where monkeys take baths as well! Thanks to the construction of the Hokuriku shinkansen line, Nagano is easily reachable from the Tokyo area, adding it to plenty of travel itineraries. And after the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are known around the world.

    • Aichi Prefecture sits in the center of the Japanese islands, and its capital city, Nagoya, is a center of politics, commerce, and culture. While Aichi is home to major industry, and is even the birthplace of Toyota cars, it's proximity to the sea and the mountains means it's also a place with beautiful natural scenery, like Saku Island, Koijigahama Beach, Mt. Horaiji. Often used a stage for major battles in Japanese history, Sengoku era commanders like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu left their own footprints on Aichi, and historic buildings like Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle, and those in Meiji Mura are still around to tell the tale.

    • NIIGATA

      VIEW MORE →

      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.

    • SHIZUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.

    • CHUGOKU

      VIEW MORE →

      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.

    • HIROSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.

    • SHIKOKU

      VIEW MORE →

      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!

    • FUKUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.

    • KAGOSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.

    • OKINAWA

      VIEW MORE →

      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.

MOST POPULAR

RELATED ARTICLES

PARTNERS