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11 of the Best-Selling Japanese Medicine Cabinet Staples – Medicine, First-Aid, and Skin Care

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Introducing the items found in every Japanese medicine cabinet. Eleven long-established products that Japanese households keep on-hand―and popular Japanese drugstore souvenirs!



Eleven products for different every-day concerns―these are all long-established favorites, found in medicine cabinets around Japan. These pills, powders, first-aid items and other healthcare products are all easily available at drugstores, so picking a few up of them might just give you some especially unique souvenirs from Japan. (Of course, if something calls out to you, and you can't wait until your next visit to Japan, you can buy most of them online, too!)

1. Medicine to Keep Your Body in Balance & Relieve Fatigue



In Japan, Kyushin has been a popular over-the-counter medicine for generations, and the retro look of its unchanging, old-fashioned packaging is still eyecatching. The medicine's long history means that it has been a part of people's health care routines for almost a hundred years. Kyushin is made with nine different natural remedies that directly affect the muscle tissue of the heart, which they say strengthens the organ's ability to pump and circulate blood, and consequently reduces palpitations and shortness of breath. The medicine may also calm the sympathetic nervous system, helping to regulate and balance autonomic nerves, and even boost the circulation of more oxygen-filled blood throughout the body―stimulating the brain's ability to think clearly.

The small, easy-to-swallow pills are formulated to break down easily, and quickly absorb into the body. Kyushin is a medicine recommended for all kinds of situations: when climbing a long flight of stairs causes palpitations and shortness of breath; when you just can't seem to shake a bout of exhaustion from too much overtime at work; when a strenuous day of hiking or golfing in the hot sun has you zoning out and unable to concentrate; when the weather shifts and hot days or cold nights cause palpitations; when a long drive or plane flight leaves you feeling groggy; or even when menopause or a nervous system inbalance causes dizziness or palpitations.

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 30 pills/2,200 yen | 60 pills/4,100 yen | 120 pills/7,600 yen | 310 pills/17,000 yen | 630 pills/31,000 yen
Effects/Benefits: Restorative properties, good for palpitations and shortness of breath.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Introducing Kyushin Tablet, which has all the same effects and benefits of classic Kyushin, but in convenient tablet form. Thanks to its reported ability to help with the palpatations and shortness of breath that can come from the stress of the business world, Kyushin Tablet is especially popular among business professionals on the grind with lots of responsibilities. The tablets can come in handy for long flights or nerve-wracking presentations, but Kyushin Tablet is also popular for outings like hiking or golf.

Thanks to a film coating, the tablets don't have any of the strong odor or flavor often associated with Japan's natural remedies, and the lightweight plastic bottle is easy to keep on hand, so the medicine can be taken on the go. Stress, nervous system troubles, bad circulation, insufficient oxygen, a racing heart, shortness of breathーdoes one of the recommended uses for Kyushin Tablet seems right for you? For everyone just trying to tough it out, perhaps this is your opportunity to give Kyushin a try instead. The medicine's effects look like they could definitely come in handy when it comes to the discomfort that many travelers encounter, so if you're interested, why not pick up a bottle to try for yourself when you get to Japan? They even recently released an extra-large bottle of 60 tablets!

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 9 tablets/1,400 yen | 30 tablets/4,100 yen | 60 tablets/7,600 yen
Effects/Benefits: Restorative properties, good for palpitations and shortness of breath.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



 

In this dizzying day and age, stress is inevitable. But this particular medicine has been around since a time over 60 years ago, when the Japanese borrowed word "stress" (ストレス) hadn't even become commonplace in the common vocabulary of Japan yet. Produced by Okuda Seiyaku, a pharmaceutical company with over 120 years of history, this product has now been a popular choice for decades. Okuda Cranial Nerve Medicine combines seven different Japanese natural remedies with three ingredients used in Western medicine, for a formula that they say works to fight the symptoms of stress and exhaustion, like dizziness, ringing in the ears, stiff neck and shoulders, headache, heavy-headedness, irritation, and anxiety.

Stress is lurking behind every corner these days, whether it comes from looking for a job, searching for (or losing) love, or even from tragedy: an accident, injury, or natural disaster. For plenty of people, this unavoidable stress takes a toll on the nervous system, throwing the body out of balance and causing symptoms like chronic headaches or ringing in the ears, casting a shadow over ever day. How are you feeling these days? How about your friends and family? Okuda Cranial Nerve Medicine is an easy to swallow sedative tablet, that can help relieve symptoms of stress and exhaustion. They say it's even good for your everyday stiff neck, so why not give it a try and see how it works for you?

 

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 70 tablets/2,458 yen | 150 tablets/4,743 yen | 340 tablets/9,000 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for ringing ears, dizziness, stiff neck and shoulders, irritation, headaches, heavy-headedness, hot flashes, and anxiety.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Tsumura: over 120 years of history! The company is one of Japan's top manufacturers of "kampo," traditional Chinese medicine, and they've been at the forefront of the Japanese kampo industry, pushing forward and producing multiple popular products like Chujoto, and Bathclin. When it comes to kampo that supplements your energy and general well-being, though, Tsumura-Kamp Hochuekkito Extract Granules is their top candidate. This kampo is made for anyone dealing with a lack of appetite or energy, and those who feel sluggish, weak, or easily-exhausted. They also recommend it for when a cold is dragging on for far too long, when you can't quite seem to shake an illness, or when post-surgery recovery is just sapping you of all your strength.

With its roots in Chinese medical tradition, this kampo is made to tackle "qi xu" (気虚), quite literally the lack of "qi" or chi (気) that is the energy at the root of life in traditional Chinese medicine. By helping the stomach and intestinal tract with the process of digestion and nutrient absorption, they say this medicine helps your body produce the chi that builds a strong body. On top of that, it has been seen to help with the loss of appetite that can come from intense summer heat―especially relevant during this season. There are plenty of people who suffer from both that loss of appetite and the fatigue that comes from the extremes of air conditioning, so if that sounds familiar to you, this might just be a good option to try out! This kampo medicine contains ten different natural remedies, including ginseng, Mongolian milkvetch, and Atractylodes lancea (a source of "cāng zhú" in Chinese herbal medicine), so give it a try if it's piqued your interest!
 
Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 10 packets (5 days)/1,800 yen | 48 packets (24 days)/4,300 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for a weak constitution, fatigue/malaise, post-illness weakness, loss of appetite, night sweats, and the common cold.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing

2. Medicine for Your Stomach



 

The Ohta Isan company has been around for over 140 years, mainly developing and producing antacids and stomach medicines. Their product Ohta Isan (sometimes called Ohta's Isan) is a composite of seven different natural remedies, all known to relieve stomach discomfort, and it's been a favorite in Japan for many years. When you've had a little too much to eat or drink, or when food is sitting a little too heavily in your stomach, frequent users say the medicine kicks regular digestion back into motion. The original Ohta Isan comes in powder form, and the aroma of the natural remedies and cooling menthol makes it easy to get down. Ohta Isan powder is packaged in two different ways: in a can with a small spoon, which is convenient for keeping in the house or on a desk, and also in individual packets. The individual portions are especially good keep with you when you're on the go―traveling, or even in a meeting.

Aside from the standard Ohta Isan antacid, they make a few other products for more specific stomach troubles. Ohta Isan A is recommended for discomfort after a particularly greasy meal. Ohta Isan Seichoyaku (AKA "Ohta Isan Drug for Controlling Intestinal Function") helps when your stomach and intestines just feel out of order, and can improve digestional problems like constipation or diarrhea. Ohta Kampo Ichoyaku Ⅱ(AKA "Ohta Chinese Herbal Gastrointestinal Medicine Ⅱ") is specially made for those who suffer from stress-related stomach problems, or anyone whose stomach troubles just never seem to disappear. All of their products can be found in just about any drug store, so keep an eye out!

(Read more about all of Ohta Isan's products here.)

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 
Cans – 75g/680 yen | 140g/1,200 yen | 210g/1,680 yen
Individual Packets – 16 count/590 yen | 32 count/1,120 yen | 48 count/1,580 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for heartburn, stomach discomfort and pain, indigestion, overeating, loss of appetite, bloating, nausea, and the discomfort that comes from heavy drinking
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Strong Wakamoto is a gastrointestinal remedy that helps as an aid for three functions: digestion, intestinal regulation, and nutritional supplementation. While the Japanese diet once revolved around lots of plant-based dishes, the increasing abundance of a variety of foods in Japan has changed culinary culture. These days Western food has made its mark, and the average diet contains more high-fat, high-protein, low-fiber meals. Needless to say, this places extra burden on the gastrointestinal system. Strong Wakamoto is formulated to relieve some of that extra stress on the stomach, and return the digestive system to good health.

Using a formula made with an exclusive strain of aspergillus oryzae NK yeast to produce digestive enzymes, powdered lactobacillus culture to regulate the intestines, and brewers yeast packed full of the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary for life, Strong Wakamoto takes the power of three naturally-sourced components and uses them to bring the digestive system back to normalcy and give the body energy. They say that on top of helping with stomach discomfort, indigestion, loss of appetite, and other common problems, it can also help with constipation and nutritional support by improving the stomach's general condition. Strong Wakamoto is sold in pill form and powder form, and the easy-to-take powder is only available in Japan! Do you know someone who might like this exclusive product as a souvenir?

Medical Classification: Designated Quasi-Drug
Pricing: 1,000 pills/2,500 yen | 300 pills/1,000 yen | 108 pills/500 yen | 24 packets/950 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for stomach or abdominal discomfort, discomfort due to overeating, constipation or loose stool, heartburn, bloating, a weak constitution and those who are easily tired. Also for those considering nutritional supplementation during or after illness, pregnancy, or childbirth.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Seirogan, with its easily-recognizable trumpet logo, has been popular in Japan for over 100 years. It's such a common name in the world of everyday remedies for diarrhea and food poisoning, we'd be surprised to find a Japanese person who's never even heard of it. The name Seirogan generally brings to mind a familiarly strong-smelling medicine. But Seirogan Toi-A, from the same brand, takes this plant-based remedy formulated around wood creosote, and uses a white sugar coating on each pill. That means that Seirogan Toi-A is just about odorless, which makes it an especially popular product. It's recommended for children five years and older, too.

On top of treating diarrhea that comes from eating or drinking too much, or even stress or cold weather, it can actually be quite helpful for issues that stem from a virus- or bacteria-based stomach bug! Most so-called "antidiarrheals" just about bring the intestinal system to a halt, so they're not recommended for issues caused by viruses or bacteria. But many say that Seirogan Toi-A gives them peace of mind, because it takes on your overactive intestines and returns them to their normal state. Anyone suffering from diarrhea is going to want to get over it as quickly as possible, so if you're reading this and thinking Seirogan might just come in handy, perhaps you'll want to pick up a bottle to have around the house. Seirogan Toi-A is easy to take and doesn't have any unpleasant odors, so it's handy to have with you in class or at the office, as well.

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 36 pills | 84 pills (open pricing)
Effects/Benefits: Good for diarrhea or loose stool, vomiting, and food poisoning.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing

3. Creams and Ointments for Dry, Cracked Skin



Palmore is a nonsteroidal ointment that has gained quite a few loyal customers over the past 50 years, especially among Japanese women. The ointment works to promote the growth of new skin with a mix of pyridoxine dipalmitate (fat-soluble vitamin B6) and extract of fresh animal placenta, and it's been shown to be effective against all kinds of conditions that cause dry and irritated skin, helping to fix hands that are rough and cracked from housework, and moisturizing dry elbows, knees, and heels.

The ointment has a broad range of uses, including just about any time the skin needs a little extra care, and even dry or cracked lips. Palmore especially popular thanks to its year-round convenience. It's easy for skincare to slip your mind in the hot summer months, but you can keep a tube of Palmore on hand for skin dried by air conditioning and burned by the sun. When the cold weather rolls around, Palmore is of course useful for keeping skin moisturized and rejuvinated through Japan's dry winters. There are more than a few women in Japan who keep a little tube of Palmore tucked away in their purse throughout the year, as a convenient answer to all sorts of skin-related worries. You'll find the cute pink packaging on the web and in drugstores around Japan!

Medical Classification: Schedule 2 (over the counter)
Pricing: 7g/1,100 yen | 14g/1,900 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for rough, dry hands, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, pityriasis rosea, sunburn, chapped lips, acne, rosacea, dry cracked skin, and general skin care.
Official Website (jp)



(New packaging due for release Sep. 1, 2020, shown on the right.) 
 

A Japanese standby, "Yuskin A" is changing its name and packaging. But even once it becomes the new "Yuskin", this yellow cream will keep the same popular formula, featuring vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Yuskin actually works to treat dry, cracked skin using a combination of four active ingredients, and the real benefit to using Yuskin is that it doesn't just moisturize skin―they say "the cream really heals rough, chapped skin." To make sure your skin stays nice and soft, moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C are also added to the mix. From the moment it hits the skin, Yuskin promotes moisture and protects. If you like the way it feels, you can use it from head to toe! Yuskin recommends thoroughly massaging the cream into the skin before bed every night, to wake up each morning with velvety smooth skin.

Yuskin was created in response to the unanswered pleas of the many housewives whose housework was giving them dry, iritated skin, and the cream has proudly remained a popular choice ever since. It's not uncommon to see a bottle of Yuskin kept around the house, ready for use on the whole family's dry skin. It's easy to find in drugstores and online, so it's worth a try (and it's not a bad souvenir, either)!

Medical Classification: Designated Quasi-Drug
Pricing: 40g tube/530 yen | 80g tube/890 yen | 120g tub/1,240 yen | 180g pump bottle/open pricing | 180g refill pouch/open pricing
Effects/Benefits: Good for rough, dry skin, and chilblains.
Official Website (jp)

4. Other Medicine Cabinet Staples



When it comes to a sore throat, Ryukakusan is an old favorite in Japan. For many, when something starts to feel off and there's a tickle at the back of the throat, Ryukakusan comes to mind. But that's no surprise―Ryukakusan has been a popular pharmaceutical manufacturer for over 200 years! While they have a few different products that have stuck around into this century, today we're looking at Ryukakusan Direct. Ryukakusan Direct contains six different natural remedies like platycodon (Chinese bellflower) and senega (in the milkweed family), which have expectorant properties, along with glycyrrhiza (licorice), which has anti-inflammatory properties. The medicine is taken without water, so the natural remedies absorb directly into the throat's mucus membrane and surrounding cilia. It's also effective at both suppressing a cough, and encouraging the expectoration of excess phlegm.

The "Stick" variety of Ryukakusan Direct comes in packets of fine powder, taken without water, which quickly melt right onto the throat "just like soft snow flakes," as they put it. It's helpful for when your throat starts to bother you, when you start to develop a cough, or even when you've just overused your voice, so of course they recommend you always carry a packet with you. The little packets are in convenient one-dose portions, making them easy to take with you when you leave the house (or when you travel). Taking care of your throat health is an important step towards preventing viruses! Ryukakusan Direct Stick comes in two flavors, mint and peach, and they each have the same medicinal effects, so you can always try whichever flavor sounds good to you at the moment.

Medical Classification: Schedule 3 (over the counter)
Pricing: 16 packets/700 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for cough, excess phlegm, a sore throat, hoarse voice, and problems that come with throat irritation.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Coloskin forms a strong barrier against water, the clear look passes unnoticed on the skin, and you definitely don't need a gauze bandage to use it! The liquid formula with added pyroxylin and camphor dries quickly after being applied to the skin, quickly turning into a clear film. This thin, clear film stops the germs from getting it, and it's been show to effectively protect injuries like small cuts, abrasions, hangnails, and cracked skin. The subtle look of a clear bandage is a popular point, too! They particularly recommend coloskin to anyone who works in an industry where appearance is important.

Coloskin has quite a few uses. For outdoorsy types out there, it's handy for little cuts and scrapes on a hike, or even when your shoes rub a little too much. For anyone who likes to go fishing, or even clamming, Coloskin can protect little wounds from the painful sting of saltwater. Coloskin is a constant companion for households that love sports or travel, or anyone that might find themselves hurt while doing farmwork and other outside labor, especially since the formula is strong against water. The flexible formula makes this liquid bandage work great on joints big and small, and once dried, the bandage stays strong against water and detergents, keeping wounds clean and hygeinic. Since it has so many uses, you can imagine having one for home, one for work, tubes to keep in your bag and tubes just for the kids. If you think you might need a handful, they do sell 2-packs of mini tubes as well!

Medical Classification: Schedule 3 (over the counter)
Pricing: 11ml/880 yen | Mini Tubes (5ml x 2)/1,200 yen
Effects/Benefits: Minor cuts, scratches, and scrapes, hangnails, chapped skin.
Official Website (jp)
English Product Listing



Onsen hot springs: the pride of Japan. Out of the many hot springs nationwide, these medicinal plasters were born from one of the top three onsen in Japan, Gero Onsen of Gifu Prefecture. The story of the Okuda Mataemon-ko specialty shop stretches back into history, having opened its doors at the end of Japan's Edo period. The shop and their medicinal formulas have been handed down through the generations over the past 150 years, finally taking the shape you see today. Look at Okuda's continued success through the years, we certainly get the impression that they've maintained a sterling reputation. Their Okudake Geroko medicinal plasters draw from the many years of history, utilizing natural remedies and kampo ingredients like Amur cork and the Chinese bayberry skin, and painting the medicine onto plasters made of local Mino washi paper. When placed onto body parts that suffer from chronic pain, like the lower back, joints, and sensitive nerves, the plasters are said to gradually, gently ease the pain. There are three varieties, so you can choose which best fits your needs: Black Geroko which works on chronic pain, White Geroko which has added camphor for anti-inflammatory effects, and Green Geroko which works on everything from acute pains to chronic aches.

If you're planning on picking up some Okudake Geroko, they recommend not only buying it at the local drugstore, but also making your way over to Gero Onsen itself! The company's original specialty store still maintains its 150-year-old facade and a collection of old historical documents. Making your way to Gero Onsen, enjoying the hot springs, and stopping by to pick up some medicinal plasters at the original Okuda Mataemon-ko specialty shop―the whole experience makes for a story to bring home with you, too!

Medical Classification: Schedule 3 (over the counter)
Pricing: 
Green ("Ace Plaster") – 10 sheets/1,600 yen
Black & White ("Geroko" & "Byakko") – 10 sheets/1,300 yen | 20 sheets/2,500 yen
Effects/Benefits: Good for bruises, sprains, stiff muscles and joints, sore muscles and nerve pain, and rheumatism.
Official Website (jp)

Found something you're interested in? Still mulling over your options? Take this chance to do a little window shopping, and figure out just which products you'll want to add to your household first-aid kit! (Perhaps it's time to put together a Japanese drugstore shopping list?) For more updates and info from Japan, don't forget to follow Japankuru on twitter, instagram, and facebook!

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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

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MAP OF JAPAN

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    • HOKKAIDO

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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.

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