Okinawa Trip 2019! The Best Sightseeing Spots, Restaurants, Hotels, and More

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Japan’s Tropical Paradise: Okinawa

Today we'd like to introduce you all to Okinawa, where the people of Japan go for that island resort experience. It's a beautiful area full of tons of things to do, so read on for all the information you need to plan the perfect trip.

Okinawa is the southernmost part of Japan, and it's its own chain of islands, large and small. The four largest of these islands is the Okinawa Main Island, Miyako Island, Ishigaki Island, and Iriomote Island, but there are many smaller landmasses and tiny islets surrounding them as well.

Most people spend the majority of their first trip to Okinawa on the main island, and stick relatively close to Naha Airport. The other areas have plenty to offer, but there's nothing wrong with staying in one area when you first visit!

Some of the most popular attractions on the main island are the city of Naha and the town of Onnason, along with Okinawa's famous Churaumi Aquarium.

Of course, you can sightsee all you want in Okinawa, but the biggest draw towards Okinawa is the sea! Missing the chance to enjoy the beautiful emerald waters would be a terrible waste.


1. But where to stay? (Some Hotel Recommendations)

Accommodation is the first thing we all think of after purchasing our plane tickets. Are we thinking of staying in an affordable guesthouse? A comfortable hotel? Maybe even a 5-star resort? There's lots to decide.

Lots of travelers like staying in Naha City or American Village. They're easy to access from the airport, making them convenient options.

If you want to really get into Okinawa, though, you can always rent a car. Then you're free to go wherever you please. Doing that would let you stay in Onnason, a beautiful little village, and we'd like to recommend a few places in that area.

① Rizzan Sea-Park Hotel Tancha Bay

This resort hotel is right on the beach, meaning that balconies include amazing ocean views of the vibrant blue water. Sit in the shade of your own room and admire the waves breaking on the shore at the same time.

In front of the resort is also a private beach, with 800 meters (2625 ft) of sand reserved only for hotel guests.

Playground for Children

Ocean View Balcony

With the fun balconies (complete with safe guard rails), and play areas, there are great kids' facilities at the hotel, making it a good choice for families. They also offer marine sports, so you don't have to stray far looking for adventure!

Rizzan Sea-Park Hotel Tancha Bay (リザンシーパークホテル谷茶ベイ)
1496 Tancha, Onna Village, Kunigami, Okinawa
Car Rental Map Code: 206 158 991*66
Official Website

② Best Western Okinawa Onna Beach

This hotel has its own private beach, as well! Some of the rooms are even designated ocean view rooms, and you can literally see the beach from your bed. This hotel is known for its spacious and clean rooms, very much American-style, as well as an outdoor pool.

Ocean View Rooms

Enjoying the Beautiful Weather

If you want to really get into the Okinawa spirit, try some of the Ryukyu cuisine (traditional Okinawan food!) available as part of the breakfast buffet.

Best Western Okinawa Onna Beach
1888 Maeda, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
Phone: 098-964-1130 
Email: onna@bwhotels.jp 
Check-in/Check-out: 15:00/11:00
Official Website

2. Restaurants Not to Miss!

I don't know about you, but once I know where I'm staying on a trip, the next thing I think about is what to eat. That's an important reason for traveling somewhere new, isn't it? There's heaps of good food in Okinawa, but here are a few restaurants and cafes we recommend you check out.

Such Nice Outdoor Seating!

Okinawa Soba, an Okinawa Specialty

① Okinawa Soba Restaurant Makabechina (茶処 真壁ちなー)

Okinawa soba is a specialty of the area, and is something that you have to try if you're visiting! It's hard to find outside of Okinawa, and a bowl of these chewy noodles in a sweet-and-savory broth is worth your time.

Makabechina (茶処 真壁ちなー)
223 Makabe, Itoman, Okinawa
Hours: 11:00 – 15:00 (Closed Wednesdays)
Phone: 098-997-3207
Official Website

Tasty Beef in All Shapes and Sizes

Plus Drinks from Tropical Juice to Wine

② Steak on International Street, at Steak House 88

Okinawa has some pretty popular beef, so you'll see lots of steak shops, especially where visitors flock. We recommend a visit to Steak House 88, which you won't miss thanks to its bright neon signs! This local chain has multiple locations scattered along International Street, and is open until 10 pm, so tasty steaks made from Okinawan beef are always readily available.

③ A Cafe Complete with Ocean View, Cafe Curcuma

This cafe is super popular because of the amazing views that can be had right from your seat! Feel free to sip on tasty drinks and enjoy the cerulean waters, or head over for a solid meal from morning till night. They've got a pretty interesting menu, filled with items taken from around the Asian continent. (The picture above shows their "pumpkin of your dreams", which is steamed pumpkin filled with a luscious coconut-milk-based pudding!)

Cafe Curcuma (カフェくるくま)
Chinen-1190 Chinen, Nanjo, Okinawa
Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Phone: 098-949-1189
Official Website

④ An Attractive Spot for Rainy Days: Yachimun Cafe Shisa Garden

This cafe is nice even in the rain, with its lovely covered outdoor seating looking out onto the garden. The little sculptures you'll see out there are shisa, a traditional Ryukyuan (Okinawan) cultural artifact; they're a lot like Chinese guardian lions. If you're a shisa fan, you'll love the view.

Try the "ultra mikan juice" for a blast of vitamin C. It uses lots of local citrus fruits for a tart and delicious drink.

Yachimun Cafe Shisa Garden
Address: 1439 Izumi, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Hours: 11:00 – 19:00 (Closed Mondays & Tuesdays)
Phone: 0980-47-2160

3. Okinawa = Fun in the Water!

If you're headed to Okinawa, don't forget to plan for snorkeling, diving, and tons of other fun things you can do in the ocean. With so much to do in the water, you could basically live at the beach. Here are some of the activities we would do again.

① Take in the Clear Waters at Kouri Island

An hour and a half from Naha by car, Kouri Island (or Kourijima, 古宇利島) is famous for its crystal clear waters, reflecting emerald light from the blue skies of Okinawa. It's not too crowded, so you can get that amazing Okinawa ocean experience without too many people filling up your photos. You might already recognize it as the background for lots of Japanese TV show episodes, or movies.

Kouri Island Beach (古宇利島ビーチ)
Kouri, Nakijin, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Car Rental Map Code: 485 722 490 3 
Official Website

If you do get there by car, you'll be relieved to hear that there are free parking lots, making it a breeze to get there. Once you arrive, it's a dream come true for any water sport lovers! Head over to Kouri Ocean Side (our personal recommendation), and try out their flyboards, jetskis, banana boats, and more!

② Pretend You're on a Private Island at Mission Beach

Pay a small fee to get out onto, Mission Beach a private beach with that exclusive feeling. It's cleaner than most free beaches, and is a super safe place to lay back and totally relax.

There are also facilities for everything from various marine sports to banquets.

In addition, there are free to use showers and toilets, plus the lawns are all nicely manicured and pleasant.

This beach may not be super well known (a plus if you want a quiet area), but it was used as a filming location in a music video by popular k-pop heartthrobs SHINee!

Mission Beach
Address: 2005-1 Afuso, Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 – 18:30
Car Rental Map Code: 206 349 757 * 46 
Admission Fee: 300 yen per person, plus 300 yen per vehicle
Official Website

③ Enjoy the Ocean, Even if the Water is a Little Scary, at Busena Marine Park

If walking out into the water makes your heart beat a little bit too fast… or you just don't feel like getting wet one day, Busena Seaside Park is a clear destination for you! It's the only place in Okinawa where you can get a look deep in the water, while staying dressed and dry!

A Convenient Free Shuttle Bus

Get That One-on-One Time You Wanted with a Parrot Fish

If you purchase a ticket at the ticket office, you can take their free shuttle bus to the underwater observation area. You can look through their specially made windows to the ocean, and make friends with all the tropical fish in the area.

Busena Marine Park (ブセナ海中公園)
Address: 1744-1 Kise, Nago, Okinawa
Hours: Apr. to Oct. 9:00 – 18:00 | Nov. to Mar. 9:00 – 17:30
Car Rental Map Code: 206 442 075 
Admission Fee: Adults 1,030 yen | College Students 820 yen | Children 520 yen
Official Website

④ Dive Under the Surface at Blue Cave

Located in Onnason, this popular diving and snorkeling spot glows with a mysterious blue light! Enjoy the magical glow while you float in the water.

Inside of the cave is quite dark, giving you a good view of the blue luminescence. Sometimes fish sneak by illuminated by the glow.

If you're looking for a company to take you to the cave, we recommend Marine Support TIDE ZANPA.

Blue Cave Diving Experience
Company Name: Marine Support TIDE ZANPA
Fee: 12,000 yen in advance | 13,000 yen day-of
Reservations: Advance reservations can be made up until 3 days ahead of time at contact@bluecavemarintour.com or +81-80-2730-7076.

⑤ Swim with the Whale Sharks!?

A trip to Okinawa offers lots of opportunities to snorkel or try diving.

If you've ever wanted to make friends with a whale shark, there's no better time than this! Make your reservations before it's too late!

Sure, Churaumi Aquarium has some cool whale sharks, but this is a chance to see them with no barrier at all! They come right out in front of you.

This shark was involved in a breeding program, so until it's a little bigger, it's under some protection.

Professional staff chum the waters with snacks that will especially attract whale sharks, bringing them right up to you. It's an amazing chance to get up close and personal with these huge creatures.

We used the company Top Marine, which is famous for these whale shark snorkeling experiences.

Whale Shark Experience
Company Name: Top Marine
Fee: Whale Shark Snorkeling 9,100 yen | Whale Shark Diving 13,400 yen
Reservations: These and many more activities available on their home page.

Important Pre-Snorkel Info!

A Whale Shark Eating Chicken

The whiteboard above is showing us the depths you dive to for each of the experiences they offer. Obviously divers go deeper than snorkelers!

But snorkeling still gives you a great view, so if diving is too much for you, don't sweat it.

4. Visiting Some of Okinawa’s Biggest Attractions

These are some places that any Okinawa expert will say you should see once in your life. If you haven't done the rounds yet, here are the places you shouldn't miss.

① Churaumi Aquarium (美ら海水族館)

This particular attraction seems like such an Okinawa standard, we almost don't need to list it. But the idea of anyone going to Okinawa and missing out on this amazing aquarium is too concerning, we just had to include it. It's a huge aquarium with tons of amazing exhibits, but most would probably agree, the huge central tank with multiple whale sharks is the main attraction.

Churaumi Aquarium (美ら海水族館)
Address: 424 Ishikawa, Motobu, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Hours: Oct. to Feb. 8:30 – 18:30 | Mar. to Sep. 8:30 – 20:00
Admission Fee: Adults 1,850 yen | High School Students 1,230 yen | Elementary/Middle School Students 610 yen | Children under 6 are free!
Official Website

② A Cliff or a Trunk? You Decide at Cape Manzamo (万座毛)

This 20 meter (66 ft) cliff is known for the beautiful view at sunset, with the last rays shining over the water. Among all the other seaside cliffs, though, this one is particularly popular because, well, it kind of looks like an elephant from the side, doesn't it? The cliff is right in Onnason!

③ A Subtropical Forest Theme Park, Bios Hill

This huge chunk of land is dedicated to celebrating the flora and fauna of the subtropics, with lots of plants and animals being raised on the premises. As a theme park, you can get on a boat and cruise the lake, get in your own canoes, ride in an Okinawan water-buffalo-drawn car, and dress up in traditional Ryukyu (Okinawan) costumes. These outfits are a little like your average Japanese kimono, but they've got some distinct island spirit.

Read more about the park here!

Bios Hill (ビオスの丘)
Address: 961-30 Ishikawa Kadekaru, Uruma, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 – 18:00
Phone: 098-965-3400 
Admission Fee: Adults 900 yen | Children ~15 y.o. 500 yen
Rental Car Map Code: 206 005 263 
Official Website

④ Pineapple Park

This place is exactly what it says! Tour a pineapple plantation in a little buggy, and once you make it through, taste some Okinawan pineapple. The gift shop includes a huge variety of pineapple products.

Nago Pineapple Park
Address: 1195 Biimata, Nago, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 – 17:30
Official Website

⑤ Okinawan Folk Village Ryukyu Mura

Named after the native people and culture of Okinawa, the Ryukyu Mura Okinawan Folk Village is a great place to learn more about the region. Watch traditional performances of all kinds!

Ryukyu Mura Folk Village (琉球村)
Address: 1130 Yamada, Onna, Kunigami District, Okinawa
Hours: 8:30 – 17:30
Admission Fee: Adults 1,200 yen | Children 600 yen
Official Website

⑥ Murasaki Mura Ryukyu Kingdom Theme Park

Check out all of the workshop experiences available at Murasaki Mura! This place was originally built by NHK studios when filming a drama based in Okinawa, but it's now a place where visitors can learn traditional local dances, glass-making, and other regional traditions.

Murasaki Mura Ryukyu Kingdom Theme Park (むら咲むら)
Address: 1020-1 Takashiho, Yomitan, Nakagami District, Okinawa
Hours: 9:00 – 18:00
Admission Fee: Adults 600 yen | High School/Middle School Students 500 yen | Children 400 yen
Car Rental Map Code:  338 513 17 * 30 
Official Website

⑦ Little America, or Okinawa's American Village

Want to see Okinawa's take on American culture? Head over to the American Village, where you can find lots of western food and interesting experiences.

⑧ Okinawa's Largest Shopping Mall! Aeon Mall

This mall, definitely huge for Japan, is visited by 13 million people a year! Inside are 200 different shops, including lots of clothing, some travel agencies, restaurants, various sundries, and more. They have events all throughout the year, so maybe you'll get to see something especially exciting when you visit.

Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom
Address: Kitanakagusuku, Nakagami District, Okinawa
Hours: 10:00 – 22:00 (Varies depending on the floor.)
Official Website

This is a great spot for all kinds of shopping while you're in Okinawa, including souvenirs. Get into the Japanese spirit and bring back some sweets for your friends; purple sweet potato tarts are a delicious Okinawa specialty. There are also lots of adorable shisa characters to bring home, and much more.

5. Okinawa’s World Heritage Sites

Okinawa has a total of 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered around the chain of islands. Here are a couple of those that we thought were particularly notable, so think about adding them to your schedule!

Shurijo Castle


① The Center of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Shurijo Castle

This castle was the capital of the old Ryukyu Kingdom for about 500 years, making it a center of Okinawan politics, economics, and culture for all that time. These days the magnificent building is painted a bright vermillion.

Shurijo Castle (首里城)
Address: 1-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha, Okinawa
Hours: 8:00 – 19:30
Admission Fee: Adults 800 yen | High School Students 600 yen | Children 3y.o.+ 300 yen

② Historical Sacred Rocks, Sefa-utaki

These huge rocks, supporting each other at unusual angles, has historically been a highly sacred place for the Ryukyu people. Worshipped for thousands of years, the beautiful rocks and interesting ocean views are still worth a pilgrimage.

Sefa-utaki (斎場御嶽)
Address: Kudeken-455 Chinen, Nanjo, Okinawa
Admission Fee: 200 yen
Official Website

A Fun and Relaxing Vacation in Okinawa~

So, it's decided right? This summer we're all heading to Okinawa!

If you want to know even more about things to do in the region, there are more castles, places to snack, and places to have a good time!

So have a great vacation this year, everyone!


Be sure to look out for more exciting articles every day at JAPANKURU! 🐶
Or add us on Instagram and Facebook to share your pictures of Japan. 💖🗾


NAME:Okinawa Trip 2019


ACCESS:Naha Airport


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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).


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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!


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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)!


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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.


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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.


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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.