Japanese Travel Recommendations for Every Month of the Year: The Perfect Destination for Every Season!

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Seasonal destination favorites for all year round.

When do you arrive?

The When and Where of Japan

Japan is proud of its four seasons, which each create unique environments and gorgeously varied scenery across the country. Sure, there are plenty of places that visitors end up in year-round, but the best way to get the most of your time here is to make sure you're in the right place at the right time! If you've got flights booked, but you're not sure where to go from the airport, this is the guide for you. For the rest of us, we'll have to pick a destination and plan our next trip around it!



Winter ➤ Spring

一月 | January : Hakone (箱根)



In Japan, once the temperature drops it's time to head to a natural hot spring (or onsen, 温泉)! Japan is full of these natural sources of steaming hot water, and a bath in any one of them is a relaxing treat that will warm your cold fingers and toes. But Hakone is famous for onsen, and with its proximity to Tokyo, a trip to Hakone is a no-brainer for anyone staying in the big city!



Hot Springs Overlooking Mt. Fuji



An Owakudani Black Egg

While Japan is replete with great places to soak, most of them don't give you a view of Mt. Fuji while you relax! You can get your sightseeing done from the tub, and I can't think of any better multitasking than that, can you?

Aside from bathing in the warm waters, there's plenty of other fun to be had in the area. Cooking food, especially eggs, in the steam and water from the hot spring is a popular activity. Giving it a try will warm any hands chilled by the January weather, and you'll end up with a tasty snack to enjoy as well. (Sometimes the eggs even turn black from the sulfurous natural hot spring water! But they're still delicious.)

More on Hakone's hot springs.

二月 | February : Hokkaido (北海道)



Freezing a little in Hokkaido's cold winter can be… well, kind of cool! If you want your winter vacation to really feel like winter, the northern-most island of Japan is the place to be.

Hokkaido is fairly well-known for lavender fields that bloom in the summer, but the real draws are all during the colder months of the year. See the snow pile up in Japan's winter wonderland!



Shirahige Waterfall (Literally white beard waterfall! 白髭の滝)
The icy cold waters appear deep blue at the bottom of the falls.



Romantic Wintertime Otaru

If all you want is to see snow, you have the whole winter to appreciate the snow that blankets Hokkaido each year. But February is when you'll get the chance to see some of the region's famous snow festivals! The Sapporo Snow Festival, an annual event, is famous for the amazing (and enormous) sculptures carved and built out of the local snow. Or, the Otaru Snow Light Path is an event that allows visitors to traipse their way through the beautifully lit snowy roads of Otaru.

More on traveling to Hokkaido.

三月 | March : Tokyo (東京)



With March comes spring! And in Japan, spring means it's time to get outside and appreciate all the flowers beginning to bloom and bring color back into our lives. As the capital of Japan, Tokyo goes big when it comes to the cherry blossoms (or sakura, 桜) the country is famous for! Sakura season starts towards the end of March, when blossoms burst into bloom all over the country, but it's hard to go anywhere in Tokyo without spotting a handful of the pink petals (like Sensoji Temple, above↑).



Surrounded by Sakura, Even Riding a Rollercoaster



Do Some "Hanami" (花見), or Flower Viewing!

If you're looking for a place to lay down a blanket, eat some snacks, and relax under the cherry blossoms (like the rest of Japan!), there are plenty of good spots in Tokyo. Some of the more popular locations are the Meguro River, Rikugien Garden, Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Ueno Park, and Chidorigafuchi Park. Or, just look around and you'll find cherry-blossom-themed art exhibitions, experiential art spaces, food events, and much, much more. It's a big city, and there's a lot of sakura love!

More on Tokyo's cherry blossoms.

Spring ➤ Summer

四月 | April : Ashikaga (足利)



Not quite satisfied by all the cherry blossoms blooming in spring? Well, Japan's beautiful displays of flowers, and the "flower viewing" culture that goes with them, aren't limited to sakura. Students going into the new school year might dream of days filled with pink cherry blossom petals, but more the more romantic among us know that April brings fantastic displays of wisteria. There's no better place to see these amazing swathes of purple and white flowers than Ashikaga Flower Park, in Ashikaga City, Tochigi.



The elegance of purple wisteria.



If you can't make it there until winter, they have "wisteria" lights to give you an equally fun experience.

Heavy curtains and delicate hanging tunnels, and created out of beautiful wisteria flowers, are a huge draw for Ashikaga Flower Park. It's lovely enough to have been designated a natural monument by Tochigi Prefecture. More than 350 wisteria trees covering 1,000 square meters (about 10,800 square feet) bring visitors from around the globe, with pink, yellow, and white wisteria flowers joining the huge numbers of purple blossoms that hang over the park. The magical environment includes trees that are over 150 years old, so you can stroll the park and imagine yourself alongside the many others doing the same thing 100 years ago. If you want a more modern experience, visit at night to see the flowers lit up, creating a wisteria fairyland. (Plus, day or night, there are more than 5,000 azalea bushes in the park, for visitors who appreciate more vibrant blooms.)

Once you see Ashikaga Flower Park's yearly wisteria festival, you can also head over to Ashikaga City to try on some Showa Era kimonos and walk around the historical site of Bannaji Temple.

More on Ashikaga, and the rest of Tochigi.

五月 | May : Osaka (大阪)



Osaka is known for friendly locals and amazing everyday food (and maybe the beautiful castle). With beautiful weather and Japan's long Golden Week holiday in May, what better time is there to head over? May 5th is Children's Day in Japan, so it's a good chance to spend time with the family in a city full of warm smiles and piping hot takoyaki (octopus balls).



The must-see Osaka Castle.



Kuromon Market, often dubbed "Osaka's Kitchen".

The wonderful May weather gives visitors a chance to walk the city without freezing, or sweating in Japan's summer heat. With the weather on your side, feel free to wander the Namba area, especially around Dotonbori, looking for amazing street food to chow down on. Or you can admire Osaka Castle and its moat, surrounded by lovely gardens. If you're willing to plan around Golden Week vacation (or brave the crowds), the weather even provides a good chance to visit Osaka's Universal Studios Japan.

Once you're there, take a quick train ride or rent a car to easily reach nearby Kyoto, Kobe, or Nara. You'll have a spectacular trip around Kansai.

More on Osaka's amazing food culture.

六月 | June : Kamakura (鎌倉)/Enoshima Island (江の島)



If you've read our previous article, you already know that Enoshima Island is the place to be every June, when dramatic blooms of hydrangea burst into life. Japan's rainy season is mostly during June every year, and while it might seem to put a damper on travel, the ample rain is what brings the beautiful flowers to life. Thousands of raindrops on hundreds of hydrangea petals, seen on Enoshima Island, also make for a beautiful view, and even better pictures to show your friends.

If you're less interested in flowers and more into manga, the area is still the place for you. Enoshima Island is right off of Kamakura, where famous basketball comic Slam Dunk is based. The Enoden electric train line goes between the two places, and while it's definitely popular as a way to view the hydrangeas, one of the Enoden's train stations also holds a special place in many Slam Dunk fans' hearts. Check out real-life Kamakurakokomae Station to get a good view of an iconic location in the manga and anime.



You can even surf in the area.



Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine, built in the year 1063.

Alongside beautiful flowers and famous anime spots, Kamakura has a rich history, leaving the area with lots of interesting monuments of all kinds. Famous monuments, and… cats! Plus, if you're heading there in June it should be warm enough to spend some time on the beach. Stroll on the sand, or join some of the cool surfers in the water. If the weather is clear, you can even see across the water to Mt. Fuji! Kamakura and Enoshima have tons to offer.

More on Kamakura and Enoshima Island.

Summer ➤ Autumn

七月 | July : Hiroshima (広島)



If you're not all that familiar with travel in Japan, the name Hiroshima may not call to mind very appealing images. In Japan it has a reputation as a popular tourist spot, though, and it has really earned it through and through. There's fascinating and moving historic spots for those interested in the city's past, but plenty else to enjoy as well!

For those traveling in July, head to Hiroshima for seaside sightseeing and refreshing food!



Juicy grilled oysters with Setouchi lemon.



Hiroshima okonomiyaki.

八月 | August : Kagoshima (鹿児島)



Once you hit August in Japan, there's no escaping the summer heat, so you might as well lean into it! Kagoshima is famous for its volcanic activity, which provides the region with ample hot springs, vents of natural steam, and the active volcano Sakurajima. If you head to the beach and dig into the sand, instead of hitting a cool layer a few inches down, you'll find even warmer sand, heated by volcanic activity! Get yourself buried in a "sand bath" and enjoy the warm, heavy sand up against your skin.



Sengan-en Garden



Stop by the local Shirokuma Cafe shaved ice shop for this delightfully refreshing bear-shaped treat!

While you're in Kagoshima, we highly recommend you stop by Sengan-en Garden to cool off in the greenery. It was once attached to a residence belonging to the Shimazu clan, built in 1658, but is now its own UNESCO World Heritage Site! Must-see features of the garden include peaceful ponds, and a "Very Large Rock."

More on Kagoshima, and the surrounding area.

九月 | September : Okinawa (沖縄)



September in Japan, summer is still in full swing, and after so many months of heat, all you want to do is jump into the water! So the obvious choice is somewhere where you can splash in the surf all day, like Okinawa. As one last hurrah before the end of summer vacation, take a nice long trip to Okinawa; luxuriate on the beach, and then tackle some water sports.



Churaumi Aquarium, with its famous whale shark tank!



Cape Manzamo (万座毛)

If the beach isn't how you want to spend all of your time, of course there's lots of other options in Okinawa. The Churaumi Aquarium is world-famous for its spectacular exhibits, including a huge tank with multiple enormous whale sharks. The cliff at Cape Manzamo is also a fun excursion, with its elephant-like profile. Or, hang out in the city and fill up on the local specialty, Okinawa soba!

More on Okinawa, where to go and what to eat.

Autumn ➤ Winter

十月 | October : Ibaraki (茨城)



The Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki prefecture often gets a lot of love on social media thanks to its impressive fields of nemophila blooms (often called "baby blue eyes"). This event actually happens in the spring, but the park is equally overwhelming in the fall, when the hills are covered in deep red kochia flowers!



The kochia flowers in action.



One of Japan's "power spots", Oarai Isosaki Shrine.

Kochia flowers are also known as ragweed, but that nickname does it no justice. The burgundy tufts make the hills look like they're covered in red velvet, and you can only see them during the fall! It's a beautiful and unique floral display.

More on traveling in Ibaraki.

十一月 | November : Yamagata (山形)



Yamagata is known domestically for its delicious cherries, but stay a little later in the year and you'll find breathtaking views of the region's autumn foliage.



Nearby Okama Crater



The glorious mountains.

With the autumn frost giving each twig and leaf a little twinkle of light, the views of all of the leaves changing colors along the mountain ridges of Yamagata are not to be missed. Look in any direction, and the deep valleys will show you scenery beautiful enough to be in a museum.

More on a trip to Yamata.

十二月 | December : Niigata (新潟) & Nagano (長野)



Like many parts of the world, Japan takes pleasure in artfully lighting up winter nights (or as they call it, "illumination"). Out of all the many locations that use little lights to create magical winter atmospheres, the biggest in Japan is APA Resort Jouetsu-Myoko's illumination in Niigata. Add some cheer to a chilly evening with a visit to this brightly lit wonderland, right nearby!

The next day, take advantage of Nagano's great mountains and hit the slopes for some excellent skiing!



Kagamiike, or "mirror lake".



Japanese taiyaki cakes… with apples!

Once you're in Nagano, don't miss Togakushi Shrine and the beautiful forest of giant cedars in the surrounding area. And for fans of history, or just beautiful Japanese tradition, head to the old samurai rest station of Naraijuku!

More on driving through Nagano, and lots to do there.

So, when are you coming to Japan?



No matter when you arrive, Japan is full of fun places to visit. Not every trip to Japan has to be stuck with the same itinerary, so we hope you'll take advantage of this resource and plan something unique and spectacular for your next excursion!

 
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. 🗾
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・The new Tokyo flagship for Volcom Japan is a center for all things skateboarding, street fashion, art, and culture, all in the heart of Shibuya!
・Volcom日本旗艦店東京澀谷登場 本格派滑板街頭潮流藝文新據點
#Volcom #japankuru #shibuya #日本購物 #日本潮流 #日本街頭時尚 #澀谷 #東京購物 #東京購物推薦 #東京潮店 #澀谷潮店 #滑板 #雪板 #衝浪 #볼컴 #시부야

・The new Tokyo flagship for Volcom Japan is a center for all things skateboarding, street fashion, art, and culture, all in the heart of Shibuya! ・Volcom日本旗艦店東京澀谷登場 本格派滑板街頭潮流藝文新據點 #Volcom #japankuru #shibuya #日本購物 #日本潮流 #日本街頭時尚 #澀谷 #東京購物 #東京購物推薦 #東京潮店 #澀谷潮店 #滑板 #雪板 #衝浪 #볼컴 #시부야

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

Asakusa's Sanja Matsuri, one of the biggest festivals in all of Tokyo, is almost here! Make sure you check out the festival route so you don't miss all the festivities this May.
#asakusa #sanjafestival #sanjamatsuri #asakusashrine #sensoji #sensojitemple #japanesefestival #shintoshrine #japaneseculture #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #asakusasightseeing #matsuri #japantrip #japantravel #springinjapan #tokyotravel #japankuru #산자마츠리 #아사쿠사 #일본마츠리 #일본여행 #일본5월

Asakusa's Sanja Matsuri, one of the biggest festivals in all of Tokyo, is almost here! Make sure you check out the festival route so you don't miss all the festivities this May. #asakusa #sanjafestival #sanjamatsuri #asakusashrine #sensoji #sensojitemple #japanesefestival #shintoshrine #japaneseculture #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #asakusasightseeing #matsuri #japantrip #japantravel #springinjapan #tokyotravel #japankuru #산자마츠리 #아사쿠사 #일본마츠리 #일본여행 #일본5월

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

Evangelion, in miniature!? Tokyo's SMALL WORLDS Miniature Museum is actually a must-see for anime lovers, thanks to the tiny Evangelion Hangar and Tokyo-III... plus a whole universe of other scenes both real and fictional.
#smallworlds #smallworldstokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japantrip #japantravel #에반게리온 #스몰월드 #에반겔리온 #スモールワールズ #오다이바 #아리아케

Evangelion, in miniature!? Tokyo's SMALL WORLDS Miniature Museum is actually a must-see for anime lovers, thanks to the tiny Evangelion Hangar and Tokyo-III... plus a whole universe of other scenes both real and fictional. #smallworlds #smallworldstokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japantrip #japantravel #에반게리온 #스몰월드 #에반겔리온 #スモールワールズ #오다이바 #아리아케

Have you sat down for a snack at Sumida Aquarium yet? This aquarium next to Tokyo Skytree is known for its penguins and garden eels, but we can't get enough of their cute snacks! There are lots of good seats around the aquarium, too, so it almost feels like one big cafe. 🐧
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Find out more at Japankuru.com! (Link in bio.)
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#japankuru #sumidaaquarium #skytree #tokyoskytree #solamachi #sumida #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #aquarium #japanesesweets #themecafe #すみだ水族館 #Japan #日本 #일본 #Japon #ญี่ปุ่น #Japão #япония #japantravel #日本旅行 #日本旅遊 #japan_of_insta #japantrip #traveljapan #japan🇯🇵 #igerstokyo #explorejapan

Have you sat down for a snack at Sumida Aquarium yet? This aquarium next to Tokyo Skytree is known for its penguins and garden eels, but we can't get enough of their cute snacks! There are lots of good seats around the aquarium, too, so it almost feels like one big cafe. 🐧 • Find out more at Japankuru.com! (Link in bio.) • #japankuru #sumidaaquarium #skytree #tokyoskytree #solamachi #sumida #tokyo #tokyotrip #tokyotravel #aquarium #japanesesweets #themecafe #すみだ水族館 #Japan #日本 #일본 #Japon #ญี่ปุ่น #Japão #япония #japantravel #日本旅行 #日本旅遊 #japan_of_insta #japantrip #traveljapan #japan🇯🇵 #igerstokyo #explorejapan

For anime fans, the Evangelion areas at Small Worlds Miniature Museum are a must see! The tiny miniature people in the Evangelion Hangar look like ants beneath the moving Unit-01, Unit-00, and Unit-02! And over in Tokyo-III, characters like Shinji, Rei, and Katsuragi live life on a miniature scale.
#odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #ariake #smallworlds #miniaturemuseum #smallworldstokyo #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japankuru #스몰월드 #에반게리온 #오다이바 #오다이바관광 #오다이바스몰월드 #미니어쳐

For anime fans, the Evangelion areas at Small Worlds Miniature Museum are a must see! The tiny miniature people in the Evangelion Hangar look like ants beneath the moving Unit-01, Unit-00, and Unit-02! And over in Tokyo-III, characters like Shinji, Rei, and Katsuragi live life on a miniature scale. #odaiba #tokyo #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #ariake #smallworlds #miniaturemuseum #smallworldstokyo #tokyotravel #evangelion #eva #anime #miniature #miniatures #animefigure #japankuru #스몰월드 #에반게리온 #오다이바 #오다이바관광 #오다이바스몰월드 #미니어쳐

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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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