A Must for Dog Lovers Visiting Japan! Odate, Akita – Hometown of the Loyal Hachiko

  • X
  • line

From Taiwanese author Juntang Wang, a trip through Hachiko’s birthplace and an Akita hotspot.

Calling All Dog Lovers

One of the joys of a trip to Japan is all the amazing animal-themed spots around the country, like rabbit islands, fox villages, cat cafes, deer parks, and the whole prefecture of Akita―home to the Akita breed of dogs, also called Akita-inu. For fans of the famously loyal dog Hachiko (sometimes just "Hachi"), the pup's hometown of Odate, Akita, where Hachiko lived before being given to Professor Ueno, is an obvious destination! While there's no Hachiko there now, Odate is committed to preserving the history and ancestry of this extremely old dog breed, which comes from Odate itself.

In fact, Akita Prefecture is so dedicated to their famous dog breed, they've even drawn up illustrations of the prefecture itself as an Akita-inu for promotional materials. Whether north-side-up or flipped upside-down, the image totally fits. We have to give them credit for that creativity!



As soon as I got off the train and set foot in Odate Station, I knew I'd arrived thanks to images of Akita-inu in every direction! This is where Hachiko left Akita as a young puppy and traveled south to meet his beloved owner, Professor Ueno, so there's even a "Hachiko Shrine" on the platform inside the station!



The offering box in front of the little shrine is pretty unique, too. Not only is the box itself made using local Odate bentwood technique, when I put money in, I heard a little "woof woof."



There is also another Hachiko statue in the station, plus Hachiko-themed and general Akita-inu-themed souvenirs and snacks galore! Just getting out of the station took a while…and outside there's another statue, similar to the one in front of Shibuya Station. The statues are really everywhere.



Among the popular Akita-inu souvenirs are "Akita noses" and "Akita poop," sold in stores all over town. (Thankfully, they're actually chocolate!)



The Stars of Odate Station

Odate isn't just the hometown of Hachiko, it's home to the entire breed of Akita dogs, so Odate Station has a couple of stationmasters who are a little bit furrier than you might expect. In fact, they're Akita-inu sistersーAsuka and Ako! The two "Sightseeing Stationmasters" spend much of their time greeting visitors with friendly smiles (and earning some well-deserved pets), outside of Odate Station.



You can really get to know the two stationmasters at their petting area―Asuka is quiet and a little shy, whereas Ako is a ball of energy! Human visitors are limited to five minutes with the dogs so they don't get overwhelmed with visitors, but it was definitely long enough to feel the joy of petting the fluffy Akita coats!





When I left Odate the next day, June 23rd, it was actually the sisters' birthday! Not only did a group of loyal fans gather for Asuka and Ako's birthday party, but local media came out to cover the event. Everyone lined up to take photos with the adorable birthday girls, and it was clear how beloved these Akita-inu are in Odate―fans of all ages cooed at the pups and squealed about how cute they were!





Don't forget to grab a dog-themed tourist map before leaving the station! You can visit the town's sightseeing destinations and search for Akita-inu at the same time. Next to the station is also an office where tourists can rent a bycicle for free, which makes getting around especially easy.



For Omachi Shopping Street in central Odate, Nono the Akita-inu is an indispensable icon, and a part of promotional activities big and small.



There's even Akita-Inu Mochi, made from local rice and stamped with adorable pups.

Dog Lovers Unite! At the Akita Dog Museum

The only Akita-inu-themed museum in Japan, this place is inhabited by a host of cute pups from April to late November. If you're lucky, you can spend the day with these big, fluffy Akita-inu.



The picture above is Fuko, the most popular dog at the museum! But Fuko's not the only Akita-inu visitors can play with. The dark brown Kurobe, Modoka and Gin-chan with their deep red coats, and black-and-white Yuki-chan are all equally adorable and ready to hang out.



On the first floor, you can see all the dogs at work! And when the museum staff there found out I had come from Taiwan, they kindly gave me a folder with an Akita-inu design on it as a souvenir. The upper floors have exhibits on the history of the Akita breed, and all kinds of information about the dogs, including their unique characteristics. If you tend to get Akita-inu and Shiba-inu mixed up (they do look similar), the museum will help you distinguish the two breeds―for one, Akita-inu can have an official coat color that you don't see on Shiba-inu! (It's brindle, which they call "tiger-striped," 虎斑色!)

・Akita-inu & Shiba-inu: Identification for Dummies・

First, the Akita breed is big, and Shibas are small. Digging a little deeper, you'll often hear that Shiba-inu have faces with clever-looking features, whereas Akita-inu look… dumb. (Hey, that's not fair!)



In fact, far from being stupid, in the past Akita-inu ownership was restricted only to Japan's royal or noble families, and you could tell just how high-status each dog (and the family) was by looking at the dog leash being used. With such an illustrious history, Akita-inu are regarded as the ideal dog by many in Japan, and some say they're strong enough to hunt bears!

For dog lovers, and anyone who's fallen in love with Akita-inu after arriving in Akita Prefecture, it's definitely worth looking around the museum to learn more about the dogs (and see a lot of cute stuff)!



・Akita-inu Trivia・

① The Akita-inu is the only large dog among the breeds native to Japan, and it has been named Japan's national dog.
② In the past, Akita-inu were used as guard dogs, but only for nobility.
③ The first person to bring an Akita breed dog to the United States was the famous Helen Keller.
④ Akita-inu are full of energy and frequently get themselves into trouble. I've heard that there are home insurers in the US that will raise your premium (or even refuse to cover you) if you adopt an Akita-inu.
⑤ If you send someone a picture or figure of an Akita-inu in Japan, the implied message is "get well soon"!

Akita Dog Museum
13-1 Sannomaru, Odate, Akita
Hours: 9:00 – 16:00
Access: Odate-Sakaecho Station, Higashi-Odate Station

Loyalty is Passed Down Through the Generations

Although the famed Hachiko spent most of his life in Tokyo, he was born on a farm just outside of Odate, Akita. He was a true, authentic Akita! Hachiko left his hometown to go life with Professor Ueno in Tokyo when he was about 50 days old. But Hachiko isn't the only Akita-inu famous for his loyalty―it's clearly a trait shared throughout the breed. In the Kuzowara area of Odate I heard about the much-beloved "Shiro."



During the Keicho era of Japan (1596~1615), a famous hunter called Sadaroku had a dog named Shiro, his reliable hunting partner. Sadaroku had a special hunting license that allowed him to hunt on private land, but when he was surrounded one day after an unsuccessful hunt, he realized that he'd forgotten to bring his license with him, and was subsequently arrested. Sadaroku told Shiro to fetch the license for him so he could be freed, and Shiro understood, tirelessly running straight back home. But Sadaroku's wife didn't understand what the dog was asking for, and it took another trip back and forth for Shiro to finally get the license and bring it back to Sadaroku. By that point it was too lateーSadaroku had been executed, and Shiro died from exhaustion. It's said that the howling spirit of Shiro the Akita-inu continued to haunt the area for centuries, causing natural disasters and unexpected injuries, until locals finally built Roken Shrine (老犬神社) (literally the "Old Dog Shrine") in honor of Shiro's loyalty.





I heard that a copy of Sadaroku's hunting permit is still kept in the shrine, so I really wanted to visit, but when I went to plan my trip I realized that the shrine is actually in a very remote location in the mountains. It's hard to get to, even by car. It just wasn't in the cards for this trip to Odate.



The contents of this article are from the book "Yokai, Cat Island, Mount Fuji, A Map of My Travels in Japan" (妖怪、貓島、富士山,我在日本旅圖中) by Juntang Wang, originally published in Chinese by Inno-Fair. The book isn't available in English, but if you enjoyed the illustrations, you'll find purchase links below. All of the details described above are from the author's travels in 2018, and may not be entirely up-to-date. Please check for the latest official information before making any plans!

Buy the book ▶
Books.com.tw |  Eslite  |  Cite  |  Kingstone 

Follow the author ▶
Travel B Class

Details

NAME:Odate, Akita

PROFILE

All about the books we love, here at Japankuru!

  • facebook
  • line

COMMENT

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

FEATURED MEDIA

VIEW MORE →

・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. 🐧
•
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

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

|

MAP OF JAPAN

SEARCH BY REGION →

    • HOKKAIDO

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

    • SAPPORO

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • FUKUSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • YAMAGATA

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • TOCHIGI

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

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

    • NIIGATA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • SHIZUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

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

    • CHUGOKU

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • HIROSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • SHIKOKU

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • FUKUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • KAGOSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • OKINAWA

      VIEW MORE →

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

EVENT CALENDAR

VIEW MORE →

MOST POPULAR

RELATED ARTICLES

PARTNERS