Sponsored

Fresh Winter Travel in Tochigi: Sweet Strawberries, Crisp Winter Air, and Fresh New Experiences in 4 Cities

This article contains sponsored content.

  • X
  • line

Close to Tokyo but a whole different kind of travel, this quick winter trip to Tochigi includes rare natural landscapes and traditional crafts, and a chance to dip your toes into the clean air and ripe fruits of the Japanese countryside!

Traveling Tochigi for a Fresh Take on Winter



Tochigi offers a different kind of winter travel, with smaller towns full of friendly locals spaced apart by sunny countryside, and never far from the convenient hub of Tokyo. This wintertime trip to four Tochigi cities isn't far from Japan's capital, but it includes natural landscapes like nowhere else, flavorful fruit picked straight from the stem, traditional crafts passed down over the generations, and ways to participate in it all!

1. Oyama (小山市)



Watarase Reservoir (渡良瀬遊水地)

Watarase Reservoir, also called Watarase Retarding Basin, is a designated Ramsar wetland that stretches across 3,300 hectares (over 350 million ft²), much of the land covered in towering tall reeds that turn a welcoming golden color after the summer ends. Over a century ago, the area was spotted with marshes and wetlands like the Akaso Marsh, and locals built villages nearby while farming the land. These days, one of its main purposes is to collect floodwater and prevent massive flooding in the Tokyo area, but the area is still a natural treasure trove! Dozens of species of fish and bird make their homes in the water and on the land, many birds stopping in during their yearly migrations, and about 1,000 different kinds of plants grow in the wetlands.



Arriving at Watarase Reservoir, the first thing that jumps out at you is the endless thicket of tall reeds, called "yoshi" (よし) in Japanese. Slip in between the tightly packed reeds, each one easily two or three times your height, and it feels like stepping foot in another world or a scene from an anime. When the weather's warm, the hollow yoshi reeds keep the air cool, which is why they're used in traditional Japanese reed screens (and the reeds from Watarase are said to be the best), but in fall the reeds lose their leaves and it's easier to walk between them without finding yourself facing a wall of green.

When winter comes to an end in March, locals prepare the land for a year of new growth with one spectacular event they call "Yoshi-yaki" (よし焼き), literally "Yoshi Burning"! After careful preparation, an audience of onlookers watches as the entire field of reeds is set alight, and the smoke billowing up from the flames is actually intense enough to show up on weather radars!



For bird lovers, this spot is a must. Oriental storks build nests on specially-built platforms each year, and at the end of summer over 100,000 swallows fly through the air together over Watarase. With a huge variety of bird species living or stopping in at the reservoir, it's extremely popular with bird watchers, who often come looking for a glimpse of the Eastern marsh harrier on its migratory trip from Russia.

Alongside the abundant natural charms, the Watarase Reservoir is also known to host events where you can participate in festivals or even take a canoe out on the water, so check the official website before heading over!

Watarase Reservoir (渡良瀬遊水地)
Shimonamai, Oyama, Tochigi
​Official Website (jp)

2. Sakura (さくら市)



Michi-no-Eki Kitsuregawa (道の駅きつれがわ)

In Japan, Michi-no-Eki are like rest stops with style, and they're convenient places to enjoy a little local culture and some local eats along Japan's highways. But Michi-no-Eki Kitsuregawa is all that and more, thanks to the rest stop's on-site onsen facilities, placed around a retro main building built to reflect the style of Japan's Taisho period (1912-1926). Kitsuregawa Onsen (喜連川温泉) feeds the baths at the Michi-no-Eki, and it's one of Japan's three great "bihada no yu" (美肌の湯), or hot springs said to give you beautiful skin!



Ready to continue your trip of Tochigi with glowing skin perfect for that next snapshot? At Michi-no-Eki Kitsuregawa you can actually choose to just dip your feet into the water at their footbath out front, or submerge yourself completely in the onsen at their day spa facilities. Your skin will thank you after a busy day on the road.



Of course the shopping area of Michi-no-Eki Kitsuregawa offers souvenirs of all kinds (including some unique local mascot merchandise), but there are also aisles full of fresh local produce and other treats! Signs brag about displays of vegetables like the "onsen eggplant," which is the first eggplant to be grown using Japanese onsen water, and is said to have a delicate texture and sweet flavor. Kitsuregawa's popular "onsen pan" (温泉パン, onsen bread) doesn't actually contain any onsen water at all, but the sweet rolls sit alongside tiny Alps Otome apples as some of the tasty local finds on the rest stop shelves.

Michi-no-Eki Kitsuregawa (道の駅 きつれがわ)
4145-10 Kitsuregawa, Sakura, Tochigi
Official Website (jp)

3. Mashiko (益子市)



Mashiko Ceramic Art Club (益子陶芸倶楽部)

Mashiko is known for Mashiko-yaki (益子焼), so it's no surprise that the city is still full of traditional ceramic artisans and pottery makers. Mashiko Ceramic Art Club is a ceramics studio with its own kominka guest house, meaning that you can stay in Mashiko for an hour or two and enjoy a short pottery workshop, or you can stay for weeks at a time and hone your Mashiko-yaki skills to perfection. The club is run by a Japanese family, but thanks to the great English skills of the Hungarian workshop teacher on staff, communication is a breeze.



Spend the day drifting between the workshop's pottery wheels and the sunny rooms of the traditional Japanese kominka house. It's easy to imagine yourself as a character in an anime or a Japanese drama as you sprawl out on the tatami mats or the wooden veranda―another kind of new experience!

Mashiko Ceramic Art Club & Kominka Furuki (益子陶芸倶楽部 古民家古木)
3288-6 Mashiko, Haga District, Tochigi
Official Website (jp)

4. Moka (真岡市)



Moka Momen Cotton Hall (真岡木綿会館)

The name "Moka" is just about synonymous with traditional cotton fabric and weaving in Tochigi, thanks to the high quality of locally grown "Moka cotton" (真岡木綿). The fibers are robust, but famous for feeling as smooth as silk, and artisans have long excelled at using traditional sarashi bleaching (晒し) techniques to make colors pop on the cotton fabric. There are records showing that Moka cotton once made up 80% of the cotton goods in Japan!



Now, thirteen expert weaving artisans keep the local Moka cotton traditions alive and continue to pass them on at the Moka Momen Cotton Hall, where visitors can not only see the craftspeople at work, but also take part in workshops! Ever wanted to try weaving on a loom? How about dyeing a bandana, or even (if you have the dedication) spinning your own Moka cotton yarn? Just call ahead to make a reservation!

✴ Loom Weaving Coaster Workshop: 700 yen
✴ Fabric Dyeing Workshop: handkerchiefs 500 yen / bandanas 1,000 yen
✴ Spinning workshops may be available upon request.



The shop on the ground floor has shelves of colorful cotton items made with local cotton, perfect souvenirs for a friend or family member. But to remember your experience with this traditional Japanese craft for years to come, there's no better memento than a coaster you wove yourself or a dyed Moka cotton handkerchief!

Moka Momen Cotton Hall (真岡木綿会館)
2162-1 Aramachi, Moka, Tochigi
Official Website (jp)



Igashira Kanko Strawberry Farm (井頭観光いちご園)

In Tochigi, the word "fresh" is likely to be followed by "strawberries," and Moka actually produces more strawberries than any other city in Japan! Here, they grow Tochigi's famous "Tochiotome" strawberries (とちおとめ)―big, bright red, and bursting with sweet flavor―which you can pick for yourself, right off the stem! It doesn't get much fresher than this, and they don't require reservations either―just show up during strawberry season to find the best strawberries in the patch.



Their strawberry picking plan is an unusually good deal, at 1,500 yen or less per adult for all-you-can-eat self-picked strawberries, without any time limit. Strawberry lovers should not miss out!

The strawberry farm offers some other pretty unique strawberry picking options, too, like long-distance "Online Strawberry Picking." Or try picking strawberries past dark at their "Strawberry Nights" for hot drinks, chocolate fondue, and an altogether romantic atmosphere!

Igashira Kanko Strawberry Farm
3006 Kamiodawa, Moka, Tochigi
Strawberry Picking Season: Jan. 2 ~ May 9th
Official Website (jp)

Nature, Experiences, and Even Ruby-Red Strawberries, It’s All Fresh in Tochigi!



Throughout the seasons, Tochigi offers up travel options of all kinds, no matter your travel style, and all close to the transportation hub of Tokyo. From the beautiful flowers of spring, to summer's breezy valleys, dramatic red and yellow autumn leaves, and of course the fresh natural landscapes of winter, each season offers new ways to trace the footsteps of Japanese history and tradition, taste the flavors of the Kanto region, and find local experiences offered nowhere else―like listening to the quiet of a bamboo forest or bathing in the millions twinkling "illumination" lights. Whether you want a little extra excursion while you're staying in Tokyo, or you're planning a trip to a whole new destination, there are plenty of reasons to choose Tochigi!

For more info and updates from Japan, check Japankuru for new articles, and don't forget to follow us on twitter, instagram, and facebook!

Details

NAME:Tochigi Prefecture

PROFILE

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

  • facebook
  • line

COMMENT

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

FEATURED MEDIA

VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

|

MAP OF JAPAN

SEARCH BY REGION →

    • HOKKAIDO

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

    • SAPPORO

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • FUKUSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • YAMAGATA

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • TOCHIGI

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

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

    • NIIGATA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • SHIZUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

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

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

    • CHUGOKU

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • HIROSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • SHIKOKU

      VIEW MORE →

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

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

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

    • FUKUOKA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • KAGOSHIMA

      VIEW MORE →

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

    • OKINAWA

      VIEW MORE →

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

MOST POPULAR

RELATED ARTICLES

PARTNERS