10 of Tokyo’s Hidden Cherry Blossom Spots for 2024 • Local Tokyo Cherry Blossom Recommendations off the Beaten Path

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Want to enjoy the Tokyo cherry blossom season without the crowds? Try these local recommendations for some of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets, and enjoy Japan’s cherry blossoms in these unique hanami spots.

Enjoy Tokyo’s Cherry Blossoms Like a Local



Every spring, when cherry blossom season finally rolls around, Tokyo becomes a sea of beautiful flowers and busy sightseers, with travelers arriving in waves to see the city's many parks and gardens. It's a fun time to be in Tokyo, but it's also a little overwhelming, and sometimes the sheer masses of people can make it hard to enjoy the "sakura" (桜/cherry blossoms) and take part in Japan's "hanami" (花見/cherry blossom viewing) traditions in peace. Fortunately, not every cherry blossom spot in Tokyo is overtaken by crowds each spring! Venture out away from the handful of cherry blossom hubs around the city, let yourself stray a little further into Tokyo's more residential neighborhoods, and you'll find a whole unexplored world of cherry blossom spots throughout the city.

So this year, to bring you the best of Tokyo cherry blossom viewing without all the hustle and bustle, all of us on the Japankuru team are using our local knowledge to introduce you to some of our favorite hidden treasures. These spots are deep cuts from neighborhoods all over the city, but we've put together three somewhat self-contained tours (plus one bonus spot) for easy enjoyment. After living in Tokyo for years, we know where the crowds go, and we've got some tips for enjoying the season in our own little neighborhoods. Make the most of the cherry blossoms in Tokyo this year with our ten top sakura spots!

Hidden Deep in West Tokyo

Tokyo is thought of as one city, but this enormous metropolis is made up of 23 wards and multiple smaller cities contained within the Tokyo label, and that includes the city of Musashino. Easy accessible from central Tokyo in less than half an hour, without changing trains, this little city to the west is just far enough from Tokyo's biggest tourist attractions that it doesn't get a lot of attention. But when it comes to living in the Tokyo metropolitan area, it's often at the top of lists, thanks to the many local conveniences, relaxed atmosphere, and abundant parks and gardens. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that in this funny Japanese city within a city, there are quite a few hidden cherry blossom spots to find… if you know where to look!

1 🌸 Inokashira Park



If we could only choose one cherry blossom spot to represent the entirety of Musashino, then our first choice would be Inokashira Park, which is often ranked in the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in all of Japan! This sprawling park contains a range of attractions including a museum, a zoo, a shrine, and plenty more, but the famous cherry blossoms are mainly spread along the shores of a picturesque pond. During cherry blossom season, visitors sit by the water under the drifting cherry blossom petals, or rent out swan boats to see the flowers from a whole new angle. Of course there's space to spread out blankets on the nearby lawn, as well!

For travelers looking to pack as much as possible into each day, there's more to see at Inokashira Park! Take some time to look for the elegant Benzaiten Shrine, and enjoy the quiet, mysterious aura. Visit the zoo to Or visit the zoo to see some of Japan's rarer animals, like the cute and fluffy Japanese marten, or the antelope-like Japanese serow. Or plan a visit to the famous Ghibli Museum, which is tucked away within the greenery of the park! (Just make sure you get your Ghibli tickets in advance, because they sell out quick!)

Inokashira Park (井の頭公園)
1-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino, Tokyo
Swan Boats: 800 yen/30 min
Official Website (en)

2 🌸 Musashino Central Park



Located about 13 minutes by bus from the trendy commercial hub of Kichijoji Station, Musashino Central Park (also known as Musashino Chuo Park/武蔵野中央公園) feels like a local park in all the best ways, and it's perfect for enjoying cherry blossom season. If you want to really get into the Japanese tradition of "hanami," this park's wide open lawn is ripe for picnicking, and the huge cherry blossom trees provide plenty of shade – not to mention lots of flowers to enjoy! Families looking for a good cherry blossom viewing spot will also be happy to see Musashino Central Park's playground facilities, which makes it a fun place to relax for visitors young and old.

Musashino Central Park (武蔵野中央公園)
2-4-22 Yahatacho, Musashino, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

3 🌸 Musashino City Hall



Stretching between Musashino City Hall and the NTT R&D Center, this last Musashino spot might not seem like an obvious choice for cherry blossom viewing, but in recent years it's become talk of the town. Locals know that city hall is actually a must-see spot every spring! Long rows of cherry blossom trees are planted on either side of the road, and when the sun shines just right, with the long branches swaying in the wind, this picturesque vision looks like a scene straight from an anime opening sequence.

Located just a few minutes on foot from Musashino Central Park, the road between Musashino City Hall and the NTT R&D Center is an obvious choice for cherry blossom lovers interested in checking out what Musashino has to offer, and many visitors like to visit after spending some time at Inokashira Park. Of course, even though the spot has found a little bit of local popularity, it's still far from well-known – join the people of Musashino to enjoy the peaceful cherry blossom scenery!

Musashino City Hall (武蔵野市役所)
2-2-28 Midoricho, Musashino, Tokyo

NTT Musashino R&D Center (NTT武蔵野研究開発センタ)
3-9-11 Midoricho, Musashino, Tokyo

Along the Toden-Arakawa Tram Line

There's a certain charm to retro Tokyo, and many of the preserved remnants of Japan's iconic Showa era (1926-1989) can still be found in the parts of Tokyo traditionally called Shitamachi – areas of reclaimed marshland that traditionally belonged to the lower classes. That Shitamachi vibe can be felt throughout a swath of central-eastern Tokyo, and it might be strongest along parts of the Toden-Arakawa Line, which takes pride of place as Tokyo's only remaining street car line! Once a part of a huge network that reached across Tokyo, the Toden-Arakawa Tram Line is the sole survivor, but this unique tram is also called the "Tokyo Sakura Tram" thanks to the many beautiful cherry blossom trees found along its route. If you find yourself in Tokyo during cherry blossom season, a route along the tram offers a little retro fun and a lot of beautiful flowers!

4 🌸 Asukayama Park



Asukayama Park sits on a small hill located between Ojiekimae and Asukayama Stations (on the Toden-Arakawa tram), but it's thought to have been planned and developed by Tokugawa Yoshimune long before the tram was ever built, back in the Edo period (1603-1868). The park was originally landscaped as a place for the citizens of Edo to enjoy the cherry blossoms, and modern Tokyoites are still in love with it, thanks to the ample grassy lawns for picnics, and somewhere around 650 Somei Yoshino cherry blossom trees (ソメイヨシノ, the most common variety in Tokyo).

Thanks to Asukayama Park's long history, visitors can also admire old buildings still scattered around the grounds, like the former residence of the Shibusawa family, which has been designated an important cultural property. And for younger visitors (or those who are still young at heart), the playground has plenty of cute equipment, featuring polar bears and octopuses!

Asukayama Park isn't nearly as popular as Tokyo's most famous cherry blossom spots, which makes it a good alternative, but it's still a local favorite. If you want to avoid the crowds, try going earlier in the morning and avoiding weekends or holidays. You might even have it all to yourself! If you're lucky.

Asukayama Park (飛鳥山公園)
1-1-3 Oji, Kita City, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

5 🌸 Homyoji Temple



Homyoji Temple was established under its current name on this spot some 700 years ago, but these days it can be found between the more recently constructed Toden-Arakawa stations of Zoshigaya and Kishimojinmae. The temple's broad influence is said to extend as far as the nearby Kishimojin Temple, which apparently sits within the grounds of Homyoji, although it has a separate reputation for beautiful ginkgo trees (and has lent its name to Kishimojinmae Station). Homyoji Temple owes its springtime popularity to the tall cherry blossom trees found on either side of the temple entrance way, which frame the temple gate in pretty pink petals.

As the temple is located in a residential area, it's generally very quiet, but if you visit during the weekend at peak cherry blossom season you might run into a crowd of fellow flower fanatics! It's only polite to let worshippers through and respect other picture-takers, and we think it's also important to keep in mind that there are people trying to live their lives just outside the temple walls, too!

Homyoji Temple (威光山法明寺)
3-18-18 Minamiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

6 🌸 Kanda River, Omokage Bridge



Walk along the Kanda River between Gakushuinshita and Omokagebashi Stations, and you'll find a series of beautiful cherry blossom spots, the most popular of which is the area around Omokage Bridge. In Japanese, the word omokage (面影) can be used to refer to a phantom, or a vestige of someone's memory, and there are a number of theories concerning the bridge's poetic name. Some say it has to do with Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of Japan, while other theories say it comes from the tragic story of a local woman who killed herself by jumping off the bridge. Others say that the name actually comes from the poetry of Waka specialist Ariwara no Narihira, who described the water's surface as being as clear as a mirror.

Look out along the flowing water from the bridge, and the cherry blossom trees stretch out over the river, creating a picturesque scene that looks a bit like Meguro River, except with fewer people around. In full bloom, the view will take your breath away! If you walk to the spot along the river starting from JR Takadanobaba Station instead, you'll be treated to more and more cherry blossoms as you go along, with the Omokage Bridge spot making an excellent finale. Of course, if you follow the Kanda River along its winding route, you'll find quite a few other bridges as well. Make sure to leave plenty of time to admire the flowers all along the water!

Omokage Bridge (面影橋)
2-1-16 Takada, Toshima City, Tokyo

▶︎ Check out more on the area around the Arakawa-Toden Tram Line here, in our article on Arakawa!

Off the Beaten Path in Ueno

During spring, the Ueno area becomes one of the most enticing parts of Tokyo, and crowds descend on Ueno Park to take in the broad boulevard of stately cherry blossom trees. Ueno Park during cherry blossom season is truly a sight to behold, but it's also busy and crowded, so if you're looking for a different kind of hanami experience, it's best to look elsewhere. Fortunately, Ueno and the surrounding neighborhoods also contain plenty of other places with beautiful cherry blossoms, and fun cherry blossom viewing experiences, and many of them also have a relaxingly quiet, peaceful atmosphere too. Ueno's cherry blossom season looks a little different to those in the know!

7 🌸 Ono-Terusaki Shrine



To see some of Tokyo's hidden treasures, we'll be going on a little Ueno cherry blossom tour that does not contain Ueno Park (although you can go there too if you want), and our first stop is a little shrine in a nearby neighborhood called Iriya. Located a little over ten minutes from Ueno Park on foot, Ono-Terusaki Shrine is small and inconspicuous, but like so many of Tokyo's minor shrines, it was actually established over 1,000 years ago, enshrining the scholar-poet-turned-god Ono Takamura (known for his tanka poetry). The cozy shrine grounds only have the space for one cherry blossom tree, which is an early-blooming variety with richly pigmented pink petals, but visitors still arrive at Ono-Terusaki each March to welcome spring to Tokyo! Many of the shrine's biggest fans come because the real live cherry blossoms aren't the only sakura attraction to be found there.

If you've spent much time exploring Japan's many shrines and temples, you've probably noticed the tradition of "goshuin" (御朱印) collection before, and you might even have a goshuincho book to collect the stamps yourself. As a unique part of shrine and temple identity, goshuin vary wildly from place to place, but Ono-Terusaki Shrine is particularly known for its ridiculously cute illustrated goshuin, often printed on special paper for added effect. Many shrines will offer seasonal goshuin for cherry blossom season, but Ono-Terusaki Shrine really takes it to the next level, with a series of colorful, dreamy illustrations offered one after another throughout the whole season, generally depicting the scholar-god Ono Takamura enjoying nature with his animal friends. If you collect goshuin, a cherry blossom season visit to this shrine is a must. (Their goshuincho books are great too, if you want to get started with goshuin collecting.)

Ono-Terusaki Shrine (小野照崎神社)
2-13-14 Shitaya, Taito City, Tokyo
Shrine Office Hours: 9:00 – 16:00
Official Website (jp)

8 🌸 Motomishima Shrine



This next spot is right next to Ueno Park on the map, and about ten minutes from Ono-Terusaki Shrine on foot, but the surrounding area has a totally unique vibe… which we might not necessarily recommend as a first choice if you're planning a family cherry blossom tour. Motomishima Shrine is next to Uguisudani Station, in an area notorious for its many, many, many love hotels, which means the neighborhood is perfectly safe but a little bit seedy. (It looks sketchy, but we promise it's not that bad!) But those who are willing to brave this den of depravity will find that Motomishima Shrine is a little oasis of peace and tranquility, built in the year 1281 by a military commander who saw the shrine in a dream. With its tall staircase surrounded by cherry blossoms, this spot will have you feeling like you're climbing a stairway to heaven.

One of the best things about Motomishima Shrine is that it not only has big cherry blossom trees that bloom lavishly throughout the grounds, but also that it has more than one variety, which means you can visit to see the flowers throughout the season. Towards the entrance and around the shrine gate, the brilliant pink "kan-zakura" (寒桜) cherry blossoms are known to bloom bright and early, getting a head start on many other Tokyo sakura spots and creating a pink canopy overhead as early as mid-March. Later in the spring, the Somei Yoshino cherry blossoms found further inside the shrine tend to bloom along with the flowers in Ueno Park, and these whiteish blooms create what feels like a tunnel of flowers around shrine steps. It's definitely worth finding your way through the winding Uguisudani backstreets, past all the love hotels, to admire the amazing views.

(If you started collecting goshuin, Motomishima Shrine offers some very elegant options!)

Motomishima Shrine (元三島神社)
1-7-11 Negishi, Taito City, Tokyo
Official Twitter

 

9 🌸 Yanaka Cemetery



Yanaka Cemetery is a real cemetery and is thus filled with rows of gravestones, statues, and other monuments to the deceased, but this unique cherry blossom spot is far from morbid! With an atmosphere more like a park than a temple graveyard, Yanaka Cemetery is a space for both the dead and the living to find peace, with narrow paths carved out with uneven paving stones, roads lined with beds of Japanese irises, and of course plenty of cherry blossoms!

The central street running through the cemetery towards Tennoji Temple is this spot's most famous place to enjoy the flowers, and when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, you'll see a slow but steady stream of visitors strolling between the lines of tall cherry blossom trees on each side, with branches reaching out to brush each other overhead. If you have the time to wander through the area, however, you'll find even more beautiful spots with fewer people around – keep an eye out for majestic trees stretching out over the graves and raining down showers of pale pink petals. Look closely and you might even find the headstones of a few famous Tokyoites, like Japan's very last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, and the novelist whose face graces the country's 5,000 yen bills, Ichiyo Higuchi!

Yanaka Cemetery (谷中霊園)
7-5-24 Yanaka, Taito City, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

Ueno and its surroundings have a lot to offer, and while all of us on the Japankuru team love to join the raucous revelers who populate Ueno Park every year when the flowers bloom, that's clearly not the only option in the area! As another part of Tokyo's Shitamachi area, this little chunk of the city has its own history, and the centuries of residents have left us with so many places to enjoy the spring that these three don't even begin to cover it.

▶︎ Check out our whole Ueno area cherry blossom tour, with more sakura spots and local snacks too!

On the Sumida River

As one of Tokyo's main waterways, the Sumida River snakes its way through the city from north to south, taking a sharp turn to cut past popular sightseeing areas like Asakusa before flowing into Tokyo Bay. For many cherry blossom fanatics, a stroll along the river in Sumida Park (next to Asakusa) is a must, but we're here to tell you that there's an even better place to enjoy the cherry blossoms by the water.

10 🌸 Shioiri Park



Get away from the crowds and head north to Shioiri Park, a local city park with lush green lawns, paved paths, and cherry blossoms to enjoy all spring. Not only does Shioiri Park have more space than your average Tokyo park to sit down and stretch out, but it also has a wide variety of cherry blossoms, which bloom at slightly different times to give visitors a chance to enjoy the flowers throughout an extended cherry blossom season. Some years the season starts as early as the beginning of February and lasts through mid-April! Plus, as a municipal facility, the city takes extremely good care of Shiori Park, keeping it neat and clean for all to enjoy. Grab something to eat from a nearby convenience store, and it's the perfect place for a picnic – either in spring or in autumn when the leaves change colors!

The surrounding Senju neighborhood has been making overtures to tourists in recent years, emphasizing local culture and attempting to attract both locals and international travelers to this historically working-class Shitamachi area, but the area hasn't exploded onto the Tokyo travel scene quite yet. Visitors to the park have been on the increase in recent years, and the grounds are fortunately big enough to accommodate plenty of cherry blossom viewers, but it's still a real hidden gem in comparison to Tokyo's most popular spots. Stop by Shioiri Park to drink in the cherry blossoms on the banks of the Sumida River and enjoy the area to the fullest before the crowds arrive!

Shioiri Park (汐入公園)
8-13-1 Minamisenju, Arakawa City, Tokyo
Official Website (jp)

This Spring, Find Your Own Favorite Tokyo Cherry Blossom Spot!



Immense parks and tiny shrines, with cherry blossom trees hidden within busy Tokyo neighborhoods or tucked away in quiet residential neighborhoods – when it comes to beautiful cherry blossom spots, Tokyo has more options than you might imagine. And while some of the most famous destinations certainly have a certain majestic beauty, or a lively atmosphere, when you're looking for something a little more peaceful, you do have the option to get away from the crowds! This year, we've taken you with us on a tour of some of the Japankuru team's favorite Tokyo cherry blossom spots, to show off the city and show just how much potential Tokyo's lesser-known spots might have. On your next trip to Tokyo, we invite you to stray from the beaten path for your sakura season adventures.

And if you find somewhere better, we're dying to hear all about it, so let us know!

For more info and updates from Japan, check Japankuru for new articles, and don't forget to follow us on X (Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook!

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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.
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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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    • 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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