Regions in Japan
Japan is conventionally divided into nine regions, listed here from north to south:
- Hokkaido(Central Circuit, Eastern Circuit, Northern Circuit, Southern Circuit).
Northernmost island and snowy borderland. Famous for its vast landscapes and cold winters.
- Tohoku(Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima)
The largely rural northeastern part of the main island of Honshu, best known for seafood, skiing, and hot springs.
- Kanto (Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa).
The coastal plain of Honshu includes the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama.
- Chubu (Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu)
The mountainous central region of Honshu, dominated by the Japanese Alps and Japan’s fourth-largest city Nagoya.
- Kansai (Shiga, Mie, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Wakayama, Hyogo).
The western region of Honshu, the ancient capital of culture and trade, including the cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe.
- Chugoku (Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi)
Southwesternmost Honshu, a rural region best known for the cities of Hiroshima and Okayama.
- Shikoku (Kagawa, Ehime, Tokushima, Kochi)
Smallest of the four main islands, a destination for Buddhist pilgrims, and Japan’s best white-water rafting.
Semi-tropical island chain in the south extending to Taiwan; formerly independent Ryukyu Kingdom until annexed by Japan in 1879. Traditional customs and architecture are very different from the rest of Japan.
- Kyushu (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima).
Southernmost of the four main islands, the birthplace of Japanese civilization; largest cities Fukuoka and Kitakyushu
Cities in Japan
Japan has thousands of cities; these are nine of the most important for the traveler.
- Tokyo – the capital and main financial center, modern and densely populated.
- Hiroshima – large port city, the first city destroyed by an atomic bomb
- Kanazawa – historic city on the west coast
- Kyoto – the ancient capital of Japan, considered the cultural heart of the country, with many ancient Buddhist temples and gardens.
- Nagasaki – an old port city in Kyushu, the second city destroyed by an atomic bomb
- Nara – the first capital of unified Japan, with many Buddhist shrines and historic buildings.
- Osaka – large and dynamic city in the Kansai region
- Sapporo – the largest city in Hokkaido, famous for its snow festival
- Sendai – the largest city in the Tohoku region, known as the City of Forests for its tree-lined avenues and forested hills
Other destinations in Japan
- Japanese Alps – a range of high snow-capped mountains in the centre of Honshu
- Miyajima – just outside Hiroshima, site of the iconic floating torii
- Mount Fuji – iconic snow-capped volcano and highest peak in Japan (3776m)
- Mount Koya – headquarters of the Buddhist Shingon sect
- Sado Island – island off Niigata, once home to exiles and prisoners, today a brilliant summer holiday
- Shiretoko National Park – untouched wilderness at Hokkaido’s north-easternmost tip
- Yaeyama Islands – the most remote part of Okinawa, with spectacular diving, beaches and jungle cruises
- Yakushima – UNESCO World Heritage Site with giant cedars and misty primeval forests