Japan is a fascinating and unique destination with a rich culture, breathtaking scenery, and a blend of modern and traditional architecture. A visit to Japan offers a diverse range of experiences, from exploring ancient temples and shrines, strolling through tranquil gardens, indulging in delicious cuisine, shopping in bustling cities, and soaking in hot springs.
Japan is a destination that offers a unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you're interested in exploring ancient temples and shrines, indulging in delicious cuisine, or simply soaking in hot springs, Japan has something to offer everyone. We have been lucky enough to visit on numerous occasions. Below are links to some of our favorite memories.
Hokkaido, the second-largest and northernmost island of Japan, is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of stunning natural landscapes, vibrant cities, rich culture, and delectable cuisine. Renowned for its pristine wilderness, hot springs, winter sports, and fresh seafood, Hokkaido attracts millions of visitors each year. Located between the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, Hokkaido boasts a diverse geography characterized by rugged mountains, vast plains, lush forests, and picturesque coastlines. The island's prominent mountain range, the Daisetsuzan, is a haven for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering breathtaking vistas, alpine flora, and diverse wildlife. Hokkaido experiences a temperate climate, with cool summers and long, snowy winters that transform the landscape into a winter wonderland. Hokkaido's natural beauty is simply awe-inspiring. The island is home to several national parks, each with its unique features. Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest national park in Japan, is renowned for its volcanic landscapes, hot springs, and abundant wildlife. Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a pristine environment and is a sanctuary for rare animal species such as brown bears and Stellar's sea eagles. The breathtaking blue caldera lakes of Akan Mashu National Park and the surreal flower fields of Furano and Biei add to the island's natural wonders. Hokkaido's long and snowy winters make it a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. The island boasts some of the best ski resorts in the world, including Niseko, Rusutsu, and Furano, offering a wide range of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The powder snow conditions in Hokkaido are legendary, attracting visitors from around the globe who come to experience the exhilaration of gliding down pristine slopes and enjoying the charming winter scenery. Hokkaido has a rich cultural heritage shaped by its indigenous Ainu people and the influx of settlers from the mainland. The Ainu culture is deeply rooted in the island's history, and visitors can learn about their traditions, language, and crafts at the various Ainu museums and cultural centers. Sapporo, Hokkaido's vibrant capital city, is known for its annual Snow Festival, showcasing intricate ice sculptures and attracting millions of visitors. The city is also home to historic buildings, modern architecture, and a thriving arts and music scene. Hokkaido is famous for its natural hot springs, or onsens, which are scattered across the island. These rejuvenating thermal baths offer relaxation and healing benefits while providing a glimpse into Japanese bathing culture. Noboribetsu, one of Hokkaido's most popular hot spring resorts, boasts a variety of mineral-rich baths, including the renowned Hell Valley, where visitors can witness geothermal activity up close. Other notable hot spring destinations include Jozankei, Shikotsu-Toya National Park, and the outdoor baths of Kurodake. No visit to Hokkaido would be complete without indulging in its culinary delights. The island is famous for its fresh and flavorful seafood, including succulent crabs, melt-in-your-mouth sea urchin, and delectable salmon roe. Hokkaido is also renowned for its dairy products, such as rich butter, creamy milk, and world-class cheeses. The local cuisine features hearty dishes like soup curry, a fusion of Japanese curry and soup, and Jingisukan, a grilled mutton dish. Visitors can also explore the numerous food markets, including Nijo Market in Sapporo, where they can sample regional delicacies and purchase local produce. Hokkaido is a captivating destination that offers a plethora of experiences for nature lovers, adventure seekers, history buffs, and food enthusiasts. Its diverse landscapes, from towering mountains to serene coastlines, provide endless opportunities for exploration and outdoor activities. The island's rich cultural heritage and thriving cities offer a glimpse into the past and present of Hokkaido's unique identity. Whether you are skiing on powdery slopes, soaking in a rejuvenating hot spring, or savoring mouthwatering delicacies, Hokkaido promises an unforgettable journey that will leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for this enchanting corner of Japan.
Sightseeing in Hokkaido
Central Honshu: is a region in Japan that encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, cultural heritage, and economic significance. Located in the heart of the country, it is home to some of Japan's most iconic cities, historical sites, natural wonders, and thriving industries. This article will delve into the rich history, geography, attractions, and unique features of the Central Honshu region. Geographically, Central Honshu is primarily defined by its position in the central part of Japan's largest island, Honshu. The region is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. It spans across multiple prefectures, including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Nagano, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Gifu, Aichi, and Shiga. This diverse range of prefectures contributes to the varied landscapes found in the region, ranging from coastal plains to mountainous areas. One of the key features of Central Honshu is its historical significance. The region has been the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan for centuries. It was in this region that the capital city of Kyoto, the former imperial capital of Japan, was established. Kyoto is renowned for its well-preserved traditional architecture, ancient temples, and beautiful gardens. Visitors can explore historic sites such as Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), and Kiyomizu-dera, which provide insights into Japan's rich cultural heritage. Another important city in Central Honshu is Tokyo, the current capital of Japan. Tokyo is a bustling metropolis that blends modernity with tradition. The city offers a myriad of attractions, from cutting-edge technology and skyscrapers to ancient temples and traditional markets. Popular sites include the historic Asakusa district with its iconic Senso-ji Temple, the bustling shopping district of Ginza, and the tranquil gardens of the Imperial Palace. Central Honshu is also renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. The region is home to the Japanese Alps, a majestic mountain range that stretches across several prefectures. Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. Every year, thousands of visitors climb Mount Fuji to witness its breathtaking sunrise views. The region is also dotted with hot springs, including the famous Hakone and Yamanaka Onsen, providing relaxation and rejuvenation to travelers. In addition to its cultural and natural attractions, Central Honshu plays a vital role in Japan's economy. The region is a hub for various industries, including automotive manufacturing, electronics, and information technology. Companies like Toyota, Honda, Sony, and Toshiba have their headquarters or major production facilities in this region. The presence of these industries has contributed to the region's economic growth and prosperity. Transportation in Central Honshu is well-developed, making it easy for visitors to explore the region. The Shinkansen, Japan's high-speed bullet train network, connects major cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kyoto, allowing for efficient travel between destinations. Local trains, buses, and taxis provide convenient transportation within cities and to more remote areas. Central Honshu is a region of Japan that offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, modernity, and economic significance. From the ancient capital of Kyoto to the vibrant city of Tokyo, visitors can immerse themselves in Japan's rich cultural heritage and experience the country's technological advancements. The stunning landscapes, including Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps, provide opportunities for outdoor adventures and relaxation. Central Honshu truly encapsulates the essence of Japan, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a diverse and captivating experience.
Sightseeing in Central Honshu
Western Honshu: Also known as Chūgoku, meaning “middle country”, Western Honshū used to be at the centre of the Japanese nation, lying between the country’s earliest settlements in Kyūshū and the imperial city of Kyoto. The region is split geographically into two distinct areas. The southern San’yō coast is blighted by heavy industry but borders the enchanting Inland Sea, while the rugged and sparsely populated northern San’in coast boasts some delightful small towns and a generally pristine landscape. The southern coast is easy to travel around, with Shinkansen lines, good local railway services and highways, while the northern coast takes more planning to tour by public transport, but easily repays the effort. Though western Honshū is rich in history, with burial mounds on both coasts dating from the first century, it’s a more contemporary event that brings most visitors to the region. Lying midway along the San’yō coast, Hiroshima, site of the first atom bomb attack and the region’s largest city, is the one place you’ll want to stop off en route to or from Kyūshū. At the eastern end of the San’yō coast, Okayama has one of Japan’s most famous gardens, Kōrakuen, and makes a good base for visiting the beautifully preserved Edo-era town of Kurashiki or the island art project on Inujima. As you head west along the coast, one of the treasures of Hiroshima-ken is the timeless fishing village of Tomonoura with its gorgeous views across the Inland Sea. The port of Onomichi, just to the north, is also the jumping-off point for the Shimanami Kaidō, or Sea Road, which connects Honshū via a series of breathtaking bridges and islands to Imabari on Shikoku, taking in the laidback island of Ikuchi-jima en route. The one island of the Inland Sea you won’t want to miss is Miyajima, just west of Hiroshima and site of the ancient shrine Itsukushima-jinja. On the southern coast of neighbouring Yamaguchi-ken, pause to admire the elegant Kintai-kyō bridge at Iwakuni and the spectacular view across the narrow Kanmon Straits to Kyūshū from Hino-yama in the port of Shimonoseki, at the tip of Honshū. Inland, the highlights of the prefecture’s small capital, Yamaguchi, are an impressive pagoda and classic Zen rock and moss garden.
Sightseeing in Western Honshu
Onsens: Natural hot springs (温泉, onsen) are numerous and highly popular across Japan. Every region of the country has its share of hot springs and resort towns, which come with them. There are many types of hot springs, distinguished by the minerals dissolved in the water. Different minerals provide different health benefits, and all hot springs are supposed to have a relaxing effect on your body and mind. Hot spring baths come in many varieties, indoors and outdoors, gender separated and mixed, developed and undeveloped. Many hot spring baths belong to a ryokan, while others are public bath houses. An overnight stay at a hot spring ryokan is a highly recommended experience to any visitor of Japan.
Shopping: Japan is a shopping paradise with a wealth of stores selling everything from traditional souvenirs and local food to the latest electronics and hottest fashion brands. Both domestic and foreign brands are represented, as are stores for all budgets, from the 100 yen shops to high-end fashion boutiques and department stores.
Large cities, such as Tokyo and Osaka, sport several shopping districts, each with their own unique character, usually grouped around major train stations. Shops are also found in shopping centers, along covered shopping arcades and in extensive underground malls. Outside of the city centers, large big box retailers, outlet malls and suburban shopping malls compete for shoppers with lots of variety.
Festivals: There are countless local festivals (matsuri) in Japan because almost every shrine celebrates one of its own. Most festivals are held annually and celebrate the shrine's deity or a seasonal or historical event. Some festival are held over several days. An important element of Japanese festivals are processions, in which the local shrine's kami (Shinto deity) is carried through the town in mikoshi (palanquins). It is the only time of the year when the kami leaves the shrine to be carried around town.