First settled in 819 by the monk Kukai, Mt. Koya is primarily known as the world headquarters of the Koyasan Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism. Located on an 800 m high plain amid eight peaks of the mountain (which was the reason this location was selected, in that the terrain is supposed to resemble a lotus plant), the original monastery has grown into the town of Koya, featuring a university dedicated to religious studies and 120 sub-temples, many of which offer lodging to pilgrims.
Home to an active monastic center founded twelve centuries ago by the priest Kukai (posthumously known as Kobo Daishi) for the study and practice of Esoteric Buddhism. It is the headquarters of the Koyasan sect of Shingon Buddhism, a faith with a wide following throughout Japan.
Situated on a small plain at the top of Mount Koya is the sacred area known as the Danjo Garan, a complex of temples, halls, pagodas and Buddhist statuary that welcome visitors to this serene and hallowed place.
Surrounded by a thick forest of massive cedars, the area known as Okuno-in, or the Inner Sanctuary, is the setting for a vast cemetery that features the mausolea of numerous famous Japanese, including that of the samurai ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi (or Taiko Hideyoshi) as well as memorials to the spirits of soldiers killed in the Pacific War.
Sapporo (Sapporo-shi) is the fifth largest city of Japan by population, and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture, and is an ordinance-designated city. Sapporo is also one of the nation's youngest major cities. In 1857, the city's population stood at just seven people.
Sapporo hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics (the first ever held in Asia). Its annual Sapporo Snow Festival draws more than 2 million tourists from abroad.
In the beginning of the Meiji Period, when the development of Hokkaido was started on a large scale, Sapporo was chosen as the island's administrative center and enlarged according to the advice of foreign specialists. Consequently, Sapporo was built based on a North American style rectangular street system.
Sapporo became world famous in 1972 when the Olympic Winter Games were held there. Today, the city is well known for its ramen, beer, and the annual snow festival held in February.
Furano (Furano-shi) is a city in the prefecture of Hokkaido, Japan, located in the southern reaches of Kamikawa Subprefecture, under whose jurisdiction it resides. Well known throughout Japan as a tourism destination, it is famous for its lavender fields, the television drama Kita no Kuni kara and the Furano Ski Resort, which held the Snowboarding World Cup in recent years.
A perfect place to go for a drive and experience the beauty of the many fields of flowers sorrounding Furano.
Biei (Biei-ch?) is a town located in Kamikawa Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan.
Biei is famous for its views of wide fields and hills, and is used as a backdrop for many Japanese commercials and TV programmes. The bright colours of its fields attract thousands of visitors in July and August.
The town also houses the Shinzo Maeda Photo Art Gallery.
Since 1992, Biei has held the "Biei Healthy Marathon", which attracts runners from all around Japan.
Sightseeing spots include Shirahige Waterfalls, Mt.Tokachi Obesevatory, Shirogane Blue Pond, Shikisai-no-Oka (Flower Park), Ikoi-ga-mori Park, Hokusei-no-Oka Observatory, Zerubu-no-Oka (Flower Park) and many more.
Tokyo, officially "Tokyo Metropolis" (Tokyo-to), is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan and has been the capital since 1869. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It is the seat of the Emperor of Japan, the Japanese government and the National Diet.
Tokyo offers a seemingly unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining to its visitors. The city's history can be appreciated in districts such as Asakusa and in many excellent museums, historic temples and gardens. Contrary to common perception, Tokyo also offers a number of attractive green spaces in the city center and within relatively short train rides at its outskirts.
Tokyo dazzles with its traditional culture and passion for everything new. From architecture to cuisine, this is a capital of superlatives.
Nikko (Nikko-shi) is a city located in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. As of May 2015, the city had an estimated population of 84,197, and a population density of 58.1 persons per km2. Its total area is 1,449.83 km2. It is a popular destination for Japanese and international tourists. Attractions include the mausoleum of sh?gun Tokugawa Ieyasu and that of his grandson Iemitsu, and the Futarasan Shrine, which dates to the year 767. There are also many famous hot springs (onsen) in the area. Elevations range from 200 to 2,000 m. The Japanese saying "Never say 'kekko' until you've seen Nikko"—kekko meaning beautiful, magnificent or "I am satisfied"—is a reflection of the beauty and sites in Nikko.
Many people ranging from beginners to experts can enjoy hiking in the great nature in the city of Nikko, as most of the city areas are part of the Nikko National Park. Throughout the year, the city offers you seasonal joys: from beautiful scenery of magnificent mountains, valleys, falls, lakes and marshes, to cherry blossom in the spring, fresh green leaves in the summer, colorful leaves viewing in autumn.
Mount Fuji, located on Honshu, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft), 2nd-highest peak of an island (volcanic) in Asia, and 7th-highest peak of an island in the world. It is a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–1708. Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometers (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped for about 5 months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.
Mount Fuji is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains" along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. It is also a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and one of Japan's Historic Sites. It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013.
Mount Fuji has "inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries".
Should you decide to pay a visit, please remember to have warmer clothes and proper shoes with you.
Yokohama, literally "horizontal beach", is the second largest city in Japan by population, after Tokyo, and the most populous municipality of Japan. It is the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture. It lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kanto region of the main island of Honshu. It is a major commercial hub of the Greater Tokyo Area.
Since opening its port to the world about 150 years ago, Yokohama has transformed itself into Japan's second largest city. Yokohama's port views have resulted in a unique and attractive townscape that attracts residents and visitors alike, which augment its various artistic and cultural attractions. It has a lot on tap for every visitor, from experiencing traditional culture to fun and exciting tourism destinations.
Kamakura is a city in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Although Kamakura proper is today rather small, it is often described in history books as a former de facto capital of Japan, the nation's most populous settlement from 1200 to 1300 AD, as the seat of the shogunate and of the Regency during the Kamakura period.
Kamakura is an ancient city that has produced its own, original culture. Once it was a political capital along with Nara and Kyoto, and also the birthplace of Japan's first military government, the "Kamakura Bakufu." Warrior Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed as Seii-Taishogun (shogun) by the Imperial court in 1192 and established the Kamakura Bakufu government, which is the first military government in Japan, whereas previously the Imperial court in Kyotoheld power.
Kamakura began flourishing as a temple town in the 17th century. From the 19th century, it became popular for beaches, resort areas, and residential districts. Kawabata Yasunari, a writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, lived and wrote many works in Kamakura. Blessed with the nature of the ocean and surrounding green hills, Kamakura today attracts a large number of tourists.
Kyoto , officially Kyoto City, is the capital city of Kyoto Prefecture, located in the Kansai region of Japan. It is most well known in Japanese history for being the former Imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years, as well as a major part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area.
In Kyoto, each of the four seasons has its own distinct charm. A diversity of attractions of Kyoto, including natural scenery that shows a different expression in different times and seasons, tasting seasonal delicacies, and discover Kyoto's profound history and culture. Depending on the season and the area, there are various ways to enjoy Kyoto, and every time you visit it, you can make a new discovery.
Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture located in the Kansai region of Japan. The city occupies the northern part of Nara Prefecture, bordering Kyoto Prefecture. Eight temples, shrines and ruins in Nara remain: specifically T?dai-ji, Saidai-ji, K?fuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gang?-ji, Yakushi-ji, T?sh?dai-ji, and the Heij? Palace, together with Kasugayama Primeval Forest, collectively form "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara", a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During 710 CE - 784 CE, Nara was the capital of Japan, and the Emperor lived there before moving the capital to Kyoto.
Nara is the most historic and spiritual centre of Japan, where Buddhism first flourished and the first capital city was built over 1300 years ago. Close to Kyoto and Osaka and quickly accessible by train, Nara is a living history book, full of World Heritage sites and well-preserved temples and shrines. Much of Nara is still semi-rural, dotted with picturesque villages, where life follows the rhythms of the seasons.
The temples, shrines and deer are world famous, but Nara has much more. From camping under the stars to elegant ryokan, from ancient crafts to cool cafes, there is something here for everyone. Most of all, Nara is its people. Sometimes shy, but always open and friendly, you’ll carry the warmth of these encounters for years to come.
Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and the third largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.
Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the "nation's kitchen" and served as a center for the rice trade during the Edo period.
In the recorded history of Japan, several ancient capitals were located for a long time in the Kansai region (western Japan) including Kyoto, Kobe and Nara. In this region, Osaka is being developed as a center of economy, industries and world trade. Osaka still continues to play a leading role in these fields in modern Japan.
Today in Osaka has a number of world-leading companies, research institutes and individuals are active in various fields. Osaka is proud of the Kansai International Airport, which is open around the clock, as well as its highly-extensive railway network and food culture. Osaka welcomes visitors from the world with Osaka-style "omotenashi" (hospitality).
Osaka has been attracting people from around the world by holding various international events such as the Japan World Exposition (1970), the International Garden and Greenery Exposition (1990), the APEC Summit (1994), the Track and Field World Championships (2007), Rugby World Cup(2019) and World Masters Games in Kansai(2021).
Kansai International Airport (KIX) also provides direct services to 74 cities in 27 countries throughout the world, as well as many cities in Japan. The airport, which acts as an Asian hub and serves a large number of flights to the Asia-Pacific region, is conveniently located within 30 minutes by train of downtown Osaka.
Kobe is the sixth-largest city in Japan and the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture. It is located on the southern side of the main island of Honshu, on the north shore of Osaka Bay and about 30 km (19 mi) west of Osaka. With a population around 1.5 million, the city is part of the Keihanshin metropolitan area along with Osaka and Kyoto.
Kobe is a sightseeing city full of greenery, with an exotic atmosphere.
Also known as a city with a unique style, and an atmosphere that feels almost exotic in Japan, as it has flourished as an international port city since long ago, and the affect of many foreign cultures is visible to this day.
The city also boasts the rich nature of Mount Rokko, and the hot spring town of Arima. The streets of Arima harken back to a Japan of old. Kobe is ranked as one of the most popular sightseeing cities in Japan.
Access from Kyoto: 55 minutes from Kyoto Station to Kobe Station on the JR Tokaido Main Line.
Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture and the largest city in the Chugoku region of western Honshu – the largest island of Japan.
Hiroshima was made famous as the first city targeted by a nuclear weapon, when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.
Hiroshima's origins can be traced to the end of the 6th century and beginning of the 7th century when the area began to prosper. At the time, Hiroshima was divided into two regions, Aki and Bingo. Towns prospered along transportation routes through the mountains and on the inland sea.
In 1589 Mori Terumoto, a regional warlord during the warring states period, gave Hiroshima its name and built a castle in what is now Hiroshima City. During the Edo period (1603-1867), modern-day Hiroshima Prefecture was divided into two domains, the Fukuyama Fiefdom to the east and Hiroshima Fiefdom to the west. Under the abolition of Fiefs, the two regions were united into a single Hiroshima Prefecture and the current borders were established by 1876.
In August 1945, Hiroshima City was destroyed in an instant with the dropping of the atomic bomb. Neighboring cities also suffered damage as a result of the war. Through the efforts of Hiroshima’s citizens, the region made an impressive recovery and continues to develop as a center of government, economics, and culture in the Chugoku-Shikoku Region.
Fukuoka is the capital city of Fukuoka Prefecture, situated on the northern shore of Japanese island Kyushu. It is the most populous city on the island, followed by Kitakyushu. It is the largest city and metropolitan area west of Keihanshin.
It has been an important harbor city for many centuries and was chosen by the Mongol invasion forces as their landing point in the 13th century.
Today's Fukuoka is the product of the fusion of two cities in the year 1889, when the port city of Hakata and the former castle town of Fukuoka were united into one city called Fukuoka. Hakata remains the name of one of Fukuoka's central districts and of the main railway station.
It is an energetic city and the centre of the area for politics, economy, culture and fashion in Kyushu. As "a gateway to Asia”, it is well serviced by international air transport. From ancient times, the city of Fukuoka has served as a window for exchange with the Asian continent, and has developed into a focal point for exchange. As a gateway to Asia, the city boasts one of Japan’s best transportation systems, which includes: Fukuoka Airport, one of Japan’s leading airports in terms of frequency of flights; Hakata Port, which has regular service to Pusan, South Korea; and Hakata Station, the gateway to Kyushu via rail. Fukuoka has the best yatai?food stalls?in Japan and an outstanding culinary culture, substantial shopping facilities, and well-developed Wi-Fi environments, and offers these and other enhanced city functions in a compact way.
Nagasaki is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. The city's name, means "long cape" in Japanese. Nagasaki became a centre of colonial Portuguese and Dutch influence in the 16th through 19th centuries, and the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region have been recognized and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Part of Nagasaki was home to a major Imperial Japanese Navy base during the First Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War.
During World War II, the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Nagasaki the second and, to date, last city in the world to experience a nuclear attack.
Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands of Japan with the capital Naha city.
Okinawa has been a critical strategic location for the United States Armed Forces since the end of World War II. The island hosts around 26,000 US military personnel, about half of the total complement of the United States Forces Japan, spread among 32 bases and 48 training sites. US bases in Okinawa played critical roles in the Korean War, Vietnam War, War in Afghanistan and Iraq War. The presence of the US military in Okinawa has caused political controversy both on the island and elsewhere in Japan.
The island's population of indigenous Ryukyuan people is among the longest living peoples in the world. There are 34 centenarians per 100,000 people, which is more than three times the rate of mainland Japan.
In the past known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, an independent state until the Meiji Era in the late 19th century, the islands that make up Japan’s current Okinawa Prefecture are the result of a turbulent history which continues to this day. A unique cultural hybrid, Okinawa is also a tropical paradise of beaches and jungles, now easier than ever to access from mainland Japan.
Okinawa’s attraction as a superb tourist destination is still underappreciated. To broadly sum up what Okinawa has to offer, one can easily expect to enjoy beautiful nature and perfect beaches. Whether you’re looking for an expedition into the jungle, a place to laze on the beach before, during or after the rest of your Japan trip, or appreciation of unique vegetation and geological formations, Okinawa is worth the trip.
As Okinawa prefecture consists of many gorgeous smaller islands that are well worth a visit, we recommend finding and booking ferries to get to them (Please book well in advance as they tend to fill up quickly), or flights for the islands further away from the Okinawa main island.