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An island nation in the Pacific Ocean, Japan is home to over 127,000,000 people. While many live in or nearby sprawling cities, the country's landscape is incredibly diverse, encompassing mountains, lakes and great swathes of forest. Nine distinct regions have been commonly identified, making travel planning a great deal easier.

Japan Cities and Regions

Greater Tokyo

Home to twelve million people, Tokyo is one of the world’s great metropolises. But just beyond the neon and noise you’ll find the temples of Kamakura, hot springs of Hakone, hillside shrines of Nikko and famous Mount Fuji. See our Tokyo Travel Guide


A vast, modern city, Osaka is the gateway to many of Japan’s most important tourist sites, including Kyoto, Nara, and Mount Koya. The city reflects its people: outgoing, food-loving, shopping-enthusiasts, business oriented. See our Osaka Travel Guide and Kyoto Travel Guide

Central Honshu

Rugged and green, this region stretches down the middle of Japan, from Tokyo down to Kyoto. Its rugged landscape combines the dramatic Japan Alps, traditional towns like Takayama, and the beautiful gardens of coastal Kanazawa.

Northern Honshu

This northern stretch of Honshu Island is one of the least visited regions of Japan. But ignore the reputation for harsh weather and you’ll discover unspoilt countryside and perfectly preserved samurai culture.


This northernmost island is also the least developed, and a nature lover's dream. Hike the mountains, ski the slopes, camp the lakes or canoe the rivers; as Japan’s second largest island, even in peak season you’ll feel alone in the great outdoors.

Western Honshu

Split into two distinct areas by the Chugoku mountains, the easy-to-navigate southern coast includes the must-see combination of Hiroshima and Miyajima. The less developed northern coast rewards with sparsely visited volcanoes and temples.


That it barely registers on the tourist trail is all the more reason to visit this striking, rugged island. Home to Japan’s most famous religious pilgrimage, it takes two months to walk the 88 temples, but many just spend a few days enjoying the ancient sights and laid-back atmosphere.


Japan’s third largest island lies at the south end of the country, and is popular for its historic centers, rumbling volcanoes, and strange sand baths.


The finest region for traditional Japanese arts, Kyoto’s awash with spectacular temples and shrines; while in the country's original capital Nara, you can trace the roots of this ancient culture.


This southernmost prefecture comprises over one hundred subtropical islands. The Yaeyama islands alone are worth the extra trip south – the cluster includes the jungle-filled Iriomote and Taketomi, where you can enter a perfectly preserved Rykyu village.

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