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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Yoshino's centerpiece is the sacred Mt. Yoshino, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose extraordinary beauty is worthy of the many poems written about it down the centuries.

Don't Miss

  • See the extraordinary display of 30,000 cherry trees burst into color in late March through April
  • Walk in the footsteps of ancient mountain ascetics
  • Luxuriate in the area's mineral-rich hot springs

How to Get There

Although it is in Nara Prefecture, access to the Yoshino area is easiest from Kyoto Station. Alternatively, you can get to the Yoshino area from Osaka.

From Kyoto: At Kyoto Station, take the Kintetsu Line, which reaches Yoshino Station in about 1 hour 45 minutes.

From Osaka: From Abenohashi Station in Osaka, it takes 1 hour 25 minutes on the Kintetsu Minami Osaka Line to Yoshino Station.

Extraordinary scenery

Much of Yoshino in Nara Prefecture is a sprawling national park, encompassing the sacred Kii mountain range, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its heart is Mt. Yoshino, which has long been a symbol of spring in Japan. The mountain is featured heavily in classical literature, poetry, and song.

You will encounter numerous shrines and temples here that are well over 1,000 years old. Several of these provide excellent views of the blossoms, including the Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine, where the famous 16th-century warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi is said to have held a hanami party perfectly timed to gaze at the beautiful cherry blossoms.

Nyoirin-ji Temple houses the mausoleum of the tragic figure, Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339). Godaigo was the last emperor to exercise political power during the long centuries of samurai rule which finally ended with the Meiji Restoration in 1868. His short political rule was terminated in wars that split the Imperial family into two rival factions.

Godaigo fled to Yoshino, setting up the so-called Southern Court to rival the alternative court established in Kyoto under the auspices of the shogun. Yoshino Jingu Shrine nearby is also dedicated to him.

Centre of the mysterious Shugendo religion

The 8th-century figure En-no-Gyoja built Kimpusen-ji Temple's Zao-do Hall at the foot of Mt. Yoshino. The Zao-do, a national treasure, is Japan's second largest wooden structure, after the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji Temple in Nara City, and well worth a visit.

En-no-Gyoja was the father of the Shugendo religion, which is a form of ancient mountain worship and whose practitioners subject themselves to rigorous ascetic training including fasting and purification in freezing waterfalls. You may spot a pilgrim here in the distinctive attire, blowing on their conch shells.

Yoshino makes a great day trip from other cities in the Kansai Area, but you may wish to stay overnight to make the most of the hot springs here. With dozens of trails, the Yoshino area is a haven for a combination of hiking and onsen soaks. The best way to beat the crowds in the cherry blossom season is to stay overnight and then see the blossoms in the early morning before the trains arrive.

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