Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. 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
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life 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

A perfect base for alpine adventures and powder snow

From the more cosmopolitan hub and prefectural capital of Yamagata City, visitors can delve into this fascinating corner of Japan with its rich culture, soothing hot springs, soaring mountains and ski fields.

Don't Miss

  • Ancient and atmospheric Yamadera Temple
  • Hot spring soaks and castle views at Kaminoyama Onsen
  • Mount Zao's alpine “snow monsters,” which roar to life in February

How to Get There

Yamagata City is easily accessible from Tokyo in about two and a half hours via the Yamagata Shinkansen Line.

Flights from Tokyo to Sendai Airport take one hour. You can then transfer to a direct bus from the airport, which takes around one and a half hours.

A city framed by mountains

Home to a quarter of a million people, Yamagata Prefecture’s capital is a convenient base to begin your adventure in Northern Japan.

A short walk from the station, Kajo Park inside the walls of the Yamagata Castle ruins holds several events throughout the year. Every spring, revelers fill the park to picnic and view the hundreds of cherry trees in bloom.

Life's a bowl of cherries

Cherries, the fruit not the flower, are the area's most famous export and are grown in the valleys running through the center of the Yamagata region.

At the height of the season in mid-June, cherry lovers pour into Yamagata City for the annual Yamagata Cherry Festival. Featuring dozens of varieties, cherry filled baked goods, and even a cherry stone spitting contest, the festival is quintessential Yamagata in the summer.

Popular pastimes: dancing and eating

The summertime Hanagasa Festival features traditional dancing, and the autumn Imoni Festival is an outdoor bash serving liberal amounts of Imoni, a popular regional beef stew. Either of these events will provide you with a deeper immersion in Japanese culture.

Temple with a view

Founded in the 9th century, Yamadera’s sub-temples dot the slopes of Mt. Hoshu just 25 minutes from the city. A 1,000-step ascent through a mystic cedar forest brings you to the temple complex at the summit, with gorgeous views that are considered among the best in northern Japan.

Fall is a wonderful time to visit Yamadera Temple. The colorful foliage of the surrounding forest and the mild temperatures help make the climb to the top a joy.

A legendary hot spring town

Kaminoyama Onsen dates back to the 1400s, when legend has it that a monk spied an injured crane bathing its wounds in the healing waters, and a hot spring town was born. Located at the foot of Mt. Zao, its seven public baths are open for guests to drop in for a soak.

When you’re finished, head up to Kaminoyama Castle, for views over the town and surrounding mountains. Originally built in 1535, the castle was once the headquarters of the Kaminoyama Domain. Today it houses a small museum paying homage to the warlords that once ruled the region.

Dedicated to fruit, hot springs and games

Tendo is Yamagata’s fruit mecca, home to vast orchards of apples, peaches, pears, and of course, cherries. It’s also one of the prefecture’s premier hot spring resorts, with many outdoor baths.

For fans of shogi, Japanese chess, the town produces the vast majority of Japan's game pieces. Their creaton is a highly developed local craft dating back hundreds of years.

World class skiing and snow monsters

Mt. Zao is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in northern Japan, with great hiking in the summer, top-notch skiing at the Zao Onsen Ski Resort in the winter, and sigh-inducing soaks at its eponymous onsen, which operates year-round.

Mt. Zao is also home to a phenomenon known as “snow monsters,” where trees on the upper slopes take on eerie shapes due to being covered with heavy snow and blasted by Siberian winds.

This area of the mountain is accessible via chair lift and gondola, and the trees are illuminated at night. You can also take in the views from the warmth of a café if the temperature seems daunting. The snow monsters are at their most ferocious in mid-February.

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