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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
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
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • 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
Kanto
Kanto
  • 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
Tokai
Tokai
  • 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
Kansai
Kansai
  • 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
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • 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
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • 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
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • 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
Okinawa
  • 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

GUIDE April

Spring hits its stride

Spring really bursts into life in April as the brief period of blossoming cherry trees gives way to pleasing green foliage and milder temperatures. It's an easygoing time when you can make do with light jackets and long sleeved shirts. Research is a must when planning a trip to see the cherry blossom since peak periods vary significantly by location as well as year to year.

Don't Miss

  • A tarp and some refreshments are all you need for your very own hanami party-the local term for cherry blossom viewing
  • Though you may miss the peak blossom period in one place, you're never more than a train ride away from somewhere still enjoying it
  • Some of Japan's top-rated areas for hanami are in places you may have never heard of

Relaxing under the blossoms

Japan's fiscal year ends in a flurry of activity on March 31, leaving much of the population in the mood to kick back. "Hanami" parties provide the leisure activity par excellence, as revelers stretch out on tarps to spend time with friends and family. While most cities have a go to spot, you can enjoy the hanami experience in any park or public space where the cherry trees are in bloom.

The banks of the Matsukawa River in Toyama

When planning your visit, please keep in mind that the cherry blossom period is brief in any given place but rather long on a national scale. Beginning in January in Okinawa, it lasts well into May in Hokkaido and mountainous areas.

Under the lights

Takada Park in Niigata and Hirosaki Park in Aomori both rank among Japan’s top spots for nighttime blossom viewing. Much thought goes into illuminating large numbers of trees with impressive results. Takada Park deserves special mention for its spacious castle grounds and impressive blossom corridor. Plan your trip to Takada in mid-April and Hirosaki, later, at the end of the month.

Takada Park lit up at night

Cherry blossoms and Mt Fuji

Lake Kawaguchi and Fujiyoshida may not be household names outside Japan, but both are iconic places for viewing blossoms near Mt. Fuji. The former offers an attractive lakeside setting while the latter has a famous pagoda, often photographed and featured in promotional material. The blossoms in these areas are usually at their best between early and mid-April.

Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida

Late bloomers

From mid-April to early May, northern Tohoku and mountainous regions in the Japan Alps, namely Nagano, Niigata and Toyama, present a number of sound options. Perhaps the single most famous tree in the country blooms in Fukushima's Mihara Park from mid to late April.

The tree in Mihara Park-thought to be over 1,000 years old

Further north, Hirosaki holds a festival from April 22 to May 7 each year. With picturesque castle grounds and row boat rental nearby, the Hirosaki Park Cherry Blossom Festival has a reputation as one of the Japan's top sakura spots.

Hirosaki Castle and boats on the nearby river at dusk

It's not all cherry blossoms

For blooms of a different kind, head to Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture for its famed wisteria-viewing event held from April 18 to May 20. Elsewhere, the Tonami Tulip Fair (mid-April to early may) in Toyama Prefecture puts on an unforgettable display with 2.5 million tulips of various colors.

Wisteria in Tochigi and tulips in Toyama

Spring openings in national parks

April isn't all about cherry blossoms-it also brings the opening of popular mountainous locations which are closed during the winter months.

The snow walls of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route fully opens on April 15, granting access to the famous snow corridor at Murodo. At the southern end of the Northern Japan Alps, Kamikochi's opening ceremony is held on April 27 with transportation into the park running from the 17th.

Kamikochi, accessible from April 17

A perennial favorite in Gifu

April as with other months sees festivals of one kind or another, but if you only have time for one, make it the Takayama Spring Festival. With a dazzling array of antique floats colorfully illuminated by night, the main procession is pure art in motion.

Ornate festival floats

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