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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 February

High spirits in late winter

With some of the coldest weather of the year, February demands physical activity and several layers to stay warm. Seasonal events often celebrate one of two things: winter weather, best seen in Sapporo’s wildly popular Snow Festival; or boundless vigor, as with the Saidaiji Naked Man Festival. Winter sports present a popular way to pass a snowbound weekend, and piste conditions remain exceptionally good for most of the month in Japan’s top snow sports areas.

Don't Miss

  • Though uncommon, snow can fall in Tokyo and other urban areas as far west as Osaka and Hiroshima, so wear sensible shoes
  • Hokkaido, Nagano and Niigata are among the most popular destinations for snow sports
  • The Hokkaido Snow Festival attracts huge crowds, so be sure to reserve your accommodations early

Snowscapes and snow art can be seen in Japan's coldest regions in February

A change of season?

A surprising amount of Japan’s national identity rests on the idea of four distinct seasons. Spring, summer, autumn and winter all behave themselves and stick to the script, so the story goes. And yet the traditional Japanese calendar, curiously enough, has spring beginning on February 5. Don’t be fooled, though—Japan is still very chilly (and also quite snowy) in some places, and you’ll want to dress appropriately.

Winter events to warm the spirits

The undisputed top dog of winter-themed events in Japan, Sapporo’s Snow Festival draws over a million visitors each year. A vast array of ice and snow sculptures at multiple venues provide the main attraction, but it doesn’t end there. Food and drink on offer at countless kiosks keep moods buoyant as temperatures drop. Similar festivals with fewer crowds are the Akita Kamakura Festival, Niigata’s Tokamachi Snow Festival and Aomori's Hirosaki Castle Snow Lantern Festival.

The soft glow of snow candles at the Akita Kamakura Festival

For something completely different all together, check out the Saidaiji Naked Man Festival in Okayama. With scores of loincloth-clad men fighting for dear life to prise fortune bestowing trinkets from each other’s hands, it’s a good example of how some things just need to be seen to be believed. Expect pummeling, breathless drama, lightning-fast reversals of fortune, and bare flesh everywhere you look. That’s entertainment!

World-class skiing

Since Japan is a mountainous nation with significant snowfall, you can find ski resorts all across the country, but mention skiing in Japan, and many people naturally think of Hokkaido. This is not without good reason: Niseko and the nearby resorts of Rusutsu and Kiroro rank among Japan’s very best ski areas. High-quality powder snow, long runs, and extensive off-piste options all contribute to the prestige.

Fresh tracks and scenic views at Rusutsu

Alpine bliss in central Japan

Nagano Prefecture’s high altitude and alpine sports culture made it a natural choice for the 1998 Winter Olympics. With several famous resorts including Happo-one (home to Olympic-quality runs), Hakuba Village attracts a large number of skiers from abroad. Elsewhere, in the northeast of the prefecture, Shiga Kogen boasts a terrific array of resorts all covered by a single all-access pass. Members of Japan’s royal family even ski here. On the northwest coast, Niigata is home to major resorts like Suginohara and Akakan, both well worth a visit.

Sitting out the cold weather

Anyone allergic to winter weather can choose from various indoor alternatives. A dose of traditional performing arts at Ginza’s Kabukiza will keep you entertained in a heated environment as will settling down in a department store. If all else fails, submerging yourself in the naturally heated waters of a hot spring resort is a time-honored way to keep warm.

Kusatsu in Gunma is a popular hot spring retreat

Another option is to seek warmer climes down south. Okinawa is already in the middle of cherry blossom season in early February, with temperatures ranging from 15-20 degrees Celsius. Nearer to the mainland and easily reached by shinkansen, the island of Kyushu is relatively temperate and home to one of Japan’s most famous onsen towns, Beppu.

Kagoshima, at the southern tip of Kyushu

The onset of spring

Despite the cold, there is a theme of emerging vitality and new beginnings in February. Towards the comparatively warmer latter half of the month, plum trees bloom heralding the onset of spring. Kairakuen Garden in Ibaraki, Koshikawa Korakuen in Tokyo, Kita Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto and Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Fukuoka are among the top spots to see the blossoms.

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