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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 May

Crowds and radiant warmth

May is the Goldilocks Zone of the Japanese calendar. Neither too hot nor too cold, it's the perfect time to take a trip and just about everyone does. The Golden Week holiday at the start of the month marks the peak of this period with packed trains and hotels being the norm. If you must travel in the first week of May, be sure to book early.

Don't Miss

  • The Golden Week holiday period begins on April 29 and ends on May 5, and is one of Japan's busiest travel periods
  • With major tourist destination packed, May is a good time to explore lower-key options
  • The giant carp streamers you can see around rural Japan in May are koinobori, traditional decorations for Children's Day (May 5)
  • The calmer second half of May is better for traveling and a good chance to see Japan before the rainy season in June

Floral highlights around Japan

Apart from Hokkaido and northern Tohoku where they last till mid-May, cherry blossoms have either thinned out or vanished by the start of the month. The good news is there are plenty of other flowering plants to enjoy in various parts of Japan.

The cherry blossoms in Hakodate last through until mid-May

In Tochigi Prefecture, Ashikaga Flower Park hosts a wisteria viewing event from April 18 to May 20. The month-long festival showcases 150 year old wisteria trees, illuminated by night for added effect. Within easy reach of Tokyo, it's the perfect way to spend a leisurely night in spring.

Ashikaga Flower Park

Another good place for wisteria is the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden in Fukuoka. Peaking in early May, Kawachi boasts a long wisteria tunnel perfect for photos.

The wisteria tunnel at the Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden

You can find other floral hotspots all around Japan. The hillsides of Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki come alive with the soft blue of countless Nemophila blossoms (late April to mid-May), while in nearby Saitama pink and purple shibazakura, or moss flox ignite the fields with radiant hues (mid-April to late May).

Nemophilia and shibazakura in Ibaraki and Saitama

Spring sumo and festival fun in Tokyo

The May sumo tournament takes place in Tokyo over two weeks from May 13 to 27, with advance tickets available online from April 7. The last day promises more drama than usual as final results shape the careers of competitors, sometimes cementing all-important rankings.

Tokyo sumo tournaments are held in January, May and september

If you're in the capital around May 20, consider attending the Sanja Matsuri at Sensoji Temple. This major festival event, in which portable shrines are paraded through the streets, attracts over a million people annually.

On a more sedate note, Tokyo Big Site hosts the annual Design Festa in which 10,000 artists from around the world display their works in a huge event space.

Alpine excursions

With Kamikochi and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opening in April, a third option for exploring the Northern Japan Alps arrives in May with the opening of the Kurobe Gorge Railway.

Snow still lingers in the mountains around Kamikochi in May

From the first of the month, you can ride the rails across deep ravines into the still snowy Tateyama Mountains. Though crowded at peak periods, it offers a nice alternative to the usual tourist fare.

Explore Kurobe Gorge and the Tateyama mountains from May

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