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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

Nature

Aokigahara Forest 青木ヶ原

This stunning expansive forest is stunning in its beauty, but also has a very dark history

Aokigahara Forest is built up upon lava that was spewed from Mount Fuji in 864 CE, its last major eruption. From this hardened rock, a thriving and dense forest has emerged, one which stretches for 30 square kilometers. The porous lava bedrock absorbs sound and adds to the sense of isolation you may feel whilst trekking through this untamed land.

Don't Miss

  • If you hold a compass to the lava flooring of the forest, it may react to the natural magnetism of the rock, but should work perfectly well when held at a normal height
  • The floor is so hard, traditional hiking tools like spikes and axes cannot penetrate it

How to Get There

The closest train station is Kawaguchiko, and from there it is a 30-40 minute drive depending on traffic.

Rich with life

Because the area has remained largely untouched, wildlife that is now extremely rare in Japan, still live and thrive there. Whilst you may be lucky enough to catch a quick glimpse of a Japanese mink, wild boar or the reclusive small Japanese mole, Asian black bears are also known to prowl the area, so be wary. Birdwatchers might also get lucky and see anything from an oriental turtle-dove to one of the several species of cuckoo that inhabit the tree tops.

The forest’s infamous reputation

Unfortunately, the forest also has a much darker appeal to some people, as it attracts large number of people planning to commit suicide.

Whether this is due to the somber atmosphere of the sound dampening forests, or its vastness and likelihood of not being interrupted, in 2010 alone 200 people attempted to commit suicide in the forest, with 54 going through with it. Inspiring both folklore and popular culture, the darker side of the forest has inspired a number of novels, TV shows and films in Japan, and in Japanese folklore, it is believed that yurei, a kind of tormented ghost, haunt the area.

Moving forwards

In an attempt to dissuade people from taking their own lives, signs are put up around the entrances to the forest, urging people to think of their loved ones before doing anything rash. Local officials have also stopped publishing their records in recent years, in an attempt to stop people associating the forest with such traumatic events.

Focusing on the forest’s beauty

It is a real shame that the forest has such a tainted reputation, as it is in many respects an untouched paradise. Besides the forest, there are several interesting caves to explore, including Narusawa Ice Cave, Fugaku Wind Cave and two separate lava caves near the foot of Mount Fuji.

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