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


Eiheiji Temple 永平寺

Discover the contemplative heart of Zen Buddhism's Soto sect

Eiheiji is a massive temple complex just outside the city of Fukui that serves as one of two head temples overseeing the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. Built by the Buddhist monk Dogen, Eiheiji has over 70 buildings set amid cedars in the mountains. A thriving place that offers plenty of opportunity for calm contemplation — there are seven monasteries on the grounds — this temple also gives you the chance to live as a monk for a few days.

Don't Miss

  • The peak of the autumn colors between late October and early November
  • The "butsuden" or Buddha Hall at the center of the complex
  • The Founder's Hall, which contains the ashes of Dogen, the temple's founder

How to Get There

You can reach Eiheiji via a combination of rail and bus or taxi.

From Tokyo Station, take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara Station, which takes about two and a half hours. From there, board the JR Hokuriku Line to Fukui Station, which takes a little over an hour. 25 min from Fukui to Eiheiji-Guchi Station on the Echizen Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line. Board the bus bound for Eiheiji (10 minutes), and get off at the Eiheiji Monzen Shopping District. The entrance to the temple is located at the very end of the shopping district, which is just a short walk from the bus stop. Taking a taxi will get you there slightly faster. All JR legs are covered by your Japan Rail Pass.

Quick Facts

The Buddhist scholar Dogen founded Eiheiji in 1244

The temple grounds cover 330,000 square meters

This is the main training temple of Soto Zen, and over 200 trainee monks reside here

Explore the beautiful temple grounds

Stretching over 330,000 square meters, there are 70 structures on the temple grounds. Only a select few of the main buildings are open for public viewing, including the Founders Hall that contains the ashes of Dogen and his successors. The buildings are all connected by covered halls which are meticulously cleaned daily by the trainee monks as part of their training.

There are a number of important Buddhist artifacts housed in Eiheiji, such as the Fukan-zanzen-gi, a text written by Dogen himself in 1233 upon his return from China. This text is essentially an instruction book on Zen meditation, and is registered as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government.

The calming forests and fall colors

Built on a hillside, the structures of Eiheiji are surrounded by tall cedar trees, which are as old as the temple itself. There are also a great many maple trees which colour the temple grounds with reds and yellows in the fall. Exploring the greater area of the temple grounds, you can also find a short hiking path which leads to a fantastic view of Eiheiji from above.

Experience life in the monastery

Visitors to Eihei-ji can also practice Zen meditation at the disciplinary hall. For those who want to experience the everyday life of trainee monks, one-day and three-day meditation retreats are available. Visitors taking part in these retreats eat, sleep and train just as the monks do — including a 3:30 a.m. start to the day. Though far from an easy experience, it is a truly rewarding one.

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