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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
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 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
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare 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
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving 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
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
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 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

Mt Minobu 身延山

One of Japan's most important Buddhist mountain temples

With clear air and sweeping views, a trip to Mt. Minobu refreshes the soul and the senses. Devotees of Nichiren Buddhism, a branch of Mahayana Buddhism founded by Nichiren (1222–1282), have been making the pilgrimage to Mt. Minobu since its main temple, Kuonji, was established here in 1274.

Don't Miss

  • Kuonji Temple, established in 1274, and the resting place of the the Buddhist priest, Nichiren (1222-1282)
  • The ceiling of the main temple at Kuonji, adorned with a magnificent painting of a five-toed Japanese dragon
  • Oeshiki Festival — celebrated on the second weekend in October — that marks the passing of Nichiren with illuminated floats and leather-fringed matoi poles

How to Get There

Mt. Minobu is easily accessible from Shizuoka and Shinjuku by train.

Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to JR Shizuoka Station, change to the JR Tokaido Main Line for JR Fuji Station, then board the northbound JR Minobu Line for JR Minobu Station (1.5 hours).

You can take an express train to JR Kofu Station from JR Shinjuku Station then change to the JR Minobu Line for JR Minobu Station (about 3 hours).

Take a taxi or a bus from the train station to Minobusan (Kuonji Temple). The taxi is about 2,000 yen, but the bus is only about 280 yen.

Staircase to enlightenment

One of the most striking features of Mt. Minobu is its 287 stone steps to enlightenment, known as bodai-tei. You need to be fit to climb these steps without a break, but your reward, if not enlightenment, is an impressive view of Kuonji's five-tiered red pagoda.

Spectacular blossoms and a spinning festival

Although close to 1.5 million people visit Mt. Minobu each year, most do so during cherry blossom season in mid-April to see the beautiful 400-year-old weeping cherry tree in front of the main temple.

In early October you can attend the annual Oeshiki Festival featuring frenzied spinning of matoi (long poles with leather strips attached to the top). Devotees of Nichiren Buddhism dance among the town's shops until they reach Kuonji Temple.

The ascent to the summit

Although you can ascend the 1,153-meter mountain via ropeway, the 2.5 hour hike through cedar forests is rewarding. Along the way, you will see ancient graves and many smaller temples. To hike to the top, take the narrow road behind Kuonji Temple. The first grave you see is of an English ship's captain who joined the Nichiren sect in the late 19th century.

Reaching the top

Depending on weather conditions, you should be able to see Mt. Fuji rising majestically from behind the mountain ranges, and a commanding view of the Fuji River as it winds its way to the Pacific Ocean. There is a spacious rest and observation area here.

The lesser temples

On the way up the mountain, there are many smaller temples worth visiting. The first one you see, known as Pomegranate Temple, has small wooden plaques offering prayers for healthy children (the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility in Japan). The second temple you encounter is filled with a thousand tiny golden Buddhas. In spring, the cherry blossoms shade the paths, while in early summer, hydrangea flowers dot the temple grounds with vidid blue.

Encountering pilgrims

If you are lucky, you may see actual pilgrims dressed in white. As the pilgrims ascend and descend the mountain, they chant, "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo," a chant for enlightenment.