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

Action & Adventure

Kayaking in Nagano 長野 カヤック体験

Appreciate the splendor of Nagano while kayaking her prefectural lakes

Watersports enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals alike, will find much to do in Nagano. A number of the prefecture's lakes offer flatwater kayaking in beautifully clear waters amid gorgeous mountain scenery. The Sai River north of Matsumoto offers downriver tours as well.

How to Get There

To reach Lake Ontake and Lake Shizenko:

The closest train station to Lake Shizenko is Kiso Fukushima. From Tokyo, take the JR Limited Express 'Azusa' from Shinjuku Station. Transfer at Shiojiri for the JR Limited Express 'Shinano' To Kiso Fukushima Station. From there, take the Ontake Kotsu Bus to Otaki Village.

From northern Nagano, Kiso Fukushima is a straight shot on the Shinano Express from Nagano City (1 hour 30 minutes) or Matsumoto (40 minutes).

From Kiso Fukushima, take the Ontake Kotsu bus to Otaki's village center (40 minutes). The tourist center is right across from the bus stop.

To reach Lake Nojiri:

Take a bullet train to Nagano. Travelling time is approximately 1.5 hours from JR Tokyo Station. Transfer to a train bound for MyokoKogen and alight at Kurohime station. To get to Lake Nojiri take the ‘Nagaden’ bus from Kurohime Station.

To reach Lake Aoki:

The closest station to Lake Aoki is Shinano-Kizaki Station.

Take a bullet train to Nagano. Travelling time is approximately 1.5 hours from JR Tokyo Station. Take a Shinano Express bound for Matsumoto Station. From there, transfer to the JR Oito Line for Shinano-Omachi. From Shinano-Omachi Station, continue on the Oito Line for Minami-Otari and disembark at Shinano-Kizaki Station.

Quick Facts

All kayaking tours need to be booked in advance

The kayaking season usually runs from April through October, but check individual providers for details

Lake Nojiri

An ancient glacial lake less than four hours from Tokyo and about 20 kilometers north of the city of Nagano, Lake Nojiri is buttressed by a number of mountains. The area boasts an international resort feel, due in part to the lake's development in the 1920s by a Canadian missionary. The Shinetsu Shizenkyo Activity Center runs half- and one-day kayaking tours of the lake.

Lake Aoki and the Sai River

Based in Hakuba, the Evergreen Outdoor Center offers half-day kayaking on the incredibly pure Lake Aoki at the foot of the Northern Alps in Omachi. Another option is signing up for a full-day adventure pack combining kayaking with a half-day of mountain biking or their popular canyoning excursion.

The firm also provides one and two-day kayaking tours on the nearby Sai River, which has its source in the Northern Alps. The Sai River features gentle class one to two rapids, suitable for beginners.

Lake Ontake and Lake Shizenko

The Kiso Valley's Otaki Village at the foot of Mt. Ontake has two great kayaking options. The first is on Lake Ontake, a reservoir with amazing views of Mt. Ontake. You'll paddle far and wide on the lake itself, and then head up the beautiful Seto River for a change of scenery. Tours are run through the Otaki Tourist Center.

Lake Shizenko is one of Nagano's most remote, and unique, kayaking experiences. The lake was created by a 1984 earthquake when a massive landslide from Mt. Ontake dammed a part of the Otaki River.

The surrounding forest was submerged, and the remains of the trees still rise from the lake like ghosts. The result is a stunning work of nature. Halfway through the tour, you leave the main part of the lake and paddle through a towering section of canyon.

The eco-tourism award winning Ontake Adventure runs the kayaking tours on Lake Shizenko.

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