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

Festivals & Events

Chichibu Night Festival 秩父夜祭

A winter night spectacle featuring multi-ton floats, music and sweet sake

Saitama Prefecture's Chichibu Yomatsuri—a night festival dating back at least 300 years that is held on December 2 and 3 each year—is one of the Kanto area's most spectacular events. The festival draws a lively crowd of revelers to watch as massive, ornately designed floats weighing between 10 and 20 tons are pulled through Chichibu's main avenue to drum and flute music.

The locals top that feat on the second day by pulling the floats up a hill as the crowd exhorts them while drinking hot, sweet rice wine and eating local specialties.

Don't Miss

  • Watching as the floats are brought up Dango Hill
  • Seeing a kabuki show while drinking amazake, sweet rice wine
  • The hours-long fireworks display on the second day

How to Get There

Train is the best way to get to Chichibu and the festival.

The Chichibu Yomatsuri is held right in downtown Chichibu, right outside Chichibu and Seibu-Chichibu stations.

From Tokyo Station, take the JR and Chichibu Railway Lines to get to Chichibu within an hour and 45 minutes and two hours and 20 minutes, depending on whether you take the shinkansen or local trains to Kumagaya Station.

Alternatively, you can take the Red Arrow limited express train (reservation required) from Ikebukuro in Tokyo to Seibu-Chichibu Station. This takes approximately an hour and 20 minutes.

One of the greatest displays in Japan

The Chichibu Yomatsuri is one of Japan's three great hikiyama or float festivals, along with the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Takayama Matsuri in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture. It's the only one that takes place in the wintertime.

The spectacle here in Chichibu is intensified with a night fireworks display on the second day that lasts for over two hours.

A festival of lanterns, floats and portable shrines

During the two nights of the festival, massive floats with imaginative decorations are towed through the town. The floats are adorned with lanterns, tapestries of gilded wood carvings and depictions of beasts and mythical figures. They're hauled along to the sounds of taiko drum and flute music.

An impressive feat of strength

The festival's climax is on the second night, when the 10- to 20-ton floats representing the different wards of Chichibu are hauled up Dango Hill. It's a steep journey and the floats are heavy. Once they finally reach the top, everyone at the festival rejoices. There's then a fireworks display that lasts well over two hours, lighting up the floats and the nighttime scene.

Grab some food and catch a kabuki show

You can enjoy kabuki performances on the floats modified into stages as vendors circulate through the crowd selling snacks and hot amazake rice wine.

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