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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

Festivals & Events

Sendai Tanabata Matsuri 仙台七夕祭り

A grand celebration of celestial lovers that predates Romeo and Juliet

An ancient legend of star-crossed lovers—the stars Altair and Vega—that predates the tale of Romeo and Juliet is the backstory to Tanabata, the Star Festival.

In Sendai, where the biggest Tanabata festival is held in early August, people celebrate by donning their finest summer kimono and strutting down the shopping arcades filled with huge, vividly colored handmade streamers.

Tips

  • Stage performances, live music and entertainment
  • The big streamers, which are several meters tall

How to Get There

The best ways to get to Sendai from Tokyo are via bullet train, air and highway bus.

Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Sendai Station from Tokyo, which arrives in an hour and 40 minutes. There are highway buses running between Tokyo and Sendai both day and night. The are domestic flights from 10 cities within Japan and also from destinations in Asia.

Kick off with summer fireworks

The Tanabata festival in Sendai runs from August 6 to 8, one month later than most of the rest of Japan. Start the festivities early by arriving the evening of August 5 to view a fireworks display held just behind Nishi Koen Park along the Hirose River.

Quick Facts

Revelers carry smaller paper decorations such as kimono, nets and cranes to ask for good health, rich harvests and good business and more

While Altair and Vega cross paths only on July 7, Tanabata festivals take place in either July or August

A whole city decorated with colorful wishes

During the next few days, get lost in the near- infinite number of Tanabata decorations. All designs feature a large paper ball with light but sturdy streamers hanging low enough to touch and walk through. The color, style and theme are left to the businesses and community groups that produce them.

Seemingly out-of-place symbolic items are incorporated into the designs. A wastebasket represents cleanliness in the household, for example, while a net is displayed in hopes of a good catch at sea.

The romantic story behind the festivities

Tanabata is a centuries-old tradition in Japan, born from a story about the doomed romance between the weaving princess star Orihime (Vega) and the cowherding star Hikoboshi (Altair). When the lovers focused more on their relationship than their responsibilities, Hikoboshi’s cows escaped to wreak havoc among the heavens.

The princess’s strict father now only allows the couple to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month once a year, if they work hard. That day is Tanabata.

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