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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

Omizutori お水取り

A dramatic celebration of fire and water

Held every year for more than 1250 years, this dramatic, two week long Buddhist festival combines sacred water with purifying flames.

Don't Miss

  • The chance to witness one of the oldest Buddhist rituals in Japan
  • See the brilliant flaming torches light up the night during the Otaimatsu Festival

How to Get There

The festival takes place at Todaiji Temple in Nara Park, which can be reached on foot from JR Nara and Kintetsu Nara Station.

Kintetsu Nara Station is the closest station to Nara Park, just a short 5-minute walk from the exit. Alternatively, JR Nara Station is around a 20-minute walk from the park. Both stations are easily accessible from Kyoto and Osaka.

Sacred water from afar

In accordance with local beliefs, the sacred water comes from Obama City in Fukui Prefecture. Before the water is transported, Obama City has a festival on March 2 to celebrate the water leaving for Nara.

According to legend the water used in Omizutori has divine properties, and it is said the water is able to cure any ailment. As a result, visitors are offered a chance to drink some of the water after it is offered to the Buddhist deities.

Because the water is so sacred, the people who draw the water take a vow of silence in the days leading up to the festival.

Preserving the water

On the final day, the divine water is mixed with water from another pot that has been constantly added to at the festival for over 1200 years. This mixture of special waters is then preserved.

It is said that following the completion of the festival, spring has officially arrived and the cherry blossoms will start to bloom.

The Otaimatsu Festival

Every evening during the Omizutori festivl period, you can witness the fiery Otaimatsu Festival. Young ascetics run back and forth along the temple's balcony, carrying huge pine torches. The constant movement and whipping around causes sparks to scatter upon the crowd below, and it is said that people who get showered with these sparks will be granted protection from evil spirits.

Two weeks of festivities

Omizutori is actually the highlight of 14 days of praying. During this time, worshippers are expected to confess all of their sins to the Kanon statue and offer up prayers for world peace and a good harvest.