Honshu

The heart of Japan

Imagine Japan and you're probably picturing the central island of Honshu.

Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima; Mount Fuji, Lake Biwa and the Japanese Alps; neon and skyscrapers, geisha districts and famous temples – all of these can be found on Honshu.

Japan’s main island, it’s also the country’s largest and most populous. More than 100 million people are squeezed into pockets of flat land among the many volcanoes which form a long, mountainous arc from the northeast tip to the southwestern end. The perfect 3,776 meter peak of Mount Fuji, easily spotted from Tokyo on a clear day, reigns over them all.

Mt. Fuji, Japan viewed from Chureito Pagoda in the autumn

Climbing Mount Fuji to see the sunrise is the ultimate bucket list challenge.

Most guidebooks will divide the island into central, western and north-eastern Honshu. Traditionally, Honshu is further broken up into five smaller regions: Tohoku in the north, Kanto to the east, Chubu in the center, Kansai in the south and Chugoku to the west.

Yamadera temple in Yamagata Prefecture in the Tohoku region

Tohoku is the remote Japan of your adventure fantasies.

Tohoku is the more remote, known for skiing and onsen (hot spring baths), while Kanto is dominated by the megalopolis of Tokyo and Yokohama. Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes are in the Chubu region, as well as tourist-favorite Takayama. Visitors will usually head to Kansai for the famous temples of Kyoto and the buzzing alternative scene of Osaka, day tripping to nearby Kobe to get their fill of wagyu beef, before taking the train down south into Chugoku to see Hiroshima and the floating red gate at Miyajima.

Destinations in Honshu

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Lake Towada in Autumn, in Aomori and Akita, Japan

Akita

The best way to enjoy Akita is simply to go outside and be among it.

Cherry blossoms along the moat surrounding Hirosaki castle, Aomori.

Aomori

The northern tip of Tohoku, Aomori prefecture is the boundary between the known and unknown Japan.

Chiba prefecture boasts a dynamic and dramatic coastline.

Chiba

There’s a lot more to Japan’s international gateway than you might expect.

Karamon Gate in Fukui Prefecture

Fukui

Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui.

To-no-hetsuri in Fukushima, Japan

Fukushima

Ignore the bad press or miss out on this boundless, breathtaking natural landscape.

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture

Gifu

Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Takaragawa Onsen, Gunma Prefecture

Gunma

Within toe-dipping distance of Tokyo, Gunma's onsen haven is the perfect bathing escape.

Landscape of Tomonoura (in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan)

Hiroshima

It’s easy to think of Hiroshima as a victim but this prefecture doesn't let tragedy define it.

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture

Hyogo

Touted as ‘a Japan in miniature’, Hyogo is one of Japan’s most diverse prefectures.

Fukuroda Falls, Ibaraki

Ibaraki

Full of interesting sights, Ibaraki prefecture should natto be underestimated.

Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref

Ishikawa

Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery - if you're into that sort of thing.

The miracle pine tree in Iwate remains a symbol of hope for those affected by the 2011 tsunami.

Iwate

The local people say that Iwate is a place where you forge your own path. Take their advice and enjoy this re-emerging - and rewarding - destination.

Yokohama is Tokyo's chic and cosmopolitan neighbor.

Kanagawa

Kanagawa offers much more than just a convenient location.

Amanohashidate or Bridge to Heaven in Kyoto Prefecture

Kyoto

Break the tourist mould and head outside of the city to uncover the rest of what Kyoto has to offer.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture

Mie

The first signs of human habitation on Mie can be traced back 10,000 years and that’s only one of this ancient prefecture’s historical claims to fame.

Matsushima, Japan coastal landscape from Mt. Otakamori. Miyagi Prefecture

Miyagi

With vibrant Sendai at its core, Miyagi makes the ideal base for exploring the remote corners of Tohoku.

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano

Nagano

World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Cherry blossoms among the Yoshino mountains in Nara prefecture

Nara

Nara prefecture is where you’ll find the immemorial tombs of Japan’s early rulers, its first Buddhist temple and the headquarters of the sacred Shugendo mountain religion.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture

Niigata

The rice is right in Niigata prefecture where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Koraku-en garden in Okayama on of the three great gardens in Japan

Okayama

If you'd like to experience charming rural living straight out of a picture book - come to Okayama.

Osaka, Japan skyline at Osaka Castle Park, Osaka Prefecture

Osaka

Japan's second smallest prefecture is the economic and commercial hub of the Kansai region, driven by it's kaleidoscopic capital city Osaka.

Flower-viewing at Hitsujiyama Park, Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture

Saitama

If you’re looking for a no-hassle escape from the city, Saitama is the place to run to.

Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture

Shiga

Shiga prefecture is so full of scenic views you’ll feel as though you’ve tripped and fallen into a postcard.

The Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture

Shimane

The secrets out in Shimane where the attractions are undeveloped and far-flung - and all the better for it.

View of Mount Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture

Shizuoka

It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.

Wisteria in Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi

Heavyweight cultural heritage combined with a breathtaking natural landscape.

People eating and drinking in Yurakucho Tokyo Japan.

Tokyo

From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

A camel looking out over the Tottori sand dunes

Tottori

From camel-riding to skiing and manga to melons; Tottori is a prefecture that’s full of surprises.

Lake Kurobe in Toyama Prefecture

Toyama

Toyama's speciality is mountains and there's no better place to experience them than here.

Nachi, Japan at the pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki waterfall, Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama

Wakayama prefecture is the spectacular, spiritual heart of Japan.

Find poetic inspiration at Yamadera Mountain Temple in Yamagata

Yamagata

Winter is coming. But so is spring, summer and fall at this rewarding year-round destination.

Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan at Tsunoshima Bridge over the Sea of Japan.

Yamaguchi

The departure point for Kyushu and Korea, Yamaguchi bridges the urban and rural, the traditional and modern.

View of Mt Fuji Yamanashi Prefecture

Yamanashi

Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.