Island
Honshu
Largest City
Osaka
Population
22,755,030

Kansai

Discover Japan's rich heritage

For centuries, Kansai has been the cultural heartland of Japan.

A region on the western side of the main island of Honshu, Kansai is where you’ll find the traditional Japan of your imagination; winding cobbled streets lined with dark wooden houses, the sound of distant gongs in the mountains and the smell of incense in the rain.

Go Geisha hunting in Kyoto’s Gion.

Surprisingly, it’s also where you’ll find the hub of the Japanese anti-establishment, led by the region’s unofficial capital Osaka – a youth paradise of Japanese counterculture with an infamous nightlife and extremely good food. The nearby city of Kobe too has a distinctly cosmopolitan vibe, offering up its famed marbled beef in an attractive, port-side setting.

Explore Shinsekai, a pre-war neighbourhood that was created with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half.

Explore Osaka’s Shinsekai, a pre-war neighbourhood that was created with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half.

Both Kyoto and Nara were former capitals of Japan, and, thanks to a relatively peaceful political and natural history, Kansai has more preserved UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other region in the country. Kyoto alone has around 2000 temples and shrines, including the much-photographed golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, while nearby Nara is home to one of Japan’s largest bronze statues of Buddah.

Beware the hangry deer at Nara’s Todai-ji Temple.

Himeji Castle in Hyogo prefecture is one of Japan’s most beautiful feudal castles and the Ise Shrine in Mie is an important pilgrimage site. Mount Koya, in Wakayama prefecture, is a remote, mist-covered temple town where visitors can make the journey to experience an overnight temple stay, rising early to pray with the monks and sampling the simple Buddhist food.

Don't miss the chance to experience an overnight temple stay on Mount Koya, Wakayama

Don’t miss the chance to experience an overnight temple stay on Mount Koya.

Also known as the Kinki Region, Kansai is sometimes seen as the more quirky counter to its eastern neighbor, Kanto. Kansai people are known for their humor, love of food and for riding on the other side of the escalator. They also speak a distinct dialect known as ‘Kansai-ben’.

Destinations in Kansai

Himeji Castle in Hyogo, Japan.

Hyogo

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

kyoto bamboo

Kyoto

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

Mie

Discover the hidden home of Japan's mysterious ninja.

Deer at Nara Park in Japan

Nara

Beyond mystical deer, Nara Prefecture is where you’ll find the tombs of Japan’s early rulers and the headquarters of the sacred Shugendo mountain religion.

Shiga

In Shiga, you can't turn around without seeing something magnificent.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya City Aichi Park

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower

Tokyo

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

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.

Akihabara

Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.