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Honshu Travel Highlights
Places to visit in Honshu
Hakone and Lake Ashi
A popular retreat for over a thousand years, this thermal resort to the west of Tokyo serves as a springboard for the popular Hakone National Park, whose natural wonders include Mount Fuji and shimmering Lake Ashi. In clear weather, specta...
Framed by tufts of cherry blossom from the surrounding orchards, the distinctive profile of Himeji Castle epitomises the exotic grandeur of Japan’s samurai culture. Its white walls and black-tiled, upswept roofs crown a low hill in the hea...
Every year at 8:15 am on August 6th, a minute of silent prayer attended by thousands of people in the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial, marks the moment when, in 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. An estimated 80,000 people los...
Towering cedar trees and fluttering white pennants bearing Shinto inscriptions flank the long, stepped approach to the beautiful Hongu shrine, one of the three principal shrines on the Kii pilgrimage circuit. Its wooden construction and cl...
The Horyu-ji temple is one of the most important Buddhist sites in Japan, as it was founded by Prince Shotoku, who is said to have brought the religion to the country. It dates back to the year 607 and parts of the Horyu-ji temple are repu...
All but one of the country’s 30 highest peaks fall within the Japanese Alps of Central Honshu. The name was coined by an English engineer and archaeologist named William Gowland in the 19th century. Gowland was the first foreigner to explo...
An hour’s train ride from Tokyo, Kamakura is a peaceful seaside town that makes a memorable day trip. In addition to the pounding surf of Sagami Bay, its main attractions are the dozens of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines scattered acro...
Dramatic vistas of snow-capped mountains and pristine pine forests await walkers in the remote Kamikochi Valley, part of the Chubu-Sangaku National Park – a sanctuary often dubbed ‘Japan’s Yosemite’ because of its awesome landscapes. Wande...
Buffered by the ocean and Alps of central Honshu, Kanazawa has over the centuries enjoyed longer periods of peace and prosperity than most Japanese cities, which has enabled it to develop its own, unique cultural life, whence its nickname,...
Emperors, pilgrims and pleasure seekers have since the 6th-century AD travelled to the Kii Peninsula for a restorative dip in the onshen hot springs at Shirahama, one of which sits behind the town’s spectacular white-sand beach. Thus fort...
The network of trails connecting the three principal shrines of the Kii Peninsula is known as the ‘Kumano Kodo’. Wearing traditional white robes, Japanese pilgrims have for many centuries trodden its lichencovered pathways, crossing forest...
The graceful canal area of this old merchants’ town near Okayama is a rare survivor from the prosperous Edo period, boasting an exceptional assemblage of 18th century buildings distinguished by trademark white-washed walls and black tilewo...
Kyoto is the Japan of the imagination – a city of cherry trees, pagoda-roofed temples, geishas and tea ceremonies, all set against a backdrop of lush green hills and fine traditional architecture. The country’s capital for more than a thou...
Matsumoto may be most famous for its impressive castle, but its layout and surroundings are just as picturesque. Occupying a valley with views of towering mountains in every direction, this city owes its majesty to significant developments...
The vision of the Itsukushima shrine’s vermillion-coloured torii gateway rising serenely from the waters of the Seto Inland Sea is almost as iconic of Japan as Mount Fuji. Carved from decay-resistant camphor wood and coated in red lacquer,...
Rising from the Pacific coast of central Honshu, Mount Fuji is Japan’s iconic sacred mountain – an active volcano whose elegantly sloping flanks have inspired painters, printers, poets and Shinto mystics for many centuries. A well-known s...
Nara ranks among the most charismatic cities in Asia, thanks to its extraordinary collection of antique buildings, many of which are more than a thousand years old. Its UNESCO-listed centrepiece is the spectacular Todai-ji Temple, home to ...
Lines of moss-covered Jizo bodhisattvas sporting knitted crimson caps and bibs; stone lanterns backed by towering Japanese cedars; a red-lacquer bridge framed by snowy white mountains – Nikko is like a Japanese ink painting brought to life...
A stop we always recommend to clients visiting the Snow Monkeys is the nearby town of Obuse, where the illustrious ukiyo-e woodblock print artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), spent the latter years of his life. A fine little museum exh...
The castle town of Okayama, in Western Honshu, is renowned across the country as the site of one of Japan’s ‘Three Great Gardens’ or Nihon Sanmeien. Originally laid out in 1687, the Koraku-en comprises acres of lawns and ponds interspersed...
Osaka city, situated in the Kansai region, is famous for its hearty cuisine and down to earth locals. Full of charm, the city springs in to life mostly at night, when neon lights illuminate the streets and food stalls. Highlights include O...
The thermal resort of Shibu Onsen, a steadfastly old-fashioned spa resort in the Yokoyu Valley, is our preferred base for visiting the famous Snow Monkeys, who live in and around a steaming pool at the Jigokudani Monkey Park, a bus ride fu...
Shirakami-Sanchi can be found in northern Japan with the mountain range being split between the Aomori and Akita prefectures. It is a hiker's paradise, as the numerous trails take visitors through the last remaining virgin beech forests in...
Physically remote from the rest of Japan, the thatched villages of Shirakawa-go survived for many centuries from cultivating mulberry trees and spinning fine silk. Known as gassho-zukuri (‘Hands in Prayer’), their distinctive A-frame style...
In a country as comprehensively modernized as Japan, it’s a rare pleasure to stroll along streets whose shopfronts, coffee shops and old sake bars look almost exactly as they would have done a century or more ago. Formerly a wealthy mercha...
Temple Stay at Mount Koya
Nestled in the spiritual heartland of Japan and abode of the gods, Mount Koya is a pilgrimage destination and you can follow the pilgrims footsteps in staying at one of the many temples on site. It is said to be one of the most rewarding e...
Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani
It was in the early 1960s that the Japanese macaques of upper Yokoyu Valley first discovered the joys of basking in thermal pools to alleviate the rigours of winter. Alas, their droppings did little for business, so the local hoteliers bui...
Japan by region
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