Planning a visit to Japan? But not sure where to begin? Here are the most popular Japanese prefectures amongst tourists you can add to your itinerary.
When I hear the term “Japan,” my mind immediately conjures up images of J-dramas, anime, and manga. These sparked my fascination with the country.
But Japan is also well-known for its Prefectures. Japan’s prefectures are a feature exclusive to the country’s island. Before mentioning it in the blog, I’ll first tell you about a prefecture.
The prefectures of Japan are frequently referred to as todōfuken in Japanese. Governmental units bigger than cities, towns, and villages are prefectures.
These pre-features may be classified into eight regions based on their geographic and historical significance: Hokkaido (island), Chugoku (in Honshu Island), Kanto, Kansai, Chubu, Shikoku (island), Tohoku and Kyushu (including Kyushu and Okinawa islands). They are numbered according to their north-south position.
Every region has its accent, beliefs, and traditional culture. So, let’s explore each region to see what glory it has to offer.
Popular Japanese Prefectures Amongst Tourists
You may travel to some of Japan’s most stunning national parks, major ski resorts, and well-liked summer vacation spots on the new Hokkaido Shinkansen.
Sapporo, Asahikawa, and Hakodate are some of the region’s largest cities, and you can easily go to them with your Japan Rail Pass. The largest city in Hokkaido is Sapporo, well-known for its beer, ramen, and annual snow festival.
From my perspective, the highlight of the entire journey to Hokkaido was discovering seasonal flowers. Summer in Hokkaido is a great time to enjoy seasonal flowers.
One of the best spots to visit for them is Shikisai no Oka, or “Mount of Four Seasons,” which gets its name because it changes significantly throughout the year.
Between April and October, the region’s characteristic snowy image gives way to tulips, lavender, sunflowers, dahlias and many other species, which take turns in the landscape throughout the warmer months.
Since powder snow is abundant there and top resorts like Niseko, Rusutsu, and Furano are prominent locations for skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
Located to the north of Osaka in Japan is the hilly prefecture of Kyoto, boasting a variety of attractions and a rich cultural history.
Whilst the north area faces the Sea of Japan and Wakasa Bay, the highest peak around Kyoto stands at under 1,000 meters. This lush prefecture is surrounded by mountains on its three sides – east, north and west, making it even more of a beautiful sight.
As the prefectural capital of Kyoto, the city beams with culture, architecture and history.
The locals take pride in their city, with the Kyoto Imperial Palace being a highly sought-after attraction due to its importance in Japanese culture.
This grand estate dresses up with lights during the kitsune no yomeiri event, celebrated in Autumn.
The city of Kyoto also prides itself in its temples and shrines. Popular temple stops include Kiyomizu-dera, Yasaka Shrine, and Fushimi Inari-taisha.
These temples have been well-maintained for centuries – some dating back to 794 – and act as religious destinations for many tourists.
As well as hosting a variety of festivals, Kyoto also welcomes the 17 Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto – a World Heritage Site.
Moreover, there are other events that give Kyoto its unique feel. These include Aoi matsuri, a famous parade and festival held in May around the Imperial Palace, and Gion matsuri, a festival in July featuring a large parade of traditional Japanese outfits.
These annual festivals light up the city and bring about a sense of nostalgia for its locals.
Set in a peaceful atmosphere, Kyoto has its own special charm. Its historic cities and centuries-old attractions, such as the Shinto temples, attract a lot of visitors annually.
The city also captures the hearts of tourists because of its festivals and scenery. With its strong heritage and a medley of cultural attractions, Kyoto is a must-visit prefecture located to the north of Osaka.
When it comes to Japanese prefectures, Tokyo is at the top of the must-visit list. The vibrant metropolis is a mecca of culture, cuisine, art and entertainment.
Tokyo is a populous urban sprawl, filled with legendary landmarks and hidden gems. The region is rich in history, meaning there is plenty to explore and discover in this unique prefecture.
If you’re visiting Tokyo, you won’t want to miss out on the must-see destinations such as Tokyo Tower, the National Diet Building, Tokyo Skytree and the Imperial Palace.
But there’s much more that this prefecture has to offer for people looking for an authentic cultural experience.
Explore the National Museum of Western Art, where you can see some of the finest pieces from Monet, Van Gogh and other renowned European painters.
The Ueno Zoo is a great place to observe some of the world’s most endangered species, and then afterwards head to the Outer Gardens at the Meiji Shrine to enjoy a peaceful stroll in the park.
Foodies will love sampling some traditional Japanese flavours. Visit Tsukiji Fish Market to try the renowned sushi, and visit the various restaurants in Asakusa to taste some of the local specialities.
For dessert, you can’t beat a visit to the well-known Shiroyubidoa shop to get some of the most mouth-watering Japanese sweets and crepes.
For something more thrilling, thrill seekers should consider a trip to the Tokyo Joypolis amusement park.
There are rides for everyone, from rollercoasters to 4D simulators. And for people not wanting to go on any rides, there are plenty of games to play.
The villages of Tokyo are steeped in history, and visitors should explore some of the ancient sites. Head to Hachioji to visit the breathtaking Tamagawa Shrine or take a walk around the peaceful Gyokuryuji Temple.
For some unique art, visit the Taro Okamoto Museum of Art in Kawasaki, which is overflowing with painting, sculptures and installations.
At night, people looking for some entertainment have plenty of options. Roppongi is the top place to go for an array of buzzing bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Shinjuku is home to Shimokitazawa, which is an independent theatre district, known for its small plays and experimental theatre. Or take a leisurely night stroll through the Tokyo waterfront, immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere and take in the amazing views of the Tokyo Bay.
Whether you’re a culture vulture, a foodie, an adventure seeker, or just after a relaxing break, Tokyo has it all.
There’s no doubt it will leave you mesmerised and wanting to come back for more. The myriad of things to do in Tokyo make it a prefecture not to be missed.
Okinawa Prefecture is a beautiful part of Japan filled with beauty and opportunity.
As the southernmost prefecture of Japan, Okinawa is made up of 160 islands and has a sub-tropical climate. Its impressive rock formations, white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and turquoise waters are enough to make any traveler fall in love.
As one of the most popular prefectures in Japan, Okinawa and is filled with plenty of activities both locals and tourists can enjoy.
Whether it’s exploring the great outdoors or dancing the night away, Okinawa has something for everyone. Here are just a few of the incredible things you can do in this beautiful prefecture.
One of the most popular activities for travelers is to take a glass-bottomed boat tour across Kabira Bay on Ishigaki Island.
With its crystal clear waters, the boat’s glass window provides a unique view that truly takes your breath away.
The boat takes you to some of the most picturesque spots in the prefecture, and you may even get to see some of the local tropical fish while you’re there!
If you’re looking for a real beach experience, then you can’t miss a trip to Emerald Beach and Manza Beach.
Both beaches offer stunning white-sand shorelines and turquoise waters, but Emerald Beach also features a few mangrove forests that are perfect for exploring.
Taking a dip in the warm salty waters here is a great way to end a day exploring Okinawa.
If you’re looking for a more adventurous activity in Okinawa, then you should consider trying out one of the many water sports available. Snorkeling and stand-up-paddle boarding are popular choices.
With its many coral reefs, the waters of Okinawa provide a great opportunity for snorkeling in search of an abundance of sea life. SUP-ing is another fun way to explore the area with opportunity to explore the many coves and bays.
Okinawa is filled with plenty of cultural experiences as well. Take a stroll through Okinawa’s main town, Naha, where you’ll find traditional shops, temples, and a bustling nightlife.
You can also explore some of the World Heritage Sites in Okinawa, such as Okinawa’s iconic Shuri Castle.
No matter what you choose to do in Okinawa Prefecture, you won’t be disappointed.
With its stunning scenery, vibrant culture, and delicious culinary opportunities, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular prefectures in Japan. Okinawa is guaranteed to leave you with plenty of lasting memories and the best way to experience it is by visiting and exploring it yourself.
In Japan’s Tohoku region, there are a heck of a lot of amazing things to do. There are several reasons to visit Tohoku, including adventurous activities, relaxing on an Onsen, and seeing ancient temples. One of Japan’s most well-known summer festivals is held in Sendai, the nation’s capital and “city of trees.”
In the Honshu province of Tohoku, there is a national park called Bandai-Asahi National Park. The Three Mountains of Dewa, locations of historic mountain worship, volcanoes, lakes, and ponds, are all included in this enormous park.
With the clean and breath-taking environment that has mostly been unaffected by the major building projects that have beset other places, outdoor enthusiasts like me will feel right at home in this area.
Akita’s Oyasu is a well-kept secret gem! A scene out of a tale book is very amazing! This region is well-known for its underground volcanic activity. There are several hot springs and heated swimming pools in the vicinity.
The key moment of Tohoku, in my opinion, is Shirakami Sanchi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a pristine forest that makes about a third of the Shirakami mountain range and is where you’ll find the oldest and largest piece of virgin beech woodland still standing in all of East Asia.
Prefectures: Akita, Miyagi, Fukushima, Aomori, Iwate, and Yamagata.
The greater Tokyo area is in the Kanto region, the most populous region in Japan. Nikko is a historical region with several UNESCO World Heritage monuments, including the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, and is about two hours by rail from Tokyo.
A subtropical hideaway with endemic animals and crystal-clear water may be found on the volcanic Ogasawara Islands. The area also includes The Great Buddha in Kamakura, onsen villages in Gunma, and the 3,000-year-old Kairakuen blooming cherry trees in Ibaraki.
Without visiting the cherry blossoms in Japan, your journey would be unsuccessful. Outdoor activities like canyoning, skiing, and bungee jumping should be a memorable experience in Gunma, Saitama, and Ibaraki, in my opinion.
The culinary possibilities in Kanto are as diverse as the environment itself; a wide range of eateries provide food from all over the world.
Prefectures:Tokyo, Baraki, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, and Tochig.
Honshu, the biggest island in Japan, is situated in the Chubu area. The towns of Nagoya, Takayama, Kanazawa, the Japanese Alps, and the majestic Mount Fuji are just some of its many different features.
The Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s most exquisite original castles, is the city’s main claim to fame. Its oldest castle tower, named a national treasure, is located there.
I adore the thought of skiing following the most recent snowfall. One of Japan’s most well-known ski resorts in Hakuba, situated in the Northern Alps of Nagano Prefecture. Several significant ski resorts are nearby, with an average yearly snowfall of 11 meters.
With a height of 3776 meters, Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan. The active volcano that makes up the perfectly formed mountain last erupted in 1708.
Mount Fuji is stunning—and even artistic—with its perspective of the snow-capped mountains. The peak has been explored by hundreds of climbers, usually between July and August. It takes around 8 hours to reach the summit.
You can find mountain huts between the 7th and 8th stations offering a drink, overnight accommodations, and food.
This region is on Mount Fuji’s northern flank and is renowned for its beauty and its five lakes of Saiko, Yamanaka, Kawaguchi, Motosuko, and Shoki. As an added adventure, you may go on a cruise, kayak, or fishing. I find this place more peaceful and best for photography because of its natural beauty.
Prefectures: Gifu, Ishikawa, Niigata, Aichi, Fukui, Shizuoka, Toyama, Yamanashi, and Nagano.
The western portion of the island of Honshu is known as the Kansai or Kinki area, which is home to the towns of Himeji, Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara.
It is Japan’s second-most populous prefecture after Kanto and its cultural and historical centre.
Amarube Bridge and Shoshazan Engyo-Ji Temple are both on Mount Shosha and are frequently used as filming locations for historical dramas and television movies.
There are various tourist attractions in Osaka City, which are only a short train trip apart. The Tombori River Cruise leaves at the Tazaemon-Bashi Pier and travels to Nippon-Bashi and Ukiniwa-Bashi before making a U-turn and heading back to Tazaemon-Bashi.
During the 20-minute journey, you may take in the surroundings’ magnificence as though you were strolling past.
Prefectures: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Mie, Shiga, Hyōgo and Wakayama.
The westernmost part of the island of Honshu is known as Chugoku, commonly referred to as the Sanin-Sanyo area.
Following the Sanyo Shinkansen farther west, you’ll come across charming beach villages, chances for island hopping in the Seto Inland Sea, and future routes to Kyushu and Shikoku.
Our efforts will be rewarded with walks on magnificent peaks like Mt. Daisen’s exquisite natural sceneries and the thrill of discovery in Shimane and Tottori if we choose the less-travelled route farther inland.
Japan’s least populous prefecture, Tottori, is located north of Shimane. The Tottori Sand Dunes, the biggest dunes in the nation that span around 16 kilometres, are the prefecture’s claim to fame. On the dunes, you may go paragliding, sandboarding, or camel riding, among other outdoor sports.
Prefectures:Shimane, Hiroshima, Tottori, Okayama, and Yamaguchi.
Japan’s smallest island and prefecture, Shikoku, is also arguably the most tranquil. It is the location of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage and Matsuyama and Takamatsu towns and is renowned for its rich natural beauty, lovely rivers, and superb Onsen.
The 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku, which round the island, are the most well-known pilgrimage path in the nation.
Aside from the ethereal temples and shrines, Shikoku has extraordinary natural beauty, including steep gorges, cascading waterfalls, and forested mountains lined with hiking routes.
In Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, there is a Hirayama Shiro (Japanese castle) called Marugame Castle. It is a hard trek to get to the castle since it is built very high, which was done to protect Kagawa from maritime invasion.
The beef udon noodle soup, among the best in Japan, must be tried while you’re here.
Prefectures: Kōchi, Kagawa, Ehime and Tokushima.
Kyushu & Okinawa
Kyushu experiences warm winters and scorching, nearly subtropical summers. Nagasaki, which was established with contributions from the French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese cultures, is one of the most well-known cities in Kyushu.
The city of Nagasaki has been renovated into a cutting-edge hub for business and culture.
Although Okinawa is still the poorest prefecture in Japan and has a sizable US military presence, it is increasingly regarded as a tropical vacation spot with top-notch beaches, snorkelling, windsurfing, and scuba diving.
While the southern half of the range is in the prefecture of Okinawa, the northern portion of the chain is in Kagoshima prefecture. It contains the island of Yakushima, which is classified as part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Prefectures: Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Ōita and Saga in Northern Kyushu. Okinawa, Kagoshima, and Miyazaki in Southern Kyushu.
Moving once in a while is important to bring out the refreshment. Japan has the world’s most explicit beauties. I found amazing spots for perfect snaps.
Also, the delicacy is mouth-watering with the most sophisticated hosting. Find our favourite spot from the list mentioned above, or you can drop us a comment about the new area you explored.