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Hokkaido

Shiretoko National park on an unspoiled peninsula.
Rishiri and Rebun Small islands near Hokkaido's northern tip.
Daisetsuzan Hokkaido's largest and wildest national park.
Niseko Leading snow resort with lots of powder snow.
Furano Town with beautiful lavender and flower fields.
Sapporo The largest city on the island of Hokkaido.
Hakodate Southernmost city on Hokkaido.
Noboribetsu Hokkaido's most famous hot spring resort.
Otaru Harbor city near Sapporo with a canal.
Onuma Park National park 20 kilometers north of Hakodate.
Lake Toya Site of Mount Usu, an active volcano.
Akan National Park National park with beautiful lakes.
Lake Shikotsu Picturesque caldera lake near Sapporo.
Asahikawa City in central Hokkaido famous for its zoo.
Rusutsu Attractive ski resort near Niseko.
Jozankei Onsen Popular hot spring resort near Sapporo.
Tomamu Large ski resort in central Hokkaido.
Kushiro Marshlands Marshlands populated by Japanese cranes.
Abashiri Known for its prison and drift ice in winter.
Matsumae The only former castle town on Hokkaido.

Tohoku

Yamadera Scenic temple on a steep mountainside.
Dewa Sanzan Three sacred mountains with shrines.
Ginzan Onsen One of Japan's nicest, old-fashioned onsen towns.
Shimokita Hanto Remote peninsula famed for Fear Mountain.
Sanriku Coast Pacific coastline that was hit by the 2011 tsunami.
Lake Towada Caldera lake famous for autumn colors.
Matsushima Scenic bay dotted by pine clad islets.
Zao Volcano with hot spring and ski resort.
Hiraizumi Tohoku's former cultural and political capital.
Kakunodate City with nicely preserved samurai district.
Hachimantai Mountainous region with rustic hot springs.
Hirosaki Former castle town in Northern Tohoku.
Appi Kogen Leading ski resort in the Tohoku Region.
Bandai Volcanic mountains with beautiful highlands.
Tono Rural town known for its folktales and legends.
Shirakami Sanchi Mountain range with virgin beech forests.
Naruko Gorge Forested gorge famous for its autumn colors.
Aizu Small city known for its samurai history.
Aomori City best known for its Nebuta Matsuri.
Sendai Largest city in the Tohoku Region.
Kitakami Popular cherry blossom spot in the Tohoku Region.
Akita Prefectural capital best known for its festival.
Fukushima Prefectural capital with a few attractions.
Morioka Prefectural capital famous for noodle dishes.
Kamakura Festival Festival in Yokote with lots of small snow houses.
Iwaki City famous for its Hawaiian water park resort.
Kaminoyama Onsen Onsen town with castle and fruit farms.

Kanto

Ogasawara Islands Remote islands 1000 kilometers south of Tokyo.
Tokyo Japan's capital and largest city.
Nikko Site of Nikko Toshogu, Ieyasu's mausoleum.
Kamakura Small city full of historic treasures.
Hakone National park with views of Mount Fuji.
Yokohama Japan's second largest city.
Kusatsu Onsen One of Japan's best hot spring resorts.
Oze National Park Popular hiking destination with a marshland.
Manza Onsen Hot spring resort with Japan's most sulfuric waters.
Izu Oshima The largest island among the Izu Islands.
Shima Onsen Calm hot spring town in a mountain valley.
Boso Peninsula Large peninsula southeast of Tokyo.
Minakami Popular hot spring and outdoor resort.
Kairakuen Garden Spacious garden famous for plum trees.
Kawagoe Former castle town known as the Little Edo.
Ikaho Onsen Hot spring resort famous for its stone stairs.
Kinugawa Onsen Hot spring resort with theme parks near Nikko.
Nasu-Shiobara Resort area with hiking trails and hot springs.
Saitama City north of Tokyo with a few places of interest.
Narita Site of Tokyo's international airport.
Tomioka Site of a Japan's first modern silk factory.
Kawasaki Sandwiched between Tokyo and Yokohama.

Chubu

Mount Fuji The country's most iconic landmark.
Alpine Route Spectacular route through the Northern Alps.
Shirakawa-go Mountainous region, known for its farmhouses.
Kamikochi Popular mountain resort in the Japanese Alps.
Kiso Valley Valley with nicely preserved post towns.
Yamanouchi Home of hot spring bathing monkeys.
Takayama Preserves one of Japan's nicest old towns.
Kanazawa City rich in culture and history.
Fuji Five Lakes Lake resort at the foot of Mount Fuji.
Kurobe Gorge Scenic gorge with a small sightseeing train.
Sado Island Large island off the coast of Niigata.
Okuhida Hot springs in the mountains above Takayama.
Izu Peninsula Hot springs and natural scenery.
Matsumoto City famous for its beautiful original castle.
Hakuba One of Japan's best ski resorts.
Gujo-Hachiman Small town in rural Japan with castle.
Yuzawa One of Japan's leading ski resort towns.
Nagano Former olympic city famous for its temple.
Furukawa Small town 15 minutes north of Takayama.
Nagoya Japan's third largest economic center.
Echigo Tsumari Idyllic countryside staging modern art.
Obuse Pleasant town famous for chestnuts and Hokusai.
Shosenkyo Gorge Nice gorge famous for autumn colors.
Norikura Mountain and highland in the Northern Japan Alps.
Nozawa Onsen Old fashioned hot spring and ski resort.
Noto Peninsula Rural peninsula with beautiful coastlines.
Gero Onsen Famous hot spring resort south of Takayama.
Karuizawa Upmarket mountain resort town.
Inuyama Former castle town north of Nagoya.
Bessho Onsen Small hot spring town with beautiful temples.
Kaga Onsen A collection of four historic hot spring towns.
Shizuoka Prefectural capital with views of Mount Fuji.
Fukui Prefectural capital nearby Eiheiji Temple.
Fujinomiya City at the southern base of Mount Fuji.
Toyama Capital city of Toyama Prefecture.
Lake Hamanako A seaside lake with hot spring baths.
Takato Castle Park Castle ruins covered by cherry trees.
Togura Kamiyamada Foreigner-friendly onsen town with historic fortress.
Takaoka Famous for its bronze casting industry.

Kansai

Kyoto For over 1000 years the capital of Japan.
Mount Koya Atmospheric temple mountain.
Nara Japan's first permanent capital.
Kinosaki Pleasant, old-fashioned hot spring resort.
Osaka Largest city of the Kinki Region.
Himeji Site of Japan's most beautiful feudal castle.
Ise Shima Site of Japan's most sacred Shinto shrines.
Yoshino Japan's most famous cherry blossom spot.
Uji City south of Kyoto known for its temple and tea.
Kumano Pilgrimage destination on the Kii Peninsula.
Amanohashidate One of Japan's three most scenic views.
Kobe Harbor city, recovered from 1995 earthquake.
Iga Ueno Former castle town famous for ninja.
Takeda Castle Ruins Hilltop castle ruins sometimes floating on a sea of clouds.
Miyama Rural town with lots of thatched roof houses.
Asuka and Sakurai The cradle of the Japanese civilization.
Hikone Castle town at the shores of Lake Biwa.
Koka Rural city known as a homeland of the ninja.

Chugoku

Miyajima Island known for its shrine and large torii gate.
Hiroshima Regional capital with a tragic history.
Inujima Island Small island turned into a modern art site.
Bitchu-Takahashi Pretty town with original mountaintop castle.
Matsue Former castle town near Izumo Taisha.
Izumo Site of Izumo Taisha, Japan's oldest shrine.
Kurashiki City with a picturesque, historic canal area.
Onomichi Port town with many slopes and temples.
Akiyoshidai Karst plateau with large limestone cave.
Iwakuni Site of the picturesque Kintai-kyo Bridge.
Hagi Castle town with preserved samurai district.
Tomonoura Picturesque, old-fashioned fishing town.
Tsuwano Rural town with nice samurai district.
Iwami Ginzan Former silver mine with world heritage status.
Okayama Famous for one of Japan's three best gardens.
Mount Daisen Tallest mountain in the Chugoku Region.
Tottori Prefectural capital known for its sand dunes.
Yamaguchi Pleasant city at the western end of Honshu.

Shikoku

Naoshima Small island with a lot of modern art.
Iya Valley Remote valley in the center of Shikoku.
Matsuyama Largest city of Shikoku with a beautiful castle.
Kotohira Site of Shikoku's most popular shrine.
Kochi Nice city with a southern flair.
Uchiko Countryside town formerly known for its wax.
Takamatsu Capital of Kagawa Prefecture.
Ozu Small city with nice castle, old town and villa.
Shodoshima Island in the Seto Inland Sea know for olives.
Marugame Port city in Kagawa, known for its castle.
Naruto City well known for its whirlpools.
Tokushima A city best known for its dance festival.
Uwajima Secluded port town with original castle.

Kyushu

Yakushima Subtropical island with ancient cedar forest.
Kurokawa Onsen Hot spring town with attractive town and baths.
Nagasaki Attractive port city with a moving history.
Amami Oshima Subtropical island between Kagoshima and Okinawa.
Takachiho Mountain town steeped in mythology.
Yufuin Rural yet trendy hot spring town near Beppu.
Kirishima National Park with volcanic mountain range.
Aso Active volcano with a huge ancient caldera.
Kagoshima Southernmost of Kyushu's major cities.
Beppu Japan's capital city of hot springs.
Fukuoka Kyushu's largest and most vibrant city.
Kumamoto Modern city most famous for its castle.
Satsuma Peninsula Rural peninsula with hot springs in southern Kyushu.
Dazaifu Historic town south of Fukuoka.
Kunisaki Peninsula Interesting, rural peninsula north of Beppu.
Udo Shrine Shrine constructed in a cliff side cave.
Huis Ten Bosch Amusement Park themed after a Dutch town.
Yoshinogari Park Best archeological site about the Yayoi Period.
Yutoku Inari Shrine One of Japan's three best Inari shrines.
Usuki Town known for its unique stone Buddhas.
Arita and Imari One of Japan's most famous area for pottery.
Shimabara Peninsula Peninsula with active volcano near Nagasaki City.
Kuju Mountains Volcanic mountain range in Kyushu.
Miyazaki City in southeastern Kyushu.
Kitakyushu Industrial city in the north of Kyushu.
Karatsu Coastal city known for castles and pottery.
Minamata From pollution site to environmental model city.
Amakusa Remote islands with a large Christian population.
Hirado Former site of the Dutch trading post.
Takeo Onsen Onsen town with smooth waters and long history.
Ureshino Onsen Onsen town with very smooth hot spring waters.

Okinawa

Yaeyama Islands Okinawa's southernmost island group.
Okinawa Island Okinawa Prefecture's main island.
Miyako Island Subtropical island with excellent beaches.
Kerama Islands Small island group with beautiful beaches.
Kume Island Small island west of Okinawa Honto.

best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding