Over the years, I've authored countless guides to Japan's many hidden gems. Unfortunately, for you, the reader, navigating this maze of content has become more and more challenging for you, the reader. To simplify things, I've broken all of my content down by location. Below, you'll find a short primer on each of Japan's nine regions as well as links to all the articles that I've written about any of the prefectures contained within.
So, without further ado, allow me to present the nine distinct regions of Japan...
The Tohoku Region
Found in the northern portions of Japan's main island, the Tohoku region is an unexplored treasure trove of historic and spiritual allures. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Aomori Prefecture
Located at the northern tip of Japan's main island, Aomori boasts both amazing natural landscapes as well as a rich historical legacy.
- Iwate Prefecture
Formerly the site of a rival city to Kyoto during the Japanese empire's early years, Iwate is a place the more visitors ought to know about.
- Akita Prefecture
Here, you'll find both samurai-era villages as well as the Namahage which are on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
- Miyagi Prefecture
Home to the likes of Sendai and the beautiful Matsushima, Miyagi is a prefecture that many overseas visitors to Japan wrongly opt to skip.
- Yamagata Prefecture
Split into a the valley basin and the Shonai Plain, Yamagata is home to many natural onsen as well as a culture of mountain asceticism.
- Fukushima Prefecture
Still wrongly plagued by the disastrous events of 2011, Fukushima has an eclectic collection of allures as well as some of Japan's best fruit.
The Kanto Region
Home to Japan's capital of Tokyo, the Kanto region offers a great mix of urban and historic attractions that you simply cannot skip! It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Ibaraki Prefecture
Though sometimes hailed domestically as the prefecture with the least amount of attractiveness, this bad rap is anything but the case.
- Tochigi Prefecture
Most famous for its Nikko area, Tochigi Prefecture is an undiscovered treasure trove of culture, history and breathtaking natural landscapes.
- Gunma Prefecture
Conveniently located not too far from Tokyo by train, Gunma Prefecture is home to some of the best hot spring towns in all of Japan.
- Saitama Prefecture
Found directly north of Tokyo, Saitama has an ill-deserved reputation of being "lame." Despite this, the prefecture actually has many allures.
- Chiba Prefecture
Though largely only known for its airport, Chiba Prefecture actually boasts an eclectic assortment of hidden attractions to explore.
- Tokyo Prefecture
Officially the capital of Japan, Tokyo needs no introduction. Put simply, this megalopolis is a never ending source of adventure.
- Kanagawa Prefecture
Possibly the prefecture with the widest assortment of attractions, Kanagawa has everything you could ever want as a visitor to Japan.
The Chubu Region
This important part of Japan is comprised of the central portion of Japan's main island. It has historically been the lifeblood of the nation. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Niigata Prefecture
This snowy prefecture is regularly considered to be one of Japan's top rice producers. It also manufactures many other high quality goods too.
- Toyama Prefecture
With as much as 30% of its area being classified as national parks, the mountainous Toyama Prefecture is a stunningly beautiful place.
- Ishikawa Prefecture
Sticking out into the Sea of Japan, Ishikawa Prefecture is most commonly visited for its capital city of Kanazawa, the so-called "Mini Kyoto."
- Fukui Prefecture
Officially known as "Dinosaur Country," Fukui is a prefecture that is rife with Zen temples, historic castles and everyone's favorite reptiles.
- Yamanashi Prefecture
Home to Mt. Fuji and many of its five lakes, Yamanashi was also once the home base of the legendary samurai warlord Takeda Shingen.
- Nagano Prefecture
Best known for being the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano has already recently become famous for its adorable snow monkeys.
- Gifu Prefecture
Located in the heart of Japan's main island, Gifu is a place that's iconic of the region. It's home to places like Shigawago and Gero Onsen.
- Shizuoka Prefecture
Also laying claim to portions of Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka is a vast prefecture that includes the Izu Peninsula as well as the city of Hamamatsu.
- Aichi Prefecture
While best known as being the place where Nagoya is located, Aichi has long been an important historic crossroad throughout Japanese history.
The Kansai Region
Boasting the likes of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, the Kansai region is one of the most popular and frequently visited of parts Japan for tourists. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Mie Prefecture
Forming the eastern half of Japan's Kii Peninsula, Mie represents a one-in-a-lifetime adventure that more visitors to Japan need to experience.
- Shiga Prefecture
Home to expansive Lake Biwa, the biggest freshwater body of water in Japan, Shiga Prefecture has long been an important part of the country.
- Kyoto Prefecture
The urban areas of Kyoto need no further introduction but the prefecture's more rural regions are home to all sorts of yet-to-be-spoiled allures.
- Osaka Prefecture
Found to the south of Kyoto, Osaka is home to the third most populated urban center in Japan. Here, you'll find all sorts of attractions.
- Hyogo Prefecture
Home to the city of Kobe, Hyogo is a prefecture that runs the entire with of Japan's main island and contains a number of intriguing spots.
- Nara Prefecture
Though best known for its iconic deer park, there's a heck of a lot more depth to Nara Prefecture than just its main touristy areas.
- Wakayama Prefecture
Comprising the western side of the Kii Peninsula, this part of Japan's Kumano Sanzan area was long considered to be the "realm of the dead."
The Chugoku Region
Accounting for all of the tail end of Japan's main island, Chugoku is home to well known spots like Hiroshima as well as many other allures. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Tottori Prefecture
Officially Japan's least populated prefecture, this part of the country is home to Mt. Daisen as well as the iconic Tottori Sand Dunes.
- Shimane Prefecture
Regularly hailed as "the home of the gods" here in Japan, Shimane Prefecture has more spiritual attractions than just about anywhere else.
- Okayama Prefecture
Often referred to as the "Sunshine Prefecture," Okayama is great both as an add-on to Hiroshima and as a standalone destination.
- Hiroshima Prefecture
Though most well known for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Miyajima, this part of Japan also has a lot of other ancillary attractions too.
- Yamaguchi Prefecture
Found at the westernmost tip of Japan's main island, Yamaguchi is a vast treasure trove of allures that are rarely visited by overseas tourists.
The Island of Shikoku
Found directly to the south of Japan's main island, Shikoku's rural attractions are still largely unexplored by overseas visitors to Japan. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Tokushima Prefecture
This part of the island is best known for the Awa Odori Festival. Additionally, it's also home to the Iya Valley and the Naruto Whirlpools.
- Kagawa Prefecture
Though best known internationally for the art island of Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture is more renowned locally for its delicious udon noodles.
- Ehime Prefecture
Home to Dogo Onsen, this prefecture allegedly lays the claim to Japan's oldest hot spring town. It was also the inspiration for Spirited Away.
- Kochi Prefecture
If you're looking to check out a part of Japan that few foreign tourists ever see, consider looking at rural Kochi Prefecture.
The Island of Kyushu
The southernmost of Japan's primary four islands, Kyushu has both urban draws like Fukuoka as well as a number of spiritual and historic sites. It's comprised of the following prefectures...
- Fukuoka Prefecture
Of all of the prefectures in Kyushu, Fukuoka is likely the most commonly visited. It has a selection of urban and historic draws to choose from.
- Saga Prefecture
Though a comparatively smaller prefecture, Saga is one of the best producers of pottery in Japan. It's also home to other famous attractions.
- Nagasaki Prefecture
Home to the port city of Nagasaki, this part of Japan has long been influenced by foreign culture due to being the only place open to the west.
- Kumamoto Prefecture
Located along the western coast of Kyushu, Kumamoto Prefecture is home an active volcano, a historic castle and some great hot springs.
- Oita Prefecture
Often hailed as the "Onsen Prefecture," Oita is home to both an amazing array of hot springs as well as a number of historic and spiritual spots.
- Miyazaki Prefecture
This part of Japan is home to some of the most ancient of all Shinto locales such as the cave where the sun goddess allegedly hid herself away.
- Kagoshima Prefecture
Found at the southernmost tip of Kyushu, Kagoshima was once the seat of power for one of the most powerful samurai clans in all of Japan.
Confusingly Okinawa and Hokkaido are both simultaneously considered to be standalone regions as well as their own prefectures.
- Hokkaido Prefecture
Hokkaido is both Japan's northernmost area as well as a prefecture in its own right. Don't miss it if you're a fan of nature and the outdoors!
- Okinawa Prefecture
Traditionally their own kingdom for much of history, the isles of Okinawa offer a dramatically different cultural landscape to the rest of Japan.