Travel & Discover Western Japan such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kanazawa with JR West Passes starting from JPY 2,200 a day! (Approx SGD26*)
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Places of Interest in Western Japan
Osaka is only a short shinkansen ride from Tokyo, but has a very different personality to Japan’s capital city. Hop off the bullet train into an area of exciting nightlife, delicious food and straight-talking, friendly locals. Along with plenty of shopping and modern attractions, Osaka also has a historical side, the highlight of which is Osaka Castle. The castle is a great place to discover more about Japanese history and to wander the beautiful grounds, especially during cherry blossom season in April when the sakura blooms and the weather is often at its best.
Kyoto City attracts millions of local and international visitors each year looking for traditional Japanese culture. Temples and shrines such as Kiyomizudera Temple and Kinkakuji draw lots off attention from visitors, as do the bamboo groves of nearby Arashiyama. Stay in a traditional ryokan, take a dip in a rejuvenating onsen, and enjoy the seasonal changes of cherry blossoms and brilliant autumn foliage.
Located on the Pacific coast of Hyogo Prefecture is the key port city of Kobe—a longtime hub of international trade—and the majestic World Heritage site of Himeji Castle. Head further inland and you’ll find the mountainside ruins of Takeda Castle, also known as “Japan’s Machu Picchu.”
Situated on the Sea of Japan coast, Tottori is a delightfully unspoiled prefecture where traditional crafts and customs continue to be practiced in their original form. Mt Daisen and Mt Mitoku have been sacred centers of ascetic training for centuries and still make for exciting hikes today. Tottori also has a beautifully rugged coastline featuring a massive stretch of sand dunes—a rarity in Japan.
Okayama Prefecture, known for its delicious fruit, is often called the land of sunshine and Momotaro, the “Peach Boy” is the local hero and symbol. Okayama City, the prefectural capital and largest city, is home to the imposing, black Okayama Castle and Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens. Nearby, the historic merchant town of Kurashiki is famous for its canals and relatively unchanged atmosphere.
Shimane Prefecture stretches along the northern coast of the Chugoku region. Sparsely populated, the prefecture has stayed relatively unchanged over the years. Framed by mountains, Shimane’s main draws include Izumo Taisha Shrine—one of the oldest and holiest Shinto shrines—Matsue Castle and its original keep, the World Heritage Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, Iwami Kagura folk dancing and the castle towns of Tsuwano and Matsuda.
The city of Hiroshima is a great place for trekking through dense forests and enjoying natural hot springs. Discover quaint towns like Onomichi and Tomonoura or enjoy golden beaches, the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, and the iconic Itsukushima on Miyajima—the floating shrine with a red gate set in the sea. Hiroshima’s other World Cultural Heritage site, the Atomic Bomb Dome, and its surrounding memorial park are monuments to peace.
Yamaguchi Prefecture is quiet and rural, but has many sites of great historical significance. Hagi, the capital of a major samurai domain, hosts one of the most beautifully preserved castle towns in Japan and a local style of pottery. Yamaguchi is also renowned for stunning scenery, including serene beaches, hidden shrines and Akiyoshido, the largest limestone cave in Japan.
Fukuoka Prefecture’s most famous attraction is Dazaifu Tenmangu, a shrine dedicated to the legendary scholar and politician Michizane Sugawara and home to over 6,000 plum trees that blossom spectacularly each spring. The prefecture’s culinary specialties include sushi and other seafood dishes, yakitori or grilled skewers, motsunabe hot pot in the winter, and tonkotsu or pork broth ramen, best enjoyed at a local yatai or food stall.