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Chugoku

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Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Chugoku

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Introduction

Chūgoku is the westernmost region on Honshū. Aside from Hiroshima, most of Chugoku is probably well off the beaten track for a brief visit to Japan; but if time permits, you'll find a region full of memorable sights and experiences, and a side of Japan that's completely unlike the better-known destinations in Kansai and Kanto.

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Geography

The Chūgoku region consists of the following prefectures: Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane, and Tottori. Okayama is also included, although only Bitchū Province was considered a Middle Country; Mimasaka Province and Bizen Province, the other two components of modern-day Okayama, were considered Near Countries.

The Chūgoku region is characterized by irregular rolling hills and limited plain areas and is divided into two distinct parts by mountains running east and west through its centre.

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Sights and Activities

The Chugoku region is home to four of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution (Hagi) - This site contains a variety of sites across the nation. In Hagi the castle town, Ohitayama Tatara Iron Works, Hagi Reverberatory Furnace, Ebisugahana Shipyard, and Shokasonjuku Academy are the designated World Heritage Sites.
  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and Its Cultural Landscape (Oda) - Registered as a World Heritage Site in 2007.
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) (Hiroshima) - Registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996.
  • Itsukushima Shrine (Miyajima) - Registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full.

Other Events and Festivals

  • O-Bon (Festival of the Dead) - Usually held in August, this festival is observed nationwide in Japan. Buddhist tradition dictates this is the day the dead return to earth to visit their relatives. Lanterns are hung outside homes and offerings to the spirits are made. In the evening, people float the lanterns on the river to help guide the deceased back to their resting place.
  • Hanami and Cherry Blossom Festivals - A tradition all over Japan, Hanami literally means viewing flowers. Picnic under the beautiful flowing trees in any public park during this special season. Usually lasting for only two weeks in March, the sakura (cherry blossom) schedule changes a bit every year, so it’s hard to nail down exactly when to come.

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Getting There

By Plane

Hiroshima Airport (HIJ) has a number of flights. Destinations include Beijing, Okinawa, Sendai, Sapporo, Tokyo, Seoul, Guam, Bangkok, Taipei and Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

By Train

Chugoku can be reached from neighbouring Kyushu as well as other parts on Honshu. The main gateway is Hiroshima. Check Hyperdia for schedules and prices. The San'yo Shinkansen line links Hiroshima, Okayama and other major towns to Kyushu in the southwest and Kansai, Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo to the east. The less populated northern Japan Sea coast is served by Limited Express Trains with connections to Osaka and Kyoto.

By Boat

Ferries from Shimonoseki Port International Terminal:

  • The Kanpu ferry to Pusan in South Korea regularly.
  • The Orient ferry to Qingdao in China regularly.
  • The Orient ferry to Shanghai in China regularly.

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Getting Around

By Train

The JR West Sanyo San'in Area Pass allows unlimited travel during 7 days in an area approximatively between Fukuoka (on Kyūshū island) and Kyoto (excluding a patch in the north-east), and to the north-east of Shikoku. It includes bullet trains on the San'yō Shinansen (but not the Tokaidou and Kyushu Shinkansen) and many express and local trains. ¥19,000 for adults if bought online or in a foreign travel agency, ¥20,000 in JR West station; half of that for children.

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Eat

Famous dishes from the Chugoku region:

  • Hiroshima Okonomiyaki (Hiroshima)
  • Kibi Dango (Okayama)
  • Fugu (Shimonoseki)
  • Izumo Soba Noodles (Izumo)
  • Matsuba Crab (Tottori)
  • Momiji manjū (Miyajima)

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Drink

Some of the most famous beverages from the Chugoku region are:

  • Daisen Water (Daisen) The water from Mount Daisen has been bottled by Suntory, as well as Coke, and can be purchased throughout Japan in stores and vending machines.
  • Jersey Milk (Hiruzen Heights, Maniwa) Milk from the cows raised in Hiruzen Heights, it's said to be quite healthy.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 13:11 on Aug 17, 17 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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