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Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu

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Introduction

Mt. Fuji with a baseball cap

Mt. Fuji with a baseball cap

© All Rights Reserved Triabroad

Honshu is the largest island in Japan at almost 228,000 square kilometres. Located to the north is Hokkaido, and Shikoku and Kyushu islands are located to the south and southwest respectively.

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Regions and Geography

Five out of 8 regions in Japan are on Honshu:

  • Tohoku, in northern Honshū, is a scenic rugged area. The most major city is Sendai.
  • Kantō, in eastern Honshū, is the most urban and developed part of Japan, home to the Tokyo metropolis and the city of Yokohama.
  • Chūbu, in central Honshū, to the west of Tokyo is divided by the Japanese Alps and includes iconic Mount Fuji.
  • Kansai (or Kinki), in south-western Honshū, is the cultural and historical heart of Japan and home to the major cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe.
  • Chūgoku, the westernmost region in Honshū, includes the cities of Hiroshima and Okayama

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Sights and Activities

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle (or Himeji-jo) is the best preserved castle in Japan and a must see for all tourists. Located one hour west of Osaka, it is a beautiful day trip for any visitor to the Kansai area. Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, was designated as a UNESCO cultural site in 1993.

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

© All Rights Reserved AKISSA


The interior of the castle was restored in the traditional manner with wood, not concrete and is the greatest look into medieval Japanese castle construction. The castle also provides an excellent look into life of Japanese nobility in the 16th century. Himeji Castle was first built in 1346 by Akamatsu Sadanori. It was built as a defence against the local Shogunate. This fortification was eventually rebuilt in 1580, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, into the structure that is seen today. Himeji Castle was never attacked or used in battle. As well, it was not damaged during WWII. It was finally restored in the 1960s.

Kyoto

If you only visit one city in Japan, be sure to make it Kyoto. Japan's capital until it was moved to Tokyo in 1868, Kyoto is considered by many to be Japan's most beautiful city. Only Rome lays claim to more designated Unesco World Heritage Sites than this city nestled amongst the mountains of Western Honshu.

Cherry Blossoms Study

Cherry Blossoms Study

© All Rights Reserved ImpBob36


The magnificent array of temples and shrines include famous names like the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaju and the Ryoanji zen garden. Kyoto is a sightseers paradise and much can be taken in on foot, although don't expect it to be the first impression you get of the city on arrival. Urban sprawl and ultra modern buildings like the glass and steel main train station, show signs of a city embracing modern times despite it's deeply traditional roots. But once you do find yourself in areas like Old Kyoto wandering down alleys of traditional narrow, wooden houses you will learn to appreciate the great artistic heritage that defined Kyoto for over a thousand years.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is one of the best known natural features of Japan and is conveniently located in Chubu region, west of the capital Tokyo. It is 3,776 metres high and the walk up to the summit is tough but require no special climbing skills. Mount Fuji has an exceptionally symmetrical cone which is a recognisable symbol of this East Asian country.

Shirakami-Sanchi

Shirakami-Sanchi (白神山地?, literally white god mountain area) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Honshu. This mountainous, unspoiled expanse of virgin forest straddles both Akita and Aomori Prefectures. Of the entire 1,300 km², a tract covering 169.7 km² was included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1993. Siebold's beech trees make up a large portion of the forest. The World Heritage Site area has never been opened to human activity or trails other than mountain climbers' paths, and is planned to be protected in this state. Permission is needed from Forest Management to enter the heart of the Shirakami-Sanchi. Fishing requires permission from both the Fishing Cooperative and Forest Management.

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Getting There

By Plane

The major airports are Narita Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND) near Tokyo and Kansai Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport (ITM) near Osaka and Kyoto. The latter is a major domestic airport.

Other airports offering international connections are Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) and Hiroshima Airport (HIJ). Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have extensive services, as well as dozens of international airlines.

By Train

Japan Railways has fast trains going north to Hokkaido and south and southwest to Shikoku and Kyushu respectively.

By Boat

China
There are regular ferry services linking Chinese ports, like Tianjin with Kobe on a weekly basis. Chinese Express Line is the major carrier on the Tianjin to Kobe route.
To add, there are also weekly ferries crossing the sea between Shanghai and Kobe and Osaka. The ferry's destination alternates each week between Osaka and Kobe and the journey takes two days. Another line travels weekly as well between Shanghai and Osaka only.

Russia
FESCO runs a service from Vostochny Port/Nakhodka in Far Eastern Russia to the ports of Yokohama, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka.
Business Intour Service operates a line between Fushiki in western Honshu and Vladivostok in Russia, which is where the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow terminates.

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Getting Around

By Plane

Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), among other, have connections between various cities, though taking a train might be just as fast given the speed.

By Train

Rail is a major form of transport on Honshu. Operated by Japan Railways Group, the services are exceedingly efficient, fast and comfortable and almost without exception represent the most convenient option for travellers.
The Japan Rail Pass, or JR Pass, is a deal devised specifically for visitors to Japan including Honshu. Seven-day, 14-day and 21-day passes will allow unlimited travel on all JR lines and affiliated buses and ferries for the period of the pass. If you planning on travelling by train for even moderate distances, the pass will likely be the cheapest option. The pass is only available to international travellers on a tourist visa and must be purchased overseas. On purchase, you will be issued a Japan Rail Pass Exchange Order, which must be exchanged for a JR Pass at a designated in JR Travel Service Centre in Japan. When you exchange the pass, you need to specify the day you want the period to commence and that day must be within three months of the issue of the Exchange Order.

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This is version 12. Last edited at 10:40 on Jan 19, 16 by Utrecht. 20 articles link to this page.

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