Kansai Travel Guide

The Kansai region is home to Osaka, the second largest city in Japan after Tokyo, as well as Kyoto which is extremely popular with visitors from overseas. It also includes Nara, Hyogo, Mie, Wakayama, and Shiga Prefectures.

The Kyoto area has the city of Kyoto, a sightseeing location that is famous all around the world. It is an area full of charming areas where you can experience traditional Japanese culture, such as the Uji area which is famous for production of matcha green tea, the Amanohashidate area which is famous for landscapes such as Amanohashidate and the Ine-no-Funaya Houses.

In Osaka, there is the Osaka area which is the biggest city after Tokyo. Numerous historical, cultural, gourmet, and entertainment attractions are gathered here, including Osaka Castle, Dotonbori, and Universal Studios Japan. There is also the famous Hokusetsu area where Taro Okamoto built a sun tower in the Expo'70 Commemorative Park.

For those interested in Japanese history, Nara Prefecture is recommended. The Nara area, where Heijo-kyo was built over 1300 years ago, has many historical buildings such as Todai-ji Temple and Horyu-ji Temple. There is also the Yoshino area which has been known since ancient times as a place for cherry blossom viewing.

The Kobe area in Hyogo Prefecture has historically been a port town; there are many foreign settlements in this area like the Kitano Ijinkan and Nankinmachi Chinatown, showing the strong effect that foreign culture had on this area. This area is also home to Japan’s oldest hot springs area “Arima Onsen.” Hyogo Prefecture also has the Himeji/Akashi area which is famous for Himeji Castle, and the Tajima area famous for Kinosaki Onsen.

The 2016 G7 Summit was held in Mie Prefecture, and thus it has gathered much attention from the world. Noteworthy is the Ise area which is centered around the Ise Jingu Shrine, regarded as one of the most precious shrines in all of Japan. The Kumano area is home to the World Heritage Site “Kumano Kodo Iseji Pilgrimage Route” which stretches all the way to Wakayama Prefecture, connecting the Ise Jingu Shrine to the Kumano Sanzan. The Toba/Shima area is famous for pearl production, and the Tsu/Suzuka area is famous for the Suzuka Circuit.

Wakayama Prefecture is well-known as a mandarin orange production area. In the Kushimoto/Nachi area, the aforementioned Kumano Kodo Iseji Pilgrimage Route connects to the Kumano Sanzan, which is a set of three temples (Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha). Wakayama also has the Koyasan area which is popular for Danjo Garan and the Koyasan Okuno-in Temple.

Shiga Prefecture is located to the east of Kyoto, and is famous for Japan’s largest lake, Biwa-ko. There is the Otsu area with Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple and Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Hikone area with Hikone Castle, and the Shigaraki/Koga area which is popular for Shigaraki-yaki pottery and ninja houses.

Kyoto | Osaka | Nara | Hyogo | Mie | Wakayama | Shiga |