With its rich culture, breathtaking landscape, and fascinating history, Japan has long been the choice destination for eager world travelers. The country is an island nation comprised of nearly 7,000 islands; however, the vast majority of its landmass and population stands on four: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. Home to 127 million people, these four regions are commonly referred to as the nation’s “home islands,” and are chock-full of interesting places to visit for those of every interest. Consider visiting some of the following cities on your next trip to Japan!

 

Tokyo

A meld of innovative modernity and serene traditionalism, Tokyo is truly one-of-a-kind. Shrines and skyscrapers coexist within the city borders, imbuing the place with a uniquely-inflected culture. Visitors to the city should look into visiting the city’s Imperial Palace, which lies within the bounds of a large public garden. Others may wish to visit some of Tokyo’s numerous museums for an in-person look at classical and performative Japanese art.

 

Kyoto

Centuries ago, Kyoto stood as Japan’s capital city on Honshu. Now, however, the city is famous for its preserved traditions and rich cultural offerings. Visitors to the city can take in the sights of cultivated gardens, Shinto shrines, and preserved imperial palaces. Those interested in partaking of cultural offerings can find traditional dining experiences and visit with geisha: highly-trained professional entertainers.

 

Yakushima

The bustle and lights of city life isn’t for everyone. Travelers seeking peaceful diversions should consider going to the quiet region of Yakushima, where they can enjoy hiking through expansive cedar forests and spotting local wildlife. Ambitious tourists should consider walking on the winding Arakawa trails on Mount Miyanoura or visiting the breathtaking Oko-no-taki waterfall.

 

Osaka

Located on the island of Honshu, Osaka stands as one of Japan’s most notable port cities and destinations. To the average tourist, city is perhaps best-known for its vibrant nightlife, delicious street food, and modern architecture. While in Osaka, those interested in history should visit Osaka Castle, a 16th-century shogunate structure graced with a moat and well-maintained arboretum and park.  

 

Hakone

Those in search of peaceful relaxation should consider putting Hakone on their travel itinerary. Hakone is a bustling mountain town located just west of Tokyo, within Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. With hot springs and breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, Hakone is a choice destination for any who want to enjoy a day at the town’s hot springs. Those wishing to venture beyond the springs can take a boat tour of the Hakone Shrine, or visit the boiling sulphur springs in nearby Owakudani Valley.