If you have travelled Japan, chances are, you’ve already travelled to Honshu Island. Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima; Mount Fuji, Lake Biwa and the Japanese Alps; neon and skyscrapers, geisha districts and famous temples – all of these can be found on Honshu.
One of the most popular places in Japan. Honshu is the country’s largest island comprising nine prefectures. More than 100 million people are squeezed into pockets of flat land among the many volcanoes which form a long, mountainous arc from the northeast tip to the southwestern end. It is also home to world-renowned tourist sites such as Mount Fuji, Ginza, Hakone, and major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya. As Central Honshu cuts across a large territory, travelling to Honshu offers you a unique flavour in every region – from historical cities such as Kyoto and Nagoya to ultra-modern metropolises such as Osaka and Tokyo.
There are so many places to visit in Honshu and it is impossible to
list them all here. We will highlight five “must-see” places.
1. Tokyo – No travel to Japan is complete without stopping in Tokyo. For historical sites, drop by the famous 17th-century Imperial Palace, the Hamarikyu Gardens (an Edo Period Japanese garden), and the Meiji Shrine. Sushi and Sashimi lovers should spend a morning exploring the Tsukiji Fish Market, where you’ll find the day’s freshest catch. For shopping, explore Ginza and Harajuku, where you can also enjoy Japanese colourful street performances.
2. Mount Fuji – Japan’s most iconic landmark, Mount Fuji is also the country’s highest mountain peak, with a million people climbing it each summer. For the strong climbers, the hike begins at the base. The faint-hearted can either ascend to the top from halfway at the 5th station or simply view the mountain from a distance in the comfort of the bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka.
3. Kyoto – Known for its historic streets and architecture, Kyoto has remained untouched for hundreds of years. Heritage sites such as Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), Nijo Castle, Heian Shrine and Kiyomizu Temple are worth visiting. Also you can enjoy the scenic view of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The city is also home to lots of geisha entertainment. However, you need a special introduction to enjoy a night of geisha entertainment. Some Honshu tour packages can make the necessary arrangement at an extra cost. Traditionally, access to high-end geisha experiences in tea houses (also referred to as banquet halls) is gained through connections only. But those willing to cough up the cash — usually starting from 100,000 yen (about $906) — will find it’s possible to buy their way through the doors. Alternatively, you can watch a daily performance at the Gion Corner, a theatre for the tourists.
4. Nagoya – Be sure to stopover at the Nagoya Castle and the Atsuta Shrine, Japan’s most revered Shinto shrine, or stroll along the popular district Osu for its many temples and shrines. If you are interested in architecture from the Meiji period, the Meiji-mura Village Museum is just north of the city centre.
5. Nara – Pay a visit to the Todaiji temple, the world’s largest wooden building that houses Japan’s largest Buddha. Other places of interest include Kasuga Taisha, known for its countless lanterns donated by worshippers and the well-known Deer Park, which has thousands of deer roaming the garden.
If this is your first time travelling to Japan, Honshu is definitely one of the places in Japan to visit. For old-timers, there are plenty of reasons for you to re-visit the region again.