The easternmost tip of Hokkaido, Shiretoko Peninsula juts out into the Sea of Okhotsk is an area which still has plenty of untouched nature. Shiretoko is most famous for the drift ice that forms on the Amur travels southwards and approaches the Shiretoko Peninsula slowly in late January. Shiretoko was designated and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Natural Site) in 2005. From taking onsen( hot springs), hiking in the summer to shoeing and drift ice walk in the winter, Shiretoko offers fun adventures depending on the season.
Sannai Maruyama Site is situated on a coastal terrace at an elevation of roughly 20 meters along the Okidate River in Aomori City, in the center of Aomori Prefecture.
This Jomon hamlet, the largest of its kind in Japan, was inhabited between 4,000 and 5,500 years ago. Numerous pots, clay figurines, stone tools, as well as bones from various fish, animals and nuts have been discovered, all of which provide information about the food and environment of the Jomon Period. These discoveries show how people at the time creatively utilized natural resources throughout the year.
In the spacious park, you are free to spend time as long as you like. A building called "Jomon Jiyukan" is located at the entrance, where you can see exhibits of numerous old Jomon artifacts, including the "Ogata Banjo Dogu" (an Important Cultural Property), enormous jade beads, and chestnut wood pillars. There are also sections where you can dress up similar to that worn by Aomori residents five millennia ago and try your hand at creating accessories and figurines like the ancients did.
Nikko is known for its natural beauty such as Nikko National Park, Kegon waterfall, Lake Chuzenji, and the UNESCO World Heritage site, Nikko Toshogu Shrine. Observe the intricate craftsmanship and enriching details at Nikko Toshogu Shine. You can also enjoy Kinugawa Onsen in combination with the historical tourist spots in Nikko.
Tomioka Seishijo, Tomioka Silk Mill is the Japan's oldest silk-reeling factory in Tomioka city, Gunma Prefecture, which has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014. The mill was established in 1872 by the Japanese government in order to catch up with the West as one sphere of modernization and industrialization. Also, the government built the Tomioka Silk Mill to serve as a model facility to prove quality improvement at that time.
The building is a huge timber-framed plant with brick walls, 140.4 meters in length, and it is kept in very good condition. Considered the Tomioka Silk Mill installed over 300 reeling machines imported from France, it was the largest silk mill in the world at the time of its completion.
Today, parts of the mill are open to the public after an astounding 115 years of operation closed in 1987.
Gokayama is located deep in the valleys and mountains of Toyama Prefecture, not far from the sea of Japan. It consists of two villages, Ainokura and Suganuma, where traditional thatched roof houses and culture of the villages in this region have been carefully well-preserved even today. Some of the thatched roof houses are open as inns and museum where visitors can stay and observe the traditional customs and history. As you wander around the village, you will feel like you slip back in time to old Japan.
Mount Fuji is the highest volcano and highest peak on the border of two prefectures, Yamanashi and Shizuoka. It is a stratovolcano about 60 miles south-west of Tokyo, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013.
You can enjoy the visual delights of Mount Fuji with a nice natural surrounding around Fuji Five Lake (Fujigoko) region which surface reflects the perfect symmetrical shape of the mountain.
From and To
Nagano / Matsumoto / Karuizawa / Hakuba / Kamikochi
Matsumoto castle located in Nagano prefecture was constructed in the late 16th century by a feudal lord, Ishikawa Yasunaga. It is one of the five castles designated as a 'National Treasure' and the oldest wooden castle donjon remaining in Japan. Because of its black lacquered weatherboards and white stucco walls, Matsumoto castle is called “ Crow Castle”. With the Japanese Alps in the background and a contrasting red bridge spanning the moat, you will enjoy the beautiful landscape that surrounds it.
Shirakawa-go is situated at the foot of Mt. Hakusan in the north western part of Gifu Prefecture. The thatched roof village in Shirakawa-go was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995 together with Gokayama ( Ainokura and Suganuma). Its charm lies in surrounding untouched natural landscapes with picturesque rivers, mountains and rice fields.
From and To
Izu Peninsula / Hamamatsu / Shizuoka / Gotemba Premium Outlets
Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha
Located in the city of Fujinomiya, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha is the most important Shinto shrine in the region which worships the God of Mt. Fuji for protection from volcanic eruptions. It serves as the head shrine among 1300 subsidiary shrines throughout the country. A detached rear shrine (okumiya) is erected at the summit of Mt. Fuji which encompasses the entire summit including the crater and all of the land above the 8th Station. The shrine holds large ceremonies in early July and September to open and close the
climbing season of Mt. Fuji.
Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan for about 1,000 years until the capital was transferred to Tokyo in 1868. It boasts 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites including several castles, over 1,700 Buddhist temples and over 800 Shinto shrines.
Kyoto is the best place to experience the world of ancient Japan with abundant Japanese gardens, Japanese-style inns, and prewar buildings.
Nijo-jo Castle was the residence of the Tokugawa shogun in the west of Kyoto, who had been ruling Japan for over 200 years. It is not only a Japanese national treasure, but also a world heritage site, designated in 1994. In addition to this, over 1000 paintings on sliding doors and murals are designated as nationally important cultural properties in 1982. The outer stone walls are huge, but inside is elegant with beautifully decorated ceilings and painted walls.
The “Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group” is a tumuli clusters of the king's clan and its affiliates that ruled the Japanese ancient archipelago, built between the late 4th and the mid-6th century. They are megalitic mounds in which people of superior status were buried at that time. Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group is located on a plateau with an elevation of 24 meters above sea level in the southern part of Osaka, Sakai city which used to be one of the important political and cultural centers in Japan. The property features the numbers of unique shapes including keyhole shape, scallop shape, square and round. There used to be more than 200 tombs originally, however only 44 tombs remain today.
Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2019.
Himeji Castle, a UNESCO world heritage site, is regarded as the most impressive and best-preserved castle in Japan. While many castles have been destroyed or reconstructed due to wars and fire, Himeji Castle remains fully intact for almost 700 years. It is also known as “White Heron Castle”for its white exterior and appearance of a bird taking flight.
The castle is also the best place to admire the natural beauty of four seasons. In spring, the landscape is serene and radiant with cherry blossoms; lush green leaves mark summer. In autumn, it is characterized by the changing colors of leaves. The castle is mantled in snow when winter comes.
Nara,located less than an hour away from Osaka and Kyoto, became the capital of Japan in 710 known as Heijo-kyo, and flourished as the administrative, political and cultural center until 784. Heijo-kyo was Japan’s first cosmopolitan city that modeled after the Palace of Tang Dynasty China. In 1998, eight historic monuments of the Nara period were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage sites, making Nara one of the best city to get a taste of the ancient Japan with temples, shrines and palace.
The Kumano area is located in the southern area of the Wakayama and Mie prefectures in the southeastern part of the Kii Peninsula. Kumano kodo is one of only two pilgrimage routes lead to holy Kumano Sanzan, three grand shrines in Kumano area, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
Koyasan is a sacred Shingon Buddhist temple complex on the beautiful forested Kii Peninsula, more than 800 meters above sea level, founded by the high priest Kukai, posthumously known as Kobo Daishi. Koyasan boasts abundant nature, hundreds of temples and temple gardens.
Okunoin Temple located at Mount Koya in Wakayama prefecture is the largest graveyard in Japan. Crossing the Ichinohashi bridge will take you to the entrance into the forest that surrounds the cemetery. There are over 200,000 tombstones including mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, who was the founder of Shingon Buddhism and famous feudal lords such as Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen, and Date Masamune.
Over the past twelve centuries, the complex has grown to over 100 temples, and Mt. Koya has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Nestled in cedar forest, the OKunoin temple retains tranquil atmosphere and you can immerse yourself in the clear mountain air.
Asuka Shrine is situated at the foot of Mt. Horai and at the mouth of the Kumano River, which runs along the prefectural border between Wakayama Prefecture and Mie Prefecture. According to the shrine, it was constructed in 423 BC, which makes its shrine oldest one in the Kumano pregion in Wakayama. Moreover, Asuka shrine is associated with the three Grand shrines of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage: Kumano Hayatama Taisha in Shingu, Kumano Nachi Taisha in Nachi, and Kumano Hongu Taisha in Hongu.
Its main hall is outstanding vermillion-lacquered with straw barrels of sake piled up orderly. The shrine itself is compact and it is 10 minutes walk from JR Shingu/Shingu bus stop. Registered as a World Heritage site in 2016, a number of people constantly come visit the shrine every year.
You will encounter Jofuku Park with an imposing Chinese-style entrance-gate on the way to the Asuka Shrine, which is dedicated to Jofuku, a Chinese scholar who came to Japan on the order of Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang to find the elixir of life.
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima known for its vermilion floating torii gate. Back in the 12th century, a powerful ruler of Japan named “Taira no Kiyomori” constructed Itsukushima Shrine, and its complex has designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the few buildings left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded in 1945.
It was designate as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, which collects and exhibits belongings left by the victims, photos, as well as materials that show the horror of that event, describing the history of Hiroshima before and after the bombings.
Oura Cathedral is the oldest church of Gothic architecture in Japan. It was built in 1864 by a French missionary in Nagasaki, in memory of the 26 martyrs who were executed in 1597 in a result of suppression of Christianity. The church was designated as a world heritage site in 2018 as one of the Hidden Christian Sites. Next to the church is the Glover Garden, exhibiting 9 Western-style architectures including the Glover Residence, another world heritage site. The garden offers a superb and an extensive view of Nagasaki
Harbour from its hill-top location.
Shurijo Castle sits on a small hill top overlooking Naha city, surrounded by curving stone walls has registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. The castle was believed to have been built in the 14th century by the first Ryukyu King, Sho Hashi (1372–1439). Influenced by the trade networks with China, Taiwan, and the Korean Peninsula helped to create its distinct architectural style and colorful vibe. The vermilion-colored castle with beautiful gold crafts stands out clearly against the blue sky in a photo on a clear day.
Shurijo played an important role in politics, diplomacy, and culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shurijo Castle symbolizes the history and culture of Okinawa, and it attracts many visitors not only from Japan, but also from overseas.
The fire broke out in 2019 unfortunately destroyed a large portion of the castle compound including the main buildings.
It has said that the reconstruction of the entire buildings will be completed by 2026.