8 Best Prefectures In Japan You Have To Visit

Visitors traveling in Japan quickly notice something about the way maps and directions are set up throughout the country. Japan doesn’t have states or counties. They have prefectures, which act similarly to a state setup here.

If you visit Japan, there are plenty of prefectures to travel through. In fact, Japan has 47 of them.

Not all of them are popular with tourists. Some are definitely better than others. These, in particular, are well-known for being the best prefectures in Japan to visit, live in, or even just photograph.

Hokkaido: The Most Beautiful Prefecture


This is not an AI-developed image. Those fields are very real, and they are filled with wildflowers and vegetables grown in Hokkaido. Hokkaido has been cited as the most beautiful prefecture in Japan by travel experts for around 15 years. It’s easy to see why, especially when you go through one of the many flower-filled parks in the prefecture.

Hokkaido has a ton of great places to visit, including the city of Noribetsu, the Sapporo Beer Museum, and the JR Tower Observatory. If you’re a fan of drinking, you’ll definitely want to take a day trip to this laid-back region. Some of Japan’s top breweries and distilleries call this venue home. We suggest you try a sip of beer after you hit the ski slopes in the winter,

Most people who go to Hokkaido do so for its amazing scenery and gardens. However, there’s something to be said about the people too. Hokkaido is known for having a very laid-back, relaxed population. Perhaps it’s because of all the ryokans in the prefecture. Or maybe it’s because skiing takes it out of you to the point that you can’t get too angry at anyone any more. It’s hard to tell.

Once you’re done taking in the views, you can go to one of the onsens in the area. Some of them are seriously upscale and worth an Instagram photo. Since the ryokans in the area are close to farms, they also tend to serve wonderfully fresh food. Expect to try some of the best ramen and finest sushi outside of the “big three” cities. Bon appetit!

Kyoto: Where Tradition Meets Modernity


While Hokkaido might always clinch the award for the most beautiful prefecture in Japan, Kyoto always comes in at a close second. It’s easy to see why. This prefecture is most famous for its city by the same name. As the ninth largest city in Japan by population, Kyoto features a sprawling cityscape that is still primarily built in traditional Japanese architecture.

It’s hard to go here without feeling like you’re starring in an Edo Period drama. This is one of the most popular destinations to go for people who want to see real geikos (geishas) as well as some of the most famous shrines in the world. The Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine is one of the trippiest and most gorgeous places to go, but don’t fret. There are tons of other shrines you can visit.

Kyoto is also a great place to go if you want to enjoy fine dining, walks through a beautiful bamboo forest, or a quick trip to the Samurai Museum. No matter what itinerary you choose to do, you can rest assured that you’ll have a great time traversing Kyoto’s beautiful streets and forests.

Tokyo: The Big, Big City


With a jaw-droppingly large population of over 13 million, Tokyo is not just a massive city. It’s also one of the most densely-populated prefectures in Japan. Even if you are not local to Japan, you have heard of Tokyo. It’s a city that’s become famous for looking like it belongs in a cyberpunk movie.

People from all over the world go to Tokyo for the city’s incredible shopping districts (like Harajuku and Shinjuku), world-class cuisines, and incredible tourist attractions. There are so many different locations to explore, it’s hard to even know where to begin. Do you hit up a shrine like Meiji Jingu first? Or, do you climb up to the top of the Tokyo Skytree so you can survey the land first?

Adults tend to adore the nightlife and fine dining that Tokyo offers, especially when it comes to the Michelin Star restaurants that are so popular. Teenagers, on the other hand, tend to go a little nuts over Harajuku shopping district and the ritzy vibes of Roppongi Hills.

Kids, on the other hand, tend to fall in love with all the Pokemon-related attractions. (Of course, the city’s excellent arcades and Sanrio Puroland also tend to be popular with them too.)

In a word, if it’s a city attraction, chances are that Tokyo has it. Tokyo is literally the finest that city life has to offer.

Osaka: The Friendliest Gourmet Prefecture

Japanese locals have a very mixed reputation when it comes to their interactions with foreigners. For the most part, Japan is very welcoming and polite to gaijin. However, there are venues that are not amenable to letting in anyone who isn’t Japanese. Whether it’s fair or not, there are venues out there that ban foreigners and even post signs about it.

If you are worried about a negative reception, don’t be…especially not if you’re in Osaka. Osaka is known as one of the friendliest prefectures in Japan. Along with that classic Japanese politeness, guests who chat around in Osaka often find themselves stocked with cool pen pals by the end of their trip.

Of course, Osaka isn’t just famous for its happy-go-lucky people. It also happens to be a prefecture nicknamed “Japan’s Kitchen” due to the sheer amount of culinary experiences you can find here. Great ramen, mouthwatering takoyaki stands, and some of the freshest sushi in the country can all be found in Osaka. They even have an entire park devoted to takoyaki.

If you’re a Westerner looking for a new home, it’s also good to know that this prefecture is fairly popular with expats. Overall, it’s a very welcoming area with great food. What’s not to love?

Kanagawa: The Seaside City Prefecture


Kanagawa is just a quick hop south of Tokyo, yet it can feel like a totally different world. The main attraction in Kanagawa is the city of Yokohama, where you can find incredible attractions like the Cup Noodles Museum, the Red Brick Warehouse mall and event space, as well as the Gundam Factory Yokohama.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to Yokohama to have a fun time in Kanagawa. The sandy beaches throughout this prefecture’s coastlines bring tourists from all over the country, too. If you’re done walking by the beach, you might want to check out the onsen town of Hakone or take a trip through the skies via the Hakone Ropeway.

The watery views don’t just stop at the beach, either. Kanagawa is also home to Lake Ashinoko. So, if you get bored of the beach, you can always go boating on the largest lake in Japan. No matter where you look, there’s going to be a way to have a serious splash in Kanagawa.

Much like Osaka, people love to move to Kanagawa thanks to its affordable housing and ample travel opportunities. After all, it’s just as connected via the bullet train system as Tokyo itself.

Chiba: A Historian’s Shangri-La


Chiba prefecture might not be as famous as Tokyo or Kanagawa, but it still has plenty of fans. Japanese locals, in particular, tend to be fond of Chiba as a vacation spot and place to live. Among visitors, it’s treated like a hidden gem. Chiba has its fair number of cities, including both Chiba City and Narita, so it’s not entirely wilderness.

Oh, and it also has both of the Disney parks located in Japan: Tokyo Disneyland and the world’s only DisneySea park. Needless to say, if you have kids, going here will be the safest way to guarantee they’ll adore Japan. Of course, Disney parks are the more modern options you can pick as a tourist.

Much like Kanagawa, Chiba prefecture is known for its beautiful beaches. More specifically, it’s famous for Kujukuri Beach, which is the longest beach strip in the country. When you’re done surfing, swimming, and sunning it up, you can also check out the other major attraction: the historic sites.

Sawara, a city in Chiba, is known as “Little Edo” thanks to all of its gorgeous architecture and city streets. It’s likened to a living museum, and tours are held throughout the area focused on the history. It’s one of the few places

Nagano: The Best Prefecture For Variety


While Chiba and Tokyo prefectures are fairly popular for people who want to uncover a lot of various attractions, it’s hard to ignore how truly varied Nagano can be. Nagano’s capital, Nagano City, is one of the most densely-populated cities in Japan. That means you can expect great shopping, wonderful restaurants, and plenty of hotels ready to take you in.

Foodies who have a penchant for pasta are particularly fond of Nagano. After all, this prefecture is famous for its buckwheat noodles. In the area of Karuizawa, you can get a fully Japanese tour experience complete with hotels, fine restaurants, shopping districts, and elegant parks.

Tourists who want to see something cute and quirky might want to check out Jigokudani Monkey Park. This park is filled with snow monkeys that take a dip in the local hot springs. Best of all? They’re friendly. If you are in need of a more “zen” moment, going to Nagano’s Zenko-Ji Temple might be a better option.

Togakushi is a town in the prefecture known for its ties to ninja culture. During the spring and summer months, you might be able to catch “ninja classes” or take a trip to their Togakure Ninpo Museum for a live tour of real ninja technology. Once you’re done there, you can travel some of the local forests for a health-boosting hike.

Needless to say, it’s easy to see why Nagano’s one of the best prefectures in Japan for travelers.

Shizuoka: Home to Mt. Fuji


Are you searching for the prefecture that has the best views of Mount Fuji? If so, then you need to take a trip to Shizuoka prefecture. This gorgeous prefecture is famous for being a rural and nature-filled destination for urbanites in need of a breather. After all, what’s better than being able to hike through Mt. Fuji or just enjoy its beautiful scenery?

Shizuoka is where most artists go when they want to take a photo or paint Mt. Fuji, simply because it’s so easy to find great views of it. Since this prefecture has a large coastline, beach views are also readily available.

Still not satiated with all the nature? Don’t worry. There’s more! Shizuoka is also home to Shiraito Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. Moreover, the region is also home to several onsen hot springs with curative benefits.

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