Traditionally, Japan can be divided into nine regions, subsequently each region consists of several prefectures. The regions are based on their geographical and historical background but do not function as administrative, independent regions. Each region has its own dialect, customs, and unique traditional culture and different regions can offer striking contrast in everything. For example people from Osaka (Kansai) more direct than Tokyoites (Kanto), but also the cuisine and tradition can be very different.
The Kanto region is the largest plain in the country and also the most urban and densely populated. In fact, Japan’s two most populated metropolises, Tokyo and Yokohama, are located in this region. The political and economical centre of Japan is located on the east side of the main island of Honshu. Kanto is home to some of Japan famous highlights such as Tokyo and Hakone. In this article, we will briefly introduce the seven prefectures that together form Kanto, and some of the most visited spots in each prefecture.
Tokyo – 東京都
Tokyo is officially called Tokyo Metropolis and it is, unsurprisingly, the most populated prefecture of Japan. Tokyo is the political and economic center of the country, and also the emperor’s residence since the Meiji revolution in 1868. Within Tokyo there is Central Tokyo in the east and Western Tokyo (or Tama area). Most international tourist visit Central Tokyo that is subdivided into 23 special wards. Each of the wards are made up of districts and each have their own must-visit places.
Watch the large crowds of people crossing the street in Shibuya, try to spot Mount Fuji from Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower, discover Japan’s food culture in Tsukiji Market or visit the famous Sensoji Shrine in Asakusa. For the anime/kawaii culture walk around in Harajuku or Akihabara and for a great night out visit Shinjuku’s Golden Gai. There is simply too much to discover in Tokyo! Have a look at our blog below that goes into more detail.
Gunma – 群馬県
Gunma Prefecture is located northwest of the Kanto Region. Its capital is Maebashi, which is about 1h45m by train from Tokyo. Gunma is probably best known for Kusatsu Onsen, which is one of the most famous hot spring resorts in Japan because of its’ high quality water with the health benefits and easy access from Tokyo. Another famous onsen resort in Gunma is Ikaho Onsen which is known for stone stairs in the middle of the town.
In addition to onsen, the prefecture offers beautiful nature such as Mount Shirane where you can enjoy winter sports, hiking, and stunning natural scenery, and Fukiware Falls, which is especially popular for visitors when the leaves change their colours in autumn.
Tochigi – 栃木県
This landlocked prefecture is located north part of the Kanto region. Two of the most visited spots in Kanto, Nikko and Kegon Falls, are found in Tochigi. Nikko is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and best known for Nikko Toshogu Shrine. The nearby Kegon Falls is ranked as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. From Tokyo, Nikko (and Kegon Falls) can be reached in about 2 hours, making it a great day trip.
In addition, Tochigi offers popular spots for nature lovers such as Mount Chausu and Nasu Ropeway, Kinugawa River Cruise, and seasonal weeping wisterias in Ashikaga Flower Park. Visit the cultural theme park Edo Wonderland and you will feel as if you time-traveled to Edo Period (1603-1868).
Ibaraki – 茨城県
Ibaraki is situated northeast of the Kanto region along the Pacific coast. The capital of Ibaraki is Mito, located 1h20m by train from Tokyo. Mito is famous for natto, a traditional Japanese breakfast dish made from fermented soybeans that is usually eaten with soy sauce and white rice. In Mito, you can find Hitachi Seaside Park, a large park with a wide variety of seasonal flowers and greenery all year round, and Kairakuen, a beautiful garden, especially popular in plum blossom season.
Ibaraki Prefecture also features Mount Tsukuba, a popular hiking spot with an elevation of 877 meters, Oarai Isosaki Shrine, famous for its’ torii gate that stands at the shore of the ocean, and Fukuroda Falls, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan.