For fans of traditional Japanese culture, Kansai is an unmissable destination. Nowhere else in the country can you find so much of historical interest in such a compact area. And, since plenty of international carriers now fly into Kansai International Airport, it is perfectly possible to make Kansai your first port of call in Japan.
Kansai’s major drawcards are Kyoto and Nara. Kyoto was the imperial capital between 794 and 1868, and is still considered by most Japanese to be the cultural heart of Japan. Nara predates Kyoto as an imperial capital and also has an impressive array of temples, burial mounds and relics. Both cities should feature prominently in even the busiest travel itinerary.
Osaka is a great place to sample Japanese city life in all its mind-boggling intensity, while Kōbe is one of Japan’s most cosmopolitan and attractive cities. Himeji, west of Kōbe, has the best of Japan’s many feudal castles. Kyoto is the logical base for an exploration of Kansai, but you could also base yourself in Osaka or Nara. The former allows you to enjoy Japanese modern city life and excellent transport connections; the latter is much quieter and is a good place to relax. You will almost certainly find that Kansai is the perfect place to sample both modern and traditional Japan without having to spend too much time moving from place to place.
The main attractions of the prefecture Mie-ken are Ise-jingū, Japan’s most sacred Shintō shrine, and the seascapes around the peninsula, Shima-hantō. Wakayama-ken offers onsen (hot-spring spas), a rugged coast and the temple complex of Kōya-san, Japan’s most important Buddhist centre. Finally, the northern coast of Kansai has some fabulous scenery, a number of good beaches and the lovely Tango-hantō (Tango Peninsula).
Travel in Japan one year after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami
One year after Japan's heartbreaking triple-disaster, the country still has a lot more reconstruction ahead of it and some psychological and economic scars that have yet to heal. Yet while the magnitude 9.
Hiking in Japan - Kansai (Chapter)
This is the Kansai chapter from Lonely Planet's Hiking in Japan guidebook.
Kansai destination guides
Kyoto) is old Japan) writ large: quiet temples, sublime gardens, colourful shrines and geisha scurrying to secret liaisons.
Cherry blossom season
Springtime in Japan and the country watches and waits for the first sakura (cherry) trees to burst into bloom.
Kyoto and Nara 2-Day or 3-Day Rail Tour by Bullet Train from Tokyo
Choose from a two-day or three-day Bullet train excursion to Kyoto and Nara from Tokyo. You'll tour Nara's temples and shrines, spend the night in Kyoto and take morning and afternoon sightseeing tours of Kyoto.
Land of the Rising Sun
Ever-welcoming and always fascinating, Japan is a land of ancient cultures, austere traditions and groundbreaking technology. Experience the best that this diverse country has to offer from the excitement of lively Tokyo to the sacred resting places of shoguns at Nikko.
Insider tips for Japan
Japan is everything you can imagine, and more – rich culture, profound history, natural beauty, epic shopping, unforgettable cuisine, gracious hospitality... But to experience its true grandeur, there are some essentials to master before you go. Spring (Mar-May) and autumn (Sep-Nov) are the best time to visit.
Sights in Kansai
Activities in Kansai
Tours in Kansai
Restaurants in Kansai
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Osaka (大阪)) is the working heart of Kansai).