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Western Honshū

Travelers to Western Honshū (本州西部) will find a tale of two coastlines. San-yō (literally "sunny side of the mountains"), looking southwards out over the Inland Sea, boasts the bigger cities, the narrow-laned portside and hillside towns, ceramic history and the fast train. This coast holds the region's big name – indelibly scarred but thriving and warm-hearted Hiroshima.

On the other side of the dividing Chūgoku mountain range, San-in (literally "in the shade of the mountains") gazes northwards across the expanse of the Sea of Japan. Up here, it's all about an unhurried pace, onsen (hot spring) villages that see few foreigners, historic sites, wind-battered coastlines and great hospitality.

Head inland for hikes along gorges and through caves, or escape the mainland altogether – you could take a trip to the Inland Sea and its galaxy of islands, or lose yourself in the remote and rugged Oki Islands (Oki-shotō) in the Sea of Japan.

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