Honshu is Japan's largest island and contains most of the country's best-known cities and destinations.
It's here you'll find Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Hakone, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka, Nara, Kobe, Niigata, Himeji and Mt. Fuji.
Where Is Honshu Located?
Honshu (pronounced 'hon-shoe') is 88,000 square miles (228,000km), with a population of around 104 million, accounting for more than 80% of the total population of Japan. It's split into five regions (from the northeast to southwest): Tohoku, Chubu, Kanto, Kansai (also known as Kinki), and Chugoku.
Tokyo sits roughly in the the middle on the Pacific coast to the southeast.
The island stretches northeast to southwest across 810 miles (1,300km), with the climate cooler in the northern regions (below Hokkaido) and humid and subtropical in the southwest (ahead of Kyushu).
Honshu's Most Rarely Visited Region (Is A Must-Visit)
The northeast region of Tohoku is rarely visited by travellers (even the Japanese tend to shrug it off as a bit of a harsh backwater) but that's their loss. It's rural landscapes reward exploration, revealing hidden treasures like the Zuihoden mausoleum complex. It's also peppered with attractive small cities such as Sendai.
The regions in the heart of Honshu, Chubu, Kanto and Kansai, may be well-trodden, yet all offer quieter areas not physically far off the popular tourist trails, but which feel a world away.
In spring, check out Hirosaki for it's stunning displays of Japan's famous sakura (cherry blossom). In summer, head to Aomori city for the Nebuta matsuri festival.
VIDEO: Honshu - Best of Nippon
Being the largest island in Japan, it's easy to get to and around Honshu.
Japan's largest airports are all found here. Including Narita Airport > Narita International Airport, and Haneda Airport > Tokyo International Airport in Tokyo, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
Honshu also has Japan's biggest network of railway routes, with bridges connecting it to the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu in the south. The Shin-Kanmon Tunnel serves shinkansen between Honshu and Kyushu islands.
The undersea Seikan Tunnel connects Honshu to Hokkaido in the north by shinkansen.
Spotlight: Kinosaki Onsen
A Nostalgia For Old Japan...
Kinosaki Onsen is a 1,300 year old town of natural hot springs, and embodies much of what makes exploring rural Japan so worthwhile.
Located 93 miles north of Kyoto, Kinosaki the perfect place for a long soak and a short, relaxing break.
Strict planning laws for the heart of Kinosaki (known as the village) means the views up and down the canal-lined streets today are much as they were hundreds of years ago... LEARN MORE
Honshu Destinations (Featured Posts)
Selected posts about destinations in Honshu
- A Luxury Spa Day At Arima Onsen (That Won’t Break The Bank)
- A Secret Tour of Tokyo National Museum
- An Insider’s Guide To Tokyo’s Live House Scene
- Exploring The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge – Akashi Kaikyo
- Hot Spring Hopping in Kinosaki Onsen
- How To Spend A Week In Kansai (And Not Visit Kyoto)
- How To Stay In A Decent Cheap Hotel In Tokyo
- Kobe Luminarie Light Festival
- Lunch, Sweets, Coffee and Naramachi (Nara)
- Reflections on The Mountains of Central Japan
- 6 Great Spots to See Spectacular Autumn Leaves in Japan
- 2 Week Tour of Chugoku – 16 Day Itinerary
- Universal Studios Japan: The Ultimate Guide
Honshu YouTube Video Playlist
You can view our YouTube video playlist dedicated to Honshu HERE.
Honshu Travel Planning Services
Have some questions about exploring Honshu? Want help planning a Honshu itinerary? We offer a couple of services that you might like to take a look at.
Further short guides and checklists are available in our Store.
Narita Airport > Narita International Airport (NRT) in Tokyo
Haneda Airport > Tokyo International Airport (HND) in Tokyo
Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka
Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) in Nagoya
Osaka International Airport (ITM) in Itami, Osaka