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.

Central Japan Mountains The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Mountains of Central Japan

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.

Honshu Guide The Real Japan Rob Dyer


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)

Zuihoden Sendai The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Zuihoden, Sendai - in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region

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. Its 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. If you're interested to learn more about Northern Tohoku specifically, then I suggest reading my post: Hachimantai: Northern Tohoku’s Next Must-See Destination?

Towada-Hachimantai National Park

The northern Tohoku area is a haven for nature lovers and those keen to put the noise, bustle and crowds of the big cities behind them, and get closer to the land. In the heart of this region is the spectacular Towada-Hachimantai National Park.

It was designated national park status by the Japanese government in 1936, and offers boundless opportunities to connect with the mountainous interior landscape of this remote area.

Read my guide to the Towada-Hachimantai National Park here.

VIDEO: Honshu - Best of Nippon

Getting to Honshu

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

Kinosaki Onsen The Real Japan Rob Dyer

Kinosaki Onsen is in the Tajima region on the north coast of Hyogo Prefecture

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)

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.

Our Travel Planning Calls are ideal if you have a few unanswered questions about a trip you are planning, or would like feedback and suggestions on an itinerary you are building.  Learn More HERE.

If you'd rather hand over all the work for planning an entire trip to us then our Travel Planning Service is the perfect solution. Learn More HERE.

Further short guides and checklists are available in our Store.

Things To Do In Tokyo


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