An honorable mention should go to Chiba Prefecture, which jumped a whole nine places, from 21st place to 12th place; scoring particularly highly amongst those in their 20s (a fourfold increase from last year at 6.4{4e908c29df01d999f087e4f922633998e2ded1c72f05851cd6252034960daee5}). Chiba is known for its surfing spots and as it was recently host to major outdoor sporting events, this could explain why.

Just what makes Hokkaido, Kyoto, and Okinawa so attractive? Here we’ll give a quick run-down of some of their attractive features. Let us know by sharing if you’ve been to one of them and what you found the best!

Hokkaido is home to it all: wonderful food, scenery and culture. As the natural beauty of Hokkaido has been touted far and wide, we thought we would highlight the local people who carefully preserved the land since they came: the indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu.

In recent years, the government has been trying to bring back the Ainu old culture to our modern day society, and in 2020 opened the ‘Upopoy’ National Ainu Museum and Park. Visitors to Upopoy are treated to performances and tours of replica Ainu houses, given the chance to try out Ainu instruments for themselves and even wear traditional Ainu dress. A must-visit for culture vultures and history buffs.

Noboribetsu Onsen Hot Springs (Image: PIXTA)

Another highlight is the Hokkaido hot springsHot spring resorts in Hokkaido are vast and varied, from the vastness of Noboribetsu to the mountain-top retreat of Asahidake, from which Hokkaido’s autumn leaves can be enjoyed in all their beauty. In Japan, a great hot spring is something which is more than worth travelling for.

Hokkaido hot springs offer something for everyone, from outdoor mixed bathing overlooking a lake, to the easily accessible, free footbaths of Oyunuma in the middle of a beautiful forest. The water is varied across Hokkaido, so you’ll be able to try them all, from the salt-type waters through to smelly, nutrient-rich sulfurous types. Bathe all those cares and troubles away!

2: Kyoto

Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto (Image: PIXTA)

The rich culture and beautiful old buildings of Kyoto ensure its place in the top five each year. The capital of Japan for over 1000 years, before Tokyo took its place in 1868, Kyoto is the place to go for a glimpse into the older way of Japanese life. For visitors to Kyoto, trying Japanese ‘washoku’ food and taking part in a temple tour is a must.

The shrines of Kyoto are some of the most famous in Japan, and include Kiyomizu-dera Temple, known for its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The shrine itself is over 1200 years old, and when fall arrives, thousands of visitors flock to catch a glimpse of the colorful leaves which appear as if by magic. At just over 120 years old, Heian-Jingu Shrine is one of the newer Kyoto temples, and cuts a striking silhouette on the landscape.

Kyoto is the home of traditional Japanese foods, from Kyoto Kaiseki (very minimalistic, very traditional Japanese course meal) to Kyoto Herring soba to matcha parfait. To impress friends, family or crushes, seek out the Kyoto foods using seasonal produce, delicate flavors and meticulous presentation. With a large amount of fine dining establishments and Michelin stars to boot, Kyoto is a foodie’s paradise.

3: Okinawa

Okinawa Main Street (Image: PIXTA)

Okinawa is a group of small tropical islands at the southernmost tip of Japan, off the main Japanese island. Head here for sun, sand and sea; for those who fancy a relaxing holiday sipping cocktails by the beach or drinking with the locals in one of the downtown izakayas; Okinawa is the place.

The Okinawan people are famous for their chilled, laid-back lifestyle and the mainland is known for its American military base. In fact, Okinawa makes for a completely different world than anywhere on the mainland of Japan.

In Okinawa you’ll find American bars and produce alongside Okinawan foods such as sea grapes and Goya Champuru (bitter melon and egg stir fry); locals sitting on the streets discussing life and fishing, wonderful fresh fish and a whole host of ‘beach bum’ type souvenirs.

Lesser-Ranked Prefectures

Fukuroda Falls – Ibaraki (Image: PIXTA)

Let’s look at the ones that didn’t top the list this year. The RBS is, of course, about those places which are most attractive to tourism already, but what if you fancy heading off the beaten track?

We’ve highlighted the best points of Ibaraki, Saga, and Saitama. If you’re looking to avoid crowds and head somewhere that only the locals know, these are the ones to check.

47: Ibaraki

Rokkakudo in Kitaibaraki (Image: PIXTA)

Less than 1.5 hours away from central Tokyo by car or train, Ibaraki is a great choice for those who fancy a short trip to sample some of the regional delicacies and head sightseeing.

With flowers in bloom all year round, the natural colors of Ibaraki are splendid. From the beautiful springtime blue nemophila flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park to the summertime irises in the floral grounds of Suigo Itako Park iris garden. Majestic red, orange and yellow leaves cover the region like a fiery blanket to welcome in the fall, and Ibaraki’s famous plum trees are in full bloom in the late winter, making Ibaraki the perfect destination for flower lovers.

For culture lovers, Mito, Ibaraki’s largest city, has a famed modern art museum, which hosts changing exhibitions all year round. Nearby is a towering monument, the Mito Art Tower, part of the industrial art complex which was built in 1990 and looks down upon the city. And architecture lovers will enjoy the Rokkakudo, a hexagonal retreat along the Izura coast in Kitaibaraki.

In the north-western town of Daigo lies one of Japan’s top three most beautiful waterfalls, Fukuroda Falls. At an impressive 120m high and 73m wide, head here to catch the water cascading over the rocks, the soothing sounds discernible even from far away. Waterfall lovers can then check out Tsukimachi Waterfall, a smaller, pensive waterfall close to Fukuroda Falls.

46: Saga

Saga Balloon Fiesta (Image: PIXTA)

Tucked in the northwestern tip of Kyushu, Saga is a prefecture that is close to the sea and in the past was the base for many merchants due to its close proximity to the mainland and easy accessibility.

Its access to the sea means a lot of fresh fish, so Saga Prefecture is a fantastic area for seafood lovers. Head to towns nearby the Sea of Japan or Ariake Sea for the freshest of the fresh.

Saga is also home to the towns of Imari and Arita, both famed for their distinctive, sought-after ceramic styles, making Saga a great tip for pottery lovers. In Imari and Arita, one can find many different pottery shops, kilns and more, all featuring white clay in bright colors that the regional pottery is known for.

In Saga itself, check out the Kitagata Shiki-no-Oka Park which has impressive views of the nearby mountains and Rokkaku River, perfect for children to play or adults to head to the hills to enjoy some tranquil scenery. Saga is also home to the annual Saga Balloon Fiesta in late October/early November – an impressive sight to enjoy!

45: Saitama

Kawagoe, Saitama (Image: PIXTA)

Saitama is a prefecture whose name is familiar to many although its local specialties are often overlooked. Yet, Saitama has something to please the whole family, from exciting theme parks to grand shrines to awe-inspiring nature.

The town of Kawagoe is a wonderful shrine to Edo-Period Japan, similar to the very popular Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture. Kawagoe is perfect for those who want the quaint Edo Period old-town feel. With street stalls and many wooden shops and old buildings, Kawagoe is almost like stepping back in time.

Saitama also has Seibuen Amusement Park, where visitors can experience classic rides such as a Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, along with live street performances. Saitama is also home to the only Moominvalley Park outside of Finland. Here, visitors can enjoy seeing spots from the Moomin books, such as the lighthouse that appears in “Moominpappa at Sea,” and sample Moomin-inspired foods.

What Would Be Your Choice?

Do you agree with the results of the survey? Do you think Hokkaido deserves the top place or would you put another prefecture up top? Have you ever tried Yubari melon? What about visiting Ibaraki? Do you have any recommendations?

Head over to our socials to respond and comment your thoughts!

Source: Regional Brand Survey 2021 via PR Times


Via Live Japan


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