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Kantō 関東
Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu (Giant Buddha), Kamakura.

Introduction

With 42 million inhabitants concentrated on 32,377 square km (122,518 sq mi), the flat Kantō plain is one of the most densely populated region on Earth (1,220 people/sq km, or 3.5 times Japan's average population density). The Kantō has a comparable land area to Belgium or the US State of Maryland, but is 4 times more populous than the former and 7 times more than the latter.

Kantō literally means "east of the barriers", as opposed to Kansai ("west of the barriers"), referring to the control barriers in place between the two regions during the Edo period.

The Kantō administrative region is made up of the Tōkyō metropolis (Tokyo-to) and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma.

Historically, the Kantō was a backwater until shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu established its government in Edo in 1603. Edo boomed and flourished as Japan's new political and economical centre, and the city grew to become the largest in the world by the end of the 18th century.

Nowadays, the Greater Tōkyō is still the largest metropolis in the world, with some 33,750,000 people living within 50 km of Nihombashi (Tōkyō's official centre). Other major cities included in this Metropolitan area are Yokohama, Kawasaki and Chiba. However, that does not include areas as far as the New Tōkyō International Airport in Narita (Chiba prefecture), some 80km from Tōkyō station.

Things to see

Tōkyō is the obvious first destination for most visitors. Be it for restaurants, electronic shops, skyscrapers, huge department stores, or Buddhist temples and traditional festivals, you will find it all there. The areas most frequented by tourists are Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Marunouchi, Ginza, Ueno, Asakusa and Odaiba.

The two most popular day trips from Tokyo are Yokohama, Nikkō, Kawagoe, and Kamakura. Yokohama is not just an extension of Tōkyō; it was Japan's main connection with the West in the 2nd half of the 19th century, whence innovations and new trends entered the country. Sheltered in the mountains, Nikkō is one of Japan's most important shrines, the flamboyant and colourful Tōshōgu, where the first shōgun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, is inhumed. Kawagoe is a well-preserved historic town dubbed "Little Edo", and famous for its kurazukuri (fire-proof storehouses). Kamakura is an 800 year-old jewel of ancient architecture and home to one of Japan's two Great Buddha statues (the other one being in Nara).

The iconic Mount Fuji lies 100 km west of Tōkyō. The nearby Hakone and Izu Peninsula are good places to view Mt Fuji by fair weather, but also to dip in one of the local onsen (hot springs).

Some less famous attractions can be well worth visiting too. The Japan Folk Village in Kawasaki is an open air museum featuring traditional country houses from all over Japan. It gives a preview of the World Heritage villages of Shirakawa-gō & Gokayama, which are too far away from Tōkyō for most visitors. All long-distance international flights arrive at Narita Airport, and yet few foreigners bother to visit the city of Narita and its enormous Narita-san temple, one of Japan's most influential.

Attractions

Attractions are listed by order of interest (although those with the same rating could be interchangeable).


Tokyo
Tokyo
best in Asia Overwhelming capital of Japan, Tokyo is the core of the most populous metropolis in the world. Bustling with energy, brimming with luxury departments stores, Tokyo is also regarded as the world's best city for eating, boasting three times more...Read more
Kamakura
Daibutsu, Kamakura
must-see Capital of the first shōgunate between 1192 and 1333, Kamakura is famous for its medieval temples and especially its Giant Buddha in bronze , one of the most recognisable Buddha statues in the world...Read more
Kawagoe
Kawagoe
outstanding Kawagoe is a historical castle town dating from the Edo era. Dubbed "little Edo", the city was selected as one of Japan's 100 most beautiful historical landscape. Its castle was built in 1457, and shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu subsequently...Read more
Mito
Kairaku-en Garden, Mito
very good Mito is home to the Kairaku-en, one of Japan's three finest gardens. Tokugawa Nariaki, a relative of the shōgun laid the 18-acre garden in 1842. The best season to view it is when plum trees are blossoming, which coincides roughly with...Read more
Disneyland & Disney Sea
Tokyo Disney Sea
very good Tokyo Disneyland is a perfect replica of its American sister. The park opened on 15 April 1983 and has since welcomed well over 100 million visitors. Maihama is also home to Tokyo Disney Sea and the Ikspiari shopping mall...Read more
Yokohama
Yokohama
must-see Yokohama (pop. 3,654,000) is Japan's second largest city. Home to Japan's highest skyscraper, one of the largest Chinatown and a vast Western neighbourhood, Yokohama is too often overlooked by tourists on the way from...Read more
Narita
Narita-san Shinshō-ji Temple
outstanding Known to everyone going to Japan as the location of the Tokyo International Airport, Narita is often bypassed by visitors heading straight for Tokyo, therefore missing one of Japan's greatest temple complex: the Narita-san Shinshō-ji...Read more
Chichibu-Tama National Park
Kakuenpou in autumn (photo by Captain76 - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
outstanding The Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park spreads over 1,250 square kilometers in the mountainous and woody region at the junction of Tōkyō-to, Saitama, Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures. The park has 20 peaks of over 2,000 metres...Read more
Mount Takao
Temple on top of Mount Takao (photo by Arashiyama - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good Tokyo residents in need of fresh air and greenery can spend half a day climbing Mt Takao-san (599m), in the hilly Western reaches of Tokyo-to. The place is especially popular during the autumn leaves season, usually around the second...Read more
Chiba
Makuhari, Chiba
good Chiba is the 13th largest Japanese city and the capital of Chiba prefecture. Chiba city is effectively an eastern suburb of Tokyo. Its main business district in Makuhari has a a large convention center hosting high-technology events...Read more
Nikkō
Kawagoe
must-see Nikkō is one of Japan's most popular tourist destination. It is home to the country's most sumptuous shrine, the lavishly decorated Tōshō-gū, where Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868) reposes...Read more
Hakone
Hakone
outstanding Hakone is one of the most popular tourist destination for day trips or 2-day breaks from Tokyo. It is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is a prime location to contemplate the majestic Mount Fuji...Read more
Japan Folk Village
Japan Folk Village
very good The Nihon Minka-en, or Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum, is an attempt to recreate 24 historical buildings from 15 different prefectures, dating from the late 17th to the early 20th century. Most houses have dirt floor with an open hearth...Read more
Lake Chuzenji
Lake Chuzenji (photo by uraomote_yamaneko - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
very good Located in the Nikkō National Park, Lake Chūzenji is a popular scenic spot during the autumn leaves season. The lake is 161m deep and was created by an eruption of Mount Nantai (2482m), a sacred volcano which god is enshrined in...Read more

Wa-pedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

good : moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
very good : recommended - to visit if you have time
outstanding : outstanding place - really deserves to be seen
must-see : best of the country - shouldn't be missed
best in Europe : one of the world's great cities (beyond rating)

Natural attractions

good : interesting
very good : recommended
outstanding : highly recommended
must-see : world-class
※ : UNESCO World Heritage site UNESCO







               

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