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The Best Japan Tours & Tips According To Local Guides

Akane Nagata

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Akane Nagata

Last updated : Jun 20, 202411 min read

Travel Tips

Japan is a country with lots of sightseeing spots and tours to offer. Each area has its unique characteristics, so when you visit, you should try to see as much as you can by participating in some Japan tours. The areas of Japan from north to south are Hokkaido, the Tohoku area, the Kanto area, the Chubu area, Kansai area, the Chugoku area, Shikoku, and the Kyushu/Okinawa area.


These 8 areas can be visited either by airplane or the “Shinkansen” bullet train. If you want to see all 8 areas, your trip will need to be at least 2 weeks. However, since not a lot of people can afford that long of a vacation, choosing 2 or 3 areas that you want to see in particular is a good idea.


A good way to tour the country is with a local guide. The guides at GoWithGuide reside all over the country and create their own tours for their local area. This makes them the perfect local expert to ask questions to. You can’t expect a guide living in Tokyo to be as knowledgeable about, for example, Hiroshima, as a guide actually living in Hiroshima. Local guides are obviously the ones who would know best, so having them suggest a tour itinerary is also a good way to book a tour in Japan.


You can also take a look at the guides’ profile page when choosing a guide or tour of Japan.


13 Best Japan Tours 

Below are the 13 best areas to go sightseeing on tours in Japan. They are lined up in order from north to south. However, there are so many other cities to go sightseeing in other than the 13 places below, so make sure to take a look at other cities or prefectures before deciding on a tour.



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Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture of Japan and the largest island other than the main island of Japan. It’s famous for its delicious seafood. And it has the largest area of farmland in Japan, meaning that they produce a large portion of the crops and dairy food consumed in Japan. The city of Sapporo is the capital of the prefecture and the most urban area. You’ll be able to tour the city using public transportation. As for seeing other cities in Hokkaido, like the beautiful hills of Furano or going to the famous Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, you’ll need to either rent a car or go on a bus tour as it’s far away.


Otaru and Hakodate are also sightseeing areas that can be visited by a 30 minute or 4-hour train ride, respectively. From the main island of Japan, it’s possible to visit Hokkaido by airplane, landing at Shin-Chitose Airport an hour away from Sapporo city, or by Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo arriving at its southernmost tip, Shin-Hakodate station. 



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The Tohoku region is the northern part of the main island of Japan. It’s made up of 6 large prefectures: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima. The Shinkansen (bullet train) runs up the middle of these preferences, making it possible to visit them without getting on an airplane. Each prefecture has its unique characteristics and are great places to visit hot springs. Some of the popular hot springs in this region are Ginzan hot springs in Yamagata pref.


They are also the areas with the largest amount of snowfall in Japan. In places like Sukayu hotsprings in Aomori prefecture, you’ll be able to see humongous walls of snow that make a bus look small. This region is rich in nature and the Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage area lies in the mountainous area in Aomori and Akita prefecture.


Kanto Region

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The Kanto region is where Tokyo is. It’s made up of Tokyo, Kanagawa Pref., Chiba Pref., Saitama Pref., Gunma Pref., Tochigi Pref., and Ibaraki Pref. There are many sightseeing spots in the Kanto region, the central area of Japan. The city of Tokyo has of course many highlights, but one hour away, there’s also the large city of Yokohama to see. Then there are destinations for day trips like Hakone, Kamakura, Nikko, and Kawagoe. And there are the theme parks Disneyland and DisneySea to visit.


If you only have two or three days to spend in Japan, I would recommend staying in the Kanto region rather than spend hours trying to get to another area of Japan. I promise you won’t be bored. And since Haneda and Narita airport service this Kanto area, it’s the easiest area to reach from abroad.



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The Chubu area is just below the Kanto region. It has prefectures that border both the Pacific Ocean on the east side and the Sea of Japan on the west side. The famous Mount Fuji is located here, one side in Yamanashi Pref. And the other in Shizuoka Pref. Shizuoka is known for its green tea plantations, and the other prefecture bordering the Pacific Ocean, Aichi Pref., is known as the location of the headquarters of the Toyota car company. In the middle are Nagano and Gifu prefectures, which are full of nature and are relaxing places to spend the hot Japan summers.


The World Heritage Site, Shirakawago, is located there. Then, there are the three prefectures bordering the rough Sea of Japan, Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui. Kanazawa city in Ishikawa prefecture has become a popular sightseeing spot after the Shinkansen reached there from Tokyo. Toyama and Fukui are not yet known too much to foreign visitors, but they are also beautiful places off the beaten path.



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The Kansai area is the central area in the west of Japan. It must be the next popular area after Tokyo because it has the large city of Osaka there as well as the historical city of Kyoto. The other prefectures other than Kyoto and Osaka are Mie, Shiga, Nara, Hyogo, and Wakayama prefectures.


The temples and shrines of Kyoto and the delicious food of the Osaka area make the trip well worth it. The Kansai International Airport services this area, so there are flights from abroad that land directly here instead of at Narita or Haneda airport in the Kanto region. If you’re going to see Tokyo before going to see Kyoto and Osaka, the Shinkansen or bullet train will take you there in 2–3 hours.



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The most famous sightseeing spot in the Chugoku region is Hiroshima. It’s known worldwide as the place where the atomic bomb was released during World War II. Now you can visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum to learn about the devastation and restoration of the city. The other prefectures in this region are Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, and Yamaguchi.


Izumo Taisha Shrine is another famous sightseeing spot. It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s a beautiful shrine where it’s said that all the gods gather once a year. And if you like sushi, you should definitely go to Yamaguchi prefecture to taste the delicious puffer fish or “fugu” in Japanese.



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Shikoku is a large island with four prefectures; Ehime, Kagawa, Tokushima, and Kochi. You can get to this island either by train or bus over the huge bridge or by airplane. The Shimanami Bridge is a great bridge that connects the small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, which is between the main island of Japan and Shikoku. Cycling on this bridge is an exhilarating experience as you’ll be cycling dozens of meters over the sea and the islands, and the panoramic view is amazing. You should also try “udon”, a type of Japanese noodle, when you visit Kagawa. It’s so famous that the Kagawa’s official nickname is the Udon Prefecture.


Kyushu / Okinawa

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Lastly, the large island of Kyushu and the tropical island of Okinawa. Kyushu, like Shikoku, is a large island right next to the main island of Japan. It is made up of 7 prefectures; Saga, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. Each prefecture has its own unique characteristics, but the most popular sightseeing spots are the following. Nagasaki city is another victim of the atomic bomb. However, it’s also known as a place where foreign culture integrated itself into Japan. You can visit the historical houses of the first Dutch settlers allowed to live in Japan, the beautiful Christian churches on the hillsides of the city, and the bustling Chinatown. Kyushu is also famous for its hotsprings like Beppu hotsprings and Ibusuki hot springs.


Okinawa is like a different country. It has its own unique culture, as it actually was a different country until 1879. The tropical weather makes it the perfect spot to enjoy swimming at the beaches during summer vacation, but beware of typhoon season.


Traveling around the country can be done either by airplane or by train, or both. If you’re planning to use the Shinkansen (bullet train) to travel between two or three regions, I recommend getting the Japan Rail Pass. Buying the pass may be cheaper than buying the regular tickets. However, there are some restrictions to buying the pass.


You’ll most likely be using the local transportation system during your stay in the various areas of Japan. In the cities, there will be a highly developed train system, so most of your transportation will probably be by train. However, you also have the option of hiring a private car and driver for your tour or just to get around. This is an option that people with disabilities or elderly people who aren’t able to walk for hours on end find to be very helpful.


Walking for 10 minutes or more from one place to another is quite normal for the average Japanese person, but for people from a country where they drive a car for even short distances, walking around all day may be quite tiring. Make sure to schedule in breaks and places to take a load off so that you can thoroughly enjoy your sightseeing experience in Japan.

Written by Akane Nagata

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GoWithGuide’s writers are passionate travel specialists sharing unique tips and essential information for global explorers.

Gifu Tour Guide - Akiko W.

Akiko W.

5.00 / 5
(8 reviews)

Hello! My name is Akiko from Gifu prefecture. I am a National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter. I like going out with my family, talking with my friends over coffee at a cozy cafe, reading books, baking bread and cake when I have time. I passed the national tour guide test in 2017 and have worked as a guide since then. I have guided in Gifu city, Seki city, Takayama city, Shirakawago , Mino city and Nagoya city. I have lived in Gifu for more than forty years. Gifu prefecture is rich in nature so you can enjoy the rural atmosphere. Gifu city has a beautiful river 'Nagara river' and Mt.Kinka which has Gifu castle on the top. You can go up the mountain on foot or use a ropeway. The view from Gifu castle is so fantastic. At the foot of the mountain , there are many places to visit such as parks, a temple having a big image of Buddha, and a street preserving the historic atmosphere. At Nagara River, you can enjoy seeing a traditional way of fishing ‘cormorant fishing’ which is thought to have started 1300 years ago. Many cafes have unique service called 'morning service' in Gifu along with Aichi In the morning (until about ten thirty or eleven) when you order a cup of tea or coffee, they serve toast and salad ! Near Gifu park , you can find a nice Japanese style cafe where you enjoy good coffee and seeing a Japanese style garden. Seki city is a small city but so famous for its cutlery. At Japanese sword museum in Seki, you can see authentic Japanese swords! Mino city next to Seki city is well known for its hand made Japanese paper 'Hon minoshi' designated as intangible cultural asset by UNESCO . Until recently it was not easy to guide guests because of COVID-19 pandemic; however the situation is getting better. Some strict rules about COVID-19 have been lifted. Please visit Gifu. I am looking forward to seeing you. Please feel free to ask me when you need information about Gifu. Thank you for reading my introduction.                                                                                                                                 

Fukuoka Tour Guide - Kazue I.

Kazue I.

5.00 / 5
(19 reviews)

Hi! I am Kazue. I am from Fukuoka and live in the central city. I spent almost 20 years traveling around the world as a cabin attendant. Meeting different people, different cultures and eating local food were best things in my career. This experience definitely widened my perspective and will help me in some way when I work as a guide. Since I spent half my life outside of Japan, I noticed our culture and traditions are very unique and became more interested in historical sites in Japan. For my personal life, I am a mom of twins. It is still a hard work but I am enjoying a lot with them. We take them around Kyushu whenever possible for their fun and experience. We all love traveling after all. I am looking forward to showing you around our hometown soon!                                                                                                                                  

Shiga Tour Guide - Koichi W.

Koichi W.

4.95 / 5
(61 reviews)

Hi! I'm Koichi. I was born in Osaka, I studied in Kyoto when I was a university student. Now I live in Shiga next to Kyoto. I am a national government licensed tour guide. I have been guiding about 160 groups over the past twelve months. I usually guide my customers mainly in Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Shiga by public transportation systems. Well, I am curious about Japanese history, especially the history of Japan's ancient times since I was raised next to the world biggest mausoleum of the ancient Emperor called "Nintoku" in Sakai city Osaka which has just become one of the world cultural heritage sites. I dug out some ancient earthen ware vessels around there when I was a primary school student like the adventure archaeologist “Indiana Jones" (It’s our secret!!). That was my hobby. Now, one of my hobbies is outdoor activities such as mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and others. So I would like to take you to some good places where you can enjoy Japanese unique nature. I love to guide foreign visitors from all over the world. I think it is my calling or heavenly given job. Let's go and enjoy together! I hope to see you soon.                                                                                                                                 

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