Travel to Kansai Region

Kansai Region, also commonly known as Kinki encompasses the Osaka Plain and consists of seven prefectures. (Shiga, Mie, Wakayama, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo) It used to be the political and cultural center of Japan for many centuries and includes the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. In the area where the capital existed for about 1,500 years, you can experience the history and culture of Japan, including historic buildings such as shrines and temples, Maiko (an apprentice geisha in Kyoto and Western Japan) and traditional Japanese cuisine.

There are many things to do in the Kansai region. Experience fantastic nightlife, peaceful temples and shrines, and soul-searching pilgrimages. Kansai is Japan's spiritual and cultural capital, shaped by towering Osaka and Himeji castles, Zen gardens and arduous journeys to enlightenment. The nation's ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara are filled with cultural and historical sites, while Koyasan in Wakayama has been a religious destination for centuries. Just a short distance away, you can revel in the raucous nightlife of Osaka's entertainment districts and take in panoramic views of the Kobe cityscape.

Himeji Castle

One of Japan’s most iconic and beautiful castle complexes, Himeji Castle remains as impressive as it was when it was first built over 400 years ago. Affectionately known as the White Heron Castle because its elegant shape and color are said to resemble such a bird spreading its wings, this hilltop castle overlooking Himeji City in Hyogo Prefecture became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1993.Although notable for its distinctive white exterior and aesthetic design, this architectural marvel was first and foremost a military structure. The complex as it stands today was constructed over nine years from 1601 by master castle builder Ikeda Terumasa. Himeji Castle’s main tower has six floors above ground (although only five are visible from the outside) and one below, and is connected to three smaller towers by roofed passageways. The ingenious layout including a maze of winding paths and gates that slow down, expose, and confuse would-be invaders combined with earthen walls featuring small openings through which defenders could fire guns and shoot arrows to create a highly advanced and imposing military fortress. Despite being built with defense in mind, Himeji Castle has never seen battle. The signature white plaster covering the walls and even the joints between the roof tiles also bolstered its ability to withstand fire and snowstorms, so the main tower, passages, gates, walls and other major structures have survived virtually unscathed since the castle was constructed. A five-year restoration project completed in 2015 has ensured Himeji Castle’s splendor will remain for many generations to come. The castle can be viewed year-round but is widely considered to be at its most spectacular in spring when more than 1,000 cherry trees on its grounds come into bloom.

Todaiji Temple - Great Buddha Statue

Todaiji Temple houses Japan’s largest ancient Buddha statue in one of the world’s largest wooden buildings, but they are not the only massive structures in this historically significant complex. The Nandaimon Gate, rebuilt in 1203, stands over 25 meters tall and is the largest temple entrance gate in the country, and the huge bell dating from the time of Todaiji’s founding in the eighth century weighs over 26 tons. Construction of the bronze Great Buddha statue started in 745 in accordance with the wishes of Emperor Shomu (701-756), who aimed to spread Buddhism across the country with an extensive network of temples. Hopes were high that the new statue would help drive off a smallpox plague that had been sweeping through Japan. The current statue is 15 meters high, having lost its head at one point in an earthquake. The original 16-meter statue was completed in 752, and it is said that 2.6 million people contributed in some way to its construction. The Great Buddha Hall has been destroyed by fire twice. The wooden hall which is over 50 meters long, 57 meters wide and 48 meters high was last rebuilt in 1709, albeit narrower than the original. One of the hall’s pillars has a hole near its base that is about the size of the Great Buddha’s nostril. It is said that any person who can squeeze through this opening will have good health, although only energetic children are usually able to wriggle through. The Shosoin Repository on the Todaiji grounds stores many items and artifacts thought to date from the eighth century, including objects that belonged to Emperor Shomu. The elevated repository has kept these treasures in remarkably good condition (and out of reach of the unusually tame deer from the adjacent Nara Park, who often wander through the temple grounds), but the building can only be viewed from the outside.

 Mozu-Furuichi Mounded Tombs (Sakai city, Osaka)

Congratulations World Heritage Registration for "Mozu-Furuichi Mounded Tombs"!!