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Chugoku

Trip Planner Asia  /  Japan  /  Chugoku
(32,000+ reviews from top 30 attractions)
Historic Sites Sightseeing Museums
The western portion of the island of Honshu, Chugoku features two distinct seacoasts. The area along the Seto Inland Sea represents one of Japan's most industrialized and urbanized sections, while the coastline lapped by the Sea of Japan remains more rural--as well as less touristy. Both areas offer plenty of vacation ideas in Chugoku, with pilgrimages to see over 30 historic temples among the most popular things to do here. The region also contains Hiroshima, which is not only the site of the infamous atomic bombing, but also a modern urban center with a busy nightlife and a cosmopolitan atmosphere that appeals to foreign tourists. Make your own Chugoku vacation itinerary, with a little help from those that know the place like the back of their hands, by using our Japan family vacation planner.
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Chugoku Holiday Planning Guide

The western portion of the island of Honshu, Chugoku features two distinct seacoasts. The area along the Seto Inland Sea represents one of Japan's most industrialized and urbanized sections, while the coastline lapped by the Sea of Japan remains more rural--as well as less touristy. Both areas offer plenty of vacation ideas in Chugoku, with pilgrimages to see over 30 historic temples among the most popular things to do here. The region also contains Hiroshima, which is not only the site of the infamous atomic bombing, but also a modern urban center with a busy nightlife and a cosmopolitan atmosphere that appeals to foreign tourists.

Places to Visit in Chugoku

Destinations in Chugoku

Hiroshima: With its tragic history left back in the past, Hiroshima now offers thriving nightlife, blooming gardens, and some of the best Chugoku sightseeing options.

Hatsukaichi: Wedged between the mountains and the sea, Hatsukaichi radiates history on every step--quaint markets, ancient temples, and tranquil shrines dot this little town, while the scenic outdoors provide a perfect setting for hiking and boating.

Matsue: Matsue's canals and river outlets surround numerous Shinto shrines and a historic castle--thanks to such an environment, boat tours thrive and tourists enjoy water activities.

Okayama: Edo-period architecture, tranquil landscape gardens and ponds, and a brooding castle that dominates the scenery help rank Okayama among top Chugoku attractions.

Izumo: Some of the oldest Shinto shrines and an exotic cuisine attract tourists to this pleasant town in the shadows of a mountain.

Popular Chugoku Tourist Attractions

Itsukushima Shrine: Observe a nine-centuries-old temple listed on the World Heritage List and known for its trademark red torii gate.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Honor the victims of the infamous bombing at a monument that features three museums providing insight into the tragic event.

Izumo-taisha: Although the ancient grounds radiate atmosphere of a bygone age, the shrine itself is renovated every couple of decades or so.

Hiroshima Castle: Visit the historically accurate replica of an iconic castle demolished in the 1945 Hiroshima bombing to witness the residence of Japanese feudal lords.

Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter: Witness the Edo-period architecture, stone bridges, and centuries-old villas that lie next to the river within this Chugoku attraction, a flourishing commercial district in the 17th century that now houses cafes and souvenir shops.

Korakuen Garden: Stroll through a garden dotted with ponds, streams, and sprawling lawns that stand as its prominent feature.

Tottori Sand Dunes: The largest sand dunes in Japan draw a number of tourist on a Chugoku vacation--you can explore by camel-riding tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, sandboarding, or paragliding.

Matsue Castle: One of a few remaining medieval wooden castles in Japan welcomes visitors to explore its sturdy walls, take a boat tour of the moat, and observe arms and artifacts kept at the onsite museum.

Children's Peace Monument: Pay homage to the youngest victims of the nuclear bombing and donate an origami paper crane, a symbolical representation of peace.

Kintai Bridge: Observe the Nishiki River from the top or enjoy the views of the local castle and monuments.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Chugoku

Cuisine of Chugoku

"Okonomiyaki" (savory pancakes) were a snack before World War II--in the post-war period, the cakes became a full dish with cabbage, eggs, seafood, and noodles. The layered form consists of flour batter, the main ingredients, and more flour batter on top, which is then flattened and served with a special sauce.

"Fugu" or puffer fish remains a world-famous dish served as sashimi, with thin layers of exceptionally delicate and delicious meat. As puffer fish can contain a severe toxin, a special license is required for cooks who prepare it in restaurants around Chugoku.

Oysters, called the "Milk of the Sea" in Japan, remain a prominent ingredient and dish. Try it during your Chugoku holiday, either raw, consumed with lemon and vinegar, or cooked in a soup.

Shopping in Chugoku

You can shop for all kinds of traditional souvenirs during a trip to Chugoku. Look for wooden rice spoons, intricately dyed clothing, washi paper, and sake--a drinkable gift or memento of your visit.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to Chugoku

Interesting Facts About Chugoku

* The Flame of Peace in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park has been burning since 1964--it commemorates the victims of the bombing and will be put out only when the world completely abandons nuclear weapons

* Around a third of the myths compiled in the Kojiki, Japan's oldest mythological chronicle, supposedly take place in the Izumo Region of Chugoku

* Gingko biloba was one of a few living things to survive the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945--the trees rejuvenated quickly and continue to thrive in this region

Holidays & Festivals in Chugoku

Kangensai festival takes place in early August at Itsukushima Shrine. Kangen means "wind and string instruments" in Japanese, so the festival is marked by traditional musical performances with flutes and koto, the national instrument of Japan.

Several traditional festival involving costumed dancers take place in August--these provide good insight into the local culture, so consider adding them to your Chugoku itinerary.

Useful Chugoku Travel Tips

Climate of Chugoku

Chugoku experiences four distinctive seasons.

Winter, which lasts from December to February, brings Siberian winds and heavy snowfall to the Sea of Japan side. The Pacific side gets sunnier weather, with mean temperature around 5 C (41 F).

Spring lasts between March and May and varies in temperature from 10 C to 20 C (50-68 F), with lots of sunshine in the later half of the season.

Summer (June-August) contains a rainy period through mid-July, when hot and humid weather prevails, with mean temperature of 26 C (78.8 F).

September brings autumn colors, gradually falling temperatures, and spells of rain.

Plan your Chugoku holiday for spring or summer, when you'll have plenty of pleasant days for exploring the great outdoors.

Transportation in Chugoku

Chugoku's public transportation relies on trains and, to a lesser degree, buses.

Domestic flights from most larger cities provide another option for traveling within and beyond the region. Ferry services link the islands, as well as the Asian mainland.