Kansai, the former capital of Japan, has forever remained at the center of the country’s historical development. A trip to the region offers the visitor a glimpse into a 1,400 year heritage rich in art, history and culture. This guide book presents an exploration of 12 areas of cultural significance and includes five World Heritage Sites, a journey to Japan’s spiritual heartland and seven spectacular scenic views. By exploring these areas you’ll gain a unique insight into the spirituality, beauty and aesthetics of the Japanese way of life. Visit Kansai, and experience the true soul of Japan.
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Renowned as one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan, Amanohashidate is a natural 3.6km sandbar on the Tango Peninsula that when viewed upside down between your legs, resembles a bridge to heaven. Website
Hike up, bike up,or take the cable car – the views from the top of Mt.Rokko across Osaka Bay are spectacular any time of day, but are truly magical after dark and locally known as the 10 Million Dollar View. Website
These ancient, naturally occurring dunes along the coast of the Sea of Japan are breathtaking for their sheer size alone. They are Japan’s only large scale dune system, and part of the San’in Kaigan UNESCO Global Geopark. Website
The tidal whirlpools in the Naruto Strait between Naruto and Awaji Island are some of the most famous in the world. During the spring tides, some of the whirlpools can reach 20m across. Website
A beautiful wetland area in Fukui prefecture, consisting of five interconnected lakes, each with its own unique water qualities. The area is surrounded by some 80,000 plum trees that blossom magnificently in the early spring.
A picuresque castle commanding views over Lake Biwa in Shiga. Designated a National Treasure, Hikone Castle was constructed in the 1600s by the li clan. Website
Spanning the rugged Sea of Japan coast between Tottori and Northern Kyoto, this UNESCO Global Geopark is of significant geological importance since it holds the key to understanding the formation of the Sea of Japan, some 20 million years ago. Website
A total of 17 temples, shrines and gardens are included in Kyoto’s World Heritage listing. From the exquisite golden pavilion at Kinkakuji Temple to the tranquility of the Zen garden at Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto is a treasure trove of ancient history.
Nara was the ancient capital of Japan between 710 to 784 and is home to some of the must-see UNESCO World Heritages Sites in Kansai, including Kofukuji Temple, Horyuji Temple and Todaiji Temple, home to the magnificent 15m high seated bronze Buddha.
With a major restoration project completed in 2015, Himeji Castle has been restored to its former, brilliant white glory. Also known as the White Egret Castle due to its passing resemblance to a bird taking flight, Himeji Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. Website
Horyuji Temple, founded in 607 by Prince Shotoku, is acknowledged as the oldest existing wooden structure in the world. Its numerous structures are registered as a World Heritage Site, including the 32m-high five story pagoda, the main hall built from 28 massive wooden pillars and its central gate. Website
The Kii Mountains have been a mecca for pilgrims since the Heian-era and include the three sacred mountains of Yoshino-Omine, in Nara Prefecture; Koyasan and Kumano in Wakayama Prefecture. Website