Okinawa is Japan's southernmost prefecture and is located over 600 km south of the island of Kyushu. Okinawa consists of approx. 50 islands. Some of them are developed with modern resorts, others are remote islands that boast untouched beautiful natural landscapes. Visitors can enjoy distinctive Okinawan culture in food, craft, music and architecture which originated from the Ryukyu Kingdom which ruled the islands until the late 19th century.
Fukuoka is the biggest city on Kyushu Island in Southern Japan. It is an important harbor and a hub for Japan travel. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), Fukuoka Castle was the largest castle in Kyushu. It was torn down, but its castle walls remain in Maizuru Park, a popular cherry blossom spot in the spring. Fukuoka is famous in Japan for its culinary culture and cuisine, its many food stalls (yatai) and Hakata Ramen - thin noodles in pork-based tonkotsu soup. Visit the Yanagibashi Rengo Ichiba (fish market) and the yatai in the Nakasu area to try Fukuokas’s best foods.
Seki City is located in Gifu Prefecture, in the center of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Seki is known for its master sword makers. Skilled craftsmen have been creating Japanese swords, knives, and tools of the highest quality here for over 800 years. At Hamonoya Sanshu / Seki Cutlery Museum you can learn about the process of forging blades and buy locally produced knives. To explore Seki’s beautiful natural surroundings, take a walk in the mountains outside Seki up to Nichiryubuji Temple. Or visit the Kabusugi Giant Cedar Forest with old trees that look like the enchanted world of Japanese anime.
Hakone is a beautiful nature spot, close enough to the big cities for a day trip from Tokyo or Yokohama. The area is known for its views of Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi, and onsen hot springs. The Torii gate built in the water of the lake belongs to Hakone Shrine hidden in the forest. Hakone’s mountain scenery also serves as background for the art exhibited at the Hakone Open-Air Museum. And in Owakudani Valley volcanic activity brings hot springs, bubbling mud, and steam to the surface. Getting around is part of the fun. Catch different views from Hakone Ropeway or the boats crossing Lake Ashi.