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Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan

Honshu

Visit Honshu

Introduction

The southern half of Japan’s main island – Honshu – is a region rich in heritage; sites range from geisha teahouses to impossibly tiered castles. However, led by Hiroshima’s optimism, the bright lights of its cities are firmly set on the future. 

Temples and gardens

As Japan’s cultural heart, visits to the region often start with Kyoto and its pretty neighbour, Nara. Serving as the Japanese capital for over a thousand years, Kyoto’s imperial legacy is realised in a vast array of Buddhist temples, grand palaces and gardens that range from intimate Zen squares to whole palatial fields. Spared from bombing in WWII due to its cultural significance, much of its 400 Shinto shrines remain intact and it’s no surprise that it features no fewer than 1,600 Buddhist temples. It’s a world away from next-door Osaka. Here, giant Ferris wheels are perched on top of department stores and neon signs cover entire building sides. The excesses don’t stop there with the city often known as the country’s gastronomic capital, famed for its canalside okonomiyaki restaurants that serve pancake pizzas. Remember to take some time to navigate the grounds and moats of Osaka Castle and summit one of the city’s towering skyscrapers.

Historic cities

Unlike Kyoto, the events of 6 August 1945 have had a profound effect on Hiroshima. However, after you’ve studied its superb Peace Museum you’ll find a city born anew with tree-lined avenues that bring you to art galleries and teahouse-speckled parks. Just outside, on the Seto Inland Sea, are a set of fractured islands that make for pretty cruises to famed floating shrines and hikes past deer and Buddhist temples. Elsewhere, there’s Hagi’s feudal era castle old town – complete with samurai residences – and Kurashiki’s merchant canals, lined with 250-year-old ryokans.

Special offers in Honshu

Best of Japan

16-day tailor-made journey from £4,490 pp incl. flights

Special
offer

Flight offer – Save up to £265 pp
Book by: 30 November 2018

Experience the best Japan has to offer on this 16-day tour, meandering through the modern hi-tech, natural beauty, and the ancient and traditional. Start your tour off in one of the most modern, efficient and largest cities in the world - Tokyo.

Japan’s Cultural & Coastal Discovery on Crystal Endeavor

19-day expedition voyage from £15,670 pp incl. flights

Special
cruise offer

Crystal Endeavor Launch Fares
Book by: 31 January 2019

This journey delves into the sacred sites of Japan – locales that have held the captivation of local residents and travelers for centuries. Visit temples, gardens and monumental heritage sites, remote islands of natural beauty and thriving cosmopolitan culture.

Top itineraries in Honshu

Essential Japan

11-day tailor-made journey from £2,585 pp incl. flights

Get a taste of all that this spectacular multi-faceted country has to offer, with private tours of Tokyo, traditional ryokan stays, trips on Japan's 200mph bullet train and visits to world famous temples.

Best of Japan

16-day tailor-made journey from £4,490 pp incl. flights

Special
offer

Flight offer – Save up to £265 pp
Book by: 30 November 2018

Experience the best Japan has to offer on this 16-day tour, meandering through the modern hi-tech, natural beauty, and the ancient and traditional. Start your tour off in one of the most modern, efficient and largest cities in the world - Tokyo.

Tokyo, Hakone and the Japanese Alps

17-day tailor-made journey from £5,195 pp incl. flights

Step out of Japan's capital and explore an alpine world of shrines and samurai frozen in time. Board the mighty bullet train, sleep in timber ryokan inns, stay in hot onsen springs and more on this tailor-made journey.

Cultural Highlights of Japan by Rail

17-day tailor-made rail-journey from £5,190 pp incl. flights

This curated rail journey brings you on bullet-train sprints between Japan’s rich past, taking in ancient castle towns and tea ceremonies in Kyoto. You’ll also enjoy private, tailor-made tours everywhere from Tokyo to Hiroshima as you stay in luxury hotels and traditional ryokan inns.

See all itinerary ideas

Top places to stay in Honshu

Park Hyatt, Tokyo

Contemporary hotel

This ‘Lost in Translation’ centrepiece towers over Shinjuku’s contagious energy and makes for luxury stays in the city centre.

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Contemporary hotel

Despite being the first luxury international hotel in Kyoto, fine Japanese dining and clean lines complemented by bonsai trees and tatami mats give this deluxe hotel a real sense of place.

Palace Hotel, Tokyo

Contemporary hotel

This is modern luxury set on the moat-shores of an imperial dynasty in central Tokyo.

Hakone Ginyu, Hakone

Accommodation

Spacious rooms with private baths and sweeping mountain views set the scene for this traditional Hakone ryokan

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Where to go in Honshu

Tokyo & Surrounds

You needn't travel far from Tokyo's neon-hazed streets to escape the world's ultimate metropolis and uncover a softer side to Japan. The quiet mountain town of Nikko, the seaside setting of tranquil Kamakura and the springtime blossoms of Mito's many plum trees are just some of the highlights.

Hakone (Mt Fuji)

Hakone is well loved for two attractions in particular - the iconic view of sacred, symmetrical Mount Fuji seen across Lake Ashi, and its high concentration of bubbling onsen (hot springs).

Kyoto

As the capital of Japan for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is filled with a wealth of cultural treasures - among them 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines.

Japan Alps

Japan's alpine backbone is all forested mountains and steaming onsen (hot springs) extending across much of central Honshu, a landscape that is particularly captivating in autumn when the koyo (colourful leaves) turn to shades of russet and gold.

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When to go to Honshu

Tokyo & Surrounds
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Honshu articles

  • British Airways announces new route to Osaka, Japan

    It’s been more than 20 years since the UK had a direct route to Japan’s second city, Osaka. But now, it's set to be easier than ever to reach as British Airways open up this route once again.

  • The ultimate Japanese rail journey

    It's not just the ruthless efficiency that makes the Japanese rail network so appealing. On Shikoku, express trains pass hilltop shrines and ancient burial grounds, while main-island Honshu sees routes skirt dramatic coastlines, wind through the Japanese Alps and circumnavigate great lakes.

  • Vintage travel posters that have stood the test of time

    We take a look at the spectacularly bold travel advertisements of the 1930s and their promise of golden temples in India, lakeside retreats in Italy and deers grazing outside of Japanese temples. You'll be surprised at how much holds true to this day.

  • Japan through another lens

    Our own Sales Manager, Hannah Busby recently travelled to Japan, and showed us a side of the country most people never get to see.

See all articles

Meet our Honshu experts

Speak to a tailor-made specialist on 020 7590 0689

Meet the team

Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0689 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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