Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo, Wakayama, Shiga – all of these prefectures make up the Kansai region.When in Osaka, which is the town where “people eat until they drop”, make sure to try the cheap and delicious foods there, such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, kushikatsu, udon, sushi, and yakiniku. There are also lots of things you can do there, including strolling around Osaka Castle and cruising by Dotonbori, the area lined with giant signboards.Kyoto is one of Japan’s most historical areas, filled with nostalgic townscapes and tradition. Kinkaku-ji Temple, Ryoan-ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Nijo Castle, To-ji Temple, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Gion, Arashiyama – there’s no end to the number of tourist spots that this prefecture holds! Why not wear a kimono or create something to commemorate your trip at a traditional crafts workshop?Nara was actually the capital of Japan over 1300 years ago, long before Kyoto became the capital. There are lots of spiritual places like shrines and temples to visit: Todai-ji Temple, where the Great Buddha statue is worshipped, Nara Park – home of Kasuga Taisha, Horyu-ji Temple – known as the world’s oldest wooden structure, and Ishibutai Burial Mound. You can even feed the wild deer at Nara Park, considered to be divine familiars, some senbei!Hyogo Prefecture is where you’ll find Kobe – known for its Kobe beef – and Himeji Castle, which still has its original castletower that was built over 400 years ago. It is recommended to visit the hot spring areas there, such as Arima Onsen, which is near the prefecture capital, and the beautiful Kinosaki Onsen.Since Wakayama is in the southern part of the Kansai region, it has a relatively temperate climate, which is why it is able to produce lots of fruits – for example, citruses like mandarins and Hassaku oranges, as well as peaches. It is especially famous for its plums, so try some foods or drinks made out of plums there, such as plum juice and umeboshi (pickled dried plums). Shirahama – home to Shirarahama Beach with its beautiful, white, and shallow shores – is where you’ll find Adventure World, which combines a zoo, aquarium, and amusement park all into one, as well as hot springs, making it popular with couples and families. At Adventure World, you’ll be able to see five pandas (as of June 2018) merrily playing!Shiga is next to Kyoto. It is where you can find Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, which you can cruise on when the weather’s nice. Ride a bicycle along its shores and feel the pleasant wind on your face! If you’re looking for food, definitely try one of Japan’s three best Wagyu brands, Omi beef! Maybe you could get on a rowboat and explore the old market town of Omihachiman or try some Omi beef sukiyaki?You can easily get to any part of Kansai by boarding trains like JR, Hankyu, Keihan, and Nankai. There are also great-value passes, so definitely take the opportunity to explore all of this region!
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