After School Activities (from Art Classes to Farmstays to Rock-climbing to Zoo-trips)
L Parks & Gardens
A Science Museums 'n Such (Dinosaur Parks, Astronomy Observatories, etc.)
X Educational Field Trips (Aquariums & Sea Parks; Beaches & Coasts; Caves, etc.)

If you are looking for classes, activities or spaces and places to suit your kids' needs and interests, below is a VERY LONG list of afterschool activities, camps, workshops, "events & happenings" all over Japan that you can check out.

After School Activities


Adventure, afterschool, animals, art

Adventure clubs. The International Adventure Club organizes events ranging for trips to aquariums to winter alpine mountaineering. If someone wants to go somewhere, they organize the trip by means of a members email bulletin board. Membership is 5,000 yen a year -- that includes all family members for one payment of 5,000 yen! Activities range throughout Japan but the bulk lean in favor of the Tokyo area. Meetings are once a month in Shibuya with usually interesting slide presentations on traveling and outdoor skills. There are skill level ratings for the trips.

Japan Adventures
has scheduled walks and hikes (currently to Okutama and Hokkaido) but can organize group trips too.

Yokohama Sportsland is an adventure park featuring over 50 obstacles, offering a physical outlet for your children. Four stages plus "Tom Sawyer's Forest of Adventure" the park presents a variety of combinations of wood, rope, and metal that challenge strength, balance and flexibility. In August you can pick grapes in the park's vineyard. BBQ pits and showers available. Access: 20 mins from Den'en-toshi Line's Tsukushino Stn. Adult admission 800 yen; jr-hi school student 700 yen and elem. student 500 yen Hrs: 9:00-18:00

Kodomo no kuni is another adventure park Phone: 045-961-2111 Fax: 045-962-1366 Access: Kodomo no Kuni Sta. (Kodomo no Kuni Line). Large park with jungle gym, woods, and pond-rafting activities.

Afterschool academic programmes e.g. International Secondary School (ISS) where my sons are attending school is offering afterschool programmes that are open to all students living in TOkyo. The school has students from Grade 6 - Grade 12. Afterschool programmes in music, fine arts, performing arts and sport, etc., are offered. The fees per semester are 36,000 yen. The school is open to offering programmes that are of interest to homeschoolers. More information on their courses is available from their website. - Reviewed by Jill.

Ark (Animal Refuge Kansai) Shelter
in Osaka and Tokyo. ARK operates a hotline that offers advice and where people can report a situation in which an animal needs help. ARK also has a shelter that currently houses 300 dogs, 100 cats, several rabbits, chickens, and even a silver fox and a pig. The shelter is looking for people to help take care of the animals by taking them for walks and cleaning their cages. If you are interested in volunteering you can contact ARK by phone at: 072-737-0721, email: The organization has recently started an outreach project in Tokyo. You can offer you help by emailing

RBR Art Workshops and classes. Website in English and Japanese URL: or Beyond the very excellent core of art workshops, they have expanded to include Music, Dance and Performing Arts Workshops and Classes.
RBR The New Center for Creative Arts 1-5-15 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku (just across from the Korean Embassy).
Phone: 03-54-75-6171 Fax: 5420-6230. Email: Right Brain, so-called because The Right Brain Research Art Center (RBR) Kristin Newton, has long offered Tokyoites of all ages a chance to access the creative power of the right brain hemisphere. RBR has just moved into a fresh, spacious facility in Moto Azabu, and features classes in all sorts of studio arts, as well as calligraphy, etching, jewelry-making, and sculpting. Pace method music instruction, improvisation workshops, and even a Daddy and Me class have been scheduled as past summer activities, many conducted in both English and Japanese. Comments from our e-community member: The new creative arts center in Azabu Jyuban last week. Wow! the facility is great. It is big and well laid out with both an art room and a music room and an art room for children. It is also encouraging to see that they are starting to offer a wider range of arts than previously. Dave Gutteridge who offered the improvisation classes for older children is going to be offering the improvisation classes through this new center and he is offering a class in drawing cartoons. Location: 1-5-15 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku; Phone: 03-5484-3719 or 03-5475-6171; The RBR facility is right across from the Korean Embassy and a mere 7 minutes from Azabu Juban station.

Art Workshops and Classes in the student's home. Note: Only in the Tokyo area. 1 hr class for children: 1-2 hrs for adults: group lessons at least 2 people. Any day of the week between 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 pm except Sun, Mon, Tues. Painting medium for children: watercolour / charcoal, crayons / graphite. For further details, please contact maurizio directly via email:

Book activity clubs, bikes.

Bunko ICBA (International Children's Bunko Association) ICBA is a voluntary association that aims to foster international understanding in children with international experience or backgrounds through reading good books in their original language. Bunko means storage of books, so each ICBA affiliate features a lending library of children's books and consists of reading groups (including teaching reading groups) and activities connected with language, games, songs, stories, camping, and parties. At present about 50 IC Bunko are operating in Japan and overseas. We have a private lending library of some 300 children's books in English. 2 affiliates are listed below. For more info on locations of ICBA around Japan, phone: 03-3496-8688

Koala Bunko : Meetings are held every other Wednesday, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm at Yon-chu Gakushu Center Building in Musashino. DUring the first hour, the Book & Lending Library is open, and tables for Book Reports, Reading Aloud, Q&As and Books-on-Tape are staffed by parent volunteers. After the hour, children listen to a story read by one of the native-English speaking parents. A group game played in English follows, with the last half hour reserved for snack and free play for the children, and a meeting for parents. Ina ddition to regular meetings, special events are held throughout the year. Membership is not restricted to Musashino residents, but there is a small monthly membership fee for all.

Winnie the Pooh Bunko. Meetings are held every Wednesday from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Mikajima Public Hall (Kominkan) in Tokorozawa City, Saitama. Next station is Sayamagaoka. Buses are infrequent but can do pick ups. Membership: 1,000 yen per month per family. 3 years - 6th grade. (about 300 books in stock) Phone: Lindsay Nojiri.

Biblioteka Library Club
cordially invites you to our Wednesday afternoons of readings, songs, craft projects and friendship in English. Location: Yoyogi station, Tokyo 1 minute walk from the station, even on little legs. Members are invited to choose from our selection of over 500 English books for children, which range from books for newborns through chapter books. Our activities target preschoolers, but others are welcome. Please visit us, new members and friends of the library are always welcome. Become a member with a small yearly fee. We gather: Every Wed from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Come and join us!

Bilingual Kids Club. "I want to introduce you to my club in Shibuya-ku area. I have 2 English-Japanese bilingual children who go to a Japanese public school. I think Japanese public school's working pretty good for my kids, but I want them to keep up their ENGLISH education too. I decided to make a club for bilingual children to help them improve both English and Japanese. I met a good teacher who was a 1st grade teacher in Canada, and she is willing to teach bilingual children. I was a bilingual tutor at a US public shcoool for 3 years and a JUKU teacher for 8 years. We offer international school type education after school and JAPANESE class for children who are learning Japanese as a second language. As a club, we like to have a play group for little ones and tea party for moms and etc. We are are planning to do summer program and activities using English and Japanese. If you are interested, please email me: ".

Bikes (scroll down to see also Mountain Biking below):

BHB Home Page (A personal page edited by a small cycling group operating from Tokyo. While somewhat personal it has some good resources for cyclist.)
Bike Friday
Folding Bicycles

International Mountain Bicycling Association

Japan Cycling Navigatoran invaluable resource for anyone who wants to cycle long distances or to travel Japan by bicycle. A comprehensive resource.
Japan Mountain Bike Association.

Mountain Bike Resource
Tokyo Cycling (All-round cycling resource)

Canoeing, cooking & crafts & clubs, calligraphy, cloissone, culture:

Canoeing & Kayaking courses may be had at these facilities in the Kanto area:
Wiz Nature, Tokyo; Gravity, Tokyo; Nagatoro Canoe School, Saitama; Canoe Resort Tamayodo, Saitama; Sky Asa, Shizuoka; Ucdi Paddling School,Nagano; C&N Yamanakako Canoe School, Yamanashi; Camp Minoishi & Sagamihara Lake Canoe School, Kanagawa; Guranpore-kanu-Sentaa, Gunma; Tochigi Kayak Center, Tochigi; Canoe Center, Gunma; Nakayoshi Camp Grando, ; Lakewalk, Gunma; Sunday Planning, Nagano

Calligraphy (Western) and Bookbinding. Joei Western Calligraphy Bookbinding offers the service at the instructor's home. Phone: 090-9957-6761. Email: Review: Joei was a very dear friend of mine. She has been doing somewonderful work as a calligrapher. She is great with little children and has a little boy herself. - Connie"
Brush-writing with Takahashi Chieko, graduate of Nara Univ of Education. Group or private lessons for all ages. Phone: 06-6714-7653.

- Earth Kids Space has kids' activities in 21 locations. A variety of hands-on activities, games, stories, exchanges with members of the local community, interactive workshops, sports and cultural activities are availabe, the aims of which are to offer a place for kids of different age groups to gather afterschool and on weekends. For locations refer to this page. Send an email to e-contacts for a list of activities and events available. Upon enquiry, the GOI Foundation which sponsors the Space replied, "Our English website is under construction, but if you read Japanese you can get more info at the website. This gives you contact info of 21 locations. And you can access to weblog pages of each location at

Computer classes (beginners) for foreigners. If you can read hiragana and katakana, you can attend. Cost for 10 classes: 5,000 yen. Child-care available. Various venues at Yumeooka Office Tower (at Konan Intl Lounge 13F, or 9F) beside Kamioka Stn. Phone: 045-848-0990

International Kids Club. "We are organizing an NPO group to support International children and their families in Tokyo. We are thinking to do afterschool programmes for International kids who go to Japanese school and parents oreinted clubs such as Young Scientists Club and Drama Club in English. Homeschoolers are welcome too. If you are interested, please contact me by email. We need members!

Cloissone workshops are sometimes held in English at a cloissone workshop in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto at the Namikawa Cloissone Museum of Kyoto, which was formerly a residence of Yasuyuki Namikawa, a noted cloisoone artist active in the Meiji and Taisho eras. Participants can view the museum collection and take part in a workshop to make a key ring, pendant or brooch with their own work of cloissone.

Crafts Workshops at Fujino
, Kanagawa Fujino features an artist and atelier's village where workshops are housed in the sunny lovely Italian style villa atmosphere.

Craft workshop for children using natural wood, Nagano prefecture. Cost 4,000 yen. Details and access info here.

Craft workshops at Rosemary Park, Chiba. Lots of crafts and activities for kids especially during summer holidays.

Craft workshops in Yoshinogawa-city, Tokushima at Fuji Paper Mills Awagami Factory featuring the making of washi paper using kozo bark and Mitsumata trees.

Craft at the Paper Museum in Kita-ward, Tokyo. Try their workshops on washi paper-making. For location and details, see Paper Museum website The museum is said to have the one of the most comprehensive origami collections in the world.

Craft workshops at Takuminosato in Gunma prefecture. The facility is located in natural furusato surroundings and the workshops focus on Japanese traditions such as soba-making, bamboo dragonfly toys, etc. 25 kinds of craft-making activities are available for visitors. Phone: 0278-64-2210.

Kawaguchiko Herb Museum. Studio workshops at Lake Kawaguchi on herb culture, how to make herbal wreaths in 30 mins from 350 yen. Phone: 0555-72-3082

Washi crafts: Try the Sakurahorikiri centre. If your kids are into crafts, this is a great place to go and good for wet weather. Each day they teach certain crafts for the cost of a small kit, and their range is great. I noticed also a bark-like wooden lamp shade kit that older kids might be interested in. A design is punched out so that light shines through...a do-able project and fun. They also have mail order.

The ORIGIN Program is a hands-on experience of traditional Japanese arts, taught in such a way that participants can appreciate the spiritual wisdom underlying the arts. By practicing a selection of core arts in succession, students are able to look past the details of each art form and begin to see what is common to them all. Through this program, students experience the origins of Japanese culture - hence the name "ORIGIN" Program.

Cultural Arts courses in Kyoto: The core curriculum of the ORIGIN program consists of (half-day/one-day/two-days or longer) tailored-to-client cultural arts courses in tea ceremony (sado); Noh Drama Dance(shimai); Calligraphy(shodo); Martial Arts (including waraku); Kyogen; Other courses also provided include: Flower Arrangement(kado); Zen Meditation; aizome indigo textile dyeing, and an introduction to ceramics. The ORIGIN traditional Japanese arts program has been especially designed by Alex Kerr and Iori Co. and is taught at Iori’s Sujiya-cho Kyoto townhouse (machiya). The old warehouse behind the machiya has been converted into an arts practice dojo, complete with practice Noh stage – the only one of its kind in Kyoto. Despite the rich program content and the attention paid to performing these arts correctly along traditional guidelines, these courses are aimed at beginners. Phone: 075-352-0211 Main Office: 144-6, Sujiya-cho, Takatsuji-agaru, Tominokoji-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8061 Main website

Private instruction in Japanese cooking, clay craft, screen covering, washi craft, kimekomi dolls and mini kimono. A lady from Chiba Prefecture who instructs privately in English or Japanese - Reiko Takahashi. She lives in Chiba, phone: 0471-85-9589 but comes into Tokyo frequently. She also teaches Japanese cooking, clay craft, screen covering, washi craft, kimekomi dolls and mini kimono.

Silkworm crafts. Bryan Whitehead, a Canadian silkworm cultivator who has woven and dyed his own silk for more than 10 years sometimes holds indigo-themed textile basic-level workshops that provide participants with an opportunity to experience shibori (tie-dyeing), stencil dyeing and silk cocoon reeling. Students can learn how to make tenugui towels and traditional Japanese bags. Email Whitehead for brochures or make enquiries at phone/fax: 042-686-6757. Each course costs about 5,000 yen, including materials.

Dance/ Movement.

Actus Ballet Studio. Instructor Helen Price, graduate National Ballet School of Canada. 158, Kashimada, Saiwai-ku Kawasaki / Other location is at Yokohama's Landmark Tower Phone / Fax: 0422-47-4664 Read a review here.

Ana's School of Dance. The International Dance School in Tokyo, Green House, 5-2-9 Denenchofu, Ota-ku,Tokyo 145; phone: 3721-5495; fax, 3721-7429. Email International Dance for more information.

Austrian Ballet Company: Ballet Classes offered for ages 10 onwards. Directors: Christian Martinu / Rio Martinu / Rio Mitani Ballet. Languages spoken English/German/French/some Japanese Phone: 03-5420-4765 Location: Austrian Ballet Company - Tokyo (ABC Tokyo) Higashi Kasai, Edogawa-ku, Kasai Station, (Tozai Line) Review: "Rio and Christian are very dedicated artists and excellent teachers. They exhibit patience and concern for each student." - Phyllis Papa, Director, Atlantic Contemporary.

Fun Kids' Ballet offers unique ballet classes and creative dance in a fun environment, unleashing your child's grace, poise and self expression. Private groups in the afternoons in central locations in Tokyo. From 3 years old. Phone / Fax: 042-383-5370.

IDA International Dance Academy offers various classes in various locations around Japan with some classes in English. You have to hunt around on the website a little for the English directions and schedules.

The Jenny Hosmer Ballet School, 1-4-1 Oji, Kita-ku, Tokyo 114-0002; Phone/fax, 3927-2772.

Steve Tomlinson's Dance/Movement Classes by (tap/hip hop/jazz/song&dance/salsa/dance movement/dance choreography. Private lessons or at locations: *Sho Kosugi Institute, Tokyo Senzoku Station (Tokyo Meguro Line); *International Dance Academy (IDA) Tokyo Gakugeidaigaku Studio (Toyoko Line) *Yamato International School, Tokyo Shinagawa (JR Yamanote Line) Phone: 090-9957-6761 Email:

Rainbow School of the Arts is located in Tohoku New Town on the Denentoshi Line. For more information, please contact Diana Ishiyama at 2-7-9 Tsumura, Machida-shi, Tokyo; phone/fax, (0427) 99-6579.

A review of various schools in Tokyo is found at Tokyo Weekender

Choshi Ocean Research Center in Chiba conducts dolphin watching activities between April and September. Phone: 0479-24-8870.

Earthquake Learning Center helps you learn of the reality of the damage that is unleashed by major earthquakes and how to prevent earthquake damage and to make countermeasures. There is also a corner for learning how to put out fires. Earthquake Learning Center at Meguro Disaster Prevention Center 1-19-7 Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Phone: 03-5723-8517. Access: “Gakugei Daigaku” Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line-15 minutes walk. Open 9:00am-5:00 pm closed Wed, 2nd Thurs.

Factories, farms.

Suggested field trips to factories that welcome visitors:

Kamoboko factory in Odawara; Chateraise Hakushuu-kojyo (dairy products factory) in Yamanashi Phone: 0551-35-4611; Yamasa Soya Sauce Factory, Chiba Phone: 0479-22-9809; Takano Foods Natto(processed beans) factory puts on a play for kids at its museum and explains the history and secrets behind natto making, Ibaraki Phone: 0120-58-7010; Chiba Yakult Factory, Chiba Phone: 043-432-8960; Morinaga Factory, Tokyo Phone: 0120-369-744; ANA Kitai-kojyou-kengaku-tsua (Guided tour of ANA facilities), Tokyo (must write in formally).

Farms open to visitors:

Atsumi-en in Yamanashi allows the collecting of potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes and others.

Chyouei-bokujyou-ando-buratto-hausu. Phone: 04992-2-9233 for enquiries and directions. Surrounded by sea, this farm on Oshima island features grassy pastures with 100 heads of cattle put to pasture. All manner of dairy products may be sampled.

Farm stays for urban children in Mikohara district of Hakui, Ishikawa prefecture. The homestays are based on a traditional coming-of-age ritual that was started by court nobles but popularized by samurai. The man called an eboshi-oya or cap-father would in a ceremony put a similar hat on the head of the young man, the eboshi-go or cap-child, who was coming of age. With the ceremony, the two would form a special bond for life. Accommodation usually in modernized farmhouses costs 5,000 yen per day per person and lodgers will help with rice planting and harvesting and making soba. There are about 170 farms in the area, some recruited by the agriculture, forestry and fisheries section of the Hakui city government whom you should contact if interested: 0767-22-7138.

Farm visit with a difference! The Iwamura Kazuo Ehon-no-Oka Art Museum is known as a place where children can experience nature first hand in the surrounding copses, rice paddies, and other types of farmland. The museum on a hilltop overlooks the Nakagawa river and includes 4 hectares of fields and 15 cows. Iwamura gives talks every other Sunday reads his books and talks about frogs and dragonflies and potatoes or other such topics about Japanese country life. Sort of the male Japanese version of the English Tasha Tudor. 3097 Koisago, Nakagawa-machi, Nasu-gun, Tochigi Phone: 0287-92-5514. Email The author is good friends with Eric Carle and they made a joint picture book publication "Where are you going? To see my friend!"

Bouzuyama-kuraingarten (Kleingarten) in Azumino, Nagano applies a very interesting Dutch concept of farming for the people and community. Access info. Many activities open to visitors.

Chiba Chuo-Kankou Noen
Free entry. Phone: 043-231-2554. 5 pannets of sweet potatoes at 700 yen; chestnuts at 1,000 yen per kg; pears 600 yen per kg; grapes 300-2,000 yen. BBQ grill restaurant on the premises. Phone: 043-231-2554

Green Bokujo, Gunma Butter-making and cow-milking lessons, cattle petting and feeding activities. Phone: 0279-24-5335

Heda Tamago Mura (Heda Egg Farm) in Izu, has 1,200 chickens and offers sale of the freshest eggs only. Specialty are its pale grass-colored "emerald eggs". Visitors can also look forward to grape-picking (mid Augus); apple-picking (apple-picking); mikan oranges (December) and mid-March onwards - shiitake picking. Phone: 0558-94-7111

Ibaraki's Potiron-no-mori Park is where your family can feed sheep, goats ride horses, try your hand at bread/butter/sausage-making. Phone: 029-892-3911

(Ikaho Green Farm) in Ikaho. Sheep, lambs and goats and shaggy ponies at pasture in 40,000 m2 of land. Pony rides at 400 yen, cow-milking. Home-made dairy products and specialty ice-cream for sampling and sale. Entrance: 1,000 yen per adult and 600 yen per child.

Inawashiro Midori-no-mura is an agricultural farm that welcomes children to pick potatoes from August 15th onwards.

Jogasaki Orenji-Mura (Jogasaki Orange Village) at Izu. Other from July to September, there are always oranges to be enjoyed. Facilities include kitchen, bus, onsen and restaurant. Phone: 0557-51-7800 for info and access info.

Kaneda Kajyuen in Tochigi. Pear picking in August and September. BBQ under the pear trees. Take home 350 yen-500 yen per kg (depending on type) of pear. Phone: 028-677-1429

Karuizawa's farms: Karuizawa Mountain Farm has vegetable farm and sheep. Vegetable farming or picking, sheep-walking and butter-making activities are recommended. Entrance: 300 yen for all. 300 yen for 30 mins to "walk the sheep". Phone: 0279-80-5151 for directions and enquiries. / Miruku-Mura is a small farm with dairy animals. Milk factory and dairy fresh cream-making facilities may be viewed. BBQ facilities in summer. Call in advance as activities are seasonal. Phone: 0279-84-4252.

Makiba-Koen near Mt Yatsugatake, Yamanashi prefecture, which is a 10 hectare farm with ponies, lambs and goats for petting. Soft-cream at 300 yen. Phone: 0551-38-0220.

Makaino Bokujo in Shizuoka is a farm where kids can enjoy horse-riding, sheep-shearing, milking cows and harvesting activities of the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal flower hanami (sakura-sunflowers-hydrangeas-cosmos) are also a reason for visiting this farm.

Mother Farm (Mazar Bokujo), Chiba One of those mega-farms that can accommodate thousands of tourists in one day. (there's one in Hokkaido too) Phone: 0439-37-3211 Sheep shows, straw-berry picking in greenhouses, milking and feeding activities, pony rides. 1,000,000 trees on the farm make for good hanami-flower-viewing especially sakura trees and rape-blossoms in the spring. Entry at 1,500 yen (adult) /800 yen (child).

Namiai-mura Tonkira-noen in Nagano is a vegetable farm that allows you to pick vegetables. Phone: 0265-47-2040

Nasu Kogen Minamigaoka Bokujo
in Nasu, Tochigi Try your hand at ice-cream-making. Phone: 0287-76-2150

Narita Bokujo in Chiba is famous for its 700,000 giant sunflowers on display between mid July to mid August. Kids can also milk cows, try their hand at making bread and other activities.

Ooza Bokujo
in Nikko. This farm is 77 times the size of Tokyo Dome, and boasts of 400 heads of Holstein cows amidst charming wild highland scenery. Lambs and goats for petting. Facilties include an athletics and cycling course (bikes available for rental) and restaurants (Genghis Khan grilled lamb specialty) Phone: 0288-97-1116

Rindo Lake Family Farm in the Nasu Highlands, is a new Swiss-style mega farm facility beside a lake (with steam-paddle boat rides) to rival the established Mother Farms. Dairy products like ice cream and chesse are their specialty but also sausage-making. The usual farm-petting and milking activities also available. Kabuto-mushi or beetle catching (July-August) and fishing activities for kids as well. Phone: 0287-76-3111 for info.

Seisen Ryo, Kiyosato, Yamanashi prefecture is a charming dairy facility with American style barn and silo, in a pastoral setting. Bread, milk, soft cream, jam and other farm products are very popular. Phone: 0551-48-2111

Stock Farm Sai no Kuni Fureai Bokujo, Saitama Phone: 0493-82-1500 Access: 90-minute walk from Byoin-mae bus stop. (catch the bus bound for Chichibu via Misawa at Oyahana Sta. on the Chichibu Line) / 90-minute walk from Hashiba bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Shiro-ishi Shako at Ogawa-machi Sta. on the Tobu-Tojo or Hacchiko Lines.
2949-1 Sakamoto, Higashi-Chichibu-mura Closed Mondays

Takuminosato Fruit Garden
in Gunma allows visitors to pick peaches, plums, grapes.

Volunteer on this farm that allows visitors to work. More info at the website.

Fine Arts & Music. International Secondary School (ISS) is offering after school programs in music, fine arts, performing arts and sport that are open to all students living in Tokyo. The school has students from Grade 6 through Grade 12. See the ISS website for info. ISS is also offering a "Collision Course" which aims to provide an experiential environment for young people to explore music technology and experimental animation techniques. It begins on the 21st of Sept and will be conducted on Tues and Thurs evenings. More info here.

Fishing Sports:

Fujinoengeirandoyugiyoen Kanagawa. Free entry. BBQ facilities. To buy niji fish 1 kg costs 2,000 yen; yatai 1 kg: 600 yen; Hayato-gawako Kusai-masu-Tsuriba (Hayato River National Mass Fishing Center), Kanagawa Phone: 042-785-0704 and also Hatajyukuseiryu-masutsuri;Ibaraki Fishing Center Phone:0494-54-0078.; Kosuge Fishing Place in Yamanashi;Kannogawa Kyampu Masu Tsuriba Phone: 042-787-2116 River fishing in the Tanzawa, restaurant, onsen available; Kujuukuri Umi Tsuri Sentaa (Kujuukuri Sea Fishing Center) Sea fishing costs - adult: 10,000 yen; child: 5,000 yen; Nishi-Tanzawa Fishing Center, Kanagawa Phone: 0465-78-3143; Ohtaba Tsuriba in Okutama, Tokyo; Teganuma fuissingu sentaa (Teganuma Fishing Center), Chiba Fishing square ponds, not scenic; Tomiyama in Chiba allows visitors to help fishermen on the shore pull in the fish nets with their catches. Yatarougawamasu Tsuriba, Kanagawa Phone: 046-288-1500 Fishing at a picturesque river with rapids; For more on fishing for families with kids contact the following facilities: Shizenkyuyoumura-sakanen in Tokyo; Tochigi; Suzono-f-park in Shizuoka; Yuzawa; Yamane no sato in Yamanashi;

For a memorable fishing experience, go out deep-sea fishing on the Kimimaru fishing boat and stay at the Kimimaru minshuku in Asagi, Chiba. On their shorefront, watch them bring in and handle their haul of awabi, wakame, squids and other seafood - some of this fresh catch will be cooked in the kitchen for the guests. They have their own specialist ama women shellfish(awabi) divers. Access info and phone: 0470-68-3094. For kids, the sea is 30 seconds away, a big plus!

Yamatomaru in Chiba offers visitors the chance to participate in fishermen's activities on the fisherman's wharf such as clearing the nets of their early morning's fish catch. Visitors get to see the sushi house and fishmongers come and buy the catch.

Furusato stays. Stay at any one of 5 villas in Okayama for the true Japanese country experience. Each villa is a traditional house set in a traditional farming village. Reserve through Okayama International Center which is a couple minutes' walk from Okayama Station: 086-256-2535 or fax 086-256-2576. Villas have fully equipped kitchens, washing machines and futons/western-style bed-and-breakfast style rooms. 3,000 yen per night and 2,500 yen for exchange-students. Notes: Takebe Villa is located near the centre; Fukiya on the western side, Hattoji on the eastern and Shiraishi and Ushimado are near the Seto Inland Sea. Book Fukiya for furusato "hometown" feeling; Shiraishi Island and Ushimado for seaside villagelife with emerald-waters, rocky beaches, gentle breezes and a mild Mediterranean climate (Ushimado famous for Bizen pottery, is called the "Aegean of the Orient" and has olive gardens manufacturing cooling oil to chocolate to soao and other olive-based products). The most remote is Shiraishi Villa which is only accessible by ferry to Shiraishi Island but it has one of the newest villas and stunning sea views, moderately difficult hiking trails that wind up steep hills.

Water Tours. An intriguing notion mostly unknown to foreigners is the Japanese concept of water tours. Visit Global Waters K.K's website (complete with access and other info) that recommends the top 100 best water tours as ranked by the Ministry of Environment.

Golf, gymnastics.

Golf lessons in English offered by Bob White Phone contact: 0468-72-2086. Bob lives in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. Bob White has been in and around golf courses for 47 years playing, caddying and teaching. "I came up with the idea of teaching golf here to Japanese enthusiasts so that players could play abroad with ease. But I'm more than happy to teach native English speakers too."

Yokohama Bahn Golf Course features a child-friendly nine-hole flat course and is home to Japan's only officially-certifedi "Eternit" course for players over elementary school age. The course has tubes, mazes, loops and a spot for launching your ball up a ramp into a basket. Location: Roof of World Porters Access: 10 minute walk from Sakuragicho Station or 6 minutes walk from the Minatomirai Line's Banshamachi Station. 10:30 - 19:00 hours. Phone: 045-222-2480

Glass-making workshop for kids in Kawasaki city, Kanagawa prefecture. Beautifully coloured glass crafts. Details here. Cost for 30 mins 3,000 yen. Inquiries: 044-798-2447

Glass making and much more at the Garasunosato, a whole theme park and museum in Hiroshima based on the glass industry - no need to go to Venice! there's a model of the government building in Murano(glass-making capital of the west), Venice. Workshops, et. Access map

Brain Gym
educational kinesiology work of Paul and Gail Dennison. Their work has concentrated on the importance of movement in the learning process and they have over the years developed specific movements and training programs that frequently make an enormous difference in learning. They teach the basic Brain Gym course which is a terrific opportunity for homeschoolers as well as for teachers. The instructor is Lynedah Vartell who recently moved here from Beijing but who is from Vancouver originally. She has been working with Brain Gym since 1986 and teaching it since 1989. For more information on brain gym please see their website: To know more about the field, refer to a book by Carla Hannaford called Smart Moves or Enki Homeschooling Programme. Email Lynedah or call her at 090-1778-2550. The cost of the program which requires 24 hours of instruction and which gives you Brain Gym 101 Certification is US$500.

ICG (Instruction Guidance Care) Gymnastics Phone: 03-3440-0384 Email:

Hanami(flower-viewing), hands-on activities and projects, hot-air balloons.

Hanami (flower-viewing) is a seasonal Japanese traditional activity. If you want to know where to go, consult the Travel Bureau's flower-calendar which lists the best locations for viewing different kinds of flowers through the year.

Pegasus Project welcomes people from the larger Kansai community to join in their adventure. Please come and share your knowledge with us. Past hands-on projects have included a dolphin research project and a Lake Biwa fall project. Please contact Kyoto International School for more information about the programme or read this write-up Phone: 075-451-1022 or email the school.

***Sonyexplorascience Museum the Museum of emerging technologies is one of the most popular hands-on places to visit for homeschooling families and just about anybody who's seeking good educational fun. Featured in local "odekako" magazines.

Toyota Mega Web features a museum that has many interesting exhibits including simulations, particularly for older kids as kids 13 and up can drive an electric car ("E-com") all over this place. Featured in local "odekako" magazines.

Hot-air ballooning can be carried out at these places: Kannonyama Family Park in Gunma offers hot-air ballooning at 1,000 yen (adult) and 500 yen (children)./ Senbonmatsu Bokujo's Horai-no-Nasu Cost: 1,500 yen(adults) 1,000 yen (child)/ Shirauma Alps Sports Club in Nagano offers hot-air balloon trials at 2,100 yen (adults) and 1,500 yen (upwards) below 3 yrs -free. You get a good view of the northern alps, weather-permitting.

Look under L for Lego hands-on activities.

Hiking -
Online hiking / trekking Guides include Outdoorjapan’s websitethat has brief info on hiking attractions, spots around Japan and how to get there./ KAMP-High website, an online information source for mountain enthusiasts in Japan and Asia / Lonely Planet's "Hiking in Japan" and Paul Hunt's "Hiking in Japan: An Adventurer's Guide to the Mountain Trails"

Horse-riding - scroll down and look under Riding section.

Ice or figure skating. Inline skating.

Ice figure skating instruction offered by former-skating champion. Coaching for students (children and adults) at all levels. Lessons in English or Japanese, email Audrey.

Ice skating venues include:
- Edogawa-ku Sportsland Phone: 03-3677-1711 The rink is located in Eastern Tokyo along on the Edogawa River. Access via Toei Shinjuku subway line to Shinozaki station and then take one of the three buses that will take you straight to the Sportsland.
- Hakone Prince Hotel. 144 Moto-hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa 250-0592. Phone: 0460-3-111 (A small skating rink is set up in the carpark of the hotel. Seasonal only.
- Takadanobaba, Tokyo "Citizen's" ice-skating rink. 4-29-27 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku, Tokyo 129-0075 (7 mins walk from Takadanobaba Station) Phone: 03-3371-0910.
- Seibu Yuenchi, a rink located within an amusement park Location: 5 min walk fro Seibu-yuenchi station on the Seibu Shinjuku Line which starts from Kokubunji station. Phone: 0429-22-1371
- Ice Skating rink in Makomanai Park's indoor athletics stadium.
- Ice Skating rink in the Hama Bowl facility near Yokohama Station
- Kanagawa Skate Rink Access: 5 min walk from JR Higashi Kanagawa Station Phone: 045-671-3286 Free skating lessons held here from time to time.
- Kokuritsu Yoyogi ice skating rink in Harajuku

Inline Skating. Tokyo Inline Skating Guide. See here for locations. / Musashino Skate-board Park in West Tokyo. Free Skate Park

Entomology col Nawa Insects Museum at Tajimi 2, Omiya-cho, Tajimi Phone: 0572-630038 A leading insect museum in Japan, which opened in 1919. About 18,000 species are exhibited here. You can see Gifu butterflies, the oldest species in Japan as well as rare species from abroad in the beautiful Western-style building.
Fabre Konchukan (Fabre Insect Museum) is a new facility in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo.
In the spirit of Fabre who wrote the book "Fabre Book of Insects" for children, the museum aspires to keep the world of children and insects connected.
Gunma Konchu-no-mori, in Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0277-74-6441 Guided nature tours in the forest through 4 different ecosystems: mountain-forest orwood-pond-agricultural field
Ishikawa Fureai Insect Museum Access: Tsurugi Phone: 0761-92-3417 Entry fee: adults 400yen; 18 and under 200 yen.
Tama Insect Ecological Land is an insect park that is part of Tama Zoo.
Beetle-catching (kabuto/kuwagata) from mid July to mid-August Fuji at Subaru Land Doggy Park, Fujikawaguchiko. Yamanashi prefecture Phone: 0555-72-229 / Shirakabako Family Land, Shinshu, part of the Shirakaba Resort has has 200,000 lilies on display during July to August. There is a Kabutomushi-kuwagata World, a beetle park for kids as well. / Beetle catching at Saku Parada forest and beetle studies programme at Saku Parada Kabuto-mushi Dome, see the Parada website for info and access. Sakudaira, Nagano Phone: 0267-67-8100

Japanese studies.

Bancho Japanese Learning Center See here for details.

Go classes in Japanese (or English) offered by Minato-ku Fureai Kan at very reasonable cost. Classes on Tues night, Wed afternoon, and Saturday morning. Phone: 03 5475 1305

Global Kids Academy
Foreign kids can go to GKA in Moto-Azabu for Japanese lessons. They offer Japanese lessons for speakers of any level so those who have arrived in japan recently may benefit. GKA also offers bilingual afterschool and summer programmes. GKA uses the concept of immersion English and Immersion Japanese.

Livelogue Academy
classroom is in a Japanese house and you can come to class with your children. We have many toys, books and bedding for little children. We also arrange classes for children with various activities, such as games, crafts and music. Contact Rie Ariga, a professionsal Japanese language teacher. Location is in Hiro-o, Shibuya-ku. Phone: 03-3406-6398 or email

NPO Chikkyu-Gakko Japanese Class Pirvate lesson 3,000 yen per 1.5 hrs (12,000 yen per mth) or 4,000 yen per 2 hrs (16,000 yen per mth) Phone: 090-254687 Email

Judo classes at Saitama Prefectural Budokan (also offering Kyudo, Kendo classes) in Saitama Access: 10-minute walk from the west exit of Urawa Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line. Phone: 048-777-2400

Karate, kendo, kyudo.

Karate dojos:
- Kyokushin Karate (orginated by Oyama sensei who lived from 1923-1994) Location: 3-3-9 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0021. Ikebukuro station west exit (Metropolitan side) Phone: 03-3988-0748 or email Between 4,000-5,000 yen for students.
- Maki dogo so-honbu is in Nishi-azabu. Walking distance from Nogizaka station wihch is on the Chiyoda line and Yogyogi-Uehara. Foreign students are welcome.
- Daikanyama Karate School, Omotesando Class; Kagurazaka; Tsukishima; Daikanyama Class Email Phone: 03-3489-7553 Trial lesson 1,000 yen

Kendo. The Kyumeikan Dojo, Itabashi-ward, has many people from different countries in adult class, and in fact the Kids instructor is a Spanish gentleman. The Kancho-Sensei (the head instructor) is a Japanese gentleman, but he speaks fluent English and help out (instruct) non-Japanese speaking students. The Dojo is located in the North Western part of Tokyo in Itabashi-ku, but it is very close to Nerima-ku (near Hikarigaoka). It is about 15 min from Ikebukuro on Subway Yurakucho Line. Classes are held Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, and
kids class starts around 5pm. They have adult class on the same days from 7pm. They call it adult class, but my sons (11 and 13 yrs old)
were attending this class. Also, they have lessons on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The cost is Y10,000 admission charge + \5,000/month.
Sensei, the head instructor's name is Kubo-sensei. Kubo-sensei speaks English, and there are many other foreign people at the Dojo, too. I
think the instructors who were mainly teaching our kids were French guy and a Spanish guy. Address: 2-1-7, Akatsuka Shinmachi, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo Phone: 03-3930-4636. Access: Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line "Chikatetsu Akatsuka" Station Tobu Tojo Line (from Ikebukuro) "Shimo-Akatsuka" station.

Kyudo at Omiya Park, Saitama Access: 20-minute walk from the east exit of Omiya Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line / 10-minute walk from Omiya Koen Sta., Tobu-Noda Line. Omiya Park Management Office Phone: 048-641-6391

Budokan (Kyudo, Kendoand also Judo) in Saitama Access: 10-minute walk from the west exit of Urawa Sta., Keihin-Tohoku Line.
Saitama Prefectural Budokan Phone: 048-777-2400

Language, Lego classes.

Bancho Japanese Learning Center See here for details.

Institute for Language Experience, Experiment & Exchange
Ace Shoto Bldg., 1-4-7 Shoto, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan 150-0046
Phone: (03)3467-6151  
Branches : Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Fukuoka
See website for details of language programme in English and Japanese. Hippo Club has achieved some fame for great success with its child-friendly immersion techniques in learning multi-languages at basic level and in a warm environment. As the programme implies, it embodies foreign exchanges as an integral part of its programme.

Minato-ku Fureai Kan has Go classes in English or Japanese at very reasonable cost. Classes on Tues night, Wed afternoon, and Saturday morning. Phone: 03 5475 1305

Global Kids Academy Foreign kids can go to GKA in Moto-Azabu to Japanese lessons. They offer Japanese lessons for speakers of any level so those who have arrived in japan recently may benefit. GKA also offers bilingual afterschool and summer programmes. GKA uses the concept of immersion English and Immersion Japanese.

Livelogue Academy
classroom is in a Japanese house and you can come to class with your children. We have many toys, books and bedding for little children. We also arrange classes for children with various activities, such as games, crafts and music. Contact Rie Ariga, a professionsal Japanese language teacher. Location is in Hiro-o, SHibuya-ku. Phone: 03-3406-6398 or email

Lego Education Centers. Chez Irene Building 2F, 7-4-7 Akasaka, Minato-ku, (Aoyama) Tokyo 107-0052. Offers leading edge programs in both English and Japanese. Its curriculum is based on MIT Media Lab's "Learning by Making" children learn creative problem-solving skills and cooperation skills Bright and friendly nvironment. The Centers focus on ages 3-6 but there are programmes for older kids as well. Phone: 03-3568-6433 or email

Lego Mindstorms Center opened recently in Kyoto. CAMP (Children's Art Museum Park) is a hands-on museum dedicated to allowing children aged 7- 15 to explore the creative use of digital technologies. At the same time, researchers from the CSK Okawa Center work with the children as part of their studies on how children learn and interact in the digital age. Children also have the chance to try out other hands-on learning experiences at CAMP. The MIT Media Lab and the National Geographic Society also collaborate with CAMP, and the CAMP organizers have collected inspiration from some of the world's leading children's museums. A brand new location that opened in the Aoyama/Akasaka area in Nov 2004 runs programs in English and Japanese and a curriculum based on MIT Media Lab's "Learning by Making" approach. MIT programmes are reputed to be of high quality. It focuses on ages 3-6 but there are programs for younger and older kids too. They have free trial lessons. Review: "My kids have done many of MITs programmes including two Lego programmes. I have been present for both Lego programmes (one involved making cars) and thought they were very good. The other reason I really like the MIT programmes they were inexpensive. Just my two cents to say the MIT programs generally are very high quality. - Jill

ountain bikes, museums, Music & Movement:

Mountain bike (MTB) programmes, courses and rental bikes available at the following facilities:

Hooru-Asu Nature School, Shizuoka (parent-child nature camp focusing on outdoor activities including MTB); Hitachi Kaihin Park, Ibaraki offers a BMX course as well as a cycling course; Odawaracity Furusatonomori MTB Course, Ibaraki MTB cross-country course runs through natural surroundings, Phone: 0294-73-0800 for info and location; Fujiyama-mi Panorama Resort, Nagano offers Japan's largest MTB field course - has a 7.2 km downhill course as well as a 10 km one. Make it a family event and bring your obento and own bikes; Mobility Park, Shizuoka, is adjacent to an autocamping facility and offers a 3.3 km cross-country course through the woods. BBQ facilities available; Haramura MTB Course in Nagano offers at-your-own-pace MTB course through beautiful green woods and fields, farmland Phone: 0266-79-72 for access and info; Muji Outdoor Campania in Gunma offers a spacious site with a MTB course that kids will enjoy. Adjacent autocamp site makes the facility very popular; Takamineyama MTB World, Ibaraki at the peak of Mt Takamine offers a wide variety of MTB and cycling courses.

ETC Education Through Music Workshops. "We enjoy playing song games all together and then we observe theinfants class, elemetnary school kids class, parent-adult game time, adult talking session, game for all again. We soak in ETM for 4 hours!" A bi-monthly Family-ETM meeting at Ochiai Kindergarten which is 5 minutes walk from Itabashi Kuyakushomae or the Itabsahi City Hall on the Mita Line. For more info in English visit the US ETM website. Entrance fee is 1,000 yen for the family (child care is available at 500 yen).

Check out this website to find out about their music,singing and movement class.

"Kindermusik, the world's leading publisher of music and movement curricula for parents and their children, ages new born to 7 years old. We have been in business for almost 30 years and have more than 5,000 licensed educators in 35 countries, reaching 1 million families." Learn more about training programs for parents and educators here or contact Sam Niburg."

. MIC, established since 1990 and we strongly believe that "music lessons are basically fun." For this we try to adjust to the need of each individual student and experienced instructors will provide the lessons which are very easy to understand. Moreover, you can have your lesson at home so you can save time and do not have to carry a heavy instrument. And also the genre, date, time, number of lessons, and languages - English, French, Spanish, German - this can be decided by you." MIC offers lessons in Central Tokyo. Max Shimizu, international manager 1-17-3 Shoto, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0046 Phone: 03-3460-0139 Fax: 03-3460-3990Email "I have used guitar and drum teachers through MIC for 3 years and have always been happy with the teachers. I have found that they adapted to my children's needs and our travel schedule. They offer an opportunity to perform but it isn't mandatory."

Acoustic guitar lessons for beginners at Minami-ku, Yoshino-cho, Yoshinocho Shimin Plaza, Yokohama (3 min walk from subway's Yoshinocho Stn). Must already possess one. Enquiries: 045-243-9261 Fax: 045-243-9263 Email

Piano lessons in the Tokyo and Saitama area by Andrew Tweed (English and basic Japanese spoken) for aged 5 onwards. Email Andrew.

Piano lessons in Setagaya-ku by (Mr) ARAYA Yuko (in English or Japanese) at Araya Piano Studio in Setagaya. Lessons may include, Music Theory, Rhythm Training, Ear Training, Sight Reading, Melody Harmonization, Hymn reading, Special preparations to Theory Examinations, Special preparations to piano competitions, special preparations to a college entrance. Specializes in American traditional methods such as Faber, Alfred's, Bastien. Age range: age 6 to adults Email

PACE piano lessons (method developed by Dr Robert Pace at Columbia Univ.) is used exclusively at RBR Music Studio. Group lessons for kids by Utako Akemoto and Sawako Fujita on the staff. Cost: intermediate 80 min 12,600 yen for 4 sessions; Intermediate 90 min at 13,650 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 90 min at 15,750 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 100 min lessons at 16,800 yen for 4 sessions; Advanced 110 min lessons at 17,850 yen for 4 sessions.

Brain Gym programs. Instructor: Lynedah Vartell who has been working with Brain Gym since 1986 and teaching it since 1989. "Brain Gym is based on the work of Paul and Gail Dennison featuring educational kinesiology which focuses on the importance of movement in the learning process. Over the years, they have developed specific movements and training programs that frequently make an enormous difference in learning. In any case, there is now finally someone who is in Japan and who can teach the basic Brain Gym course and this is a terrific opportunity for homeschoolers as well as for teachers. I also highly recommend a book by Carla Hannaford called Smart Moves (whether or not you are interested in the course). To register please email Lynedah or phone her at 090-1778-2550. The cost of the program which requires 24 hours instruction and which gives you Brain Gym 101 Certification is US$500."

Music Concerts at Fujino Art Resort, see their Events page.
See our Museums page

Kyushu's new National Museum has workship activities during the weekends for kids.

Nature Programmes; Nature Museums and Conservations Centers

Nature programmes popular with Japanese include:

Alps & Azumino National Government Park in Nagano. Phone: 0263-71-5511 to enquire about their summer programmes. Alps Park is a nature park located at a hill 800 meters above sea level and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Japan Alps and Azumino. The park features a 995 meters long Alps Dream Coaster, Alps Photographic Gallery, and a grove full of birds and small animals. There are nature facilities that offer science, cultural and other "taiken-gakushu" programmes and activities. Kids can try their hands at handcrafts, make their own onigiri, listen to kamishibai stories while eating grilled ayu and examine the river aquarium that simulates the river eco-system: Azumino is situated in the mid and upstream areas of the Azusa-gawa River to the south of Hakuba and features a pastoral area that stretches to the north of the Matsumoto Basin. Azumino is famous for the many rivers that flow with snow water. The Daio horseradish farm, the largest farm in Azumino is evidence of the purity of the waters as high quality horseradishes grow only in clean, pure water. The magnificent view of the Northern Japan Alps and other mountains is the most recommended feature of this area. There is a 6km long Happo-one Natural Study Path, a popular easy trekking course. A ropeway and lift run throughout the year, offering the attractive aerial walk looking down on the sea of trees. Sanjiro-ikoi-no-hiroba is another park: Athletic courses and auto-camping grounds are the major features of this park located half way up Utsukushigahara Kogen Heights, the rolling hills of this park are covered with abundant greenery. There are hiking and trekking courses to Utsukushihara Kogen Heights which - at an altitude of 2,000 meters, the 360-degree panoramic views are considered the most beautiful in Japan. Stay at the Utsukushihara Onsen or Utsukushihara minshuku(accessible by the Matsumoto bus service). Book for minshuku stays in Happo, Utsukushihara here, see listings or phone: 03-5858-0103 (English OK). Access to Alps Park and Sanjiro hiroba by free Matsumoto Dentetsu Bus from Matsumoto city. See info about Azumino and the Alps Park including access info.

Near Hachioji city, Tokyo combine visits to Akigawa Valley and to Okutama. Hike or walk the natural countryscape of Akigawa Valley and Akigawa River with beautiful views near the Nishi Aokidaira bridge. Access: Get to Musashi Itsukaichi Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line. Enjoy playing in Akigawa River at these BBQ and day campsites: - at the foot of Higashi Akigawa Bridge is a spacious river bed area Access: 20 min walk from Higashi Akiru Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line; or at the Akigawabashi River Park Barbecue Garden (350 car-park facility). Access: 5 min walk from Musashi Itsukaichi Stn on the JR Itsukaichi Line. / Okutama area is good for hiking (info here and here and for JA's monthly scheduled walks in Okutama)- visit Lake Okutama and visit the Nippara Limestone Caves (the best in the Kanto area) for a variety of stalactites Access: Take a bus from Okutama Stn on the JR Ome Line. The caves are a 5 min walk from the Higashi Nippara bus stop (final stop). You can take a 40 min tour of the caves. There are other places nearby such as the Nippara Shinrinkan forest museum, the Furusato Bijutsukan art museum, Okutama-onsen-moeginoyu(phone: 0428-82-7770) and a fishing center. Access maps here.

Visit Uenomura for hikes and walks through the Uenomuranuma marshes (a sanctuary for waterfowl), to caves, fishing, hikes and Kana river. Uenomura has some interesting cultural events such as firewalking rituals and matsuri and an Edo-period warehouse. Stay in a hotel or at the Uenomuranuma Yasuragi no Sato Campsite phone: 0296-76-0952.

Forest of Toyota
(Toyota-no-mori) in Aichi prefecture. The Foresta Hills is a model satoyama forest in which various kinds of experiments aimed to realize "coexistence with nature" are conducted, including those for vitalization of forest uses in suburban areas which can improve the urban environment and those to explore new ways of forest utilization. The hills had been the active part of local people's life as coppice forests known as Satoyama until approximately 1960s when the coppice forests were destroyed through the lack of maintenance and proper care for a long time. For access and info see the official Toyota website. Visit the Satoyama Learning Institute Eco-no-Mori House where you can can learn how human beings and all creatures can live to their fullest potential through hands-on exhibits on the wisdom of folkways, the future lifestyles that use biomass power, etc.

Hello Woods, Tochigi (satoyama, nature reserves, insect studies); Yama-no-furusatomura Visitor Center, Tokyo; Tanuki-ko-fureai Nature Programme, Shizuoka (climbing - 500 yen & cave -1,500 yen field trips are organized); Picchio, Nagano offers courses that allow kids to explore nature in the field and forest and to study the wildlife; National Outfitters Training School in Yamanashi offers popular summer camps involving mostly river activities but it also organizes many other activities in the mountains like its Hinomaru School that has a satoyama setting in the Minami-Alps and Mt Yatsugatake vicinity; Yatsugatake Nature Fureai Center in Yamanashi offer ranger guided tours, trail walks to study Yatsugatake and the environs' eco-systems; Aokigahara Wood & Sea Nature Guide Tour in Yamanashi A programme that takes you on a 1 hour hike through forest and coast with an explanation of the history and formation of the volcanic landscape in the Mt Fuji volcanic zone; Free Suntori Guided Tour at the Suntouri tennensuihakushyuukoujyou (Suntori Mineral Water & White Wine Factory) in Yamanashi. Nearby the factory is a wooded bird sanctuary where wild birds, tanuki (racoon) can be spotted.

Yatsugatake Nature Club 3545 Kiyosato, Takanecho, Yamanashi prefecture Phone/Fax : 0551-48-2885. Visit Yatsugatake. Make Kiyosato or Hara-mura village in Nagano your base for nature walks. / Kiyosato offers a full variety of skiing, horseback riding and other sports facilities as well as numerous spa facilities. Since the area is dotted with many museums it has also become famous as a cultured district. Kiyosato is one of the most popular resorts in Japan and flourishing with young visitors from all over Japan. The area is a sanctuary for wildlife and for wild birds. More info here. /Hara-mura village is located between Mt Yatsu and Lake Suwa at 900m-1,300m). The highlands in summer offer rich nature and outdoor activities such trekking, walks along nature trails. Take the hiking courses at Yatsugatake Chuo Nojo farm and the Yatsugatake Shizen Bunkaen gardens where you can view alpine botanical and marshland plants as well as visit the Planetarium there to view the spectacular nightsky. Yatsugatake is considered the best place in Honshu to observe the night sky. Early August hosts the Summer Holiday Hara-mura Star Festival, attracting astronomy enthusiasts from throughout Japan. Another astronomical spot is the Nobeyama National Radio Observatory is conspicuous with huge parabolic antennas. Contact the Yatsugatake Nature Club (webpage in English) for nature activities in the area. Join them on their monthly observation meetings to observe wildlife and plant life when they go walking on the trails. Tour guide available for private groups or schools. // Accommodation: In Kiyosato stay at KEEP's Seisen Ryo, or in bungalows or lodges or tents at the Choei Utsukushi-mori Takane-so Campsite, Kiyosato, Takanecho, Kita-koma-gun. Phone: 0551-48-2311 Access: 10 minutes by bus from Kiyosato Station, Koumi Line to Takaneso-iriguchi Bus Stop. In Hara-mura, stay at Pension Zigzag or book a minshuku.

Educational Nature Societies or Groups. To find out about an educational nature study or conservation group near you, consult this huge nationwide listing of volunteer groups that carry out educational activities such as nature observation, conservation, cultivation, biotope-growing, recycling and other environmental activities. These groups were nominated for Coca Cola environmental awards.

Museums and Conservations Centers also conduct many organized nature activities. Some of these are listed below:

Hakusan Nature Conservation Center The website has information on the hiking trail and the log cabin accommodation that is available to hikers.

Hakone-En Cottage Nature School
offers traditional fire-making (800 yen) tree-climbing (800 yen) and night-hiking activities (1,999 yen). Phone: 0460-3-1151 Nearby are the Hakone-en Aquarium and Hakone Picnic Garden and Lily Garden - 1,000(adults) and 300 yen(child) entry fee. Accommodation in cottages and log cabins.

Ibaraki Nature Museum often organizes nature walks and field trips for Japanese school kids. The museum also has many exhibitions, Iwai, Ibaraki prefecture. Phone: 046-841-1533

Kamoike Tanbou Eco Kids Club, Kaga city, Ishikawa. Contact and more info here.

Kanagawa Zoo Park
has a nature station which has fun organized activities, teaches some crafts like making acorn tops. It has specimens of wasp-hives, stuffed moles and other small animals. Access: Keikyu Bus to Natsuyama-sakaue from Kanazawa-bunko station (Keikyu line). and a 3 min walk from bus stop.

Kanagawa Prefectural Nature Conservation Center

Kannonzaki Nature Museum, Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture Phone: 046-841-1533 The focus is on marine life and ancient lifestyles by the sea. There is a tactile pool where you can touch octopi, sea slugs, etc. Combine museum visit with trip to the Tatara beach and lighthouse within immediate walking distances. Access: From Uraga station (Keikyu line) 15 mins ride on Shonan Keikyu Bus bound for "Kannozaki" and get off at the final stop. / From Maborikaigan station (on the Keikyu line), 15 mins ride on the Shonan Keikyu Bus bound for "Kannozaki" and get off at the final stop. You can also take the bus bound for "Kannonzaki-shizen-hakubutsukan" Kannonzaki Nature Museum that is operating on Sundays only./ From Yokosuka station of JR Yokosuka line, 35 mins ride on Shonan Keikyu bus bound for Kannonzaki. Get off at Kannonzaki. There is also a bus bound for "Kannonzaki-shizen-hakubutsukan" Kannonzaki Nature Museum that is operating on Sundays only.

KEEP Kiyosato Educational Experimental Project, Takenocho, Yamanaishi Prefecture orgnanizes outdoor expeditions, e.g. one expedition had participants making a pair of traditional snowshoes from straw and go on treks through the forest and fox and marten spotting, etc. Phone: 055-148-3795 for details.

KIYOSATO Seminar House often arranges nature-talks and activities. 3545-1, Kiyasato, Takane-cho, Kitakoma-gun 407-0300 part of Univ of Yamanaishi.

Maioka Park is a major bird-watching centre that offers satoyama (rice-field) activities, marsh and woodland conservation activities and an area where traditional satoyama village lifestyle activities are taught, e.g. straw-sandal making; rice-harvesting; wooden toycraft-making. Phone: Koyato-no Sato, 045-824-0107 Access: A 25 min. walk from Maioka Sta. (Subway), City Bus to Keikyu New Town from Totsuka Sta. (JR)

Mt Takao has a conservation center where you can learn all about the vegetation and wildlife in the area. After taking the ropeway up the mountain, walk along the main road to the view point for seeing Mt Fuji where the nature station is, then hike any of the walking trails. Access: via train to Takao-san Stn from Shinjuku (Keio line or Chuo Line changing for the Keio line at Takao Stn).

Nature Conservation Society of Japan "Nature Conservation Educators" has volunteers who organize and lead outings to observe various kinds of natural ecosystems. These outings are designed to instill a feeling for the importance of nature in participants though directly experiencing the outdoors. In addition, NACS-J holds "Nature Conservation Seminars" on various topics as well as nature outings. One annual event is the "Feeling Nature" event for the disabled, in which participants learn to use all their senses to discover the natural world around them.Another annual event is a "National Nature Survey" held on 5th June to coincide with World Environment Day. Its purpose is to help everyone become interested in nature through simple scientific observation.

Nature Study Center, Saitama Phone: 048-593-2891 5-200 Arai, Kitamoto-shi Access: Catch the bus bound for Kitazato Media Center Hospital from the west exit of Kitamoto Sta., Takasaki Line. Get off at the Shizen Kansatsu Koen bus stop. Closed: Mondays (excluding national holidays), the day following a holiday (except if this day is a weekend or holiday), and over the New Year.

Nojima Nature Explorers, Yokohama. Contact and more info here.

Oze's Summer Challenge Programme in Gunma/Fukushima(7/22-8/13) include many nature-activities such as beetle-catching, hiking the Oze marshland, river-play and iwana-fishing and of course hotspas at the Hinoemata Hot Springs; accommodation at autocamp, bungalow or onsen inns, for access map in Japanese and info in English, or phone: 0241-75-2432 or email. Access via public transport to the Oze Marsh Visitor Centre: At Aizukogen Station, take a bus. After a 2-hr. ride, get off at Numayamaguchi. The site is a 1-hr. walk from the bus stop.

Ramsar Wetlands. Japan is nearly 80% mountainous terrain, so the complement is the many valleys AND wetlands that were once abundant and natural. The remaining Japanese wetlands today are still hugely significant as stopover sanctuaries for birds, or as spawning grounds for marine life. A field trip to one of the many wetlands is a must. To know more about Ramsar wetlands and plan your field trips in Japan, see this fully annotated list at the Ramsar website. Email the Ramsar Convention Bureau for a copy of this Ramsar guide "People and Wetlands of Japan" which can be used as part of a field trip and a classroom curriculum.

Regina-no-mori is a mountain resort in Hatoriko-kogen, Fukushima prefecture that focuses on delivering outdoor and nature activities to families. They offer a varied trial plan that includes mountain bicycling, canadian canoeing, disc golf, tennis and fishing. One summer holiday 2 day 1 night package costs 6,200 yen per adult and 3,300 yen per child or a family package deal at 2 adults plus 2 children at 18,800 yen. A number of types of accommodation are provided from cabins, to tents to trailer houses around the lake. Access info.

Saku Parada is an amazing nature facility-cum-resort in the Sakudaira, Nagano that includes a famous beetle forest and studies center (Beetle Dome), a Biotope Garden and botanical park. There is also a kids land, terrific slide, athletic course, lake, doggy park and many hands on activities like soba making offered to children and families.

Science Educational Foundation of Japan (SEFJ) organizes wildlife experience tours, nature world school, nature-watching, cross-country skiing and animal-tracking programmes for elementary school students see its website in English. Call at SEFJ's Tokyo office 02-3354-8231 or email them for info.

Yokosuka City Nature and Cultural Museum

Yokohama Kodomo Botanical Garden (Kodomo Shizen Koen) is a wonderful place for nature activities. The botanical park has a small building where many children's reference books and encyclopedias may be consulted, and across the road, the flower beds, bamboo grove and pond are a good place for watching and catching bugs, crayfish, tadpoles. Access: A 20 min. walk from Futamatagawa Sta. (Sotetsu Line) Phone: Western Parks and Greenery Office (Seibu Koen Ryokuchi Jimusho) 045-351-5024

For a list of nature spots around Tokyo (with access info and directions given) see this page.

For more suggestions on nature activities around the country, see our Field Trip list.

Mark Brazil is a naturalist who writes on environment and nature in Japan (he is also known for his birding guide, now Out Of Print). Find his archives of writings at this link. And under "advanced search" type in Wild Watch which will take you to a link there that archives his articles dating back to 2002.

Noh performances at Yokohama Nohgakudo (bus from Sakuragicho Stn to "Tobe Icchome" stop) Inquiries at 045-263-3055

Outdoor activity training. For details of outdoor activities visit this website (mostly in Japanese).

One of the best websites to look at for outdoor activity suggestions is the Outdoorjapan website.

Hosc Outdoor Land is an outdoor sports center in Hakuba that focuses on a variety of adventure sports in the Shirauma mountain alpine area including rafting, horse-riding, wall-climbing, MTB (mountain biking), fishing, hot-air ballooning and other activities such as bread and ice-cream making. They put together pretty good summer packages including assorted activities for trial.

Outdoor Nagatoro Center
in Saitama. Phone: 0120-66-4162 Rafting and other activities offered.

Shizuoka Prefectural Asagiri Outdoors Activity Center, 1 Nebara, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka 418-0101 Phone: 054-452-0321.

Alpine outdoor activities like trekking, adventure sports and skiing are to be had at Hakuba. The special interest is in trekking Shirouma mountain part of the alps. For the many different packages offered take a look at the Hakuba1 website. On getting there see IAC's page.

A walking and trekking club in Kansai called Musubu organizes meetings and walks every second Saturday of the month. Read their online geo-log in English or Japanese.

Walking and trekking clubs that are Tokyo-based include: The International Adventure Club that organizes events ranging for trips to aquariums to winter alpine mountaineering. If someone wants to go somewhere, they organize the trip by means of a members email bulletin board. Membership is 5,000 yen a year -- that includes all family members for one payment of 5,000 yen! Activities range throughout Japan but the bulk lean in favor of the Tokyo area. Meetings are once a month in Shibuya with usually interesting slide presentations on traveling and outdoor skills. There are skill level ratings for the trips. / Japan Adventures has scheduled walks and hikes (currently to Okutama and Hokkaido) but can organize group trips too.

Paragliding, pottery, puppetry

Paragliding and parasailing for kids at Para Glider School, Tochigi prefecture. / Kebiesu Nasu Kougen Para Gudraida-Sukuru trial course: 6,300 yen. Phone: 0287-76-4740. / Sky Asagiri in Shizuoka

Pottery classes. Traditional pottery making lessons in English offered at the Agape Ceramic Studio in Motomachi Yokohama by American potter Tom Morris. 9:30 am-12:30, 14:00-17:00; 18:30-21:30 Tues - Sun. 12,000 yen per mth for 3 hrs. Kids lessons trial lessons available. Phone/fax: 045-212-5002 or 0467-25-0821 Email

Pottery for kids classes in Tochigi (in Japanese only) Classes for pottery-making on the pottery-wheel is hard to come by for kids. Cost: 4,000-5,000 yen Access map /Sendai City Jomon Forest Place in Sendai offers pottery-making classes. Phone: 022-307-5665/ Pottery workshops in Kamogawa-shi, Chiba summer workshops for children

Pottery tools and resources. Essential Japanese pottery and ceramic tools are now available at JAPAN POTTERY TOOLS. Good tools can save time and frustration, and the right tools can help you improve your technique and produce better pieces. Stop by Japan Pottery Tools today.

Ceramic-Art-Messe, Mashiko is a Pottery Theme Park and an internationally known pottery production center of Mashiko ware pottery. Located in Mashiko town in the southeastern part of Tochigi (belonging to the Prefectural Nature Park in the northernmost part of the Kanto Plain).
With more than 380 master potters here, ceramics fairs are held every spring and autumn, and about 300,000 visitors in spring and 170,000 visitors in autumn attend. In the middle of the 19th century, Keizaburo Otsuka found potter's clay at Ohtsu-sawa and built a kiln to bake it, which was the origin of Mashiko ceramics. Later at the beginning of the 20th century, a ceramist, Shoji Hamada, built a kiln in Mashiko. There is a pottery studio at the site where you can try your hand at making pottery and painting it yourself. In Mashiko Sanko-kan, a reference collection museum of Hamada, not only his ceramic works, the kiln with stepped chambers he used, and the house he lived in, but also craftwork made in his lifetime and a collection of works by his associates are on display. Access: Get to Oyama Station which is 45 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Then go to Shimodate Station which is 20 minutes from Oyama Station by the JR Mito Line. From Shimodate Stn get to Mashiko Station which is 40 minutes via the Mo-oka Line. (Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.)

Puppetry. Genesis Creative Studio/The Grant & Howl Puppet Theatre conducts children's workshops in English for 4-10 year olds. 4-7-13 Himonya Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0003 Email Phone: Liane Wakabayashi at 03-5722-2792.

Dave's Puppet Shutter
offers Puppet Shows for the hearing -impaired and for everyone! There will be no language barriers to overcome. Phone: 044-777-2228

Racing, rafting, riding clubs, rock climbing

Racing: Matchbox car-racing at Nakaiinta-sakkito (Naka Inter-Circuit) Phone: 0465-81-116

Rafting and canoeing:

Big Wave Rafting
Gumboat rafting in Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0278-20-4116 5,600 yen for kids adults 6,500 yen. / Gurandekkusu in Saitama prefecture. Phone: 0494-69-2030 Gumboat rafting. 7,000 yen for adult/child for half-day. / The Happy Place Yoshino, Shikoku comes highly recommended in Outdoorjapan’s White Water in Japan guide as possibly the best white water rafting spot in Japan and rafting locations are reviewed in Big Fun on the Little Island / Kanute in Saitama prefecture. Phone: 0494-66-0529 Lunch packed or BBQ options available with river rafting activity packages./ Montbell Outdoor Challenge M.O.C. in Saitama, a branch of Montbell outdoor good manufacturer offers canoe-rafting-kayaking from 3rd grade onwards.
/ Nagatoro Furusawaen. Phone: 0494-66-3511 River rafting and BBQ facilities./ Outdoor Nagatoro Center Phone: 0120-66-4162 Rafting and other activities offered. Nagatoro River is also famous for the Nagatoro-Rain (Nagatoro Line) which is plied by bamboo pole-boatman through picturesque river-gorge scenery especially during the splendour of autumn. 30 min boat-rides for 1,550 yen (adult) and 750 yen(child) Phone: 0494-66-0950 / Nature Navigate in Gunma / Summit Adventures in Gunma. Phone: 0278-72-9011 / Wonder-Egg-Nature-and-Child in Nagano offers gentle rafting activities for ages 4 yrs and above.

A list for Riding clubs all over Japan (Locations: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Misawa; Tokyo, Yokohama, Saitama, Chiba, North Kanto, Koshietsu, Hokuriku, Nagoya, Tokai, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Chugoku, Shikoku, Iwakuni, Kyushu, Okinawa) is available from the website. For riding facilities in the Kanto area, contact these riding ranches in Yamanashi Koyoudai-kisouma-bokujo & White Saddle & Western Ranch, Gunma Asamakure-ru Riding Circle & Baji Fureai, Shizuoka Ableman & Big Mountain Ranch, Nagano's Nihon Trekking & Hope Lodge Riding Ranch; Ichinomiya Riding Center phone: 0475-42-2851 and also Machida Riding Center, Chiba Phone: 042-782-0262; Saitama's Kurio Stable, phone: 0494-75-2001; Kanagawa's Negishi-keiba-kinen-koen. Phone: 045-662-75-81.

Chirorin-mura is a sports and leisure park in Nikko where you can go on 4WD trials, putter-golf and archery lessons and more, for both parents and kids. Phone: 0288-54-3355.

Rock climbing. REI Tokyo Store has a climbing wall and sells a huge selection of road and mountain bikes, parts, accessories. Tsuruma 3-4-1, Machida, Tokyo Phone: 042-788-3535 Minami-Machida Station on Tokyu Denentoshi Line. 36 mins from Shibuya.

Rock-climbing spots are reviewed here.

Climbing Facilities include:
Pump Climbing - Largest and Best Climbing Gym in Japan (and Asia) Many locations.
Climbing Gym List Japan(Yuuko Yamaguchi's Home Page) (English and Japanese) gives info on mountaineering schools.
City Rock Gym (OCS)
(Osaka) (website in Japanese)

Crux Climbing School and Gym (Osaka) (website in Japanese only)

Science activities, scouts, shakuhachi, silkworms, skateboarding, ski, snowboarding, soccer

Sea Kayak Sailing Class. Venue: Yokohama-city Sports Shinkou Jigyoudan, naka-ku, Yokohama. Inquire at 045-640-0014

Scouts Association and Scouting goods and equipment Phone: 0422-31-5165 Email

Shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) Gunnar 'Jinmei' Linder speaks Swedish, English and Japanese and some German. Locations: Lesson Room in Tachikawa ('keiko-ba') Tamagawa-Josui Station (Seibu Shinjuku-Hajima Line/Tama Monorail) Tachikawa Station (JR Chuo Line) / Lesson Room in Ota-ku, ('shutcho-jo') Ootorii Station (Keihin Kyuuko-Haneda Line) / Asahi Culture center Tachikawa (in Japanese) / Asahi Culture Center Yokohama (in Japanese)
Phone: 090-8090-0922 Fax: 042-534-0864. Email Gunnar. Review: "I've been to a few of Gunnar's recitals and lectures, and besides being an accomplished musician he gives excellent explanations. Gunnar has a warm personality He has three young children." - Connie

Shell-fish sazae-collecting activities in Shizuoka and East Izu organized by the Onsen Association. Phone 0557-95-2901 for access and information.

Shichida Child Academy. Famous Shichida method of learning featuring brain-based learning and perfect recall training and other skills. Children between 1-9 years Instructor has lessons about 50 minutes long, with around 6 students in a classroom, average 5 lessons per day) doing flash cards, singing, dancing and so on. Parents have to join the baby classes. Shichida method after schools (now worldwide) have been developed by Professor Shichida and his concepts and philosophy based on decades of research. They are often covered by the press and media. 1-1-1-5F Manpukuji, Asao, Kawasaki, Kanagawa. Phone: 044-959-4002 Email / Also in Shin-kashigaya in Saitama. 1-48-1 Minami showa-cho, Tokushima, 770-0944. Phone: 81-886-255 Fax: 81-886-255-324

Silkworm crafts. Bryan Whitehead, a Canadian silkworm cultivator who has woven and dyed his own silk for more than 10 years sometimes holds indigo-themed textile basic-level workshops that provide participants with an opportunity to experience shibori (tie-dyeing), stencil dyeing and silk cocoon reeling. Students can learn how to make tenugui towels and traditional Japanese bags. Email Whitehead for brochures or make enquiries at phone/fax: 042-686-6757. Each course costs about 5,000 yen, including materials.

Sightseeing online guide. Go sightseeing. discover Japan with the help of this Discover Japan! database

Skate boarding sites by prefecture

Ski - Japan is a ski-haven with ski resorts numbering over 600 according to - start with Skijapan in your search for a good ski resort. Another good guide is the Snowjapan website
(in English and Japanese) a site that bills itself as the “ultimate guide to winter sports”, as well as this Asiatrek website. Virtually all resorts have ski instructors and classes for kiddies. Apparently they start really young in Japan, from age 1 years (i.e. from the moment they begin walking). We personally recommend picking ski slopes that do not allow snowboarders if possible when your kids are starting out - as the risk of injury is considerably reduced when there are no snowboarders to watch out for. When we ski with our kids in Japan, we head for Mt Moiwa's slopes (the oldest ski resort in Hokkaido and the closest to Sapporo and which bans snowboarders). Hakuba in the Japan Alps hires English-speaking ski and snowboarding instructors - Hakuba, Nagano. Niigata
- AK helps you book for a weekend at Yuzawa. Yuzawa has 5 1/2 km of ropeway linking two ski slopes and the largest gondola in the world, carrying 166 people. Yuzawa, a large resort, offers 2,500 rooms; it's a huge resort facility with enormous potential. Being so close to Kanto, even day trips are possible., with a comprehensive Web site in English and Japanese that makes booking a weekend away. Japan Worldwide KK, Shougetsu Bldg., 2F, 2448 Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun, Niigata-ken, Japan 949-3107. Telephone 025-784-3117, fax 025-784-3107, mobile 090- 5799-7188, email.

Snowboarding : Northstar Camp offers winter camps that are highly recommended by our members. Winter camps have featured snowboarding at Northstar in Nagano Prefecture in the past. Busing from Tokyo is provided. Says an e-community member: "My daughter has been to the camp several times before (for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and for hiking in the Alps during the summer), and she has had a great time. She has met other homeschoolers there, as well. The staff includes both Japanese and North American counselors. The cost is 29,800 yen including transportation from Shinjuku; the cost is less for people who get there on their own (about 22,800 yen). Incidentally, at other times Northstar is operated as a lodge. So if the camp doesn't work out, you could always go as a family, rent a room at the lodge, and go skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing/etc." More info is to be had at the Northstar webpage

Soccer KISP Akasaka School / Kids international soccer park. in Japanese. They have English-speaking Japanese coaches and 3 age groups: 3 to 6, 7 to 8 and 9 to 10. It costs 6,000 yen / month for the youngest group and 7,000 yen per month for the two older groups. Location: Foot Square Akasaka 3 minutes from Nagatacho Station. Phone: 3272-5761 Email KISP.
Futsal (Indoor) Soccer classes by coach of Yokohama F. Marinos at Yokohama Bunka Taiikukan. Inquiries: 045-641-5741.

Swimming lessons for kids. 10 am - noon every Tues through Thurs until Aug 31 at Portopia Hotel in Chuo Ward, Kobe. Children aged 2-pr . 3. 4,200 yen per lesson. Reserve 5 days beforehand. Phone: 078-303-5247.

Science activities see our science museums section below.

Maishima Sports Island
is an artificial island in Osaka Bay that provides every type of sports facility by the water as well as cultural activities. Access: 2 Hokko-ryokuchi, Konohana-ku, Osaka. 35 min by no. 81from JR Nishi-kujo Stn.

For Sports in Tokyo from archery to ice hockey to lacross to sumo consult the TOKYO SPORTS & LEISURE DIRECTORY

For Sports in Yokohama, all manner of sports from soccer to parent-and-child classes to maternity classes to dance to gym, check out the listings of activities and locations of sports centers at Hamaspo website(in Japanese only).

Chirorin-mura is a sports and leisure park in Nikko where you can go on 4WD trials, putter-golf and archery lessons and more, for both parents and kids. Phone: 0288-54-3355.

Field Athletic Yokohama Tsukushino Course, Kanagawa Phone: 045-983-9254. Athletic field equiment and course in the midst of greenery. BBQ facilities available.

Taiko, tennis, theater.
Taiko. There are about 10,000 taiko groups in Japan.
- In Tokyo, Asakusa Arukode Asakusa 3F. 3-4-9 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032 Phone: 03-5824-0210
- In Nagano, take week-long courses are available comprising of 5 hours of playing time each day; a visit to the Suwa area to spend a day and practice with Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi and Suwa Daiko; a tour of the Osuwa Taiko; and the option of performing a short piece on stage in a taiko concert with Art Lee and Tokara plus accommodation at one of Japan's foremost popular hotspring resorts included in the course fee. More details here.
- In Kyoto, courses are available for kids from K onwards. 113-4 Takatsuji Oomiya-cho, Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto City, 600-8387 Phone: 075-813-8615 Fax: 075-813-8616 or email them
- For details about the INADANI Taiko Course, visit this link
- In Fukui, visit this link.

Tea ceremony - check with the following schools:

Enshu Sado School
26 Wakamiya-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0827 Phone: 03-3260-3551
123 Shin-Honmachi, Toyohashi-shi, Aichi 440-0892
Senchado Ogasawara-ryu Zuihoan
12-2 Higashiyama-cho, Ashiya-shi, Hyogo 659-0091 Phone: 0797-22-5405
Urasenke Konnichian 613 Honpojimae-cho, Ogawa-dori Teranouchi-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 602-8688 Phone: 075-431-3111

Tennis. Jinji Tennis Center offers lessons held in English. This is ideal for the international community but is also a unique opportunity for Japanese students who wish to enjoy English conversation while playing tennis. All basic explanations are provided in Japanese too, so please don't be afraid to come if you think your English is not good enough!

Theatre. Yokohama Theatre Group or YTG as they are known. Acting and improvisation Workshops are offered on a monthly basis. You too can join the mayhem, and learn the techniques to creating a character with YTG's Beginners and Intermediate Workshops held on Sunday from 2 pm-4pm at the Black Box Theatre, Yokohama International School. The first workshop is entirely free, and after that each 2 hour session costs only 2,000 yen. YTGis always searching for new talent so if you wish to know about auditions or become involved in acting more details about YTG, Improvisation or Theatre in Yokohama, please visit the Yokohama Theatre website. Location: 11-1 Yaguchidai Naka-ku Yokohama-shi 231-0831 Phone: 045-625-2569 or email them.

The Global Rock ChallengeTM is a chance for school students to take part in a dance, drama and design spectacular. While the result is a professionally staged event, the Global Rock Challenge is about having fun while making healthy lifestyle choices and enjoying a 100% drug free experience. Students, teachers, parents and communities work together over many months helping to prepare the school's eight-minute performance. STudents take part in an exhilarating day, culminating in a live event performance in front of family and friends. Almost a million young people aged 11-19 have now performed on stage from Belfast to Albany, Dresden to Melbourne, Aberdeen to Auckland and everywhere in between! This year 65,000 young people from 800 schools will take part in one of 110 shows staged worldwide. We are in the early stages of bringing the Global Rock ChallengeTM to japan and would like to find out if your organization would like to participate in the event as an event sponsor or provide 'in kind' support. *** If you would like more information please visit the website or contact the Principal Shawn Hutchinson, International Secondary School. Phone: 090-6034-1963 (English).

Tokyo Comedy Store offers Young Children's Improvisation Comedy Workshops for 5-7 year olds/8-19 year olds. Duration: 8 weeks. Cost: 10,000 yen per student. Email them at their website. The classes are taught by Ann Doherty-Hardbattle an experienced teacher at the Yotsuya Studio. Through various basic improvisation games and techniques, your child will have the opportunity to create their own stories and dialogue, feel comfortable in taking risks and expressing themselves in front of an audience and relate and respond to their peers nd to their environment.

Tree Climbing Activities. John Galato is often featured on TV. Visit his website for a really interesting account of his work as well as for a look at his tree-house. And the outdoor activity training website.
Other websites promoting tree-climbing include the Tree Climbing Japan and the Outdoor Activity Training websitee whose activities among others also include tree climbing.

***Turtle-watching activities. Summer is the nesting season for sea turtles in Japan. Senrihama and other spots, including Inakahama on Yakushima Island, Kyushu are well-known for nesting turtles and attract a lot of visitors, especially on weekends. Advisory: "While it is both educational and a rare privilege to see such animals in the wild, some sites in Japan (and elsewhere) are not managed by trained conservationists and can degenerate into spectacles for camera-clicking rubberneckers. Worse, some places confine hatchlings for events to allow children to release into the sea, which severely interferes with the biologically-important hatching process. Matsuzawa says the media is partly to blame. "Taking pictures or making a lot of noise or shining lights on them is unnecessary and invasive. There are enough pictures of nesting turtles already; the media should use those instead of always taking new ones. And people who come to watch have to realize it's not a movie or TV show, but a beautiful phenomenon which must be observed with patience and respect." For more information, check out the Japan Sea Turtle Association's bilingual website. Many conservation projects need volunteers for night patrols and other duties.

Trekking (see outdoor activities)

Volcanoes, volunteer work.

Visit a volcano:

Mt Mihara, Oshima Drive and go one of the hiking trails to the live volcano of Miharayama, Oshima (which is Izu peninsula's largest island). Hiking trails on Oshima island provide spectacular views of sea and volcanic landscape. Miharayama is the world's third most frequently erupting volcano. Hike to see the crater but beware as it is a live volcano. Phone: 04992-2-1446 (Oshima's Tourist Bureau). More info at the Oshima Tourist Association website.

Volunteer opportunities. See the Volunteering Directory for volunteering opportunities. In large cities, contact your local volunteer action center. The Tokyo Voluntary Action Center operates a website from which you may get more info on opportunities in Tokyo. OXFAM has jobs and is seeking volunteers, email them.

Virtual Town. Kidzania Billed as "Japan's First Facility For Children to Experience Various Professions Hands-on", Kidzania is a virtual town with a collection of shops and facilities called pavilions. Underlying Concept - edu-tainment plus "Today, with the NEET (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training) phenomenon becoming an increasingly serious social concern, hopes are that the pavilion will help children formulate positive occupational values from an early age." - from Idemitsu's press release. Scheduled to open in Toyosu, Tokyo in October 2006, Kidzania is a facility designed to emulate many of the same services actually found in society, enabling children to experience a variety of professions firsthand. Children will be given the chance to work at a gas station, where they will also experience the vital importance of customer service for themselves. In the process, children will learn the valuable rules and manners they will need in the adult world. In addition to the gas station there will be 50 other pavilions, i.e., facilities including TV station, airport, hospital, restaurant, an automotive maintenance shop, a confectionery plant, a beauty salon, a fire department and others (from the website the facilities look real). The first Kidzania opened in 1999 in Mexico city and was a huge hit it seems and often used by elementary schools for field trips. Location: Urban Dock, LalaPort, Toyosu 2-chome (6th block), Koto-ku, Tokyo. Admission charges: 3,000 yen for children; 2,000 yen for adults (note this is not an error - presumably because kids participate and have the most fun). I think this should be really fun and cool! place for all families with young kids from preschool-primary ages when it opens in October 2006, don't you?

X'mas illuminations

Washi, whale watching

For washi crafts look under C - for (paper) crafts.

***Kerama Islands, 25 miles west of Okinawa is a mecca for whale watchers. The waters around here are breeding grounds for humpbackwhales and after raising their offpsring here, the whales migrate to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The whale watching season is at its peak season from February 15th to March 10th, when about 600 whales are expected to appear and it is said that during this period, there is a 90% chance that whales can be seen on whale watching tours. Especially famous are the humpback whales that often appear around the seas near the Kerama Islands. Whale watching tour info here.

Ogasawara Islands, 1,000 km south of Tokyo. An excellent writeup here by Jim Nollsen director of Interspecies Inc. Humpback, sperm and spinner whales are seen here. Visit the Ogasawara Island Whale Watching Association online or Ogasawara Kaiun K.K. Asahi Bldg., 5-29-19 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-0014 Phone 03-3451-5171 for tour info.

Choshi Experience Whale watching (and dolphin watching) conducted by the Choushi-kaiyou-kenkyuu-jyo. (Choshi Ocean Research Station) Phone: 0479-25-8870. You are advised to enquire by phone from the station regarding the season, availability and price of programmes before you travel there. Choushi-gyokou (daisanoroshi-uri-ichiba) is the third largest wholesale seafood market in Japan. Many kinds of fish sardines, sanma, saba, katsuo, tuna, etc sold here. Kimiga-hama-kaikan Phone the Choshi city tourist association: 0479-22-1544 Visit the fishmarket website. At Togawa fishing port you can board a dolphin-or whale watching boat from spring to autumn. Access: Take a Limited Express of the JR Sobu Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Choshi Station. Transfer to the Choshi Dentetsu Line for 20 minutes from Choshi Station to Inubo-saki Station.

ICERC conducts tours

Kohkamairu dolphin and whale-watching tours from Futo, off Izu Peninsula here and from Mito city, off Shizuoka info here. Read about it at Jenny's Dolphin page (in English) and in Japanese here.

Read the American Cetacean Society's Conservation Commitee's Whaling Advisory!

Taiji Whale Museum in Taiji which was the location of one of Japan's great whaling industry. Did you know whalers at Taiji..."If they found that the whale they killed was pregnant, the men responsible for the killing would run home to get their best silk overcoats. They would return and wrap the fetus in their coats. Depending on the species, the carcass might be eight feet long, so, as you might imagine, it sometimes took a lot of overcoats. Then they'd bury the whale on the temple grounds after a ceremony of atonement." - Satory Yamamoto.


YOGA for Kids from 5 -12 years old. Class instruction: Bibi. Location: Sun & Moon Yoga in Meguro station (1 minute walk) Cost of class: 2,000 yen per class. Phone: 035478-9626.

Shizen Yoga
offers classes at their studio located in Kichichoji. Bilingual Instructor: Watanabe Nao. Contact Taryn Loveman for more info.

Yoga classes near ASIJ. Tuesdays at Tama Shrine (down the road from Ricketson Theater) 2,000 yen per class for drop ins. Contact Dominica. Dominica Serigano has a yoga studio in Kichijoji with a full range of classes that can be seen at Shizen Yoga's website.

Zoos n'such.

Animal-themed Facilities and Zoological Parks:

Adventure World, Shirahama Town (Kansai region) Access: Direct bus goes right up to Adventure World from JR Shirahama station. Attractions include marine world (swimming with the dolphins), animal safari kingdom, penguins, animal museum, etc.
(It takes about 10 min) plus 60 mins by JAL airflight.
Animal Ark in Osaka Animal Refuge Kansai , Volunteers welcomed. 595 Noma Ohara, Nose-cho, Toyono-gun, Osaka-fu 563-0131 Phone: 081 727 37 0712
Abiko City Museum of Bird (English, Japanese) A good museum for a good spot to observe birds around Tega Marsh. 234-3 Khonoyama. Abiko, Chiba 270-1145 Phone: 0471-85-2212 Fax: 0471-85-0639
Asahiyama Zoo
, Asahikawa, Hokkaido is an excellent zoo and very popular with both locals and tourists. Its seal, penguin and polar bear displays are much loved.
Atagawa Tropical and Alligator Garden (Atagawa Banana Wani-en) Izu, Shizuoka
Baji Koen (Equestrian Park aka Tokyo's Horse Park)
The site of the 1964 Olympics equestrian events. The park hosts two major events each year: During Golden Week, a free three-day Spring Horse Show (May 3-5) that includes a steeplechase and many other top-notch equestrian events; Equestrian Day on the September 23 Autumn Equinox holiday celebrates the use of horses in Japanese culture and festivals. Some of its highlights are demonstrations of yabusame (archery on horseback) and dakyu (Japanese polo). Stroll through the woods and the small Japanese garden that are in the grounds. Horses housed in the park can be visited in their paddocks daily between 10am and 2:30pm. And one Sunday each month, thoroughbred horse and pony rides for kids four-to-ten years of age are offered. All events are free. There is a kid’s play area as well. Access: Baji Koen is located two minutes from the Nodaimae bus stop on Bus No. 24 from Shibuya station. Phone: 3429-5101. Or take the bus from Chitose-Funabashi station, Odakyu line.
(The) Cat Museum
Cattle Museum Did you know that bison fossils from the Pleistocene period have been found in Japan? A rather interesting museum that shows the 8,000 domestic relationship between man and cattle, features the 8 types of cattle found in Japan and all things bovine from innards to plough equipment, ancient ceramic artefacts that show the close relationship between ancient peoples in times past. 103-1, Minamijinba, Maesawa, Isawa-gun, Iwate, 029-4205 Phone: 0197-56-7666 Fax: 0197-56-6264
Chiba Zoological Park
Children's Zoological Park in Saitama 554 Iwadono, Higashi-Matsuyama-shi Phone: 0493-35-1234 Access: Short walk from Kodomo Dobutsu Shizen Koen-mae bus stop. Catch bus bound for Hatoyama New Town at Takasaka Sta., Tobu-Tojo Line.
Equine Museum of Japan A museum in Yamate, Yokohama, featuring horse exhibits, art, including displays of historical information or ancient archaeological artifacts related to horses. Worth paying a brief visit.
Fuji Safari Park

Fuji Subaru Rando Dogu Paku (Fuji Subaru Land Dog Park), Yamaguchi-ko. Phone: 0555-72-2239 A doggy theme park near Yamaguchi Lake with 250 dogs of 70 kinds are featured with staged dog shows. BBQ facilities and merry-go-round are its other attractions.
Fukuyama Municipal Zoo
Himeji City Zoo

Higashi-Itabashi Park’s Children's Zoo & River-water Aquarium Free admission. A petting zoo with hamsters, sheep, ponies, goats and the like. Free pony morning rides for children from 3 years to primary school children. Kids will also like the carp pond (though turtles and ducks are present too). And the hamster's corner. Children are allowed to carry, stroke & play with them. Take the train from Itabashikukyakushomae, Toei Mita Line. Walk for 10 minutes to reach the park. Access: 3-50-1 Itabashi Phone: 3763-8003 Note: Closed from December 28 to January 4.
Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park
What’s worth seeing is the native Eurasian giant salamander, the largest in the world. Dobutsuen, Asa-cho Oaza, Asa-Kita-ku, Hiroshima Phone: 082-838-1111
Hyogo prefecture Awaji Farm Park
famous for its cattle that look like horses.
Hamamatsu Zoological Garden Hamamatu Zoological Garden
Ikeda Zoo (Website in Japanese only)
Itami City Museum of Insects Website in English or Japanese 3-1 Koyaike, Itami-shi, Hyogo 664-0015 Phone: 0727-85-3582 Fax: 0727-85-230
Izu-Kogen Dog Forest Ito city, Shizuoka features a dog field and a breeder's village.
Izu Andyland a turtle aquarium, raising various tortoises like the giant tortoise, the model of “Gamera” the movie, and alligator snapper, etc. Kids can have giant tortoise rides. or watching the “tortoise race”.
Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (website in English, Japanese website) A park that generally receives a great deal of interest deal to the famous Snow Monkeys, the northernmost monkeys of the world.
Kanazawa Zoological Garden of Yokohama
Kawaguchiko-saru-mawashi-gekijyou Comic monkey shows and meet-the-monkeys afterwards. Phone: 0555-76-8855
Kiryugaoka Zoo (Website in Japanese)
Kofu Yuki Park Zoo
, Yamanashi prefecture. Website in Japanese only.
Koiwai Farm
36-1 Maruyachi, Shizukuishi-cho, Iwate-gun, Iwate 020-0507 Phone 81-19-692-3115 Website in English
Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Webpage Information in English. 5-14-2 Kengun Kumamoto City Phone 096-368-4416 Fax: 096-365-5671
Kyoto Municipal Zoo

Municipal Kobe Oji Zoo
Morioka Zoological Park
Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens
(English, Japanese)
Nanko Bird Sanctuary features natural woodlands and mudflats that are home to dozens of species of wild birds. Visit the visitor's center with free telescopes and bird information, and take one of the many good walking trails. Access: 13 mins walk from Trade Center-mae Station on the OTS New Tram Technoport line. Location: 3-5-30 Nanko-kita, Suminoe-ku Phone: 06-6613-5556
Nihondaira Zoo
, Shizuoka Prefecture. Access information in English at website.
Noboribetsu Bear Park
, Kumabokujo Noribetsu in Hokkaido
Nogeyama Zoological Gardens
of Yokohama This one’s very popular with the locals and with schools because entry to the zoo is free.
Noichi Zoological Park
of Kochi Prefecture, Kochi Prefecture (Website in Japanese only)
Omuta Zoo

Oshima Park Zoo

Ohmiyacho Insect Museum
Sabae Nishikawa Zoo in Fukui prefecture.
Sea Turtle Museum , The Caretta Museum on Ohama Beach, Miyagi Prefecture focuses on information on loggerhead turtles. (See also suggested nature trail including Ohama Beach)
Shibetsu Salmon Park
(website in Japanese)
Shunan Zoo aka Tokuyama Zoo in Shunan city, Yamaguchi prefecture. Website in Japanese.
*The Silk Center/Silk Museum Learn all about Silkworms and silk production at the Silk Center No.1 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama Phone : 045-641-0841 Fax : 045-671-0727 (Related museums: The Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) and Nippon Silk Center)
Susaka City Zoo in Nagano Prefecture. Website in Japanese.
* Tama Zoological Park in Hino-shi, Tokyo Admission: 600yen/adult; 200yen/junior high school students. But jr high and high school students get free admission on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Access: Take the monorail to Tama Dobutsu Koen station, on the Tama Monorail line which runs between Shin Yurigaoka on the Odakyu line, and Tachikawa on the JR Chuo line. Phone: 042-591-1611. Closed Mondays, or the day following a public holiday.
Tennoji Zoo in Osaka. 1,500 animals, including koalas, kiwis and a Tasmanian devil. Located in Tennoji Park at: 1-108 Chausuyama-cho, Tennoji-ku Access: Near Dobutsuen-mae Station, on the Midosuji and Sakaisuji subway lines Phone: 06-6771-8401
Toyama Municipal Park Zoo
Tobe Zoological Park of Ehime Prefecture, (English, Japanese)
*Ueno Zoological Gardens is Japan’s oldest zoo, though nowhere the best, but very popular with Tokyo-ites anyway.
* Yokohama Zoological Gardens Zooasia(English, Japanese) Adults 600yen, 6-15 yrs /200yen, high school kids/300yen. An open-concept zoo that is more animal friendly, less cagey and more green. Still it has a slightly commercial tropical resort feel as you enter the park. Also has a Kid’s playground and picnic bench areas. Closed on Tuesdays. Access: Asahiku. Yokohama-city. Phone: 045-959-1040
Yumemigasaki Zoological Park in Kawasaki City
*Zooasia (English, Japanese) in Yokohama Adults 600yen, 6-15 yrs /200yen, high school kids/300yen. An open-concept zoo that is more animal friendly, less cagey and more green. Still it has a slightly commercial tropical resort feel as you enter the park. Also has a Kid’s playground and picnic bench areas. Closed on Tuesdays. Access: Asahiku. Yokohama-city. Phone: 045-959-1040

Camps & Workshops

Arai Camp features a huge range of lodgings from basic cabins to a gorgeous hotel. Choose from many kinds of themed activities held on an entire mountain top, the Arai Camp area is designed to accommodate the entire family. Older folks can come along too for the mountain air, spa and views of Sado Island and be housed in the luxurious hotel, while the youngsters take off for their adventure type activities. Looks like a neat place. Their website takes a bit of complicated navigating but it is well worth it.

Boy Scouts of America
Bldg. 2000, Yokota Air Force Base, Fussa-shi
Phone: 0425-52-2511 ext.58797 [contact Mr. Jack Daly]
Office of Cub Scouts [ages 6-10] and Boy Scouts [ages 11-18] of America in Japan. They accept children of any nationality. Summer Programs Camp; Children's Organizations.

English Adventures offers Annual Summer Camps held in August. Nature Education, traditional camp activities, sports and games -- all in English! English Adventure's expert native-English staff bring the fun and learning of American Summer Camp to your child, without leaving Japan. More info here. Dave Paddock is the director of English Adventure, offering camps and outdoor programs for kids, families and organizations. Send comments, questions and suggestions to this email.

Geos for Children
offers homestays and camps and caters for foreign-speaking kids in countries such as Canada and the US. For info call 0120-91-1313.

International Gymnastics Club (IGC) is run by a team led by founder Lance Lee and his staff, themselves gymnasts and fitness instructors. They feature a wide variety of levels and packages for kids aged 3 to 12. The team help empower kids achieving surprising results in tumbling, vault, balance beam, and uneven parallel bars. The weeklong camps usually run from mid-June through to mid-August. Location: International School of the Sacred Heart in Hiroo. Special weeklong evening classes (5 pm) are available at Nishimachi International School gym through Aug. 5. For details, contact ICG. Phone: 3440-0384, or visit the IGC website.

International Youth Association (Tokyo-based) holds its annual camps during August usually made up of about 100 plus Japanese participants and about 40 foreign participants. Various activities such as climbing Mt Fuji, cooking outdoors and playing games. The camp is open to children from fourth grade primary to third ear middle school. Phone: 03-3359-8421.

KEEP camp
in Yamanashi lets kids milk cows and hike and more. Says one of our e-community members: "I sent my kids twice on their own. The camp did make attempts to separate groups and siblings (to avoid bullying), to be fair, and the leaders were well-trained. For more info see their website:

Krissman International Tennis School (KITS). Alan Krissman has been courting young players in Tokyo for over two decades. Junior Tennis Camp sessions (ages 5-17) serve out instruction at all levels, held usually in early June to late August. They take place at three locations: St. Mary's International School in Setagaya, the American Embassy Housing Compound in Roppongi, and the Hanegi courts near Shibuya. Contact KITS at 3325-0924, or check out their bilingual website:

Nanbo Discovery Camp emphasizes kids communing with nature. They have bilingual counselors, outdoor activities, and academic enrichment to explore the lovely environs of the Minami Boso Peninsula, Chiba. The camp is geared to students entering grades 3 through 7, and is directed by David Green, science teacher at Nishimachi for nearly three decades, and his wife Yoshiko Kimura, 4th-grade teacher at St. Mary's. Campers can snorkel, go hiking, collect specimens from tide pools, play on the seashore, and learn a great deal about marine biology from David Green. Campers spend nights at the Hakkakuso lodge in Tateyama, and/ in tents at the beach, with cookouts over a campfire. Location: 422-1 Sunomiya, Tateyama, Chiba; Phone: 0470-28-2824. For registration and further details, contact David Green: 1-3-3-202 Okamoto, Setagaya-ku; Phone: 3708-4012; Email: (and if you request, David Green can help you arrange roundtrip transportation to and from Tokyo).

Northstar Camp has both summer and winter camps that are highly recommended by our members. Winter camps have featured snowboarding at Northstar in Nagano Prefecture in the past. Busing from Tokyo is provided. Says an e-community member: "My daughter has been to the camp several times before (for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and for hiking in the Alps during the summer), and she has had a great time. She has met other homeschoolers there, as well. The staff includes both Japanese and North American counselors. The cost is 29,800 yen including transportation from Shinjuku; the cost is less for people who get there on their own (about 22,800 yen). Incidentally, at other times Northstar is operated as a lodge. So if the camp doesn't work out, you could always go as a family, rent a room at the lodge, and go skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing/etc." For more info, take a look at the Northstar webpage:

National Children's Castle offers outdoor camps year-round for elementary and junior high school children.
Also, an overnight camp at the National Children's Castle for children ages 3 and up and their families..
5-53-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Phone: 03-3797-5666
Hours: 10am-5pm Closed: Mondays.

National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan
Asahi Seimei Ebisu Bldg. 12F,
1-3-1 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku
Phone: 03-5424-1121
Hours: 9:45am-5:30pm
Closed: Weekends
UNESCO International Children Camp is held every summer. Children ages 10 to 15
of different nationalities gather in the nature.

Okutama Bible Chalet
3-839 Yugimachi, Ohme-shi
Phone: 0428-76-0931 Hours: 9am-5pm Closed: Sundays
Joy Bible Camp is held every year in June. Ages 8 to 14. Offers summer camps and skiing camps during winter to spring.

(The) Right Brain Research Art Center (RBR) Kristin Newton offers activities that allow children and adults to learn how to use the creative power of the right brain hemisphere. RBR has just moved into a fresh, spacious facility in Moto Azabu, and features classes in all sorts of studio arts, as well as calligraphy, etching, jewelry-making, and sculpting. Pace method music instruction, improvisation workshops, and even a Daddy and Me class have been scheduled as past summer activities, many are conducted in both English and Japanese. Location: 1-5-15 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku; Phone: 5484-3719; The RBR facility is right across from the Korean Embassy and a mere 7 minutes from Azabu Juban station.

Sahoro Summer/ Fall Camp Club Med
for 1 individual adult/child (3-11 years) 9,899 yen package for 4 days. Camp includes the very popular English immersion camp, the Circus School, as well as nature challenge school, and many hands on activities including bread-making, milking cows, potato picking, fishing, T-shirt designing and making. Dates: Jun 4-Sep 10; Sep 17-Oct 15. Taking advantage of the beauty of Hokkaido's country landscape, Club Med like all its other facilities elsewhere knows all about organized fun, and offers good value for money in terms of food and accommodation. The only thing is you have to blow your expenses on your airfare to the north country.

Tokyo Baptist Church
have conducted in the past music day camps for English-speaking, elementary-age children, usually in mid-August. Location: 9-2 Hachiyamacho, Shibuya-ku; tel: 3461-8425

Tokyo YMCA, Wellness Center offers summer camps and ski camps during winter to spring.
7 Kanda Midoshirocho, Chiyoda-ku. Phone: 03-3293-7015
Hours: 10 am - 9 pm Closed: Sundays and public holidays.

Camps offered by International Schools

Full-day camps are usually offered by a great many international schools, there are just too many to list them all here. Check it out with the international school nearest to your home - try our very comprehensive list of international schools for info to begin with. Some of those that have offered camps in the past include:

The American School in Japan has offered outstanding theme-based programs designed for native speakers, as well as several ESL-based camps in the past. Phone: 0422-34-5300 or access their website:

Grace International Learning Center runs summer camps for aged 3-8 kids. Location: 2-13-11 Seta, Setagaya-ku; Phone: 5716-3100. Website:

Global Kids Academy (GKA) has run in the past full-day camps with two summer sessions for school-age kids. Founded by alumni of Nishimachi International School and ASIJ, GKA痴 strength is in dual language immersion education. Location: Townhouse Moto Azabu, 1-5-24 Moto Azabu, Minato-ku; tel. 5447-1913; Website: They have featured in the past creative and challenging field trips, neighborhood scavenger hunts, recorded music CDs with famous singers; trips to Kasai Sea Life Park, and tea ceremonies.

J's International School targets tots from 2.5 to 6, and their camps focus on various language-related activities, including conversation, reading, writing, cultural traditions, and games. The Summer Fun Program runs in early August, half-day camps featuring crafts, weekly themes. Location: 1-16-2 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku; Phone: 03-3452-2078; Website:

International Secondary School has held short summer camps (4-days) for students from grade 6-12 at Lake Shirakabako - a mountain resort three hours from Tokyo. Students took part in outdoor activities including horse riding, hiking, fishing and cycling. They also experienced life in a rural farmyard setting: milking cows, making butter, picking and planting vegetables, and preparing outdoor meals. They also visited local attractions including Lake Suwa geyser and the Suwa Shrine. Phone: 03-5730-1331 or email Their website is at URL:

Komazawa Park International Preschool/Kindergarten offers summer school for children ages 3 onwards from July too August. Phone / Fax: 03-5707-0979 Email: Located in Setagaya-ku.

St. Mary's International School (summer camps are now co-ed, feature a full-range of studies with activities such as swimming, baseball, drama, karate, science, as well as crafts and games. Directed by Mike Dimuzio. Location: 1-6-19 Seta, Setagaya-ku. Phone: 3709 3411

Summer Camp Adventure features weekly fieldtrips, swimming, drama events, an outdoor BBQ party, and young camp counselors from the states. You can pick and choose from any of the nine weeks the program runs, but some weeks fill quickly and Embassy kids are given priority. Open to ages 3 to 12. Location: 2-1-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; phone: 3224-6796 The U.S. Embassy Housing Compound, through EWA Children's Garden.

Apart from the camps listed above, there are hundreds of camps conducted in Japanese. A month or so before, the summer school holidays, check your local public library which will have available many brochures or pamphets for the public that list the upcoming nature camps, academic camps and workshops of all kinds. The following are just some of the camp-organizers of many exciting camp with activities ranging from tree-climbing, forest-treks to hot-air ballooning and alpine hiking:Alps-kodomokai, Chiba Shizen Gakko, Yakusu Shizen Gakko, NPO Nature Challenge School Waku Waku WADA Phone: 047-47-2227, NPO Nature & Science Club in Gifu, Shinrinkabegasanomori, Kodomo-Adventure 2006 organized by Yokohama City edn department, Kodomo-Shizen-Taiken-Mura Phone: 0768-23-1176 /Fax: 0768-22-7669; Summer Camp in Shinshu Phone: 026-226-0391. See article about a "Rivercamp lets kids play, keeps dams at bay"

Autocamps and BBQ & Day-Campsites

There are more than 3,000 campsites in Japan (according to JNTO). For drive-and-stay campsites consult and print out the JNTO listing - 6 pages in English.

The following is a list of day Kanto area day campsites beside a river or waterfall:

*ACN Auto Resort Park Picnic Land in Yamanashi 11am-4pm River, waterfalls, BBQ & daycamp; America-Camp-Mura, Tokyo (River, BBQ and 10am-4pm day-camp);Cottage Forest Village (kotejishinrinmori) in Akiruno, Tokyo (river, BBQ and day camp site); Hadanotokawa-koen in Kanagawa (River, BBQ and 10am-3:30pm day camp); *Kannogawa Campsite in Sagamihara, Kanagawa (river, BBQ and 8am-5pm day camp); Kawasemigawara in Saitama (river, BBQ and day campsite); Nagatoro Autocampjyou in Saitama Phone: 0494-66-0640 (River, BBQ and 9am-4pm day-camp only); Ranzankeikoku BBQ Place in Saitama (river, BBQ and day camp only 8:30am-5 pm);*Seseragi-Campsite in Saitama River and BBQ site 9am-6pm day-camp site Phone: 042-979-0062; *Takinoen-yoroukeikoku-Autocampsite in Chiba (Waterfall and river and 11am-6 pm daycampsite);

National Parks, Parks & Gardens (Botanical, Agricultural, Nature, Town & Prefectural Parks)


1 Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park Visit Mt Fuji and its lakes along with the millions of tourists both local and foreign who flock there throughout the year. The sacred volcano aside, Odakudani's bubbling and egg-boiling sulphur springs, Hakone's lake resorts, onsens and the Feudal-Era Tokaido Highway are reasons to visit. Then there are those who head for the coastal panoramas of Izu Peninsula. Access: The most popular route for sightseeing Hakone is the circular route that includes a ride on a two-car mountain tram, a cable car, a ropeway, and a boat. For access see info Access to Izu: Take the local train from Shinjuku to Odawara (90 minutes) via Odakyu Railway Line. Rent a car from Odawara and use it to drive around Izu (and Hakone and the Fuji lakes as well if combining them on a trip). For a review of Izu Peninsula and drive-there-directions, see this link.
2 Nikko National Park A UNESCO World Heritage site, this national park's fame lies in its ornate Toshogu Shrine and its mausoleum for Tokugawa Ieyasu, and in its magnificent 400 year old cryptomeria trees, and lakeside resorts. See access info.
3 Japan Alps National Park These are Honshu's most impressive mountain ranges many of which tower to heights over 3,000 meters. Kamikochi is a focal point for trekking and viewing/climbing the Alps and is more easily accessible than other mountains for family treks. Kamikochi is often combined with a stop at the Kurobe Dam where you can cruise and see Kurobe River Gorge which has the world's highest rates of sediment erosion. The site of the 1998 Winter Olympics is also here, so you can expect the national park's ski offerings to be excellent. And the World Heritage sites in the mountains such as Shirakawago village are so unique that a trip there will form an important experience for understanding the rice (and silk) farming culture of Japan. Access: From Shinjuku take a Highway bus to Kamikochi or alternatively from Matsumoto Station if you are combining the trip with a visit to the castle there. Penshon-Shirufurei located at the Sawando public car park is a good place to stay overnight, as the car park is also the stop for a bus to the Kamikochi trails. Most visitors take the trail that follows a mountain stream to the beautiful Taishoike-pond where you can see the effects of Yakedake's eruption, and then further through a wooded trail to the Kappabashi (Kappa bridge) where you can see a larch tree-lined river and magnificent snowy scenes of the Japan Alps and their glorous peaks if you are lucky with mist-free conditions. For more detailed planning and access info (Kamikochi) and also for Shirakawa-go here.
4 Ise-Shima National Park: Visit this national park for its rugged coastal scenes of isles, inlets and capes, as well as for its ancient history of pearl culture. Within this park lies the birthplace of the first cultured pearl in the world. Visitors come to see the female female oyster-abalone divers and pearl museum. The other important historically significant reason to visit the park is the Ise Grand Shrines, Japan's most important Shinto pilgrimage point. Other family attractions include a world-class aquarium and two theme parks. More info here
5 Seto-Naikai (Inland Sea) National Park: A sea park that is studded with islets and that will give the visitor a sense of Japan's geographical context as an archipelago. The most famous attraction here is Miyajima, home of the breathtakingly beautiful Itsukushima Shrine. Access: Cross the Seto Inland Sea via the Shimanami Kaido route linking Honshu with Shikoku. Or take one of the regular ferries sailing between Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Most visitors will not want to miss the cruise on the waters of the Seto Inland Sea. Access info
6 Unzen-Amakusa National Park: Here you can climb Mt Fugen (1,229m) and other attractions that allow you to grasp the power of and the devastation that follows a volcanic eruption. Like Hakone's popular Owakudani, you will also want to take a walk through the Hells which are the park's own sulfur springs. Onsens, as you can expect, are popular with the park's visitors too. Make a virtual visit via video clips that show you the walking route on Mt Heisei-Shinzan to view the effects of the eruption of the Unzen-Fugendake volcano. Impressive site, a must for the compulsive arm-chair traveler.
7 Towada-Hachimantai National Park: Visit north-central Tohoku's most popular park for its hiking trails, beautiful lakes, onsens and skiing. Access: The park is shared by 3 prefectures but access can difficult without a car as there is no bus connection between the Tazawa and Towada lakes. Be warned that the bus services are infrequent. From Tokyo, Lake Tazawa at the southern end of the park is more easily visited from Tokyo (for hiking in summer and skiing and onsens in winter). Make a separate trip to the northern Lake Towada and the picturesque Oirase Stream with its river hiking trail.
8 Shikotsu-Toya National Park: This national park in eastern Hokkaido has still active volcanoes that have erupted in recent years damaging some of the hotspring resorts which have been quickly restored. Attractions include Toya and other lakes, scenic volcanoes, and famous hot-spring resorts like Noboribetsu. Toya-ko is particularly popular when there is a hanabi (fireworks) event. Visitors will also want to visit the Ususan and Showa Shinzan volcanoes in the vicinity. See access info here .
9 Daisetsuzan National Park: The largest of Japan's 28 national parks, Daisetsuzan is great place for trekking and one of the best nature reserves for alpine/forest habitat or wildlife study. Daisetsuzan has three volcanic chains and 30 mountains that are over 2,000 m and consequently many geological wonders such as the Sounkyo Gorge. Best visited during summer and early fall seasons for treks but winter offers ski attractions. Access: Take the breath-taking cable-car ride up Sounkyo's sides. Higashikawa is a popular base for visiting the national park, for transportation info, see this page.
10 Akan National Park: The highlights of the park's attractions are the beautiful Lake Mashu which at one time held the record for the clearest lake in the world (now second Russia's Baikal), Lake Kussharo as one of the largest mountain lakes in Japan, and the marimo algae that grows at the bottom of Lake Akan (which is the world's only ball-shaped algae). The park offers lots of good hiking trails but visitors should give themselves plenty of time to get around as connections between the lakes and resorts are infrequent and access can be a problem. Fishing, canoeing in summer and skiing in winter are popular activities. Access: Drive if you can, or try the Akan bus connections. See access info


(Japanese traditional gardens are listed separately below this A-Z listing)

Agriculture, Forestry and Livestock Center, Saitama Phone: 048-536-0311 784 Add: Sugahiro, Konan-machi Access: 4-minute walk from Chikusan Shiken-mae bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Ogawa-machi at the north exit of Kumagaya Sta., Takasaki Line, or the bus bound for Kumugaya Sta. at Ogawa-machi Sta., the Tobu-Tojo Line. Closed: Mondays (excluding national holidays), the day following a holiday (except if this day is a weekend or holiday), and over the New Year.
Agriculture and Forest Park, Saitama Phone: 048-583-2301 Access: 5768-1 Honda, Kawamoto-machi / 4 km from Takekawa Station, Chichibu Line.
Akao Herb and Rosemary Garden, Itami. Phone: 0557-82-1121 for directions and info. 12 gardens in all. Flowers through four seasons, crafts, herb products and "soft-cream" to be enjoyed.
Ainosato Herb Garden in Hiroshima
Akasaka Yama Koen, Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. Visit the lovely garden with its artificial waterfall, stroll by the stream, and up to the first hill to a picnic and park (with slides and swings) area. Beyond the first hill, there is a larger playground, a planetarium and the Kashiwazaki City Museum. Access: Route 8 in Kashiwazaki City. (Enjoy Japanese tea afterward in the Tea Ceremony Museum adjacent to the park.)
**Akebono Kodomo-no-mori Koen Park, Saitama Prefecture. A park with trees and beautiful lawns, the kind that is perfect for toddlers and little people. Especially since it's a little magical with all the kinoko-hiroba (mushroom plazas) and little mushroom huts. For must-see pictures, click on this link to a photo gallery.
**Akebono-no-yama Nogyo Koen An agricultural historical museum with hands-on agricultural facilities and is therefore popular with families. Very scenic open space for those with very young kids. There is a picturesque if incongruous Dutch windmill. Visitors flock here for the seasonal flowers, such as tulips, rape flowers, sunflowers and cosmos. Other facilities include a barbecue restaurant, athletic field and more. Access: 1) Take the bus headed for Akebono-yama Koen from the north exit of Abiko Station. A 10-minute walk from Akebono-yama Koen Iriguchi 2) Take the bus headed for Fuse from the No. 4 bus stop at the west exit of Kashiwa Station. A five-minute walk from Fuse Benten (the last stop)". 3) Take the bus headed for Mitsui Danchi from Kita-Kashiwa Station.;10-minute walk Tsuchiyatsu Iriguchi Source
Alpine Botanical Garden, see Access map
Akatsuka Botanical Garden, Itabashi, Tokyo. Over 600 kinds of trees, plants and flowers. Access: Take a train to Narimasu Station on the Tobu-Tojo and Yurakucho Lines out of Ikebukuro. Then take Bus no. 2 headed for Akabane Station (board at bus stop #1) and get off at the Tokyo Daibutsu-mae stop at Akatsuka 8-chome. Turn and walk back to the corner. You will see a sign for Tokyo Daibutsu-dori. Go right and walk for 3 minutes down the hill. Go past the next traffic signal and turn left onto the second small street. The garden is just past the Jorenji Daibutsu.
Akita Prefectural Museum of Agricultural Science Park
Amami island Botanical Gardens (Japanese)
Aobanomori Kouen (Aoba forest Park), Chiba city, Chiba A very large park with an adjacent Natural History Museum. Access: From Chiba station, take the bus which takes about 15 minutes to reach the park.
Asahiyama Prefectural Park, Kannon-cho. The peak of Mt. Asahiyama is a wide area covered with natural grass. This is a major observation site overlooking the Kinkasan and Mt. Kurikoma and Matsushima For more info
Ashinoko Yaso-en (Wild Grass Garden), Ashinoko, Hakone, Kanagawa. Phone: 0460-3-7686 1,300 kinds of wild grass flower on the scenic side of a hill Access: Transportation 35 min. by bus for Hakone-machi from Hakoneyumoto Access: 10 min. walk from Hakone-machi bus stop. Free Parking for 10 cars.
Asukayama Koen or Park. Some 1,800 flowers are here for flower-viewing enthusiasts, but the main attractions at the park are usually the circular climbing aparatus and the life-size elephant slide. Also check out the life-size elephant slide. Its also a good place for train-spotting including the Shinkansen. Restaurant and snack facilities available inside the park. Phone: 03-3910-8882 for access info. 1-1-3 Oji, Kita-ku. A 5-minute walk from Oji Station (Keihin Tohoku Line) South Exit or either Asukayama or Oji Ekimae stations (Arakawa Line)
Atagawa Tropical & Alligator Garden (Japanese website)
Bonari Kougen Garden, Fukushima prefecture. A 40 sq. km garden featuring 50,000 flowers of 3,000 kinds including irises, azaleas and American confederate roses. Access: Bandaikogen Hill Iris Garden, 5 minute drive by car from Bandai Atami I.C. Phone: 024-984-4006
Botanic Garden of the Faculty of Agriculture
, Hokkaido University
Camellia Park or Tsubaki Koen, Ooshima, Izu 8,000 camellia trees showcased in this park. Phone: 04992-2-9111 or check the Ooshima Tourist Association website for info.
*Chiba Koen (Chiba Park) The park features natural wooded areas, a lotus pond with boats, a summer splash-pool. Access: From JR Chiba Station walk for 5 minutes to the park.
Eco-Park, Higashi Village, northeast Okinawa prefecture. Entrance is 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for 6-11 yr-old kids. Access: Take highway 329 north to reach the village. An alternative is to take the Expressway to its northern termination at Kyoda, then follow the signs to the east side of the island. 6-11 years of age. Costs associated with participating are, as always, the costs of foods, souvenirs, amusements for the children, and film. Read a review.
Ecology Park at the History Museum and Institute of Chiba
. An interesting observation field featuring 16.3 acres of preserved natural woodlands around Funada-ike Pond, reconstructed to showcase the different types of forest and grassland vegetation found on the Boso Peninsula.
Ehara Park, Shin-egota, Tokyo. Popular with preschool aged kids who like the wading pool (and moms too because it's free) Access: 10 minutes' walk from Shin-egota station on Toei Oedo Line or 15 minutes from Ekoda on Seibu Ikebukuro line.
Flower Festival Commemorative Park in Gifu prefecture bills itself as the world's no. 1 Rose Garden
Fuchu Municipal Museum or Kyodo-no-Mori Museum Access: 6-32 Minami-machi, Fuchu city, Tokyo 183-0026; Phone: 042-368-7921 More info at here (Japanese only)
Fuchu-no-mori Koen, Higashi-Fuchu, Sengen-cho in West Tokyo. The park features a man-made stream, flower gardens, wading fountains, tennis courts, play areas and lawn picnic areas for the family. As a family sports square with forests, hills and water, surrounded by green nature of Musashino, there are many sports facilities for baseball, tennis, soccer, jogging and gate-ball. There is also an authentic Japanese garden where you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring and red leaves in autumn. There's a planetarium too. Access: 10 minutes walk from [Higasi-fuchu Sta.] of Keio Line.Walk north of the station or follow the signs to Fuchunomori Koen. The park is located behind Dream Hall (Fuchunomori Hall). Parking facilities available.
A Hans Andersen theme park that features its rainbow forest and children's workshops.
**Furano Tomita features the famous lavender fields of Furano, Hokkaido. Hokusei, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido 071-0704 Phone: 0167-39-3939 Fax: 0167-39-3111
Hachiman-cho, Sagae City. Visit it for the cherry blossoms, children's playground, arbor and the Sagae Hachiman Shrine. Access: 15 minutes' walk from Sagae Station or 10 minute's drive from Sagae I.C.
Hakone Ashinoyu Flower Center. Tropical foliage plants, fruit trees, begonias (elephant's ears) and orchids of 1000 species, 6000 bulbs are exhibited.
40min. by bus to Ashinoyu bus stop from Odawara Stn. Adults ¥600 Children ¥400 Phone: 0460-3-7350
(Hakone) Ashinoko Yaso-en (Wild Grass Garden) Phone: 0460-3-7686 1,300 kinds of wild grass flower on the scenic side of a hill Access: Transportation 35 min. by bus for Hakone-machi from Hakoneyumoto Access: 10 min. walk from Hakone-machi bus stop. Free Parking for 10 cars
Hakone Begonia Garden is a huge garden with 100,000 begonia plants of 600 kinds - something in bloom all through the year. Phone: 0460-5-8383
Hakone Detached Palace Garden (Onshi Hakone-Koen) This garden park has an observation tower that offers a panoramic view of Lake Ashi, Mt.Fuji and the surrounding scenery. 50min. by bus to Hakone-machi bus stop from Odawara Stn. Phone 0460-3-7484
Hakone Shitsugen Hana-en (Hakone Wetlands Garden) Open from 3/20 – 11/30 (9:00-17:00hrs) Kanagawa prefecture. Phone: 0460-4-7293 Fax: 0460-4-6871 A park in Hakone that showcases the wetland habitat. Seasonal alpine wildgrasses and wetland vegetation. More info here.
Hitsuji-yama-koen, Chichibu. Phone the Chichibu Tourist Association for info & directions: 0494-21-2277 A park that is famed for its splashes of pink from the vast flower beds filled with 330,000 (11 species) shiba-zakura plants. The park has throngs of crowds from spring onwards.
Hana Park Fiore-kobuchisawa, Yamanashi prefecture A park in Kiyosato, Chuo area with views of Mt Fuji, the southern alps and Mt Yatsugatake. 16 ha featuring 200,000 tulips and 70,000 Casa Blanca lilies in season. Visit the Kids Place and Konchu Museum (Bug museum) as well. Phone: 0551-36-6611
Hananomiyako-kouen, Yamanakako. The park features Mt Fuji as its spectacular backdrop along with 300,000 square meters of spring tulips, summer sunflowers and other seasonal flora of 150 types. A herb garden as well as an English garden are also among the attractions. Phone: 0555-62-5587

Harano Agricultural Museum
Hattori Ryokuchi-koen. An expansive park with playgrounds, flower beds, water features in summer, horse rides. Nearby 10 minutes walk away is another playground with slides and swings and a rowboat-and-paddleboat-pond. Access: A short walk west from Ryokuchi-koen Station on the Midosuji Line.
Hibiya Park
, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Once the grounds of Edo lord, Matsudaira Bizennokami, it later served as Meiji-era military parade grounds, and then became the westernized urban-style park in Japan. The outdoor music halls and the public hall facilities were forerunners of modern culture.Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Nagoya. (website in English, Japanese) A decent botanical garden accompanies the zoo grounds. For access info phone: 052-782-2111
Hikarigaoka Park, Tokyo. Attractions include play-jungle-gym equipment, picnic areas, bird-watching observatory, and areas for skate boarding, in-line skating, basketball, tennis and bike riding. Sports facilities such as a baseball field, running track, gym and field for kite-flying are available. Access: Take the Oedo subway line from Shinjuku to Hikarigaoka station and walk 10 minutes on a no-traffic walk-way, or take a bus from Narimasu station (Yurakucho/Tobu-Tojo lines) Phone: 03-3977-7638
Himenosawa-Koen, Atami. From January onwards, the park displays in succession native flowers of fukujyusou, tsubaki, tsutsuji azaleas, hydrangeas, etc are spectacular. Athletic and hiking course. Phone: 0557-83-4995 (park office)
Hiratsuka-shi-soko-koen in Hiratsuka city, Kanagawa features a ball park, athletic course, onsen pool, sports center, petting zoo, artificial pond.
Hirugano Botanical Garden See Map and access info. (website in Japanese only)
Hokuto-shi's Akeno Sunflowers Field, Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi Phone: Hokuto-shi Kankou Shoukou-ka 0551-42-1351 / Akeno Nogyo Shinkosha (Akeno Agricultural Promotion Organization) 0551- 25-2885. 80,000 large yellow blooms in the location used for the 2004 Japanese film "Ima Ai ni Yukimasu" (I'm on my way to meet you). They bloom through the month of August. Stay at Akeno Furusato Taiyoukan a modern style spa with an open air pool and bath located on a highland of Mt. Kayagatake. Japanese Southern Alps Mountains , Mt.Fuji and Mt.Yatsugatake, those are Japanese most superb mountains, are looked over magnificiently. are available,in which we can enjoy both nice view and fresh highland air. And this is a secret date spot for lovers. Access: 10 km east of Sudama IC Phone 0551-25-2601 山梨県北巨摩郡明野村浅尾 5259-950
Horikiri Shobuen Iris Garden in Katsushika city, Tokyo. Visit the garden - one of the notable sights in Tokyo for a long time since the Edo period - in June for the fine display of 6,000 or so irises of 130 varieties. Access: Via train to Horikiri Shobuen stop on the Keisei main line from Ueno then 15 mins walk southwest.
Hokkaido Daigaku Hoppo Seibutsuken Field Kagaku Center Shokubutsuen
Hokkaido University Botanic Garden A beautiful botanical garden, a nature preserve and cultural center in Sapporo.
Ikenodaira-Shirakabako Family Land, Shinshu, part of the Shirakaba Resort has has 200,000 lilies on display during July to August. There is a Kabutomushi-kuwagata World, a beetle park for kids as well.
*Ibaraki Nature Museum. (website in English) This is a good nature museum. There is a mammoth exhibit, prehistoric earth diorama, nature exhibits on Ibaraki, Sugao-marsh habitat, Mt Tsukuba and the Beech forest of Okukuji, as well as an outdoor flower garden and ponds.
Ikoi Forest, Yazawa, Sagae City. The park has a pond, house in the woods, athletic field and camping facilities. Access: 15 minutes' drive from Sagae Station; and 20 minutes' drive from Sagae I.C.
Ikoi-no-mori Park, Fukushima 5.4 hectares of natural parkland that has nature walking trails, a slide and field athletic courses.

Inariyama Park, Saitama prefecture An expansive wooded park with large grassy spaces sort of park good for outdoor games such as soccer. Access: Take the Seibu Ikebukuro line to Inariyama Koen Station(about 50 minutes from Ikebukuro).
*Inokashira Koen, Mitaka-city, Tokyo. What was once an important source of water supply for the town of Edo, Inokashira Pond has today turned into a beautiful park surrounded by the wood of trees. Access: 5-minute walk from Kichijoji(JR Chuo Line), 1-minute walk from Inokashira Koen(Keio Inokashira Line) Map info located right next to Ghibili Museum.
*Ishikawa Arboretum Managed by the Ishikawa Forest Experiment Station, the arboretum contains a flower tree grove, coniferous grove, symbolic tree grove, a deciduous broad-leaved tree collection, an evergreen broad-leaved tree grove, a minor products grove, cherry (1,000 trees/150 species) & camellia tree (850 trees / 140 species) grove, and a Japanese garden. 15,000 trees / 800 species represented here. There is a forestry museum as well. Access info here Visit the website for the picturesque scenes of sakura and snow-clad Japanese garden.
Ito Shyaboten-koen at Ito features 1,500 different types of desert succulent plants as well as pelicans, squirrels and monkeys at the park. Phone: 0557-51-111
Jigokudani onsen and nearby Monkey Park in Nagano is one the best places for mammal watching, specifically the Japanese macaque(known to love onsen soaks), shika-deer and serow.
Jindai Shokubutsu Koen. Once the only botanical garden in Tokyo, the nursery-turned botanical garden now has 100,000 trees and shrubs representing approximately 4,500 varieties including the rose, azalea, ume plum, bush clover, etc. Jindaiji Motomachi 5-31-10, Chofu city, Tokyo 182-0017)
Jionji Nature Park, Jionji, Sagae City, Yamagata prefecture. Visit it for the Hizendate observatory and over 90 acres of hiking trails. Access: 15 min. drive from Sagae Station; 20 min. drive from Sagae I.C.
Jyonobi Mura, Takayanagi, Niigata prefecture. The park has several features. There is Children's playground, bicycle track, craft area, hiking trails, camping facilities and even an onsen make this park worth visiting. Basketball hoops, stilts and unicycles for use for free. (Note: Takayanagi village has a famous and colorful celebration called the Fox's Wedding Festival. Access: A 25 min. drive from the Kashiwazaki IC on the Hokuriku expressway. After the toll gate follow the sign toward Tokamachi/Takayanagi. Follow the signs on Jyonobi mura all along the way.
Kaiseizan Park Rose Garden, Fukushima prefecture. 440 kinds and 810 roses make a spectacular display when in bloom in June and October. Access: in the center of Koriyama City. 15 minute drive from Koriyama Station. Phone: 024-924-2361
Kanagawa no Ken-ritsu Koen-Zamayamatoyamkoen, Zama Access: via Odakyu line to Zama stn a 15 min walk to the park. A "satoyama" (typical Japanese country landscape managed by volunteers, with minka buildings.
Kamine Park in Hitachi, Ibaraki prefecture has about 1000 cherry trees. The park also has an amusement park and a small zoo. Access: just north of Hitachi Station, see map for directions.
Kanaz Forest of Creation in Fukui prefecture. As the name suggests, this is no ordinary park but one designed to showcase the creativity and works of artists and ateliers. There is a art museum core and a garden around a lake. The modernist garden is a beautiful setting to explore on its own. (Japanese)
*Kanazawa-Bunko Koen. Adjacent to the Kanazawa zoo. A very hilly park with great flower-viewings (marigold in mid-summer), a botanical park though most people walk through all that just to get to the huge jungle-gym and adventure park with allegedly the longest slide in Yokohama. Access: Take the Keihin Kyuko Line which leaves from Shinagawa and goes through Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Kami-Ooka before you get to Kanazawa-Bunko (take an express train). From Kanazawa-Bunko station, you have to take bus No. 1 for about 12 minutes and get off at Natsu-yama-sakaue stop. Official website in Japanese only
Kashiwanoha Koen. A popular family park with free-admission facilities including a boating pond, gymnasium, botanical garden, Japanese garden and an adventure plaza (boken-no-hiroba). Access: Take the bus headed for Kashiwanoha Koen or the Kokuritsu Gan Center from the No. 2 bus stop at the west exit of Kashiwa Station. A five- to seven-minute walk from "Mitsui Jutaku-mae" or "Kashiwa-Nishiko-mae" bus stops. Location: 4-1 Kashiwanoha, Phone: 7134-2015) Source of access info
Kawazu-Bagateru Koen or "Bagatelle Park" at Izu, is a copy of the French style Bagatelle Garden in Paris. It features about 6,000 bushes of 1,100 kinds of roses. The garden can be enjoyed fro mspring through autumn. phone: 0558-34-2200.
*Kodomo-no-Kuni. Chuo, Kanagawa Prefecture. A great family park with a boating pond, petting and pony ride zoo, mini-steam engine and adventure-play-equipment. Mid-way between Tokyo and Yokohama (Take the Yokohama line) to Kodomo no kuni station (one stop on special line from Nagatsuka Station on the Odakyu Line) For access info see here and for an English review see here.
Kema Sakuranomiya Koen Osaka This is one of Osaka's best sakura hanami spots, with the many unusual varieties of sakura that cannot be seen elsewhere. Access: near JR Sakuranomiya Station
*Kodomo-no-kuni, Chiba prefecture. Phone: 043674-3174 See pictures of the petting zoo.
*Kodomo-no-kuni at other locations: Kofu, Hokkaido, Ryozen-Fukushima, Yamanashi, Aichi see this link.

Kodomo-no-mori, Aoba-ward, Yokohama. Access: 17 Mitake-dai Aoba-ku, Yokohama city. Phone: 045-972-7700. Take the train to the Aoba-dai or Fujigaoka station on the Tokyu Line. Or take the bus bound for Shyosenin-mae. Some pictures of the park may be found here.
Kodomo-shizen-koen, Asahi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture For info phone: 351-5024 Western Parks and Greenery Office (Seibu Koen Ryokuchi Jimusho) Fax: 352-3086 Access: A 20 minute walk from Futamatagawa Station (on the Sotetsu Line)
Koganei Park offers bike-rides, wide grassy areas, children's playground, archery facilities, an all-year-round sledding hill where you can rent the sleds. You can find ume (plum), wisteria, cherry trees and tulips that make for good hanami when in season. Access: Take the train to Hana Koganei station on the Seibu-Shinjuku line or to Musashi Koganei station on the JR Chuo line and walk for 15 minute walk from there. Phone: 042-385-5611 Read this review
Kokuei-musashi-kyuuryou-shinrin-koen, Saitama. Phone: 0493-57-2111 The park features Japan's largest trampoline, an adventure park course, "Musashi Kids Dome, water-splash spots for kids and a flower garden park with 500 sakura trees.
*Kokuei Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Tokyo. A park that offers stream-splashing, cycling, a Japanese garden and tea-house, a sunken outdoor theater and maze for a game of pirates. There's also a Hobby House (craft) and sports facilities. Access: Take the train to Nishi Tachikawa Station on the JR Ome Line which is one stop away from the Tachikawa Station on the JR Chuo Line.
*Koishikawa Botanic Garden, Botanical Gardens of Tokyo University. Excellent collection of plants in a pleasing arrangement with ponds, woods, greenhouses and beds. Scientific labels on the plants make for easy study. Go especially for the ume blossoms in March and the avenue of maples in November. Access: 3-7-1 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. A 15-minute walk from Myogadani Subway Station on the Marunouchi line.
Komazawa Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. This park is dominated by the huge gymnasium which was once used for the Tokyo Olympics. It mostly consists of a stroll on a elliptical concrete but tree-lined path that surrounds the gym. Access: Komazawa Koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-0013. From Shibuya on the JR Line, get to the Komazawa koen bus stop via Tokyu bus bound for Denenchofu or from Ebisu on the JR Line take the Tokyu bus bound for Yoga and then walk for 15 minutes walk from Komazawa daigaku bus stop. Map info is available.
Koriyama Ryokusui-en
, Fukushima prefecture. The garden offers 100 sq. kilometers of nature for forest walks, bird-watching, camping, barbecue, splashing in the Gohyaku River and rolling around on the lawn. You can also sample edible wild plants, akahara fish temupra and salted broiled trout at the rest house. Access: 15 minute drive from Koriyama I.C. Phone: 024-959-6764
Koriyama Rainbow Flower Park, Fukushima prefecture. A 20 sq. km park famed for iris viewing. Phone: 0248-73-0051 Access: 40 minute drive by car from Koriyama Minami I.C. Kinuta Park, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. A green lung for the Tokyo area, the park serves as a family park with lawns and athletics facilities. Access: Kinuta koen 1-1, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 157-0075) See access and map info
Kuju Hana Koen, Oita prefecture. Around 2 million colorful flowers from 200 different species bloom all over the vast grounds. Gelato made from strawberries and abundant herbs, or original herb meals and potpourri souvenirs are popular with visitors. A beautiful place to visit when summer or fall flowers such as Cosmos are in bloom. Phone: 0974-76-1422 Access: 850, Kuju-kougen, Oita Prefecture 878-0201.
Kuju Lavender Garden
, Handa-kogen Heights in Kokonoe-machi Town. During lavender season, from the end of June to the end of July, 20,000 lavenders turn a vast area of 150 acres of the hill a beautiful purple. Access: Handa-kogen, Kokonoe-machi, Kusu-gun, Oita Prefecture.
*Kyoto Botanic Garden. Extensive collections of plants all labeled with their Latin scientific names. Of special interest are the bamboo collection, and collections of plums, cherries, lotus, medicinal and economic plants. Access: 15 minute walk from Kitaoji Station at the north of the subway line.
Kurumayama-Kogen in Nagano is a mountain (1,550-1925m) resort park that is self-contained with sports facilities, accommodation, ski lifts, nature hiking trails (8 or more), fishing, etc. 3 hr-drive from Tokyo on the Chuo highway.
Machida Dahlia Garden, Yamasaki-machi The largest dahlia Garden in Japan with 4,000 dahlias (500 varieties). The Garden is situated on a small hill in Yamasaki-machi. Access: 1213-1 Yamasaki-machi Phone: 042-722-0538 From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Nozuta Shako via Honmachida, or the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, from Tsurukawa Station take the bus for Machida Station via Honmachida, and get off at Imaiyato. Or, take the Yamasaki Danchi bus from Machida Bus Center, and get off at Kita Ichigo. Best viewed at the peak of summer - through August.
Machida Ebine Garden, Hon-machida. Attractions include about 100,000 calanthes, as well as lady-slippers, bagiboshi, and other wild plants. Access: 3132-1 Honmachida Phone: 042-724-2163 Take the Fujinodai Danchi bus from Platform #1 of the Machida Bus Center, and get off at Fujinodai.
Machida Peony Garden, Minken no Mori, Machida city. Most famous for peony viewing which takes place from around the last week of April to the first week of May. 1,200 plants in all are featured in this garden. The 1.6 hectare garden is located at the north side of Yakushi-Ike Park,
and is part of Minken no Mori, a park known for its oak forest. Access: Minken no Mori Park, 2274-1 Nozuta-machi Phone: 042-736-4477. From Machida Station (near POP Building) , take the bus bound for Tsurukawa Station wia Honmachida, of take the Nozuta-Shako bus via Honmachida: get off at Yakushigaoka-mae. Walk for 7 minutes from there.
*Matsumae Koen, Hokkaido. A park that brings together all the Satozakura (100 species) species of Japan. There are 8,000 cherry trees in all. Access: 2 hrs 20 minutes by car from Hakodate along Route 228. Follow signs to Matsumae Koen.
Medicinal Botanical Garden A botanical garden set up by a pharmaceutical university in Shizuoka prefecture.
Medicinal Plant Garden
, Machida-city, Tokyo.
Medicinal Plant Garden of Kobe Pharmaceutical University
Website has a lovely photo gallery of images of birds that have been sighted in the garden.
*Miharu Farm Herb Garden Herb gardens are de rigueur these days. Located on the hill of Abukuma, Miharu makes for a good stroll in its sprawling garden grounds which cover 70,000 square meters and a further 66,000 square meters of its herb farm. There痴 a greenhouse, a park, a herb store, a restaurant and a courtyard. Of course, you are welcome to shop at the store which sells the usual dried flowers, handicrafts, herb oils and soaps, herb tea, and various herb flavored foods including cheese, ham, and bread. Feast on exquisite herb dishes at the restaurant that also serves the garden's own teas. Access: 20 minute drive by car from Koriyama Higashi I.C. or phone for directions: 024-942-7939
Minami Boso, Chiba. Phone: 0470-28-1511 A flower garden with a green hothouse and animal park where kids can go for pony rides.
Mino Park, Osaka is a cool, shady riverside park with its maple trees, is a "koyo" fall-leaf-color viewing spot. Access: near Mino Station on the Hankyu Mino Line.
Mito Municipal Botanical Park. A lovely park in Mito to spot seasonal flowers as well as for fall foliage.
Mizumoto Park, Katsushika-ku. Athletics station and obstacle course; water features, bird-watching area, craft activities and of course lots of flowering trees and shrubs within the 700,000m sq meter grounds. Access: Mizumotokoen 3-2, Katsushika-ku. Phone: 03-3607-8321 Keisei or Chiyoda line, Kanamachi station. A 15-minute bus ride from the station.
Musashino Park Grassy fields and forests along Nogawa River. This park is a part of vast green land over Musashino hills in combination with Sengenyama park, Tama cemetery and Nogawa park. Access: Maehara-cho, Koganei City. Tokyo. In front of [Tamacho Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Tamareien] or [Tamacho] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line. In front of [Musashinokoen Bus Stop] on Keio Bus for [Chofu Sta.] departing from [Musashi-koganei Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Parking facilities available.
Musashi-Kokubunji Park, Izumi-cho, Kokubunji city, Tokyo Access: 7 minutes walk from [Nishi-kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line and JR Musashino Line,10 minutes walk from [Kokubunji Sta.] of JR Chuo Line, Seibu Tamako Line and Seibu Kokubunji Line, Parking facilities available This park is a new one opened to the public in 2002. This area is a part of designated zone of buried cultural property, and a lot of ancient clay pots and arrowheads has been found around there. In the northern part of it, there is a large round-shaped grass of which diameter is 160M. This grass square is expected to be an evacuate shelter in case of large disasters. In the south, there are copses and forests full of wild birds. Adjacent to the park, there is a ruin of "Musashi-kokubunji", a very old temple, which is designated as a national historic site.
Musashinomori, Park, Asahimachi, Fuchu Access: 5 minutes walk from [Tama Sta.] of Seibu Tamagawa Line, Parking facilities available Large grass square, a big pond and a hill are features of this park
Nagai Koen in Southern Osaka has a botanical garden, a natural history museum and a sports stadium where the J-League soccer team Cerezo Osaka plays its home games.
Nagasaki's Nature Parks and Trails, See this guide for detailed info.
Nagasaki Subtropical Botanical Garden
National Park for Nature Study 20 hectares of undisturbed tamed wilderness serves as a nature and conservation centre. Many guided tours and educational classes here but they are in Japanese. Access: 5-21-5 Shirogane-dai, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Walk for 10 minutes from Meguro Station on the JR Yamanote Line.
Niigata Prefectural Botanical Garden
Nishi Zao, outside Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture A park with a panorama view of the city featuring mazes, lots of gym equipment and slides in two large spaces in the lower and upper reaches of the mountain. Access: Take the Nishi Zao Kogen Line to Yasouen which is right opposite the park. Yasouen is itself a nature and plant-viewing park with educational and information facilities.
***Nikko Botanic Garden. Part of the faculty of Science Tokyo University, it is impressive for its comprehensive collections of cherries, azaleas, hydrangeas, magnolias, maples and bush clovers. Access: Hanaishicho 1842 Nikko Tochigi prefecture. 10 minute walk from Toshogu Shrine along the road to Chuzenji. Infrequent buses may be taken from Nikko railway station pass the Botanic gardens.
Ninoseki Shinsui Park. The park boasts of a multi-purpose field, hiking trail, water wheel, aquarium, arbor and is particularly spectacular during the cherry blossom season. Access: 10 min. drive from Sagae Station; 10 minute drive from Sagae I.C.
Nogawa Park
Abundant green and open spaces that beckon soccer, frisbee throwing, kite flying and running around. Several playgrounds here as well. In Mitaka-shi, Tokyo, a 15 minute walk from Tama Bochimae station, JR Tamagawa line. Free entrance. Nature Observation Center(9:30am-4:30pm, Closed: Mondays and Dec. 29-Jan.3), Bird Observation shelter, Shop. Park information: 0422-31-6457 Fax: 0422-31-7471
Nozuta Park, Machida City. A multi-purpose park, with natural vegetation of the Tama Hills. This park has a tack and field competition ground, grass square and tropical botanical gardens. There are also facilities for tea ceremonies. Onoji Yashiki (the Old Mansion) is located in a beautiful formal garden. Access: 2035 Noduta-machi Phone: 042-736-3131. Take bus from bus stop no. 11 at the Machida Bus Center, or board the Nozuta Shako bus at Machida Station (near POP Building) and get off at Nozuta Shako. Walk 10 minutes to the park. Another way is to take the Nozuta Shako bus from Tsurukawa Station (bus stop) and to get off at Nozuta Shako.
Nunobiki Herb Garden in Kobe Access: Take the ropeway/cable car from JR Shin-Kobe Station Phone: 078-271-1131
Odori-koen Park is an airy long city center park with monuments, trees, fountains and seasonal flower beds, the park bordered by grid-like roads is more characteristic of Europe than Japan.
Oike Park, Tsukuba. A park with sports facilities and a pond, this is a good place to rent a row boat. Access: 1477-1 Hojo, off of Route 125 at the base of Mt. Tsukuba
Onioshidashi En Gunma prefecture. Phone: 0279-86-4141 Many picnic spots in this park with natural woods, a deer park, seasonal flower beds.

Omachi Alpine Museum A pleasant museum that introduces alpine vegetation, as well as art and artifacts related to alpinism (letters from Weston and a broken nylon rope item depicted in the novel "The Ice Ridge" by Yasushi Inoue) and the history of climbing the Northern Japan Alps. The tea room has a good view. (web info in English)
Osaka Prefectural Flower Garden
Orchid Sanctuary Dogashima
Rinshino-mori-koen, Shimo-meguro, Meguro, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3792-3800 Wooded park with pond well-suited to kids' play. The park started as the Meguro Experimental Nursery in 1900, the name was subsequently changed to the Forestry Research Station and being used until 1978. This Station was moved to Tsukuba Research City and the parkland was opened to the public as Rinshi No Mori Park in 1989 after some overhauls. This park has many giant trees of over 100 years old. Access: 10 minutes walk from Musashi Koyama Stn of Tokyu Meguro Line,1 minute walk from Rinshinomori Iriguchi Bus Stop on Tokyu Bus for Gotanda Stn departing from Shibuya Stn of JR Yamanote Line
Roka Koshun-en
Setagaya ward, Tokyo This used to be the house and garden of Roka Tokutomi, one of the most popular authors in the Meiji and Taisho eras. He and his wife, Aiko, spent the latter half of their lives here. He called his garden "Koshun-en" and lived there for 20 years until his death in 1927. Other than an old house,there are Roka Memorial Hall, his grave and some other facilities. Access: Kasuya, Setagaya Ward. 15 minutes walk from [Roka Koen Sta.] or [Hachimannyama Sta.] of Keio Line, Parking facilities available.
Rosemary Park, Minami Boso, Chiba A Rosemary garden and other herbs-garden park with a picturesque chapel. Rosemary honey for sale and other herb products for sale. Phone: 0470-46-2882 for directions.
Ryonan Park, Nagafusacho, Hachioji city, Tokyo. This park is situated along the Minami-Asakawa River. It was the cycle racing ground of the Tokyo Olympics, and opened to the public as a park just after the Olympics. It is divided into two zones, the open space with baseball grounds and children’s park on the other side of the river.
Sagae Park, Nagaoka, Sagae City. Visited for its azalea gardens, forestry experimental station and herb garden and sports facilities (stadium). Access: 20 minutes' walk from Sagae Station. 10 minutes' drive from Sagae I.C.
**Sagamihara Asamizo Koen. Sagamihara's best park is usually featured in photos with its tall observation tower. Actually a combination of several parks, it has sprawling flower-covered fields and open spaces, fountains, playgrounds an athletic course, petting zoo and pony rides and even a botanical garden. Access: 2317-1 Asamizodai, Kanagawa prefecture. For other parks in Sagamihara city, see the city office's online Living Guide.
Sai-no-Kuni Fure’ai no Mori Forest, Saitama Phone: 0494-56-0026 Access: 447 Nakatsugawa, Chichibu-shi. Short walk from Nakatsugawa bus stop. Catch the bus bound for Nakatsugawa at Mitsumine-guchi Sta., Chichibu Line.
Saitama Nature Park Phone: 042-934-4396 Access: 889-1 Miyadera, Iruma-shi 10-minute walk from Hagiwara bus stop. Catch bus bound for either Miyadera-Nishi or Hakonegasaki-eki at Kotesashi Sta., Seibu-Ikebukuro Line.
Saitama Mizu Yijyo Koen in Saitama is a water park that features a variety of pools to splash in, slide around in, etc. Phone: 048-773-6711
Saitama Prefectural Nature Study Center
Sayama Hill Flora & Fauna Interaction Center Phone: 04-2939-9412 Access: 782 Arahata, Tokorozawa-shi 15-minute walk from Shimo-Yamaguchi Sta., Seibu-Sayama Line.
Siebold Memorial Museum, Nagasaki prefecture. This is a memorial museum of Philipp Franz von Siebold(1796-1866) (English & Japanese) the German physician who was one of the first Europeans to study Japan in depth. Paved the way for later research and modern science, he conducted research not only on medicine but also on botany and zoology - many of the botanical species are still named after him.
***Sazanka Plateau Picnic Park and Shirakimine Plateau are flower-viewing spots for fields and carpets of the seasonal flowers. Take a virtual visit via video clips Click on the Ken-ou area.
Serigaya Park. Access: 5-1679 Haramachida. From Machida Station, walk for 10 minutes to reach the park. Lots of green, sculptures, pools for kids to splash around in, a watery flower garden with rabbit-ear irises, and a variety of playground equipment. The Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts is located on one side of the park.
Shimin Shikinomori (Shimin Citizen's Forest aka Komaki City Park) Komaki city, Nagoya that includes a Forest of Insects, Citizen's Forest and Adventure Park. The website is in English.
*Shimizu Koen is a lovely family park that has everything: wooded areas, fantastic adventure-camp-athletics course equipment, a man-made paddle-stream that is popular with toddlers in summer, fountains, petting zoo. The wooden pirate-ship jungle-gym is a hit with kids too. Access: Shimizu, Noda-shi, 908 banchi, Chiba Prefecture. (website in Japanese) See map
Shimizuzaka Park, Kita-ku, Tokyo. Access: Kita-ku, half way between Akabane Station and Jujo Station (west of the Saikyo line).
***Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Considered to be one of the most important of the Meiji era gardens and it is a blending of three styles: French Formal, English Landscape and Japanese Traditional. Intended as an imperial garden, it was redesigned by a French professor of horticulture and opened to the public after WWII. 58.3 hectares of land with 20,000 trees including tulip trees, planes, Himalayan cedars and bald cypresses. This is a good place to watch the annual Chrysanthemum Exhibition. Access: 3 minute walk from Shinjuku-gyoen-mae subway station on the Marunouchi Line or the Sendagaya Station on the JR Sobu Line, turn right outside the station, go under the railway line and then make a left turn. (website in English, Japanese)
*Shiretoko Museum Shiretoko was designated a World Heritage site in 2005 and this is the only place you can drop into in the area to learn all about the Shiretoko's nature and wildlife.
Shinrin Koen (Musashi Kuryo Government Park (in English) in Saitama is a fabulous park that has an arboretum showcasing botanical plants, a fabulous athletic adventure park as well as an imaginative and creative playground/playland for kids, not to mention the cute little bus that you can get ride around the park in. Konchu Festa (Bug Festa) is held in summer till Sep 3 showcasing 20 species of "huge" and "cute" insects. Shokubutsu-en Botanical Gardens in Sapporo has thousands varieties of alpine plants and trees, local as well as species from around the world. Chuo-ku, Sapporo.
Showa-no-mori Koen
The largest park in Chiba city, it offers lots of attractions from adventure and athletics-obstacle course equipment for kids, to flower-viewing gardens to sunny lawns (Sunshine Place) as well as camping facilities.
Showa Kokuritsu Kinen Koen, Tachikawa. Access: Closest station Nishi Tachikawa Station (on the JR Ome Line) or one stop from Tachikawa Station (JR Chuo Line) For a review of the park's facilities, see here.
**Southeast Botanical Gardens, Okinawa. Renowned for being Okinawa's most beautiful tropical gardens, the other attractions include its butterfly garden and bug gallery, petting zoo, kaleidoscope workshop and many more. Access: Drive towards Kadena Gate 3 from Kadena Gate 2 and turn right towards Chibana Housing as soon as the Kadena Gate 3 is on your left, drive on straight as the Gardens are just up ahead. See this review.
Tanbara Rose Garden in Ehime has 6 hectares of roses grown using a Dutch technique but uniquely improved here. Eleven kinds of roses in many colors  bloom marvelously.
430 Tanouwagata, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City Phone: 0898-68-3375
Tanbara Park, Saijo, Ehime spreads from Mt. Ofudeyama commanding a panoramic view of the open sea of Hiuchinada to the ruins of Mimigane Castle. There are many facilities including a multipurpose open space, tennis courts, Mimigane Fort Play Yard, and trails. This is an enjoyable place for both the young and the elderly. Kumyoji, Tanbara-cho, Saijo City Phone: 0898-68-5580
Tambara Lavender Park, Gunma. The largest lavender fields in the Kanto region. Location: Tanbara Kogen, Numata city, Gunma Phone: 0278-23-9311. Access: Take train for Minakami via JR Joetsu line at Ueno stn towards Takasaki, Gunma and get off at Numata stn. Then take a taxi to the park. The park is a 2 hr-drive to get to via the Kan'etsu Jidoushado Highway. Photos of the park here and here. Note that the area in the Tanbara Marshland - often referred to as "Small Oze" where various wild flowers bloom throughout the season - is a great place for hiking. Tanbara Highlands has the largest beech forest in the Kanto area and is located on the north tip of Numata City, Gunma Prefecture. On the west side of Mount Hotaka (2158 meters high above sea level) rage, and Mount Kanomata (1637 meters) and Mount Amagahage (1466 meters) also surround the city. The city itself in the woods, spreading out on the slope of a volcanic mountain range, between 1000 to 1600 meters.
Tayake-koyakei-fureai-no-sato, Tokyo. A satoyama park where citizens, families, children can volunteer to help maintain the paddies. Phone: 042-652-3072
Tojo Historical Museum, Matsudo. See photos of the garden.
Tokorozawa Airplane Memorial Park, Saitama. A sprawling park with playgrounds, grassy and flower spaces, rollerblading areas and an aviation museum with an IMAX Theatre. Access: A short walk from Koukuu Koen on the Seibu Shinjuku line.
Tokyo Yumenoshima Tropical Botanical Garden. 3 enormous glass domes house the 4,256 plants of 106 species including breadfruit, banana, coffee, palm and mango. Access: 7 minute walk from Shin-kiba Subway Station on the Yurakucho Line. Next to Yumenoshima Sports Centre.
Toritsu Shakujii Koen, Nerima-ku, Tokyo. Features two lakes with pedal boats for rental, a fishing area for kids (free) a baseball field. There are two temples just next to the park.Access: Nearest train station is Shakujii koen station on the Seibu-Ikebukuro Line. Walk for 7 minutes from the station's south exit.
Tsukuba Botanical Garden, Tsukuba city, Ibaraki prefecture. See here for access info.
Tsuruma Park. Noted for its Rich forest cover and large grassy sports ground open to the public from Wednesday and the third Sunday of the month. Access: 3-1-1 Tsuruma From Minami Machida Station, a 3 minute-walk there.
Tsurumi Ryokuchi-koen and the Sakuya Konohana-kan in Tsurumi-ku, Osaka offer a collection of more than 2,600 species and 15,000 specimens from all over the world in its gigantic greenhouse. There are tropical water plants, arctic flowers, insectivorous plants. It has well-landscaped gardens and many varieties of flower beds and is said to be one of the best-designed and loveliest botanical parks in Japan. Location: 2-163 Ryokuchi-Koen, Tsurumi-ku Phone: 06-6912-0055 Access: 10 mins walk from Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi subway line
Shin-rin Koen, Saitama. Beautiful garden park with playgrounds, climbing and slide and rent-a-bike facilities. Access: 1 hour from Ikebukuro, take the Tobu-Toju line to its terminus.
Ueno Park, Tokyo. You can come here for a stroll and for sakura-viewing, but most people come here for the collection of museums that are here, read a review of those.
Uozu Buried Forest Museum (website in Japanese)
Utsubo Koen used as an airstrip by the kamikaze during World War II, is now better known for its summer roses and spring cherry blossoms. This park is located along the Zenpukuji River and there are 12 bridges in the park.The river flooded quite often in the past and considerable work on the river embankment was carried out from 1955, which made an artificial Wadabori Lake.King fishers have their habitats in this area which is very rare in a city life. Access: Get to the park which is located between Honmachi and Yodoyabashi stations via the Yotsubashi subway line.
Wadabori Park, Omiya, Suginami-ku Tokyo. Access: 15 minutes walk from [Nishieifuku Sta.] of Keio Inokashira Line,
Parking facilities available.
*Yakushi Park, Yakushi-machi, Yamagata prefecture. Features children's playground, woods, fountain, ponds and cherry blossom-viewing. Access: 15 minutes by bus from Yamagata station.
***Yakushi-ike Koen, Nozuta-machi, Machida-city Yakushi-Ike Park is considered among the 100 most lovely sights of Tokyo. A Japanese landscape garden that is famed for its most enormous lotus pond that had been sown from lotus seeds more than 2,000 year-old (with the most enormous Oga lotus leaves) possibly the largest in Japan. It is also a great spot for hanami, with its 300 plum trees, others such as cherries, wisteria, irises and camellia. Inside the park is another garden called the Manyo Kusabana En Flower Garden that has a collection of more than 70 types of the flowers and wild plants mentioned in the Manyoshu (ancient collection of poems), some of which are endangered species. In addition, the garden cultivates 260 other varieties of wild plants. Other attractions include two old minka houses from the Edo period. Access: From Machida Station (near POP Building ) take the bus bound for Nozuta Shako via Hon-machida, or take the Tsurukawa Station bus. Get off at Yakushi-Ike. Phone: 042-734-8527
Yamanashi Flower Center in Yamanashi. is known for its spectacular displays of flowers, particularly tulips . (Website in Japanese)
Yamanashi Kenritsu Yatsugatake Center Fureai Yatsugatake Alpine garden where hikes through woodchip trails and panoramic alpine views are to be had. Trails lead through mountain vegetation such as yama-tsutsuji (mountain azaleas) and karamatsu pines. Phone: 0551-48-2900 for access and info.
Yamanakako-Flower Capital Park, Yamanashi is 8 times the size of Tokyo Dome and features 50 kinds of flower bed-themes. Throughout the year. Phone: 0555-62-5587 for access and info.
Yoro Park in Gifu Its attractions are reviewed here.
in Hachioji, Tokyo is a large satoyama park where citizens - families and children can volunteer their help in maintaining the paddy fields. This spot is known for its Christmas illuminations.

(For details on each garden, scroll down this page to check under the alphabetical listing or consult the excellent Bowdoin's Japanese Gardens)


1 Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gyosho)
2 Nijo Castle
3 Nanzenji Garden
4 Ryoanji
5 Daitokuji
6 Katsura Villa
7 Tenryuji
8 Daigoji
9 Byodoin
10 Kinkakuji & Ginkakuji


11 Kenrokuen, Kanazawa
12 Ritsurin Koen, Takayama
13 Korakuen, Okayama
14 Sankei-en, Yokohama
15 Zuisenji, Kamakura
16 Kairakuen, Mito
17 Motsuji, Hiraizumi
18 Urakuen, Inuyama
19 Kokouen, Himeiji
20 Shukkei-en, Hiroshima
21 Joeiji, Yamaguchi
22 Komyozenji, Dazaifu
23 Suizenji koen, Kumamoto
24 Sengan-en, Kagoshima
25 Shikinaen, Naha in Okinawa 26 Mt Koya痴 temple gardens


27 Imperial Palace East Garden
28 Rikugien
29 Koishikawa Korakuen Denpoin Temple Garden
30 Hama Rikyu Park


*Azalea Park at the Takagi Castle, Nagasaki Prefecture. A park that has scenic views and a graceful stone bridge. Click on the Ken-ou area at the website.
Bampaku Kinen Koen in north Osaka was the site of the 1970 World Exposition, and has five museums and a Japanese garden. Access: Take the Midosuji subway line to Senri Chuo and change to the Osaka Monorail, which will take you to Bampaku Kinen Koen Station.
***Byodoin temple's Phoenix Hall, Kyoto, is among the most architecturally and historically significant examples of Buddhist architecture. And it features the most beautiful of Japan's Pure Land Gardens, now rare but that was a garden typical of the Heian Period. Access: Take one of the many local or rapid trains to JR Uji Station on the JR Nara Line and it's a 15 minute walk from there to Byodoin.
***Daitokuji Temple Complex, Kyoto is considered one of the foremost places of zen Buddhism in Japan, and a visit for the zen-style buildings and the Daisennin zen rock garden is a must. Access: Take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station, and then a 5 minute bus ride or 15 minute walk to the temple.
***Daigoji temple complex, another UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto, has the famous beautiful garden that was built for Toyotomi Hideyoshi's cherry-blossom-viewing/hanami-party of 1598. Not to be missed is the Bentendo small temple hall that has a picturesque garden setting with a graceful bridge. Access: From Kyoto Station, take the JR Tokaido, Kosei or Biwako Line to Yamashina Station and transfer to the Tozai Subway Line. Get off at Daigoji which is the final station on the Tozai Subway Line, then walk for 15 minutes to the temple.
***Hama Rikyu, Detached Palace Garden on the edge of Tokyo Bay. One of Tokyo's best. Once an imperial garden retreat, the extensive stroll garden has a tidal pond and wooded surroundings that were formerly duck-hunting grounds. There's also a teahouse. Access: 15 minute from Shimbashi Station, Tokyo (Ginza Line and JR Yamanote Line). Can also be accessed by boat from Asakusa via the Sumida River Line. The contrast with Shiodome's skyscrapers makes for dramatic interest. Read a review...
***Imperial Palace East Gardens. The East Gardens were formerly the innermost defense parts of Edo Castle, the honmaru ("main circle") and ninomaru ("secondary circle"). Today none of the castle's main buildings remain, except for the moats, walls, entrance gates and some guardhouses. A Japanese style garden has been created in place of the buildings of the ninomaru. The garden is famed for its irises, azaleas, pines and cherries (plus of course the view of the old honmaru (donjon) keep of the original palace. Access: Make your way to Otemachi Station on the Subway Chiyoda, Tozai, Marunouchi, Hanzomon and Mita Lines and walk a short way to the Otemon entrance, or from the Tokyo station it's a 5-10 minute walk to the gardens (Nearest landmark - the Palace Hotel in the Marunouchi District).
***Joeiji temple, Yamaguchi prefecture. The temple (not to be confused with the one in Kamakura) is famous more for its zen garden than for the temple itself. This is because the garden was built by Sesshu, a household name in Japan ・he was the famous monk, painter and garden designer Sesshu. The garden is featured in one of Sesshu's landscape paintings. Access: From Tokyo, you would probably take the hikari shinkansen (5 hours) westward to Shin-Yamaguchi Station and then another train (20 minutes) to the central Yamaguchi Station. Joeiji is 6 km north of the central station. For more detailed see access info and maps.
***Kaira-kuen in Mito, Ibaraki prefecture is one of the most famous gardens particularly for its 3,000 ume plum trees, (over 100 species) and their spectacular blossoms in early to mid March. There are also many of cherry trees.l
*** Komyozenji Dazaifu, is a zen temple famed for its beautiful rock garden built during the Kamakura period. Combine with a visit to the adjacent Dazaifu Tenmangu, a graveyard set in a beautiful garden. Access: From Tenjin Station in central Fukuoka (also known as Nishitetsu Fukuoka Station), take a Nishitetsu limited express to Futsukaichi Station (12 minutes) and take a connecting train to Dazaifu Station (5 minutes) via the Dazaifu Line and then it's a 5 minute walk to Komyozenji. See access map
***Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura Rikyu) is considered by historians and architects as one of the finest examples of pure Japanese architecture and garden design. To visit, you must join a guided tour by the Imperial Household Agency and obtain permission to visit the villa in advance at the office of the Imperial Household Agency next to the Kyoto Imperial palace. Reservations over the internet are also possible. Access: Take the Karasuma Subway Line from the Imperial Palace or Kyoto Station to Shijo Station and transfer to the Hankyu Kyoto Line to Katsura Station. From the station, it's a short walk to the villa. Or take the direct bus no. 33 from Kyoto Station, getting off at Katsura Rikyu-mae and walk for about 5 minutes to the villa.
Ken-min-no-mori Prefectural Park, Onna Village, Okinawa. A park with camping facilities, slides, jungle gyms, and grassy areas. For a review and access info, see this link.
***Kenrokuen, Kanazawa. Considered by many to be one of "Japan's three most beautiful landscape gardens" or the best of them all, because the garden is the embodiment of perfection since it is thought to possess the six characteristics for a perfect garden: spaciousness, seclusion, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water. Its name literally means "Garden of the Six Sublimities". Once part of the Kanazawa Castle grounds, the garden has many bridges that run over ponds, streams. It also has the subtly arranged waterfalls, rocks, landscaped flowers and teahouses.
Kinkakuji in Kyoto, once intended as a new residence for retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu was converted into a zen temple in 1408 upon his death. The Golden Pavilion building that is covered in gold leaf is world-famous. The total effect of the Golden Pavilion in the beautiful zen grounds is stunning. Access: From Kyoto Station, take direct bus no. 101 or 205 or take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kitaoji Station and from the station, a short bus ride to the pavilion. / Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) in Higashiyama, that was built by shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa, was modeled after the Kinkakuji. Access: Ginkakuji can be accessed by direct bus no. 4, 17 or 100 from Kyoto Station.
Kiyosumi Garden in Koto-ku, Tokyo. Rocks collected from all over Japan laid out in a landscape garden. Access: 15 minute walk from Monzen-Nakacho Subway Station on the Tozai Line.
***Koishikawa Korakuen, Tokyo. One of Tokyo's oldest and most elegant of its traditional Japanese gardens from the early Edo Period. Korakuen reproduces famous landscapes from China using a pond, stones, plants and a man made hill. At its best during late November for the fall colors and in late February for the plum festival and when the weeping cherry tree is in full bloom. Access: 7 minute walk from Korakuen Subway Station (Marunouchi Line) or 7 minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the JR Yamanote Line and Tozai and Yurakucho Subway Lines.
***Kokoen garden, Himeji city, is famous for the nine separate gardens representing the different styles of the Edo period. It is a fairly new garden however, built only in 1992 on the former site of the feudal lords' west residence (Nishi-Oyashiki). Features include a tea garden, a pine tree garden, flower garden, bamboo garden and pond with waterfall. Access: From Himeji Station, walk for 20 minutes or take a 5 minute bus ride along the Otemae-dori Street to the Himeji Castle and then it's a short walk from the castle's Otemon (main) gate. You can take a nozomi or hikari shinkansen from Tokyo via the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen line to Himeji Station (3-3.5 hours).
***Korakuen, Okayama prefecture is ranked as among Japan痴 top three gardens. The landscape garden's features include woods, ponds, teahouses and pavilions, several shrines. You would of course also want to visit Okayama Castle which is adjacent to Korakuen. Access: Go to JR Okayama Station where you'll take a streetcar bound for Higashiyama, but get off at Shiroshite Station (the third stop) and then walk for about 5 minutes to the garden.
***Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gyosho) used to the imperial residence until 1868. Access: From Kyoto Station, take a 10 minute-ride on the Karasuma Subway Line to Marutamachi or Imadegawa Station. Imadegawa Station is closer to the agency's office. You need to apply for permission (bring your passport) to enter the grounds there and to join a guided tour.
Maizuru Park, the grounds adjacent to Fukuoka Castle and Ohori Park and its lake which used to be the moat forming part of Fukuoka's castle defenses. The castle itself is but ruins but Maizuru park is a good place to visit in spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom while Ohori Park has boating facilities and offers a 2 km trail that is used for joggers or walks. There is a classy French restaurant for fine dining. Access: Jyo-nai, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka. A 10 min walk from Ohori-Koen subway stn./Ohori Koen, CHuo-ku is a 7 min walk from Ohori-koen subway stn.
Meigetsuin Temple and Garden, Kamakura. Also known as Ajisai-dera, the temple is famous for its garden of hydrangeas (but it also has a stunning bamboo grove). Access: From Kita-Kamakura station on the JR Yokosuka Line, it's a 10 minute walk to reach there. Read a review
*Meiji Shrine Inner Garden, Tokyo. Famed for 100 varieties of Iris in mid-June. Access: 5 minute walk from Harajuku Station on JR Yamanote Line.
***Motsuji Garden, Hiraizumi. The garden is famous as one of Japan's rare still-existing Pure Land Gardens (a garden which reproduces the Buddhist ideal of the pure land or "paradise" and which was popular during the Heian period (794-1185). Founded in 850 and under the Fujiwara clan's rule, the temple complexes here thrived and rivaled Kyoto. Motsuji was once part of Tohoku's largest temple complex. Unfortunately, Hiraizumi was razed to bits by Minamoto Yoritomo after it became a refuge to Yoritomo's rival and brother Yoshitsune, though so today inside Motsuji's garden, only the foundations of the former buildings are left. Access: From Tokyo, take the JR Tohoku shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station from which you take a 7 minute ride on the local JR Tohoku Line to Hiraizumi. From the JR Hiraizumi Station, Motsuji is a 10 minute walk away. You can make the whole journey in about a little over 3 hours.
Mount Koya's temple complex gardens. The headquarters of the Shingon sect Kongbu-ji Temple has sprawling grounds with a stone garden that is said to rival Kyoto's best gardens. Visitors also come here to see the mausoleum of Kukai, Oku-no-In, in the east of Koya town, which is lit by thousands of lanterns which are said to have been lit since Kukai's death over 1000 years ago. The mausoleum and the adjacent graveyard has a picturesque setting among giant Japanese cedar (cryotomeria) trees with winding paths. Another attraction is the Garan temple complex designed by Kukai on the western side of the town. The UNESCO designated World Heritage site is located in a 800m-high valley amidst the 8 peaks of the mountain. Access: Take the train from Osaka's Namba Station via the Nankai Electric Railway to Gokurakubashi at the base of the mountain. Koya's limited expresses take 80 (1610yen) while ordinary expresses take 90 minutes (850yen). A cable car from Gokurakubashi brings you to the top in 5 minutes (360yen) and a bus takes you to town (5-15 minutes). See more access info.
***Nanzenji Garden, Kyoto The main building called the Seiryo-den, is famous for its beautiful rock garden and the fusuma decorated by art of the Kano school. Some of the subtemple's smaller gardens such as that of Nanzenin are visited for the spectacular fall foliage. Access: Take bus no. 5 from Kyoto Station or the subway via the Tozai Line to Keage Station. Or from Karasuma Oike Station (on the Karasuma Line) take the subway Tozai Line to Keage Station and walk for 10 minutes to the temple.
***Nijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The famous Ninomaru palace building, as it is now known, was completed in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shogun and his successors, and is famous for its Momoyama architecture, decorated sliding doors and squeaky floors that warn of intruders. Access: Via the Tozai Subway Line from Nijojo-mae Station or from Kyoto Station, via Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line.
Rakusuien (Garden) in Fukuoka is a beautiful lush circular garden surrounded by a traditional Hakata-style stone wall. There is open to visitors a teahouse, a replica of the one used by Meiji-era merchant Shimozaki Chikamasa.
***Rikugien, Tokyo. Rikugien literally means "six poems garden" and reproduces in miniature 88 scenes from famous poems. It has a central pond with islands, man-made hills. Its attractions include azaleas, 18th century Japanese gardenscape, koi (carp) and teahouses. Access: The garden's Someimon Gate is a 8-minute walk from Komagome Station on JR Yamanote Line or Subway Namboku Line.
***Ritsurin Koen, Takamatsu. The garden, considered to be one of Japan's most beautiful traditional landscape gardens and photos of its graceful bridge may be found in every calendar on Japanese gardens. Access: From Takamatsu station, take a train to either the Kotoden Ritsurin-Koen Station (which is a 5-10 minute walk from the garden) or to the JR Ritsurinkoen-kitaguchi Station (which is a 5 minute walk).
***Ryoanji, Kyoto Perhaps the most famous and photographed garden for its karesansui (dry landscape or rock garden) style. Access: A 5 minute bus ride (or 15 minute walk west of Kinkakuji). Or take the Keifuku Kitano Line bound for Arashiyama, but get off at Ryoanji-michi Station and it's a short walk to the temple.
***Saihoji (Koke-dera or Moss Temple) on the southern foothills of Arashiyama, has one of Kyoto's oldest and greenest gardens. Designed by the priest Muso Kokushi (1275 - 1331), the garden features little islands of moss set in a pond surrounded by yet more moss. Permission must be obtained prior to entering the gardens.
***Sankei-en Garden is one of Yokohama's most-visited attractions, that has a splendid garden (touted by some as no. 1 in the Kanto area) with lakes and ponds that houses a collection of many ancient architectural samples (restored and moved from elsewhere) including a gassho-zukuri farmhouse, tea room, pagoda. The Moon-viewing Festival attracts a cult-like following and photographers who throng the lake-side and the moon-viewing pavilion in search of the perfect moonscape. Access: Take the bus no. 8 from platform no. 2 at Yokohama Station's east exit (near Sogo department store) or Sakuragicho-station or Chinatown, as the bus makes its way past Sakuragicho Station, Chinatown, and through Kannai before it reaches the Honmoku-Sankeien-mae bus stop 30 minutes later (the bus stop is announced in English). (website in English or Japanese)
***Senganen (or Isoteien), Kagoshima's most popular attraction - is a Japanese style landscape garden which belonged, along with the buildings on the grounds to the powerful Shimazu clan that ruled Kagoshima for 700 years. From the JR Kagoshima Chuo Station, take the "Kagoshima City View" bus line that runs every 30 minutes to Senganen.
Shiba Rikyu, Detached Palace Garden Access: Adjoining Hamamatsucho Station, JR Yamanote Line. Get a bird's eye view of the garden by going up the elevator to the top of the World Trade Centre building to the observatory there - access from the same station.
***Shukkei-en, Hiroshima means shrink-scenery gardenand as the name implies, it was intended as a miniaturized reproduction of Chinese scenery with its small islands, pond and bridges and bonsai-ed trees. A pleasant stroll garden originally built for the local feudal lord's villa in the 17th century. Access: From Hiroshima Station, walk for 15 minutes or take streetcar no. 1, 2 or 6 to Hacchobori and then transfer to streetcar no. 9 to just in front of the garden at Shukkeien-mae. Access to Hiroshima from Tokyo can be had via JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen's direct nozomi trains (4 hours).
***Shikinaen, Naha in Okinawa is the garden that complements the Shuri Castle, a 17th century residence of the Ryukyu kings. The expansive Japanese landscaped garden complements the simple and graceful wooden Okinawan-styled palace buildings with their red tile roofs which are also a UNESCO World Heritage building. Access: First you must get on a flight to Naha, then take bus no. 1 which goes directly to Shuri Castle. Alternatively, if taking no. 5, alight at "Shikinaen-mae" bus stop, and walk to the park.
***Tenryu-ji, Kyoto. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the temple is ranked first among Kyoto's "Five Great Zen Temples". Tenryuji's traditional garden is considered one of the oldest of its kind that has survived unchanged in a temple that has a history that goes as far back as 1339. Access: From Kyoto Station, ride the JR Sagano Line (San-in Line) which takes about 15 minutes to the JR Saga-Arashiyama Station and get off at the and then walk for 5 minutes to Tenryuji.
*Urakuen, Inuyama The Japanese style garden at the foot of Inuyama Castle is celebrated mainly for the Jo-an teahouse. Visit both the garden and the castle which is noteworthy because its donjon is Japan's oldest and also because it offers panoramic views of the surroundings. Access: Take a 15-20 minute walk from either Inuyama Station or Inuyama-Yuen Station (the latter is closer) to Urakuen.
***Zuisenji, far eastern part of Kamakura. One of Japan's best known zen temples and gardens, the pure zen rock garden was designed by one of Japan's most foremost garden designers - Zen priest Muso Kokushi. Access: From Kamakura Station, it takes about 45 minutes to walk there. It can also be reached by taking a wooded hiking trail that starts from Kenchoji and that takes about an hour or more to complete. Alternatively take a bus from the Kamakura-gu Shrine, and then a short walk to the temple.


-Akatsuka Botanical Garden and Manyo Medical Plant Garden
-Denpoin Temple Garden
-Horikiri Iris Garden
-Meijiro Garden
-Nanushi Waterfalls Garden
-Nezu Institute of Fine Arts Garden
-Otaguro Garden
-Roka Garden
-Shin Edogawa Garden
-Tokyo Metropolitan Medical Plant Garden.

To know more about the elements of a Japanese Garden, consult this introductory online guide to Japanese Gardens; for reviews of parks with photos, a good resource is to be found at the Homeschooling in Japan's Outings page.



Atsugi City Children's Science Center(Japanese)

Children's Ferrite & Science Museum, Akita (in English) features a high-tech museum, a jungle-gym, a Soap Bubble Castle which is really a giant molecular jungle gym, "fuwa fuwa dorm" which is a giant trampoline in the shape of a conch.

Chiba Museum of Science and Industry

Discovery Park Yaizu

(The) Earth Simulator Center, Japan Agency for Marine- EarthScience and Technology (JAMSTEC)
JAMSTEC is famous for its supercomputer the world's fastest, which is used to make 30-year weather forcasts that predict typhoons, storms, blizzards and other weather phenomenon, including superstorms. The objectives of JAMSTEC are to advance our understanding of the space environment is in great demand now as the dynamic activities of the Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere can influence modern technology systems and endanger human life and health. The numerical simulation and modeling driven by integrated observations are powerful methods for understanding the complex Sun-Earth system, and they are an important means for predicting space weather. Its science program and workshops are often press-worthy. 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama 236-0001

Earthquake Learning Center helps you learn of the reality of the damage that is unleashed by major earthquakes and how to prevent earthquake damage and to make countermeasures. There is also a corner for learning how to put out fires. Earthquake Learning Center at Meguro Disaster Prevention Center 1-19-7 Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Phone: 03-5723-8517. Access: “Gakugei Daigaku” Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line-15 minutes walk. Open 9:00am-5:00 pm closed Wed, 2nd Thurs.

(The) Earth Simulator Center, Japan Agency for Marine- EarthScience and Technology (JAMSTEC)
JAMSTEC is famous for its supercomputer the world's fastest, which is used to make 30-year weather forcasts that predict typhoons, storms, blizzards and other weather phenomenon, including superstorms. The objectives of JAMSTEC are to advance our understanding of the space environment is in great demand now as the dynamic activities of the Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere can influence modern technology systems and endanger human life and health. The numerical simulation and modeling driven by integrated observations are powerful methods for understanding the complex Sun-Earth system, and they are an important means for predicting space weather. Its science program and workshops are often press-worthy. 3173-25 Showa-machi, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama 236-0001

Ehime Prefectural Science Museum(Japanese)

Ehime Prefectural Science Museum(Japanese)

Fukuoka Science Museum Fukuoka

Gifu City Science Museum

Hachinohe Children's Science Museum

Hamamatsu Science Museum

Isehara City Children's Science Museum

JST Virtual Science Center


Kawaguchi Science Museum

Kawasaki City Youth Science Museum

Kazuaki Iwasaki Space Art Gallery

Kids Plaza Osaka features a combined science museum, culture center and playground with games, toys and characters - a place that is designed to teach children about the world that they live in. Thre e is also a "Cultures of the World" section, for instance, where kids can try on ethnic traditional costumes or American football uniform. 2-1-7 Ogimachi, Kita-ku Phone: 06- 6311-6601Access: Next to exit #2 of Ogimachi Station on the Sakaisuji subway line.

Kitami Region Museum of Science, History and Art

Kobe Science Museum

Koriyama City Fureai Science Center(Japanese)

Kyoto Municipal Science Center For Youth

Kyoto National Museum, Kyoto

***Lake Biwa Museum in Shiga prefecture explains the eco-systems and wildlife around Lake Biwa. Lake Biwa, Japan's largest inland lake. was formed over 4 million years ago and is one of the oldest fresh water lakes in the world. The lake is home to many ecosystems, including some living organisms that exist only in Lake Biwa. Browse the very excellent Living Lakes website's info on Lake Biwa to see why you MUST visit Lake Biwa.The lake was used as a transportation artery with harbors in Otsu and Katada, as well as other cities, and was vital to the development of the area. Since olden times, Kyoto had suffered shortages of drinking water and water for farming and fire-prevention. It had also suffered very poor transportation either by river or canal and depended on horsepower and manpower for overland transportation of goods and supplies between cities. Thus plans had been made for opening a canal from Lake Biwa to Kyoto over the mountains and finally leading the water to Yodo river which reached the commercial city of Osaka downstream. To read about how the Lake Biwa canalization project was a world engineering feat and the world's largest water-power generation plant at the time, see this website.Lake Biwa today supplies drinking water to over 14 million people living in the Kansai area.

Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) Features genome models and models that show you how the internet works using black and white billard balls;; a space training capsule from Masa, with a genuine space toilet, shower etc so you can see how astronauts live; and rescue robots that can go into collapsed buildings to collect information. Museum is bilingual and has bilingual info brochures as well. Closed Tuesdays. Admission: Y500 for adults, Y200 for kids aged 6 to 18. Access: In between Fune no Kagakukan (Maritime Museum) and Telecom Center stations on the Yurikamome, Odaiba.

Mitsubishi-minato-mirai-gijitsukan is located close to Landmark Tower, Yokohama, features 6 zones including environment, space, ocean, construction

Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori

Museum of Future Science and Technology

Miyazaki Science Center

Mukai Chiaki Children's Science Museum

Nagoya City Science Museum(Japanese), Aichi

Nagoya City Museum
, Nagoya, Aichi

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation(English, Japanese)

The National Science Museum, (Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan), Tokyo (in Japanese and English)

Niigata Science Museum(English, Japanese)

Obihiro Children and Youth Science Museum

in Koto-ku, Tokyo, is a state-of-the art (or should it be state-of-the-tech?) digital museum (run by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.) designed to spurr interest in science and mathematics. It features 24 games and displays and hands out hand-held PDA (personal digital assistants) to children at the museum entrance. When your kid holds a PDA over a blue light infront of a display information on the display is shown on the PDA screen. What's really cool at the museum is the Prime Number Hockey. Players compete against one another by selecting prime numbers (integers that are not divisible by other integers except 1 and the integers themselves on their side of the oard). Various integers projected on the hockey board, slide around like discs on an ice hockey rink and when a kid touches a number that isn't a prime number, the number splits and divides itself up. By the time the game is over, even young kids would have learnt the smaller prime numbers by heart. It grants free admission to children of middle school age and younger.2-5-18 Ariake, Koto ward, Tokyo. Phone: 03-3599-2600 (10:00-18:00hrs) Closed on Mondays, year end and beginning of the year. 2-5-18 Ariake, Koto ward, Tokyo
Phone: 03-3599-2600 (10:00-18:00hrs) Closed on Mondays, year end and beginning of the year. RisuPia website's info is in Japanese only.

Saitama Museum of Rivers in Saitama Phone: 048-581-7333 Access: 20-minute walk from Hachigata Sta., Tobu-Tojo Line; or 10-minute bus ride from the south exit of Yorii Sta., Hachiko, Tobu-Tojo, and Chichibu Lines. Get off at the Hakubutsu-kan-mae bus stop
39 Kozono, Yorii-machi)

Sapporo Sewerage Science Museum

Sapporo Science Center(Japanese)

Science Museum Tokyo 

Science Museum of Osaka 

Science and Technology Museum

Sendai Science Museum

Sony ExploraScience Museum in Odaiba, a hands-on interactive museum with the usual optical illusions, explore physics type of instruments and lots of robotic and computerized games and activities. A 3-D visual ride throughtime and space to the big bang, birth of the sun. Access: 5th floor of the Mediage building, part of the Aquacity Odaiba complex, in between Odaiba Kaihinkoen and Odaiba stations on the Yukiamome monorail.line. 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for children aged 3-15. Exhibits are labeled in both English and Japanese. Website in both English and Japanese.

Tamarokuto Science Center

Tanakadate Aikitu Memorial Science Museum

Tohoku Rekisi Hakubutukan

Prefectural Museum
Naruto-shi, Tokushima

Tokyo Mizu-no-kagakukan (Tokyo Water Science Museum) Phone: 03-3528-2366 Free entry. Learn about water, water quality and how the water system works. Take water tours, visit giant underground waterducts, the aqua laboratory and be surrounded by soap suds. 2-4-1 Ariake, Koutou-ku, Tokyo 135-0063 Access and info in English here.

Tomakomai City Science Museum

Tottori Prefectural Museum
Tottori-shi, Tottori

Toshiba Science Museum Phone: 044-549-2200 The museum focuses on a number of themes: energy & environment, computers, space, health, the latest 50s science & technological trends.

Toyama Science Museum

Prefectural Museum
Yamaguchi-city, Yamaguchi

Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center Kofu city, Yamanaishi prefecture has a very good science museum with hands on activities for children - including a snow room, an anti-gravity moon thing, a tornado to view, lots of optical illusions, science experiment shows. 358-1, Atago-machi, Kofu. Phone: 055-254-8151 More info here

Yokohama Science Center Yokohama (website in Japanese and English) THe space exhibits are particularly notable - featuring a Spaceshuttle Captain's chamber, space research laboratory)

Maritime & Transportation Museums

Chikatetsu hakubutsukan
, Tokyo. A subway train museum.

Museum Of Maritime Science
Funenokagukukan, Tokyo Bay is a great place for hands-on learning activities. The museum in Odaiba (Funeno Kagakukan station) in Tokyo promotes "an understanding of shipping and the sea" and is built to imitate a 60,000 tonne luxury cruise liner. Beside it is the dry-docked Japan's first Antarctic observation ship Sohya Maru. 1,000 yen for adults. Open all week as well as weekend.

Marine Science Museum, Tokai University (Tokai Daigaku Kaiyo Kagaku Hakubutsukan) Miho, Shimizu 2389, (0543) 342385 phone 357095

NYK Maritime Museum A museum that informs you of Japan's maritime history and offers a display of the routes that boats took to carry people, materials and culture to other parts of the world after the Meiji era; videos, large-scale replica of a 1920s luxury liner in the magnificent building that was once the historic Yokohama branch office of the shipping company NYK Line. A free cup of tea is offered to visitors.

Osaka Maritime Museum

Tokyo Automobile Museum
(Toyota Hakubutsukan), Nagakute-cho, Aichi

Tokorozawa Aviation Museum, Saitama Phone: 04-2996-2225 Access: 8-minute walk from Koku Koen Sta., Seibu-Shinjuku Line
1-13 Namiki, Tokorozawa-shi (inside Tokorozawa Airport Memorial Park)

Toyota Museum A cool! place to visit with model cars of the future, robots and nostalgic automobiles and other memorabilia (gas pumps).

Transportation Museum (Kotsu Hakubutsukan) 1-25 Kanda Suda-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Yokohama Maritime Museum / Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru

Astronomy Observatories & Planetariums

Akashi Municipal Planetarium 2-6, HItomaru-chou, Akashi, Kyogo 673-0877 Phone: 078-919-5000 (see website for access)

Angel Land
Fukui has a planetarium Entrance 500 yen (adults) 250 yen (primary school) 100 yen (Preschool-K)

Bisei Astronomical Observatory (English here, Japanese site) 1723-70 Ookura, Bisei-cho, Ibara, Okayama 714-1411 Phone: 0866-87-4222 Fax: 0866-87-4224

Dodaira Tenmondai astronomical observatory
. Must phone in advance for reservations: 0493-67-0014 Tokigawamura or village’s Chiiki Shinko-shitsu regional promotion section (Take the Tobu Tojo Line to Ogawamachi Stn in Saitaima Prefecture, and then a local bus to the Shiraishi Shako bus stop. From there it’s a 90 min hike to the Mt Dodaira observatory. There are self-catering accommodation facilities that hikers can stay at while visiting the facility. The observatory is now a recreational facility open to the public. Families may book too.

Hoshino Yakata Astronomical Observatory. "We stayed at the Himeji Municipal Accommodation and Facilities Center. It is fairly new, clean and comfortable. There is a small group of facilities. A Nature Sanctuary, Children's Museum (play area), Science Museum (with planetarium). Himeji attractions & other attractions: We had a great time. Of course, in town there is also Himeji Castle, a zoo and aquarium. I don't know how it rates there on a national scale, but we enjoyed and and plan to go again. The links are below. Just as a side note - they are very accommodating toward food allergies (must notify them in advance). Even the cafe at the science centre put together something special." - LeeseOther links and URLs to check out.

Kakamigahara Aerospace Museum Gifu (Japanese only)

in Gunma conducts tours and seminars for the public.

Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory 488 Shimo-hatanokawa , Kumakogen-cho, Ehime, 791-1212 Phone: 81-892-41-0110 Fax: 81-892-41-0822

Mt Ikoma Space Science Museum (Ikoyama Uchu Kagakukan) 2312-1, Nabatake-cho , Ikoma , Japan Info from Ikoma city page.

Misato Observatory (Japanese only)

Ohotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido Ohotsk Sea Ice Museum of Hokkaido link currently down

The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 229 Invaluable information for those who want to know the history of Japanese Space Research at this URL. Note that ISAS puts a special emphasis on developing children's education and on life-long education aimed at raising a broad understanding and appreciation of science and technology and upon its educational role in meeting school education activities. ISAS staff are very positive toward public lectures requested by a variety of groups and organizations from all over Japan.

Saitama Uchyu-gekijyo in Saitama features a planetarium and a space hall focusing on space research.

Sendai Space Hall

Sendai Astronomical Observatory

Tsukuba Expo Center has a newly renovated planetarium which allows dynamic views of the starry skies - it now has the world's biggest Space Dome. The center has space stations that allow you to feel what it's liketo be an astronaut at NASA or NASDA, it even serves up astronaut food.

Space World, Kitakyushu city, has the distinction of being the first theme park in the world focused on space. Check its attractions out at this page, they are pretty cool!

Urawa Youth Astronomical Museum (Website in Japanese)

Usuda Star Dome in Nagano. Visitors allowed to view the stars between 10:00-21:00 hrs.

Dinosaur museums:

Dinosaur FACTory (English, Japanese) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Panasonic Center, 2-5-18, Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0063 Phone: 81-3-3599-2500 Fax: 81-3-3529-0009

Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum This may well be I think the best dinosaur museum for kids in Japan. Fukui is a key area for dinosaur finds as well. Take the virtual tour of the museum to look at their great facilities.

Gunma Prefectural Museum of History features a cast of Gallimimus is included in the dinosaur exhibit. Access: in Maebashi, Gunma.

Hakone 3D Space & Dinosaur World
Open daily including Golden Week holidays. Access: Take bus bound for "Kojiri-togendai" from Odawara Station (50min.) to Sengokuhara Bunka Center. It’s a 1-minute walk from the bus stop. A 250 inch-wide screen shows how extinct dinosaurs moved their body parts and lived on the earth. Phone: 0460-4-3365, Sengokuhara, Hakone (located beside the St Exupery Museum). PERSONAL COMMENT: Not recommended. It is a dilapidated theme park that does not warrant a visit unless you are nostalgic for movie screens of the 60s. Rusty seats, sand pit, a few fairground games. Very young kids of course won't mind.

Hakusan Dinosaurs Park
Shiramine (webpage in Japanese)

Historical Museum of Hokkaido
(Kaitaku Kinenkan) The museum‘s prehistoric exhibit includes an Allosaurus cast. (The museum has lots of info in English and also has many Ainu cultural artefacs worth taking a look.) Access: Ko-nopporo, Atsubetsu-machi, Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido Phone: (011) 8980456 Admission ¥300 adults, ¥100 university and high-school students, ¥50 children, free for seniors. Website information is posted in English as well as Japanese.

Iwaki City Museum of Coal and Fossils Iwaki, Fukushima Its dinosaur displays feature a cast skeleton of the sauropod Mamenchisaurus. Closed on third Tuesdays. Access: 10 minute walk from JR Joban Line Yumoto Station or if driving, take the Joban Expressway Iwaki-Yumoto IC. (access info in English at website)

Kagoshima Prefectural Museum feature the Allosaurus and Camptosaurus in their dinosaur exhibit. Access: Kagoshima, Yamashita-machi, Kagoshima, Kyushu (Map & Access info in Japanese only. Do not confuse this museum with the Kagoshima Prefectural Museum of Culture which is a different museum altogether)

Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka features a variety of dinosaurs on display including the Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Protoceratops, Triceratops, and Probactrosaurus. (Website in English and Japanese)

Kyoto Municipal Science Center for Youth in Kyoto has skeletal reproductions of the Protoceratops, Saurolophus, and Tarbosaurus. Website in Japanese only.

Makuhari Messe, Chiba, International Hall 7-8, World's largest dinosaurs including "Supersaurs" on display at the Gigantic Dinosaur Expo 2006. See photo. At 9,000 sq. meters of exhibition space, it is the largest of dino-exhibitions ever. The display of the whole skeleton of Seismosaurs, one of the largest dinosaurs, is the first anywhere in the world.

Mifune Dinosaur Museum
Access: 3-995 Mifune Mfinue-machi Kamimashiki-gun Kumamoto 861-3207 Phone: 096-282-4051 Fax: 096-282-4157

Nakasato Dinosaur Center is particularly active in excavations in the Mongol Desert and has a lot of expertise in those species. Make sure you visit their Fighting Dinosaurs webpage. Access info

National Science Museum
(Kokuritsu Kagaku Hakubutsukan) features several dinosaurs including: Allosaurus, Camptosaurus, Coelophysis, Protoceratops, and Tarbosaurus. Access: 7-20 Ueno-kouen Koutou-ku Tokyo 110 Japan Phone: (03) 3822-0111

Niigata Prefectural Natural Science Museum
Highlights: The Natural Science Museum features a Triceratops cast in the Prehistoric exhibit. (English info is available on the website)

Osaka Museum of Natural History
’s prehistoric exhibits include casts of Allosaurus, Coelophysis, Ornitholestes, and Stegosaurus.Nagai Park, Higashi-sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 546 Phone: 06-6976221 Website (English info is available)

Saito Ho-on Kai Museum of Natural History
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture a.k.a. Museum of Natural History, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan A cast of Allosaurus is represented in the prehistoric exhibit. Access: 20-2 Honcho 2-chome, Sendai, Miyagi 980 Phone: (022) 625506

Takikawa Museum of Art and Natural History in Takikawa, Hokkaido JAPAN Tyrannosaurus and Protoceratops casts are included in the prehistoric exhibit. Access: 2-chome 5-30 Shinmachi, Takikawa-shi, Hokkaido 073-0033. Phone: 0125-23-0502

Tochigi Prefectural Museum (Website with English and Japanese info available) Its prehistoric display features casts of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. Access: 4-2-7 Sakura Utsunomiya, Tochigi 320 Phone: 0286- 213566

Tokai University, Natural History Museum
(English webpage is under construction Japanese website link) in Shimizu, Shizuoka The museum has casts of Tarbosaurus and Probactrosaurus on display. Access: Tokai University 2407, Miho Shimizu-shi Shizuika-ken Phone: 0543-342385

Toyohashi Aichi Museum of Natural History Toyohashi, Aichi The museum's collection includes exhibits of: Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Iguanodon, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and an actual anatosaurus fossil (the anatosaurus lived on earth around 67 million years ago). There are many other fossil-related materials, a Georama, and large screen video equipment.

Disaster Science (Volcanoes & Earthquakes) Museums:

Aso Volcano Museum 
Disaster Prevention and Information Center, Shizuoka Prefecture
Disaster Prevention Learning Center, Saitama Phone: 048-549-2313 30 Fukuro, Konosu-shi Access: 20-minute walk from Kita-Konosu Sta., Takasaki Line
Museum of the Mount Bandai Eruption

Tachikawa-bouzaikan(Tachikawa Fire and Disaster Prevention Museum) in Tachikawa-city, Tokyo Phone: 042-521-1119
The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial

Energy & Communications:

Communications Museum Tei-Park (Teishin Sougou Hakubutsukan in Japanese)
Denryokukan in Tokyo features a HUGE "Earth Watching" interactive globe, 3D theater and many other hands on attractions.
Electric Power Historical Museum
Epson Aqua Stadium
Fuji TV Tower (Fujiterebi-honshyabiru), Tokyo. Located in the very popular entertainment district of Odaiba, this museum allows kids to see what a TV studio and equipment look like.
NHK Studio Park in Tokyo. A place where you can learn how TV programmes are made. Meet well-known mascots and characters in the studios here and participate in NHK live studio programmes.

Gas Museum
Genkai Energy Park

Gas Science Museum
Gas Energy Exhibit Hall
Intercommunication Center -- ICC
Kyushu Energy Science Center
Tepco Electoric Energy Museum(Japanese)TEPCO SONIC(Japanese)
Toshiba Science Museum Phone: 044-549-2200 The museum focuses on a number of themes: energy & environment, computers, space, health, the latest 50s science & technological trends. 

Geology, Rocks & Minerals & Mountain and Mining Museums

Children's Ferrite & Science Museum
Crystal Museum
* Fossa Magna Museum The Fossa Magna, a major faultline running through Japan is an important geological part of Japanese topography.
Aso Volcano Museum
in Kumamoto, Kyushu is located in Kusasenri Meadow, in the caldera valley of Mt Aso Japan's and one of the world's most active volcanoes. The museum explains the natural history, geology and flora and fauna of the Aso area. You can also view pictures of the interior of the crater taken with two TV cameras at the crater. Kusasenri is located on the northern mountainside of Mt. Eboshi-dake and is the post-card scene where cows and horses grazing in summer and enjoy skiing and skating in winter. Phone: 0967-34-2111
Geological Museum You can take a virtual mini tour of museum. The museum has lots of geological 3D models e.g. volcanoes of Japan. Fascinating stuff for kids mad about rocks and volcanoes. The museum belongs to the Geological Survey of Japan and is consequently an authority on the geology of Japan.
Hidaka Mountains Center
Jigokudani (Hell Valley) in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido has enough belching sulfurous fumaroles and fissures and the bubbling Oyunuma Pond to rival Owakudani. See here for info and access.

(The) Kiseki Museum of World Stones Shizuoka, a museum of "stone", more than 7,000 collection (English & Japanese)
Kuji Amber Museum(website in Japanese)
Mizunami Fossil Museum
Nakatsugawa Mineral Museum
Omuta Coal Industry and Science Museum (English, Japanese)
Oshika Geological Museum of Japan Median Tectonic Line
Owakudani Shizen Kagakukan (The Owakudani Natural Science Museum) tells you about the natural history, geology, geography as well as flora and fauna of the Hakone area including of course the Owakudani (Valley of Greater Boiling). There are displays on the many kinds of fish in Lake Ashino-ko, a realistic simulation of the eruption of Mt. Kami-yama. Not to be missed -- hike the Owakudani Nature Trail -- Owakudani which is the key attraction for visitors -- being a valley of sulphurous rocks and bubbling mud from which fumaroles and crevices belch sulfurous vapours that can easily overcome the visitor. The 30-minute walk is a grim reminder of the underlying volcanic activity and the dormancy of Mt Fuji and other volcanoes in the Japanese archipelago today -- a real hands on science lesson for children especially those who see fumaroles for the first time. Access: Get to Hakone via the regular (futsuu) train (90 mins) from JR Tokyo station to Odawara on the Tokaido line then from Odawara change to the Hakone-Tozan line to Hakone-Yumoto. OR by Odakyu bus service from Shinjuku stn to Hakone-machi (2 hrs, abt 2,000 yen)
Oya Stone Museum Oyamachi in Utsunomiya City, Tochigi is the source of Oya-ishi or Oya Stone (that Frank Lloyd Wright liked to use in his buildings). Scenery is spectacular and comprises the varied rock formations featuring cliffs and craggy mountains reminiscent of those in Chinese paintings. The town of Oya is the only place where an entire town is built into a mountain of stone. Visit the Oya Museum. As you approach the museum, cliffs and outcrops tower on either side and the museum features an old subterranean stone quarry in a cavern 60 meters below sprawled over 20,000 square meters. Worth seeing are the excavated set of Jomon bones from 7,000 years ago that include an intact skeleton noted for the high bridged nose structure, folded arms and legs burial manner and evidence of cannibalism in one of the excavated bones which had signs of being cut by a sharp stone implement. Access is by rapid train on the Tohoku-housen-line (1.5 hrs)or 50 min by shinkansen to reach. During the visit to Oyamachi, the Oya-ji cave temple founded by Kukai is one of the best examples of magaibutsu stone art Oyaji features one of the oldest magaibutsu - the image carved into stone should not be missed: 27 m high, 20 m in girth and the head alone is 5 m in length -- as well as the Heiwa Kannon-zo or Kannon Peace Statue(see photos here)
Iwaki City Coal and Fossil Museum, Iwaki, (website in English, Japanese)
Iwami Silver Mine Material Museum Silver was discovered in 1526 and silver production is an important historical heritage of the Sengoku and Edo periods. The site is currently being proposed for World Heritage nomination.
Summary of Mineral Industry Museum, Akita University  for its 13,000 geological specimens
Tateyama Cardera Sabo Museum features Tateyama Caldera video clips. Consult the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Official Guide in English for access and info. Read this account of a trip to Tateyama's Murodo in winter. Stay at the Tateyama, Murodo Villa a 400 year old "hut" and national cultural asset.
Yunooku Gold Mining History Museum

The Yubari Coal Mine Museum

Natural History Museums:

Fukui City Museum of Natural History
(in Japanese only)

Biwako Museum of Natural History
, Otsu City. An excellent museum that documents the human and natural history of the region, including an aquarium of fish from Lake Biwa.

Lake Biwa Museum
in Shiga Prefecture, Museum of "lake and human" -- natural history, history, environment (includes aquarium). (website in English & Japanese) Browse the very excellent Living Lakes website's info on Lake Biwa to see why you MUST visit Lake Biwa. Japan's largest inland lake was formed over 4 million years ago and is one of the oldest lakes in the world and is home to diverse species including some that live only in Lake Biwa. The lake supplies drinking water to over 14 million people living in the Kansai area thanks to a canalization project (from Lake Biwa to Kyoto over the mountains and leading the water to Yodo river which reached the commercial city of Osaka downstream) that was an engineering feat in its day and the water power generation project also the largest in the world at the time (read all about it here).
Museum of Nature and Human Activities
Hyogo is Hyogo Prefecture's natural history museum has exhibits and videos of wildlife and natural environment in the area (English and Japanese website)

Geihoku Museum of Nature
(in Japanese)

Gunma Museum of Natural History
(in Japanese only)

Hakusan Nature Conservation Center
The website has information on the hiking trail and the log cabin accommodation that is available to hikers.

Izu Natural History Park A delightful park for kids and the park has a kid-friendly but all in Japanese website. Kids that go online to read about the wildlife and particular focus on succulents. (web info in Japanese only)

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History
(web info in Japanese only)

Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History & Human History (English and Japanese web info)

Kurashiki Museum of Natural History
in Okayama city (in Japanese)

Miyazaki Prefectural Museum of Nature and History (in Japanese)

Nakagawa Museum of Natural History

Natural History Natural History Museum, Kishiwada City, Osaka (in Japanese)

Natural History Museum and Institute
, Chiba

Natural History Museum, Tokai University

Osaka Museum of Natural History
in Osaka has many interesting dioramas of what life and nature looked like during the prehistoric eras including the Jomon era, as well as of tidal flat life in the Osaka Bay. (English & Japanese)

Saitama Museum of Natural History in Saitama Prefecture
(English & Japanese webpage info)

Toyohashi Museum of Natural History

Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History

Dolls, Toys & Instruments Museums:

Erzgebirge Toys Museum of Karuizawa
Hakone Toy Museum
Hamamatsu Museum of Musical Instruments
Itabashi Antique Doll Museum
Izu Teddy Bear Museum at Izu has more than 1,000 exhibits. Phone: 0557-54-001
Japan Toy Museum
Japan Footwear Museum/ Japan Folk Toy & Doll Museum
Kobe Doll Museum
Koga Masao Museum Of Music
Music Box Museum of IzuSekiguchi Doll Garden [CLOSED]
Shiho Doll Museum
Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum

Toy Art Museum
Toys Club
Warabekan Toy Museum

World Kite Museum(Japanese)
Yokohama Doll Museum
An excellent collection and much visited attraction in Yokohama.

Anime & manga museums:

Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Osaka showcases the work and records the life of Osamu Tezuka, widely considered Japan's greatest maker of cartoon animation [anime]. The museum recreates Tezuka's workshop and features an animated film about his life and thousands of examples of his work. Try your hand at making your own movie in the studio there. Location: 7-65, Mukogawa-cho, Takarazuka-shi Phone: 0797- 81-2970 Access: Takarazuka Station on the JR Fukuchiyama and Hankyu Takarazuka lines
Ghibili Museum, Mitaka Read about this museum here and here.
Suginami Animation Museum

Themed Museums (see JTNO listing):

Baseball Museum (Yakyu Taiku Hakubutsukan) Entrance: 400 yen adult / 200 yen child
Costume Museum
JCII Camera Museum
Kobe Fashion Museum
Kobe Lamp Museum

Minamata Diseaze MuseumMitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum (English, Japanese)
Museum of Kites 1-12-10, Nihonbashi, chuo-ku, Tokyo
Ikazaki Kite Museum
, Aichi, Shikoku
Nihon Soccer Museum
Sumo Museum
(Sumo Hakubutsukan) in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Website in English and Japanese The museum underlies the importance of the national sport of sumo cpllecting and preserving a wide range of artefacts and materials related to the history of sumo, from woodblock prints and banzuke (official listings of rank) to the ceremonial aprons worn by the great rikishi of the past. The museum is also a research center. Access: 1-3-28 Yokoami, Sumida-ku Via train (JR Sobu line) to Ryogoku Stn.

Tobacco & Salt Museum The museum, exhibits cultural and industrial aspects of tobacco and salt.
Tokyo Fire Museum in Yotsuya 3-chome
Tokyo Taiko-kan Drum Museum
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka. Instant noodles (1958) are known to be Japan's best invention of modern times. Join classes to learn how to make noodles by hand. Everything you want to know about instant noodles is here, check it out at: 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi Phone: 072-752-0825 Access: 7 mins walk from Ikeda Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line.
Taimeiken Kite Museum, Nihonbashi, Tokyo
Tne Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science and Industry
Tokai Univ. Human Science Museum

World Kite Museum, Yokkaichi 3-5. Higashihoncho, Yokkaichishi, Shiga

Children's Museums & Playstations:

Kids Plaza Osaka Features a combined science museum, culture center and playground with games, toys and characters - a place that is designed to teach children about the world that they live in. Thre e is also a "Cultures of the World" section, for instance, where kids can try on ethnic traditional costumes or American football uniform. 2-1-7 Ogimachi, Kita-ku Phone: 06- 6311-6601 Access: Next to exit #2 of Ogimachi Station on the Sakaisuji subway line.
at Urban Port LalaPort, Koto-ku 2-chome, Toyosu, Tokyo, will be a scaled-down for kiddies' virtual town with a collection of facilities and shops or hands-on job-experience theme park. Scheduled for opening in October 2006, 50 pavilions will offer children a chance to work at a gas station, beauty salon, TV station, fire department, automobile maintenance shop, confectionary plant and others (from the website, those facilities look REAL!) Based on Mexico city's big-hit theme park that opened in 1999. Kidzania is based on a recent trend of edu-tainment and is billed as "Japan's First Facility For Children to Experience Various Professions Hands-on". Admission is steep: Kids willl pay 3,000 yen and adults 2,000 yen.
National Children's Castle Not a real castle or shiro in the sense of the word, but a play-adventure place for urban children in Tokyo.

Shonandai Culture Centre Children's Museum(Japanese)
Youth's & Children's Museum

Educational Field Trips (We are always adding more info on coasts and other geography-spots, so check back frequently here) - for animal parks and zoos, please scroll up the page and look at the listing under Z:


AQUA WORLD(in Japanese)
Aquarium Marinepia Nihonkai (Japanese)
Awashima Marine Park (Japanese) Awashima
Aomori Prefectual Asamushi Aquarium (Japanese) Aomori
Ashizuri Aquarium
*Enoshima Aquarium (in Japanese only)
Futami Sea Paradise
(Japanese) Futami
*Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (English, Japanese) A seaside leisure park in Yokohama with lots of rides and a surfcoaster that goes over the sea. Very popular with Japanese families.
Hakone-en Suizokan is a very popular spot for families visiting Kanagawa's tourist spots who may stay at Hakone-en resort's cottages for rental, pools and a nature park for kiddy nature activities like tree-climbing.
Hekinan Seaside Aquarium and Hekinan City Museum of Maritime Science(Japanese) in Aichi Prefecture
Hokkaido Marine Park (Japanese with access info in English) in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.
Izu Mito Sea Paradise (Japanese only) Mito
***Kaiyukan Aquarium, in Osaka City. One of the largest aquariums in the world, based on Dr Lovelock’s the Gaia Hypothesis theme
Kamo Aquarium
*Kamogawa Sea World
(Japanese) A seapark in Chiba Prefecture with all the usual thrills and action of whale or dolphin kissing, etc, plus it has a kids’ park within the park. A popular sea park much featured in magazines.
*Kasaoka City Horseshoe Crab Museum(Japanese) Japan is one of the few places in the world left with a large population of horseshoe crabs, one of the world’s oldest surviving species in the sea(living fossils). Certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.
Katsurahama Aquarium (Japanese)
Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park (Japanese)
Kinosaki Marine World
URL: (Japanese)
**Kushimoto Marine Park (Japanese) Similar to the one in Boso Peninsula, this Wakayama Prefecture aquarium doesn’t bring the sea to you, but literally leads you into right into the marine environment with its spectacular undersea displays.
*Marine World Aquarium in Fukuoka City has a beautiful website, accessible in both English and Japanese.
Minamichita Beachland Aquarium (Japanese) is one of the smaller but decent aquariums.
Marine Plaza(info in English) in Miyajima is a lovely kid-lovely aquarium with lots of shows, a kid’s room and the website is lovely for kids to surf as well with online puzzles and coloring pages.
Nagoya Aquarium
Nasu World Monkey Park in Nasu with a collection of 350 monkeys of 60 kinds. Phone: 0287-63-8855 for directions.
Nikko Saru-gun Tan, in Nikko The monkey park features monkeys dressed in red suits, suspension swings and a "monkey mountain" habitat.
Noto Marine Center in Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture, is an interesting place for serious budding marine biologists.
Notojima Aquarium
(English, Japanese) in Ishikawa Prefecture
*Oarai Aquarium in Ibaraki(in Japanese) The Shark Place in Japan! This very new aquarium’s fame lies with its possession of the largest numbers of sharks among aquariums and brilliant dolphin displays in Japan. More info from the city office website.
Oga Aquarium
(Japanese, English) features spotted seals, coral reef exhibits and marine life from Akita area as well as from the Sea of Japan
Ogasawara Marine Center
(Japanese) features green turtle watching activities.
Oita Marine Culture Center (Japanese) features feed and dive with the animals activities.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
(in English) holds the distinction of being the first aquarium to be able to keep manta rays in its tank and to breed whale sharks in captivity.
Oyodo River Study Center Oyodo, Miyazaki
Otaru Aquarium
in Otaru. Hokkaido (Japanese)
***Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium(info in English and Japanese) a MUST-SEE if in Okinawa. The best of aquariums – it would be a travesty not to visit and learn about the seas around Okinawa which has one of the world’s richest marine biosystems.
**Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (English, Japanese)
Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium
(in English) Nagoya
*Saitama Museum of Rivers River museums are highly educational. The glass tanks that show the differing underwater habitats of fishes and other forms of life upstream mid-stream and lower stream are things that you don't normally see from a mere walk by the river.
Sapporo Salmon Museum (English, Japanese) is a good place to learn all about salmons, their habitats and the rearing of salmons. Sapporo.
Shinano River Ohkouzu Museum (Japanese)
Shibetsu Salmon Park (Japanese)
Shinagawa Aquarium (Japanese)
Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum Kaikyokan (English, Japanese) features 15,000 specimens of about 400 types of marine life.
Shimoda Floating Aquarium (Japanese) in Shizuoka Prefecture. Its best features are its dolphin beach and shows and floating aqua dome.
Shima Marineland (Japanese)
Shimane Aquarium Aquas(English, Japanese) Shimane's new aquarium faced to the Japan Sea with a collection of 10,000 fishes.
Suma Aqualife Park (Japanese)
Sunpiazza Aquarium (Japanese)
Sunshine City Aquarium (Japanese)
Taiji Whale Museum
Takeshima Aquarium Gagamori, Aichi
Tamano Marine Museum Okayama
Tateshina Amusement Aquarium, Tateshina 100,000 fishes collection in what is Japan's "highest" highland aquarium. Penguins are featured.
Teradomari Aquarium (Japanese only)
Toba Aquarium
in Toba City, Mie Prefecture (English and Japanese)
Tokai University Marine Science Museum (Japanese only)
Uoza Aquarium
(Japanese only website) Toyama
Wakkanai Aquarium
(Japanese only website) This aquarium in Wakanai, Hokkaido features marine life found in the cold parts of the world, the usual penguins, seals and such are featured.
Yashima Sea Palace
(Japanese only website)


Did you know that Japan's market for surf goods is the world's largest? So you can be sure, the surfers know where the best beaches and waves are to be found. Top surf spots are said to include the southern coasts of Shikoku and Kyushu. For spots closer to Tokyo, most surfers head for the rocky east Kujukuri coast of the Chiba Prefecture as well as the beaches around Shonan, near Kamakura. However, the truly best beaches are said to be those furthest away from the main island of Honshu, such as the beaches of Okinawa’s islands, Sea-of-Japan-facing beaches in Wakayama, south of Kyushu, or the Izu and Ogasawara islands south of Tokyo. This list is however NOT a surfer’s beach listing nor a list of "the most gorgeous beaches in Japan", but a practical kid-oriented/family-oriented listing. If you want to take your homeschool lessons by the seaside this summer to explore some tidal pool-life or to study the effects of wave power or just bring your little tots clamming, then this list is it. The top 10 are within the range of the more accessible ones.

Recommended Beaches:

Izu Beaches:

No. 1    Niijima Beach (nearby is the active Miyakejima volcano) is Tokyo’s hottest surfing spot according to an article in Metropolis. For a view, see pictures of beach at the Nijima, Izu Peninsula. Access: Niijima is a 45min flight from Chofu Airport (Phone: Shin Chuo Koku at 0422-31-4191). A little inconvenient if you are with kids, the ferries depart every night at 11pm from Takeshiba Pier near JR Hamamatsucho station. Call Tokai Kisen Co., Ltd. Information here (or phone:03-5472-9999 or reservations phone:03-5472-9009 and on attractions in area here  Families with little ones might want to head down to Shimoda Kaichusuizoku. Your kids can feed and swim with the resident dolphins, and also with seals and penguins. Note: You must reserve ahead in order to participate in feeding sessions. Access: Shimoda is on the JR Tokaido line and the Odakyu line. Shimoda Kaichusuizoku, 3-22-31 Shimoda-shi (phone: 0558-22-3567), open 9am-5pm; take the bus from Shimoda station.

No 2: Okinawa Beaches are said to be Japan’s very best. Three popular beaches on the west side of Okinawa Island. They are called Moon beach, Manza beach, and Okuma beach. Manza beach is the most popular. It is about a one and a half hour drive from Naha-city. Must-visits are Manza Beach, Monza-mou, a cliff made of coral reef; Hoshisuna-no-hama Beach for the star-shaped "sand" said to bring happiness. Each grain of  "sand"  is really the tiny skeleton of a marine creature. Also popular things to do would be to visit Tokashiki Island’s beaches and Ishigaki Island, famed dive spot due to its preeminent status among the richest and most biologically diverse ecosystems in the marine world. The coasts are rimmed by coral reefs. Famed dive spot. has cam shots of Okuma Beach. Access: Two hours and 45 minutes to Naha Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport. Two hours and 10 minutes from Kansai International Airport. Two hours and 15 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport. Twenty minutes to Naha Bus Terminal from Naha Airport by bus. Then 1 hr. to 1 hr. 30min. by car from downtown Naha to the seaside resort towns.

No 3: Matt Lindsay recommends Irago Beach on Cape Irako, on the Atsumi Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture in his article In the Middle of Somewhere Access: If you’re fortunate enough to have your own car (or a friend with one), access is by the Tomei Expressway as far as Toyokawa, then Route 259. From Nagoya you can take either the JR Tokaido Honsen or Meitetsu Honsen lines as far as Toyohashi. Similarly if you’re coming by train from the north or east, you’ll need to head for Toyohashi. Change here for the local train. Then use the Meitetsu bus to get to the beach.

Rocky Beaches featuring tidepools (or tidal pools):

No 4: Jogashima Beach, Kanagawa Prefecture. There are at least two great rocky beaches as well as a secluded black-sand cove. A terrific spot to study tidal pools with your kids. The cheapest and easiest way to Miura-hanto is by the Keihin Kyuko line from Tokyo or Shinagawa station, which will stop at the Misaki-guchi station. If you bypass all that and head straight for the rocky beach you'll end up at the same place as coming from the hiking trail. The remoter hiking trail winds through stunning cliffs with a trail down to a black sand beach before arriving at the Umanose Domon a rocky arch carved out by waves. The beach is almost entirely covered with seashells from that point. An hour or two of exploring the spectacularly layered and striped volcanic rocks will yield finds of rich tidal pool life, we saw chitons, star-shaped limpets, periwinkles, anemones everywhere we looked and crabs, beautiful transparent shrimp, fish, and corals! Don't go without a bucket and a fishnet for your kids. Access: On the southern side of the island, Jogashima Park has two entry points, one is a remote carpark near the hiking trail through a bamboo grove and the other is the tourist trap where you'll have to go through if you are coming from Tokyo by train.
Yokohama Echo’s A Day at Jogashima is a nice read.

No 5: Tenjinzaki, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture, is a rocky promontory jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. Tenjinzaki, a small cape in the Bay of Tanabe, is thought of as the best observatory of sea creatures in the area with its vast tidal pools and an area of about 210,000 square meters. A much visited site for fishing, beachcombing, swimming and recreation. A part of Tanabeminabe Seaside Nature Park, Tenjinzaki consists of green hills and flat sunken rocks of the seashore. Access: From Tokyo, fly from Haneda Airport to Nanki Shirahama airport or take the shinkansen to Shin-Osaka then the Shirahama line. Get off at Minabe station. Map access, see Wakayama Prefecture’s official website.

No 6: Minami Boso Peninsula coast, Tateyama, Chiba prefecture is 2 hrs from Tokyo and well known for the rugged coastline. Ama-san female divers (they fish for awabi abalone) or as a convenient launching point to explore the Ainumura village, and the rocky beaches of Shirahama and Chikura. Stay at Hakkakuso run by an intl school marine biologist and science teacher David Green, check if he's doing any camps or will include you on a guided field trip. Hakkuso 422-1, Sunomiya, Tateyama, Chiba. Access: get on a local train from Tokyo to Tateyama station OR take the Sazanami limited express train, which runs several times a day (2 hr journey).and that costs 4,020 yen (one way). Transportation from the station to the lodge is free of you contact David Green or call 03-3708-4012. If you have your own car, drive to Tateyama via the Aqualine (Tateyama is an easy 2.5hr from Tokyo). Tateyama is an easy 2.5 hr drive via the Tokyo Bay Aqualine.  Read article for a review of the place.

Sand and/or Surf Beaches:

No 7: Kujukuri(hama) Beaches, a 66 km stretch of Pacific coast running from Osakabe-misaki Point in Iioka-cho Town to the south of Choshi City to Taito-misaki Point in Misaki-machi Townin northern Chiba. What is notable about the Kujukuri-hama Beach is that it has a long, straight coastline, which is rare in Japan where most of the coastlines are irregular. It is also great for swimming and surfing and other marine sports because there are no reefs. At the northern end of the beach is Inubo-saki Point, a 20-meter-high marine abrasion platform located at the easternmost peninsula in the Kanto Region good walks and nature observation along the rocky beach. A remote but MUST-SEE sight is Byobu-ga-ura Cliff, called the "Dover cliffs in the orient" located to the west of Inubo-saki Point at the southern coast of the Choshi-hanto Peninsula. The 10-kilometer-long sheer precipices with heights of 40 to 50 meters is a postcard scene and spectacular sight. Around Inubo-saki Point, there is a white lighthouse built in 1874, "Chikyu-no-maruku-mieru-oka" (Seeing-the-round-earth Observatory) for views of the horizon as well as the Inubo-saki Marine Park that exhibits 2,500 fishes of 230 kinds. (At the Togawa fishing port where you can board a dolphin-watching boat from spring to autumn scroll up to see whale watching section above for details.) Access: Take the Sotobo line to Oami stn and change to the Togane line which goes to Kujukuri town. From the town, catch buses to several beaches along the strand. Alternatively, since Kurihama is also on the Uchibo line, you can take the Boso express which runs from Chiba city to Goi. The Kominato line runs from Goi to Ohara through the Yoro valley. Also good in the vicinity is the Ohara Beach. Access: Take the Uchibo line which runs from Chiba city to Goi and then the vintage carraige Kominato line from Goi to Ohara through the beautiful and scenic Yoro valley. OR take a Limited Express of the JR Sobu Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Choshi Station. Transfer to the Choshi Dentetsu Line for 20 minutes from Choshi Station to Inubo-saki Station.

No 8: Onjuku Beach in Chiba has white sands and mild surf, and is said to be one of the most picturesque shores. Access: JR Sotobo line (slow but cheap) Boso Express train )a marvel-English announcements, big comfy seats but double the normal fare). Get off at Onjuku stn. The beach is a five-ten min walk away.

Miyagi Prefecture:

No 9 Nobiru Beach, Naruse-cho, Miyagi. The Miyagi Tourist Board’s review: “The sandy beach is perfect for swimming and is a great starting point for wind surfing and other water sports. The beach is also known as the "Izu of Tohoku," and white sand and green pine trees stand out on the beautiful curving shoreline. It is especially nice in the spring and autumn when there are fewer visitors”. Access: Nobiru Station on the Senseki Line/10 minutes on foot; Naruse-Okumatsushima Interchange of the Sanriku Expressway/10 minutes by car. For more info, see more scenic beach suggestions Murohama and Ohama Beaches on the Oku-Matsushima Trail.

(Other coastal sites in Miyagi prefecture:

Karakuwa Peninsula - Near Kesennuma city in the northeast of Miyagi Prefecture, at the western part of Kesennuma Bay, are the island of Ōshima and its coastline at the southern boundary of the Rias Coastline National Park, stretching north all the way to Aomori Prefecture. The Kitakami mountains provide diverse coastal vistas that create wonderfully unified scenes of mountains and ocean and coastal views from the Karakuwa Peninsula (Kesennuma-shi / Motoyoshi-cho / Karakuwa-cho) are also spectacular. See here for info and access to Karakuwa Hanto.) Access: Shishiori-Karakuwa Station on the Ofunato Line/25 minutes by bus, Ichinoseki Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway/100 minutes by car.

Hyogo Prefecture:

No 10: Tajima Beach, Kasumi-cho, Kinosaki-gun A must-visit for its Yoroi-no-Sode("sleeve of armor") cliff, which is 65 m high and 200 m wide, and slopes 70 degrees toward the sea which has been designated a national treasure. Its name was derived from its resemblance to the tasset of traditional Japanese armor. Part of the Sanin Seaside National Park. The western side of the cliff features a lot of uniquely shaped rocks and sea caves, such as Peacock Cave (it looks like a peacock in display) and Takanosu Islet which is also called "Indian" islet because of its appearance. Access: Take a Zentan bus from JR Kasumi Stn, get off at Ikkaichi, and then take a sightseeing boat at Kasumi Higashi Port.

Coastal cliffs and rock formations, sea stacks, sea caves:

Fukui Prefecture

No 11: Tojinbo Rocks High rugged cliffs of wave-worn pyroxene andesite, which stretch for about 1 km and which feature in particular the towering rock formations.. One of the best places in Japan to witness the forces of wave erosion at work – that of the waves of the Sea of Japan. A geologically rare phenomenon for Japan, called columnar jointing that is similar to Causeway Giant in Ireland. Access: From Awara-Onsen Station on the JR Hokuriku Main Line, take a bus bound for Tojinbo (approx. 40 minutes); From Mikuni Station on the Echizen Railway's Mikuniawara Line, take a bus bound for Tojinbo (approx. 15 minutes); Drive for 30-minutes from Kanazu I.C. on Hokuriku Expressway.

No 12: Sotomo coast has a coastal scene of strangely shaped rocks, rock gate and caves eroded by waves. The scene extends for about 6 km. Take a sightseeing boat from Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf to appreciate the rugged natural landscape from a close distance. Access: Drive for 5 mins from Obama Stn. on the JR Obama Line to the port of Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf; or drive for 60 mins from Tsuruga I.C. on Hokuriku Expressway to the port of Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf.

No 13: Dogashima Beach, Niishiizu, Shizuoka Prefecture. For good beaches and clear water snorkeling. Not to be missed -- ride a boat to see a large sea cave called the Tensohodo in the Dogashima Marine Park. Access: Tokai Bus company's hourly buses northeast through Toi to Shuzeneji, or ferries which hop up the lovely coast via Toi and Heda to Numazu on the JR Tokaido line. Phone: 0558-52-0013 (920 yen adult/460 yen child for 20 minutes)

Kii Peninsula's rugged coastal formations:

No 14: Umikongo Rocks, Oshima Island, Wakayama Prefecture. The spot is famous for its rock formations. Most people take the ferry there to see the Umikongo Rocks. Be sure to take in the Cape Kashinozaki panoramic seascape, and spot the pyramid rock, and the lion's head rock from the Takanosu observation platform. Access: From toward Oshima Kushimoto Station on JR Kisei Main line Approx. 20-min. drive from there.

No 15: Arafune Coast is famous for its magnificent views of the rugged rocky coast stretching about 3 km. It is also a well-known fishing location for big fish such as parrot fish, etc. Access: Its location is at Tawara, Koza-cho Higashimuro-gun Wakayama Prefecture. Get off at Koza Stn on JR Kisei Main Lind, take a 10-min bus ride and 30 min walk.

Wakayama’s rock and cliff formations:

No 16: Hashikuiiwa, Kinan features the magnificent sight of a row of jagged rock pillars rising out of and for 850 m straight out to sea to Oshima. The giant rocks are a testament to the great power of wave erosion forces. The "Hashikuiiwa" name literally means "bridge stakes." At low tide, you can walk to the giant rocky Benten Islet in the middle of the oddly-shaped rocks. Access: Take a 5-minute bus ride from Kushimoto Stn. on JR Kisei Main Line to the spot.

No 17: Tenjinzaki Cape, Wakayama features a strange beach made of layered slabs of rock formation, called "Senjojiki (literally a thousand tatami mats). Fishing and shellfish-gathering are popular recreations here. Access: A 10-minute drive from Kii-Tanabe Station. on JR Kisei Main Line

No 18: Shirarahama, Wakayama The Shirarahama Beach is famed for its shallow sand beach said to be one of the whitest beaches in the world because its sand consists of white quartz sand, 90 percent of which is pure silica. The Sandanbeki cliff is a 50 meter high cliff precipice that is a symbol of the beautiful scenery of Shirahama-cho. Japanese describe the unusual sound that walking on the beach makes as the "shaku-shaku" sound. At the foot of the cave, there is a cave carved out by waves. It takes 30 seconds of descending by an elevator inside the cliff to reach the cave where you can see clear-cobalt blue water (which tourists have claimed is reminiscent of the Blue Grotto in Capri). If you walk north along the seaside, you will come soon to the Senjojiki rock tableland which are big rock tables that have resulted from the erosion of sandstone by water. Still further north are the coast's attraction the Engetsu Islet that is a small island situated in the south of Rinkai inlet. Called Engetsu Islet (official Takashima nicknamed "full moon" islet) because of the full moon-shaped cave formed by sea erosion in the middle of the island. The island has been the subject of art since Edo period. In the town, about 70,000 springheads pour forth a total of 20,000 kiloliters of hot spring water a day, so needless to so, it is a good place to soak in one of the many onsens. Access: 70 min flight from Haneda airport to Nanki Shirahama and then a 6 min bus ride to Sandanabeki cliff and 13 min bus ride to Shirahama beach / OR Drive for 15-minutes from Shirahama Stn. on JR Kisei Main Line. Visit this online photo gallery of Shirahama through the year.

No 19: Shirasaki Coast features a white promontory due to the limestone rocks. Rugged and strangely shaped, the rocks form a unique white landscape. Access:  Drive for 15 mins from Hirokawa I.C. on Yuasa-Gobo toll road.

No 20: Sandanbeki Cliffs. Magnificent towering cliffs situated on the south shore of Senjojiki, that tower to a height of 50 m and that extend for 2 km. A lookout point from which fishermen watched for passing ships and shoals of fish. Drive for 15-minutes from Shirahama Station on JR Kisei Main Line.


More Chiba beaches:

Choshi Beach, Chiba Prefecture. There's a free, if basic, campsite just off the beach. There's also a lighthouse you can ascend for a small fee. Sandy beach as well as rock pools for kids to explore. Access: JR Sotobo line.

Katsuura Beach in Chiba Prefecture (near Chiba City) is also known as Japan’s “Malibu” and some say it has the best surfing in Japan. Double up on attractions by taking a sight-seeing boat to Kino-matsushima Island. See good photos at Tokyo by Sea here and here.

Moriya Beach, Chiba Prefecture. Good for little kids as the smaller cove means there are no giant waves. There is a picturesque torii on a rocky outcrop that becomes an island at high tide. Access is a ten-min walk north from Katsura stn.

Funabashi Rinkai Koen or Funabashi Seaside Park. A very popular place for local families to bring their kids clam-digging, a time-honored tradition since Jomon times. It is a stretch of natural tidal shore that is a huge site for annual clamdigging. Unfortunately I hate to disillusion you but the clams are no longer natural - the park authorities truck in roughly ten tons of clams, divide them up onto trawlers and deposit them over the flats at high tide -- so much for back to nature. Clam-diggers pay a few dollars for a bucket and a trowel, get assigned a section of the beach and dig their clams. Also known as an important tidal flat nature reserve and place for watching birds. Access: Take the Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station to Minami Funabashi Station, follow the signs or ask the station employees how to get to Yatsu. From Yatsu you can get to Funabashi Seaside Park by catching the bus for Tsudanuma Station. The bus stop is in front of Tsudanuma High School, across the street from Yatsu. At Tsudanuma Station take the Sobu Line to Funabashi Station, go out the Minami Exit, follow the main street around to your left and after about two hundred meters you’ll be at the bus stop for the Funabashi Seaside Park Bus.

Boso’s rocky beaches – at Shirahama and Chikura, near Tateyama city. Stay at Hakkakuso. 422-1, Sunomiya, Tateyama, Chiba. Contact David Green via email or phone: 03-3708-4012. Access: Traveling between Tokyo and Tateyama stations on a local train 2,210 yen (one-way) while the Sazanami limited express train, which runs several times a day, takes less than two hours and costs 4,020 yen (one way). Free transportation provided between the station and the lodge. Tateyama is an easy 2.5 hr drive via the Tokyo Bay Aqualine.  Read article for a review of the place.

Minami-Boso's Tsukino-Sabaku-Kinenkan is a beach fronted by a museum where you can go on camel rides in an Arabian desert-like atmosphere on the sand-dunes. Phone for access info: 0470-68-63-89.

Taito Beach, South of Choshi in Chiba is an area with many good beaches (other beaches: Ohara and Iioka Beaches) Access: Take the Sotobo line and (Choshi, Taito, Ohara and Iioka are all on the Sotobo line) and the beaches are all either a walking distance or a short bus ride from the station.

Kamogawa Beach, Chiba Prefecture. Families with young kids will also want to visit Kamogawa World. Access: JR Sotobo line.

Enoshima’s Beaches:

Tsujido Kaigan Enoshima (Long sandy and surfers’ beach). Access: Tsujido Kaigan is a 20 min walk from Tsujido stn on the JR Tokaido line.

Katase Enoshima is a beach to which crowds throng in summer – famous for Enoshima Hanabi Taikai which features 2,800 incendiary blasts of fireworks over the beach. Enoshima fireworks display on July 25, 7:30-8:30 pm. Nearest stn: Katase Enoshima.

Hiratsuka Beach, Shonan (Sandy beach type) Access: Hiratsuka stn is on the JR Tokaido line.

Hokkaido’s coastal wilderness:

Shiretoko and Rausu’s coast are considered the last frontier and most inaccessible of Japan’s wilderness. Shiretoko’s promontories and cliffs formed by ancient volcanoes, and uplifted by the earth’s plate movements, will add to depth to any serious study of geology. The area has also recently been designated a World Heritage site. A boat tour out to sea is the ONLY way to see the coast because of the inaccessibility of the area, and a stop at Rausu allows you to see the coastal rock formations such as Rosoku or Candle rock as well as the incredible shorebirds called umineko. Access: Fly to Sapporo (and optional: to the domestic airport of Memanbetsu Airport which has direct flights from/to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hakodate and Sapporo. (However, bewarned the airport is still 100 kilometers west of the national park). From the airport, take the Abashiri Bus to Utoro. And from Utoro Rausu can be reached via the Shiretoko Pass. Shari Bus and Akan Bus operate two buses per day between Utoro and Rausu via Shiretoko Pass. Option 2: Take a train from Sapporo to the JR Shiretoko Shari Station in the town of Shari via either Abashiri (or Kushiro – as most visitors want to take in the OTHER World Heritage site – Kushiro marsh as well). The distance from Kushiro to Rausu is about 160 kilometers.  From Kushiro, Akan Bus operates 3-5 buses per day to Rausu around the year. The one way journey from Kushiro to Rausu takes about 3.5 hours. This is a rough guide to alert you to allow for at least a week to 10 days, preferably many more days, if planning a trip via public transport.

More Izu beaches:

Ito Orange Beach, Shizuoka - is a resort beach that's great for the little ones. Access: Take a train to Ito Stn (10 min). See map

Ryuguu-koen is a sea arch that is only visible at low tide when a small beach is exposed and dry. The naturally occurring geological feature is dubbed the Dragon's Den. Phone: 0558-22-151

(Where to stay: Kenny's House YamaYuri cottages is a good base to explore the Izu peninsula's mountains and coastal rias scenery as well as to take in views of the Sagami Bay and Jogasaki coast. The spot boasts of an excellent clear starry-night sky.)

More on Kii Peninsula’s attractions:

Kushimoto Undersea Marine Park features a very long underwater viewing tunnel that leads to the observation pod offshore.

Osaka’s Seaside Attractions:

Nagahama and Koshima Beaches are important as the last remaining natural beaches left in the Osaka area. Access: Nagahama is at Tannowa, Misaki-cho, Sennann-gun and Koshima is Tanagawa Koshima, Misaki-cho, Sennan-gun. Access: Take a train from the Nankai Main Line to Misaki Park Station and it’s about a 10-min. walk from there.

Nishinikohama Beach in Sawa, Kaizuka City, Osaka offers sea-bathing and shell-digging when in season (as well as shopping at the mall). Access: Take a train to Nishikinohama Stn. on Nankai Main Line and then walk for about 15-minutes to the beach.

Kanagawa Prefecture:

Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture Large good beaches are located just about 10 minutes from Kamakura Station by foot. In particular, Zaimokuza and Sakanoshia Beaches, Kamakura. (good for windsurfing) Access: Take the JR Yokosuka Line from Tokyo Station to JR Kamakura Station. Or take the JR Shonan Shinjuku Line from Shinjuju to Kamakura. Only trains bound for Zushi, that is roughly every second train on the Shonan Shinjuku Line, provide a direct connection to Kamakura. And then the bus to Zaimokuza OR: (Walk 20 minutes down the main drag, Wakamiya Oji, away from the city's main shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. If you're feeling lazy, change at JR Kamakura to the one-track Enoden (Odakyu Enoshima Dentetsu) Line and get off at Yuigahama, the second stop, instead. The Yuigahama, Chuo and Zaimokuza beaches run west to east in a continuous strip. Read Metropolis article and for photos see this link.

Misaki Marine Biological Station, Miura
, Kanagawa Prefecture. Explore the rich biodiversity of the rocky shores and tidal pools. “Situated about 60 km south of Tokyo, near the extremity of the Miura Peninsula which divides Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay, the Station occupies a historical site where once stood the Castle of Arai, a medieval stronghold used by the Miura clan for centuries until its tragic fall in 1516...Misaki is still a mecca for marine biologists. When strong west winds blow during the winter, visitors are amazed at the richness of tropical plankton driven into the inlets from the Kuroshio or "Black Current" which carries life from more southerly climes. Misaki is the northern limit of the distribution of many of the most interesting tropical plants and animals. Habitats of all descriptions can be found near the Station: rocky shores, tidal pools, beaches of sand, stone or gravel, mud flats, bottoms covered with eel-grass, bottoms with coarse shells, ledges projecting horizontally, and caves formed by waves. Each has its peculiar dwellers, and all taken together form a splendid hunting ground for marine life, making the Station an ideal place for both professional studies and student courses.”-from the MMBS website. Access: From Tokyo the easiest way to reach the Station is to take the Keihin Kyuko Line from Shinagawa Station to Misakiguchi Station, a ride of about one hour. From there, take buses or taxis to Aburatsubo Stop which is near the Station, a ride of twenty minutes. 1024 Koajiro, Misaki, Miura, Kanagawa Prefecture 238-02, Japan Phone: 046-881-4105

Zushi Beach
and Hayama Isshiki Kaigan (Shonan beaches) on the Tokyo Bay: Take the Yokosuka line to JR Zushi Station. It's a 15 min-walk from the only exit to the beach. Alternatively, board a bus from stop No. 3 outside the stationand get off at the fourth stop, Fujimibashi and you can see the beach from there. From Zushi Station's no. 3 bus stop you can also take a 20 minute bus to Hayama Isshiki Kaigan (or about 10 minutes to Morito Kaigan). Hayama is favored by foreigners for the good quality of sand and beach houses.

Kobe area:

Suma Beach, Suma-ku, Kobe City. The Beach has been long known for its scenic beauty, as shown in historic records, such as. Historically important as it is mentioned in  a story about the Battle of Ichinotani in the Taira-Minamoto War. It is also the only beach resort in the Hanshin area. Attractions include a surfer and bather’s beach, the Suma Aquarium Park and Suma Marine Fishing Park important for avid fishing enthusiasts. Access: Take a train to JR Suma Station.

Kochi prefecture:

Katsurahama Beach: Only several hundred meters long, this small beach is one of the main tourist attractions in Kochi. It has long been known for its magnificent view of the moon. By Train: Kintetsu Kyoto Line Rapid - 46 minutes from Kyoto Station. Access on Foot: 1 minute walk from Shin Omiya Station (Kintetsu Line). By Car: 20 minutes from Nishi Meihan Expressway, Kohriyama I.C. From Itami Airport with Limousine Bus (1,440 yen) to Shin Omiya Station. Getting there by Plane: From Kansai International Airport with Limousine Bus (1,800 yen) to Kintetsu Nara Station, then with Kintetsu Kyoto Line (Rapid) to Shin Omiya Station, or Itami Airport with Limousine Bus (1,440 yen) to Shin Omiya Station then Walk to Hotel (total 110 minutes).

’s seaside:

Ama-no-Hashidate, a spit of land stretching 3.2 km and supporting about 7,500 pine trees, ranks as one of the three best views in Japan and has been designated as a place of special scenic beauty by the national government. It has long been famed in the Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets and Sesshu's ink painting designated a national treasure, as its beautiful combination of white sand and green pine trees. With ancient temples in the neighborhood, the spot has attracted many sea bathers and tourists. And a hot spring is a new attraction of the area. There is a hill that commands a fine view, allowing visitors to enjoy Ama-no-Hashidate in each season. Kasamatsu Park is also known for "Matanozoki," that is bending from the waist and looking at Amanohashidate upside down from between one's legs. Access: 5-min. walk from Ama-no-Hashidate Stn. on JR Kita Kinki Tango Railway (Direct through train services are available from JR Kyoto Stn. and Osaka Stn. Expressway bus services also available from JR Osaka and Kyoto stns.); 5-min. drive from Miyazu Amanohashidate I.C. on the Ayabe-Miyazu Road, Kyoto Jukan Expressway.

Matsushima Prefectural Park's isles:

Matsushima Prefectural Park (Location: Shiogama-shi / Matsushima-machi / Shichigahama-machi /Rifu-cho / Naruse-cho) The Matsushima coastal scenery is considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful Japanese scenes. There are over 230 islands in the bay. The area is renowned for wonderful views of four major scenes. These are Tamonzan (great scene), Sokanzan (profound scene), Tomiyama (graceful scene), and Otakamori (spectacular scene). For details and access info see here.

Miyagi Prefecture:

See suggested nature trail including Ohama Beach. Visit the Sea Turtle Museum , The Caretta Museum on Ohama Beach, focuses on information on loggerhead turtles. (

Nagasaki's isles and coasts:

Nagasaki prefecture has many isles offering splendid seascapes such as the many isles foremost of which are Kujyukushima; Ousezaki Lighthouse at Goto; and Monkeyhead Rock at Iki. See the Tourism website for access and other details.

Nijima Island

Habushiiura Beach
"Niijima Village's Habushiura Beach is located in the east side of the island. White sand beach stretches for 7 kilometers and the waves are suited for surfing competition and known to be one of the best spot in the world. The beach is chosen as "Top 100 Scenic Beauty of Tokyo." The sand is over 80% quartz chrystal and that is the highest ratio in the world according to the research in 2003. The wave is the same swell pattern as Oahu Island in Hawaii since they are both facing Pacific Ocean, making Niijima the most powerful and strongest wave throughout Japan. Habushiura is the mecca for Japanese surfers, as many professional and amateur competitons take place on the island. Especially in 2003, Professional Surfing Competition took place first time in four years in Asia and the beach had the honor to host the talented surfers. This event had so many media coverage around the world and since then, many international travellers visited the island.As a notable scenic spots the beach keeps shining like a jewel as a brilliant destination in Japan." - Discover Japan! Access: Habushiura, Honson, Niijima-mura, Niijima Phone: 04992-5-0240

Oki Island

Oki Dougo "Candle Island", Shiro, Okinoshimacho, Oki-gun:
"About 500 meters from the shores of Oki Dougo, gigantic "candle" stands about 30 meters tall. It is a wonderful art that mother nature created, the waves eroded the rock to look like a burning candle. When the sun sets on the top of the islet, it would become a true masterpiece. People can only experience the fantastic scenery from the boat." - Discover Japan

Okinawa prefecture:

Kerama Islands
are a string of more than 30 islets between 20 km to 40 km west of the main Okinawa Island. In the seas off the west coast of Tokashiki Island and between Zamami and Aka islands are in 120 hectares and 233 hectares respectively of coral reefs designated as a Ramsar Convention wetland. Many species of fish and about 250 species of coral live in the areas around Kerama Islands. Location: Zamamison, Tokashikison, Okinawa Prefecture.

Prefecture’s Beaches:

Shibukawa Beach, southern Okayama Prefecture. The Seto Inland Sea is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, attracting visitors not only from Okayama, but from all over Japan. In July of 1996, Shibukawa beach was chosen as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in Japan. Access: Make your way to Osaka Station, where you then take a rapid train (1 hr) and then take the highway bus to Okayama (2 hrs) prefecture's Ono Station in Tamano city. There's a campsite, for info on getting there see here.

Ushimado lies on the eastern side of Okayama Prefecture, and is not too far from Himeji. On the western side, near the border with Hiroshima Prefecture and sitting in the Seto Inland Sea, is Shiraishi Island. The island, which is only accessible by ferry, has moderately difficult hiking trails that wind up steep hills. But once you reach the top, you'll be treated to a stunning view of the Inland Sea.With emerald-green waters, rocky beaches, gentle breezes and a mild, Mediterranean climate that will remind some of islands in the Aegean Sea, these villas are especially popular with Western tourists. Indeed, Ushimado has dubbed itself the "Aegean of the Orient." Years ago it received, from its sister city of Mytilene, in Greece, olive trees, and today, Ushimado's olive garden is the source for local olive-based products ranging from cooking oil to chocolate to soap. Stay at Shiraishi Island International Villa or Ushimado International Villa. The Shiraishi Villa also boasts great views of the sea, and is one of the newest villas -- built with both traditional Japanese designs and materials that create an open, airy feel. Visitors on limited budgets will be happy to know that the rate for all villas is just 3,000 yen a night. For exchange-students and trainees, the rate is 2,500 yen a night. The rooms are, depending on the villa, either traditional tatami with futon only or a combination of traditional tatami rooms with bright western-style bed-and-breakfast rooms with beds. All kitchens come fully supplied with pots and pans and utensils, and futons are included. To book phone:Okayama International Villa Group telephone (086) 256-2535 or fax (086) 256-2576.

Tokushima Prefecture:

The sea around Anan: The sea around Anan, designated as the Muroto Anan Kaigan (seacoast) National Park, has an irregular Rias coastline with beautiful scenes of white sand, green pine trees and rock. There are several islands, large and small, in Tachibana Bay including Takashima Island associated with ancient legend, and Bentenjima Island which has nationally designated special, native flora. Excellent beaches to visit include Kitanowaki, well known for having the most spacious pine forest in western Japan and for its dragnet fishing event which attracts many sightseers, and Awashima’s nationally famous shoal beach, as well as the excellent fishing spots such as Ishima and Fukumura-iso. Kamouda-misaki (cape), washed by the Black Current, are also near Anan. the eastern-most of all the capes on Shikoku. The beach of this cape at the intersection of Kii Suido Sea and the Pacific Ocean was designated as a Precious Natural Site of the prefecture as it is the egg-laying ground of the giant loggerhead sea turtle. The turtles return here to lay their eggs from May through August, and attract many tourists from outside the prefecture. Check out this really cool online access map that gives you accommodation, sightseeing spots and helps you locate them with a mouse-over!

DIVING - Note: We do not cover dive spots specifically because the majority of families don’t dive. However, families with junior divers or snorkelers, FYI , the best dive spots in Japan are said to be in off the Izu Peninsula; around the island of Sado-ga-shima, near Niigata; around the tip of the Kii peninsula between Shirahama and Kushimoto; around Mugi and Kashiwajima in Shikoku; around Aomori and on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan in Tohoku; in Okinawa and the Bonin Islands, further afield. For more info consult the outdoorjapan website.

Yakushima Island (Kyushu prefecture):

Yakushima Island is one of the remotest spots in Japan and a world heritage site famed for the some of the oldest trees in the world -- and for turtle-watching activities. Summer is the nesting season for sea turtles in Japan. Senrihama and other spots, including Inakahama on Yakushima Island, Kyushu are well-known for nesting turtles and attract a lot of visitors, especially on weekends. "While it is both educational and a rare privilege to see such animals in the wild, some sites in Japan (and elsewhere) are not managed by trained conservationists and can degenerate into spectacles for camera-clicking rubberneckers. Worse, some places confine hatchlings for events to allow children to release into the sea, which severely interferes with the biologically-important hatching process. Matsuzawa says the media is partly to blame. "Taking pictures or making a lot of noise or shining lights on them is unnecessary and invasive. There are enough pictures of nesting turtles already; the media should use those instead of always taking new ones. And people who come to watch have to realize it's not a movie or TV show, but a beautiful phenomenon which must be observed with patience and respect."" - Daily Yomiuri. For more information, check out the Japan Sea Turtle Association's bilingual website. Many conservation projects need volunteers for night patrols and other duties.

Tokyo Bay area noteworthy coastal sites:

Odaiba Seaside Park – This park has a real beach where kids can play in the water or build their own shogun sand castles.

The Kasai Seaside Park. Ride a Suijo Bus or water bus which is a double decker ferry, from Hinode Pier (Kaigan) to Odaiba Island and the Kasai Seaside Park. There’s a photo of Odaiba Island’s beach here and a write-up of Kasai Seaside Park attractions; Kasai-rinkai Koen sometimes offers free admission for elementary school students from Tokyo who are on field trips to visit the tidelands.

Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture:

Tottori coast. Pay a visit to study Japan's most famous "sakkyu" or sand dunes. For access and info read this article. Access: The Izumo night train leaves Tokyo at 9:10pm and arrives in Tottori City at 7:56am (JY10190, express surcharge JY3150, double-decker bunk JY6300). An express bus service runs from Hamamatsucho and Shingawa to Tottori, one-way fare is JY10,200 (Ticket office open 10am-5pm, Phone: 03-3743-0022).

Wakayama Prefecture:

Kushimoto Kaichu Sea Park at Kushimoto town and Shiono-misaki cape, Kii peninsula. The tow of Kushimoto is located at the southernmost tip of Honshu. It is a good place for snorkeling activities as the water is warm, there are colorful coral reefs. Visit also the Kushimoto Undersea Park a marine park that has a long underwater tunnel and observation pod offshore for watching sharks, fishes, stinrays, etc. You might also like to ride in a glass-bottomed boat. Access info: From Tokyo Station, 2 hours 30 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Shin-Osaka Station. From Shin-Osaka Station, 3 hours 5 minutes by JR Kii Honsen Line to Kushimoto Station. From Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, 1 hour 45 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. From Nagoya Station, 3 hours 15 minutes by JR Kii Honsen Line Express Train to Shingu Station, From Shingu Station to Kushimoto Station, 55 minutes by JR Hanwa Line.

Katsuura Bay, Nachi-Katsuura-machi town faces the bay and will be the base for most visitors. Kino-matsushima is studded with some 130 islets in the Katsuura Bay. The inlets and rocks have names like Camel Rock, Lion Islet and Tsuru or Crane Islet. Ugui port located between Katsuura and Shingu will be where you go if you want to catch a boat -to join the Southern Kishu Maritime Experience Cruise to enjoy watching whales or dolphins. The boat operates from late April to late September. You may see a sperm whale during five months from spring to autumn, and dolphins throughout the year. Kushimoto is famous for its many coastal rock formations, including Hashigui-Iwa and Umikongo. Take the ferry to Oshima Island to see the Umikongo Rocks. From the observation platform, look out for the pyramid rock and the lion's head rock. Don't miss a stop at the Katsuura Tuna Market at dawn. Access: Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 36 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, then take JR Kansai and Kise Line for 3 hours and 20 minutes from Nagoya Station to Kii-Katsuura Station. From Osaka, take JR Hanwa and Kise Line for 3 hours and 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Kii-Katsuura Station.

Ohakozaki and Senjojiki Rocky Beaches In the northeast of Kamaishi City, at the tip of Hakozaki Peninsula Point, between Ryoishi Bay and Otsuchi Bay is Senjojiki, a scenic point of uniquely shaped granite rocks. From here, there is an excellent view of Sanganjima, an uninhabited island designated a National Natural Monument. The panoramic view is definitely worth a visit. Access: From Unosumai Station (JR Yamada Line), it is a 25-minute bus ride to Hakozaki Shirahama. The walk from Hakozaki Shirahama to Senjojiki is about 6.8 km. The trail is part of the Tohoku Natural Walking Path and is known as the "Road to Hakozaki on the Rias Coast". - Discover Japan

More Online Information Sources:

Metropolis feature article URL:

For the best online surfing guide, go to

Funabashi Seaside Park Kasai feature

Shizuoka Guide Swimming Beach Info

Wakayama Prefecture's Beaches

For more info, visit's page on diving

International Adventure Club’s recommendation and info on Okinawa

An account of diving in Izu with many pictures here.


A cave is defined here as a large hole in the side of a mountain or sea cliff OR underground OR undersea.

1. Gyokusen-do Cave in Okinawa What’s stellar about this cave? It has over 200,000 beautifully formed stalactites. The cave is 3 miles long. Pay a virtual visit or one in person. Access info: 1336 Maekawa Tamagusuku-son, Okinawa Phone: 098-949-7421)

2. The Ikura-do Cave in Okayama. Perched on along a 240-meter tall vertical precipice, this cave was formed by slow erosion of the limestone (over a very long time) by the Takahashi-gawa River. The Kusama Karst Tableland extends upstream of the river that has also carved out a beautiful gorge called Ikura-kyo. The cave is 1,200 meters long but fortunately, you won’t have walk the entire length…there’s a short walking course. You’ll be starstruck by the series of glittering stalactites (To get there: Fly an hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport or take the JR Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Okayama Station. Then, take the JR Hakubi Line to Ikura Station. It takes 4 hours 30 minutes.)

3. Ryusen-do Cave in eastern Iwate. Batman’s cave may well be here. One of the two best-known tributary caves is named Komori-ana (Bat’s Cave) – the other cave is called Tortoise Rock Cave. There are five different unique species of bats living in the cave with each species listed as a natural monument. Besides that distinction, Ryusen-do, situated in the foothills of Mt. Ureira in eastern Iwate, is one of the three largest limestone caves in Japan. Nobody has explored its full length so nobody knows exactly how long the cave is. But 2,500 m of it HAS been explored, with maybe another estimated 5,000 m to be explored. That’s not all, the cave is also world famous for clarity and depth of several of its underground lakes. The deepest pool in Japan at 120 m is found here. One of its lakes glows a mysterious and eerie emerald green. Spring water flows from the deepest back part of the cave into the lakes. It is listed as a natural monument. Also worth a quick visit is the nearby but smaller Ryusen Shindo cave that now serves as a science museum with displays and explanations of the history of the caves' exploration, the geological features and life-forms found here. Access: To get there, you need to ride the JR Tohoku Shinkansen (hurray) from Tokyo Station for two and a half hours to Morioka Station, AND THEN hop on a bus for two and a half hours all the way to the Ryusen-do-mae bus stop.

4. Ryugado Cave in Kochi prefecture, Shikoku. This cave is one of the three major stalactite caves and one of the biggest caves in Japan, and perhaps oldest, about 150,000,000 years old. What to watch out for: magnificent limestone pillars and over 20 waterfalls of various sizes all lit up for tourists like you! Get ready for an underground adventure – but no Lord Voldemort or the Snake of Slytherin in sight here, maybe just archaeological relics from the Yayoi Period roughly 300 B.C. -- 300 A.D. Access: Make your way via one of 3 bridges from the mainland to Kochi city in Shikoku. About 24 km from Kochi, take the train to Tosayamada, and then take the taxi or cave bus to the cave site. If driving, take the Ryugado Skyline, a windy route with spectacular coastal views.

5. Akiyoshidai Cave in Yamaguchi prefecture. The cave is part of a largest complex of limestone caves and the largest karstland or karst plateau (130 square kilometers) in Japan. 420 caves have been discovered! What’s even more fascinating about this place is that the limestone rocks of the Akiyoshidai plateau began as a coral reef in the ocean about 350 million years ago. Over the course of 130 million years, volcanoes erupted on the ocean floor and upheavals caused by movements of the earth’s plates resulted in parts of the earth’s rocks being turned over and folded over. As the rocks folded over, the lower older layers of the coral reef came to the surface forming the Akiyoshidai plateau. This is said to be a great place for fossil-hunting. The main element in limestone rock is acidic calcium. Rainwater carrying carbon dioxide will penetrate into the ground and caves, dissolve the rock and forming calcium carbonate. By this process, the limestone rock is gradually eaten away or eroded with holes and crevices gradually forming the huge limestone caves that we have been talking about, over the millions of years, of course. Many are taken by this site but a reviewer says the Okinawa ones are much more spectacular. See especially the information and pictures here and here.

6. Ryugashido Limestone Cave in Shizuoka prefecture A big cave on the south slope of Mt. Ryugashi, dating to 250 million years ago. Only 400m of 1,000m-length cave is open. Visit it for its large underground waterfall (with a 30-m drop) and many limestone features. Access: Make for the JR Hamamatsu station at the north exit, go to the bus terminal track 15 and take the bus bound for "Okuyama" (50 minutes) and the "Ryugashido Iriguchi" bus stop. Walk for 5 minutes.

7. Genbudo Cave A famous geological formation of Japan, the attraction consists of three caves with thousands of basalt pillars. The cave is part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park, which consists of a 75km long seacoast of granite and basalt. Erosion has resulted in 91 large and small islands and reefs, as well as 52 caves and arches, such as those seen at Genbudo and Yoroi-no-Sode. Access: The park is located in western Honshu as a continuous 75km long sea coast between Amino (Kyota prefecture) and the sand dunes near Tottori prefecture. Genbudo is located east of the Maruyama River on the road between Toyo-oka and Kinasaki on the Japan Sea side of Hyogo Prefecture.

8. Ama no Iwato (lit. the "heavenly rock door"), 8km north-east from Takachiho gorge in Kyushu, is said to be where the sungoddess Amaterasu hid herself in a cave so that the world was plunged into darkness. The Yasugawara Cave is where Amaterasu is said to have hidden, is a few hundred meters away from the shrine Ama no Iwato-jinja Shrine up the Iwato-gawa river. "The cave is not deep and is the setting of a shrine where it is said that the Japanese sun goddess hid until she could be convinced to come out. It is lovely next to a picture-perfect stream." - comments by Andrew Taber. Access: The nearest airport is Miyazaki, almost 3 hours away by train, via Nobeoka. The best way to get there is really to rent a car. Getting to Takachiho can be a tough trip. The train ride cost about ¥3,200, using the JR Limited Express Nichirin, then the Takachiho Railway from Nobeoka. Fukuoka or Beppu, you can use the same JR Limited Express Nichirin line to Nobeoka (4h10 and ¥5,800 from Hakata, 2h20 and ¥2,400 from Beppu), then the Takachiho Railway 90 minutes to Takachiho. (From Kumamoto, take the 60-km road that links Takachiho and Kumamoto, or a train to Oita, then to Nobeoka). Take a bus or taxi from Takachiho station to avoid walking the 8km).
References: Amaterasu in the Kojiki text; Yokugura performances in Takachiho; Takachiho Guide, Japan Reference

9. Caves in Gifu prefecture, especially in the Hida area, near Takayama. "There are several terrific caves with waterfalls and limestone formations." - comments by Andrew Taber. Visit 3 together on a field trip:

- Hida daishonyu-do, Nyuukawa-mura. Access: Hida Cave Management Office, Tel: 0577-79-2211, Fax: 0577-79-2643 Take the JR "Takayama" line from the Shinkansen Nagoya station (2 hours 10 minutes) to Takayama station. From the station, take the bus via "New Hodaka Onsen" way (28 minutes) Get off at "Shonyudou Guchi" and walk for 1 km. Map and cave details here.
- Ootaki shounyu-do, Hachiman-cho. Access info here.
- Sekigahara daishonyu-do, Sekigahara-tyo. Access: Take the JR Tokaido line to Sekigahara station and walk for 80 minutes (4km). If driving, from the Meishin expressway Sekigahara IC turn into Route 365 on your left. Turn left at the traffic signal and junction between the Mt Ibuki motorway entrance and the crossing of Route 21 bypass left. Proceed for about 5 minutes to cave.
- Jomon shonyu-do and Miyama shonyu-do, Hachiman-cho. Access info here.
The JR Tokaido Main Line runs through Gifu on its way from Nagoya to Kyoto and Osaka. From Tokyo Station, the best way to reach central Gifu is to take a Tokaido Shinkansen train (Nozomi or Hikari) to Nagoya, then change to a Tokaido Line local train for the run to Gifu. (2 1/4 hours; 11,190 yen via Nozomi, 10,990 yen via Hikari). The same connection can be made coming from Kyoto and Osaka in Kansai, and from other stations on the shinkansen network to the west. By car, take the central Chūō Expressway, which largely follows the alignment of the Tokaido Line, also passes through southern Gifu.

10. Shizushi Limestone Cave Park, Mizuho Town, located in the center of Kyoto Prefecture. The only one of its kind in Kyoto Prefecture, the cave with four main sections, is 52.5 meters long, 4 wide and 25 deep. The vertical cave has stairs that go straight down. Limestone formations only grow 6 mm in a hundred years. Attractions: The Golden Pillar formation (2 m around and 5 m long), among others. There is a campground (with full facilities) nearby. Access: Take the JR San-in Line from Kyoto Stn. to Sonobe Station and then a JR Bus to Hiyama (about 30 min.). From Hiyama take a town bus Shonyudo-guchi Stop (about 15 min.). Phone: 0771-86-7125.

Other notable caves:

Kaza-Ana or Windy Hole Cave in O'hasama Town, Iwate Prefecture. Animal bones ca 10,000 years ago or earlier have been found at the limestone cave located approximately 12 meters above present riverbed level, and 1 meter in width and 10 meters in length. Access: Kaza-ana Cave is situated in west end of Kitakami highlands and along Yagimakigawa River which joins Kitakamigawa River. See map info here.

Fukui & Shiga prefectures have some caves that are archaeologically significant. Visit:
- Hakuba-do in Waizumi-mura, Fukui prefecture. Note: A number of caves are landmarks for significant archaeological discoveries. More info here.
- Kawachi fuuketsu, in Taga-cho in Shiga prefecture.

For info on showcaves other than those listed above, visit these web pages for a fuller listing here and here.

Sea Caves:

Anatoshiiso Rock with Three Giant Holes, Massaki-cho, Oofunato-shi (near Kamakura), Kanagawa Anatoshiiso is the work of countless years of wild waves and stormy winds eroding the rock. But having three giant holes in one rock is truly unique. On calm days, small pleasure boats can sail through the holes as a tunnel. Access, photos and info here.

Enoshima Cave. Enoshima island is particularly famous for its legend of the dragon that lives in the caves beneath the island. Not a cave to rave about though, visit it like the rest of usual tourist crowd for the ancient legendary hype. The cave visit is usually made as an accompaniment to other attractions on the island or in the area. See a picture of interior of cave here. Access info: From Kamakura, you can take the private Enoden line west of Kamakura station (about 20 minutes). Access to the island is via a 600-m long bridge.

The Tensohodo, at Dogashima, Nishiizu (West Izu) is a large sea cave. Take a 20-minute boat ride out to see the cave which has a sky-roof . The interplay of light and shadow makes beautiful patterns on the water. Visitors come to the area for the picturesque limestone outcrops but also for the good beaches and snorkeling in the clear water. More info here. Access: Take one of the tour boats that depart from the jetty in front of the main car park.


A list of the 69 longest caves in Japan (containing a few hyperlinks) here.

A list of Japan's deepest caves in Japan here.

Speleological Society of Japan's list of sites for horizontal-caving here

Speleological Society of Japan's list of sites for vertical-caving here

An article on how to make a snow-cave, Japan’s Back Country Snow World.

Speleological Society of Japan, an academic organization concerned with conservation, exploration and safety standards. Probably the best website on caving in Japan.

Speleological Survey Group of Yamaguchi University, (web info in English) It had its beginnings in 1960 in the activities of an earth science classroom of the Department of Education of Yamaguchi University led by Prof. M. Kawano. Main investigations have been conducted in Akiyoshi-dai (limestone area), as well as in caves distributed in Gifu, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Kagoshima. See the group's useful website with many good pictures.

Tokyo Speleo Club
(website in English and Japanese). Might be a good network to join for spelunking activities if you live in the area.

Mt Fuji Vulcanospeleological Society Interesting because of its focus – as the only one organization concerning with Vulcano-speleology in Japan (since 1970). It has a small photo-gallery.

Edogawa Cave Club
(in English and Japanese) has its roots in the Edogawa High School Geological Club

FIELD TRIPS TO VOLCANOES (see images here)

There are 86 active volcanoes in Japan today, the most active of which are those in Kyushu notably Aso, Sakurajima and Unzen. However, Mt Asama to the northwest of Karuizawa also ranks with Aso as one of the most active volcanoes.

Kirishima's Volcanoland. In a small area of Japan called the Kirishima-Yaku National Park is an amazing collection of 23 volcanoes, 15 craters, and 10 cater lakes. Visitors usually make Ebino their base for exploring Kirishima. Karakuni-dake is the higest peak in Kirishima that dominates the plateau and hot steam hisses out and of the mountainside and of course sulphurous fumes from the many vents. The second highest peak, Takachiho-no-mine, is, according to legend, the place to which the sun goddess descended to found Japan. Visitors often hike the many trails around here not only to view the fabulous forest with its unique eco-system as well as to see the beautiful large crater lake (there is a campsite on its northermost shore).

Mt Aso. Mount Aso is the largest volcano in Japan, and one of the largest in the world. JNTO and other tourist agencies in Japan tout Mt Aso's caldera as the largest in the world - however, the ranking of widest or largest caldera varies depending on the method, whether width, length of diameter, circumference or volume are calculated - say the vulcanologists. An erruption that took place from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago created a huge caldera, 25km across north to south and 18km across east to west. Its circumference is estimated between 80 and 120km. The mountain is a typical complex volcano composed of an outer rim with a total circumferential length of 128 kilometers, a caldera (circular volcanic basin) with seven towns and villages inside it and five mountains (Aso Gotake) on the central plateau including the active Mt. Naka-dake, one of the major volcanoes of the world. The 1,506-meter-high summit of Mt. Naka-dake, where the air is filled with the smell of sulfur can be reached by a ropeway. Tourists at the summit can take a close-range look at the dynamic fumes rising from the crater which extends about l kilometer north and south and about 400 meters east and west and has a perimeter about 4 kilometers long. Since it is an active volcano, shelter dugouts are provided around the crater. Read this field trip account at Peaks and Valleys to know more about Mt Aso. Access: From Tokyo, it takes an hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Kumamoto Airport. From Osaka it is an hour from Osaka Itami Airport. Then 50 mins by bus from Kumamoto Airport to Kumamoto Station. Trains from Kumamoto take 1 hr 20 mins to Aso - from Kumamoto Station to Hitoyoshi Station by an Express Train on the JR Main Kagoshima Line-Hisatsu Line:(1,080yen) and 1h30min to Takamori (1,190yen). Direct trains from Beppu take about 2h (¥3,440), but are limited to 4 per day. Kyushu Sanko has buses between Kumamoto and Beppu that stop at the crater of Mount Aso. JR Kyushu Bus has buses between the Aso region, Beppu, Yufuin and Kurokawa Onsen. / Combine visit to Aso with a visit to the hotsprings of Kyushu. Visit also the Aso Volcano Museum in Kusasenri Meadow. (scroll up page to the Geological Museums listing for a detailed description of the museum).

Sakurajima, in Kyushu, once an island, is now a peninsula thanks to a powerful eruption of Mt. Sakurajima in 1914 that joined the island with the mainland. Lava fields flank the sides of Mt. Sakurajima, making for a lunar-like landscape. Mt. Sakurajima, which rises magnificently above Kinko Bay facing Kagoshima, still emits fumes of steam and occasionally soot and ash.

Mt Asama. Access and other info here.

Climbing Mt Fuji, icon of Japan. Mt Fuji, a dormant volcano, is described in many travel guidebooks as the most beautiful volcano in the world. Lake Kawaguchi in Hakone is the most popular base for climbers, though you can stay at the resorts beside any of the lakes. For access and info see this link.

Mt Nasu (Nasu-dake), 1,917 meters above sea level, is the main peak of the Nasu Volcano in Nasu and Shiobara Highlands, and has a crater approximately 100 meters wide and 20 meters deep that pours out rich smoke with steam. Nasu and Shiobara: A highland area extending from the foot of Mt. Nasu-dake, with the eleven hot springs of Shiobara dotting the valley of the Houki-gawa River. The highland area extending from the foot of the Nasu Volcano is dotted with hot springs including Yumoto, Takao, and Omaru. Together they form the Nasu-onsen-kyo Hot Springs Village, renowned in Japan as a resort offering recreational facilities for golfers and skiers, and for tourists, who visit the area all year round. At the far end of the Nasu-koen highland, there rises the smoking Mt. Chausudakend, of which mountainside is reachable by ropeway. One of the tourist attractions in this area is the azeleas that cover the surface of the mountain in early summer. Shiobara-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village is located slightly to the southwest of Nasu along the Shiobara Valley at the upper reaches of the Houki-gawa River, and is commonly known simply as "Shiobara's Eleven Hot Springs" due to the presence of eleven hot spring sources. The valley, which offers spectacular views, particularly when the autumn tints are at their best, is also known for its two suspension bridges: the 320-meter Momiji-dai Suspension Bridge at the mouth of the Village, and the Mikaeri-no-Tsuribashi Suspension Bridge (literally "the bridge of retrospection") along the promenade. Mikaeri-no-taki Falls is a well-known scenic spot. Access: The Nasu-kogen highlands are located at the upper reaches of the Naka-gawa River in the northern part of Tochigi Prefecture. An hour 15 minutes to Nasu-Shiobara Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, or 3 hours 45 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station, by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. From the Nasu-shiobara Stn take a bus (50mins) to Nasu-yumoto; to Nasu-dake Sanroku Stn by bus (20min) and then by cable car to 5min. Nasudake Sancho.

Mt Usu (Usuzan) which erupted in year 2000, is located in Lake Toya resort part of the Toya Shikotsu National Park. Several craters opened up on the west side during the eruption. An offshoot of Usuzan is Showa Shinzan ("Showa New Mountain"). This volcano is the subject of much study by school students in Japan. It is one of Japan's youngest mountains and had risen suddenly from a wheat field between 1943-1944. For access info on how to get to Lake Toya, see this link. For access info on how to get to Usuzan from Lake Toya, see this page. The remains of destroyed buildings, toppled power lines have been left there as a reminder of the destructive power of volcanoes. Photo of Showa Shinzan and access info on how to get to Showa Shinzan can be found here.

Information on Japan's Volcanic Range and its formation can be found at Volcano World


Castles & Castle Towns:

The best castles and castle towns in Japan are listed below, but you can consult Japanese Castles's guide that lists more than 50 castles and ruins. On castle towns see JTNO listing.

Azuchi Castle in Shiga. A castle which was established by Nobunaga in 1876 as his base of power and which is known for being the largest multi-storied WOODEN building in the world at the time and for its revolutionary design which was a turning point in castle architecture.It led the way for grander and larger castles of the Sengoku and Edo periods. Unfortunately, the castle was burnt to the ground but the site is visited for its historical connections, amazing stonework and well-preserved layout.

Bitchu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi, Okayama prefecture is a two level castle in its original state.

Edo Castle, Tokyo, where the imperial family reside today is much visited for the lovely the Higashi-gyoen (east gardens) and the Honmaru where the donjon once stood. A reconstructed palisade marks the location of the former donjon. The immense stone walled moats that remain from the original castle are one of the most photographed sights for postcards and calendars.

Fukuoka Castle ruins Also known as Maizuru Castle the feudal lord Kuroda Nagamasa began building it in 1601 and spent 7 years building the 47 turrents and platforms of various sizes. Not much of the castle remains today but the ruins and the Maizuru Park next to the castle are worth visiting especially in the spring when cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Access: Jyo-nai, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka. 10 min walk from Ohori-koen subway stn Phone: 092-711-4666.

Gifu Castle at the top of Kinkazan is said to have been the castle where Oda Nobunaga, a hero of the age of wars, planned to realize his ambition of unifying Japan. Precious historical materials are kept in the castle building and you can enjoy a panoramic view in all directions from the castle observatory. The castle was captured by Tokugawa who had no need of a castle so he had it abolished and the current one a reconstruction ferro--concrete model.

***Hikone Castle in Hikone-city, Shiga. An original castle (but with reconstructed lord's residence) and original gardens. The donjon, known for the construction techniques and the many varieties of gables used to make it well fortified, has been designated a National Treasure.

***Himeji Castle in Hyogo has been dubbed the "most elegant castle in the world" by many books. Its fortress or castle architectural techniques are unique to Japan. Read why it is considered an architectural and an engineering and design marvel here. White Heron Castle (Shiragijo) castle as it is known in Japanese, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its historical associations: it has remnant stones from an earlier castle built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and it was built by Ikeda Terumasa, an ally of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara who was given the lands for his loyalty during the war. "Himeji-jo is the most spectacular example of a Japanese castle in existence. The beauty of the donjon is unrivalled throughout Japan and the extent of surviving structures is amazing. Himeji-jo is the only castle in Japan where you can really get a feeling for what castles were like in the Sengoku period." - Guide to Japanese Castles. Read more architectural insights and general info here.

Hachioji Castle i
n Hachioji, Tokyo walls, bridge and and entrance to the palace are all that remain of the former castle.

***Hirosaki Castle in Hirosaki, Aomori was built in 1627 and struck by lightning and burnt to the ground and built in 1810. The castle is in its original condition and is much visited especially in the spring because of the 5,000 cherry blossoms in the castle grounds.

Hiroshima Castle
Built in 1591 by one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 5 main generals, it was one of the few castles that lasted till 21th century but was destroyed by the atomic bomb. The current castle is a reconstruction which houses a museum. Access: 21-1 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 15 min walkfrom Kamiya-cho bus stop from Hiroshima stn. Phone: 082-221-7512.

Hitoyoshi Castle Town

***Inuyama Castle (Hakutei-jo) in Inuyama, Aichi prefecture is in its original state as when it was established in 1537 by Oda Nobuyasu, Oda Nobunaga's grandfather. A designated National Treasure.

Iyo Matsuyama Castle in Ehime prefecture. A castle built in 1603 that was struck by lightning and burned down but its rebuilding completed in 1854, It is mostly still in its original condition except for the yagura, gates and structures that suffered during WWII air-raids and is thought to be a close second to Himeji Castle.

Izushicho castle town in Hyogo.

Kakunodate castle ruins,
castle town, and samurai quarters in Kakunodate town, Sendai. The sites is visited for the beauty of the weeping cherry blossoms planted along 1.5 km stretch of the Hinokinaigawa Riverand the homes in the samurai quarter. Founded as a castle town in 1620 by the Akita clan lord Yoshikatsu Ashina, the town succumbed to fires and was relocated further south. The "new" samurai town that emerged contained like the old one, a northern samurai quarter and a southern quarter for merchants. The most impressive old wooden houses that remain today in the Buke-yashiki (not-to-be-missed samurai quarter) are the Kawarada house, Aoyagi-ke and the Haikara-kan building.

Kanazawa Castle (Oyama-jo) in Kanazawa. was built by a retainer of Oda Nobunaga in 1580, but was burnt down. The current castle contains few original buildings but has ruined stone walls and a well-preserved samurai quarter that are worth visiting.

Kawagoe Castle ruins and Castle Town in Kawagoe city, Saitama prefecture is worth paying a visit because of the extant remains of the lord's palace - lord's palaces are rare. Founded in 1457, the castle fell to Hideyoshi when he attached Odawara and the Hojo. The castle had an important defensive function for Edo, the power base for Tokugawa, and the city flourished as a castle town suppllying goods to Tokyo and as a transportation and service hub for Edo. Kawagoe city itself is visited for the many ancient storehouses that remain today as evidence of that function, giving a good feel of an Edo period castle town. Visit Kawagoe city itself to understand the ancient Kawagoe Castle Town's strategic importance to the Tokugawa shoguns (for its nearness in relation to Edo) and the influence of the merchants of Edo - by viewing the preserved local merchant houses called dozosukuri that combine home and warehouse in a solid structure faced with fireproof clay. Access: Via a 60 min train journey to Hon-kawagoe (via Seibu Shinjuku Line) from Tokyo's Seibu Shinjuku Stn.

***Kochi Castle
in Kochi prefecture is a splendid castle in its original condition, not a reconstructed one.

***Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto is one of the most impregnable fortress castles ever built in Japan. It is a castle with many original structures still standing (the donjon and a few other structures are rebuilt). An excellent castle to study for fortress construction techniques and also for its example as an old large Edo-period castle. Historically, Kumamoto Castle in Kagoshima is the scene of the climax of the Seinan Rebellion of 1877 on which the film starring Tom Cruise "The Last Samurai" is based, only the samurai had not as in the movie attacked a hillside - instead the samurai had stormed the Kumamoto Castle, continued a 50 day siege which climaxed in the castle going up in flames with a small garrison of government forces inside it.

Marugame Castle
(Kameyama-jo or Horai-jo) in Kagawa is a castle still in its original state from 1641's rebuilding of the castle by Yamazaki Ieharu.

Maruoka Castle
in Sakai, Fukui prefecture built in 1576. The keep was destroyed in the Fukui earthquake of 1576 but it was rebuilt using the original materials of the keep which Maruoka city claims is the oldest keep in Japan.

***Matsue Castle in Matsue, Shimane prefecture was built in1511 has a still standing donjon in its original state.

***Matsumoto Castle in Nagano prefecture is a large castle in its original state and is considered second only to Himeji Castle in terms of preservation.

Nagahama Castle Historical Museum(Japanese)

***Nagoya Castle in Nagoya is a castle built in 1612 and reconstructed after the damage from WWII bombing but it is historically important as a castle that is thought to have surpassed Himeji in splendor or grandeur. The castle is also called "Kinshachi-jo" because of the 2 golden shachihoko that decorate the top of its donjon. Kin means gold and shachi are the killer whale- (sometimes wrongly referred to in guidebooks AND museums as dolphins) mythical creatures depictions that decorate the donjon and other structures. These can be found at the Odawara castle as well.

***Nijo Castle in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built in 1603 and includes on its grounds Ninomaru Palace, which houses a mural of hawks on a pine tree by Kano Tanyu (1602-1674), and other buildings. Falconry events and demonstrations take place on Sept 16th and Nov 12th during the autumn festival. The art of falconry, which was enjoyed by members of the Tokugawa shogunate families, including Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), will be demonstrated in autumn for the first time in Nijo Castle. See the photo gallery and study of its architectural significance is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See this website for insights about the castle architecture and this site for photos and info. Access: Nijo Castle is most easily reached from Nijojo-mae Station on the Tozai Subway Line. From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line to Karasuma Oike Station and transfer to the Tozai Line. The whole trip from Kyoto Station takes about 15-20 minutes. Admission: 600 yen.

Osaka Castle a reconstruction of one of Japan's most famous fortresses, is said to be the most visited tourist attraction in the country. If you want to see a castle with an authentic interior, you'll have to head to nearby Himeji, but Osaka-jo has a beautiful exterior and contains excellent displays about the castle and history of Osaka. It is also one of the few museums in Japan with comprehensive, well-written explanations in English. The castle is situated in a large park [60,000 square meters], which is famous for its cherry blossoms (late March or early April). Access: 1-1 Osaka-jo, Chuo-ku. Tenmabashi Station on the Tanimachi subway line, Tanimachi 4-chome Station on the Chuo subway line, Osakajo Koen Station on the JR Loop Line. Phone: 06-6941-3044 Open daily Entrance: 600 yen for adults, free for kids under 12.

Tatsuno castle town

Yonezawa Castle Town

The Yuzawa region has prospered as a "castle town" surrounding Yuzawa Castle. Sake and pickled vegetables are acknowledged local specialities, qualities of which heavily rely on the spring waters in town. Access: Furutachi Mountain, Yuzawa City, Akita Prefecture Access: Transportaion: 3 minutes by car from "Yuzawa" station on JR Ou Honsen Line. Contact: Yuzawa City Office 81-183-73-2111

Guide to Japanese Castles provides online information on 66 castles in Japan and a castles in Japan map.


A-Bomb (Genbaku) Dome is the preserved ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exihbition Hall that was incinded by the atomic bomb. 1-10 Otemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima A short walk from Genbaku-dome mae bus stop from Hiroshima Stn. A UNESCO world heritage site.
Ainu Museum (Hoppo Minzoku Shiryoshitsu) displays Ainu crafts and artefacts as well as local wildlife. Shokubutsu-en Botanical Gardens, Chuo-ku. Sapporo
Archaeological Museum of Kokugakuin University 4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8440 The museum has a collection of over 80,000 pieces with 20,000 of them belonging to the Jomon period.
Asuka Historical Museum The earliest known palaces were said to have been constructed either from the 4th and 5th centuries according to written records, but from archaeological evidence residences of Emperors Kenzo and Senka were built during the earlier half of the 6th century. And by the end of the 6th century, Emperors Ojin and Ingyo had residences in the Asuka region. However, it was not until after the building of Empress Suiko's Toyura-no-miya at that imperial residences came to be built in the Asuka region regularly. While these "palaces" (miya, a word also used to designate buildings or shrines of a ritual significance) were from the first built to serve chiefly as residences for one or another ruler, they also had the function of providing a place for the exercise of certain political, administrative and ceremonial activities. Palaces were moved with each change of emperor, and sometimes were moved two or three times during one and the same reign. In tandem with the early nation-state becoming more ordered, palace construction came to imitate Chinese practice, adding a large number of administrative offices. Thus grew Asuka city and there came to be built up around the palace an urbanized zone (kyo) subdivided by streets. See this page and this page for detailed descriptions about.the Asuka archaeological discoveries. The several Asuka kofun that have been excavated (these were built earlier the palaces) are also significant.
Basho Museum Koto-ku, Tokyo

Boso no mura in Chiba is an Edo-to-Meiji era village collection of old period buildings and shophouses, architectural artefacts. The museum chronicles the history of the people, their culture and lifestyle since ancient times in the Boso peninsula. he exhibits emphasize the experiential aspect so that live artefacts and real objects are featured. For eg., there is a natural garden that features native plants of Boso.
Byodoin in Kyoto is one of the rare surviving examples of Heian era buildings left in Japan. Byodoin's Phonix Hall was built in 1053 by the Fujiwara regents. Part of the huge Buddhist temple of the Pure Land sect, it survived while all the other surrounding buildings have been destroyed. 11th century Pure Land paintings depict buildings like Byodoin's suggesting to us that the Byodoin was literally an earthly 3D model of the Buddhist idea of "Paradise" at the time. Read more architectural insights here.
Chiba Folk Museum is housed in a reconstructed castle. On the fourth floor is a planetarium while the other floors house historical exhibits such as pottery artefacts, castle heritage items and folk art items.

Chusonji Temple
in the town of Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, in north-eastern Japan merits a visit as it was in the 12th century a cradle of a magnificent aristocratic culture. In the late 11th century, the Fujiwara family, descendants of an offshoot of the distinguished family in Kyoto, settled in Hiraizumi and became powerful rulers of northern Japan. Chusonji Temple was originally founded in 850 and rebuilt by the Fujiwara family. Rebuilding started in 1105 and lasted for 21 years during which pagodas, halls, gate, bell tower, repository, and many other buildings were built in succession. In the finished complex there were over 40 temples and shrines, as well as 300 cells for priests. The region was a leading producer of gold and there prospered three generations of the Fujiwara family until they were overthrown in 1189. A fire in 1337 destroyed all the buildings except for the Golden Hall and the buildings that surround it today date from the 17th century. Read more here.

Daigo-ji in Kyoto is visited for its five-story pagoda erected in 951 which is the oldest building in Kyoto as well as the oldest pagoda in Japan. Most of the early temple buildings were destroyed during the Onin war however, the 15th century Sanpo-in sub-temple rebuilt by Hideyoshi contains the famous Kano school paintings on the interior and the outstanidng landscape garden outside..
***Edo-Tokyo-Museum in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. This is an excellent world-class museum to get acquainted with Edo Japan and to get a 3D feel of the historical period. Splendid artefacts and models of architecture.1-4-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0015
Haniwa Garden, Miyazaki prefecture is located in a corner of Heiwadai Park. It takes its name from "haniwa", clay figures that were produced in ancient times to accompany the deceased and were placed inside burial mounds. Many ancient burial mounds have been excavated in Miyazaki, replicas of which can be seen in this garden, with moss-covered mounds and 400 haniwa warriors, animals, homes and boats scattered among the trees.
***Enryakuji is the crucible out which grew all new Kamakura sects: Honen, Shinran, Eisai, Dogen and Nichiran had all once studied on Mt. Hiei. It was a center of scholarship that produced eminent priests and thinkers, like Ennin, Enchin, Ryogen and Gensho. The temple complex was so huge that it had 3000 sub-temples that overed the entire mountain - yet Enryakuji is also the tale of a temple center of worldly power engaged in political struggles and intrigue and that had a powerful army of warrior monks which was brought to its knees by Nobunaga's attacks in 1571. More here and at the official Enryakuji website.
Fort Goryokaku in Hakodate, Hokkaido is a star-shaped Western style fort built to resist northern threats and where the last of the shogunate forces held out till they were conquered by the imperial forces during the Bonin war 1869.
Great Buddha of Kamakura. The second largest bronze Buddha (dates back to 1252) in Japan (next to the one housed in Nara's Todaiji) is housed in Kotokuin Temple. The building that housed it was washed away in a tsunami. For more info and access, see Japan Guide.
Hagi Castle Ruins and Samurai Quarters in Shimane was a minor fishing port until 1604 when it became the domain of the Choshu clan leader Mori Terumoto who fortified the place so that Hagi became the castle town of the feudal Mori family from the early 17th century until the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s. Today it is renowned for its 400 year old pottery making tradition. Hagiware tea bowls are considered the finest in Japan and Hagi porcelain is admired for its fine glazes and delicate pastel colours. Only samurai were permitted to use the fine pottery so potters got around that by cutting notches in some of their work so that commonfolk could use the "spoiled" pieces. Recommended are visits to the Ishi Tea Museum or a pottery kiln. Hagi's Choshi clansmen were known for being most instrumental in overthrowing the old samurari regime and bringin about the Meiji Resotration of 1868. In Hagi there are Edo-period merchant hoes, old samurai houses, Hanonoe Teahouse for viewing. A good time to visit would between 13th and 15th August annually when the many rows of stone lanterns that were donated by retainers to the Mori Family's temples (Daishoin Temple and Tokoji Temple) are lit. See's pages for photos on Hagi's sights.
Hakata Machiya Folk Museum in Fukuoka showcases life in Hakata during the Meiji and Taisho eras (1868-1926), in particular, the residence of hakata-ori merchant, a desingated cultural property. Many demonstrations and exhibits on towns, folk crafts and festivals besides. Access: 6-10 Reisen-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, a 5 min walk from Gion subway stn.
Hakone Check Point or Barrier (Hakone Sekisho), Hakone-machi . From the town's main street follow the signs. HIstorically, this was a key check point set up in 1619 along the Tokaido Road between Kyoto and Edo for travelers who were coming into Edo and out of it. Travelers were checked for weapons and their identities. During the era, the Shogun kept the daimyo (feudal lords) docile by requiring that their wives were retained in Edo as an insurance against mutiny in the faroff lands of local influence. The check points made sure wives and families did not leave the city. There are execution grounds where mannequins re-enact some of the dramatic beheadings that were carried out in the past when such attempts to leave Edo were made. Only a small part of the old Tokaido Road at this point remains -- 1.2 km (three-fourths of a mile) but it is a splendid section of road called the Sugi-namiki flanked by nearly 400 year old cryptomeria trees running to Moto Hakone. Walking on the gravelly paths makes you realise how hard arduous and tedious travel in the past must have been and looking up at the imposing trees makes you imagine that you could be ambushed by your enemy or highway bandits. Near the Check Point, the Hakone Detached Garden Palace once part of the summer villa built by the emperor in 1886 invites walks and offers good views of Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi.
Hakone in Kanagawa prefecture should be visited for the Old Tokaido Road (a special tour in autumn Oct 28 allows visitors to do the ancient highway walk carrying folding lanterns as ancient travelers would have done, booking details here - see the 420 400-year old Japanese Cryptomeria trees - they were planted along the old Tokaido Highway in 1618 when the Hakone host town was opened. The trees shaded travelers in summer and protected the road from snow in winter. Visit the Hakone checkpoint or barrier), the Shugenji Temple and Nichiren temple and Hata Teahouse. The Nichiren Sect was founded by a high priest called Nichiren in the middle of the 13th century.
Haniwa Garden (part of Heiwadai Park) in Miyazaki, Kyushu has mounds covered with moss of approximately 400 replicas of haniwa clay figures. Miyazaki Prefecture is significant in terms of archaeological discoveries and the number of ancient burial mounds and clay figures known as haniwa that have been unearthed. Open daily 8:30am-5pm, Free entry. Access: Heiwadai bus stop from Depaato-mae on Tachibana-dori. (Scroll down to Saitobaru Ancient Mounds) To see haniwa: Miyazaki. [Photograph]. Retrieved September  6,  2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica.
***Historical villages of Shirakawago and Gokanyama collected in what is known as the Hida Folk Village (Hida Minzoku Mura). A World Heritage site, more than 30 fine old Gassho farmhouses and country buildings from the Takayama and Hida area were dismantled and rebuilt in the current andscape that is reminscent of their original settings. The exceptional rural landscape is the subject of postcards and calendars featuring high thatched roofs and interiors with beam blackened by smoking cooking fires. A water mill, artisan workshops and local crafts are other highlights. A field trip visit presents unsurpassed opportunities for learning of almost vanished Japanese countryside lifestyle, architectural heritage, the importance of rice agriculture, silkworm farming and other folk crafts. Access: a 20 min walk southwest of Takayama stn or by bus.
Historical Museum of Hokkaido is a museum that tries to contribute to our understanding of the history of Hokkaido. Access info is available from the museum website in English.
Historical Village of Hokkaido (Hokkaido Kaitaku no Mura) is an open-air museum with about 60 buildings that were dismantled in Sapporo and brought here, including Sapporo's main train station, homes, shops as well as farmhouses and village buildings. Transportation around the 54 ha site is by sleigh in winter and horse-drawn trolley the rest of the year. Access: Konnoporo,50-1 Atsubetsu-cho, Atsubetsu-ku, Hokkaido. Take the JR bus from Shin Sapporo subway.
Hokusai Museum
in Obuse-machi, Nagano. On display are two festival floats (designated official treasure of Nagano Prefecture) with Hokusai's paintings attached to their ceiling. Particularly famous are his the RYU (Dragon) and HO-O (Phoenix) paintings on the Higashi-machi Festival float - made at 85! and the Doto Angry Waves painting which are attached to the Kan-machi Festival float. The Kan-machi Festival float also features Hokusai-designed carvings based on the Chinese legend SUIKODEN. Other valuable exhibits include some of Hokusai's hanging scroll, folding screens, picture albums, sketches (displayed tastefully in an authentic Japanese room); brush paintings (Kikuzu Chrysanthemums, Namakubi A Head Cut Off; and his published books from the Sunohara collection.
Horyuji in Nara, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site that faithfully preserving the atmosphere of Japan's early Buddhism as well as having the distinction of being Japan's oldest extant temple with the oldest (7th century) set of wooden buildings on earth, and richest treasure trove with 38 national treasures and some 150 important cultural properties. A further distinction is that it is a "prince's temple" with its Shoryoin Hall dedicated to the memory of Prince Shotoku, one of the most revered persons in Japanese history. Much more info here.
House of the Flute, Chiiori, Iya valley. Stay at this restored farmhouse with thatched roof and berth in the remote countryside valley of Iya. Guests are requested to make a donation to cover their food costs and any other amount they would like to give. To visit Chiiori, contact Sean Ramsay or Yuki Katayama through the Chiiori website, at Aza-Tsurui, Higashi-Iya, Shikoku. or via email Access: From Tokyo, take the Nozomi or Hikari shinkansen to Okayama Station. Transfer at Okayama to the Marine Liner for Ooboke, where you can get picked up and taken to the house. Contact Sean or Yuki before you arrive to arrange for pick-up. Read about the Chiiori project here.
Ikegami Soneshiki Koen Park
, Izumi-shi, Osaka Based on 1995 archaeological discoveries of Yayoi ruins, a resconstructed large scale moat colony site of the Yayoi Period as well as a huge building measuring 20 meters from east to west and 7 meters from north to south, and a well-frame of diameter 2 meters carved out of camphor wood. 213-1 Ikegami-cho, Izumi-shi, Osaka 594-0083 Phone: 0725-45-5544
Ikou Iseki Koen
in Adachi ward, Tokyo is the site preserving artefacts dating to the Kofun period (1,500 years ago or so) and beyond that to the Jomon period (about 4,000 years ago) - including clay vessels and ornaments largely used in religious ceremonies. Also on display are reconstructed pit dwellings Nearby is the Shirahatazuka Shiseki Koen a historical and cultural property designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Access: 4-9-1 Higashi ikou, Adachi-ku, Tokyo A 20 min walk from the West exit of Takenotsuka Stn on the Tobu Isesaki Line OR a 7 min wlak from Hijirichi no Hashi stop on the bus bound for Toneri Futasubashi or Ikou yoshihama stop of Iriya Junkan OR a 6 min walk from Kitateramachi stop of Nissato Junkan.
Iori Machiya Houses, Kyoto. Stay at one of these restored machiya houses in Kyoto that are open to guests as accommodations.
***Itsukushima jinja, Miyajima near Hiroshima city, Hiroshima prefecture is a National Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage site (to understand its cultural value read this webpage). The shrine built by Taira Kiyomori in the 12th century is a a large, red-lacquered complex of halls and pathways jutting out onto the sea on stilts. The shrine's treasures can be viewed for a small fee. The best known postcard symbol of Miyajima is the Floating torii gate in front of the shrine. For access info see here.
Izumo Taisha Shrine in Izumo is Japan's oldest and largest shrine and was mentioned in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) compiled in the 8th century, and beyond to the age of myths. For more info see this link and this link. The style of architecture is found only in Shimane prefecture. For outstanding photos see's album.
Jidayubori Park's Old Farm House Garden Access: 1 min walk from Jidayubori-koen mae bus stop fro Seijogakuen-mae Stn on the Odakyu Line.
Jingu Shrine
in Ise, Mie prefecture is Japan's most sacred and important shrine comprising the outer shrine, the inner shrine and other affiliated shrines. The inner shrine enshrines Amaterasu Omikami the sun goddess and according to mythology, the shrine goes back 2,000 years but according to JNTO was constructed in the year 2 B.C and Encyclopedia Brittanica 4 B.C. he emperor conducts rituals and rites at the shrine every year. A notable 7th century rite is that of "shikinen sengu" in which the wooden shrine buildings are razed and completely rebuilt, and rededicated to the enshrined goddesses every 20 years. The ancient custom has continued since the first rebuilding in 690. The main building is a thatched hut built in the ancient Japanese style of unpainted Japanese cypress (hinoki). A distinctive feature of Shinto architecture is the "chigi", a scissor-shaped finial at the front and rear of the roof. Read more here and here.
Kamakura city should be paid a visit for its significance as the birthplace of Zen and stronghold of shoguns and for the ancient capital that it was for 100 years from 1192. Access: take JR Yokosuka line bound for Zushi/ Kurihama at Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinbashi, or Yokosuka stations. It takes about one hour from the Tokyo station to the Kamakura station. Recommend that you visit the Daibutsu (Taiizan Kotokuin), Japan's second largest bronze statute of Buddha - read about its history here; Hase Dera which houses the largest wooden statue; Engakakuji and Kenchoji as the two most important zen temples in Kamakura, the latter one of the oldest zen temples in Japan. More info here. Take a train to Hase Stn on the Enoden Line, walk the signposted 500 meter-way to the Daibutsu.
Katsura Rikkyu (Katsura Imperial Palace) The villa is one of the finest examples of what constitutes distinctive Japanese architecture, of traditional dwelling and of what constitutes the quintessential Japanese stroll garden with tea house. Read more here***Kasuga Taisha in Nara is one of the oldest and largest shrines in Japan dating to 786 and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the family shrine of the Fujiwaras, a clan that became powerful when Nara became capital of Japan. Famous for the vermilion lacquer railings and the many lanterns hanging from the eaves that are lit up twice a year in a beautiful ceremony, and also for the adjoining garden whcih collects 300 species of plants all mentioned in Manyoshu poetry. Deer that are believed to be sacred to be this shrine roam freely all over the city. Read more here. Access: 160 kasugano-cho, Nara 10 min walk from Kasuga-Taisha-omotesando bus stop from Nara stn.
Kinkuji (or the temple of the Golden Pavilion) in Kyoto was built in 1398 by the 3rd shogun Yoshimitsu, and is part of a former larger villa complex. The villa became a zen temple upon his death (and according to his will) but was burnt down in 1950 by a deranged Buddhist monk. Combine a visit with a reading of the novel "The Temple of the Golden Pavilion" by Yukio Mishima. A visit to Kinkakuji is almost never by-passed by tourists partly because of its splendour and partly because it illustrates shogunate, samurai and zen influences on architecture styles all at one go. The temple was a model for the quieter Silver Pavilion built by the 8th shogun Yoshimasa. Read more here.
Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto is one of the region's most visited temples because of its spectacular setting jutting out from cliff top and perched on a massive framework of 139 colossal wooden pillars. And the tourists also come because of its historical associations as Toyotomi Hideyeo (unifier of Japan) had spent much time here as well as 3rd shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu who had sponsored its restorations and renovations. Read more here.
Kofuku-ji Temple ("Temple of Ascendant Fortune") in Nara had been removed several times before being settled in the nara location in 710. Historically one of the most powerful temples in Japan due to support from the Imperial Family and the Tokugawa Shogunate. Many of its structures are designated National Treasures and the temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site.The temple's most important buildings are its five-story wooden pagoda that was first built in 730 (the current building dates to 1426); the Southern Octagonal Hall built in 813 and was last rebuilt in 1741; the main hall of the temple is known as the Central Gold Hall and the East Gold Hall, that contains some of Kofukuji’s most famous treasures. Read about its architectural features here and find out more about this castle's history and how to get there.
Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho) in Kyoto was first built in 794 and rebuilt in 1855 reproducing its original Heian architecture perfectly. See photos here and read more about the architectural highlights here.
Liberty Osaka (website in Japanese only) is an unusual museum that specializes on human rights in Japan. A comprehensive coverage that includes sections on the different groups who have been discriminated against in the past, including Zainichi Koreans, Ainu and physically disabled people. 3-6-36 Naniwa-nishi, Naniwa-ku. Access: 8 mins walk from Ashihara-bashi Station on the JR Loop Line Phone: 06-6561-5891 Very informative museum. More info in English at this website.
Meiji field visits by Ad G Blankestijn in Tokyo to Imperial Palace and Nijubashi; Statue of Kusunoki Masashige; Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery; Meiji Shrine and Meiji Shrine Treasure House; Meiji Jingu Gyoen. You might like to add a walk around Ginza, the history of which is tied to Meiiji government's westernization. Read more here.
Meiji Mura, Inuyama, Aichi is an open-air musuem where more than 60 important early Western style structures have been moved here from other locations in Japan nad rebuilt. Highights include the facade and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright's Tokyo Imperial Hotel, Kyto's St John's Church and the old Sapporo telephone exchange. Ride around the village on antique streetcars and a steam locomotive railroad, you can tell already the kids will love a visit. See's album of photos. Access: 1 Uchiyama Inuyama-shi Phone: 0568-67-0314.
Mimizuka Mound in Kyoto (near the Kyoto train station) is a visit that will provide a grim reminder of the atrocities committed by Hideyoshi's generals in Korea during Japan's 1592-98 war against Korea.  The mound was established in 1597 as a burial site for thousands of ears and noses sent from Korea in barrels filled with brine. These gory shipments were proof to Hideyoshi of the troops slaughter by Hideyoshi's generals in Korea, who were then rewarded according to the number of enemy slaughtered dead. 38,000 such items of "proof" are counted here.
Motsuji in Hiraizumi, Tohoku, was the largest temple complex in the 12th century in northern Japan. Its founding dated to mid-9th century but few buildings remain with the exception of the 17th century Jogyo do hall. Its distinction today lies however in its garden -- the only complete extant example of a Heian-period Jodo (Pure Land) garden, land-scaped on a grand scale as a model Buddhist paradise. More access and other info here.
***Mt Koya Temple Complex in the Kii mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage site (along with Yoshino-san), one of Japan's most sacred places, the mecca of Shingon Esoteric sect of Buddhism and thousands of pilgrims including emperors, lords, samurai and commonfolk. 900 meters above sea level, Mt Koya is home to more than 115 Shingon Buddhist temples scattered through the mountain forests (some 50 of them offering accommodation) so that the mountain is a place of meditation and religious learning since 1,180 years ago when Kukai (aka Kobo Daishi) returned from studies in China to spread his teachings. Reknown for his mastery at calligraphy, his humanitarianism and teachings, Kukai is one of the most beloved figures in Japanese history. His mausoleum is on Mt Koya. Find detailed access directions and tips for getting around the mountain, see Frommers website.
Nakasendo Road along the Kiso valley. ("the old through the mountains road") was an alternative route to the Tokaido route that led from Edo to Kyoto in feudal times. The old post towns of Narai, Tsumago, and Magome have been preserved. Visits to Narai, the most important post town on the route with many outstanding old houses along a 1.2 km main street that looks as it did 200 years ago; to Niekawa was where lacquerware industry began 600 years ago and Hirasawa was home tomany Japanese cypress wood craftsmen (it has a lacquerware store and museum); and to Kiso Fukushima which like Niekawa, has replicas of the old sekisho or barrier stations where travelers of old were checked or inspected. It is also recommended to visit the section of Nakasendo by taking a bus from Magome to Magome-toge Pass and to hike from there to the hamlets of O-daki, Kudraritani, Otsumago and finally to Tsumago which is the most important post town and crown of Kisoji with its well-restored buildings and buried communication and power cables.
***Nara should be visited for it was the cradle of the great Japanese arts and the essence of culture in the long-ago Tempyo Period. Visit some of the any old, world-famous temples and shrines and ancient burial mounds (Konabe is recommended because it contains buried artefacts) of the province of Yamato (presently Nara Prefecture) have handed down to us their precious history.
 Among others, the cathedrals of Todaiji, Kofukuji, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji and the Kasuga Grand Shrine are settings where one can encounter the rich, elegant ambience of the Tempyo Culture.
Nikko Toshogu is the magnificent "Japanese baroque" 17th century mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Significant historically as the site of the 17th century shrine Tosho-gu Shrine erected in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu by 15,000 craftsmen and covered in 2.5 million sheets of gold leaf in the ornate and oppulent style of the late 16th century Momoyama period. The piece of architecture contrasts greatly with the usual simple elegance of traditional Japanese architecture. Nearby is a five-story pagoda a 1818 replica of the 1650 original destroyed by fire. Beyond this are the Sanjinko three storehouses (for festival equipment) and families with kids will delight as everyone else usually does in the playful bas-relief containing the trio of "Hear no Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil" sculpted monkeys. Read more on its historical and architectural significance here. Access: Take the train via the Tobu Nikko line from Tobu Asakusa Stn (just under 2 hrs by express train).
Nikko Edo Village (Nikko Edo Mura) will not appeal to historical purists, but kids will have fun and learn something too in this historical theme park with reconstructed period buildings, the many samurai action and costumed attractions.
Okamoto Parks Old House Garden
A mid-Edo period thatch-roofed farmhouse and plastered warehouse with white walls with the Kokubunji Cliffs overlooking the Maruko river in the background. Access: 1 min walk from Minkaen stop from Futako-Tamagawa Stn on the Tokyu Denentoshi line.
***Open-air Museum of Old Japanese Houses, Toyonaka city, Osaka has a collection of 11 old houses, brought from all over Japan and carefully reconstructed. Access: 2 mins from Ryokuchi-koen Station on the Midosuji Line. Most visited sights are the old gassho zukuri farmhouse from the Hida region with steep straw-thatched roofing. Other attractions include a wholly covered in straw house, an outdoor kabuki theatre and an elevated warehouse from Kyushu. Location: 1-2 Hattori Ryokuchi, Toyonaka City Phone: 06-6862-3137
Osaka Prefectural Museum of Yayoi Culture Access: Viia JR Hanwa Line get off at Shinodayama stn and walk for 7 mins.
Otaru Municipal Museum (Otaru-shi Hakubutsukan) that chronicles local history is established in one of the 1893s Chinese style warehouses, east of the city around the port. Otaru was once one of the most important commercial and fishing fishing ports and is much visited for its many Meiji-era buildings. Visit also the neaby Otaru Canal for a feel of the nostalgia evoked by the bygone era wharfs. Access: 40 min from Sapporo to 2-1-20 Ironai, Otaru-shi, 8 min walk NE from Otaru Stn.
Oyamachi in Utsunomiya City in Tochigi should be visited for a view of one of the best examples of magaibutsu or images carved into stone found at Oyaji temple which was founded by Kukai in 810, and also the Heiwa Kannon-zo or Kannon Peace Statue (27 m high, 20 m girth and a 5 m long head) see photos here and not to be missed in the area are the Oya Stone Museum's subterranean stone quarry (60 m deep and sprawled over 20,000 m) where excavated sets of Jomon bones from 7,000 years ago that include an intact skeleton in folded-arms and legs-burial position and other bones showing signs of cannibalism. Access: by rapid train on the Tohoku-housen line (1.5 hrs) or by shinkansen (50min) from Tokyo stn.
Poroto Kotan Ainu Museum in Shiraoi is a reconstructed Ainu village established by the Ainu themselves and which has a good Ainu museum as well as performances for tourists. It is based on Ainu Kotan a real Ainu village in the past where the Ainu practiced subsistence living by hunting and fishing and developed a singularly rich culture. The Ainu were the native inhabitants of Honshu, many of whom intermarried with the latecomers to the Japanese archipelago and then eventually driven to the north. Access: 2-3-4 Wakakusa-cho, Shiraoi-cho via JR train from Noboribetsu Stn to Shiraoi Stn. Read more here.
Ryoanji in Kyoto Ryoanji's importance lies in its rock garden that stem from influences of tea ceremony ideas and principles. Click here for photos and commentary.
Saitama-ken Saki-tama Museum
in Saitama holds courses where children are taught how to make Jomon and Yayoi daily implements and utensils.
*** Saitobaru Burial Mounds in Miyazaki, Kyushu contain the largest number and the best collection of ancient burial mounds in Japan. 311 mounds or tumuli of all shapes and sizes stretch over 2k by 4 km of park-like setting, mostly built between the 5th and 6th centuries. A museum displays the many artefacts excavated here, including haniwa clay figures. Read about it here. For access info, see the official Saitobaru Archaeological Prefectural Museum prefectural website.
Sakitama Kofun Park, Gyoda City, Saitama Access: 2-minute walk from Saitama Kofun-Koen-mae bus stop. Catch shinai-junkan bus at Gyoda Sta., Takasaki Line or at Gyoda-shi Stn

Sekiyado-jo Museum has as its theme, the daily lives and history of the people living in the environs of the To-ne river. It features permanent exhibits-River of Boso-and-Traditional Industries and Traffic on Waterways-and has a presentation on the-Sekiyado Clan. Info in English available at the museum website.
Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple in Nara was built in 747 and enshrines the Buddha of Medecine encircled by 12 warrior deities, these sculptures and the building housing them are designated National Treasures The temple was either built by the empress Komyo for her ailing husband or by other accounts by Emperor Shomu in thankfulness for her recovery. All the other buildings were destroyed by earthquakes or fires but were rebuilt during the Kamakura period (1192-1333).
Shimoda port and Bay in Izu's historical significance: this was the Bay into which Commodore Perry had steamed his imposing Four Black Ships into. Access: 2-and-a-half hours from Tokyo Stn via the Odorikogo limited express train.
Shiseki Koen in Narita city, Chiba features a group of kofun, or ancient burial mounds. Haniwa (clay figures) figurines and a skeleton model of a nauman elephant excavated in Chiba are exhibited in the Chiba Prefectural Boso Fudoki-no-oka Museum. Another reason to visit is to see the 200 odd taiko drummers gathered for the Taiko-matsuri Festival, the biggest drum festival of the Kanto area in spring. Access: From Tokyo Station to Narita Station, 1 hour 10 minutes by the JR Sobu Honsen Line or JR Narita Line Rapid Train.
Shitamachi History Museum (Shitamachi Fuzoku Shiryokanwebsite in Japanese) in Ueno is a 2 story museum that houses artefacts showing how the "edokko" (the proud but often very poor commonfolk, inhabitants of "Low City" of Edo) lived. Downstairs are reconstructed shops, workshops and homes of the Edo and Meiji periods complete with wax figures to take you back in time. More info here. Location: Ueno Park, Taito-ku. 3 mins from Ueno stn.
Shishigaya Yokomizo Residence. The main house has a thatched roof built in the late Edo period. On display are various articles depicting the way of life in agricultural villages in those days. Access: Kawasaki Tsuruimi Rinko Bus no 3 fro mFR Tsurumi Stn to Shinmeisha and an 8 min walk OR Municipal bus no 104 to Omoteyato and 5 min walk.
Shofukuji Temple in Fukuoka is the oldest Zen temple in Japan, founded in 1196 by Eisai a priest who studied Buddhism in China and returned with the Rinzai sect of Zen and tea. The site is a designated National Historical Site. Read more here.
Tama River's prehistoric settlements, ancient mounds and kofun: Areas along the middle reach of the Tama river such as Komae are known for many ancient burial mounds attesting to pre-historic settlement. Early man was attracted by its sunny southern slope with abundant water from springs and tributaries of the river. The city name, Komae, probably derived from "Koma," a word referring to Kogyo of ancient Korea, probable origin of the immigrants. A poem in Manyo-shu, the 8th-century anthology of Japanese poetry, is fondly remembered by many for a rhythmical rendition in praise of the purling stream of the Tama river and a beautiful maiden associated with it. A monument inscribed with the poem stands on the riverside. Kamezuka Kofun, another famous burial mound can be also be seen but you'll have to visit the Komae City Museum to see the archaeological artefacts that were unearthed here. For info on access (Komae Stn, Tokyo) and prescribed walk by the River, see here.
Farming communities were usually bound together by ancestral worship at a Shinto shrine. Izumi-jinja is a good example of such communal devotion. Adjacent to the shrine is Kabutozuka, a burial mound now empty. A short distance away another mound, Kamezuka Kofun from the early 6th century, remains, squeezed among houses. Excavated artifacts suggest the existence of a powerful tribe closely related to the emperor in Yamato (Nara).
Taito-city Shitamachi Museum, Taito city, Tokyo, is a place that showcases Meiji and Showa era shitamachi shops and houses. Address: 2-1 Ueno-koen, Taito-ku, Tokyo Phone: 03-3823-7451Takehara Burial Mound, Kurate-gun A national monument that consists of an ancient burial mound built in late 6th century (one of the many in the region). What is significant are the two rooms with primitive paintings on the wall.
***Todaiji is the temple complex that is famous for the Daibutsu Den structure that houses the giant Buddha that was ordered to be built by Emperor Shomu in 743. Japan had been suffering from smallpox and drought and the emperor hoped to settle unrest and unite the people with newly imported ideas of Buddhism. The Buddha is almost 15 meters high, cast in copper and coated with gold and ocmpleted in 752. Daibutsu Den is the largest extant wooden structure in the world despite the fact that it was rebuilt in 1790 at two thirds of its original size. The event was presided over by a visiting priest from India and many important people from overseas attended it bearing gifts which are now housed in the Shosoin treasure house. A designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Read more about the architectural and historical significance of Todaiji here. Access: 406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara A 5 min walk from Daibutsu Den or Kasuga Taisha-mae bus stop from Nara stn.
Toi Gold Mines (Toi Kinzan) the place of the first gold rush in Japan (from 1577 Warring States Period). Production peaked during Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu's time. The mine has 100 km of network shafts. See this page for info.
Tatemone-En (Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum) is a collection of heritage and historical buildings. Worth a visit to look at fast-disappearing architectural heritage of Japan. Fans of Ghibili animation will want to see the model of the Ghosts' Bathouse & Inn featured in "Sentochihiro". 3-7-1 Sakura-cho, Koganei City Phone: 042-388-330. The museum is reviewed here.
Tenryuji in outlying Kyoto is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered the first among the ranks of Kyoto's five greatest zen temples. Tenryuji was formerly a villa of Emperor Go-Daigo and the site had been occupied since the 9th century by the first zen temple in Japan, Danrin-ji. Emperor Kameyama (1249-1305) built a villa on the site where his grandson Go-Daigo was raised. Following Go-Daigo's death, Ashikaga Takauji built a temple on the site to try to appease Go-Daigo's spirit because a Buddhist priest had dreamt of a dragon rising from the river that was thought to be Go-Daigo's uneasy spirit. Tenryuji's fame extends to its landscape garden dating to the 14th century that is one of the oldest in Japan. For photos see here, for access and more info see the Japan Guide website.
Tobinodai Shiseki Koen Hakubutsukan in in Funabashi, Chiba offers classes for making Jomon clothes, accessories.
Todaiji in Nara was constructed in 752. The building is the largest extant wooden building in the world and the Buddha (Daibutsu) statue it houses is the largest in Japan.
Toji in Kyoto which was established by Kukai, is well-known for its five-storied pagoda which is Japan's tallest which was built in 794. The temple hall holds many sculptures and mandalas. Access info here.
Tokyo-do-maibun Cultural Center's Jomon-no-mura holds courses in summer where children learn how to make Jomon-style pottery.
Tokyo National Museum (Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan) houses the largest and best collection of Japanese art in the world (86,456 works of art). Not to be missed are the Heiseikan Gallery which is notable for its prehistori pottery, sculpture and early Buddhist art; and also the Gallery of Horyu-ji Treasures which houses 318 treasures from the 7th century Horyuji Temple near Nara. See its period collections here.
Tsuwano Castle Town and Samurai quarters in Shimane prefecture. Historic samurai residences and homes with stucco walls line the Tono-machi area of the Tsuwano castle town. Several thousand carps swim in the moat along this neighborhood. The breeding of 65,000 carps began in the feudal era (1603 - 1867) for emergency food. The Tsuwano Castle built in 1325 is in ruins.
in Kyoto, constructed by Emperor Temmu, is one of the oldest temples in Japan. It features the three-storied East Pagoda that dates to the 7th century. Yakushiji shows strong Chinese influences in its layout. Its Kondo Hall houses the historically important Yakushi trinity, a Japanese masterpiece of art. More about Yakushiji here and access info here.

Yamate Italian Garden Yamate 111 Ban-Kan, Yokohama. The hills of Yamate with its foreign settlement strongly connected to the historical events of the opening of the port. Many beautiful western houses on the hillside disappeared in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake - only 7 of these remain preserved by the city and are open to public viewing.
Yamato court is thought to comprise the area around ancient Nara (the center of the Yamato district) - Asuka and the Mt Koya temple complex (see earlier sections on Asuka and Mt Koya)
Yasukuni Jinja (Yasukuni Shrine) a Meiji era shrine best known for being the subject of the great tensions in foreign relations between Japan and China and Korea. The shrine has unusual features including the enshrinement of class-A war criminals including Premier Tojo military relics, the housing of military relics and a memorial dedicated to 2.5 million Japanese war dead. See Yasukuni Shrine photos here.
Yokohama City Historical Museum
(Yokohama-shi Rekishi Hakubutsukan) holds seminars where children can recreate scenes of Yayoi lifestyles by dressing up, etc.
in Matsushima, Miyagi is one of the great Zen temples of Japan and a National Treasure. Founded in 828 by the Tendai sect, it became a Zen temple during the 13th century. It is most well known for its fusuma sliding screen doors that are lavishly carved in the Chinese style (completed in 1622) that were covered in gold leaf and decorated with exquisite paintings. The current ones are copies but the real thing beautifully restored are in the Seiryuden Treasure Museum nextdoor. The main hall is known for showcasing the architectural style shoinzuikuri - traditional study room style and typical of the Momoyama period. (And worth a visit, next door to Zuiganji is Entsuin (aka Rose Temple) set in a quiet glade of cedars but notable for a lovely garden, and usual for a temple -- to the growing of roses.) Access: A few steps from the pier at Matsushima, and a 5-10 minute walk from JR Matsushima Kaigan Station. More info here and here.

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