Nestled between central Kansai to the east and Kyushu Island to the far west, Western Honshu features the key destinations of Hiroshima and Okayama. This area is called Chūgoku, meaning “middle country”, because of its important location between Kansai (the gateway to Central Japan) and Kyūshū (the gateway to mainland Asia). Its importance was imperative in bringing Western and Chinese culture to the capital of Edo during the 220 years of self-imposed isolation, in which only one port in Kyūshū was allowed foreign trade. The road along the inland sea traveled by merchants developed into a string of bustling port towns, while the remainder of the region enjoyed a quiet rural peace.
Western Japan has distinct four seasons with hot and humid summers and moderately cold winters. The Chūgoku Mountains running through the area see plenty of snowfall in winter and are popular for snow sports. Trailing the coastline from Tottori to Yamaguchi are sandy beaches and amazing views of the Sea of Japan. The Seto Inland Sea connects Western Japan to Shikoku by boat or by its famous island-to-island cycling route.
Japan’s indigenous Shinto religion has a strong presence with important shrines such as Itsukushima on the island of Miyajima, and Izumo Taisha in Shimane prefecture. This could explain why the region is home to some amazing landscapes such as the Tottori Sand Dunes, where it seems like you have been transported to a different country, or the cobalt blue ocean of Tsunoshima.