Information and Tourism
When it comes to discovering the real Japan, there is perhaps no better place to look than the region of Kansai. For many, this has long been the cultural and historic heartland of Japan. At its centre are the cities of Osaka and Kyoto.
It is widely thought that Kansai was, in fact, the cradle of Japanese civilisation. Unlike some parts of Japan, very little damage was inflicted on many of the region's oldest monuments during World War Two. Consequently, Kansai can boast five World Heritage Sites in all, more than any other part of Japan. Among them are Buddhist monuments, sacred sites and a historic hilltop castle, as well as a whole host of ancient buildings in Kyoto and the former imperial capital of Nara.
Shinto religion's holiest shrine is situated in Kansai. The 7th-century Ise Shrine is believed to be the home of the Sacred Mirror, which forms part of the Japanese Imperial Regalia.
With all that culture and history at your fingertips, it is easy to forget the fact that Kansai also has some great scenery. The region is home to four of Japan's national parks. The northern coast also has a number of decent beaches.
These days, the region is also known for its contribution to the fast-moving world of electronics. Nintendo, famous for its video game exports, has its headquarters in the city of Kyoto.
A taste of traditional Japanese life wouldn't be complete without having explored its cuisine. Osaka's residents have an almost legendary love of food. Indeed, it is thought that that student kitchen staple of ramen noodles was invented in the city back in the late 1950s.
Kansai Information and Fast Facts
- Country: Japan
- Location: Honshu
- Biggest city: Osaka
- Population: approximately 23 million
- Language: Japanese
- Area: 10,550 square miles / 27,325 square kilometres
WORLD GUIDES TO KANSAI
World Guide to Kyoto, Japan
Any tourist visiting Japan simply must come to Kyoto, one of the country's true gems. With many high-rise buildings and long shopping avenues, Kyoto is regularly compared to Tokyo and contains a number of historical World Heritage Sites.
World Guide to Osaka, Japan
Second only to Tokyo in size, Osaka lies in the Kansai region of Japan's Honshu island, alongside Osaka Bay. The city is split into two main areas, Kita to the north and Minami to the south. Osaka features numerous shopping malls and top sights.
Map of Japan