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Chūgoku (中国) is the westernmost part of the main Japanese island Honshu.



Bridges in Shukkei-en Garden, Hiroshima
  • Hiroshima - site of the infamous nuclear bomb attack.
  • Miyajima - Location of Itsukushima Shrine, the most photographed shrine in all of Japan.
  • Onomichi - hillside town with pleasant paths connecting dozens of small temples
  • Okayama - featuring Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3 gardens and the brooding black Okayama Castle.
  • Kurashiki - site of one of Japan's largest and most beautiful historic areas, the Bikan Historic District, as well as the famous Ohara Museum of Art, which is full of famous works from Europe.
  • Takahashi - a quaint little castle town most famous for Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, and original Japanese castle, as well as Japan's highest castle.
  • Tottori - Home to Japan's only sand dunes, the Tottori Sand Dunes provide visitors with a highly unique experience, including camel rides.
  • Matsue - Famous for Matsue Castle, one of Japan's few remaining original castles
  • Izumo - Home to the great Izumo Shrine, the second most holy Shinto Shrine in Japan.
  • Iwami - Home to the Iwami Ginzan mines, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Shimonoseki - at the southwestern tip of Honshu, known for fugu (globefish/pufferfish/blowfish. It also has great historical significance as the site of the battle of Dan-no-Ura the final battle in the Gempei Wars and the location where the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed, which ended the Sino-Japanese War.
  • Hagi - one of the most beautiful castle towns in Japan, also the birthplace of many great statesmen who played important roles in Meiji Restoration

Other destinations

  • Bizen - home to Japan's oldest and most respected style of pottery


The name Chūgoku literally means "Middle Country", the sole surviving relic of a historical division of Japan into "Near Countries" (近国 Kingoku), "Middle Countries" and "Far Countries" (遠国 Ongoku), based on distance from the capital Kyoto. Strictly speaking, today's Chugoku covers only the Middle Countries along the San'indo and San'yodo roads, and hence Okayama is sometimes not considered a full part of Chugoku, as only three of its five component provinces (Mimasaka, Bizen and Bitchu) were Middle Countries.

In Japanese, the characters 中国 and the reading Chūgoku are also used to mean "China". (The same characters are used in Chinese, but pronounced Zhongguo.) However, as the Chugoku region is always referred to with the qualifier "-chihō" and the People's Republic of China and Republic of China can be referenced by their full names, there is usually little scope for confusion.


Get in

By plane

Hiroshima has a fairly large airport, with domestic and some international connections.

By train

The San'yo Shinkansen line links Hiroshima, Okayama and other major towns to Kyushu in the southwest and Kansai (Osaka) to the east. The less populated northern Japan Sea coast is served by ordinary train services.

Get around

By train

The JR West San'yo Area Pass [1] allows essentially unlimited travel in Chugoku, Kansai and part of Kyushu, including the Shinkansen (even Nozomi). The 4-day/8-day pass is ¥20,000/30,000.





Get out

  • Shikoku - Japan's oft-ignored fourth island is easily accessed from the southern coast of Chugoku

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