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The center of Japan's military and political power for many centuries, the region of Kinki (or Kansai) contains most of the country's major cities. The majority of vacations in Kinki begin in Kyoto--the Japanese capital for nearly 1,000 years. This old city with a modern flare contains hundreds of ancient temples, 13 of which claim spots on the World Heritage List. Kinki's attractions stretch beyond just historical shrines and temples--the area's big claim to fame is its outstanding cuisine and a range of outdoor activities and shopping options. Convenient train routes linking three major regional centers--Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto--make sightseeing in Kinki easy and pleasant. Use our Japan tour itinerary planning website to arrange the details of your trip to Kansai and other destinations.
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Top Kansai tours
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Osaka Food Tour (10 Delicious Dishes at 5 hidden Eateries)
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BOOK WITH VIATOR Traditional Tea Ceremony wearing a Kimono in Kyoto MAIKOYA
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Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Kyoto Full-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide
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Places to visit in Kansai
KyotoTrip planner Best for: World heritage site, Historic Site, Religious Site OsakaTrip planner Best for: Landmark, Theme Park, Park NaraTrip planner Best for: World heritage site, Religious Site, Wildlife Area HimejiTrip planner Best for: Castle, Landmark, Garden Koya-choTrip planner Best for: World heritage site, Cemetery, Religious Site
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Kinki Holiday Planning GuideThe center of Japan's military and political power for many centuries, the region of Kinki (or Kansai) contains most of the country's major cities. The majority of vacations in Kinki begin in Kyoto--the Japanese capital for nearly 1,000 years. This old city with a modern flare contains hundreds of ancient temples, 13 of which claim spots on the World Heritage List. Kinki's attractions stretch beyond just historical shrines and temples--the area's big claim to fame is its outstanding cuisine and a range of outdoor activities and shopping options. Convenient train routes linking three major regional centers--Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto--make sightseeing in Kinki easy and pleasant.
Places to Visit in Kinki
Cities in KinkiKyoto: Occupying top spot on most Kinki itineraries, the former royal capital Kyoto abounds in serene temples and traditional buildings that seem almost completely unravaged by the centuries.
Osaka: A hub for business and commerce, the mega-city of Osaka doesn't have quite the appeal of Kyoto, but still makes for a fascinating stopover during a Kinki vacation.
Kobe: Calmer and more aesthetically appealing than nearby Osaka, the port city of Kobe has played an important role in international trade since Japan and China normalized relations in the 19th century.
Nara: Perhaps the most important historical destination in Kinki, this city served as Japan's first capital and boasts a total of eight World Heritage Sites.
Popular Kinki Tourist AttractionsFushimi Inari Taisha: Serving as a gateway to an array of mountain paths, this historic Kyoto shrine embodies traditional Japanese religious architecture and remains one of the most popular attractions in Kinki.
Kinkaku-ji: Admire one of the best-preserved temples of 15th-century Japan and wander through the peaceful gardens, complete with a delightful man-made lake.
Kiyomizu-dera: Add this World Heritage Site to your Kinki itinerary for the opportunity to have your wish granted at the onsite waterfall, whose waters supposedly have mystical properties.
Universal Studios Japan: Offering a dose of Hollywood excitement in the urban bustle of Osaka, this expansive theme park attracts families with a host of thrilling rides, roller coasters, and entire themed worlds.
Dotonbori: One of the most iconic spots in Osaka, this colorful, bustling riverside street captures the energy and buzz of a massive metropolis, with an array of traditional puppet theaters adding extra appeal.
Osaka Castle: Surrounded by an impressive moat, this imposing 17th-century castle features stone turrets and exquisite garden, and stands as a highlight of Kinki tourism.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan: With a particular focus on species found in the nearby Pacific Ocean, this expansive aquarium gives you a chance to admire more than 30,000 varieties of marine animals.
Nijo Castle: No trip to Kinki is complete without visiting this 17th-century Kyoto castle, a World Heritage Site that boasts some well-preserved "nightingale floors," which creak at the footfall of intruders.
Gion: Ornate merchant houses and shady willows line the streets of this historic Kyoto neighborhood, where geishas welcome and entertain guests in traditional tea houses.
Arashiyama: Blending history and nature on the outskirts of Kyoto, this district features a bamboo grove, a macaque park, and a lake ripe for water activities, among many other attractions.
Planning a Kinki Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Kinki with KidsYour kids will have a ball during a family trip to Kinki, as the region offers many of Japan's best all-age destinations.
Start your Kinki vacation in Kyoto, where you can give them a taste of traditional Japan, then take a break from the shrines and temples by heading to one of the city's fun-filled parks.
Don't overlook Osaka when planning your Kinki itinerary--this bustling business hub doesn't have quite the history of its neighbor, but offers some excellent theme parks and wildlife-focused attractions to interest the little ones.
Things to Do in Kinki with KidsA Kinki vacation offers you a chance to introduce your kids to traditional Japanese culture by visiting attractions like Gion and Osaka Castle, where they can get a sense of the country's old-world mystique.
You can also add more energetic, entertaining stops to your Kinki itinerary to give the kids a chance to run amok and burn off some energy.
Treat the little ones to a day out at Universal Studios Japan, where they can meet some of their favorite Hollywood characters, or delve into the deep at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and come face-to-face with majestic sea creatures.
Tips for a Family Vacation in KinkiJapan as a whole is considered a very safe place to travel, and you'll likely find the same during your Kinki vacation.
Make use of the region's excellent public transportation, but take care when using the metro during rush hour in Osaka and Kyoto, as carriages can get extremely crowded and uncomfortable for the kids.
For an authentic experience, forgo typical international hotels and stay in traditional ryokan guesthouses during your trip to Kinki--many of these accommodations cater specifically to families and will give your kids a sense of traditional Japanese hospitality.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Kinki
Cuisine of KinkiPrepare for a taste sensation as you holiday in Kinki, widely considered to be the heartland of traditional Japanese cuisine.
Much of this food culture centers around Osaka, which offers mouthwatering traditional dishes like takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes topped with rich sauces).
Head to the nearby port city of Kobe to try the famous local beef, considered among the best quality meat in the world.
Add Kyoto to your Kinki itinerary for a chance to try tofu and shojin ryori (a vegetarian dish created by Buddhist monks).
Shopping in KinkiA trip to Kinki offers plenty of excellent shopping opportunities.
The commercial center of Osaka offers perhaps the best range of shopping malls and open-air markets in the region, with the central street of Dotonbori serving as a hub for retailers and souvenir vendors.
For more traditional Japanese souvenirs--such as Kyoto dolls, kimonos, and old-fashioned oil-paper umbrellas--add the historical destinations of Kyoto and Nara to your Kinki itinerary.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Kinki
Interesting Facts About Kinki● Kinki is the second most populous region in Japan, with around 20 percent of the nation's population
● The region is deeply historical, having housed several national capitals over more than 1,200 years
● Much of Japan's culinary history can be traced back to the region's major cities, especially Kyoto and Osaka
Holidays & Festivals in KinkiAside from observing nationwide Japanese holidays, Kinki has some fascinating local traditions and festivals.
Visit Kinki in July for a chance to observe Gion Matsuri, a traditional street parade that takes over the historic Kyoto neighborhood of Gion.
Continue to Osaka on your Kinki itinerary to join in the festivities of Tenjin Matsuri, a festival of the gods featuring street parades and fireworks.
December lights up in Kobe, with the Luminarie festival taking over the city streets as historic buildings are illuminated in colorful patterns.
Useful Kinki Travel Tips
Climate of KinkiMost of Kinki enjoys a relatively mild, subtropical climate with four seasons and not-too-extreme conditions.
Coastal cities like Osaka and Kobe rarely experience snowfall, while Kinki destinations that sit a bit farther inland can occasionally receive snow between December and March.
The summer months--from June to September--can get hot, with average high temperatures exceeding 30 C (86 F) in Kyoto.
Overall, May and September provide perhaps the nicest conditions for a trip to Kinki, with mild temperatures and relatively little rainfall.
Transportation in KinkiJapan boasts one of the world's fastest and most efficient public transportation networks, and you'll benefit from that during your Kinki vacation.
The major destinations in Kinki are all connected by a high-speed rail network, enabling you to get from place to place in a flash during your Kinki holiday.
You can even save money by buying a rail pass that covers the whole region, allowing you to travel on intercity services and local metros without having to worry about buying individual tickets.