Cruisers’ Guide to Japan

Cruiser’s Guide to Japan

Regions of Japan

There are several different ways to label the geographical regions of Japan. For the purposes of cruising, we will break down Japan into ten regions: Hokkaidō, Tōhoku, Hokuriku, Kantō, Chūbu, Kinki, Chūgoku, Shikoku, Kyūshū, and Okinawa. We hope the information will help the reader prepare for their cruises to Japan.


Until 1988, the only way to travel from Hokkaidō to Tōhoku was by ferry boat.

Nowadays, one can cross via the shinkansen “bullet train” utilizing the world's longest undersea Seikan Tunnel--an impressive feat of engineering.

The Tōhoku region is located on the northeastern portion of the main island of Honshū. The region is largely mountainous, so most of its cities are located along the Sea of Japan or Pacific Ocean coasts. The area is also known for its long winters and short summers, and the western side receives heavy snowfall during the winter. Like Hokkaido, the area’s principal industries are agriculture, forestry and fishing. Aomori is famous for its apples, and Akita is famous for its rice and sake.

Major regional tourist attractions in the region accessible from the port cities include Towada-Hachimantai National Park; the famous Nebuta Festival in Aomori; the famous Kantō Lantern Festival in Akita; and Shirakami-Sanchi--one of Japan’s four natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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The southern part of Tōhoku includes Fukushima, site of Japan’s so-called triple disaster, where a strong earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused a meltdown at the area’s nuclear facilities. However, cruise lines do not dock at any ports in the region that have any concerns about nuclear contamination.

Important cruise ports are noted with an asterisk:

  • Akita*, Akita prefecture (2016 population - 315,389)
  • Aomori*, Aomori prefecture (2016 population - 285,356)
  • Funagawa, Akita prefecture
  • Hachinohe, Aomori prefecture
  • Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture
  • Noshiro, Akita prefecture
  • Ofunato, Iwate prefecture
  • Ominato, Aomori prefecture
  • Sakata, Yamagata prefecture
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