Aomori is situated in the Tohpku region of Japan below the Hakkoda Mountains. The prominent triangular building in the town is the Aspam tourism centre, giving details of the hot spring resort of Asamushi Onsen and rural apple orchards nearby. In Aomori is the Folklore Museum, and Ukiyoe woodblock paintings at the Munakata Shiko Museum. Accessible by train is Lake Towada and the scenic Shimokita Peninsula.
Now a city of broad avenues, Hiroshima was all but obliterated by the nuclear bomb dropped in 1945, and this human disaster is commemorated at the Peace Memorial, which is dedicated to the promotion of world peace. Places to visit include the re-built Hiroshima Castle, the miniature Shukkeien Garden and its tea houses, and the island of Mihajima, backed by wooded hills and famous for the huge red O-torii gate in the bay.
The lively cosmopolitan city of Kobe is associated with fashion, jazz and the highly prized Kobe Beef, and its futuristic skyscrapers house headquarters of international corporations like Mitsubishi, Nestle and Proctor and Gamble. Along with a thriving contemporary culture, Kobe has the 13th-century Taisanji temple, and the wonderful hot spring of Arima Onsen behind Mount Rokko, which can be reached by a variety of quirky funiculars, cable cars and a ropeway.
Nagasaki district is spread across 971 islands with national parks and the volcanic peak of Unzen-dake. The atmospheric Sofukuji Temple was built in 1629 for the city's Chinese residents, and Nagasaki's Shinchi Chinatown district is Japan's oldest. Nagasaki Peace Park commemorates the atomic bomb which fell on the city in August 1945, and on the hill-top at Glover Garden, mansions of British merchants are now part of an open-air museum.
South of Tokyo, Nagoya is one of Japan's largest ports and has a well-developed harbour at Garden Pier with an aquarium, malls, and the Fuji Icebreaker which explored the Antarctic in the 1960s, now a museum. Noritake and Toyota are based around Nagoya, and both have interesting public displays in the city. Atsuta Shrine is surrounded by woodland, and the re-built Nagoya Castle houses a museum.
Naha is situated on Okinawa Island in the East China Sea. The main shopping mall is Palette Kumoji which can be found on Kokusai-dori, a long street of shops, restaurants and bars. 400 metres south is Tsuboya, the pottery district with workshops and museums. Shuri Castle is a World Heritage Site with an impressive, red-pillared gate, the Shureimon, and nearby is Tamaudaun Mausoleum which contains three royal burial chambers.
Okinawa is an island in the East China Sea, and the most southerly region of Japan. The main port is Naha, where the main sights are the vermillion-coloured World Heritage Site of Shuri Castle, the pottery district of Tsuboya and the impressive Tamaudun Mausoleum with its three burial chambers. The long central street of Kokusai-dori has shops, restaurants and bars and the large Palette Kumoji shopping mall.
With a population of over five million, Osaka is Japan's second-largest city and a thriving metropolis. The Umeda Sky Building has two towers joined by the Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor, and Minami is the neon-lit shopping and entertainment district. Osaka was once Japan's capital, and there are remnants of its historic past ' 16th-century Osaka Castle has been partially re-built and in its Nishinomaru Garden there are 600 cherry trees and a tea house.
Petropavlovsk is the capital of the Kamchatka region and one of the oldest towns in the Far East. Its main source of income is from the fishing industry, its delicacies being salmon and the king crab. The Kamchatka State Unified Museum outlines Kamchatka’s history and houses many fascinating exhibits.
Cruise ships arrive at the Harumi Passenger Terminal, where there are good views of Tokyo Bay, Rainbow Bridge and the futuristic skyline. Once in this lively city, the tourist attractions include the moated Imperial Palace, the mature gardens of Koishikawa Korakuen, and Asakusa, which is admired for its flavour of old Tokyo and the 7th-century Buddhist temple of Sensoji. The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka Forest has innovative displays of animation from the famous Studio Ghibli which created the film 'Princess Mononoke'.
Yokohama port has an interesting construction, built below a park and flowing boardwalks. The city of waterfront high-rise buildings has Japan's largest Chinatown district, with colourful gated entrances and many food stands, and the unique Shinyokohama Raumen Museum dedicated to the history and sale of the Japanese noodle dish. Traditional Japanese landscapes and buildings are laid out in the large Sankeien garden.