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Western Japan

Western Japan is known in Japanese as Chugoku, which literally translates as "middle lands" in kanji characters. Although most of us would consider this part of Japan as the southern or southwestern part, the Japanese regard it as western Japan. The region has, over time, acted as a major inroad for much of Japan's distinct Chinese and Korean influence.

The Chugoku region spreads over the bottom third of Japan, and is bounded by the Inland Sea, or Seto Naikai in Japanese, to the south and the Sea of Japan to the north. Most visitors to Western Japan only visit Okayama and Hiroshima, the region's main cities. However, this part of Japan includes prefectures of Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shimane, and Tottori, as well as the Inland Sea. Western Japan also offers splendid views of rustic Japan, especially along the Sea of Japan coast. Although the sea has been commercialized over the years, it still retains various exquisite vistas, enough for the area to have been designated as Japan's first national park in 1934.

Getting There - There are numerous flights available to this region, and ferry connections between the major ports and surrounding islands are another form of transport. However, the shinkansen (bullet trains) is the main way of getting to and through Western Japan. Travelling from one end of the region to the other takes less than three hours by the shinkansen.

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