Destinations / Asia

Where to Stay in Japan: How to Pick Between the Kanto and Kansai Regions

Kanto or Kansai? It’s an important question to answer when deciding how to tackle your holiday on Japan’s main island of Honshu. The two distinct areas have their own world-renowned cities, natural attractions and classically Japanese experiences. Below, you’ll find a detailed guide to Kanto and Kansai, including three of each region’s top places to visit.

With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve also discovered the most popular hotels for each region. And to top it off, because we all love sightseeing, we’ve even highlighted incredible attractions and experiences throughout Kanto and Kansai.

Scenery seen from above the Edogawa River

The Kanto Region

The most highly urbanised area of Japan, Kanto is home to some of the country’s biggest cities, including Tokyo and Yokohama. This part of Honshu offers easy access to some of Japan’s biggest attractions and exceptional local and international shopping and dining. Kanto also has naturally rich areas, particularly the Kanto Plain, which borders numerous mountain ranges and a volcanic field.

Tokyo

Why You Should Stay in Tokyo

The enigmatic capital on most travellers’ bucket lists, Tokyo is a sleepless city that invites deep and thorough exploration of Japan through its ever-changing streets and laneways. This city will always leave you wondering what else you could’ve seen and remembering the spectacles and unique moments you were fortunate to experience. There are world-famous sights, robot restaurants, rooftop bars and international shops to discover. 

Must-Do Tokyo Experiences

  • Admire the city from the 360-degree observation deck at the 634-metre-tall Tokyo Skytree tower.
  • Ride the scream-inducing roller coasters, eat sweets and meet Disney characters at Tokyo Disneyland.
  • Witness robotic dancers and laser shows while drinking and dining at Robot Restaurant.

Top Hotels in Tokyo

Hilton Tokyo Odaiba

Hilton Tokyo OdaibaOverlooking the water and the verdant Shiokaze Park, the magnificent Hilton Tokyo Odaiba stands out amongst the glittering Tokyo skyline with its surplus of leisure facilities, including a hiking trail, pool and fitness room. You’re spoilt for choice with the on-site dining options, such as teppanyaki at Sakura Japanese Restaurant, Tokyo Bay views and buffet-style dining at Seascape Terrace and cocktails in Captain’s Bar.

Water vistas can be enjoyed from almost every room and suite, including guest rooms with king-size beds, private balconies and flat-screen TVs. The opulent suites add touches of luxury fit for royalty, from open-air Jacuzzis and full kitchens to sprawling private terraces and grand pianos. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Odaiba Statue of Liberty Replica (160 metres)
  • National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (1.1 kilometres)
  • Zepp Tokyo (1.6 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 248 – USD 1,457
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 1 Chome-9-1Daiba, Minato, Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

When it comes to picking the best feature of the 5-star Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, HotelsCombined visitors have a tough time deciding between the sprawling indoor pool, the sky-high Tower’s Bar or the exquisite city vistas from almost every room. The opulent hotel also has a yoga deck, gym, sauna and a massage room.

Dining centres around sumptuous breakfast buffets in Garden Kitchen and authentic Japanese cuisine at Ryotei. The Standard Floor rooms have modern furnishings and sitting areas, while the Executive Floor suites add on luxurious touches, such as window-side baths and entire living rooms. You can also opt for a room with traditional Japanese furnishings like tatami mats. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • The Shoto Museum of Art (1.1 kilometres)
  • Yoyogi Park (1.2 kilometres)
  • Hachikō Memorial Statue (400 metres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 336 – USD 1,514
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 26-1 Sakura-gaoka-cho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

The skyline of Yokohama with the Landmark Tower, Queen's Square and the ferries wheel with the Aka-Rengo Soko warehouse on a beautiful October day.

Why You Should Stay in Yokohama

An old Japanese port city, Yokohama retains its storied past through a sprawling Chinatown and preserved old-world Japanese residences. The marina districts are home to more contemporary forms of entertainment, including theme parks, fine-dining restaurants and expansive shopping malls. You can also learn more about Yokohama’s past and present at a variety of fascinating museums.

Must-Do Yokohama Experiences 

  • Explore around 250 traditional Chinese stores and restaurants in Yokohama Chinatown.
  • Discover the historic buildings and immaculate nature within the Sankeien Garden.
  • Soak up 360-degree views and browse international retailers at Yokohama Landmark Tower.

Top Hotels in Yokohama

Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu

Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu

Nestled on the water overlooking the boats, parks and docks of Yokohama, the glamorous Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu sets a high standard for accommodation in Japan with its seaside rooms offering private balconies. These cosy rooms typically have separate baths and plush bedding, while the Bay Club Floor rooms also have access to complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails in the Bay Club Lounge.

You can admire the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel while enjoying a delicious buffet at Café Tosca or indulge in French fare at Queen Alice. Jack’s is a fantastic bar for Japanese whisky, while Somerhouse pairs fresh cakes and coffee with park vistas. Don’t forget to visit the Spa and Esthetic Salon, which has a pool, Jacuzzi, saunas and massage treatments. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Halls (350 metres)
  • Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall (300 metres)
  • Yokohama Cup Noodles Museum (450 metres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 279 – USD 848
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 2-3-7 Minato Mirai Nishi-ku, Nishi Ward, Yokohama, Japan

Hotel New Grand Yokohama

Hotel New Grand Yokohama

Positioned by Festival Square, Hotel New Grand Yokohama showcases mesmerising grandeur, particularly in Le Normandie, a panoramic restaurant combining bay vistas with delectable French fare. It’s paired with an Italian restaurant, a coffee house, British-style bar and a lobby lounge.

Guest rooms and suites are divided into three areas. The Main Building dates back to 1927 and offers rooms once occupied by famous writers and actors, including Charlie Chaplin. Choose a room in the Tower for views of either the Yokohama Bay Bridge or Osanbashi Pier or upgrade to the Upper Tower for higher-quality bedding and a self-service executive lounge. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Yokohama Doll Museum (300 metres)
  • Yokohama Chinatown (450 metres)
  • Yokohama Park (800 metres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 275 – USD 907
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 10 Yamashita-cho Naka-ku, Yokohama City Centre, Yokohama, Japan

Ashi Lake in Hakone

Why You Should Stay in Hakone

Located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Hakone offers a very different pace compared to Tokyo or Yokohama, trading towering high-rises for hot springs, Shinto shrines and vistas of Mount Fuji. The mountainous town is positioned on the shore of Lake Ahinoko, which is popular for sightseeing cruises. It also offers a variety of museums, art galleries and outlet malls.

Must-Do Hakone Experiences 

  • Try the unique black eggs boiled in the hot spring waters at Ōwakudani.
  • Admire a variety of outdoor sculptures and visit the natural hot spring at Hakone Open-Air Museum.
  • Admire memorable views of the region from the Hakone Ropeway.

Top Hotels in Hakone

Odakyu Hotel de Yama

Odakyu Hotel de YamaOdakyu Hotel de Yama offers picturesque lakeside accommodation fronted by a 130,000-square-metre flower garden. Visitors are also drawn to its sprawling open-air public bath and intimate indoor baths with mineral-rich hot spring water. Admire views of Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji from the observatory or indulge in French or Japanese cuisine at the on-site restaurants.

The entry-level Standard Rooms capture lake views through large windows, while certain Deluxe Rooms have Mt Fuji vistas and traditional Japanese furnishings, such as tatami mats. Alternatively, stay in the Hotspring Room for a private hot spring bath overlooking the lake. Need some more pampering? Book a rejuvenating massage by the water. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Tamamura Toyoo Life Art Museum (1.1 kilometres)
  • Narukawa Art Museum (1.5 kilometres)
  • Hakoneen Golf Course (2.3 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 237 – USD 886
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 80 Moto-Hakone, Hakone, Japan

Hakone Ginyu

Hakone Ginyu

Located along the Hakone Tozan Railway, Hakone Ginyu is a charming ryokan and spa resort with a beloved hot spring featuring a communal infinity-edge bath overlooking forested mountains. Every guest room has its own private open-air bath, along with tatami mats, balconies, mountain views and kitchenettes. You can also book the open-air private onsen, which has free-flowing hot spring water.

This mountain retreat also boasts a laid-back coffee lounge with a mountain-facing terrace. Discover the exceptional quality of Japanese whisky in Bouyu bar or relax on the gazebo with a glass of wine at Myo-Jo. More pampering awaits at Ginyu Spa, which has all-hand treatment therapists and a water garden. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Picasso Pavilion (3 kilometres)
  • Okada Museum of Art (2.6 kilometres)
  • Kowakidani Horaien Gardens (2.4 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 292 – USD 442
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 100-1 Miyanoshita, Hakone, Japan

Hotel Location

The Kansai Region

The Kansai Region

Also called Kinki, the Kansai Region is known as one of Japan’s cultural centres, thanks to the rich history and traditions within the cities of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara. It’s possible to discover a deeper sense of Japan’s fascinating past here while also experiencing some of its modern culture. Hot springs, centuries-old temples and shrines, revered castles and verdant nature abound within Kansai.

Osaka

Why You Should Stay in Osaka

The sprawling port city of Osaka is home to fascinating attractions showcasing Japan’s history, such as Osaka Castle and an ancient Shinto shrine. However, this contemporary metropolis is better for embracing Japan’s electric modern entertainment, from upmarket shops and restaurants to swanky rooftop bars, renowned theatres and a movie-inspired theme park. 

Must-Do Osaka Experiences 

  • Enjoy high-speed roller coasters, live shows and themed restaurants at Universal Studios Japan.
  • Discover a variety of marine life from around the world at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
  • Explore the storied Osaka Castle and its surrounding moat and gardens at Osaka Castle Park.

Top Hotels in Osaka

InterContinental Hotel Osaka

InterContinental Hotel Osaka

Sophisticated luxury abounds at InterContinental Hotel Osaka, which more than upholds the high InterContinental standard of dining, entertainment and comfort. The Classic Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, downtown views and rainfall showers, while the Executive Rooms offer rich furnishings and complimentary breakfast, cocktails and afternoon tea in the Club Lounge.

Want self-contained Osaka accommodation? Stay in one of the serviced residences for a full kitchen, laundry machines and a separate living and dining room. However, you will be tempted to dine out at one of the hotel’s restaurants or bars, such as the Adee cocktail bar and Noka Roast and Grill. Don’t forget to book a treatment at the spa, such as a facial or body wrap. 

Nearby Attractions

  • Umeda Food Hall (450 metres)
  • The Symphony Hall (1.2 kilometres)
  • Umeda Sky Building (550 metres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 382 – USD 2,058
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: Kita-ku Ofuka-cho 3-60, Kita, Osaka, Japan

Imperial Hotel Osaka

Imperial Hotel Osaka

Spring is a particularly memorable time to stay at Imperial Hotel Osaka, when cherry blossom trees line the park along the O River. However, the hotel is alluring year-round with its nine dining and drinking options, including French fare at Les Saisons, Japanese at Osaka Nadaman and signature cocktails at The Rainbow Lounge.

Along with games and sleeping areas in a dedicated Kids Room, the hotel offers a fully-equipped fitness centre, indoor pool and saunas. All of the rooms and suites offer views of the river or city, along with kimonos Japanese tea and work desks. But if you want a separate living room, upgrade to a suite. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Mint Museum (700 metres)
  • Seiwan Stone Monument (1 kilometre)
  • Art Court Gallery (280 metres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 206 – USD 2,205
Guest Rating: 9.3
Address: 8-50, Temmabashi 1-Chome, Kita, Osaka, Japan

Nara

Why You Should Stay in Nara

Nara is perfect for lovers of history thanks to its sprawling tapestry of iconic temples, Shinto shrines and prominent buildings from the 1800s. The city is also well-known for its connection to nature, including a friendly population of wild deer in Nara Park and the beautiful foliage in Kasugataishashinen Manyo Botanical Gardens. 

Must-Do Nara Experiences 

  • Wander through Nara Park while admiring ancient temples and meeting wild deer.
  • See intricate frescoes, statues and some of the oldest wooden buildings in the world at the Buddhist temple, Hōryū-ji.
  • Admire centuries of Japanese Buddhist art at Nara National Museum.

Top Hotels in Nara

Tsukihitei

Tsukihitei

Immerse yourself in Nara’s world-famous nature at Tsukihitei, a traditional ryokan surrounded by the Heritage-listed Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest. You can often see deer roaming the grounds, while the on-site restaurant is renowned for serving seasonal Kaiseki cuisine and classic dishes from Nara. There are also two private baths made from local wood.

The guest rooms provide rural havens with traditional Japanese furnishings, including tatami mats, rice paper walls and futons. Many of them also have private balconies overlooking the trees, while the sounds of the river and birds often float in through the screened doors. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Isuien Neiraku Museum (1.9 kilometres)
  • Nara Park (450 metres)
  • Wakakusa (2.2 kilometres)

Star Rating: 5*
Price: USD 495 – USD 671
Guest Rating: 9.7
Address: Kasugano-cho 158, Nara, Japan

Noborioji Hotel Nara

Noborioji Hotel Nara

Enjoy valued intimacy at the historic Noborioji Hotel Nara, which offers an intimate atmosphere with 14 rooms surrounded by leafy trees. These cosy holiday abodes offer modern comforts, including work desks, flat-screen TVs and heavenly beds. The Deluxe Twin has extra floor space for lounge seating, while the Suite boasts a corner balcony.

The on-site restaurant, Le Bois, showcases authentic French cuisine, while The Bar is known for its cigars and top-shelf liquor. Active travellers will appreciate the fitness machines in the gym, while those seeking some pampering can enjoy a therapeutic massage or a body treatment.

Nearby Attractions 

  • The Yaichi Aizu monument (500 metres)
  • Isuien Neiraku Museum (800 metres)
  • Mausoleum of Emperor Kaika (700 metres)

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 542 – USD 1,844
Guest Rating: 9.9
Address: 40-1 Noborioji-cho, Nara, Japan

A view across Hemeji town centre, main road. Logos removed, remaining standard sign text in Japanese.

Why You Should Stay in Himeji

Nestled between two rivers and a gorgeous bay with offshore islands, Himeji is a naturally resplendent town with a Heritage-listed castle, a safari park, numerous gardens and significant temples. Within the centre of town, you will discover a variety of family-owned restaurants and unique boutiques, along with shopping malls and theatres.

Must-Do Himeji Experiences 

  • Visit the mountainside Mount Shosha temple, which was used in the film The Last Samurai.
  • Discover the white facade, cherry blossom trees and intricate passageways at the circa-1613 Himeji Castle.
  • Explore Japan’s literary heroes at the Himeji City Museum of Literature.

Top Hotels in Himeji

Setre Highland Villa Himeji

Setre Highland Villa Himeji

Nestled on Mt Hirosu, Setre Highland Villa Himeji is a magnificent holiday haven overlooking the Seto Island Sea and Harima Plain. Surrounded by verdant forest, this hotel complements its scenic setting with a meditation space, theatre room and a specialty coffee lounge. The on-site restaurant turns fresh seasonal ingredients into delicious Japanese and Western cuisine.

All the rooms capture views of Himeji, including the Double, Twin and Triple rooms with Western-style beds and tatami mats. The Premium Kids Room turns a Triple Room into a playground with toys and games. Stay in one of the three Concept Rooms for unique decor and styles, such as the minimalist timber room with no TV. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Hiromine Shrine (550 metres)
  • Shirakuni Park (2.2 kilometres)
  • Kibi Shrine (550 metres)

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 390 – USD 557
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Hiromineyama 224-26, Himeji, Japan

Nikko Himeji

Nikko Himeji

The central Nikko Himeji has contemporary rooms and suites for a variety of budgets. All of the rooms have space for lounge seating and flat-screen TVs, while the suites have separate living and dining rooms.

On-site dining is highlighted by the Fountain tea lounge, Chinese cuisine at Toh-Lee, the Icho teppan grill and Japanese specialties at Kawatomi. Business travellers will appreciate the flexible meeting rooms, while special events can be held in the banquet halls. 

Nearby Attractions 

  • Miki Museum (1.2 kilometres)
  • Azuki Museum (1.4 kilometres)
  • Earth Cinemas Himeji (500 metres)

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 48 – USD 776
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: 100 Minami Ekimae-cho, Himeji, Japan

Hotel Location

Kanto or Kansai: Which Region Attracts You?

It’s a tough choice between Kanto and Kansai, as each region offers its own fascinating mix of metropolises and rural or coastal enclaves. If you don’t have time to explore both, it’s best to choose the region with the Japanese cities and towns that appeal to you the most. You’ll never be short of high-quality accommodation in Kanto and Kansai, with authentic on-site dining options and leisure facilities.

So, Kanto or Kansai? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

Author: Ben Stower

I'm enamoured with travel, whether it's finding the quiet, local sanctuaries in touristic cities, venturing into rock vaults in a distant jungle or spending hours on a Spanish beach. I can't see an end to my travelling. Just another chapter and another story to tell.

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