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Japan's Charming Ports O' Call

Japan is full of inviting port cities that love to welcome guests. There are now a substantial amount of cruise lines that offer packages that include these cities; notably, Princess Cruises is starting 2014 with an increased number of cruises that enable tourists to visit these wonderful Japanese locations. Aside from Princess Cruises, there are many other cruise lines that offer a variety of package tours that let tourists explore the allure of these delightful port cities.

Here is a look at some delightful port cities where cruise ships are scheduled to call:

Otaru (Hokkaido Prefecture)

The cozy harbor city of Otaru is famous for its beautifully preserved canals. It retains many old building and warehouses from the era when it was first colonized in the 1800s, and has Victorian style street lamps adorning the Otaru Canal that give the town its lovely, nostalgic charm. Famous for its sushi, the town boasts over 100 sushi restaurants, and on Sushi-dori Street alone, there are about 20! Wash all that sushi down with beer, for which Otaru is also very well known!

For more information, please visit here.

Aomori (Aomori Prefecture)

On Aomori Harbor, situated in the northernmost prefecture of the mainland, is Warasse Nebuta House, a museum that features the magnificent traditional paper floats seen during the Nebuta Matsuri Festival. The building itself is a stunning modern glass and steel complex. The Aomori Museum of Art is another museum nearby, home to the famous "Aomori-ken" and a collection of works by both local and overseas artists. Visitors can take a ferry across the Tsugaru Strait to Hakodate, Hokkaido (about 4 hours) or go through the tunnel under the strait (about 2 hours) to visit the beautiful buildings, fun outdoor markets, and stunning scenery across the water.

For more information, please visit here.

Sakaiminato (Tottori Prefecture)

A charming city, made even more so by the one hundred or so bronze statues based on much loved characters drawn by Mizuki Shigeru, a local son, is also known for its great fishing hauls that continue today. Hot springs, easily reachable from the port, let visitors soak in rejuvenating hot sea water. Bordering on Tottori is Shimane prefecture, home to the stunning Adachi Museum of Art with its gorgeous garden and modern Japanese art collection. Matsue Castle is also a major tourist destination in Shimane, as it is one of the few remaining original wooden castles in Japan.

For more information, please visit here.

Nagasaki (Nagasaki Prefecture)

The port city of Nagasaki City, on the island of Kyushu, has a wealth of tourist spots such as O-ura Tenshu-do Cathedral, Japan's oldest wooden Christian church, and Peace Park, dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb blast, that is a potent and poignant reminder to never forget. A trip to the now uninhabited Hashima Island, commonly called Gunkanjima Island because of its shape (resembling a battleship, gunkan in Japanese), is a definite must-see for those interested in the effects of modern industrialization on Japan.

For more information, please visit here.


Way down south at the tip of Kyushu, lies Kagoshima. This prefecture, which includes 30 islands, was once called "southernmost entrance to Japan." The beautiful Sengan-en Garden which incorporates Chinese representative landscape gardening methods is situated within the villa of the Shimazu clan (past ruler of this region). A trip there can make visitors feel just like visiting dignitaries of yore when they visited Japan to meet the powerful ruler. At Ibusuki, the sand steam baths offer guests a deliciously sweaty experience. Don't forget to go to the Chiran Samurai district, a beautifully preserved area which contains residences and gardens dating back 250 years or so.

For more information, please visit here.


Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, is made up of over 160 islands, and is also known as Churashima, or "beautiful islands." For about 450 years it was separate from Japan, and was known as the Kingdom of Ryukyu. Many of its cultural influences come via the connection the kingdom had with other countries, such as Korea and China. Shuri Castle, in the capital city of Naha, is a World Heritage Site, and visitors flock there all year round. Okinawan food culture is becoming quite popular on the mainland these days, perhaps due to the fact that Okinawans have some of the greatest longevity of individuals worldwide, and many people believe that the local cuisine is responsible. The diet includes plenty of vegetables, noodles, and pork, low in salt and fat, all balanced to provide excellent nutrition and, needless to say, great taste!

For more information, please visit here.

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