At the turn of the last century, the Michelin guides were created to promote travel outside Paris (and increase demand for tires!). Now, Japan's ministry responsible for tourism and transport is trying a similar idea by publishing seven regional sightseeing routes.
Concerned that most travelers never get past Tokyo and Mt. Fuji, the ministry offers information on area attraction from north to south. The routes will be promoted by the Japan National Tourism Organization, and it's expected that they will start turning up in the catalogues of private tour vendors. Most of the routes take advantage of Japan's high-speed "bullet train" network.
Among the routes are trips around Hokkaido in the north for national treasures, Deep North of Japan, including areas in Akita and Fukushima prefectures, an itinerary centered around Kyoto and another around the Inland Sea.