Chubu

Niigata Prefecture

Echigo-Yuzawa

Echigo-Yuzawa
Echigo-Yuzawa, located in the southernmost part of Niigata and adjoins Nagano and Gunma, is one of the major ski resorts in Japan. Because Echigo-Yuzawa has good transportation service, particularly from the metropolitan area, it attracts numbers of people for skiing in winter and for hiking and camping in summer. At the Echigo Sake Museum inside Echigo-Yuzawa Station, you can enjoy bathing in the sake spa. And around the station you will find museums such as the Shiro Shirahata Photo Museum, which has around 170 landscapes of world-famous mountains, and the Yuzawa Folklore History Museum. By taking the Yuzawa-onsen ropeway from Sanroku Station (at the foot of the mountain), you can go up to 1,000 meters above sea level and can enjoy spectacular views over the region.

Niigata

Niigata
Niigata city is the capital of the prefecture of the same name, and is a pleasant place, with plenty of open spaces, making the city feel more spacious and less cramped than other major cities of Japan. The Japanese characters for Niigata literally mean 'new lagoon' in reference to various inland bodies of water. The city branches into two districts, the new township near Niigata Station on the south side of the Shinano-gawa River and the old town on the north side of the river where the government and municipal offices locate. Bandai-bashi Bridge, designated as an Important National Cultural Asset, connects the two towns. In the new town is an international convention facility called Toki Messe. From its observatory, the highest spot in the city, you can see the Shinano-gawa River, the Sea of Japan, and Sado-ga-shima Island in the distance. In the old town is the Niigata City History Museum, called Minatopia, which exhibits the history of Niigata. Niigata is proud of its rich variety of wonderful foods, such as the plentiful seafood nurtured by the Sea of Japan and freshwater fish from the large river, and vegetables and fruit gown in the fertile soil. Niigata rice, sake and seafood are particularly well known. The finest tastes of Japan are available in Niigata.

Sado Island

Sado Island
Sado Island is located just off the coast of Niigata Prefecture, located 45 km northwest of the city of Niigata, and is one of Japan's largest islands. This remote place has long been a destination for political exiles, many of whom ended up working in Sado's prosperous gold mine while the island is no longer the place of exile and of gold mine. The island is also home to the endangered Toki or Japanese Ibis, extinct in the wild but planned to be reintroduced. Sado Island has many attractions today, such as the Sado Gold Mine that offers a reproduction of gold mining activities in the 17th and 18th centuries. Other attractions include Senkaku Bay with a beautiful view of the precipitous cliffs, Lake Kamo-ko where you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, and Toki-no-mori-koen Park where you can see Japanese crested ibises, a protected species.
Ishikawa Prefecture

Kanazawa

Kanazawa
Kanazawa, the seat of the prefectural office, is made up of three hills, the Kodatsuno Plateau that stretches southeast between the Asano-gawa and Sai-kawa rivers and Mt. Utatsu-yama and Teramachidai, which spread out on both sides. It is the center of economy, commerce, and culture in the Hokuriku region. Kanazawa has prospered for some 300 years since the feudal lord Maeda Toshiie built a castle here in the late 16th century. At the center of the city lies the Kenroku-en Garden, famous for the "Yukitsuri," ropes stretched from the top of a tree to the lower branches like an umbrella to protect it from snow damage. Beginning in 1676, it took about 170 years to construct the 105,000-square-meter garden. Kenroku-en is one of the three most famous gardens in Japan, along with the Kairaku-en Garden in Mito and the Koraku-en Garden in Okayama.

Noto Peninsula

Noto Peninsula
The Noto Peninsula makes up the northern half of Ishikawa Prefecture, extending about 100 kilometers into the Sea of Japan. The peninsula is known for its coastal scenery, particularly along the Okunoto Coast and the Kongo Coast, as well as for its rural atmosphere. Because the area's public transportation is limited, exploring the area is best done by rental car, which allows visitors much more freedom in exploring the region's attractions. Much of the coastline of the Noto Peninsula has been given Quasi-National Park status. The peninsula's two main centers for tourists, Wajima City and Wakura Onsen, provide a relaxed atmosphere different from other major cities in Japan.

Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen Garden
Shirakawago Gassho-zukuri features houses built in the "Gassho-zukuri" style with steep thatched roof to prevent snow from accumulating.

Kenrokuen Garden is located in the center of Kanazawa city and counted as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. It was originally a private garden of Lord Maeda's mansion next to Kanazawa Castle. The Maeda Family continued to renovate the garden for their ruling period from the 1620s to 1840s. It is a stroll-type landscape garden spreading over 100,000m2. Various hills, streams, smaller ponds and falls give the garden a great variety, where you can enjoy seasonal flowers.

Yamanashi Prefecture

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji is 3,776m high above the sea level, the highest and most popular mountain in Japan, and considered as one of the most beautiful conical volcanoes in the world. The base of Mt. Fuji, forming an almost perfect circle, stretches 35 to 40 km from east to west and the same distance from north to south. The volcano has not been active for more than 250 years. You can go up to 5th station of Mt. Fuji by bus.

Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi is the most easily accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes. It is located in Kawaguchiko Town, a hot spring resort named after the lake, and well connected with central Tokyo by trains and direct buses. The lake is a very popular spot for fisher and camper.
Nagano Prefecture

Hakuba

Hakuba
Hakuba, located in the Northern Alps of Nagano Prefecture, is one of Japan's most popular ski areas, offering good snow and several large ski resorts to choose from. The magnificent view of the Northern Japan Alps and other beautiful mountains is the most recommended feature of this area. During the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, Hakuba gained worldwide recognition as it hosted several olympic competitions, including alpine (downhill, super g, and combination) and nordic (ski jump and cross country) events. Today some of the olympic facilities remain in use, such as the Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium. There is also the Hakuba Olympic Village Memorial Hall, a small but interesting museum, located within walking distance of the ski jump.

Japan Alps

Japan Alps
Neon lights, skyscrapers and crowded metropolises are what usually come to mind when visitors think of Japan, so it surprises many to find there is an expanse of rocky landscape to discover for the more adventurous. More than 70% of Japan's landmass is mountainous and covered by forests, pushing much of the 127 million strong populations to the well-populated coastal areas and creating a central wilderness within the country. The Japan Alps is a series of mountain ranges in Japan that bisect the main island of Honshu. The name was coined by English missionary for whom a memorial plaque is located at Kamikochi. The Japan Alps encompass the Hida Mountains, the Kiso Mountains and the Akaishi Mountains. Situated on convergent continental plates, nature has produced sweeping tracts of mountain plains with volcanoes strewn throughout, creating the famous hot spring resorts and relaxing getaways for the islands residents in any season.

Kamikoch

Kamikoch
Kamikochi is a remote mountainous highland in the northern part of the Japan Alps, which has been preserved in its natural state. The highlands reach an altitude of 1,500 m. It was Walter Weston, a British missionary and mountain climber, who introduced Kamikochi to the world in the 19th century. Since then many climbers have come to know about this place, considered to be one of the most scenic spots in Japan. The symbol of Kamikochi is the Kappa-bashi Bridge, a 36 meter-long and 3 meter-wide wooden suspension bridge over the Azusa-gawa River. With the Hodaka Mountain Range rising in front and the volcanic Mt. Yake-dake in the south billowing white smoke, the Kappa-bashi bridge is known as one of the most scenic spots in Kamikochi. Kamikochi is sometimes referred to as the Japan's Yosemite, although it is considerably smaller than its American one.

Karuizawa

Karuizawa
Karuizawa is situated at the foot of Mt. Asama in southeastern Nagano. It is on a plateau with an altitude of 1,000 meters above sea and surrounded by Mt. Asama, Mt. Hanamagari, and the Usui-toge Pass. It has thrived as the most popular international summer resort in Japan since the late 19th century because of its cool summer climate and breezy environment with many larch and birch trees. Yagasaki Park, with an area of 46,000 square meters, is located in front of Karuizawa Station. It is a place for relaxation for local residents. Restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and fashion goods shops stand side by side in the Karuizawa Ginza district, making Karuizawa a fashionable resort destination for young people. There are several rent-a-cycle shops near the station, and many visitors to the area enjoy cycling through the woods to immerse themselves in the refreshing forest air. Camping grounds, tennis courts, skating rinks, golf courses and many other well maintained tourist attractions are located in the surrounding area.

Matsumoto

Matsumoto
Matsumoto, located in the center of Nagano and known as the gate to the Northern Alps' climbing routes, prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle. The castle's tower, a 5-story, 6-layer tower built in the Bunroku Period (1593-1594) is Japan's oldest existing castle tower and is designated as a national treasure. In summer, the Taiko (Japanese drum) Festival and the Takigi-Noh (Noh play under torchlight) are held at the castle and attract many visitors. The view of the Northern Alps from the large, green Shiroyama Park, at an altitude of 800 meters, is beautiful, and the park is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot in spring.

Nagano

Nagano
The city of Nagano is located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture. It developed as a temple town for Zenko-ji Temple that is said to have been built at the beginning of the 7th century. Chuo-dori Street, which streaches from the Zenko-ji guchi Square of Nagano Station, is one of the city's main streets. The Omote-Sando area, along the front approach to Zenko-ji Temple, is now home to the largest shopping mall in the city. The area was renovated at the time of the Nagano Olympics in 1998, and it is lined with buildings in both Japanese and western architectural styles, all arranged in a modern manner, inside the ice skating rink M-Wave, one of the venues for the Winter Olympics, is the Nagano Olympics Memorial Corner exhibiting some of the spots equipment that was actually used in the games along with licensed products.

Shiga-kogen Highlands

Shiga-kogen Highlands
The Shiga-kogen Highlands area is in the northeastern part of Nagano. Formed by volcanic activity, it has a mountainous landscape. It stands as one of the world's largest winter resorts and was home to many of the events of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. The Shiga-kogen Highlands are also known as a venue for skiing and other winter sports today. Snowfall here is reliable and plentiful, giving Shiga-kogen one of the longest ski seasons in Japan, starting in late November and running through until early May. From spring to fall, more than 500 types of alpine plants bloom in the area, creating an uplifting spectacle. Visitors also can experience Shiga-kogen's natural wonders during non-snow season. One of local attractions is the Yokoteyama Observation Deck, which at 2,305 meters above sea level is Shiga-kogen's highest point. Accessible in just about 10 minutes using the Skylator (escalator) and the Natsuyama Lift, it affords views of Shiga-kogen, the Kusatsu-onsen Hot Spring area, the Northern Alps, and even Mt. Fuji. The nearby Yudanaka-Shibu-onsen-kyo Hot Spring Village and natural hot springs located in the Shiga-kogen Highlands are perfect places for tired visitors to relax after sports, nature walks, or other activities.

Tsumago

Tsumago
The Tsumago Post Town has been designated as a preservation district containing important traditional structures, and here you can find the authentic atmosphere of the old post roads in the Edo Period. Electrical wires, TV antennas and telephone poles were hidden from sight along the main road. As a result, Tsumago looks much like it did in the 18th century. Both Tsumago and Magome served as post stations located on the Nakasendo Route, which is one of the five routes that connected Edo and locals in the Edo Period. The Nakasendo linked Edo and Kyoto through the inland area and had 69 post stations. Tsumago was the 42nd station while Magome was the 43rd, adjacent to the Kisoji Route of many mountains and woods. If you walk through these two post station towns, you will feel as if you went back to the Edo Period of 300 years ago. The area is already well known internationally as a place that retains the atmosphere of old Japanese post stations and welcomes a number of overseas tourists.

Yudanaka

Yudanaka
Photographs of snow-covered Snow Monkeys bathing in open-air-thermal pools have made Yudanaka Onsen famous. Some 200 monkeys live in this area. The legend has it that they started to take dips in the hot pools during the 1960s, when a local Japanese inn or 'ryokan' owner took pity on them and left food out in winter. A special outdoor bath or 'rotemburo' was eventually built for them, and Life magazine dubbed the name "snow monkeys." Yudanaka Onsen itself is like a small version of Yellowstone National Park, with its bubbling, steaming and sulfurous volcanic vents and pools. Visitors can see these snow monkeys bathing in summer as well as in winter.
Gifu Prefecture

Magome

Magome
In the heart of the Japan Alps, located in the Kiso valley, far away from busy metropolis and neon lights, lies a slice of old Japan. Surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of central Japan's Chubu region, this quiet post town has been referred to as a woodblock print come to life. Magome offers a side of Japan that many travelers never get to see, a mountain town where water wheels spin slowly in front of Japanese Inns and the bells of Buddhist monks collecting alms from shopkeepers echo through the narrow streets as afternoon approaches. If you are lucky enough to make it here, a visit to Magome is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Japan.

Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go
The Shirakawa-go is located on the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains region between Takayama and Kanazawa. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are best known and famous for their traditional farmhouses in the thatched-roof, A-frame style called "Gassho-zukuri", some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukuri means "constructed like hands in prayer", as the farmhouses' steep thatched roofs resemble the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together in prayer. The architectural style developed over many generations and these houses were built to withstand the large amounts of heavy snow that falls in the region of Japan receives during winter, and more amazingly, they are built without any nails.

Takayama

Takayama
Situated more than 650m above sea level and surrounded by the brooding peaks of the Japan Alps, Hida Takayama is a castle town at the foot of Takayama Castle, built in the 16th century. It is a town of old wooden houses standing side-by-side, highlighted by projecting lattice and eaves of uniform height, draws visitors' attention. This generally quiet rural town is known throughout Japan for its vibrant festivals that shatter the peace twice a year. The Takayama-matsuri Festival, believed to have begun in the 16th to 17th century, is one of the three largest and most beautiful festivals in Japan and held in spring and fall. During the festival, intricate floats roam the city. The floats, utilizing the essence of Hida's traditional techniques, are dazzling and magnificent. In spring, Hie-jinja Shrine plays a main role, while in the fall Sakura-yama Hachiman-gu Shrine plays a main role. Tens of thousands of Japanese descend on the town in spring and again in autumn to join the celebrations. Even if you are not in town during the festival you can catch a sight of the yatai (floats) in the Yatai Museum.

Takayama festivals

Takayama festivals
Even though the Takayama festivals origin is unknown, it is said that they were first celebrated between 1586 and 1692 when the Kanamori family governed the Hida Takayama area. The spring festival is associated with Hie Shrine and the autumn with Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. Both are much alike and feature a parade of large floats (yatai) decorated with thick curtains, lacquer ware, and mechanical dolls (karakuri). Twelve floats appear in the spring festival and eleven in autumn. The procession carrying the portable shrine (mikoshi) is unique to the autumn.

Takayama Morning Market

Takayama Morning Market
There are two morning marketers in Takayama; the one in front of Takayama Shrine and another along the Miyagawa River. Morning Market originates from mulberry tree market in early Edo era. Here, you can find local fresh vegetables, fruits, mountain vegetables, thorough which you can enjoy delicacies of four seasons of Takayama. The market are open from early morning to noon every day all through the year.

Takayama Old-town

Takayama Old-town
Takayama's old town has been beautifully preserved, with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries.
Shizuoka Prefecture

Atami

Atami
Atami is a coastal onsen hot spring resort in Shizuoka prefecture, on the east coast of the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo. Atami literally means "hot ocean". The town has been a popular onsen resort since the 8th century and is ranked as one of Japan's Three Great Hot Springs. Today, the coastline is heavily developed and covered in concrete hotels, but in summer the sandy beach is popular. At the heart of onsen resort is the onsen Geyser that spouts huge quantities of hot water. Another attraction is the MOA Museum, located top of the hill on the mountainside of Atami Station that houses approximately 3,500 paintings as well as works of applied arts. Atami castle is also famous attraction built in 1959. At 160m in height, the observation deck at the top offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and ocean. With a clear sky day, you can see Izu Islands off the shore over the Sagami Bay. There is a museum inside depicting an old samurai homestead. Atami is populous destination for cherry blossom viewing in spring and fireworks in summer.

Kawazu

Kawazu
Kawazu is a town located on the east coast of Izu Peninsula, facing Sagami Bay and the Pacific Ocean, in Shizuoka Prefecture. The town has a temperate maritime climate characterized by hot summers and short cool winters, with the weather moderated by the effects of the warm current offshore. Parts of the town are within the limits of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. The area is noted for a large number of hot springs. Due to warm temperature, Kawazu cherry blossoms bloom from early February through early March, for about a month. The Kawazu cherry trees have the characteristic of large pink flowers. The rows of the cherry trees continue along the Kawazu River for about three kilometers in the town. The Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year from February 10 through March 10. Despite the cold weathter, numbers of visitors enjoy the cherry blossom viewing. The cherry trees are beautifully illuminated at night and captivate anyone who sees them.

Lake Hamana

Lake Hamana
Lake Hamana in Shizuoka Prefecture is Japan's tenth largest lake. The Lake is a commercial source of cultivated Japanese eel, nori, oysters and Chinese soft-shelled turtles. Fishers take sea bass whiting, and flounder, among others. The lake has been developed as a resort area, with boating as a feature, allowing you to enjoy the scenery from the surface of the lake. You can also enjoy the view from midair aboard the Kanzan-ji Cable Car that connects Lake Hamana with the lookout area at the peak of Mt. Okusa, 113 meters above sea level.

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji
Mount Fuji (Fujisan) is with 3,776 meters Japan's highest mountain. It is not surprising that the nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshipped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people. Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano, which most recently erupted in 1708. It stands on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures and can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days.

Shimoda

Shimoda
Shimoda is a pleasant city at the southern point of the Izu Peninsula and is a beautiful destination, offering hot springs and great beaches. It has historical importance as the landing place of several of Commodore Perry's "black ships" in 1854, an event which marked the end of Japan's era of isolation and the start of diplomatic relations between the US and Japan. Off the shore, you can enjoy the views of Shimoda as well from a boat. The nearby Mt. Nesugata-yama is said to resemble a woman lying on her back. The Nesugata-yama Cable Car service, available from the Shimoda Station, takes you to the peak of Mt. Nesugata-yama. Cape Iro-zaki, at the southern tip further down the Izu-hanto Peninsula, is a scenic spot, with its lighthouse and towering cliffs, a view of which you can enjoy from aboard a boat that tours around the cape. You can also enjoy its tropical atmosphere at a huge tropical botanical garden nearby the station.
Aichi Prefecture

Centrair Airport

Centrair Airport
Central Japan International Airport Centrair (airport code: NGO), just outside Nagoya, is Japan's third most important international airport after Tokyo's Narita Airport and Osaka's Kansai Airport. It is also known as Chubu Airport.

Constructed on a man-made island in the Bay of Ise, Central Japan Airport was opened in February 2005 in time for the Expo 2005 Aichi, taking over all international and most domestic air traffic, formerly handled by Nagoya's Komaki Airport.

Nagoya

Nagoya
Nagoya is Japan's third most populated metropolitan area. It is the capital of Aichi Prefecture and the principal city of the Nobi plain, one of Honshu's three large plains and industrial centers. As one of the country's major transport hubs, situated halfway between east and west along the main transport lines running from Tokyo via Kyoto and Osaka to Hiroshima and further west, Nagoya also has Japan's leading port for international trade as well as its own state-of-the-art airport, half-an-hour from the city centre. For centuries a centre for porcelain, ceramics and lacquer-ware production, in modern times Nagoya has been among Japan's most important manufacturing and industrial cities. Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the world's leading car makers, was established in Nagoya, and it runs a technology and industry museum in the city, while the manufacturing of cars has moved out to Toyota City to the east of Nagoya. Nagoya is not all about industry, transport and trade. For those more interested in samurai history, the Tokugawa Museum provides a wealth of in-depth information and fascinating exhibits on the most famous of Nagoya families. Osu-kannon in the heart of the city is a bustling area with a splendid temple at its heart alongside some seemingly endless covered arcades - one of the most interesting shopping areas in Japan. Nagoya also offers many excellent day trip options with the castle at Inuyama, Meiji Mura and Nagashima Spa-land just three of the options.

Toyota

Toyota
Toyota City is the largest city in Aichi prefecture and the lowest land point is located at 3.2m above see level and the highest is located at 1,240m. The 1,200m difference makes the town full of hills. Around the station you will find a cityscape and gentle natural sceneries. The fluctuating yearly temperature and different altitudes make four seasons sceneries of Toyota City more appealing. As the new season comes the scenery changes, as the altitude elevates the expression changes. Toyota City is home to Toyota Motor Corporation headquarter and factories, and more than 400 car-related companies with various engineers the technology is always evolving. Toyota museum is located at the site of the corporation and open to public visitors. In addition, there is the Obara Japanese paper along with the traditional skills that craftsmen kept and continue to pass on to next generations.

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