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10 Must-Visit Destinations in Central Japan (Chubu Region)

July 30th, 2023 at 04:26 am

10 Must-Visit Destinations in Central Japan (Chubu Region)

Many travelers will always have a soft spot in their hearts for Central Japan. There is a ton to see and do in this area. Nine prefectures make up Central Japan’s Chubu region: Aichi, Gifu, Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Nagano, Niigata, Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama. The final four are regarded as belonging to the Hokuruki subregion.

The towering Japanese Alps and Mount Fuji can be found in Central Japan, which is covered in mountains. It also has a lengthy history, which is preserved and displayed in many heritage locations, such as Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, the old town of Hida Furukawa, the chaya districts of Kanazawa, and Takayama’s old merchant street.

However, the area is still considered a unique travel destination. Located between the far more well-known Kansai and Kanto regions, Central Japan is sometimes disregarded. But if you’re seeking intriguing, revitalizing tourist destinations, here are a few to include on your itinerary for Japan!


For its centuries-old gassho-zukuri farmhouses, Shirakawa-go in the Ono District of Gifu Prefecture was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Shirakawa-go’s major settlement and emblematic picture is Ogimachi. This charming village continues to entice both domestic and international visitors.

Over a hundred farmhouses are still standing; some have been converted into museums, while others remain still occupied. The Wada House, an Important National Cultural Property, is one of the most well-known gassho-zukuri residences.


The name Takayama, which means “tall mountain” in Japanese, is suitable for the city because it is situated in the mountainous area of Gifu Prefecture. This one in Gifu is also known as Hida-Takayama, which alludes to the former Hida Province and serves to distinguish it from other locations in Japan with the same name. Because of its proximity to the Northern Japanese Alps, Takayama is home to Mount Hotakadake, one of Japan’s 100 most renowned mountains.

Its unusual culture, which evolved through centuries of solitude, was influenced by its rather isolated position. One of Japan’s top three festivals is the Takayama Festival. The event, which showcases lovely floats, takes place twice a year in April (spring) and October (autumn).

Numerous historical landmarks and museums in the city, including Takayama Jinya, Matsuri no Mori, Yatai Kaikan, Hida Folk Village, Higashiyama Temple Area, and Sanmachi (old town), will let you discover more about their legacy. The ancient town’s beautifully preserved wooden merchant buildings transport you back to the Edo era.

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Hida Furukawa

North of Takayama, which is easily accessed by train in around 15 minutes, lies Hida Furukawa. This little hamlet in Hida, Gifu, with its canal-lined alleyways and typical wooden storehouses, is reminiscent of the old castle town from the fifteenth century.

The Setogawa Canal, which divides the white-walled storehouses from the traditional wooden homes with black walls, is the most noticeable canal. However, throughout the winter the carp are moved to a warm pond and return to the canal in the spring. There are reportedly more than a thousand carp swimming in the canal.

The Furukawa Festival is held in April, and other notable locations include the festival square, the Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall, the Hida Crafts Museum, the enormous 700-year-old ginkgo tree, the red Imamiya Bridge, the over 200-year-old Mishima Candle Shop, and the three temples (Enkouji, Honkouji, and Shinshuji).


The Fukui Prefecture’s capital is Fukui City. The Ryohaku Mountains and the Sea of Japan border it on the east and west, respectively. Tourist sites are conveniently accessible from the city center.

Awara City’s onsen village offers a variety of hot spring bath experiences, including outdoor, indoor, public, and private ones, for people who want to enjoy authentic Japanese hot spring baths. Additionally, you can use the Awara public foot bath. The neighborhood’s favorite food street, Yukemuri Yokocho, is only a short distance from the foot spa.

The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, one of the best in the world, will give dinosaur enthusiasts a feeling straight out of Jurassic Park. It has established itself as the hub of dinosaur studies in Japan and is the largest in the country with more than 40 dinosaur skeletons on exhibit. The largest dinosaur excavation site is found in Katsuyama City, where the museum is situated.

In reality, the entire city of Katsuyama is a part of the Dinosaur Valley Fukui Katsuyama Geopark, which also contains the excavation sites for the five dinosaur species Fukuiraptor, Fukuisaurus, Fukuititan, Koshisaurus, and Fukuivenator. The Tojinbo, a kilometer-long stretch of basalt cliffs that face the Sea of Japan, is located in Sakai.


Ishikawa Prefecture’s capital is Kanazawa. While strolling through historical locations like the Kanazawa Castle Park and the three tea house districts, where the geisha culture also survives, you can feel being transported back in time to the Edo era at this location.

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They are Nishi (West) Chaya, Kazue-machi Chaya, and Higashi (East) Chaya. Higashi Chaya is the largest of the three. The historic streets are lined with gift shops, restaurants, and tea shops like Hakuza Hikarigura (gold leaf shop), Hakuichi (gold leaf soft ice cream), and so on.

In addition to the tea shops, there is Ninjadera and the Nagamachi Samurai District. The stone walls that surround Kanazawa Castle Park showcase several masonry techniques. Explore the expansive Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens, in a leisurely manner. It can be found just across from Kanazawa Castle Park. The Kotojitoro light, the natural fountain, Yugaotei, and the Karasakinomatsu Pine trees are just a few of the iconic landmarks found inside the park.


Toyama Prefecture is where Takaoka is found. It is a former castle town with the vibrant Yamachosuji and Kanayamachi historic merchant and craftsmen areas. The majority of the bronzeware and metal works produced in Japan produced in the city’s metal casting sector. Many traditional wooden homes conserved remain in Kanayamachi, also the center of Takaoka’s metal casting industry.

The Risaburo Foundry particularly specializes in twin-type casting and dates back to the Meiji Period, serves as one of the oldest casting facilities in Kanayamachi. One of the starting places for the Gokayama UNESCO World Heritage Site is Takaoka. Similar to Shirakawa-go, the village also has gassho-zukuri farmhouses, but it is farther away and less populated.


Gokayama, a neighborhood in Nanto City in Toyama Prefecture, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Chubu region. It also has gassho-zukuri farmhouses, but fewer in number than those in Shirakawa-go. Suganuma and Ainokura are available in Gokayama if Shirakawa-go has Ogimachi. Gokayama is less crowded, quieter, and more rural than Shirakawa-go.


The administrative center of Toyama Prefecture – Toyama City situates on the Chubu region’s western shore of Japan’s Honshu island. It is a seaside community with Toyama Bay to its north. It was formerly a town of castles with Toyama Castle as its focal point. The Hills of 500 Buddhas, Toyama Street Museum, Toyama Folk Village, and Toyama Glass Museum are just a few of the local attractions in addition to the castle.

In Kansui Park, a sizable waterside park, a bridge doubles as an observation deck from which to take in the surrounding mountains. For individuals who enjoy hiking and the outdoors, Toyama serves as the typical starting place for those who want to travel the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

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Located halfway between Takayama and Nagoya, Gero City in the Gifu Prefecture is an ideal pit stop for travelers. The city offers a visual feast as you roam around the area because of its blessed lush forests and mountains. With the area sustained by the Hide and Maze Rivers and close to Mt. Ontake, Japan’s second-highest volcano, it is not unexpected that this inconspicuous city became well-known for its hot spring baths.

A lot of the city’s hotels and ryokans also provide onsen amenities. Thus, in addition to the three public hot spring pools. Additionally, if you happen to visit in the winter, the city comes alive thanks to the weekly fireworks display.

Gifu City

Gifu City designated as a core city, also serves as the seat of the Gifu Prefecture. Many warlords aiming to unite the country made Gifu their base of operations due to its advantageous location. The economy primarily driven by both traditional and tourism businesses. Thanks to the country’s abundance of fertile land and other natural resources.

The Nagara River Cormorant Fishing in the city is well-known. Festivals, national parks, Mt. Kinka, Gifu Castle, Gifu Park, Bairin Park, shrines and temples, and museums are additional draws for visitors.

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