Traditionally, Japan can be divided into nine regions, subsequently each region consists of several prefectures. The regions are based on their geographical and historical background but do not function as administrative, independent regions. Each region has its own dialect, customs, and unique traditional culture and different regions can offer striking contrast in everything. For example people from Osaka (Kansai) more direct than Tokyoites (Kanto), but also the cuisine and tradition can be very different.
Chubu region refers to the prefectures located in the central part of the main island of Japan. It consists of 9 prefectures, and each of them has respective attractive spots such as mountains, beaches, cities and historical sites. Also in Chubu region, there are 2 prefectures you can see the beautiful sights of Mt.Fuji, which are Yamanashi and Shizuoka. In this article, we will introduce the best places to visit in Chubu region including how to get there from Tokyo and Osaka!
How to get to the Chubu region from Tokyo/ Osaka
Basically, you can take the Shinkansen from Tokyo to get to most of the areas in the Chubu region. Make sure to take the right Shinkansen as there are various types of Shinkansen available and leaving from the same platform. For Niigata, you need to take the “Joetsu Shinkansen”, whereas the “Hokuriku Shinkansen” is the right one which takes you to Nagano, Toyama and Ishikawa. For Aichi, Shizuoka, and Gifu, the “Tokaido Shinkansen” is the best and fastest way to reach the area. As there is no Shinkansen station in Fukui and Yamanashi, you need to take the limited express or local trains to reach there.
Osaka also has the convenient transportation system, but it is slightly different from Tokyo. For Aichi, Shizuoka and Gifu, you can take the “Tokaido Shinkansen” just like from Tokyo. For Yamanashi prefecture, take the Tokaido Shinkansen and change to the local trains at “Shin-Yokohama station” in Kanagawa prefecture. If you want to travel to Nagano, you need to take the Tokaido Shinkansen first, and then change to the local trains at Nagoya station in order to finally reach to Nagano station. It takes about 4 and a half hours to get to Niigata from Osaka by Shinkansen, and you need to change trains at Tokyo station. Therefore, it is recommendable to take domestic flights from “Itami Airport” (Osaka International Airport) or “Kansai International Airport” to Niigata Airport. For Fukui, Ishikawa and Toyama, there is a convenient limited express called “ JR Thunderbird train” which takes passengers directly to the area from Osaka.
Niigata is the mountainous prefecture which is located far northwestern part of Japan. It boasts the largest production of rice in Japan , and is also famous for the fresh seafood caught in the Sea of Japan. Besides that, there are a number of tourist attractions including relaxing hot spring resorts and ski resorts which are enjoyable all year round.
“Teradomari Fish Market” is a lively street packed with small vendors selling fresh seafood. As the seafood is delivered from the ocean near the market, the seafood is extraordinary fresh and doesn’t have stinky smells at all. Visitors can try them at the dining areas, or take frozen ones to bring back home. “Ponshu-kan” is a unique Sake museum offering over 100 local sake brands collected across Niigata area. Visitors can choose from a large selection of sake brands selling in a small vending machine. They are all served in a small quantity, so you can taste various kinds of sake without getting drunk easily. “Hoshitoge Rice Terraces” is a perfect spot for those who look for scenic spots in nature. Over 200 terraced rice paddies on a hillside creates an amazing view with seasonal plants around.
Toyama shares the border with Niigata, and adjacent to the Sea of Japan as well. It has the largest dam called “Kurobe Dam” which stands 186-meter-tall and attracts around 1 million visitors annually. As the dam is situated deep in sacred mountains, visitors can enjoy the abundant nature and the great artificial construction at the same time. The perfect season to visit there is from June to October, when the stored water is deliberately discharged to entertain visitors!
“Amaharashi Beach” is another scenic spot which offers an incomparable view with the Tateyama mountain range over the Toyama bay. Tateyama mountain range is a famous mountain range comprised of giant mountains which symbolizes Toyama. The beach is officially selected as one of the Japan’s best 100 beaches. Toyama also has historical spots where you can discover the traditional lifestyle of Japan. “Gokayama” refers to a small village with a number of Japanese traditional houses, which is officially designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As a powerful feudal clan during the Edo era, Ishikawa prefecture developed as one of the urbanized areas along the west coast of Japan. It still has a number of historical spots which are all preserved well by local people in an effort to pass the valuable remaining down to the next generations. “Kanazawa Castle” is one of them, and has been loved as an iconic landmark of the area. It was originally used as a residence for the Maeda family who governed the area from the 16th to 18th century. “ Higashi Chaya District” refers to a beautiful district full of Japanese traditional buildings standing along a peaceful street. It is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ishikawa, and fascinates a number of tourists from all over the world.
What surprises you in Ishikawa is not just historical aspects. It is still developing with a various kind of interesting spots which have newly opened in recent years. “ Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art” is among them which offers a great opportunity for visitors to learn modern art through exciting experiences. Exhibits displayed inside and outside the museum create a unique space which enables visitors to directly touch and observe the meaningful designs of each work.
Fukui is widely known because of the huge dinosaur museum which is said to be one of the three biggest dinosaur museums in the world. They exhibit valuable fossils of dinosaur and other ancient creatures with informative explanations. They also boast more than 40 full-scale skeletons of dinosaurs! It is recommendable and enjoyable even for those who don’t have a strong interest in dinosaurs and paleontology.
“Eihei-ji Temple” is a historical Buddhist temple which dates back around 800 years ago. It is considered as one of the main temples of the Soto school of Buddhism, and originally has a function as a Buddhism training center. Even today, around 200 monks live and are dedicated to the austere training. They also offer interesting events for visitors such as Zen meditation and transcribing the Sutra. “Tojinbo” refers to a cliff standing along the coastline of the Sea of Japan. The unique formation of giant rocks creates a breathtaking view with a contrast of white waves hitting them with a splash. Visitors can walk around the cliff on safe trails.
Yamanashi is a mountainous prefecture which shares border with Tokyo. Thanks to the convenient location, it is often chosen as a day trip destination from Tokyo which offers exciting attractions in nature. In addition, Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, stands on the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefecture, and visitors can also explore the surrounding areas while enjoying the stunning view of the iconic mountain. “Fuji Five lakes” is one of the most famous tourist spots around, and it is a perfect location to have a relaxing time and take beautiful pictures.
“Shosenkyo” is a great gorge in the Kofu city which is designated as Special Place of Scenic Beauty in Japan. It fascinates visitors with different appearance for each season. “Fuji-Q Highland” is a must visit theme park full of exciting rides and attractions! This is one of the most popular theme parks in Japan, and they feature thrilling rides such as the fastest roller coasters and the most scary haunted house attraction in Japan.
Nagano is a large prefecture which surprisingly shares border with 8 other prefectures. Although it doesn’t have sea and surrounded by mountainous areas, it is well-known as a home to several kinds of fruit and local specialties such as Wasabi, a special condiment essential in Japanese dishes. It also has fascinating tourist attractions some of which is already famous among foreign tourists.
“Matsumoto Castle” is one of the most famous historical spots in Nagano. With over 400 years of history, the castle is widely recognized as a valuable construction and is officially designated as National Treasure. “Jigokudani Monkey Park (Snow Monkey Mountain)” is a unique tourist attraction which is internationally famous as it has been featured in a famous English magazine. Wild monkeys live there, and visitors can watch them relax in natural hot springs especially in winter!
“Kiso Valley” refers to an old route which is a part of “Nakasendo” one of the five main highways used during the Edo era in order to connect Edo to the other rural areas. It has two historical areas “Magome-juku” and “Tsumago-juku”, which boast a number of Japanese traditional buildings preserved in a perfect condition. They are used as accommodations for travelers to offer food and places to stay overnight.
Gifu is another mountainous prefecture located next to Nagano. It is accessible from Osaka and Kyoto, and famous for the changeable climate which is relatively hot in summer and has a heavy snowfall in winter. The severe climate brings a lot of benefits to famous tourist attractions that creates a photogenic scenery for each season. “Hida Takayama” is a world-famous historical spot where is packed with Japanese traditional houses standing along narrow streets. The area originally developed as a castle town, and currently popular among tourists with a number of souvenir shops and vendors selling local foods. This is what you shouldn’t miss once you visit Gifu!
“Gero Onsen” is a famous hot spring resort. It is claimed as one of the three greatest hot springs in Japan, and offers a relaxing experience for visitors with mild hot springs full of benefits for your skin and health. As it is located in a deep, mountainous area, visitors can unwind and have a peaceful time away from busy life. “Toki Outlet Mall” is a giant shopping mall containing around 200 shops selling famous brand products for an affordable price. You can enjoy great deals while exploring the spacious area which also offers a playground for kids!
With its mild climate, Shizuoka boasts a number of specialties such as Japanese green tea. It also has the tallest mountain known as “Mt. Fuji” in Japan, and the surroundings of the iconic mountain boast a plenty of nature. In addition, Shizuoka is sometimes divided into three areas featuring with respective characteristics. You can choose your destination from any of them depending on your interests!
“Shuzenji” refers to a hot spring resort situated in the central part of Izu peninsula in the east part of Shizuoka. There are a number of Japanese traditional inns offering relaxing hot springs and pleasant local food. Free foot baths and famous bamboo forest path also attract a lot of visitors. “Fuji Safari Park” is a memorable zoo where you can closely observe the wildlife. The zoo consists of two areas, and the “Safari Zone” hold a number of ferocious animals. Visitors can watch them from a private car or special vehicle which operates around the area while carrying visitors around.
Aichi is the most developed and urbanized prefecture in the Chubu region. The prefectural capital, Nagoya, has over 2 million population and plays an important role as a center of economy and manufacturing industry. Whereas there are a number of modern spots full of the cutting-edge technologies, it also has historical spots as well. “Nagoya Castle” is an iconic landmark which was built by “Tokugawa Ieyasu” who opened the Tokugawa Shogunate and ruled the country for centuries. As one of the most visited tourist spots, it offers a valuable opportunity to learn about the history of the area.
Aichi also boasts a plenty of nature as it faces the Pacific Ocean. “Himakajima” and “Sakushima Island” are famous islands located in the Mikawa Bay. They both have respective characteristics, and has been visited by an increasing number of tourists in recent years. Visitors can relax and feel the nature closely while walking around the small islands full of hidden attractive spots. The water of the sea is clear, and the peaceful environment helps you forget the fact that it is only an hour trip from the busiest district of the region. If you are interested in local foods in Aichi, “Misokatsu” is something that you definitely shouldn’t miss! The deep-fried pork cutlet with rich miso sauce will satisfy your appetite with an unforgettable taste!
Don’t forget to check out our private tour!
If you need some help to organize your trip to Chubu region, you should definitely check out our private tour including English guide. We’re glad to help you make your trip to Chubu region a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memory!
1. Niigata 1–Day Customized Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)
1-day private tour in Niigata is available which includes sake tasting and tasty local food experience.
2. Kanazawa 1–Day Highlight Private Walking Tour (8 Hours)
Take a part in our memorable private tour in Kanazawa!
3. Mt. Fuji Highlight Private Walking Tour (7 Hours)
Explore the highlights around the iconic mountain of Japan with us!
Each prefecture in Chubu region welcomes tourists with a number of unique attractions which make your trip an unforgettable memory. Some might think they are less attractive compared to other famous tourist destinations such as Tokyo or Osaka, but they are all definitely worth a visit! If you feel a bit tired of visiting busy cities full of crowds, why not spending some time in peaceful spots in Chubu region?
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