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Chūbu 中部
Mount Fuji
Cherry blossom near Mount Fuji.

Introduction

The Chūbu (literally "central part"), as its name indicates, is the central part of Japan's main island, Honshū. It is made of the 9 prefectures of Niigata, Nagano, Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, Gifu, Aichi, Shizuoka and Yamanashi. Most of the Japanese Alps are within the boundaries of the Chūbu, so that in spite of its central position it is often seen as a remote region, where transport is usually slower than elsewhere in Japan (except perhaps in Shikoku). The Chūbu's remoteness is a blessing for tourists, for the ravages of concrete and neon lights have taken longer to arrive, and many historical towns have been preserved.

The only sizeable city in this mountainous region is Nagoya, Japan's fourth most populous city, which occupies the centre of the great Nōbi plain. The Nagoya region has become synonymous with Toyota in many minds, but also one of Japan's historical centre of power, notably with the Tokugawa clan, as attested by its mighty castle and splendid Tokugawa Art Museum.

The Chūbu's popularity as a tourist destination owes a lot to Kanazawa and Takayama, which both earned the nicknames of "little Kyoto", and deservedly. The small town of Furukawa (now part of Hida city since 2004), advertises itself as a small Takayama, a clear proof of the latter's touristic success.

The Kiso Valley has managed to keep a few towns almost untouched by the hand of modernity. This is also the case of Gujo-Hachiman and the villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, hidden in the mountains between Kanazawa and Takayama, which are now listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage sites. They are however isolated enough to put off short-term visitors.

Further east, Matsumoto will enchant visitors with its unique black-and-white medieval castle, one of Japan's few original ones that have survived to this day. Nagano, which the 1998 Winter Olympic placed on the world map, possesses one of Japan's largest, oldest and most influencial temples, the Zenko-ji temple, set in a well-preserved historical district.

Just a half an hour train ride from Nagoya, Gifu and Inuyama is a small, laid-back castle town famous for cormorant fishing and river cruises. Just outside the city is the outstanding Meiji Mura Open Air Museum, one of Japan's most interesting theme park and historical attraction.

The Chūbu is perhaps best appreciated for its natural splendor, from the majesty of Mount Fuji, the hot springs resorts of Izu, Karuizawa or the Japanese Alps around Matsumoto and Nagano.

Travellers in search of solitude will head for Sado Island, off the coast of Niigata - a traditional place of exile. Others will find their inner peace meditating at the Eiheiji Temple in Fukui prefecture, the head temple of the Sōtō Zen school of Buddhism.

Attractions

West & South

Eihei-ji Temple
Eihei-ji Temple
outstanding The Eihei-ji Temple is one of the two head temples of the Sōtō sect of Buddhism, and is the main attraction of the small Fukui prefecture. Eihei-ji was established in 1244 by Zen master Dogen Zenji (1200-1253), who studied Buddhism...Read more
Gujō Hachiman
Gujō Castle
outstanding Gujō Hachiman is a small town in central Gifu prefecture, at the confluence of the upper Nagara-gawa river and Yoshida-gawa river. The town is famous for its castle, originally built in 1559 and reconstructed in 1933...Read more
Gifu
Gifu Castle (© Wa-pedia.com)
very good Gifu is the capital of the prefecture of the same name. The city has played an important part in Japanese history thanks to its strategic location in central Honshū and as a post town on the Nakasendō highway between Kyōto and Edo. ...Read more
Nagoya
Nagoya Castle (© Wa-pedia.com)
outstanding Nagoya is Japan's fourth largest city. The local economy is dominated by Toyota, the car manufacturer, based in Toyota city, 15 km (10 miles) south-east of central Nagoya. Nagoya is also Japan's biggest producer of porcelain...Read more

Other attractions

outstanding Inuyama
very good Obama

Centre & North

Kanazawa
Kenroku-en Garden, Kanazawa
must-see The city of Kanazawa (pop. 439,000), sitting in between the Sai and Asano rivers, started its history about 500 years ago, when the Ikko sect of Buddhism established the Kanazawa Gobo temple on the site of the present castle...Read more
Shirakawa-gō & Gokayama
Shirakawa-gō
must-see Concealed in the midst of the Hida Mountains, the historic villages of Shirakawa-gō & Gokayama are like a time warp inside Japan's modernity, a place where secular architecture and traditions have resisted change for the...Read more
Takayama
Takayama (© Wa-pedia.com)
outstanding Takayama (pop. 95,000) is a well-preserved historical city in the heart of the Japanese Alps, ine one of central Japan's remotest regions. As the former castle town and largest population centre of the old Hida Province...Read more
Kiso Valley
Kiso Valley
outstanding The Kiso Valley is located in the mountainous region between Nagoya and Matsumoto. The road along the Kiso river was the central section of the 500 km long Nakasendō, one of the five routes connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo)...Read more

Other attractions

very good Kamikochi

East

Nagano
Zenko-ji Temple, Nagano (© Wa-pedia.com)
outstanding Nestled at the heart of the Japanese Alps, the city of Nagano (pop. 385,000) is famous around the world for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics. The surrounding country of the Nagano prefecture is renowned for apples, hot springs, hiking...Read more
Matsumoto
Matsumoto Castle (© Wa-pedia.com)
outstanding Matsumoto lies at the heart of the Japanese Alps and geographic center of Nagano prefecture, roughly halfway between Nagoya and Niigata on the JR Chuo Line. It is a convenient base for treks to the Hodaka-dake and Kamikochi...Read more
Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
must-see Snow-capped Mount Fuji (3776m) is the tallest and most famous mountain in Japan. It's almost perfectly symmetrical cone shape make it one of the most beautiful volcano in the world, and an indisputable symbol of Japan...Read more
Izu Peninsula
Coastal view of the Izu Peninsula
very good Located South-West of Tokyo and right South of Mount Fuji, the Izu Peninsula faces the Pacific ocean and is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Noted for its beautiful coastal scenery and hotspring resorts, it is popular with....Read more

Other attractions

very good Karuizawa
good Niigata
very good Sado Island

Wa-pedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

good : moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
very good : recommended - to visit if you have time
outstanding : outstanding place - really deserves to be seen
must-see : best of the country - shouldn't be missed
best in Europe : one of the world's great cities (beyond rating)

Natural attractions

good : interesting
very good : recommended
outstanding : highly recommended
must-see : world-class
※ : UNESCO World Heritage site UNESCO







               

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