Chūbu – general information –
The Chūbu region (中部, central part), as the name suggests, occupies the central portion of Japan’s main island, Honshū. This region, very heterogeneous, is home to the highest and most imposing mountains of Japan, starting from Mount Fuji, to go to the Japanese Alps, some of whose peaks exceed 3 thousand meters. The prefectures that make up this region are: Aichi, Gifu, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka and Yamanashi. According to some classifications, the three prefectures of the Hokuriku region are also part of the Chūbu, but on our site we preferred to treat them in a different page.
Often just a transit point while moving from Tokyo to the Kansai area, the Chūbu has many attractions worthy of a few days of visit.
Aichi, the prefecture that hosts Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan (after Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka) is Japan’s leading manufacturing hub, also thanks to the Toyota headquarters. In the city, worthy of note are the castle, which although it has not arrived in its original form to us, has a certain grandeur (at the time when we write the page, it has just begun a restructuring phase of a few years). North of the prefecture, you can find the town of Inuyama, this one with an authentic castle with wooden interiors, and Meiji-mura, a theme park that recreates the atmosphere of the Japan of 150 years ago.
Gifu, north of Aichi, is home to a number of ancient spa towns, such as Gero Onsen, Gujo Onsen, and to the north, two of the most popular destinations in recent years, namely Shirakawa-go, the UNESCO heritage village with houses with roofs of paglia, and Hida-Takayama, also famous for the homonymous matsuri that is celebrated in the summer.
Nagano instead, considered by many as the Switzerland of Japan, is practically covered by the Japanese Alps, and here you can find refreshment in the hot summer months, for example in Kamikochi, for walks in the woods or, again, visit the incredible Matsumoto castle, or wander around the Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano, the city of the Winter Olympics in 1998. If you go in the winter, do not miss the famous monkeys enjoying the thermal waters at Jigokudani, as well as mountains perfect for winter sports, such as Hakuba and Madarao.
Shizuoka Prefecture extends along the Pacific Ocean. Start with the Izu Peninsula, where you can see early spring cherry blossoms in Kawazu, while in summer at Shimoda Beach you can find clear water for a pleasant day, or a seaside weekend from Tokyo. To the north, Mount Fuji shows its profile on the clear days of the cold months, and in summer it is possible to climb it. In the central area of the prefecture, between Kakegawa and Shimada tea cultivations are spread among the most valuable in the country.
Above Shizuoka, Yamanashi prefecture, landlocked, shares Mount Fuji with the former, and among other attractions, in autumn you can visit some picturesque looking valleys and gorges, like Shōsenkyō, or take a ride between Kobuchizawa and Komoro (Nagano) on the Koumi line, the highest railway in Japan. Finally, thanks to the particular microclimate, Yamanashi is a great producer of grapes, and also of wine, which in recent years is reaching excellent levels of sophistication.
Finally, the prefecture of Niigata, which goes a long way to the north, along the Sea of Japan. Off the capital city you will find the island of Sado, the fifth biggest in the country, with rural landscapes and a beautiful coastline. Returning to the mainland, the Yahiko Shrine has been revered as a sacred place since ancient times, and finally, thanks to the extensive surface of the region, Niigata is known throughout the country as one of the main producers of rice. This, combined with fresh fish from the cold seas of the north, and the renowned local production of sake, makes Niigata an excellent destination for the foodies.