Chubu is the central region of Japan’s main island of Honshu, an area with such diversity of beautiful landscapes, rich culture, and incredible cuisine that it is nearly impossible to summarize in a few brief paragraphs.

For starters, Chubu boasts what is arguably the most beautiful and famous of all the views in Japan, those of Mt. Fuji. While Fuji-san itself is geographically split between Shizuoka Prefecture and Kanto’s Kanagawa Prefecture, many of its most picturesque views are from the nearby Chubu locations known as the “Five Fuji Lakes” 富士五湖 of Yamanashi Prefecture. This southern area of Chubu which contains Shizuoka, Yamanashi, and Aichi is well known for its agriculture, which includes green tea, fruits, and flowers. Yamanashi is also home to a wine industry that has been quietly thriving for over a hundred years.

Shizuoka’s Izu peninsula boasts azure seas and sandy beaches that are reminiscent of tropical islands, though it is barely 2 hours from Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train. Izu city is a popular getaway location near the ocean with plenty of onsen hot spring resorts to relax in. Along the interior of the peninsula are scenic roads and trails leading to dramatic waterfalls, while the western coast has dramatic rock formations that present spectacular landscape photography opportunities.

Aichi is probably best known as the home of Toyota, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, but the crown jewel of Aichi may soon be passed to the upcoming Ghibli Park, a theme park based on the beloved animated films of Japan’s Studio Ghibli to be opened in 2022.

Aichi Prefecture

Farther north, Gifu, and Mie Prefectures offer four seasons of outdoor adventure and fantastic beauty. In Gifu, take a cycling tour through rural villages or go trekking in the Takasu Mountains. In between, you can enjoy views of the Maruyama Terraced Rice Fields or hike along the Akame 48 waterfalls in the shade of the forest in Mie Prefecture. Mie also contains the most significant shrine in Japan, Ise Jinja.

Of course, there is no lack of choice for outdoor activities in Chubu. Next door to Gifu is Nagano Prefecture, containing the “Japanese Alps” and some of the finest ski resorts in central Japan. The Shinetsu Trail, considered the Appalachian Trail of Japan, runs along the mountain range from Nagano to Niigata and can be hiked in its entirety in less than a week. Farther south, the ancient Nakasendo Road offers a combination of natural beauty and well preserved Edo era historical sites.

Niigata Prefecture is also home to some fantastic ski resorts readily accessible from
Tokyo. It is also well known for its high-quality rice and rice products, including sake. Niigata is a popular destination in the summer. It hosts two of Japan’s favorite summer festivals, the Fuji Rock Music Festival and the Nagaoka Festival, one of Japan’s three largest fireworks displays.

Sharing Chubu’s Sea of Japan coastline is Toyama. Toyama Bay, with mountains rising from the edge of the sea, is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Further inland, Gokayama Village is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is a less visited alternative to the similar Shirakawa-go in Gifu, with its traditional Japanese architecture.

Neighboring Fukui Prefecture shares Toyama’s mountainous terrain, in which you can find numerous beautiful and mysterious historical sites like the lovely Eiheiji Temple where you can enjoy a traditional vegetarian meal prepared and eaten regularly by the temple monks.

The most famous city in this area is Kanazawa, the end of the Hokuriku Shinkansen train line in Ishikawa Prefecture. Kanazawa is home to Kenrokuen, one of the three finest Japanese gardens in the world and the Higashi Chaya district, a picture-perfect stone street lined with wooden shops and teahouses, some of which still host geisha entertaining their guests. Kanazawa is famous for gold-leafed crafts, and you can even try some foods decorated with edible gold leaf, like ice cream!

Ishikawa Prefecture

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