Japan: A Closer Look at Chubu Part 2

Dec 15th, 2008 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Regional Travel Resources

Ishikawa, Nagano and Niigata Prefectures are just three of the nine prefectures that make up the Chubu region of Japan and are the subject of A Closer Look at Chubu Part 2.  Last week we took a closer look at Aichi, Fukui & Gifu Prefectures and Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi will round out our closer look at the region.  If you are planning a trip to Chubu take some time to explore some of these resources by prefecture:

Ishikawa Prefecture

Semada Rice Fields, Ishikawa, JapanIshikawa Prefecture combines the beauty of rugged mountains with lush plains and extendw along the Sea of Japan.  The capital of Ishikawa, Kanazawa, is one of the few great castle towns of Japan that was spared wartime damage.  The city hosts over 7 million visitors each year  and is home to many historic sites.

Download a tourist map of Kanazawa, make a reservation on one of two Kanazawa sightseeing busses or plan on seeing some of these sights independently:

In the Kaga/Hakusan area, visit Hakusan National Park, known for being one of the 3 most famous mountains in Japan along with Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tateyama.

In the Noto area of Ishikawa, visit the steeply sloped and picturesque Senmaida Rice Fields or drive your car along 8 kilometers of sandy Chirihama Beach at sunset.

Explore more of Ishikawa with itineraries suggested by the Ishikawa Tourism Guide.

Nagano Prefecture

Home to vistas of the Japanese Alps and often referred to as the “roof of Japan”, Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and it’s prefectual capital, Nagano City, is situated closely to the geographic center of Japan and only two and a half hours from Tokyo by limited express train.

Visits the castle town of Matsumoto to visit their famous sake breweries.

Take a short walk or a long hike around Utsukushigahara Heights which literally translated means beautiful plateau, and take in the 360 degree view of the mountains on the horizon.

Explore the Hachibuse mountain bike trail (1928 Meter elevation) or add hikes around Matsumoto to your itinerary.

Take in the Saito Kinen Festival (classical & chamber music) in August.

Ski, hike, golf or just relax at Nozawa Onsen, a place that boasts of a history dating back to the 11th century.

Attend the Dosojin Fire Festival each January where prayers for a plentiful harvest, health and good fortune in the coming year are consecrated by the burning of an 18 meter tall shaden (shrine) that is built by residents and blessed by a Shinto Priest.

Visit Zenko-ji Temple, the third largest wooden structure in Japan, where you can experience going through the ordination platform designed to be used during the ordination rites of priests and into a dark tunnel that is said to be home to the key to paradise.

Stroll along the stone paved slopes of Kiso to see historic homes from the Edo Period.

Kiso Japan

Learn more about what to do and see in Nagano at the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) website.

Niigata Prefecture

Niigata Japan Winter Niigata prefecture borders the Sea of Japan and has been home to thriving seaports since the Edo Period.  The area is famous for it’s onsen, winter sports and sake.

Learn about the history and culture of the port town and prefetural capital, Niigata City, at the Niigata City Museum.

See a Noh play , visit the Sado Gold Mine, learn how to maneuver a traditional Bunya Puppet or play Taiko Drums on picturesque Sado Island.   The island is home to many great eventsmuseums, and temples.

Visit the Yakiho Village, the shrine of the same name encompasses 13 hectares of land and is home to the Bridge for Gods (Tamanohashi Bridge).  Take the Yahiko-yama ropeway to the top of Mt. Yakiko (638 meters) and stand on the 100 meter rotating observatory to see a 360 degree view of the area, including Sado Island, or visit Yahiko park with its beautiful cherry blossom in the spring or it’s stunning color in autumn.

Visit Yuzawa Town in the Japanese Alps for winter sports, summer hiking, fishing & golf or visit the Yuzawa town onsen (hot springs) year round.

Take of the the recommended tour courses, review the Niigata seasonal tourist information or browse through the Niigata Guide to make the most of your visit to Niigata prefecture.

Odd Facts & Trivia

The Hokuriku Shinkansen (a high-speed railway line) from Tokyo to Kanazawa will come in operation in 2014.

An old belief in Japan dictates that, for men, the ages of twenty-five and forty-two are unlucky.

The longest river in Japan, the Shinano-gawa River (367 kilometers long) runs through in Niigata prefecture.

Chubu Trip Planning

Visit the Chubu Area Tourism Portal to learn about more great things to do and see in the region and to review the ten thrilling scenic sites of Chubu.

Articles in the Japan: A Closer Look series:

Image Credit:  Flickr, 20080813 Yotsuya 6, IMG_0651 edit & Niigata Ski Trip 2006

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  1. I’m a big fan of Nagano prefecture as you can imagine :-)

    The Hokuriku Shinkansen actually already runs from Tokyo to Nagano (there’s some confusion over the name - you’ll see it referred to as the Nagano Shinkansen as well. It’s the extension from Nagano through to Kanazawa and beyond that is due to complete in 2014). It takes about 85 minutes, so a great way to get up there in a hurry!

  2. […] area.  We’ve already taken a closer look at Aichi, Fukui & Gifu Prefectures as well as Ishikawa, Nagano & Niigata Prefectures.  If you are planning a trip to Chubu take some time to explore some of these resources organized […]

  3. Thumbs up for Kanazawa! A very special place for me in Japan.

  4. […] photographer Chris shares this stunning image of Mt. Yari from Mt Washiba in Nagano, located in the Chubu Region of Japan.  He’s an avid hiker and mountain climber when he’s not working at a hedge fund in […]

  5. […] William Weston, the 19th Century missionary, coined the term “the Japan Alps” to describe the ranges that run across the center of Honshu, Japan’s largest island, and they remain the mecca for many of those seeking Japan’s highest points. The Alps are subdivided into three, the Northern, Central and Southern ranges, with the majority lying within the borders of Nagano prefecture in the Chubu Region of Japan. […]

  6. […] take place from July 24th through the 26th at Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, part of the Chubu region of Japan.  The original festival was held near Mt. Fuji in 1997 and retained the name despite moving to […]

  7. […] about more things to do and see in the region by reading Japan: A Closer Look at Chubu Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 and keep reading The Nihon Sun to see our closer look at Kansai coming […]

  8. […] equally impressive performance look for outdoor events like those performed on Sado Island in the Chubu Region of Japan or the annual performance in the garden adjacent to Osaka Castle.  This year features a Noh play […]

  9. […] in the Chubu region of Japan, Ryumyoji Town in Ishikawa Prefecture is home to a paradox of peaceful prayer and images of […]

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