Central Japan

Central Japan includes prefectures such as Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu, Ishikawa, Toyama, Yamanashi and Nagano.

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21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

In contrast to Kanazawa’s traditional architecture, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a startlingly modern building housing an impressive collection of contemporary art by renowned Japanese and international artists. Although exhibitions change frequently, permanent installations by James Turrell, Leandro Elrich, and Florian Claar make the museum well worth visiting no matter what else…

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Amanemu

The newest addition to the Aman Resorts constellation, Amanemu embraces the ancient Japanese bathing tradition of onsen, using nutrient-rich thermal springs to provide a contemplative and restorative retreat set among serene natural surroundings. Perched on the rolling hills of Ise-Shima National Park in southwestern Japan, Amanemu is a hot-spring sanctuary overlooking the calm waters of…

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ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa

This mid-range hotel is situated conveniently close to the train station, and is ideally located in the tourism centre of the city. Comfortable, well-appointed twin and double rooms are available to choose from. The hotel boasts ample facilities for dining and relaxing, including Japanese and Chinese restaurants and a bar.

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Asadaya ryokan

Asadaya is more than 140 years old and the most famous ryokan in Kanazawa. It has only 5 elaborate rooms for guests in order to provide perfect services in accordance with the “sukiya” style of simplicity. Asadaya Ryokan is similar to a history or art museum, and has an excellent collection of sword guards from…

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Beniya Mukayu

Beniya Mukayu is a luxury ryokan spa retreat nestled in the countryside of Yamashiro Onsen. Its architecture elegantly emphasizes contrasts between light, shade and neutral colours and every room has its own private open-air hot spring bath, with a wonderful view of the authentic Japanese garden. The traditional tea ceremony performed by the owner, yoga…

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Best Western Hotel Takayama

Located in the heart of old Takayama, the Best Western Hotel Takayama is within walking distance of the train station, as well as being within easy reach of the most popular tourist sights: the jinya (an old government outpost in a beautiful building), sake breweries, morning markets and museums. Japanese and Western restaurants are conveniently…

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Cormorant Fishing

Although there are a few places where ukai or cormorant fishing is still done, that of the Nagara River in Gifu is by far the most famous. It has played a vital role in the city’s history and has evolved from a means to live, to a profitable industry, to a major tourist draw. It…

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Daien-in Temple

Centrally located, Daien-in temple is one of the oldest religious places in Koyasan. Originally named Tamon-in during the 10th century, the temple became famous for the statue of Amida Nyoria. Guests can attend the daily morning chanting Buddhist ceremony before eating a delicious vegetarian breakfast.

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Fudo-in Temple

One of Mt Koya’s smaller temples, Fudo-in is located between the Mt Koya Visitor Centre and Okuno-in Cemetery. The temple is well known for its refined, welcoming atmosphere and peaceful setting, which is perfect for meditating. Join the morning prayer service and enjoy delicious vegetarian meals.

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Fujioto Ryokan

Fujioto is, hands down, our favourite place to stay in the Kiso Valley. Conveniently located on the main road in historic Tsumago, this charming, family run ryokan provides friendly service and delicious traditional meals. As with all accommodation in the area, this is traditional Japanese style; rooms are spare and simple but the ancient wooden…

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Gifu

An historic city, Gifu is known as the ‘belly button of Japan’ due to its central location. Best known for the famous cormorant fishing which takes place on the Nagara river from May to October, other highlights include a reconstructed castle perched high atop Mt Kinka, one of Japan’s largest Great Buddhas and some very…

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Gifu Miyako Hotel

If you’re coming to visit Gifu, the Miyako Hotel is a great place to stay. The rooms here are all pretty spacious by Japanese standards and have great views of either the scenic Nagara River at the front of the hotel or the city and Memorial Center sports stadium to the rear. We particularly like…

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Gifu Tejikara Himatsuri Fire Festival

Gifu Tejikara Fire Festival

The Tejikara Fire Festival is held at Tejikara Shrine in Gifu City on the second Saturday of every April and is said to have a history of more than 300 years. Cascades of fire sparks rain down on men stripped to the waist who carry the portable shrine on their shoulders; great sprays of fire…

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Gold Leaf Atelier Visit

Gold-leaf is made by beating gold into an extremely thin sheet with a thickness of 0.1 to 0.125 millionths of a meter. It is so thin that it will disappear when you rub it with your fingers. The production of gold leaf started in Kanazawa at the end of the 16th century. The Maeda family,…

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Henjoson-in

Henjoson-in is a temple located beside Reihokan Hall and just in front of the lotus pond of the Garan. The temple’s 25 guest rooms provide customers with a TV, coffee and yukata. Hot spring baths are also on offer, including a herb bath. The dinner, served by local monks, is called ‘Shojin Ryori’ (vegan cuisine)….

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Higashi Chaya-gai

One of only three chaya-gai (geisha districts) in Japan to be listed as a cultural assets, Kanazawa’s Higashi Chaya has changed little since its heyday in the early 19th Century. Not only are the buildings a beautifully preserved remnant of the old Japan, geisha still live and work here, and occasionally can be seen out…

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Hongaku-in

Hongaku-in temple is surrounded by five unique gardens and is located at the centre of beautiful woodlands. Delicious ‘Shojin Ryori’ (vegan) meals are served when staying here and the temple is a good base from which to explore Mt Koya.

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Honjin Hiranoya Bekkan

Situated on the elegant Miya River, this characterful ryokan quietly sits by one of the town’s famous attractions, the red Nakabashi bridge. All rooms are furnished in traditional Japanese style, and you can enjoy their relaxing onsen baths as well as their seasonal cuisine. The ryokan reflects the rustic charm and peaceful ambience of the…

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Hotel Nikko Kanazawa

Hotel Nikko Kanazawa combines an elegant European atmosphere with the beauty of the four seasons. Being the tallest hotel in the Hokuriku area it features world-class views in an excellent location close to the station. After a day of sight-seeing, enjoy a meal in one of the unique restaurants of the hotel, or simply sit…

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Inuyama Castle

The main attraction of the small town of Inuyama near Nagoya is its historic castle. Built in 1537 and surviving all natural disasters, wars and ownership changes, it is known as the oldest castle in Japan and was designated as a National Treasure in 1952. It is also the only privately-owned castle in the country…

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Ise

Ise is known for its shrine, Ise-Jingu, one of Japan’s largest shrine complexes. The shrine dates back to the 3rd century, and comprises of the outer (Gekū) and inner shrine (Naikū). The Shinto tradition dictates that the shrine buildings are rebuilt every 20 years, as exact replicas of the original, using all the ancient construction…

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Ishikawa

Ishikawa is a prefecture in the Hokuriku area of central Japan, located on the Japan Sea coast. The prefecture’s capital and most famous city is Kanazawa, known for its stunning Kenrokuen Gardens. The northern part of the prefecture is the Noto Peninsula, a very scenic area of rugged coastlines and a lovely place to explore…

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Izu

The Izu Peninsula is a resort area popular for its hot springs, beautiful coastlines, beaches, mild climate and scenic mountainous interior. Only an hour or so southwest of Tokyo, its proximity to the capital makes the area a popular weekend getaway and Mount Fuji is only about 50 kilometers to the north and can be…

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Izu Atami Koarashitei

Located on a beautiful hill with a fantastic view of Sagami Bay and surrounded by the peaceful countryside, Atami Koarashitei is a lovely retreat from urban bustle. Guests can enjoy the beauty of the inner garden, relax in the hot-spring baths, and enjoy delicious kaiseki cuisine.

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Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum in Matsumoto is easy to miss: somewhat out of town and best reached by taxi or bus, but it is worth the trip. Now into its eight generation, the Sakai family has one of the largest best collections of ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) in Japan, some of them very famous, and some…

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Japanese Grand Prix

Mie Prefecture’s Suzuka Circuit is the home of the Japanese Grand Prix. Historically, Japan has been one of the last races of the F1 season, and as such the Japanese Grand Prix has been the venue for many title-deciding races, with 13 World Champions being crowned over the 30 World Championship Japanese Grands Prix that…

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Kaga Onsen

Kaga Onsen is a the name given to an area comprising four small hot spring towns about an hour south of Kanazawa. These hot springs have been popular onsen destinations since their discovery over 1300 years ago and are and remain popular onsen towns to this day. One notable aspect of Kaga Onsen’s hot spring…

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Kagetsutei

A traditional inn with a huge Japanese garden designed by a famous garden designer. All rooms have great views of the garden. Relax and feel at ease in the open-air bath that is directly connected to each room. The cuisine is seasonal, fresh and utterly delicious.

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Kamikochi

Kamikochi is a highland basin more than 2,000 metres above sea level in the centre of the Japan Alps. At the heart of the Chubu-Sangakku National park, it is of truly outstanding natural beauty, with verdant slopes reaching up into jagged peaks and clear blue rivers flowing over white stones. The area is home to…

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Kanazawa

Kanazawa, best known for the stunning Kenroku-en Gardens, is one of Japan’s best kept secrets. Ruled first by Buddhist monks and then by the powerful and wealthy Maeda clan, Kanazawa was once one of Japan’s richest cities. It was also one of only a handful of cities to escape damage during the Second World War,…

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Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel

Completely refurbished and reopened in 2015, this hotel has a lot going for it, but as a base for sightseeing in Kanazawa, its unbeatable location is what sets it apart. Kenrokuen Gardens, the city’s premier attraction, is under 10 minutes away on foot, it’s just 5 minutes to the Samurai Quarter and there are plenty…

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Kenrokuen Gardens

Listed as one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, Kenroku-en is often said to be the best of the three. Founded in the Edo period, and opened to the public in 1871, the garden now features ponds, hills, and a number of buildings and tea houses. Kenroku-en famously combines all six principles traditionally…

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Kiso Valley

The Nakasendo Road runs through the very centre of Japan, brushing the shoulders of the Japan Alps and winding along river valleys and over forested passes. The best preserved of the five Edo Period highways, the Nakasendo Road connected Kyoto and Tokyo. Long stretches, particularly in the more mountainous regions, remain very much as they…

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Korakuen Gardens

One of the three most famous gardens in Japan (the others being Kairaku-en in Mito and Kenroku-en in Kanazawa), Koraku-en looks very much now as it did on its completion in 1700. Open to the public since 1884, Koraku-en is full of gorgeous views, green lawns (a surprising and unusual feature in traditional Japanese gardens),…

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Kuwana

Kuwana is a smallish city located in northern Mie Prefecture, facing the Pacific Ocean. It is located at the mouth of the Kiso Three Rivers dividing Mie and Aichi Prefectures. Although the city doesn’t offer a lot of interest for foreign visitors, the nearby Nagashima Spaland is well worth a visit and if in the…

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Lamp no Yado

A luxury rural ‘sanctuary’ retreat located on the very tip of the Noto Peninsula, Lamp no Yado sits right beside the sea overlooking its very own private beach. Every room is Japanese style and has a private bath to relax in and take in the scenery. Lamp no Yado offers traditional dishes from fresh local…

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Magome

Over the pass from nearby Tsumago, the old post town of Magome is slightly larger, with a mix of new and old buildings away from the strictly traditional main street. There is little in the way of museums or sights, but it makes a wonderful place to wander and get your bearings before starting the…

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Matsumoto

Matsumoto’s key attraction is undoubtedly its superb 16th century castle. The main keep is the oldest in Japan, and visitors are welcome to wander the ancient building and see the elaborate architecture designed to protect the occupants from attack. The area around the castle is a pleasant mix of ancient and modern: beautifully restored buildings…

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Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s few original castles standing, and is, very justifiably, one of only four listed as national treasures. Of these, it is the second oldest. Known as the “Crow Castle” due to its unusual black colour, Matsumoto Castle was built during the late 16th century. The internal gun museum and an…

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Mie

Mie Prefecture is in the Tokai region in central Japan. It is the home of the most sacred shrines in Japan at Ise. Other places of interest in Mie include Nagashima Spaland, the Mikimoto Pearl Island, Toba Aquarium, the Meoto Iwa ‘married rocks’ (shown above) and Amanemu Resort.

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Mikimoto Pearl Island

Mikimoto Pearl Island is a small island located in Ise Bay, Mie Prefecture, which is known as the birthplace of cultured pearls. The island is run as a tourist attraction, with an excellent museum about pearls, pearl cultivation and Mikimoto Kokichi, the pioneer who first succeeded in cultivating pearls as well as holding shows featuring…

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Motoyu Ishiya

Located in Fukatani spa, a 400 year old castle town on the outskirts of Kanazawa, this long established ryokan has a history of over 200 years. The brown coloured water of the hot springs is well known for its medicinal properties and there is a beautiful traditional garden with a Noh stage. Meals are based…

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Nagamachi Samurai Quarter

Kanazawa’s old samurai district, Nagamachi is characterized by earthen walls which surround the historical residences. Many of the houses can be visited, and we particularly recommend the Nomura residence, which is now a museum and well known for its verdant garden, the Ashigaru Shiryokan Museum, which features reconstructed houses of samurai foot soldiers, and the…

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Nagano

The host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano city is surrounded by world-class ski slopes and breathtaking summer hiking. Nagano city grew up around the Zenkoji temple. Founded in the seventh century, this ancient place of worship holds a statue of Buddha which is said to be the first such effigy brought to Japan. Every…

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Nagara River Fireworks Displays

Fireworks enthusiasts in central Japan during the summer are in for a treat; the city of Gifu is host to two spectacular fireworks displays on consecutive weekends in the mid summer. On the last Saturday in July, The Chunichi Newspaper Nagara River All-Japan Fireworks Festival is held and the following weekend, on the first Saturday…

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Nagashima Spaland

Nagashima Spa Land is a large amusement park in Kuwana, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It has several roller coasters, thrill rides, and rides for smaller children, as well as a giant Ferris wheel, and a water park. The park is the among the most visited amusement parks in the world. Nagashima’s White Cyclone rollercoaster, at 1,700…

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Nagoya

One of the largest cities in Japan, Nagoya is a hub of industry and shipping most famous for being home to Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi. Nagoya’s starkly modern cityscape belies its historic origins as the castle town of Owari, an important centre of power in feudal Japan, housing one of the three main houses of…

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Nakasendo Way Hike

In the Edo Period (1603 – 1867), a trade route was developed between Edo (Tokyo) the new capital and Kyoto, the former capital. This route was known as the Nakasendo, the ‘Way through Mountains’ and today much of the original route remains and is a popular place to hike; either in its entirety or –…

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Noto Peninsula

The Noto Peninsula is a very scenic area in the northern part of Ishikawa Prefecture, best known for its coastal scenery. Because public transport in the area is limited, renting a car is the best way to explore.

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Onbashira

Onbashira is a festival held only once every six years in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano, Japan. The purpose of the festival is to symbolically renew the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine. “Onbashira” can be literally translated as “the honored pillars”. The Onbashira festival is reputed to have continued, uninterrupted, for 1200 years….

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Royal Park Hotel The Nagoya

Only a 5-minute walk from JR Nagoya Station, this hotel is conveniently located on Sakura Dori, in the heart of the city. The hotel has 153 rooms which are modern and comfortably appointed. The restaurant, Monsieur Itoh, on the 2nd floor, serves hearty lunches and casual dinners.

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Ryokan Asaba

This luxurious ryokan complex was first built in 1675, and despite its sleek modernized décor, it still retains a strong traditional Japanese aesthetic. The complex is surrounded by a bamboo forest and overlooks a vast pond, a beautiful setting in which guests can bathe, relax and eat freshly-prepared seasonal meals in perfect tranquility. Just across…

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Ryokan Tanabe

This traditional Japanese ryokan is located near Takayama rail station. Its interior was designed and equipped by local craftsmen. In the lounge, you can find a traditional hearth built into the floor. The ryokan’s two public baths (Rock Bath and Cypress bath) are filled with natural mineral water and they are definitely worth a try….

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Sanmachi Suji

San-machi Suji is the heart of Takayama’s old town, and the traditional houses lining the streets – many of which are open as museums – are well worth visiting. We particularly recommend the Takayama Yatai Kaikan (festival float museum) which houses the superb yatai between festivals. The old merchant houses of Yoshijima-ke and Kusakabe Mingeikan…

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SCMaglev and Railway Park

Located close to Kinjofuto Station, the terminal stop on the Aonami Line from Nagoya Station, the SCMaglev and Railway Park is operated by JR Central and teaches visitors about the development of high speed rail in Japan and displays a number of trains including steam locomotives from the past, world record setting bullet trains and…

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Sekisho-in Temple

The mountaintop settlement of Koyasan is one of the best places in Japan to stay overnight in a temple and experience Buddhist morning ceremonies. More than 100 temples surround the center of esoteric Shingon Buddhism, and some 50 temples open their doors to guests. A traditional vegetarian dinner is usually served in the temple at…

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Souji-in

With its roots in the 12th Century, Souji-in is a well established Koyasan temple and has been accepting guests since 1994. All rooms have a private Western style toilet and some have a private bathroom and unlike many Mt Koya temples, guestrooms also have air conditioners. Shojin ryori vegan meals will be served in your…

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Spa Hotel Alpina

Opened on September 9th, 2008, the SPA HOTEL ALPINA is a hotel that offers both the convenience of inns and motels and the luxury comfort of resort hotels. With a prime central location, a 3-minute walk from JR Takayama station and within 10 minutes to main tourist attractions, the hotel also features large natural hot…

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Tado Festival

The Tado Festival takes place every year during Golden Week on May 4th and 5th at Tado Shrine in the city of Kuwana, Mie Prefecture. The main event of the festival is a horse jumping event which features young horseback riders in samurai armor who must jump a horse up and over a three-meter hill….

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Takayama festival

A quiet mountain town much of the year, Takayama’s Spring and Autumn festivals are two of Japan’s best, and draw crowds of revellers from across the country and overseas. Like Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri, the Takayama Festival centers around a parade of elaborately decorated floats, which are brought through the old town’s narrow streets between the…

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Takayama Morning Markets

Takayama’s morning markets start at 6am in the summer months and an hour later in winter. There are two; the Jinya-mae Market in front of the Takayama Jinya and the Miya-gawa Market on the east bank of Miya River, between Kaji-bashi bridge and Yayoi-bashi bridge. The latter is more attractive and larger, but both have…

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Takayama Yatai Kaikan

The huge, majestic and ornate floats used in the Takayama Festival are stored away for the rest of the year and at any one time, four of the 11 floats can be seen at the Takayama Yatai Kaikan. The actual floats on display change throughout the year so that visitors can see the entire collection….

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Takayama’s Sake Breweries

Takayama’s clear mountain water and high quality rice are the perfect combination for brewing sake, (nihon-shu in Japanese). The breweries on San-machi Suji can be easily identified by their traditional sugidama (balls of cedar leaves). Although special tasting events are only available over the winter months, all breweries will willingly loan you an o-choko (the…

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Takitei Ryokan

A traditional ryokan located upstream of the Saigawa River in central Kanazawa, Takitei is surrounded by the crystal clear river and rich natural environment, allowing guests to escape their daily lives and enjoy a truly relaxing time. The ryokan is located only 15 minutes from Kenrokuen Gardens, making it an ideal place to stay in…

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The Marriott Associa Hotel

Located immediately above Nagoya station, Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel is unbeatable in convenience. This luxury hotel offers a fitness club, designed with an Aegean motif, an exercise area and the latest relaxation facilities, including a thermarium and “warm room“, as well as a range of restaurants including French, Chinese, Teppan-yaki, California Grill. The Nagoya Marriott…

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Toba Aquarium

Toba Aquarium is located on the waterfront of Toba Bay, close to the Mikimoto Pearl Island. The aquarium holds one of the largest collections of aquatic life in the country, spread out over twelve separate zones. There is no specific route to follow in the aquarium, and visitors can navigate the twelve zones freely. Animal…

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Tokugawa Art Museum

A private museum housing the hereditary collection of the Owari branch of the Tokugawa clan, a family whose members ruled Japan as Shoguns from 1603 to 1867. The collection contains more than 12,000 items, including swords, armour, Noh costumes and masks, lacquerware, furniture, Chinese and Japanese ceramics, calligraphy, and paintings. The most important and valuable…

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Toyota Factory & Museum Tour

Based in Toyota City near Nagoya, the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall features exhibits and audio-visual presentations that illustrate Toyota’s vision of enriching society through car manufacturing, and of the auto maker’s history, as well as its most advanced car manufacturing technologies. The Factory Tour includes visits to the Assembly Shop & Engine Plant, which allows…

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Tsumago

Tsumago, once just another post town on the Nakasendo road, is now the most famous of a handful of well preserved villages along the Kiso Valley stretch of the ancient highway. The town itself is most pleasant early in the morning or after the tourist buses (which park outside the pedestrian-only town) have left for…

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Wanosato Ryokan

This luxurious ryokan has only eight Japanese-style rooms, which makes for a pleasant, intimate atmosphere that some larger properties lack. The thatched roofs of the former farmhouses and large gardens help to create a peaceful ambiance for guests, echoing the architectural style of the nearby Shirakawa-go folk village. All of the rooms have private toilets…

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Yamanashi

Yamanashi is a landlocked prefecture west of Tokyo in the Chubu Region. The northern half of Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes region are located in Yamanashi Prefecture.

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