Chubu, Japan is a large region located in the middle of East and West Japan and is most famous for the Japanese Alps and Mount Fuji. The region has many coastal prefectures, and is situated with the Sea of Japan in the north and the Philippine Sea in the south, allowing for the region as a whole to be quite diverse in regards to history and culture.
The climate in Chubu tends to be hot, humid, and rainy in the summers, especially in July and August. Chubu is a great area for winter sports as the weather tends to stay between 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit from November through February.
Many cities in the Chubu region have preserved their history well, especially the city of Hida-Takayama, also known as just Takayama. Here, you'll find the Sanmachi area located in the old town where you can tour old merchant houses and peruse the sake breweries and boutiques. In Kanazawa, there is the beautiful Kenroku-en Garden which is considered to be one of Japan's top three gardens due to it's beautiful traditional Japanese strolling garden design and the castle and moat located in the center of it.
In Shizuoka, you'll find incredible scenery at the Miho no Matsubara which is covered with pine trees and provides views of Mount Fuji on clear days. You can enjoy a tour around the gorgeous Nagoya Castle in the city of Nagoya, which is famous for the two golden carp situated on the roof.
The region of Chubu is so large that it is split into three sections: Tokai in the southern Pacific coast, Hokuriku in the northwest, and Koshin'etsu in the east. Within these three regions, there are ten major cities: Hida-Takayama, Inuyama, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Nagano, Nagoya, Niigata, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, and Toyama.
Hida-Takayama is a small city with a traditional Edo layout and is most famous for the Hida Folk Village, an open air museum made from the original buildings in the town. Inuyama is home to Inuyama Castle, which you can visit and see the original architecture from 1537. Matsumoto has one of the top three castles in Japan, Matsumoto Castle, which was built in 1614. Kanazawa is often considered a hidden gem where you can explore the history of samurai and geisha.
Nagano is considered to be Japan's winter sports capital as it hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. Nagoya is a very large city and the hub of large auto manufacturers, and also known for the Port of Nagoya Aquarium. Niigata is a large coastal city and is known for producing high quality rice and sake.
Hamamatsu is a vital industrial hub and flawlessly combines modern skyscrapers with ancient, traditional, castles. Shizuoka is a low-key city best known for their stunning scenic views of mount Fuji. Toyama is famous for Gohyaku-rakan, or the "Hills of 500 Buddhas", where there are hundreds of Buddha statues ordained with ribbons.
The most popular activities in Chubu are winter sports on the Japanese Alps or hiking Mount Fuji. There are also many festivals, including the Owara Dance Festival in Toyama where dancers fill the streets and perform traditional dances. Nagano hosts the Binzuru festival in summer which includes over 200 groups who walk and dance through the streets, all leading to the Binzuru statue which the rub for good luck.
Food and Dining
Each area of Chubu has their own local specialties, with coastal cities being known for their fish, such as the Hotaru ika, or firefly squid, that you can get in Toyama. You'll find a lot of miso, fermented bean paste, dishes in Nagano and in Matsumoto, you can try their famous soba noodles. Near Matsumoto is the world's largest wasabi farm, so don't miss out on adding a bit of wasabi to your soba dish. The Chubu region is considered sake country, with many distilleries scattered throughout. You can tour a distillery or just head to a local bar to sample their specialty.
The Chubu region is fairly easy to navigate, with a mix of both large and small airports throughout the region and the Tokaido Shinkansen train line that goes through almost all of Chubu. There are local buses, trains, and monorails in many of the cities, though most are small enough that you can go by foot or even by bicycle. Having a car may cause more of a headache due to limited parking in many cities and the small, rural roads that make navigating difficult.
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