The Japan Alps and the North Chubu Coast: Places to Explore


  • Fukui

    Fukui, the capital city of the small eponymous prefecture on the Sea of Japan, doesn't have much to draw foreign visitors beyond amazing seafood and remarkably friendly local residents, but it's a convenient... Read more

  • Hakuba

    In the northwestern part of Nagano Prefecture, Hakuba Village lies beneath the magnificent Hakuba Range, the best of the northern Japan Alps. Hakuba means "white horse," because the main peak, Mt. Shirouma-dake... Read more

  • Kamikochi

    The incomparably scenic route from Matsumoto to Takayama winds over the mountains and through Chubu-Sangaku National Park (Chubu-Sangaku Kokuritsu Koen) via Kamikochi. Travel is only possible after the... Read more

  • Kanazawa

    Twenty-first-century Kanazawa presents an extraordinary union of unblemished Old Japan and a modern, trendsetting city. More than 300 years of history have been preserved in the earthen walls and flowing... Read more

  • Karuizawa

    When Archdeacon A.C. Shaw, an English prelate, built his summer villa here in 1886 at the foot of Mt. Asama in southeastern Nagano Prefecture, he sparked the interest of fashionable, affluent Tokyoites... Read more

  • Kiso Valley

    This deep and narrow valley is cut by the Kiso River and walled in by the central Alps to the east and the northern Alps to the west. From 1603 to 1867 the area was called Nakasendo (center highway), because... Read more

  • Matsumoto

    Snowcapped peaks surround the old castle town of Matsumoto, where the air is cool and dry on the alpine plateau. More interesting and picturesque than Nagano, this gateway to the northern Alps is one of... Read more

  • Nagano and Environs

    Nagano Prefecture is called the "Roof of Japan," home to the northern, central, and southern Japan Alps and six national parks that offer year-round recreational activities. Active volcanoes include Mt... Read more

  • Niigata

    The coast between Kurobe and Niigata is flat and not so interesting. Two towns along the way, Naoetsu and Teradomari, serve as ferry ports to Ogi and Akadomari, respectively, on Sado-ga-shima. From Niigata... Read more

  • Noto-hanto (Noto Peninsula)

    Thought to be named after an Ainu (indigenous Japanese) word for "nose," the Noto-hanto, a national park, juts out into the Nihon-kai and shelters the bays of both Nanao and Toyama. Steep, densely forested... Read more

  • Sado Island (Sado-ga-shima)

    Sado is known as much for its unblemished natural beauty as for its melancholy history. Revolutionary intellectuals, such as the Buddhist monk Nichiren, were banished to Sado to endure harsh exile as punishment... Read more

  • Shirakawa-go

    It's speculated that the Shirawaka-go area—and particularly Ogi-machi, an Edo-era hamlet deep within, was originally populated by survivors of the powerful Taira family, who were nearly killed off in the... Read more

  • Takayama

    Originally called Hida, Takayama is a tranquil town whose rustic charms are the result of hundreds of years of peaceful isolation in the Hida Mountains. Downtown, shops and restaurants mingle with museums... Read more

  • Toyama

    Busy, industrial Toyama is beautified by Toyama-joshi Koen (Toyama Castle Park), a spread of greenery with a reconstructed version of the original 1532 castle. Toyama Bay is the habitat of the glowing... Read more