Chūbu (中部) is the central region of Japan's Honshu island, located at the border between West Japan and East Japan. There are many high-altitude mountains, such as Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The food culture is different for each region.
Chubu means "middle region", reflecting its position straddling the two Japanese poles of Kansai and Kanto. Often ignored by foreign tourists, many of Chubu's best attractions are in the mountains, particularly Mount Fuji and the Japanese Alps.
The Chūbu region covers a large and geographically diverse area of Honshū, which leads to it generally being divided into three distinct subregions: Tōkai, Kōshin'etsu, and Hokuriku.
On the southern Pacific coast
Mostly urban sprawl around Nagoya
Home to the northern Japan Alps and many hot springs
Home to the famous Mount Fuji and the scenic Izu Peninsula
The northwest part of the Chubu region
Japan's dinosaur capital
Home to the historic city of Kanazawa
Home to mountainous scenery and one of Japan's largest Buddhas
The eastern part of the Chubu region
Famous for Koshihikari rice and sake
Prefecture famous for its winter skiing, the Olympics, and Matsumoto Castle
At the foothills of Mount Fuji
- 1 Nagoya - Chubu's largest city by far
- 2 Fukui - Castle ruins and historical Gardens in this under-visited city
- 3 Kanazawa - stylish historic city
- 4 Nagano - Japan's winter sports capital
- 5 Niigata - Major port city on the northern coast
- 6 Shizuoka - Medium sized city dating back to the Nara period
- 7 Toyama - Former castle town and centre for traditional medicine
- 8 Takayama - attractively preserved town and a good starting point for trips to the Japan Alps
- 9 Matsumoto - famous for its historic castle
- 1 Gero Onsen - one of Japan's Three Famous Hot Springs
- 2 Izu Peninsula - Area with hotsprings and beaches near Tokyo
- 3 Kamikochi - Beautiful mountainous resort that's closed in the winter
- 4 Kiso Valley - Valley with well-preserved post-towns
- 5 Mount Fuji - the world's most photographed mountain with great views from the Fuji Five Lakes
- 6 Oku-Hida Onsen Villages - 5 remote hamlets full of stunning scenery and some of Japan's best hot springs
- 7 Sado Island - place of exile home to gold mines and the yearly Earth Celebration
- 8 Shirakawa-go - a well-preserved historic village and World Heritage Site
- 9 Yuzawa - popular ski and hot spring resort, the setting of Yasunari Kawabata's Nobel Prize-winning Snow Country
There are many people who speak in each dialect in this area. For example, some Niigata people use ra instead of standard copula da such as ～raro instead of ～daro ("isn't it?"). Shizuoka people use ～dara instead of ～daro. In Ishikawa and Toyama, people use dara as an abuse word meaning "idiot".
Chubu Centrair International Airport, Japan's third major international gateway, is located on an artificial island 30 minutes south from Nagoya. Most larger cities around the region have airports, but they generally only serve domestic flights.
True to the name, the Tokaido Shinkansen bisects the southern Tokai region and connects Shizouka and Aichi with Tokyo and Kyoto by High-speed rail. Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa, can be reached from Tokyo by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. If accessing Niigata prefecture from Tokyo the Joetsu Shinkansen is your best bet. A couple non-bullet trains can be used to access Chubu. The most common non-shinkansen route is on the Thunderbird, limited express train connecting Kanazawa and Kyoto, the Hokuriku shinkansen will be extended to Tsuruga in 2022. If coming from Ise, Kintetsu Railway connects Ise with Nagoya by limited express train in 80 minutes. The Kumano region is connected with Nagoya by the Nanki limited express train. If accessing Niigata from the north the Uetsu line, connecting Niigata and Akita is your best bet.
A car ferry operated by Shin Nihonkai Ferry connects Tsuruga and Niigata to Akita in Tohoku and Tomakomai in Hokkaido runs once a week, along with that they also operate a ferry connecting Niigata to Otaru just east of Sapporo. Taiheiyo ferry connects Nagoya with Sendai and Tomakomai. Long Distance Journeys by ferry are much less efficient than the shinkansen and all of these routes take more than 18 hours however one may find them more comfortable and enjoyable than a train. Smaller ferries connect Toba in Mie prefecture with Tahara on the Atsumi Peninuesla. Tsu is also connected with Chubu Centrair International Airport by direct ferry. For those shorter routes the ferries are usually faster due to the indirect route that must be taken to travel overland and the slower trains in these areas. Ferries operate 4 times a day between Atami in Shizouka Prefecture and Izu Oshima, the largest of the Izu Islands.
For budget-conscious travellers, long-distance buses can function as cheaper alternative to trains and provide overnight accommodation for longer journeys to Chubu. Willer Express and Jr buses are the largest long-distance bus companies. The JR pass is not available on long-distance buses, but Willer Express offers a Japan Bus Pass that lasts for 3, 5 or 7 non-consecutive days. All major cities are served by long-distance buses from Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. Kanazawa, Toyama and Niigata also are served by direct buses from Sendai. Nagoya is the city in the region best connected by long-distance buses, these buses connect cities like Matsuyama, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Izumo and Sendai directly with Nagoya.
Like the rest of Japan trains are the primary method of travel around Chubu. There are three Shinkansen routes in Chubu, the Tokaido Shinkansen connects Aichi and Shizouka, the Joetsu Shinkansen provides access to Niigata but the Hokuriku Shinkansen is probably the most useful for travelling around Chubu as it connects Nagano to Kanazawa via Toyama. One should be aware that the Hokuriku Shinkansen's faster class, the Kagayaki requires reservations. The most useful non shinkansen route for travelling around Chubu is probably the Takayama main line which connects Nagoya to Toyama bisecting the region and serving Takayama, Gero and other tourist attractions. The largest private rail company in Chubu is Meitetsu who operates trains around Nagoya to various destinations such as Nagoya's Airport and Inuyama.
The main use of ferries in the Chubu region is access to Sado island, boats depart every three hours from Niigata to Ryotsu Port on the islands eastern side, from Joetsu boats depart to Ogi port on the western side of the Island twice daily. All ferries to Sado are operated by Sado Kisen. Also in Niigata prefecture, Awashima is connected to Murakami. Shin Nihonkai Ferry offers a car ferry from Tsuruga to Niigata (and continues to Akita and Hokkaido). There are also many ferries around the Izu Peninsula, Suruga ferries connects Shizouka and Toi and Tokai Kisen connects Atami to Itō and Inatori.
World heritage sites
- Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace - Part of the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining, Izunokuni
- Shirakawa-go and Gokayama - old farmouses that have been preserved, Shirakawa-go is the largest of the villages. Gokayama actually consists of two separate villages, Ainokura and Suganuma in Nanto, Toyama
- Mount Fuji While the mountain itself is included, the site is actually registered as a "cultural" listing consisting of more than 20 sites, including each of the Sengen Shrines around the mountain.
The Chubu region is home to 3 of the 12 original castles remaining in the country.
- Inuyama Castle Designated a National Treasure and one of the oldest castles in the nation
- Maruoka Castle Located in Sakai, it's a famous cherry blossom spot
- Matsumoto Castle An impressive black castle that sits in Matsumoto to the backdrop of the Japan Alps
- Nagoya Castle, Nagoya
- Okazaki Castle, Okazaki
- Kakegawa Castle, Kakegawa
- Hamamatsu Castle, Hamamatsu
- Gifu Castle, Gifu
- Ogaki Castle, Ogaki
- Gujo Hachiman Castle, Gujo
- Echizen Ono Castle, Ono
- Toyama Castle, Toyama
- Takada Castle, Joetsu
- Shibata Castle, Shibata
- Iwamura Castle, Ena
- Fukui Castle, Fukui
- Takaoka Castle, Takaoka
- Takato Castle, Ina
- Kasugayama Castle, Joetsu
- Kenrokuen Garden - One of the official Top 3 gardens in the nation, it has been a favorite for decades. (Kanazawa)
- Yokokan Garden - Part of the Matsudaira Clan's second home (Fukui)
- Shimizuen Garden (Shibata)
- Shiratori Garden - An oft-forgotten gem in the region's largest city (Nagoya)
- Zenkōji National Treasure, Nagano
- Eiheiji a quiet mountain temple where visitors can meditate Eiheiji
- Natadera a secluded temple in Komatsu
- Eihoji A National Treasure with a scenic garden (Tajimi)
Sengen Shrines are shrines associated with Mount Fuji, and although there are Sengen Shrines outside of the Chubu area, the top are only here in Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture around the mountain.
- Atsuta Shrine, home to one of Japan's three Imperial Regalia Nagoya
- Togakushi Shrine in Nagano
- Toyokawa Inari Shrine, one of that top Inari shrines Toyokawa
- Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, Shizuoka
Chubu is home to many of Japan's top museums, most notable is Kanazawa's 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, the most visited museum in Japan but the D.T. Suzuki Museum and the Kaga Honda Museum are are also worthwhile museums in Kanazawa. As the largest city in the region Nagoya has many museums mostly relating to its industrial history, the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology tells the story of Toyota's growth into the largest car company on earth and SCMAGLEV and Railway Park is one of Japan's top railway museums. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama is the largest dinosaur museum in Japan and a must-visit for any dino lover. The remote Chiune Sugihara Memorial Hall in Yaotsu commemorates Sugihara Chiune and the story of how he saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust.
- Winter sports - in the winter, cold, dry air from the Asian continent meets moist Pacific air, the result is a large amount of snow that falls in the Koshin'etsu district, also known as Snow Country (雪国 Yukiguni), since it receives some of the heaviest snowfall in Japan. This makes Chubu Japan's undisputed winter sports capital with attractions like Nagano, site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, and Yuzawa, easily reached from Tokyo.
- Hiking - the Japan Alps have some great hiking. Mount Fuji in Shizuoka is a symbol of Japan and a popular tourist attraction, both for viewing and climbing.
Chubu has a couple amusement parks but they are mostly centred around Nagoya, Legoland Japan serves as Nagoya's biggest theme park, despite not falling in Chubu Nagashima Spa Land serves as a popular day-trip from Nagoya and is home to the Steel Dragon 2000, the longest rollercoaster in the world. Chubu's most visited amusement park is Fuji-Q Highland in Fujiyoshida and one can view Mt. Fuji while riding a rollercoaster there. Most medium-sized cities will have their own amusement park and the theming can vary wildly from park to park.
Chubu has a wide variety of Onsens ranging from Onsens in the mountains of the Japans Alps to those found in multi-story bathouses. The most famous Onsen in Chubu is probably Yamanouchi where the hot-springs are not meant for humans but for monkeys instead, there is Shibu Onsen near the Monkey Park where humans can Bathe. The Japan alps is full of onsens with the Oku-hida region providing stunning views of the Japan Alps from an onsen. The fuji five lakes are perhaps the best place to view Mt. Fuji from an onsen yet it is overshadowed by Hakone in Kanto. There are also many urban onsen resorts like Gero Onsen, one of Japan's top 3 onsens and Kaga Onsen outside of Kanazawa.
Chubu's regions all have their local specialities, with the coastal regions specializing in seafood while the inland prefectures are renowned for their meat such as Hida Beef in Takayama, Jibuni (治部煮), duck stew in Kanazawa or Inago no Tsukudami (いなごの佃煮), grasshoppers grilled with sweet soy sauce in Nagano. Niigata is known for its high quality, Koshihikari rice. Some of the better known seafood dishes of the region are Hotaru ika (蛍烏賊. lit. "firefly squid") found in Toyama and Sushi is a staple of Kanazawa. Most areas in Chubu will have their speciality noodle, Nagano is famous for Togakushi Soba, one of Japan's top 3 sobas and Fukui specializes in Oroshi Soba. Yamanashi specializes in Udon, the two most famous style of udon in Yamanashi are Yoshida no Udon and Houtou, a stewed udon (though locals consider it a dumpling). Aichi is famous for its red miso which is placed on everything from Katsu to Udon, Okazaki outside of Nagoya produces Hatchō miso (八丁味噌) which was once served to Japan's emperors. Due to the large numbers of Ryokans in the region, high-class cuisine can be found in most towns, and they are also the best place to experience a traditional Japanese breakfast. In smaller towns a ryokan may be one of your only options for food.
Chubu is sake country and Niigata, renowned for its koshihikari rice, produces some of the best in the country including famous labels like Kubota (久保田), Koshinokanbai (越乃寒梅) and Hakkaisan (八海山). Nagano has over 80 sake breweries and Miyamanishiki rice which was first grown in Nagano now is the third most common type of rice for sake production. Tea is also popular in the region with Shizouka producing more the half of Japan's green tea, Kakegawa serves as the centre of tea in Shizouka. Despite not producing much tea, the traditional tea ceremony has long been integral to the culture of Ishikawa with it existing in the region since 1666 and Kanazawa's Higashi Chaya district has many operating teahouses. Like in most Japanese regions vending machines are common in Chubu and one can find a variety of Sodas in them. Major cities like Kanazawa and Nagoya will have many nightlife options but nightlife will be lacking in rural areas.