CENTRAL JAPAN: Awesome 5-Day Itinerary to Explore Central Japan! (Day 1-2)



Central Japan, the old country, has so much more to offer than the famed Shirakawago UNESCO Heritage Site, 400-year-old Matsumoto Castle, and the dazzling Snow Wall of Kurobe Alpine Route.

Discover Central Japan as you’ll find beautiful fields of tulips, fun activities like food replica and soba making workshops and trying out fantastic food like first-class Japanese Hida Beef and affordable Michelin grade sushi– Central Japan has something for everyone!

Here’s a sample 5-day itinerary to make the most of your trip to Central Japan…


Central Japan Blog Series

CENTRAL JAPAN: 5-Day Sample Itinerary! (Day 1-2)
 CENTRAL JAPAN: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route & Toyama Bay Sushi! (Day 3-4)
 CENTRAL JAPAN: Nagano’s Matsumoto Castle & Soba Making Workshop! (Day 5)

 MY WAX TEMPURA: Food Sample Workshop in Gujo City!
 TONAMI TULIP GALLERY: The World’s Only Tulip Garden Where It Blooms All Year Round!
 SHIRAKAWA-GO: The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō!

Central Japan

We took the “Shoryudo” also known as the dragon route that takes the shape of a dragon, which ascends into the sky from Nagoya and cuts through the middle of the Japanese archipelago.



Day 1 (Flight from Manila to Nagoya):
5:35                   Arrival to Centrair Nagoya
(*Nagoya ->Gujo City)
8:50 – 11:00     Tour the Old Streets of Gujo Hachiman
11:45 12:45       Lunch
12:50 14:00      Experience making food replicas at Sample Kobe
14:45 15:40       Tour Bokka no Sato Amusement Park
(*Gujo City ->Takayama City)
17:00                 Check in Hida Hotel Plaza
19:00                 Kaiseki dinner at Hida Hotel Plaza

Day 2 (Takayama-Tonami-Kurobe)
8:30                  Check out from hotel
8:45                  Takayama City ( Morning Market, Sanmachi etc,)
11:00-12:00     Lunch
13:00 – 14:00  Shirakawa Village (World Heritage Site)
(* Takayama -> Tonami City)
15:15 16:00      Experience Shogawa Pleasure Boat
16:30 17:30      Tour Tonami Tulip Gallery
(*Tonami City -> Kurobe City)
18:40                 Check in Unazuki Suginoi Hotel


Day 3 (Kurobe -> Toyama)
7:15                   Check out after Breakfast
7:30                   Kurobe Gorge(train)
12:30                 Lunch at Shinminato KitoKito Market
(*Imizu City -> Takoaka City)
16:30 17:00      Tour Kanaya-machi (Rows of latticed houses)
17:50 18:20      Tour Fugan Canal Kansui Park
18:30                 Check in Toyama Dai-ichi Hotel
19:20                  Dinner: Toyama Bay Sushi


Day 4 (Toyama City-Azumi City-Matsumoto)
8:00                      Check out after Breakfast
8:52-10:01     Toyama station~Tateyama station (train to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route )
10:20-10:27   Tateyama~Bijodaira(cable car)
11:00-11:50    Bijodaira~Murodo(bus)
13:00-13:10   Murodo~Daikanbo(bus)Lunch Time
13:20-1327    Daikanbo~Kurobedaira(ropeway) (Tour the Snow Wall)
13:40-13:45   Kurobedaira~Kurobeko(Cable car) (Tour Kurobe Dam)
13:45-14:21        Kurobe DAm~Ogisawa(bus)
(*Toyama->Azumino City)
15:50 17:00           Tour Daio Wasabi Farm
(Azumino ->Matsumoto City)
17:30                      Check in at Hotel Buena Vista Matsumoto

Day 5 (Matsumoto City -> Nagoya)
8:00                        Check out after Breakfast
8:10 10:10              Tour Matsumoto Castle, Nawate Street, and Nakamachi Street
(*Matsuoto->Ina City)
11:00                       Experience Workshops for soba making (Mirahashi Farm)
12:00                      Lunch at Farm Restaurant Tomato no Ki
(Ina City ->Nagoya City)
16:30                       Shopping around Nagoya Station
18:00                      Check in at Tokyu Rei Hotel


Day 6 (Nagoya -> Mnl)
5:50                       Check out
6:05                       Bus Travel to Chubu Central International Airport from Meitetsu Bus Center
7:48                       Arrival at Chubu Central International Airport



Day 1 (Flight from Manila to Nagoya):


The tour starts with our arrival at Central Japan International Airport. Nicknamed as “Centrair,” the award-winning airport was crowned the best regional airport in the country. Besides functioning as an airport, the facilities include favorite local restaurants, duty-free shopping, souvenir shops, tourist information centers, bathhouses and even an impressive viewing deck where you can watch the arrival and departure of the planes.

Chubu Central Air International Airport, Nagoya
Website: www.centrair.jp/en/


Tour the Old Streets of Gujo Hachiman (郡上八幡)

Central Japan

Gujo-Hachiman is a small riverside town that preserves unique traditional Japanese culture famous for its pristine waterways and canals, summer dance festivals and food replica items.

The town was founded in the 16th century following the construction of Hachiman Castle.


Central JapanThe town is known for the longest dance festival in Japan where they dance all night from the 13th to 16th of August. You can feel the beat of Gujo Odori Dance at the Gujo Hachiman Hakuran-kun museum where you can begin a walking tour of the town.

At the museum dancers wearing authentic yukata perform along with the guest teaching them basic steps from the Gujo Odori Dance Festival.

Admission: Adult 520 yen, Child 310 Yen


Central Japan

Among the popular sites in town is the Sogu-sui, a hut built on a clear spring by the poet Sogi where he stayed there for three years.


Food Replica Workshop

Gujo City: Food Replica Workshop

Delicious-looking, life-like ramen, sushi, steak, and beer. Have you ever noticed food replicas of these things on display while walking along restaurants and shops in Japan? It’s said that 60% of these replicas are made here in Gujo City.


Gujo City: Food Replica Workshop

At Sample Kobe, visitors can get a first-hand experience of watching artisans make food models and also try creating one of their own! It’s a fun, affordable experience and a great souvenir you can take home to your family and friends!


Gujo City: Food Replica Workshop

Known in Japan as sampuru サンプル or “sample”, these wax or plastic representations of dishes often found in many restaurants in Japan are used to entice customers.
It has been around for nearly a decade, and Gujo Hachiman makes the majority of food samples in Japan and is considered as the local industry representative of the region.

Here’s a photo essay of our food sample making workshop…

Sample Kobe
956 Hashimoto cho, Hagimachi cho, Gifu Prefecture
Opening Hours: 9 am – 5 pm (Closed: Thursday)
Contact: 0575-67-1870
Website: www.samplekobo.com

Read more: MY WAX TEMPURA: Food Sample Workshop in Gujo City!



Bokko no Sato (Theme Park)

Bokko No Sato
Bokka No Sato is an amusement park with a farm and huge fields of flowers from lavenders, tulips, and kokias. Visitors can arrange hands-on activities like dairy farming, wood craft or just relax in idyllic highlands surrounded by the lush greenery.


Central Japan

You can enjoy various flowers blooming inside the 1,000m park and have a good time petting with many animals.


Central Japan

They have specialized whipped soft cream including this yummy lavender flavor treat!

Tip: Make sure to check which flowers are on season before you make your trip.

Boko No Satto
2756-2 Washimi, takasu-cho, Gujo-shi, Gifu
Tel: 0575-73-2888
Website: www.bokka.co.jp

Admission: 670 yen


What to Eat:

Vegetable Tempura

Central Japan

The region is blessed with a wonderful climate, fresh air and clean bodies of water that makes the regions ingredient delicious and unique.

Tempura is a popular Japanese style of frying food covered in a batter commonly prepared with vegetables and seafood. Tempura is usually eaten with ‘ten-tsuyu’ (a dipping sauce made with dashi soup stock, soy sauce, and mirin), but because the ingredients are so fresh, they just sprinkle salt to highlight the flavors.


Hida Beef

Central Japan

It was my first time trying this first-class Japanese Hida Beef! Melt in your mouth fatty goodness that is said to rival Kobe and Matsuzaka that is raised here in the Gifu Prefecture!

Hida beef is a top brand of wagyu that comes from a Japanese black cattle fattened up for 14-months producing this beautiful mesh of marbling tender meat.


Central Japan

I suggest you dine at a restaurant who specializes in preparing this type of meat. We had ours is sukiyaki style at Hida Hotel Plaza.


Where to Stay:

Central Japan

Hida Plaza Hotel is a landmark resort in Takayama surrounding itself with a natural scenery and a backdrop of the Japan Alps. The 13-story building offers kaiseki dining, western and Japanese style rooms as well as an indoor and outdoor hot spring baths.

One of the advantages of Hida Hotel Plaza is its ideal location, right in the center of Takayama. Most tourist attractions, such as the old streets of Takayama, the Higashiyama Walking Course, the morning market along the Miyagawa River, the Hida Kokubunji Temple, and the Takayama Jinya (a historical government house), are within a 15-minute walk from the hotel.

Hida Hotel Plaza
2-60 Hanoaka-cho, 2 Chrome Hanoakamachi, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture
Tel: 81-577-33-4600
Website: www.hida-hotelplaza.co.jp/



Day 2 (Takayama-Tonami-Kurobe):

Takayama Old Town

Central Japan

Old Town was a flourishing town since Takayama Jinya was established more than 300 years ago.

Takayama nicknamed as “Little Kyoto,” is a historical street that was once a thriving merchant area filled with lattice windows, sake shops, waterways and traditional houses that are still carefully preserved.


Central Japan

Old Town is 10-minutes away from Takayama Station. If you want to explore the towns museum, restaurants and shops, I suggest you alot 3-hours for the walking tour.

Only sustainable architecture with black and brown color is permitted to built and renovated, so it will not ruin the harmony of the place.

Fun Fact: Some of the houses used high-grade timber such as cyprus, cedar, and other trees though it was legally prohibited and covered them with soot so officials wouldn’t find out.


Central Japan

The main attraction of Takayama is the gorgeous beautifully decorated floats which integrate both traditional culture and new technology. Takayama Spring Festival is an annual festival of Hie Jinja Shrine, the guardian deity of the southern half of the old Takayama castle town.The Gojunko Procession departs from Hie Jinjia Shrine on April 14 and weaves around town and returns home the following day.


What to Buy:

Central Japan

Sarubobo Doll is a traditional Hida Doll made from a red material called “Sarubobo” meaning red monkey.

Tip: It is a local charm known for easy child birth or safety from devils.


Central Japan

Good sake is produced in cold areas and since Takeyama is blessed with good weather, water, and rice that are sustainable for high-quality sake brewing.


Central Japan

Matsumoto City is the largest miso production site in the prefecture producing 30% or more of all Japan’s miso.

Shinsu Miso is a paste made of fermented soybean used in a variety of dishes mainly soup. It’s believed that miso help reduces cancer and slows down aging.


Central Japan

Tip: I heard the Hida beef buns and sashimi are good!


Shirakawa-gō (白川郷)


Shirakawa-gō (白川郷) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the highest number of gasshō-zukuri style houses located in one area. “Gassho”, meaning “hands in prayer,” refers to the unique steep thatched roofing feature that is made to withstand heavy snowfall.



Located in Gifu Prefecture in the heartland of Japan, it’s central location means easy access from anywhere in the nation.

The areas are recognized by UNESCO as examples of a traditional way of life that has perfectly adapted to its environment and social function. Several dozen well-preserved folk houses with roofs thatched in the gassho style stand in the quiet mountain village community, some of which are more than 250 years old. Many of these farmhouses are converted into restaurants, museums, or minshuku, where you can stay overnight. Some are still inhabited, such as the Wada house.


Shiroyama Tenshukaku Tenbodai (Observatory)


If you want the best view of the whole Shirakawa-gō area, visit the Shiroyama Tenshukaku Tenbodai (Observatory). It offers a picturesque view of the whole of Ogimachi from this privately owned observation point.

It can be accessed via a 20-minute walk or shuttle bus that stops near the Wada house.

Tip: Parking and Entrance are free
Contact: 05769-6-1728

Shirakawa-go Tourist Center
Ogi-machi, Shirakawamura, Ono-gun, Gifu
Contact: +81-5789-6-1013
Website: www.shirakawa-go.org

Read more: SHIRAKAWA-GO: The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō!


Tonami Tulip Gallery

Tonami Tulip Gallery(Copyright of Tonami Tulip Fair)

Blooming tulips signal that spring has arrived! But in Toyama, these beautiful flowers bloom throughout the year!

The Tonami Tulip Gallery is the only facility in the world where you can appreciate tulips in all four seasons. The amazing facility is home to a museum and garden where you can experience the mysteries and secrets of their tulip bulbs.


Tonami Tulip Gallery

It also annually hosts the Tonami Tulip Fair, a simple event that started in 1952 in an experimental agricultural field station and has now grown into Japan’s number one most anticipated flower festival. It is held in Toyama from late April to early May every year, featuring 2.5 million tulips blooming in over 600 varieties on the extensive grounds totaling to 16-hectares of land.

Here’s a photo essay of our experience…

Tonami Tulip Gallery
100-1 Nakamura, Tonami City, Toyama Prefecture 939-1381
Contact:  0763-33-7716
Website: www.tullipfair.or.jp

Read more: TONAMI TULIP GALLERY: The World’s Only Tulip Garden Where It Blooms All Year Round! 


Where to Stay: 

Unazuki Onsen

Central Japan

Located on a cliff of Kurobe Gorge. It is one of the largest hotels in the area offering a luxurious open-air bath with a scenic view overlooking the mountains. We loved the natural hot springs baths, which are believed to enhance the skin.


Central Japan

The rooms are Japanese style tatami rooms with a panoramic view of the Shin-Yamabiko Bridge and the Kurobe River.


Central Japan

The Seed buffet is extensive and features the savoring delicious seafood from Toyama Bay.


Central Japan

I love how the dishes are prepared in open-kitchen style, you can enjoy your meals prepared fresh with their grilling station filled with scallops and queen crabs, fried tempura stations, and sashimi station to name a few. Don’t forget dessert they serve Häagen-Dazs green tea and black sesame flavor.

Unazaki Suginoi
352-7 Unazuki Onsen, Kurobe-shi, Toyama, 938-0282 Japan
(3 minutes walk from Toyama Chiho Railway Unazuki-Onsen Station.)
Website: www.unazaki-suginoi.jp
Tel: 0765-63-1311


To be continued…


Central Japan Blog Series

CENTRAL JAPAN: 5-Day Sample Itinerary! (Day 1-2)
 CENTRAL JAPAN: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route & Toyama Bay Sushi! (Day 3-4)
 CENTRAL JAPAN: Nagano’s Matsumoto Castle & Soba Making Workshop! (Day 5)

 MY WAX TEMPURA: Food Sample Workshop in Gujo City!
 TONAMI TULIP GALLERY: The World’s Only Tulip Garden Where It Blooms All Year Round!
 SHIRAKAWA-GO: The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō!


Live an Awesome Life,

abi signature

ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: Our trip was courtesy of Central Japan International Airport. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

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