Japan's Regions: Chubu (Central Honshu) 中部地方
The Chubu (literally, "middle part") of Japan comprises nine prefectures that - as the name suggests - occupy the center of the main island of Honshu. Chubu basically stretches between Kyoto in the west and Tokyo in the east.
The Chubu region has very different climates and landscapes. The weather on the Japan Sea coast is cooler than the baking southern Pacific coast around Nagoya in summer with heavy snow along the north coast in winter. Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are possible in Nagano, Niigata and Gifu, three prefectures whose mountains make up the majestic Japan Alps. The Winter Olympics were successfully held in Nagano in 1998 and the prefecture is a favorite with skiers and snow-boarders, who flock to resorts such as Hakuba.
On the largely industrialized Pacific coast (but still offering much in the way of outdoor beauty) are Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures. Aichi's capital city, Nagoya, is the Chubu region's main transport hub. From Tokyo to Nagoya takes two hours and a half by shinkansen, and Nagoya further west to Kyoto/Osaka, one hour and a half.
Trains from Nagoya go to popular tourist destinations throughout Chubu such as Takayama, Nagano (gateway to the Japan Alps), Shizuoka (home to Mt. Fuji), the hot spring town of Gero and historically restored Gifu.
Tokai, Hokuriku & Koshin Sub-Regions
Forming part of, and overlapping, the Chubu region are three unofficial regions: Tokai, Hokuriku & Koshin. The Tokai sub-region comprises inland Gifu, the two Pacific coastal prefectures of Shizuoka and Aichi, and Aichi's neighbor, Mie prefecture (also on the Pacific coast, and part of the Kansai region). The Hokuriku sub-region comprises Ishikawa, Fukui, Niigata and Toyama - all on the Japan Sea coast. The Koshin region comprises Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures.
The Chubu region's history was shaped by its strategic position between the great cities of Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). The Chubu region is crossed by the ancient highways of the Tokaido along the coast (the route now largely followed by the Tokaido shinkansen) and the Nakasendo through the mountains to the north.
There are also excellent onsen and opportunities for hiking in the Chubu region as well as swimming and snorkelling on the Echizen coast in Fukui.
Chubu's main towns and places of interest are:
Nagoya, the prefectural capital of Aichi Prefecture and arrival point for many international flights to the region at the recent, offshore Chubu International Airport. Nagoya is Japan's fourth largest city and a major industrial zone which includes many factories servicing the giant car-maker, Toyota Corp.
Toyohashi, an historic, pleasant city on the Tokaido Highway.
Inuyama, Japan's oldest fortress and site of the Meiji Mura open air museum.
Gujo Hachiman, historic castle town known for its summer Obon dancing.
Gero Onsen, popular hot spa resort north of Nagoya.
Takayama - beautifully preserved town in a rich mountain setting.
Hida Furukawa - a compact version of Takayama just 15km away.
Magome and Tsumago, a pair of small villages with good hiking and restored wooden houses in the Kiso Valley.
Kamikochi, in Nagano offers excellent hiking in the summer season.
Access - Getting to Chubu
There are airports at Chubu International just south of Nagoya, which has many international connections to destinations around the world including Beijing and Seoul in East Asia and direct flights to many cities throughout Japan.There are other regional airports in Toyama, Komatsu (Ishikawa), Matsumoto and Niigata, which also has international connections to Seoul and other East Asian destinations.
Nagoya is the main rail hub connecting Osaka and Tokyo via the Tokaido shinkansen. Trains on the JR Chuo and Takayama Lines run north from Nagoya heading to Gifu, Takayama, Matsumoto, Toyama and Nagano.
Nagoya is the main hub for buses in Chubu with services to most nearby towns and overnight highway buses to most major cities including Osaka, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Tokyo.
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