Nuttapoom Amornpashara / 500px

Central Honshū

Central Honshū (本州中部; Honshū Chūbu) is Japan's heartland, stretching out between the sprawling metropolises of Greater Tokyo and Kansai. The awesome Japan Alps rise sharply near the border of Gifu and Nagano Prefectures before rolling north to the dramatic Sea of Japan coast.

World-class skiing, hiking and onsen can be found in the region's stunning alpine uplands. All but one of Japan's 30 highest peaks (Mt Fuji) are here. Kanazawa oozes culture: temples and tearooms that served lords and housed geisha are beautifully preserved. Takayama's quaint riverside streetscapes win admirers from Japan and abroad. Matsumoto's magnificent castle and alpine backdrop ensure its popularity.

Nagoya, Japan's dynamic and under-loved fourth-largest city, is the gateway to Central Honshū, packing its share of urban delights, plus excellent transport connections to just about everywhere.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Central Honshū.