Must-see attractions in Central Honshū

  • Zuiryū-ji

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    One of Japan's National Treasures, the temple of the second generation of feudal lord Maeda Toshinaga's family is rightly famous for its manicured lawns,…

  • KANAZAWA, JAPAN - JUL 31 2016: Kenroku-en located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan, is an old private garden. Along with Kairaku-en and Koraku-en, Kenroku-en is one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan.

    Kenroku-en

    Kanazawa

    This Edo-period garden draws its name (kenroku means 'combined six') from a renowned Sung-dynasty garden in China that dictated six attributes for…

  • Zenkō-ji

    Nagano Region

    Founded in the 7th century, National Treasure Zenkō-ji is home to the revered statue Ikkō-Sanzon, said to be the first Buddhist image to arrive in Japan …

  • Meiji-mura

    Central Honshū

    Due to war, earthquakes and development, few Meiji-era buildings have survived here. In 1965 this open-air museum was created to preserve this unique…

  • Matsumoto-jō

    Matsumoto

    Must-see Matsumoto-jō is Japan's oldest wooden castle and one of four castles designated National Treasures – the others are Hikone, Himeji and Inuyama…

  • Togakushi-jinja

    Nagano Region

    Comprising three sub-shrines, Togakushi-Hōkōsha, Togakushi-Chūsha and Togakushi-Okusha, each a few kilometres apart, Togakushi-jinja honours the 1911m…

  • Gyokusen Inmaru Garden

    Kanazawa

    Adjacent to the Kanazawa Castle Park, this feudal pleasure garden was first constructed in 1634 but abandoned in the Meiji era. Its five-year…

  • Chihiro Art Museum Azumino

    Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps

    This popular art museum showcases the work of Chihiro Iwasaki (1918–74), who became world-renowned while specialising in children's-book illustrations…

  • Kita-ke

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    During the Edo period the Kita family administered over 200 villages from Kita-ke, the pivotal crossroads of the Kaga, Etchū and Noto fiefs. Inside this…

  • Inuyama-jō

    Central Honshū

    A National Treasure, Japan's oldest standing castle is said to have originated as a fort in 1440. The current donjon (main keep), built atop a 40m rise…

  • Haruna Jinja

    Central Honshū

    Among gorgeously forested mountains and believed to be the home of the God of Water, Fire and Agriculture, this site has housed a shrine of some form for…

  • Tokugawa Art Museum

    Nagoya

    A must for anyone interested in Japanese culture and history, this museum has a collection of over 10,000 pieces that includes National Treasures and…

  • Hokusai Museum

    Nagano Region

    Japan's most famous ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist, Hokusai, spent his final years in Obuse. There's an audiovisual presentation on his life in the…

  • Myōjō-ji

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    Founded in 1294 by Nichizō, a disciple of Nichiren's, the imposing Myōjō-ji remains an important temple for the sect. The peaceful grounds comprise 10…

  • Asa-ichi

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    Among a few hundred elderly women selling fresh-off-the-trawler seafood, this entertaining morning market features cool boutiques offering tasteful…

  • Kusakabe Folk Museum

    Takayama

    This merchant and moneychanger's house, dating from the 1890s, showcases the striking craftsmanship of traditional Takayama carpenters. Inside is a…

  • DT Suzuki Museum

    Kanazawa

    This spiritual museum is a tribute to Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, one of the foremost Buddhist philosophers of our time. Published in Japanese and English,…

  • Atsuta-jingū

    Nagoya

    Although the current buildings were completed in 1966, Atsuta-jingū has been a shrine for over 1900 years and is one of the most sacred Shintō shrines in…

  • Ichijōdani Asakura Clan Ruins

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    Designated a national historic site, this out-of-the-way place features one of the largest town ruins in Japan, dating from the early 15th century. It's…

  • Japan, Tokai Region, Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya, Minato Ward, Japanese bullet train at museum. (Photo by: JTB/UIG via Getty Images) (Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images)

    SCMAGLEV & Railway Park

    Nagoya

    Trainspotters will be in heaven at this fantastic hands-on museum. Featuring actual maglev (the world's fastest train – 581km/h), shinkansen (bullet…

  • Omi-cho Market, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan

    Ōmi-chō Market

    Kanazawa

    Between Kanazawa Station and Katamachi you'll find this market, reminiscent of Tokyo's old Tsukiji market. A bustling warren of fishmongers, buyers and…

  • Kanazawa Museum of Contemporary Art.

    21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

    Kanazawa

    A low-slung glass cylinder, 113m in diameter, forms the perimeter of this contemporary gallery, which celebrated its 10th birthday in 2014. Museum entry…

  • Takayama, Japan - October 9, 2015: Wooden puppets on top of Hotei decorated float during annual Takayama Autumn Festival; Shutterstock ID 602701325; Your name (First / Last): Laura Crawford; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: BiA images Yokohama, Takayama, Kamakura

    Karakuri Museum

    Takayama

    On display here are over 300 shishi (lion) masks, instruments and drums related to festival dances. The main draw is the twice-hourly puppet show where…

  • Daihonzan Eihei-ji

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    In 1244 the great Zen master Dōgen (1200–53), founder of the Sōtō sect of Zen Buddhism, established Eihei-ji, the 'Temple of Eternal Peace', in a forest…

  • Ōagata-jinja

    Central Honshū

    This ancient shrine on a lovely hillside is dedicated to female Shintō deity Izanami and attracts women seeking marriage or fertility. See if you can find…

  • Sōji-ji Soin

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    This beautiful temple was established in 1321 as the head of the Sōtō school of Zen but now functions as a branch temple. The site's buildings were…

  • Toyota Kaikan Museum

    Nagoya

    See up to 20 shiny examples of the latest automotive technology hot off the production line and witness firsthand how they're made here at Toyota's global…

  • Murakami-ke

    Central Honshū

    Between Suganuma and Ainokura, in the hamlet of Kaminashi, you'll find Murakami-ke, one of the oldest gasshō houses in the region (dating from 1578). It's…

  • Tagata-jinja

    Central Honshū

    Izanagi, the male counterpart of female deity Izanami, is commemorated at this shrine, with countless wooden and stone phalluses to celebrate. You can buy…

  • Asama-yama Magma Stone Park

    Nagano Region

    Here's your chance to get up close and personal with Asama-yama – so close, you could almost touch it. Formed in 1783 by Asama's last violent eruption,…

  • Tokugawa-en

    Nagoya

    This delightful Japanese garden adjacent to the Tokugawa Art Museum was donated by the Tokugawa family to Nagoya city in 1931 but destroyed by bombing in…

  • Dai-ō Wasabi-Nōjo

    Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps

    Fancy some wasabi wine or ice cream? This farm, a 15-minute bike ride from JR Hotaka Station, is a must for wasabi-lovers. An English map guides you among…

  • Nagoya City Science Museum

    Nagoya

    This hands-on museum claims the world's largest dome-screen planetarium, with some seriously out-of-this-world projection technology. There's also a…

  • Myōryū-ji

    Kanazawa

    Completed in 1643 in Teramachi, the temple was designed to protect its lord from attack. It contains hidden stairways, escape routes, secret chambers,…

  • Kaikarō

    Kanazawa

    In Higashi-chaya-gai, Kaikarō is an early-19th-century geisha house refinished with contemporary fittings and art, including a red-lacquered staircase…

  • Takayama Shōwa-kan

    Takayama

    This nostalgia bonanza from the Shōwa period (1926–89) focuses on 1955 to 1965, a time of great optimism between Japan's postwar malaise and the 1980s…

  • Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

    Matsumoto

    Housing more than 100,000 woodblock prints, paintings, screens and old books, this renowned museum exhibits but a fraction of its collection. The museum…

  • Chōkei-ji

    Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

    This hilltop temple has a wonderful outlook, but you've come to see the 500-plus stone statues of rakan (Buddha's disciples) lined up in the forest. It's…

  • Nawate-dōri

    Matsumoto

    Nawate-dōri, a few blocks south from the castle, is a popular street for a stroll. Vendors along this riverside walk sell antiques, souvenirs, and…