Top things to do in Central Honshū

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Takaoka

Zuiryū-ji

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, steep roofs, and all-round aesthetic that marries Indian and …
Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nagano

Zenkō-ji

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 (AD 552). Not even 37 generations of emperors have seen the im…
Top Choice Museum in Inuyama

Meiji-mura

Due to war, earthquakes and development, few Meiji-era buildings have survived. In 1965 this open-air museum was created to preserve this unique style, known for unifying Western and Japanese architectural elements.…
Top Choice Gardens in Kanazawa

Kenroku-en

Ranked as one of the top three gardens in Japan, this Edo-period garden draws its name (kenroku means 'combined six') from a renowned Sung-dynasty garden in China that dictated six attributes for perfection: seclusi…
Top Choice Castle in Matsumoto

Matsumoto-jō

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. The striking black-and-white three-turreted donjon (main keep)…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Togakushi

Togakushi-jinja

Comprising three sub-shrines – Togakushi-Hōkōsha, Togakushi-Chūsha and Togakushi-Okusha – each a few kilometres apart, Togakushi-jinja honours the 1911m-high Togakushi-san. According to legend, the mountain is where…
Top Choice Gardens in Kanazawa

Gyokusen Inmaru Garden

Adjacent to the Kanazawa Castle Park, this feudal pleasure garden was first constructed in 1634 but abandoned in the Meiji era. Its five-year reconstruction was completed in 2015. Features include a small waterfall,…
Top Choice Japanese in Matsumoto

Matsumoto Karaage Center

The less-than-inspiring name doesn't do this place justice. It's wildly popular and if you like karaage (deep-fried chicken), this 4th-floor (above Midori in the station building) shrine to the humble chook is a mus…
Top Choice Museum in Azumino

Chihiro Art Museum Azumino

This popular art museum showcases the work of Chihiro Iwasaki (1918–74), who became world-renowned while specialising in children's-book illustrations from the late 1950s until her death in 1974. Built in Azumino be…
Top Choice Historic Building in Lower Noto Peninsula

Kita-ke

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 splendid, sprawling family home and museum are displays of wea…