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Last updated : Nov 2009
Japanese Alps and Central Japan
The Japanese Alps and Central Japan - TravelPuppy.com
The Japanese Alps are situated in the centre of Honshu Island, an area known as ‘the Roof of Japan’. A favourite natural playground for hikers, climbers and sightseers year round, a large part of the area is protected as a National Park. Nagano, the prefectural capital, was host of the 1998 Winter Olympics and is well known for its great Zenkoji Pilgrimage Temple. The surrounding area has many skiing and hot spring resorts. Matsumoto is the gateway to the Alps and preserves its original medieval castle. The nearby Kamikochi Highlands are a popular destination for hikers, especially in the autumn when the colours of the leaves are spectacular.

Takayama is well known for its colourful festivals and boasts a chiefly preserved 17th-century townscape. The historic city of Kanazawa is famous for the stunning Kenrokuen Garden and for a variety of traditional industries such as ceramics and silk-dying. To the north, the Noto Peninsula’s dramatic coastline and small fishing villages beckon adventurers, while to the south are the amazing Zen temple complex of Eiheiji and the beautiful Shirakawa-go folk villages. 1 hour by boat from the coastal city of Niigata lies Sado Island, rural, un spoilt and home to the world-renowned Kodo Drummers.

Japan’s 4th-largest city Nagoya, is well known for its porcelain industry, textile and lacquer crafts. Nagoya Castle is an amazing sight, as is Atsuta Jingu, among Japan’s most important shrines. Meiji Mura is a large outdoor museum of characteristic buildings from the Meiji period. Japan’s pre-eminent Shinto shrine is the revered Ise Grand Shrine, located 1 hour and thirty minutes from Nagoya. The Ise Shima National Park shields the scenic coastal area dotted with many small pearl fishing villages. The port of Toba is well known for its ‘Married Rocks’, two islets linked by a huge Shinto rope, and Mikimoto Pearl Island features demonstrations of techniques employed in the pearl industry.