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The Beauty of Central Japan

Story by Oku Japan

Posted: March 29, 2018

Central Japan is plentiful in scenic routes, tall mountain ranges, and warm hospitality from locals. One of the most exciting experiences in this region involves visiting the old post towns, preserved and maintained as they were in the Edo Period when Shoguns ruled Japan. Visiting post towns on the Nakasendo Trail such as Narai, Tsumago, and Magome, you can experience first-hand the distinct atmospheres these towns offer—far different from the bright and modern cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Each town has its charm and unique history. Locals make many of the interesting souvenirs found in Narai, and the preserved buildings themselves are unique from other post towns, as the second floor hangs over the first.

Tsumago, one of the best-preserved of the post towns, plummets you directly into Japan's past. Cars are prohibited during the daytime on the main street, and telephone and power lines are concealed to provide a truly authentic experience, enabling you to fully immerse yourself in the town's history. A nationally-designated Architectural Preservation Site by the government in the mid-1970s, Tsumago has become a model for similar preservation efforts in other areas of Japan.

Nearby Magome is located on a slope, providing incredible views year-round of the valley that surrounds it. The town also provides a charming stone walkway, making for a delightful stroll through the town and its museums.

Another highlight of the region of central Japan is Shirakawa-go, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near the city of Takayama. Shirakawa-go lines the Shogawa River Valley and is best-known for its traditional thatched-roof wooden houses, known as Gassho-zukuri, which are unique to this area. With settlements existing from the 11th century onward, locals have not only maintained an authentic appearance, but a more traditional way of life as well, ensuring that the area is preserved and protected.

Along with these incredible highlights, we offer more to discover in central Japan on our guided cultural tour Shoguns and Samurai. Perfect for nearly any walking level, this cultural tour is a lovely introduction to traditional aspects of Japan, while also providing a deeper knowledge for those with an existing interest in traditional Japanese culture.