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WOW! JAPAN

The Tokai region is located on the Pacific coast of central Honshu. Comprised of Aichi, Gifu, Mie and Shizuoka, this region is filled with many sightseeing spots that boast scenic beauty, such as Takayama that has been quite popular of late! Here are five handpicked tourist spots in the Tokai region that you must visit.

1. Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is a village that is located on the northwestern portion of Gifu. A village where many buildings made in the gassho-zukuri style (wherein the roofs with a unique shape look like hands they are facing each other in prayer) remain, Shirakawa-go has been registered as a World Heritage Site. It used to be known as Japan’s unexplored region that is filled with lush nature. The towering Mt. Haku that looks like it is enveloping the village, and the peaceful countryside that spreads at the base of the mountain are scenic spots that are also called the original Japanese landscape. Near this place, there are hot springs, campsites, ski resorts and other facilities that capitalize on nature’s bounty, so you will find many ways to enjoy Shirakawa-go.

1. Shirakawa-go

1086 Ogi-machi, Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun, Gifu

2. Old townscape of Hida Takayama

This spot is a famous tourist destination in Takayama in Gifu, with streets that are lined with traditional Japanese architectural structures. It is beloved for its exquisite atmosphere, and is visited by throngs of tourists on holidays. Its appeal is not limited to its appearance and atmosphere, though, as it also has so much to offer inside, housing a wide array of facilities such as souvenir shops, general merchandise stores and cafes. If you get tired of walking, then riding on a rickshaw is the perfect solution. Further, there is a tourist center that has staffers who can speak English at the Hida Takayama Tourist Information Center in front of JR Takayama Station, so make sure to avail of their services.

2. Old townscape of Hida Takayama

In front of JR Takayama Station, 1-1 Showa-machi, Takayama-shi, Gifu

3. Ise Jingu

Ise Jingu (Ise Grand Shrine) in Mie is known as the most sacred shrine in Japan. It is a famous sightseeing spot that is so popular the Japanese people have long believed that they have to go on a pilgrimage to Ise at least once in one’s lifetime. Strictly speaking, it is the general term used for all 125 shrines scattered in Mie, centering on the Naiku (Inner Shrine) that is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami, and Geku (Outer Shrine) that enshrines Toyouke Omikami, the deity that protects industries such as clothing, food and shelter. As one of the best sanctuaries in Japan for praying for the well-being of the nation and prosperity of its people, its precinct is filled with a solemn atmosphere. After worshiping, it is recommended that you go shopping and dining at Oharai-machi and Okage-yokocho.

3. Ise Jingu

1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise-shi, Mie

4. Jingu Museum in commemoration of shikinen sengu

At Ise Jingu, the “shikinen sengu" wherein the main building of the shrine is rebuilt, is held once every 20 years. The Jingu Museum is an art museum that was built to commemorate the shikinen sengu in 1993. Here, there is a collection and exhibition of works of art that were contributed to the shrine by living national treasures. You can appreciate fine art pieces from different genres, such as paintings, calligraphy, sculpture and artifacts. Meanwhile, the Jingu Chokokan Museum and Jingu Nogyokan Museum that are situated in the same shrine precinct are both recommended, as they are places where you can learn about Ise Jingu in detail.

Museum admission fee: 500 JPY for adults, 100 JPY for elementary/middle school students

4. Jingu Museum in commemoration of shikinen sengu

1754-1 Kodakushimoto-cho, Ise-shi, Mie

5. Miho no Matsubara

Miho no Matsubara (Miho Pine Grove) in Shizuoka is an area with lush pine trees covering an approximately 7km stretch along the coast of the peninsula. This is a popular area that has been registered as a part of a World Heritage Site. The landscape created by the green pine forest, sea with breaking white-crested waves, and the sacred Mt. Fuji has been named one of the Three New Views in Japan. Its beauty has been famous from time immemorial, and has been the subject of many works of art, including ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) by Hiroshige Utagawa and the Noh song entitled “Hagoromo.” There is a bike path in this grove, so visitors are also urged to look around on a rental bicycle.

5. Miho no Matsubara

Miho, Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka

Filled with rich nature such as mountains and trees, and traditional structures that are rooted in Japan’s culture, the Tokai region is a treasure trove of superb sightseeing spots. There are many other tourist spots apart from these, so to those who are interested, please check them out!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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