Our guide to Japan

Kanazawa & the Kiso Valley

After exploring Tokyo and the imperial city of Kyoto, there’s a plethora to see and do, especially in the central and diverse region of Chubu. Kanazawa, once quite remote, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Onto the Japanese Alps, marvel at the mountainous scenery and head to Yudanaka Onsen, home to the cheeky snow monkeys or alternatively walk the spiritual Nakasendo Way.

Located on the west coast of Japan, Kanazawa is one of the most overlooked cultural destinations in the country. Here find to the Kenrokuen Castle and its ever-changing garden. Known at ‘Little Kyoto’, Kanazawa is anything but, with the Nagamachi samurai district drawing people who wish to discover the legends of the ninja samurai. Historically a feudal town with a strong Samurai presence, there is an enormous wealth of history in Kanazawa, besides being the arts and crafts center of Japan.

The surrounding prefecture of Ishikawa also has a lot to offer from beautiful scenery complete with working rice paddies to fantastic onsens in which to completely relax and unwind. Travel to Suzu, the northern most tip of the Noto Peninsula. The dramatic coastline and sandy beaches offer something a little different to other parts of the country, and is where you can see the uninhabited island of Mitsukejima.

Elsewhere, the Nakasendo way provides a little respite from the fast pace of the sprawling urban cities. Take the train out of Kyoto to Nagoya, where you will begin. This road through the mountains was once walked by merchants, travelers and samurai alike. Follow in their footsteps along the winding roads that make up this famous trail, stopping to rest in traditional country inns.

Finally, no trip to Chubu is complete without a visit to the hot spring hotspots. See the infamous snow monkeys bathing in the hot springs near Yudanaka Onsen and stay at a traditional ryokan where you can bathe in your own private onsen, enjoying the hot-spring culture that is such a part of Japanese life.

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