Traveling around the Chubu Region (Central Japan) is one of the best things you can do in Japan in autumn. The area is packed with a number of famous fall foliage spots including many interesting attractions such as the Old Town of Takayama, Shirakawago, Kamikochi, Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Kanazawa’s Kenroku-en, and so on.

7 days in Central Japan is a short time to see everything in this region, but as you wish to explore it in the fall, I can guarantee you that our recommendations here can share some ideas of what to do while you’re there including how to get the most out of your trip. In fact, I have got just the perfect itinerary for you.

Ogimachi village in Shirakawa-go. Photo Credit: IQRemix at Wikimedia Commons.

The places you will be seeing in this post are well worth exploring during autumn. And after the end of the trip, you would want to come back there again in the future for sure. Indeed, every attraction in the region is very appealing that no one can get tired of discovering.

Viewing autumn leaves in the area is as charming as exploring its famous historic landmarks. You can experience both in Central Japan! If you have a week that you want to spend it in Central Japan, then follow this simple itinerary to make a great outdoor adventure!

Please note the best time to see autumn foliage in Central Japan is from Mid October through Early November.

Day 1: Tokyo to Takayama

Nohi bus at Shinjuku Bus Terminal, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tourists can get to Takayama by train (via Nagoya or Toyama) or bus from Tokyo. The best way to reach Takayama city is by highway bus that departs directly from Shinjuku Bus Terminal to Takayama Bus Terminal. The one way trip takes about 5.5 hours and costs 6,690 yen. On the other hand, if you choose to reach there by train, you will have to transfer to limited express train.

Once you reach there, make sure you check into this hotel. The location of the hotel is close to the bus terminal, and quite a perfect area to be able to roam around the city from.

Will it be a good idea for you to take a stroll in the old town of Takayama? If you don’t feel tired enough after the long journey by bus from Tokyo, I honestly believe you do have a great opportunity to enjoy a walk along the street of Takayama’s Old Town. Seriously, you can do it in the evening.

Before you are going to do that, you can take a nap for a while.

The Old Town of Takayama. Photo Credit: Big Ben in Japan at Flickr.

Stands on the east of the Miyagawa River, the Old Town (Sanmachi Suji District) comprises three streets in the centre of Takayama City. These streets are packed with a number of traditional old wooden buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants including some iconic landmarks such as the Museum of History and Art, Fuji Art Gallery, and Takayama Jinya. Moreover, there are some sake breweries shops can be found in the district from where visitors can buy sake. Everything you see in this historic old town is well preserved.

Let’s call it a day!

Hotel to stay in Takayama city: Best Western Hotel Takayama.

Day 2: A Day in Takayama

Tensochi Temple (Higashiyama Walking Course), Takayama. Photo Credit: www.hida.jp

Takayama is a rural city located in the Hida Region of Gifu Prefecture. Visitors can take a number of day trips to somewhere else from this iconic old city.

Today, you will be visiting some of its best attractions, so let’s begin the trip then!

You can start your day with a visit to the Morning Market (Asaichi). Please note there are two morning markets in Takayama, they are known as Miyagawa Market (located along the Miyagawa River in the Old Town), and Jinya-mae Market (located in front of the Takayama Jinya). You can get to the markets in about a 10-mintue walk from Takayama Station.

Both can be experienced but you should head to Miyagawa Market first. After spending a while in the market, make your way to Unryuji temple. Seriously, a wonderful hiking trail is awaiting you there. Not to get lost, you are provided many signs along the trail. So follow the direction to enjoy a pleasant walk through the trail (Higashiyama Walking Course).

You will see a dozen of temples and shrines including graveyards along the trail. In the fall, many visitors are interested in taking a walking along the trail in the Higashiyama Temple Area as they can experience beautiful autumn leaves and tranquil atmosphere that flows throughout the area.

Fall foliage at Hida Folk Village (Hida no sato). Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are to start your walk from Unryuji Temple, you can continue your hike through the Shiroyama Park and finish it at the Museum of History and Art. Marvel at the Castle ruins of Takayama in the Shiroyama Park. The park itself a quite nice place to see many maple trees that ablaze with color in autumn! It’s an easy walk, and there is no need to wear hiking shoes. Then head towards the Jinya-mae Market and find some local produce.

Your next destination is Hida no Sato (The Hida Folk Village). Reach there by a local bus (Sarubobo Bus) from Takayama Bus Station in about a 10-mintue. It costs you 210 yen (one way). This is an open air museum where you can see over 30 beautiful traditional houses. They look pretty similar to the ones that you see in Shirakawa-go.

I love the way it looks during autumn as the surrounding deciduous trees in the area make it an ideal place to hunt for momiji. You can enter many of the houses in search of wonderful discoveries. In addition, if you want to experience something unique, then visit the Hida Takayama Crafts Experience Center. It’s just a short walk from the museum.

The big ginkgo tree at Kokubunji Temple. Photo Credit: 立花左近 at Wikimedia Commons.

Get back to Takayama Station and from there you walk a little (5 minutes) to Kokubunji Temple. This temple is famous for its ginkgo tree. It’s said to be over 1200 years old. Sounds awesome, right?! This huge ginkgo tree turns a golden yellow in autumn! Besides, don’t forget to see the temple’s bell tower and the three-storied pagoda as they also look impressive.

If you are looking for a best restaurant to have your dinner, I would highly recommend you to pay a visit to Sakurajaya. It offers a wide range of foods including ramen, hida beef, tempura, sashimi salad and so on. The restaurant is also vegetarian friendly!

Day 3: Takayama -> Kamikochi

Kamikochi in the Fall! Photo Credit: Hiroaki Kaneko at Wikimedia Commons.

Today, you are going to see Kamikochi’s splendid landscape. With awesome hiking trails and beautiful surroundings, Kamikochi is one of the most beautiful mountain resorts in Central Japan. It’s situated at 1,500 meters above sea level.

Tourists spending 2 or 3 days in Takayama city don’t even think twice whether you should get there or not. Obviously, the place is hugely a popular holiday destination where you can see stunning mountainous scenery all year round.

Often said that Kamikochi is a lovely place to go on a hike and witness the beauty of the impressive Hida mountains range. Part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi has so much to offer you, from beautiful mountains to impressive walking trails, in fact there’s always something new to find including wildlife.

Enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the Hotaka Mountain Range from Kappabashi Bridge and you will be amazed for sure.

Get on the bus to Kamikochi from Takayama Bus Station. The bus timetable is clearly explained in this page.

On the way back to Takayama, I suggest you to get off at Hirayu Onsen. You can spend few hours there soaking your body one of its public or private hot springs. Once done, get on the bus to Takayama city.

Day 4: Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Kanazawa

Ogimachi village in Shirakawa-go in Autumn. Photo Credit: Alpsdake at Wikimedia Commons.

Check out of the hotel and leave for Shirakawa-go! You will end up the day in Kanazawa city. You can leave your luggage at Deainoyakata – Shirakawago Tourist Information Center. You will have to spend some money to get the service from them though.

There is nothing much to say about Shirakawago here in this post. Do I need to tell you? This article actually explains everything you need to know before you get there.

Situated in the northwest of Gifu Prefecture, Shirakawago is remote village, where you can see many traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. Many of these farmhouses are now used as restaurants, museums, and minshuku (tourists can stay overnight). In 1995, Ogimachi village in Shirakawago along with Ainokura and Suganuma in the Gokayama Region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You can spend 3-5 hours walking around Ogimachi in Shirakawa-go, which also includes a walk up to the Shiroyama Viewpoint, and visiting the museums, and temple.

In the fall, the surrounding mountains slopes ablaze with vivid colors, making the area very awe-inspiring to behold. The pleasure of watching the leaves transform can be experienced from Shiroyama Viewpoint.

Hop on the bus to reach Kanazawa city. Spend rest of the time on your own.

Hotel to Stay in Kanazawa: Tabi No Yado Kasaya.

Day 5: Kanazawa to Toyama

Kenrokuen garden’s Kotoji stone lantern. Photo Credit: bryan at Flickr.

The hotel I have recommended you to stay a night is located adjacent to Kanazawa Station.

Kanazawa is a historic castle town in Central Japan. It’s famous for its Kenrokuen, a picturesque Japanese landscape garden. This is considered one of the three most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan along with Mito’s Kairakuen and Okayama’s Korakuen.

There are some incredible places except the Kenrokuen garden, and Kanazawa Castle Park that you must visit during your short stay in the city.

Visit Omicho Market, Myouryuji Temple (Ninja Temple), The 21th Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, D.T. Suzuki Museum, Higashi Chayagai, and Nagamachi. Keep in mind that Omicho Market is an obvious starting point for your day trip to Kanazawa city. Therefore, visit the market first to taste fresh Kanazawa seafood, and then visit the rest one by one.

Every attraction you will visit is not that much far away from each other. You can take a walk to explore all these attractions. Alternatively, hop on the Kanazawa Loop Bus to access to these historic sites.

Please note Kenrokuen is where you should spend most of your time, though.

In the evening, say goodbye to the city and get ready to travel to Toyama by train. Take the Hokuriku shinkansen and get off at Toyama Station.

Hotel to Stay in Toyama: Comfort Toyama Hotel.

Day 6: Toyama -> Kurobe Gorge -> Toyama

Toyama Art Glass Museum building. Photo Credit: Toyama City.

Interesting places to visit in Toyama are Toyama Art Glass Museum, Toyama Castle Park, and Kurobe Gorge. However, you can skip visiting the first two and spend all the day at Kurobe Gorge. It’s all up to you.

After taking breakfast, you head to Toyama Art Glass Museum. The museum showcases a large collection of glass art from around the world with both temporary and permanent exhibition.

Then make your way to Toyama Castle Park, a perfect place to take a stroll around and exploring a beautiful Japanese garden. Besides, the Sato Memorial Art Museum is well worth a visit.

Your next destination will be Kurobe Gorge (a deep V-shaped gorge). This is considered one of the most beautiful places to admire autumn leaves in Japan. You can’t leave Toyama without exploring this popular fall foliage spots in Central Japan.

Hop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) from Toyama Station and get off at Kurobe-Unazukionsen Station. The one way ride will take about 12 minutes. That’s very fast! After that you take a short walk to Shin-Kurobe Station, from there you take a train (Toyama Chiho Railway) to Unazukionsen Station.

Once there, again do take a short walk to reach Unazuki Station. This is from where you take the sightseeing train to enjoy a scenic train ride. It will take you to its last stop called Keyakidaria Station.

Yamabiko Bridge over the Kurobe Gorge in autumn. Photo Credit: THE KUROBE GORGE RAILWAY CO.,LTD.

This hilarious train ride reveals the beauty of autumn nature of Kurobe Valley/Gorge. Along the way you come across some train stations. You should get off at a particular station to explore the beautiful surroundings of the gorge. In addition, visitors can experience multiple open-air hot springs, bridges, and viewpoints. Visit the viewpoints to take as many as awesome autumn colors photographs you could take.

Please visit this page to find out a number of outdoor activities you can experience in the area.

After the end of the Kurobe Gorge expedition, get back to Toyama Station safely!

Before you get to sleep, would you mind asking a front desk staff about luggage delivery service? Actually, the front desk staff of Comfort Toyama Hotel would gladly receive your luggage and send it to the next hotel you are going to stay overnight on your behalf.

Stay a night at Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo; this one is located close to Tokyo Station (3-5 minute walk). Remember that tomorrow after a day trip to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, you will get off the train at Tokyo Station when coming back to Tokyo from Nagano Station.

Day 7: Toyama -> Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route -> Tokyo

Fall foliage at Murodo. Photo Credit: くろふね at Wikimedia Commons.

Next up on your Central Japan autumn trip – Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route!

No Central Japan trip is complete without a visit to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Everyone will agree with me as this is what most of the tourists plan on visiting in Central Japan.

One important message to all of you is that the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used on the Alpine Route.

Head towards Dentetsu Toyama Station (next to JR Toyama Station) from the hotel, and there you will have to wait for a train to get to Tateyama Station. One way ride would cost you 1,200 yen and takes about an hour.

Places of interest along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route are Tateyama Ropeway, Murodo, Mikurigaike Lake, Daikanbo, and Kurobe Dam. Murodo, Tateyama Ropeway and Kurobe Dam are renowned for viewing gorgeous autumn leaves. Mid October through late October is the perfect time to see fall colors at Kurobe Dam. On the other hand, peak fall color appears at Murodo and Tateyama Ropeway from late September through early October.

Kurobe Dam during late autumn. Photo CreditL Syota Takahashi at Wikimedia Commons.

Try spending most of your time at Murodo, the highest point along the alpine route that offers spectacular views of Tateyama Mountain Range including easy hiking trails to admire the fall foliage in the area.

Those who want to ascend the Mount Tateyama should stay a night at Hotel Tateyama, located 2,450 meters above sea level. It provides a good accommodation for hikers and tourists alike for their overnight stay at Murodo.

When you are done viewing incredible scenery at Kurobe Dam, make your way to Kurobe Dam Station and hop on a trolleybus to Ogizawa Station (15 minutes). From there you take the express bus to Nagano Station.

There are many restaurants nearby Nagano Station. Visit one to satisfy your stomach before leaving for Toyko by Shinkansen.

At the time of checking into Hotel Ryumeikan Tokyo, I am sure your luggage will be waiting for you there. That’s it!

If you think that you have enough time to explore other parts of Central Japan, pay a visit to Yamanashi to see Mount Fuji and Matsumoto for its iconic Matsumoto Castle.

Use this pocket wifi and search all the locations easily on Google Maps when you travel around Japan.

Thanks for reading!