The Central Japan Region is a year-round destination that offers an abundance of nature and delicious food every season. Use the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass to enjoy five days of unlimited rides on designated JR conventional and limited express trains, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, and buses within the Central Region.
Bookmark this page, it will come in handy once leisure travel resumes! This is the second installment of our five-day guide. Find Day 1 to 2 here.
Shogawa Gorge, Toyama
In the morning, take a bus from Takaoka Station to Shogawa Gorge for a relaxing boat cruise. For just 2,800 yen, you can enjoy the spectacular view of Shogawa Gorge on a sightseeing boat that operates on the Shogawa Gorge between Komaki Dam and Omaki Onsen.
The soothing one-hour cruise along the Shogawa gorge offers varying but equally breathtaking views all throughout the year. In winter, you can see the mountain covered in snow while flowers in full bloom adorn them in spring. The summer season highlights the mountains’ lush greenery and in autumn, you get the best seat in enjoying Japan’s autumn leaves.
After the boat ride, you can visit the Zuiryuji Temple in Takaoka city and have lunch. The Zuiryuji Temple has been designated as a National Treasure and is a must-see attraction. The main gate, main hall, and Dharma hall stand in a line, and the temple buildings are laid out symmetrically left and right, interconnected by roofed passageways in a beautiful and powerful sight to behold.
Lunch can be at Yasuragi-an where seasonal dishes are served. The dishes for February use fresh vegetables and seafood.
Doraemon Postbox ドラえもん郵便ボックス / Takaoka Station
After seeing the Temple, take a bus back to Takaoka Station to go to our next destination. On the first floor of the station, you’ll be welcomed by a familiar cat. This giant copper Doraemon postbox is considered one of the icons of Takaoka City, which happens to be the birthplace of the manga artist that brought Doraemon to life. Located on the first floor of the Takaoka Station building, letters and postcards dropped in this postbox are stamped with a commemorative Doraemon postmark. Why not send yourself and your friends a postcard to commemorate your visit to Doraemon’s birth town?
Handcraft Experience at Nousaku Factory, Takaoka City 能作本社で手芸体験、高岡市
From Takaoka Station, we went back to the hotel to take our luggage and then took a taxi to Nousaku Factory for a little cultural immersion. Takaoka City is historically known as a center of metal casting, and this industry still thrives in the city today. Take a look at their cute Doraemon collections! Try making your very own tiny tin item by joining a workshop at the Nousaku Lab.
Kanazawa Station, Tsuzumi Gate
After visiting Nousaku Factory, go to Shin Takaoka station to catch the Hokuriku Shinkansen towards Kanazawa City. This is also included in the JR Pass.
Look at the huge Tsuzumi Gate, designed to symbolize the drums played in Noh Theater, welcoming us at the station here. It is said to be an unofficial symbol of Kanazawa and famous for being a combination of traditional wooden design and contemporary style.
At Kagaya, we had Ozen set with dishes made with seasonal ingredients unique to the local area. A tray with sushi, miso soup, and some other traditional dishes was served.
Hotel Wing International Premium Kanazawa Ekimae
We stayed at the Hotel Wing International Premium near Kanazawa Ekimae. It is a fairly new hotel with a stylish design.
The fourth day is a day for Kanazawa when we can leisurely enjoy the whole city. Kanazawa is an old castle town, well-known for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums, magnificent garden, and regional handicrafts.
From our hotel, take a community bus to Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s three Great Gardens. The spacious grounds used to be the outer garden of Kanazawa Castle and feature a variety of flowering trees of seasonal natural beauty, including the snow-covered landscape with yukitsuri (snow hanging), a method of protecting the branches of the pine trees in the garden to prevent them from breaking due to heavy snow.
Kanazawa Castle, Nezumitamon Gate and Nezumitamon Bridge
Kanazawa Castle used to be the seat of the Maeda Clan, a feudal domain ranking second only to the Tokugawa possessions in terms of size and wealth, from 1583 until the end of the Edo Period. Since then, the castle has been extensively rebuilt and renovated due to numerous fire incidents. In July 2020, restorations of Nezumitamon Gate and Nezumitamon Bridge on the west side of Kanazawa Castle were completed.
Gyokusen’an Rest House
Located in the area of Kanazawa Castle Park, this is a tea house with a view of the Gyokusen’inmaru Garden. Sit down and have a cup of tea with wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets).
For lunch, we had a ten-minute walk to reach Omicho Market, one of Kanazawa’s famous fresh food markets. This market offers local specialties such as snow crab and sweet shrimps during the winter season, so we just had to try it! Similar to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market, hundreds of stalls and restaurants selling fresh seafood are lined up so you can choose which ones you want to try!
Higashi Chaya District
Our last spot in Kanazawa city is no doubt the Higashi Chaya District, said to be one of Kanazawa’s largest geisha districts. Walk around the old Chaya (tea house) in a Kimono and take a photoshoot for your social media.
*Note: Leave your luggage at the hotel and get back for them at end of the day. Then, take the Thunderbird limited express train heading to Awara Onsen in Fukui Prefecture.
Enjoy gold leaf ice-cream here too!
Stay at Awara Onsen Matsuya Sensen
Take a hotel shuttle bus from JR Awara Onsen Station to the ryokan.
Awara Hot Spring Footbath
After checking in, we went exploring and checked the FREE public foot bath nearby. Search for “Ashiyu” on Google Maps for this place, located just in front of Awara Yunomachi station. This decent facility offers several foot baths which come in different shapes and temperatures.
For the last day, we hopped on the shuttle bus and train on Hokuriku Line to go back to Fukui Station.
Did you know that Katsuyama City in Fukui Prefecture is Japan’s most prominent dinosaur fossil discovery site? In Fukui Station’s West Exit, you can see a 10-meter model of Fukuititan, one of the dinosaurs found in Fukui. A model of the other dinosaur fossils discovered in Fukui, Fukuiraptor, and Fukuisaurus, can also be found in Fukui Station.
This is a Japanese garden located near Fukui Station. Have a stroll here for a short relaxing time.
Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
To learn about the Fukui dinosaurs, head to the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum, located about an hour away from Fukui Station. This museum located in Katsuyama City is recognized as one of the top dinosaur museums in the world and is the largest of its kind in Japan.
Note that currently, due to COVID-19.safety measures, only visitors who have reserved a ticket are allowed in.
The restaurant inside the museum offers western-style food and Dino characters desserts.
About Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass
If you’re planning to explore Japan’s Central region, this PASS is a must-have item. Aside from being convenient, it will also help you save on transportation costs. Plan your trip well and make the most of it for 5 consecutive days.
- Purchasing the pass before departing will save you some money (cheaper in Singapore than Japan)
- Find more details about the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass here.
- Stay at a hotel near the stations so you can leave your luggage there to go sightseeing. Or else, there are various coin lockers available at stations and popular tourist spots (i.e. Shirakawago).
- Reserve your seats on buses to and from Shirakawago since the place is exceedingly popular with travelers and locals. Buses are always full.
- Once arrived at Nagoya Station, you can exchange your Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass at the JR counter. Also, Tourist Pass holders will be able to go pass the automatic gate from March 2021.
- Tourist Pass holders can reserve seats on Limited Express trains but need to use the non-reserve seats on Shinkansen trains.
- All tourist facilities in Japan have strict Covid-19 safety measures, so you can travel safely when border reopens.