The Best of 3Star Road - 5 Days

Include spots in Nagano to make your trip along the Mitsuboshi Kaidou Three-star Road even more memorable. Fully enjoy all of the world heritage sites and other three-star locations that the area has to offer!

  • START

    Nagano Station

    30min
  • 1

    Zenkoji Temple

    Zenkoji Temple

    The foundation of Zenkoji temple is believed to be around 1,400 years ago. The present main hall is a majestic wooden architecture rebuilt in the Mid-Edo period (1707 A.D.), spans 24 meters wide and 54 meters long. It has a unique structure called “Shumoku Zukuri (literally, ‘wooden bell-hammer structure’)”, which illustrates the old custom of “okomori”, during which many pilgrims seclude themselves overnight to offer prayers. It was designated as a National Treasure in 1953. Zenkoji has been known as a temple that saves people regardless of their sects. Many pilgrims from nation-wide have been paying visits since the Heian period (8th century).

    Detail
    40min
  • 2

    Togakushi Shrine

    Togakushi Shrine

    The famous mystical power central! “Togakushi Shrine” This shrine was developed as the base for the mountain worship towards Mt. Togakushi. It used to be a temple that assembled a number of pilgrims’ lodgings, and was turned into a Shinto shrine that is deeply associated with deities from the myth of “Opening of Amanoiwato” and was worshiped by many people, after the Meiji period. It consists of five buildings, each named Okusha, Chusha, Hokosha , Kuzuryusha and Hinomikosha. ◇Hokosha Amongst old cedar trees stands a magnificent shrine preserving the appearance of the time of Shinto-Buddhist amalgamation atop 270 stone-steps. Enshrined deity is Amenouwaharunomikoto, who is the child of the deity of Chusha. ◇Hinomikosha This shrine is dedicated to Amenouzumenomikoto, who danced in front of gods and won their applause in the myth of “Opening of Amanoiwato”. She is worshiped as the god of performing arts and good luck. The famous Saigyo Sakura is in its precinct. ◇Chusha This shrine is dedicated to Amenoyagokoroomoikanenomikoto, the deity of wisdom who came up with the idea of playing Kagura (Shinto music) in order to open the Amanoiwato. Many worshipers visit the shrine, which holds over 800-year-old triple cedar trees in its precinct. Training and dedication of Daidai Kagura take place in the Kagura hall, which are sometimes open for viewing. ◇Okusha (Main Shrine) Towering grand wall of Mt. Togakushi in the background, the shrine enshrines Amenotajikaraonomikoto, who forcibly opened Amanoiwato with his peerless divine might. Numerous worshippers visit the shrine, which is responsive to prayers related to issues such as bringing good luck, realization of wishes and abundant harvest. The approach spans about 2 kilometers with a red, thatched-roof Zuishinmon gate in the middle, and leads visitors to the avenue of over 400-year-old cedar trees, which are designated a Natural Monument. ◇Kuzuryusha Kuzuryusha sits next to Okusha, and has been the central deity for the Togakushi worship as the local deity since the old time. As the deity who presides over the water, it is worshiped by the people engaged in agriculture in the wide area along Torii, Kusu and Susobana rivers, as well as the Echigo region, which is connected through the underground water. Though the date of foundation is unknown, it was enshrined as the local deity before the enshrinement of Amenotajikaraonomikoto. It is worshiped for its divine virtue of realization of wishes. It is also worshiped as the god of caries as well as of matchmaking. ◇Zuishinmon Guarded by a pair of lion-dogs, the Zuishinmon gate stands in the substantially intermediate point of the approach to Okusha. The promenade from Togakushi Forest Botanical Garden also meets the approach at this point.

    Detail
    50min
  • 3

    Nagano Station

    60min
  • GOAL

    Matsumoto Station

  • START

    Matsumoto Station

    20min
  • 1

    Matsumoto Castle, National Treasure of Japan

    Matsumoto Castle, National Treasure of Japan

    Matsumoto Castle is the oldest castle of its size remaining in Japan and a designated National Treasure of Japan. Current structures date back to 1594, including the six story main keep that stands watch over Matsumoto city as it did over 400 years ago. The contrast between its black and white exterior is beautiful, and it has a very elegant appearance with the Northern Alps in the background. ”No visit to Matsumoto is complete without a visit to the castle grounds, with its reflection on its inner moat and if you time it right, seasonal foliage like cherry blossoms or maple tree leaves, or an illuminated snowy visage in the winter.

    Detail
    15min
  • 2

    Nawate Street

    Nawate Street

    This little shopping district five-minutes walk south of Matsumoto Castle is a bustling pedestrian shopping area famous for its cute frog motif, which comes from its proximity to the river and its formerly abundant population of Kajika frogs. The real frogs are gone but stone statues and other reminders of the frogs remain. About 40 shops standing side by side here sell unique items like traditional folk utensils, antiques, and old-style candy, as well as several cafes. The beautiful weeping cherry blossom trees can be found along the street making it a perfect place for a spring stroll.

    Detail
    5min
  • 3

    Nakamachi Street

    Nakamachi Street

    Nakamachi Street flourished in the Edo Period along the route that connected Zenkoji Temple in Nagano to Nagoya and Kyoto. It ran through the center of the castle town of Matsumoto and prospered as a business district. The distinct black-and-white architecture of the storehouses is done in an architectural style called "namako-kabe-dozo", which protected the buildings from destruction by fire in the event of a disaster. Today, the area flourishes as a shopping district that includes many traditional crafts, folk art, and restaurants.

    Detail
    15min
  • 4

    Matsumoto City Museum of Art

    Matsumoto City Museum of Art

    A huge outdoor sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, who was born in Matsumoto, greets visitors at the entrance of the museum. This museum holds many unique exhibitions as a means of showcasing the local art of Matsumoto.

    Detail
    120min
  • GOAL

    Hirayu Onsen

    Hirayu Onsen

    This is one of the oldest hot springs in Oku-hida Onsen Village. Located near the Gifu entrance of the Abo Tunnel that links Gifu Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture, this is easily accessible from the Kanto area. There are also shuttle buses running to and from Kamikochi and Mount Noritake at Hirayu Bus Terminal.

    Detail
  • START

    Hirayu Onsen

    40min
  • 1

    Shinhotaka Ropeway

    Shinhotaka Ropeway

    Breathtakingly beautiful, the ropeway whisks travelers high into the mountains with incredible views of the peaks towering over the area. There is a delicious bakery at the third station, which makes for a great snack and coffee break as well as an opportunity to sit down and appreciate the alpine scenery. Outside is an onsen foot bath to rest and soak your tired feet in a beautiful outdoor setting. At the final station, there is a shop, a cafe, and a short walking course which allows visitors to enjoy the outdoors and savor the fresh mountain air while walking admist the conifers. The Shin Hotaka ropeway is a "must do" for anyone travelling along the Mitsuboshi Kaidou!

    Detail
    120min
  • 2

    food & culture walk

    food & culture walk

    Visit a Edo period sake brewery and the traditional morning market with a dedicated guide. Enjoy a 2.5 hour walking tour that teaches you about the unique Hida Takayama food culture.

    Detail
    70min
  • GOAL

    Shirakawago Bus Terminal

  • START

    Gassho-zukuri Minkaen (Folklore Park)

    Gassho-zukuri Minkaen (Folklore Park)

    This is an outdoor museum constructed by moving and preserving the gassho-zukuri houses that are no longer in use in the Shirakawa village. The lifestyle led back in the old times is recreated and showcased here.

    Detail
    70min
  • 1

    World Heritage Ainokura Gassho-style Village

    World Heritage  Ainokura Gassho-style Village

    Ainokura provides an intimate look at the unique, traditional Japanese architecture of gassho-style thatched roof houses and the lifestyles of the village residents. Set against the backdrop of the Japan Alps, the scenery of Ainokura looks as if it could have been plucked from another century long past. Besides the residents who are still inhabiting several of the traditional houses, there are museums, restaurants, and souvenir shops built in the same gassho-zukuri thatched roof style. Those who wish to experience life in a traditional mountain village can book an inn to spend the night (reservations required in advance).

    Detail
    50min
  • 2

    Gokayama Washi no Sato(Road station TAIRA)

    Gokayama Washi no Sato(Road station TAIRA)

    Gokayama washi is a handmade paper from Toyama Prefecture prized for its beauty and durability. It uses fibers of the mulberry plant mixed with a viscous extract from the Tororo Aoi, a type of hibiscus plant. Gokayama washi is one of the products designated as a National Important Traditional Craft of Japan. At the Gokayama Washi no Sato, choose from a huge variety of washi products including stationery, jewelry, and wall hangings. When you are done browsing their immense selection, take part in a washi-making workshop where you will be instructed in making your own set of washi postcards that you can take home with you. A staff member will guide you through the latter part of the washi making process, including scooping and straining the fibers, adding decorative elements and drying. To learn the full process of making Gokayama washi, there is an informative 10-minute video in English to watch.

    Detail
    70min
  • 3

    Kanazawa Station

    Kanazawa Station

    Kanazawa Station is JR West Railway's major station located in Kanazawa. The reconstruction of the surrounding area is still making progress for the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (a bullet train) from Kanazawa to Osaka. There is a glass dome called Motenashi (Welcome) Dome, which looks like a huge umbrella, at the east entrance of Kanazawa Station. The dome has a wooden gate called Tsuzumi-mon, which symbolizes a traditional Japanese instrument called tsuzumi (hand drums). The underground of the dome serves as an information corner and event space. In recent years, the area has become a busier shopping quarter with the construction of large-sized shopping buildings.

    Detail
    15min
  • 4

    Kazue-machi Chaya District

    Kazue-machi Chaya District

    Historical Rows of Houses Designated as Japan's Cultural Assets Kazue-machi is an old geisha district located along the river between Asanogawa Ohashi Bridge and Naka-no Hashi Bridge. Gaisha are traditional, female Japanese entertainers, whose skills include performing various Japanese arts, such as classical music and dance. It is one of the three geisha districts of Kanazawa. Chaya is a traditional place of feasts and entertainments, where geisha perform dances and play Japanese traditional musical instruments, such as the shamisen (a three-stringed musical instrument), bamboo flute, and drum. Still now, many chaya houses and restaurants are located in this neighborhood, and people may hear the sound of the shamisen from the twilight time. When you stroll around this area, you can see very Kanazawa-like and Japanese-like scenes and atmospheres, such as the view of the area from Asanogawa Ohashi Bridge, the rows of chaya houses in Kazue-machi, the appearance of Naka-no Hashi Bridge, and Kuragarizaka (a dark slope), which connects to the Owari-cho hill area. The historical rows of this teahouse town have been designated as Japan's cultural assets since 2008.

    Detail
    15min
  • GOAL

    Around Kohrinbo and Kata-machi

    Around Kohrinbo and Kata-machi

    Greatest Shopping Quarter in Hokuriku The Korinbo and Kata-machi area and its vicinity are the greatest shopping quarter in the Hokuriku district (Ishikawa Prefecture, Toyama Prefecture, and Fukui Prefecture) and crowded with a large number of shoppers on holidays. There are department stores, large-scale shopping buildings, and brand stores in Korinbo, restaurants in Kata-machi and Kigura-machi, stores centering on the latest fashions for young people in Tate-machi and Kakinokibatake, and handicraft stores in Hirosaka.

    Detail
  • START

    Kenrokuen Garden

    Kenrokuen Garden

    A Beautiful and Famous Garden in the Heart of Kanazawa Considered one of Japan’s three most beautiful gardens, Kenrokuen Garden is a must-visit location in Kanazawa. The name Kenrokuen means “having six factors”, representing the attributes which bring out the garden’s stunning beauty: spaciousness, tranquility, artifice, antiquity, water sources and magnificent views. The garden has an area of 11.4 hectares and is located on the heights of the central part of Kanazawa next to Kanazawa Castle. The Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Domain (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) in feudal times, maintained the garden from generation to generation. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful feudal lords' gardens in Japan. One of Kenrokuen Garden’s most stunning attractions is its large artificial pond called Kasumigaike. Located near the center of the pond is Horai Island. The pond is often seen to symbolize the sea and Horai Island a sacred island out at sea, on which an ageless hermit with miraculous power was believed to live. As a result, the pond and the island were constructed to symbolize long life and eternal prosperity for the lord. There are many other gorgeous features to enjoy in the garden, including the flowers and trees that grow there, such as plum and cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas and irises early in summer, and colorful red and yellow leaves in autumn. In November, visitors can enjoy the snow-covered landscapes with yukizuri (which means “snow hanging”). Yukizuri is a traditional technique for protecting the branches of the pine trees in the garden from heavy snow; trees are given support by bamboo poles and rope arranged a captivating conical layout.

    Detail
    3min
  • 1

    Kanazawa Castle Park

    Kanazawa Castle Park

    One of Kanazawa’s key historic landmarks Once the home of the Maeda family, who governed the Kaga Domain – present day Ishikawa and Toyama – for over 280 years, Kanazawa Castle is an essential part of the city’s history. Many features of the castle have been destroyed over its long history – including the original castle tower, which was destroyed in a fire – and many of them have been rebuilt. Two of its longest lasting features are the Ishikawa-mon Gate, which was rebuilt in 1788, and the Sanjikken Nagaya which was rebuilt in 1858. Both of them have been designated as important cultural assets. During the time of the Maeda family, Kanazawa Castle was surrounded by moats and had a fort function with loopholes for matchlocks on the outer wall in order to keep it secure from enemies. The beautiful white tiles that grace the roof are weathered lead and the walls made of white mortar with flat tiles attached to it. The stone walls vary in type throughout the castle and it is apparent that many of them were built in separate periods, with the oldest dating back more than 400 years ago. Prior to Kanazawa Castle and its park’s restoration, it was used for many different purposes. For a time, it was used as base for the Japanese army and then a campus for Kanazawa University before being designated a National Historic Site in 2008. Hishi Yagura, Gojikken Nagaya, and Hashizume-mon Tsuzuki Yagura (turret and storehouse) These three stunning features are reproductions of original aspects of the park from over 125 years ago. Hishiyagura is a diamond-shaped turret, Gojikken Nagaya a 90-yard-long warehouse, and Hashizumemon Tsuzuki Yagura a turret designed to protect a nearby gate. Constructed through traditional methods, they offer a glimpse into Kanazawa’s past. Kahoku-mon Gate Though the original Kahoku-mon Gate disappeared over 130 years ago, a new one has been built using traditional Japanese techniques. Functioning as the main gate of Kanazawa Castle, the Kahoku-mon Gate is located down Kahokuzaka Hill, past the Ote-mon Gate. The Kahoku-mon Gate, Ishiwaka-mon Gate, and Hashizume-mon Gate are regarded as the three major gates of Kanazawa Castle. Gyokusen-inmaru Garden In 1634, the third lord of the Maeda family started to construct the garden. Although it was destroyed at the end of the feudal period, the garden was reconstructed in 2015. If you visit the garden on a Friday or Saturday after sunset, you can enjoy a captivating lights show.aired in 1996, and the Hishiyagura (diamond-shaped turret), Gojikken Nagaya (90-yard-long warehouse), and Hashizumemon Tsuzuki Yagura (turret protecting the nearby gate) were restored and the park opened. In the time of the Maeda family, moats surrounded Kanazawa Castle. The castle had a fort function with loopholes for matchlocks on the outer wall to defend the castle from enemies. The beautiful white tiles that grace the roof are weathered lead and the wall is made of white mortar with flat tiles attached to it. The stone walls vary in type with each place, and it is apparent that the stonewalls were built in separate periods. The stone walls include those built more than 400 years ago. - Hishiyagura, Gojikken Nagaya, and Hashizumemon Tsuzuki Yagura The Hishiyagura (diamond-shaped turret), Gojikken Nagaya (90-yard-long warehouse), and Hashizumemon Tsuzuki Yagura (turret protecting the nearby gate) are large-scale wooden castle buildings reproducing the original sights of approximately 125 years ago. The turrets on the right and left to watch the gate are connected with the Gojikken Nagaya. The traditional construction method and the roles of the castle in those days are introduced in the buildings. - Kahokumon-gate The reconstruction of the Kahokumon-gate, which had disappeared 130 years ago, was completed in Japan's traditional construction methods based on historical facts. The Kahokumon-gate, which is virtually the main gate of Kanazawa Castle, is located down Kahokuzaka Hill past the Otemon-gate of Kanazawa Castle. The Kahokumon-gate, Ishiwakamon-gate, and Hashizume-mon gate are regarded as the three major gates of Kanazawa Castle. The interior of the gate is open to the public for free. - Gyokusen 'inmaru garden In 1634, the third lord of the Maeda family, who ruled the Kaga Clan (the present Ishikawa and Toyama areas) during the feudal times, started to construct the garden. Although it was destroyed at the end of the feudal times, the garden was reconstructed in 2015. Light-up : every Friday, Saturday and day before national holidays, starting after sunset until 9:00 pm

    Detail
    3min
  • 2

    Oyama Jinja Shrine

    Oyama Jinja Shrine

    The shrine that enshrines Maeda Toshiie was moved to the present location in 1873. The main gate is a peculiar mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese, and European religious architectural elements. This gate, which was designated as Japan's important cultural assets, was completed in 1875. One of the highlights of Oyama Shrine is the garden in round-the-pond style with an artificial island and bridge in the images of old musical instruments, such as the biwa (Japanese short-necked fretted lute).

    Detail
    5min
  • 3

    Ohmi-cho Market

    Ohmi-cho Market

    Discover Kanazawa’s most famous fish market Established during the Edo Period, Omicho Market has formed an essential part of Kanazawa’s food culture for more than 280 years. The sprawling market features more than 170 stores, including a large number of fishmongers that sell freshly caught seafood from the Sea of Japan. There are also fruit and vegetables stores that sell unique local produce, marine product stores, clothing stores, grocery stores and restaurants. Particularly well-revered are the crab, yellowtail and shrimp from the Sea of Japan that are sold around November. Because of this, the market is normally crowded with tourists and locals alike during this time of year. Another key attraction of the market is Omicho Ichibakan. The refurbished building features a number of popular restaurants and stores that are worth stopping by during your trip to the market.

    Detail
    20min
  • 4

    Nagamachi District

    Nagamachi District

    Nagamachi Samurai District, with its classic earthen walls and the stone paved streets is home to some of the city's magnificent samurai residents. The area is still a traditional town area and retains the atmosphere and the scenery of Edo period (1603-1868) as it was long ago. Along the nearby Saigawa River there are many cherry trees, perfect for a stroll along the riverside.

    Detail
    20min
  • 5

    D.T. Suzuki Museum

    D.T. Suzuki Museum

    Learn about the life and teachings of Kanazawa’s most famed philosopher Known around the world, Daisetz Suzuki – also known as D.T. Suzuki – is one of Japan’s most famous Buddhist philosophers. His essays and teaching were incredibly influential in spreading Buddhist philosophy to the West and in 1963 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Born in Kanazawa, the philosopher is commemorated in city through the D.T. Suzuki Museum. The museum is located in the area of the city where D.T. Suzuki was born and comprises three wings – the Entrance Wing, the Exhibition Space Wing and the Contemplation Space Wing – as well as three gardens – the Vestibule Garden, the Water Mirror Garden and the Roji Garden. In addition to containing many exhibits relating to the life of D.T. Suzuki, the museum also serves as a place of reflection for visitors as they contemplate his teachings.

    Detail
    10min
  • 6

    21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

    21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa

    A hub for contemporary art in Kanazawa Opened in 2004, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa stands out compared to more traditional art museums. The museum features a captivating disc-like design, as if it were a UFO touching down in the middle of Kanazawa. All the walls are made of glass and the building features five gates, all pointing towards different parts of the city. The museum exhibits experimental contemporary art that visitors can touch or sit on and is perfect for children and adults alike. Some of museum’s highlights include commissioned works, which are integrated into the building’s unique design. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art excels at offering visitors unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Highlights include Leandro Erlich's The Swimming Pool, which enables visitors to feel as if they’re standing at the bottom of a swimming pool, and a wall decorated with flowers gathered from the suburbs of Kanazawa. Additionally, the museum's shop offers a wide variety of products, such as museum memorabilia, accessories, and selected goods.

    Detail
    20min
  • 7

    Kaikaro Teahouse

    Kaikaro Teahouse

    Kaikaro is a refurbished chaya house originally existed more than 180 years ago. The interior of the house includes vermilion-lacquered stairs, vegetable-dyed tatami (mats made of woven straw), fusuma-e (paintings on sliding-door panels) created by a contemporary artist, and a Japanese tearoom with tatami made of gold-laced woven straw, all of which have reproduced the atmosphere of the chaya house in those days with a contemporary feeling. Kaikaro offers a tea service around a sunken hearth, has a souvenir shop, and occasionally holds a guestroom experience time with geisha's attendance.

    Detail
    15min
  • GOAL

    Kanazawa Station

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