Enjoying Japanese beautiful spring and traditional townscape

Enjoy an exceptional three day adventure along “Mitsuboshi Kaidou” Three-star Road to enjoy some of Japan's best springtime scenery. The cities of Kanazawa, Nanto, Takayama, and Matsumoto explode in cherry blossoms with backdrops of stalwart castles, elegant temples, and townscapes of centuries past. Explore the rich history of this region in one of its most beautiful seasons.

  • START

    Kanazawa Station

    15min
  • 1

    Kanazawa Castle Park

    Kanazawa Castle Park

    During Edo period (1603-1868), the Kaga Domain was one of the wealthiest in Japan, earning the nickname "Kaga-hyakuman-goku", the domain with a revenue of one million koku of rice (a koku was a unit of measurement of rice, an important economic commodity of the time). Kanazawa Castle was inhabited by the head of the Kaga Domain, the Maeda family. Several fires claimed most of the original castle structures; today, only a few buildings remain, such as Ishikawa-mon Gate. However, multiple buildings have been reconstructed using the original building techniques from those days. Look carefully at the traditional timber framework using classic Japanese advanced construction skills in which not a single nail is used. The beautiful stone walls and the beauty of Gyokuseninmaru Garden also make this park an ideal place for a spring exploration. The highlights of spring are the beautiful cherry blossoms, especially those that bloom spectacularly alongside the stone walls. You can also enjoy the gorgeous views of cherry blossoms illuminated at night.

    Detail
    3min
  • 2

    Kenrokuen Garden

    Kenrokuen Garden

    Kenrokuen Garden is located next to Kanazawa Castle Park. It is a vast Japanese garden of 11.7 hectares that is known as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, and has been rated 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. In contrast to the snowy landscape during the winter, plants in the large garden begin to come alive immediately after the long winter has passed, as if they have been waiting for spring. 200 red and white plum trees and more than 400 cherry trees are situated strategically around the garden. The cherry blossoms are illuminated to be enjoyed at night as well, making it an ideal time to view the night time cherry blossoms in combination with Kanazawa Castle Park.

    Detail
    15min
  • 3

    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
    25min
  • GOAL

    Kazuemachi Chaya District and Asanogawa River

    Kazuemachi Chaya District and Asanogawa River

    Kazuemachi Chaya District is designated as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings, where the streets that once bustled as a teahouse district have been preserved. The elegant atmosphere of ancient Kanazawa can be experienced by wandering through the narrow alleyways between the gabled roofs of the tea houses. The view of the cherry blossoms around the nearby Asanogawa Ohashi Bridge in the spring is spectacular.

    Detail
  • START

    Higasi Chaya District

    15min
  • 1

    Kanazawa Station

    45min
  • 2

    Johana Betsuin Zentokuji Temple

    Johana Betsuin Zentokuji Temple

    Zentokuji Temple is a prestigious temple founded about 530 years ago and now designated as a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan. It is a temple closely associated with the Kaga Domain and Maeda clan. The main hall was most recently rebuilt in 1759 and has remained for about 250 years without being destroyed by disaster. Every spring, the Shidare Sakura Matsuri takes place, with the 370 year-old Itozakura (weeping cherry trees) in full bloom, and important elements of the temple which are not usually open to the public can be seen.

    Detail
    10min
  • 3

    Townscape of Johona

    Townscape of Johona

    The elegant and hilly streets of Johana thrived as a Monzenmachi (a neighborhood surrounding an ancient gate) of Johana Betsuin Zentokuji Temple. The nostalgic atmosphere of the old soy sauce shops and others stores remains intact. Dozougunkura Kairo, the line of store houses owned by the wealthy merchants, is an iconic view of this "Little Kyoto of Etchu Province". In addition to the cherry blossoms-lined streets of Johana, the large cherry tree on an embankment of the Yamada River and cherry trees in Mukouno within a 15-minute walk are also spectacular.

    Detail
    70min
  • GOAL

    Takayama Station

  • START

    Takayama Station

    15min
  • 1

    Old Town

    Old Town

    The central area of Takayama city was developed as a castle and merchant town in the Edo period (1603 to 1868). The streets which retain the atmosphere of the Edo period are preserved as a National Important Preservation District for Traditional Buildings. Machiya (old townhouses) from the late 19th to the early 20th century, as well as sake breweries, handicraft and gift shops, and cafes can be enjoyed in this quaint part of the city. Each spring and fall, Takayama Festival, one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan, takes place in this area. In the spring, the contrast between the red Nakabashi Bridge and the cherry blossoms are beautiful, making it a popular photo spot.

    Detail
    180min
  • 2

    Matsumoto Station

    20min
  • 3

    Matsumoto Castle

    Matsumoto Castle

    Matsumoto Castle is a national treasure, one of only 12 original castle towers left in Japan. The castle tower is thought to have been built in around 1593, making it the oldest castle in Japan with a 6 story castle tower still remaining. This castle with a strong contrast of its black and white exterior looks stately with the Japan Northern Alps in the background. You can also see the fantastic reflections of the castle on the surface of the water in the moat surrounding the castle tower. Approximately 300 cherry trees are planted in Matsumoto Castle Park and its garden; during cherry blossom season in early April, the scene of the beautiful castle amidst its cherry blossoms can be enjoyed. The cherry blossoms are also illuminated to enjoy during the nights they are in bloom.

    Detail
    10min
  • 4

    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
    5min
  • 5

    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
    15min
  • GOAL

    Matsumoto Station

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