The Three-star Road – A new route to fully enjoy Japanese atmosphere

Central Nagoya Area, Shirakawa-go Area, Takayama Area, Kanazawa Area

Enjoy local dishes while viewing one of the three greatest gardens in Japan, traditional townscapes that are still preserved, Japan's natural scenery, and more. Walk along a tourist route that has been rated three stars in the Michelin Guide.

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Day 1 - Nagoya, Okazaki

Nagoya -- [JR Central Towers] -- <subway 12 mins.> -- Shiyakusho -- [Nagoya Castle] -- <by walk> -- [White-walled Area] -- <by walk> -- Shiyakusho Station -- <Meijo Line 15 mins.> -- Kanayama -- <Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line 3 mins.> -- Jingu-mae -- [Atsuta-jingu Shrine] -- <by walk> -- Atsuta -- <JR Tokaido Line 50 mins.> -- Okazaki -- <Aichi Loop Line 5 mins. > -- Nakaokazaki -- [Haccho Miso] -- <Aichi Loop Line 10 mins.> -- Okazaki Station -- <JR Tokaido Main Line 30 mins.> -- Nagoya

*The times required with public transportation are approximate.

Nagoya Station Area

The area in front of JR Nagoya Station is lined with tall buildings that have various kinds of commercial facilities in them. Opposite Midland Square stands the 245-meter-high JR Central Towers, another landmark of Nagoya and only 2 meters shorter than Midland Square. It contains the first-class “Takashima-ya” Department Store, Tokyu Hands that offers various miscellaneous goods and restaurants. On the 51st floor there’s a wine lounge, restaurants and cafes, where you can spend a little time enjoying the night view.

White-walled Area

On the way, you’ll pass a white-walled area that miraculously avoided any damage during the last war. It is here where the Samurai warriors serving the Tokugawas used to live, and in the modern age, the Toyota family who created the Toyota Group and Akio Morita, the founder of Sony, used to live there. Even today, there are houses and churches with centuries of history and black-painted wooden fences that remind us of the Samurai residences of the past.

Atsuta-jingu Shrine

Atsuta-jingu Shrine enshrines the “Kusanagi-no-tsurugi” sword, which is one of the Three Sacred Treasures, and has been revered by warlords since ancient times. Here, visitors can enjoy a moment of relaxation in silence, away from the bustle of the city.


A recommended dish when visiting Atsuta-jingu Shrine is the famous specialty of Nagoya, “Hitsumabushi”, which is steamed rice in a box topped with thin strips of grilled eel. It can be enjoyed in many ways such as with condiments like green onion, wasabi, and dried seaweed, and covered with green tea at the end.

Haccho Miso, Misokatsu, Udon Noodles boiled with Miso

Day 2 - Hida Takayama

Nagoya -- <JR Takayama Main Line Limited Express 145 mins.> -- Takayama -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Hida Folk Village] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Festa Forest] -- [Chanoyu-no-mori] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Takayama

Hida Takayama

Speaking of Takayama, the city is known for sake made with brand-name spring water from the Japan Alps. Many breweries also offer tastings, with “Funasaka Syuzo” offers a brief explanation in English as well.

Hida Folk Village

Takayama is a city that looks out over the mountains of the Japan Alps and still has old town streets. Visit the “Hida Folk Village” on the circular bus route inside the city and see the precious folk dwellings carefully preserved in the gassho-style.

Festa Forest

Take the bus again to get to “Festa Forest”, the first underground dome in Japan where you can enjoy beautifully decorated “yatai” floats and the largest drum in the world. There is also a display of highly intricate clockwork dolls. In the adjacent “Chanoyu-no-mori”, national treasure-class ceramics are on exhibit. You can drink tea from a cup made by a master craftsman.

Day 3 - Shirakawa-go

Takayama -- <10 mins. by walk> -- [Jinya-mae Morning Market] -- <10 mins. by walk> -- Takayama Station -- <50 mins. by bus> -- [Shirakawa-go] -- -<30 mins. by bus> -- Gokayama (settlement of gassho-style houses)

Jinya Asaichi Morning Market

At this market, fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and craft articles are sold by local people. After shopping, let’s take a stroll through the old town streets.
“Takayama Jinya”, a restored local agency from the Edo period, is something that you must see. Around 60 similar facilities existed throughout Japan in the Edo period; however, this is the only one that still looks today as it did back in those days.



Gassho-style houses, terraced fields, and rice terraces surrounded by mountains dwell in perfect harmony. This is “Ainokura Gassho-zukuri village” in Gokayama (Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture), which is also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as is “Ogimachi gassho-zukuri village” in Shirakawa-go.

Day 4 - Kanazawa

Gokayama -- <90 mins. by bus> -- Kanazawa -- <15 mins. by bus> -- Kenrokuen Shita -- [Kenrokuen Garden] -- <20 mins. by walk> -- [Kanazawa Castle] -- -<15 mins. by walk> -- [Nagamachi Bukeyashiki-ato] -- <3 mins. by walk> -- [Nagamachi Yuzen Kan] -- <20 mins. by walk> -- Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden

Kanazawa Castle

The Kanazawa Castle, located next to the Kenrokuen Garden, is a reconstruction of the original that was built in the latter half of the 16th century. It is one of the largest and greatest wooden castles built since the 19th century. A park surrounds the castle, offering wonderful scenery in the cherry blossom season as well as in the snows of winter. The castle is sometimes lit up at night depending on the season, so it would be worth an evening visit, too.

Nagamachi Bukeyashiki-ato (ruins of old samurai residences)

As you walk among the clay walls, artificial ditches and gates, you half-expect samurai to suddenly appear. Some residences are open to the public.

Nagamachi Yuzen Kan

You could also pop into the Nagamachi Yuzen Kan where there are demonstrations on a type of dyeing called Kaga Yuzen and exhibitions of ceramics and antiques. Kaga Yuzen is a dyeing method that was developed in Kanazawa in the late seventeenth century. It is characterized by its realistic painterly images.

Kaga cuisine

Let’s try the unique local Japanese food called “Kaga cuisine”. Kanazawa faces the Japan Sea and offers tasty seafood such as shrimp and crab. The sushi called “oshizushi”, which is different from the sushi found in Tokyo, and colorful confectionaries are also characteristic of the area.

Day 5 - Kanazawa

Higashi Chaya-machi -- <10 mins. by bus> -- Kanazawa -- <JR Limited Express Shirasagi 180 mins.> -- Nagoya

Higashi Chaya-machi

Buy some souvenirs at “Higashi Chaya-machi”, a shopping district since the Edo period, or at the shopping area in Owari-cho town, and then go to JR Kanazawa Station. Confectionaries or stunning craft products covered with gold leaf are specialties here.