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Top things to do in Gifu and Nagano prefectures: A guide to traveling in central Japan

By Lena Handy

Surrounded by vast mountain ranges and cool refreshing air, Higashi Mino and Minami Shinshu are scenic travel stops located within Gifu and Nagano prefectures in central Japan. Both prefectures are home to not only a number of incredible natural landscapes but also beautifully preserved historic towns that will transport you right back to the golden age of samurai Japan. Here time passes slowly, and you can take your time exploring a secret slice of Japanese nature and history that looks absolutely picture perfect—every step of the way.

How to get in and around central Japan and Gifu and Nagano Prefectures

Things to do in Higashi Mino and Minami Shinshu

Example three-day itinerary for exploring Higashi Mino and Minami Shinshu

What to eat in Gifu and Nagano

When to go to Gifu and Nagano

Where to stay in Higashi Mino and Minami Shinshu

Resources and guides for traveling in Gifu and Nagano

How to get in and around central Japan and Gifu and Nagano Prefectures

Chubu Centrair International Airport is the primary transport hub for traveling to central Japan, from where you can easily travel to Gifu and Nagano as well as other highlight destinations in the area, including Mie Prefecture and Aichi Prefecture (where the airport is located).

With international flight routes covering over 39 cities overseas, the airport is a great option if you want to fly direct into the heart of Japan and start your adventures there rather than following the traditional “Golden Route” and starting from Tokyo. Still, if you are coming from Japan’s capital like we did, it’s just a short and cheap one-hour flight (around ¥7,000 one-way) from Haneda Airport.

To get to the Higashi Mino and Minami Shinshu areas from Centrair Air International Airport, you’ll want to take the Meitetsu Tokoname-Airport Line. Inside the region, the JR Chuo Line and high-speed “Wide View Shinano” train run through the main access points: Nakatsugawa Station, Nagiso Station, and Kiso Fukushima Station.

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Still, if you are coming from Japan’s capital like we did, it’s just a short and cheap one-hour flight (around ¥7,000 one-way) from Haneda Airport.

Why on Earth are you recommending people in Tokyo visit Central Japan via air? It makes no sense at all - both Chubu and Haneda airports are extremely inconveniently located relative to the city centres in Nagoya and Tokyo. This is just plain awful advice.

Take the shinkansen, the cost is about the same and it takes you from downtown to downtown with no waits, check ins, security checks or anything. Just show up, buy your ticket and you will be on your way in minutes. You will easily save yourself half a day of hassle that way.

Chubu airport is only really useful if you are visiting the Tokai area from overseas or very far off parts of Japan like Hokkaido or Okinawa.

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In the hiking part of the video, the tallest mountain referred to as the "summit", Kiso-komadake, is not even named once and is not "the highest point in Nagano" as stated on the voiceover. The highest mountains are the ones near Kamikochi, Yari, Oku-Hotaka etc.

rainyday is correct in that Chubu airport is miles out of the way. I suspect it has been included as the target viewer is young people from HK and Singapore.

I've not been to Meijitei but the sauce they use is on sale and is very good. It's thinner and fruitier than regular Japanese "sauce".

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There's Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagano City about one and a half hours. From there a bus to Hakuba or a train to Matsumoto. From Matsumoto train and bus into Kamikochi.

There's also a train from Tokyo to Matsumoto.

Nagano City---Matsumoto---train to Hakuba---bus to Nagano City

On the train to Hakuba is Omachi with the Kurobe Dam.

Food: Soba noodles are always very good. Also steamed buns called oyaki are very nice.

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