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Autumn Central Japan Itinerary Self Drive – 7 Days 6 Night Summary


Japan is charming. Despite visiting a couple of time over the years, it didn’t stop us from revisiting. This trip, we explore the less travelled route – Central Japan. A road trip to Central Japan is very different from the road trip in Hokkaido. Both were stunning and if I were to pick among the two, I will choose Central Japan.

To begin with, Central Japan is a lot less spoken of. Thus, it makes travelling in the region a lot more mysterious. Best of all, we get to experience authentic local culture this trip. Most of them don’t speak English and we communicated by body language and warm smiles. Despite the rough terrain, the scenic drive along the highway made up for it.   

Disclaimer: We travelled 7 Day 6 Night during our trip to Central Japan. However, we feel that there are more things to do and the one we experience was very packed. Thus, we recommend having at least 10 days 9 Night to truly enjoy a road trip to Central Japan.

+1 night is a recommendation for an additional night.

Summary  of 7 Day 6 Night Central Japan Itinerary

Day 1: Airport – Kawagoe Ichinoya – Check-in Karuizawa hotel @ Hilton Cu - Explore Kyu Karuizawa/ Old Karuizawa Ginza Street - Church Street Karuizawa/ St. Paul’s Catholic Church - Dinner at Kawakamian
 Day 2: Shiraito Waterfall - Onioshidashi Park – Check-in Kusatsu hotel at Ryokan Tamura - Dinner in Ryokan - Visit Yubatake
Day 3: Explore Sainokawara Street - Yumomi Performance – Set off to Kurobe via scenic road – Arrive at Kurobe –  Dinner at - Check-in hotel Yukai Resort Unaduki Grand Hotel
Day 4: Kurobe Dam – Lunch at Oyster seafood restaurant かき処 - set off to Tateyama – Check-in at Wat Hotel & Spa Hida Takayama –
Day 5: Miyagawa Morning Market - Kamikochi – 奈賀勢 for dinner -Check in at Takayama Sansui.
Day 6: Morning Market in Takayama Sansui – Matsumoto Castle – Kawaguchiko
Day 7: Depart from Kawaguchiko - Haneda Airport

Which Airport to fly to?
We made a mistake flying to/from Narita Airport because we book our ticket before deciding where to visit. If you did not book your tickets and is planning to visit Central Japan, you can consider flying to Haneda Airport or Nagoya Airport to kickstart your trip! This will help you save a lot of time travelling on the road! 

Note: Above map is set off from Haneda Airport 

Day 1: Airport – Kawagoe Ichinoya – Check-in Karuizawa hotel @ Hilton Cu - Explore Kyu Karuizawa/ Old Karuizawa Ginza Street - Church Street Karuizawa/ St. Paul’s Catholic Church - Dinner at Kawakamian
After collecting our rental car in the morning, we did the usual check on the rental car and set up tools for our camera in the car. First stop-over was at a rest stop. Love these stops and the ones in Japan is really nice! Not only you can top up your fuel and go for toilet breaks, but they also have local produce available for purchase. When it comes down to selecting which stopovers is the best, the Japanese are pretty competitive. You can visit the list for the top rest stop across Japan here

In the afternoon, Stop by Kawagoe for lunch! Kawagoe Ichinoya has been operating for more than 7th generation and we had to try it for ourselves. Afterwards, we went to explore Kawagoe and found some amazing snacks along Kashiya Yokocho street that’s our favourite on the trip!

Read more about Kawagoe here

Next, we set off to Karuizawa and went straight to check-into our accommodation for the night - Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton. We were pleased to find out they upgraded our room! The suite is indeed big and we were pretty reluctant to leave the room.


In the evening, we explore the street of Karuizawa and found the cute little shops that sell various snacks and souvenirs. For dinner, we visited the popular Karuizawa Soba restaurant and was treated amazing soba! We ordered both cold and hot noodle and found ourselves like the cold noodle more!

Day 2: Shiraito Waterfall - Onioshidashi Park – Check-in Kusatsu hotel at Ryokan Tamura - Dinner in Ryokan - Visit Yubatake
In the late morning, take a walk in Karuizawa street for a walk before heading to Shiraito waterfall. You can find some traditional snacks shop that is only open in the morning. Grab some food as early lunch

Afterwards, visit Shiraito Waterfall, a small waterfall that is located along the way to  Onioshidashi Park. The park features a landscape of volcanic rock and is shaped by the volcanic sediment during the 1783 eruption of Mount Asama.
Read more about Karuizawa here

Set off to Kusastu for the best Onsen in Japan! Enjoy a bath in the Onsen before dinner provided by the Ryokan. In the evening, visit Yubtake with lights lined along with the attraction, making it stunning and very different from the day.

Day 3: Explore Sainokawara Street - Yumomi Performance – Set off to Kurobe via scenic road – Arrive at Kurobe –  Dinner at - Check-in hotel Yukai Resort Unaduki Grand Hotel
Catch Yumomi performance before leaving Kusatsu. The traditional performance on how local cools down the high temperature of the onsen water is interesting. You even get to try to do it during the performance.

Afterwards, set off to Kurobe via scenic road and visit the highest peak in Japan highway. Take a break at the peak and enjoy the view. Despite the long journey to Kurobe, it was worth the ride. In the evening, have dinner at Kurobe City before heading to Yukai Resort Unaduki Grand Hotel. 

+ 1 day at Nagano after Kusatsu

Day 4: Kurobe Dam – Lunch at Oyster seafood restaurant かき処 - set off to Tateyama – Check-in at Wat Hotel & Spa Hida Takayama 
Set off to the Kurobe Railway in the morning and you will be treated with a stunning view. The railway takes you to deep into the Gorge and unspoilt nature. Bluewater with the cool breeze, Kurobe Dam is definitely the highlight of the trip

In the afternoon, visit かき処 for fresh deepwater oyster! There are many ways to enjoy the oyster and our favourite is the grilled version! They even offer eat-as many grilled/steam oyster for those who loves oyster.
Read more about Kurobe here

Then, set off to Takayama and make a stop at Hida Village if times allow. In the evening, treat yourself to Hida Beef or even pork if you fancy. Check-in and rest at Wat Hotel & Spa Hida Takayama for the night

 + 1-day recommendation at Toyama after Kurobe

Day 5: Miyagawa Morning Market - Kamikochi – 奈賀勢 for dinner -Check in at Takayama Sansui.

The next morning, visit Migawa Morning market and explore the street. Have a local snack and sake for breakfast! Find a local café and people watch! The buildings in the old town are beautifully preserved from the Edo Period.

 

Afterwards, set off to Kamikochi - the most popular and well preserved mountainous highland valley alps in northern Japan. Explore the beautiful highland and listen to water gushing down the river.
In the evening, have dinner at奈賀勢 a local Japanese restaurant in Takayama. The home-cook style of Japanese food definitely warms our stomach on a cold day. End the night by Check-ing at Ryokan Takayama Sansui. 

Day 6: Morning Market in Takayama Sansui – Matsumoto Castle – Kawaguchiko
Take a walk along Takayama Sansui and enjoy the fresh air and cool breeze. Visit a small morning market! Love the rustic layout the market offers. You can find local produce as well as souvenirs in the shop! Then, set off to Matsumoto City and visit the ancient castle. Built-in 1592 to 1614, Matsumoto Castle is one of the castles in Japan and is well kept in its original state. 

Our initial plan was to visit Kawaguchiko and spend a night before heading back to Singapore. Unfortunately, due to personal reason, we had to reschedule our flight. We end up cancelling our trip to Kawaguchiko. Nonetheless, you can refer to our previous trip to Kawaguchiko itinerary here


 + 1 day recommendation at Kwaguchiko 

Day 7: Depart from Kawaguchiko - Haneda Airport

Overall, we had lots of fun despite the packed itinerary. Road trips are like a life lesson. You never know what’s going to happen despite all the plan. To be honest, we were a little too ambitious to complete the central japan in 7 days. Thus, highly recommend those who are visiting central japan for a road trip to extend to 10 days! 

H & I will be back for sure! 

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