|This autumn, Japan hosts the four-yearly International rugby tournament. Many of the venues, including Fukuroi, Toyota and Yokohama (where the final will be played) are on the route of the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, which links Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. That makes them handy for tourism, too. In this article, we introduce some of the sights and culinary delicacies of two areas within easy reach of the Tokaido Shinkansen, where you can enjoy the best of Japanese culture: the Mt. Fuji/Shizuoka and Shirakawa-go/Hida-Takayama areas. A handy place to find great deals on Tokaido Shinkansen and limited express tickets is the JR Central Shinkansen/Train Portal. You can also buy tickets for tourist spots introduced in this article.|
Shiraito no Taki, in Shizuoka Prefecture, where the snow-melt from Mt. Fuji falls like silken threads
At Shiraito no Taki (Shiraito Falls), small waterfalls cascade over a cliff 20 meters high by 150 meters wide, like so many white silken threads. Fed by snow-melt from Mt. Fuji, the falls have a discharge rate that can reach 1.5 metric tons per second.
The best place to see Shiraito no Taki is from close to the pool at the foot of the falls. On a fine day, the magnificent natural setting, the luxuriant vegetation that surrounds the falls, and the clear emerald green water of the pool make this the perfect spot to take a relaxing break from your journey.
Oden, a popular Japanese dish that goes perfectly with sake
One of Japan’s most popular simmered dishes is oden: white radish, eggs and other ingredients cooked in dashi (stock) made mainly from katsuobushi (skipjack tuna fillet preserved by smoking and drying) and konbu (kelp). The strength and color of the dashi varies from region to region. It tends to be dark brown in eastern Japan and clearer in western Japan, but the local version in Shizuoka is unique in being almost black.
If you’d like to try Shizuoka-style oden, we recommend a visit to Aoba Yokocho or Aoba Oden-gai, the oden streets of Shizuoka City, where you’ll find around 40 small restaurants lining narrow alleys that recall the towns of old Japan. The rules for ordering vary: in some restaurants, you tell the owner which ingredients you want, while in others, you help yourself. Why not take a break from your journey and enjoy a tasty dish of Shizuoka oden with a cup of sake?
Savor Hida beef in Hida-Takayama’s Sanmachi-dori street (Gifu Prefecture)
Far from the hustle and bustle of the big cities, Hida-Takayama is surrounded by mountains over 3,000 meters high. Around 10 minutes’ walk from JR Takayama Station is Sanmachi-dori street, one of the town’s most popular tourist spots. Its old houses date back more than 400 years, to the samurai era, when Hida-Takayama was a flourishing castle town. One of the must-try delicacies of Hida-Takayama is, of course, Hida beef. The meat comes from locally raised Japanese Black cattle, world class beef cattle that have won the Best in Japan prize at an annual show for Japanese breeds.
Fine-textured, tender and marbled with fat that gives it a delicious flavor, Hida beef simply melts in the mouth. Be sure to try it when you are in Hida-Takayama, at a restaurant such as Ginpu-tei, in Sanmachi-dori street.
Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage Site far from the hustle and bustle of the big city
The historic village of Shirakawa-go, listed in 1995 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies deep in the mountains of the Hida-Takayama area.
Set in a peaceful rural landscape, this unusual village with its timber-framed houses in the gassho-zukuri style, which dates back more than 300 years, is still inhabited. The roofs are thatched with rushes for insulation against Hida-Takayama’s harsh winters with heavy snow.
Shirakawa-go is the perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of Japan’s changing seasons: cherry blossom in spring, red leaves in autumn, snow in winter. On a small hill 20 minutes’ walk away is the Ogimachi Castle Observation Deck. Looking down at Shirakawa-go, it’s as if you had stepped back in time.
JR Central Japan Shinkansen/Train Portal
If you’d like to visit some of the tourist spots in this article, check out JR’s Central Japan Shinkansen/Train Portal, a handy website where you can book Shinkansen and limited express tickets.
It’s easy to buy a ticket: just follow the onscreen instructions and enter the date and time of departure, train number, and departure and arrival stations. If you’re visiting Hida-Takayama, the convenient online reservation service Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservation App (smart EX) allows you to buy a tourist pass for unlimited travel on all JR trains, buses etc. in the Tokaido Shinkansen area, as well as cheaper than normal Shinkansen tickets. Why not take advantage of Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen Reservation App (smart EX) when you visit Japan?
Shiraito no Taki (Shiraito Falls)
Address: 273-1 Kamiide, Fujinomiya-shi, Shizuoka-ken
Access: around 60 minutes by Fujikyu Bus from JR Tokaido Shinkansen Shin-Fuji Station; alight at Shiraito no Taki
Aoba Yokocho / Aoba Oden-gai
Address: 1-8-7 Tokiwacho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka-ken
Access: around 10 minutes’ walk from JR Tokaido Shinkansen Shizuoka Station
Old town of Hida-Takayama
Address: Kami-Ichinomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken etc.
Access: around 2 hours 30 minutes from JR Tokaido Shinkansen Nagoya Station by Wide View Hida limited express to JR Takayama Station, then around 10 minutes’ walk
Address: 66 Kami-Ichinomachi, Takayama-shi, Gifu-ken
Access: around 10 minutes’ walk from JR Takayama Station
Address: Shirakawa Village Hall, 517 Hatogaya, Shirakawa-mura, Ono-gun, Gifu-ken
Access: around 2 hours 30 minutes from JR Tokaido Shinkansen Nagoya Station by Wide View Hida limited express to JR Takayama Station, then 1 hour by Nohi Bus