| Centrip Editorial Board

Online Tours to the Central Japan Region

Online tours let you experience the joys of travel from the comforts of home. Join us as I introduce you to some online tours in the Central Japan Region.

Hida Takayama, Gifu: A Walking Tour of the City

Let me introduce you to the Hida Takayama online tour. Hida Takayama receives approximately 4.7 million total visitors annually, and before the outbreak of COVID19, hosted more than 600,000 inbound visitors. My guide for the tour was Mr. Kogaito of MK Planning, a 25-year veteran of this business.

Mr. Kogaito wore a stylish kimono as he walked me through the Kamisanomachi area, full of preserved historical houses that act as one of the main attractions of Hida Takayama. He guided me through the sights with humourous stories and a calm and clear voice.

After passing through the old streets, we passed over the impressive red Naka Bridge and headed for the Jinya. In the festival season, they set up stalls on the bridge and hold a Shinto ritual. Mr. Kogaito introduced us to the place where the stalls are stored.

Crossing the Nakabashi to Jinya

The Jinya was once the government office that governed the area in the Edo Era, and during the Meiji Era, it served as the prefectural office. This building retains the beauty of its original construction and is a Japanese heritage site.

Yamazakura Shrine is a rare shrine and was constructed in honor of a horse by the same name. An Ema* market is held every year from August 1 to 15, and the Ema made of Japanese paper in the photo is famous. Usually, an Ema is dedicated to a shrine, but this paper ema is for home display. They hang in entryways with the horse's head facing the inside the home, hoping that happiness will rush into the house

He also showed us an unusual ladder, with single rungs used in case of fire. For more information on online tours or local trips, check out the link below.

*Tours in Kimono are only available in Japanese.

Hida Takayama, Gifu: Sake Brewery Tour

Hida Takayama also has online tours of sake breweries. The seven sake breweries in the city are within 200 meters of each other. Once there were more than 50, and you can find out why on the online tour.

This is the Hirase Sake Brewery, one of the several in the city. Mr. Yamakoshi of Happy Plus was our guide.

The eaves of sake breweries in Japan have round balls hanging from them, called Sugitama, made from cedar leaves. They are put up while green when the new sake of the year is ready, and the color gradually changes to brown as the sake ages. The sake-lovers in towns watch as the color changes and become aware of the passage of time and the changing taste of new to aged sake.

The eaves of sake breweries in Japan have round balls hanging from them, called Sugitama, made from cedar leaves. They are put up while green when the new sake of the year is ready, and the color gradually changes to brown as the sake ages. The sake-lovers in towns watch as the color changes and become aware of the passage of time and the changing taste of new to aged sake.

The glass windows in the interior of the sake brewery are impressive, made from blown glass over 100 years ago. The windows lend to the feel of history that the brewery exudes. The walls of the sake brewery are earthen walls adding to the profound feeling of the interior.

During the brewery tour, we were shown the tanks and photos and explained the sake brewing process. The picture shows the tanks lined up full of sake. There are 30 tanks filled with 10,000 liters of sake. It was an overwhelming feeling to see them all online.

If you'd like to buy a bottle, the Hirase Sake Brewery has an online store.

Kamikochi, Nagano: Walking Tour

Next, I would like to introduce an online tour in Kamikochi, Nagano.

This tour is on offer by the bus company Alpico Kotsu. This unique tour includes a bus guide to take you on your way to Kamikochi. They even offer walks with a nature guide for you to enjoy the natural scenery of Kamikochi. Both tours are conducted by specialized guides that bring a sense of realism through live performances. This makes these tours a very enticing choice.

In the first half of the tour, the bus guide explains the scenery as you watch from the windows of the bus traveling on its way from Matsumoto to Kamikochi. If you have any questions, you can ask them anytime.

The tour takes breaks along the way, giving you a chance to enjoy the coffee and oyaki (rice cakes) they send you in advance.

When you arrive at Kamikochi, you'll take a walk while listening to explanations from the local nature guide.

Taisho Pond. The sight of the Hodaka Renpou mountains reflected in the pond's crystal clear water is fantastic.

Next, Kappa Bridge. This suspension bridge is a symbol of Kamikochi, blending in with the magnificent Hotaka mountain range. The online tour introduces tourists to these locations in addition to the trees, plants, and flowers that grow in Kamikochi. They also take you to places that are not usually accessible, making the tour feel authentic.

Ise, Mie: Rickshaw Tour

Next, I would like to introduce you to the online tour of Koseya, offering rickshaw tours around the Inner Shrine of Ise Jingu in Mie. A rickshaw is a hand-pulled vehicle designed as a means of transportation that has been in use for around 150 years and available to ride at tourist spots.

Near Ise Jingu Shrine, Oharai-machi is the approach that leads to the Torii gate of the Inner Shrine. The area is lined with historic buildings and is always bustling with tourists buying various souvenirs and food.

Kouzenya, a rickshaw tour company in this town, is now offering online tours starting January 2021. The tour takes you on a rickshaw ride through Oharai Town and teaches about the stores and Ise Shrine.

The stores offer introductions to souvenirs that can be sent to your home in advance, so you can enjoy them with all your senses, touch, smell, and taste, instead of just watching them on screen while listening to descriptions. You can even order additional souvenirs during the tour if you like them.

For overseas users, we offer tours with supplementary explanations in English. In the future, they plan to establish a system for overseas users.

Wrap-up

Central Japan has many online tours, each presented by an attractive guide in unique styles. While foreign language support is still lacking, it will likely become more available as time passes. If you are interested, please refer to each of the online tour pages.

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