Enjoy the cool and dry alpine summer around Lake Suwa!

August 7th, 2014

Sunrise over Lake Suwa with Mt. Fuji in the distance

My name is Keith Norum, and I’ve lived in the Lake Suwa highland basin for over twenty years. During that time, I’ve traveled to many other beautiful places around the world for business and personal reasons, but every time I come back to these mountains, I am reminded of why this has been my home for so long—and this is especially true during Japan’s notoriously hot and humid summer.

Yokoya waterfalls

The Lake Suwa basin is situated about 800 meters above sea level, surrounded by the 2000+ meter summits of the Japan Alps and the Yatsugatake “Eight Peaks” Range. The mountains act as a natural air conditioner, protecting Suwa from the coastal heat and humidity, and blessing it with relatively cool, dry, and sunny summer weather.  And because Suwa is just an easy two-hour express train ride from central Tokyo, it offers a perfect weekend escape from the city heat.

The region has long been famous for its many natural hot spring “onsen” baths and resorts, and is a mecca for outdoor recreation from hiking to bicycling to canoeing. Suwa’s natural treasures have attracted people to this area from the very dawn of Japanese history, so you can see several millennia of Japanese culture in one place, including a Jomon-era reconstructed village, the Suwa Taisha Shinto shrines (among the oldest in Japan), centuries-old architecture lining the Edo-era “koshu kaido” and “nakasendo” post roads, and several Japanese and western art museums collected around the shores of the lake.  

Ancient temples & shrines

The pristine environment also has made the Suwa region famous for the quality of its food and drink. The surrounding highland farms produce some of the very best vegetables, dairy, and meat products in Japan, and this area is well-known for its soba noodles, grilled unagi, miso, and delicious sake. Considering its relatively small population and rural location, Suwa has a surprising variety of restaurants serving Japanese, Italian, provincial French, and Asian cuisine at a quality level normally found only in big cities—but without the big city prices.

All of this has made Suwa a wonderful place to live, and I am sure you will find it an equally wonderful place to visit. Hope you can join us!

By Keith Norum 

Masumi Sake brewery shop

The Green Season at Hakuba Happo

August 5th, 2014

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Hakuba is a quaint village located in Nagano.  As a visitor to Hakuba one of the first things you will notice are the surrounding mountains. Mountain peaks like Mt. Shakushi-Dake at 2812m Mt. Hakuba-Yari-ga-take at 2903m & Mt. Shirouma-dake soaring to 2932m. You will be engaged with the sight of sweeping rice fields & rich agricultural scenery. Farmers here work hard all season in their fields preparing healthy, sustainable and delicious food. When you stay in Hakuba, your experience begins!

Hakuba is located about 270km northwest of Tokyo. Our green season is summer & autumn; a time to refresh outdoors & connect with nature. Hiking, mountain biking, camping, kayaking, rafting & other adventures are just a few reasons why you should visit. The “Happo-one Nature Study Trail” is where some 330 kinds of blooming alpine flora greet you as you stroll along. The air is crisp in the fall & in early October the mountain slopes are attired in crimson foliage! 

Flowing directly below the Hakuba Range & with a high alkaline content is Hakuba Happo Onsens (hot spring). You shouldn’t miss relaxing in one of many traditional bath houses during your visit.

By  Nachan from Hakuba Valley

Happo-one-Nature-Study-Trail

       

Ohyokkuri-Obento-Happo

Welcome to Nagano Prefecture!

August 5th, 2014

Nagano Prefecture is one of the most beautiful regions in Japan and draws many visitors due to everything the area has to offer. It is surrounded by mountains and provides some of the world’s best ski conditions during the winter in addition to a variety of fantastic hiking trails with breathtaking views in the summer. Yamanouchi town in Nagano Prefecture is the perfect place for a summer getaway, whether you’re looking for relaxing nature walks or something a bit more challenging. Shiga Kogen Heights is made up of emerald green lakes and natural ponds full of aquatic life and well worth seeing. These are easily accessible due to a number of ropeways and cable cars that operate throughout the summer months. Nagano Prefecture not only offers visitors the opportunity to explore mountain marshlands through hiking and trekking but also boasts other outdoor sports and activities including horseback riding and fruit picking! Why not try out soba noodle making or bamboo crafting and get a real feel for the local culture and its hospitable people. Not to forget Jigokudani Monkey Park, the only place in the world that you will be able to see wild monkeys bathing in hot spring baths. Visit Nagano Prefecture and the incredible experiences will stay with you forever.

By Tori Aldred

Welcome to your base for the Japanese Alps and beyond ? Matsumoto!

August 5th, 2014

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto city is a bustling student city in central Nagano prefecture.

Less than three hours by train from Tokyo Shinjuku station or bus from Takayama it is well suited for those who’d like to escape the big city and enjoy some of Japan’s wonderful nature. With history, culture and outdoors combined you might be surprised by just how much you can see and do in Matsumoto.

Perhaps start with our famous castle, which has a four hundred year history and has rightly been designated a Japanese National Treasure. Matsumoto is only in recent years becoming well known internationally as the gateway to the mountains surrounding us. From the top floor of the castle (can you guess how many floors there are before entering?) you will be impressed by the panoramic views of numerous summits. The 3000m peaks of Kamikochi Natural Park are seen to the west and Utsukushigahara highland with its mountainside Sculpture Museum to the east. Matsumoto city is proud to boast that both of these mountain areas are within the city limits. They are just two of the pleasantly cool places in Matsumoto where you can refresh yourself this summer.

Brian at Matsumoto BackPackers

Matsumoto BackPackers (www.matsumotobp.com) is a centrally-located accommodations which welcomes international guests be they budding alpinists or curious travellers who wish to see more than just the major cities on their Japanese adventure.

Matsumoto BackPackers

“Cool Nagano” featured in Manga!

June 13th, 2014
© Wanderlust Japan

© Wanderlust Japan

SHINFIELD Co. Ltd. is a manga advertising firm, where they use comic strips to attract customers to promote merchandise and services. They created an article and manga on Nagano’s Kamikochi and Jigokudani Monkey Park, and put them on Wanderlust Japan, a website for world travelers who are interested in Japan. Please go visit the site and enjoy!

Declaration of Farming Community for International Youth Exchange

November 1st, 2011

Declaration of Farming Community for International Youth Exchange

Nagano Prefecture held a panel discussion with Governor Abe, administration officials and advisors on the subject of rediscovering attraction of farming communities, and collaborating farming and tourism. 

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At the end of the panel discussion, “Declaration of Farming Community for International Youth Exchange” was officially announced.  Based on the declaration, Nagano Prefecture will accept the youth from around the world for hands-on agricultural experiences, and strive to “create the world’s greatest farming community” for youth exchange where the youth from all of the countries and regions meet.

 

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Declaration of Farming Community for International Youth Exchange(PDF: 1,420KB)

The Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency sent us a message to celebrate the announcement of the declaration. 

The message from the Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency (PDF: 86KB)