【Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter】Enjoy Winter in Nagano!

October 29th, 2014




                Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter Vol. 2

                                                 October 29, 2014

                  Issued by: International Tourism Promotion Office,

Nagano Prefecture




You received this email newsletter because we exchanged our business cards

with you.





How are you?

Here is our winter (November ~ March) fun information from Nagano!

Don’t miss skiing and snowboarding in winter in Nagano!

After skiing, soak in the hot spring and relax.

A tranquil snowy landscape looks so fanciful.

There is a lot more fun between skiing. One of them is traditional winter festivals, which are uniquely Japanese.

Please enjoy the winter issue of our newsletter!





 Table of Content 


 1 Ski Resort Information


 2 Ski/Snowboard School Conducted in Foreign Languages


 3 Other Winter Fun


 4 Opening of Hokuriku Shinkansen Iiyama Station




           1. Ski Resort Information



Looking for a ski resort in Nagano? Don’t miss the Big 4!


 ●○●Hakuba Area●○●

Hakuba is a ski resort with a spectacular snowy landscape, and the one loved by the Australian skiers the most. The access is easy with a direct bus service from Narita Airport (from December 19~March 8). The ski jumps used during the 1998 Winter Olympics are open to visitors. You can take a chair lift to climb to the starting gate to see a breathtaking view the Olympic ski jumpers actually saw.

http://www.hakubavalley.jp/winter/ (English/Korean/Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese)

Direct bus service from Narita Airport

 http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/express/hakuba_narita/ (Japanese)

 http://www.alpico.co.jp/traffic/express/narita_hakuba/en/ (English)


 ●○●Shiga Highlands Area●○●

Closest ski resort to Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park. Please enjoy the world’s leading powder snow away from hustle and bustle. You can use your lift pass at ALL of the 19 ski areas in Shiga Highlands, and the shuttle bus connecting these ski areas are free! Stay there for a long time and enjoy whole of Shiga Highlands! The view from the top of Mt. Yokote (2,305m) is stunning on a sunny day! You can even see Mt. Fuji!

http://www.shigakogen.gr.jp/season/index.html (English/Korean/Japanese/Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese)



 ●○●Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort●○●

Nozawa Onsen Village provides 100% natural snow because they have a large amount of snowfall. They have courses with uncompressed snow, and their snow park is fully equipped with a half pipe, kickers, boxes, etc.! Please enjoy bathing in the hot spring after skiing. Sparena is an outdoor hot spring bathhouse which opened last season. You can enjoy soaking in hot spring water in a bathing suit.

http://www.nozawaski.com/winter/ (English/Korean/Japanese/Simplified Chinese)


http://www.nozawaski.com/winter/facilities/arena.php (Japanese only)



 ●○●Madarao Highlands Ski Resort●○●

They are known for spectacular tree runs with uncompressed snow, and there are seven of them! With an additional fee, you can also use Tangram Ski Circus next door.

http://www.madarao.jp/ski/ (English/Japanese)



Go to the website below, and search hotels at Hakuba, Shiga Highlands and Nozawa Onsen ski resorts!


http://www.snowlove.net/japan/ (English)


This is a special deal only for our guests from overseas! During the winter, NAGANO SNOW RESORT PASS is available for buses and trains connecting Nagano Station, Wild Monkey Park, Yudanaka Onsen, Hakuba, Nozawa Onsen and Togakushi Shrine. It is a money-saving, all-you-can-ride pass. We will let you know more details on GO! Nagano, Nagano’s official tourism website





Reasonable Ski Resort for Beginners


 ○●○Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort○●○

Only one hour from Tokyo by Shinkansen, and this ski resort is great for beginners.

Nagano’s largest shopping mall is right next door. Stay at the Prince Hotel, and get a great discount!

http://www.princehotels.co.jp/ski/karuizawa/ (Japanese)

http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/karuizawa/index.html (English)



 ○●○Ina Ski Resort○●○

If you are a beginner skier or snowboarder, get free lessons at Ina Ski Resort! It is best for your first experience because the slopes are gentle.

You can enjoy night skiing every day, and the restaurant caters to the needs of vegetarians.

http://inaski.com/2014/ (Japanese only)

Information Sheet: (English)




    2. Ski/Snowboard School Conducted in Foreign Languages


Hakuba Area

Evergreen Outdoor Center

http://www.evergreen-hakuba.com/jwinter-activities.html (English/Japanese)


Hakuba Happo One Ski School

http://www.hakuba-happo.or.jp/ski/ (English/Japanese)


Hakuba Goryu Ski School

http://www.hakubasnowdragon.com/日本語/ (Japanese /Chinese)


Hakuba Goryu Ski School

http://tsunokai.com/hakuba/?page_id=1850 (English/Japanese)


Shiga Highlands Area

 Sugiyama School・・・Oku Shiga Highlands Ski Resort, Shiga Highlands Yakebitai Ski Resort

  http://www.sugiyama-ski.com/ (English/Japanese)




               3. Other Winter Fun



 ◆◇◆Snow Mobile Ride◆◇◆

Ride a snow mobile, and enjoy snowy fields and winds!


http://hakuba.lion-adventure.com/snowmobile/ (English/Japanese)


Shiga Highlands Mt. Yakebitai Ski Area

http://hakuba.lion-adventure.com/shigakogen/ (English/Japanese)


Tangram Ski Circus

http://www.tangram.jp/ski/ (Japanese)

Information Sheet: (English)



 ◆◇◆Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park◆◇◆

Come visit the world’s only monkeys bathing in a hot spring bath! They look so cute relaxing in the outdoor bath surrounded by a snowy landscape.

http://www.jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/ (English/Japanese)


 ◆◇◆Nozawa Dosojin Fire Festival◆◇◆

One of Japan’s Top Three Fire Festivals, this intense event is held every year on January 15th. One squad of villagers tries to set a fire on the massive tower, and the other tries to protect it. The view is overwhelming. The event climaxes when the tower catches fire.

http://www.nozawakanko.jp/spot/dousozin.php (Japanese)

http://nozawakanko.jp/english/news/2012/11/dosojin-fuestival-is-held-on-january-15.php (English)


 ◆◇◆Iiyama Kamakura Snow Hut Restaurant◆◇◆

Kamakura is a small hut made with snow. It is surprisingly warm inside, and you can enjoy piping hot pot of soup there.

At night, the snow huts are lit up, creating a romantic atmosphere. 

http://www.iiyama-ouendan.net/news/2014/09/2144.php (Japanese)

http://www.iiyama-ouendan.net/en/special/kamakura/ (English)

http://www.iiyama-ouendan.net/lang/special/kamakura/index_k.php (Korean)


 ◆◇◆Matsumoto Castle Ice Sculpture Festival◆◇◆

Enjoy Matsumoto Castle in the winter! Ice sculptors gather from all over Japan to participate in “All Japan Ice Sculpture Contest”. A jumbo ice slide is set up for your enjoyment, and the ice sculptures lit up at night look so beautiful.

http://www.mtlabs.co.jp/shinshu/event/koori.htm (Japanese)

http://www.go-nagano.net/?p=3884 (English)


◆◇◆Nagano Tomyo Votive Light Festival◆◇◆

Nagano Votive Light Festival started commemorating Nagano Winter Olympics. Expressing our prayer for the world peace, Zenkoji Temple is lit up with five Olympic colors, and many lanterns are placed on the approach to the Main Hall. Shojin Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and tea with sweets are served at some temple lodgings.

http://www.nagano-toumyou.com/ (Japanese)

http://www.nagano-cvb.or.jp/nagano/sightseeing/E324/05_02_01a_index.html (English)


◆◇◆Hina Doll Festival – 1,000 dolls on 30 steps◆◇◆

In Japan, families display traditionally dressed hina dolls at home on March 3 to pray for healthy growth for girls in the family. In Suzaka, you can meet 6,000 hina dolls from January to April, loved by girls from the Edo to Heisei periods.

http://www.culture-suzaka.or.jp/hinamatsuri/ (Japanese)

Information Sheet: (English)


 ◆◇◆Strawberry Picking◆◇◆

At Miharashi Farm, you can enjoy strawberry picking from January to June. You can eat fresh strawberries as much as you want!

You can also experience soba noodle making and tofu making. Enjoy their all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, and hot spring bath.

http://miharashi-farm.com/ (English/Japanese/Korean/Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese)

Information Sheet: (English)


 ◆◇◆Wakasagi Fishing◆◇◆

Enjoy Wakasagi smelt fishing on Lake Nojiri on a heated and covered fishing boat, or on Lake Reisenji on the ice through a whole made in the ice. You can rent fishing equipment at both places.

Lake Nojiri: http://www.nojiriko-gyokyo.com/?page_id=19 (Japanese)

Lake Nojiri Information Sheet: (English)

Lake Reisenji: http://www.organic-resort.co.jp/nature/reisenjiko/fishing.php (Japanese)

Lake Reisenji Information Sheet: (English)


 ◆◇◆Shimotsuki Festival◆◇◆

Shimotsuki Festival is an impressive Shinto event preserved in Toyamago in Southern Nagano. Villagers portraying myriads of gods dance around a huge pot of boiling water, and splash the boiling water barehanded. It is designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. Director Hayao Miyazaki was inspired by this festival and created the movie Spirited Away.

 http://tohyamago.com/simotuki/okori/ (Japanese)


 ◆◇◆Ebisuko Firework Festival◆◇◆

This is a large firework event held on November 23. Leading firework craftsmen and craftswomen gather from all over Japan to display their craftsmanship at the last firework event of the year. Starmines are spectacular, and large, single fireworks also look beautiful against the clear autumn night sky.

http://www.nagano-cci.or.jp/ebisukou/index.html (Japanese)



Try this winter sport called “Chess on the Ice” at Karuizawa Ice Park! You can rent all equipment, and you can have an instructor too.

http://kazakoshi-park.jp/ice-park/ (Japanese)





       4. Opening of Hokuriku Shinkansen Iiyama Station


Right now, Nagano Shinkansen is connecting Tokyo and Nagano, but on March 14, 2015, it will be extended to Kanazawa, changing its name to Hokuriku Shinkansen.

Nagano will have another Shinkansen station in Iiyama, the one after Nagano Station to go to Kanazawa. Iiyama station is getting ready to welcome tourists from overseas with a visitor center, free Wi-Fi and a free cell phone charging service. Please come and visit Iiyama!



 ~One last thing

It’s been getting cooler and cooler in Nagano, especially in the morning and at night. This means that leaves are turning all over Nagano! There are over 160 places in Nagano, where you can enjoy autumn leaves!

After those pretty leaves fall, the winter sports season comes. I can’t wait! I get up early even on my days off to enjoy the powder first thing in the morning!

In the next spring issue for March to June, I will give you more detailed information about extended Hokuriku Shinkansen, new Iiyama Station and tourist sites around the new station. Don’t miss it!





    Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Guide “GO! Nagano”

We provide tourism information for you in English, Korean,

Simplified Chinese, Thai and Traditional Chinese!

Visit the site for various information including model courses

for travelers.






    Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter (Published quarterly)

      Edited by: International Tourism Promotion Office, Nagano Prefecture

      TEL+81-26-235-7252  FAX+81-26-235-7257


      URL: http://www.go-nagano.net/



If you do not wish to receive this newsletter, please send us an email and let us know!

Announcement About the Eruption of Mt. Ontake, Nagano, Japan

October 2nd, 2014



Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter 【Extra Edition

October 2, 2014

Issued by: International Tourism Promotion Office,

Nagano Prefecture




You received this email newsletter because we exchanged our business cards with you.



As you may have already heard on the news, Mt. Ontake, located on the border of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures, erupted on September 27. 

Right now, entry to the mountain is restricted in an area up to 4km around the crater.

The main transportation in the area, including JR Chuo Line West, Chuo Expressway, Rt. 19, is operating normally.

The tourist sites in the Kiso Valley, including Tsumago and Narai Post Towns, are not affected by the eruption, and you can enjoy visiting them. Also, none of the other popular sites in Nagano, including Kamikochi, Matsumoto, Hakuba, Suwa, Karuizawa, Nagano and Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park are affected by the eruption. 

Please visit “GO! Nagano” for updates as new information becomes available.

We have been receiving many inquiries about falling volcanic ash.  The areas which are affected by volcanic ash are limited. Please visit the Japan Meteorological Agency website for the information:


Unfortunately, this information is not in English right now. Please click the top link from the list of 10 recent updates about volcanic ash (御嶽山に関する降灰予報). The red areas on the maps are predicted to have falling volcanic ash at the designated times. 





    Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Guide “GO! Nagano”

      ・・・We provide tourism information for you in English, Korean,

Simplified Chinese, Thai and Traditional Chinese!


         Visit the site for various information including model courses

for travelers.






    Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter (Published quarterly)

      Edited by: International Tourism Promotion Office, Nagano Prefecture

      TEL+81-26-235-7252  FAX+81-26-235-7257


      URL: http://www.go-nagano.net/


JR Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet Train Service Begins between Nagano and Kanazawa on Saturday, March 14, 2015!

September 8th, 2014

Japan Railways announced that they will start the Hokuriku Shinkansen services between Nagano and Kanazawa on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

After the service begins, a trip to Kanazawa, Toyama and Myoko will be much easier from Nagano.

In Nagano, there will be a new Shinkansen station in Iiyama, to the north of Nagano Station. The access from Tokyo to Iiyama City, Madarao Highlands and Nozawa Onsen Village will be much more convenient.

 ◇Opening Date: Saturday, March 14, 2015

 ◇Number of Train Services

   ・Kagayaki (Tokyo-Kanazawa, with the fewest stops) 10 round trips

   ・Hakutaka (Tokyo-Kanazawa, with more stops) 14 round trips

   ・Hakutaka (Nagano-Kanazawa, with more stops) 1 round trip

   ・Tsurugi (Toyoma-Kanazawa, all-station shuttle services) 18 round trips

   ・Asama (Tokyo-Nagano, same as current Nagano Shinkansen) 16 round trips

 ◇Train Models

   E7 series and W7 series (12 passenger cars)

     ※Some of the Asama trains will be E2 series with 8 passenger cars

 ◇Travel Times

    ・Tokyo-Kanazawa: 2 hours 28 minutes with the fewest stops

    ・Tokyo-Toyama: 2 hours 8 minutes with the fewest stops

Hakuba – a Must Visit Place – All Year Round

September 1st, 2014

Yamano Hotel

Hakuba is the best place for outdoor sports lovers, for romantic getaways in nature and for families with kids little explorers. In summer and autumn Hakuba will challenge you with its extensive busy outdoor activities like mountain biking and cycling which has seen it popularity increased, canyoning and shower climbing, rafting, tandem paragliding, hiking, forest adventure or trail running, one of the fast growing activities in Hakuba.

In winter, Hakuba is a Mecca for every ski&snowboarder enthusiast offering 11 ski resorts with 137 km of piste and more than 200 courses. After enjoying Hakuba’s highlights please come and relax at our hotel, Yamano Hotel, soak in our onsen and eat delicious Western or Japanese meals. Just being here will give you an exhilarating sense of freedom and adventure.

by Monica Muto

Happo Pond

Enjoying kimono

【Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter】Enjoy Autumn in Nagano!

August 12th, 2014



Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter Vol. 1 

August 12, 2014

Issued by: International Tourism Promotion Office,

Nagano Prefecture




You received this email newsletter because we exchanged our business cards with you. 




Hi, how are you? 


We decided to send out email newsletters to you to let you know Nagano’s exciting



This is our very first newsletter, and we are very happy to present you our autumn

issue (September – November)! 


When you visit Nagano in autumn (September – November), you cannot miss our

spectacular fall foliage and delicious apples. 

In Nagano, there are over 50 famous spots to view fall foliage!  We chose some special

vista points as our recommendations.


Some apple farmers in Nagano speak some foreign languages!  Please come visit

these orchards to pick delicious, juicy apples right from the trees!  They are grown

by friendly local apple farmers with great care. 


We have collected many beautiful photos of the areas.  Please visit our website and

enjoy beautiful landscapes!





■ Table of Contents ■


 ★1★ Tourism App “Unique Nagano”・・・Experience authentic activities in



 ☆2☆ New Outlet Stores& the Prince Villa in Karuizawa



 ★3★ Fall Foliage・・・・・・・Nagano is hot and cool!  The climate creates

brilliant fall colors.


 ☆4☆ Apple Picking・・・・・・Apple farmers who speak foreign languages





           1 Tourism App “Unique Nagano”



 ■Use this tourism application, and find out 101 authentic activities including

buckwheat noodle making, white water boating, sake brewery visits, etc. 

  You can search various stores and facilities by Map, Category, Photo and Area. 

  Please visit the site below for more details:

  http://machiaruki.net/unique_nagano/ (English)





           2 New Outlet Stores in Karuizawa



 ♪♪Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza Scale-Up Bargain♪♪

    ・・・・Tory Burch, Star Jewelry, Michael Kors, iittala… 33 new stores will

   join the shopping mall, and there will be a total of 240 stores by the fall!

            http://www.karuizawa-psp.jp/page/ (English, Japanese and Simplified Chinese)



 ♪♪Grand Opening of The Prince Villa Karuizawa♪♪

    ・・・・New accommodations opened in Karuizawa where you can enjoy both the

privacy of a villa and the convenience of a hotel.

This is a perfect place for a long stay with spacious and comfortable beds, cooking

appliances and a large refrigerator.

They also offer a catering service which sends a chef to your villa to cook. 

You have a choice of villas with a hot spring bath too. 

     http://www.princehotels.com/en/villa-karuizawa/ (English, Japanese, Korean,

Simplified and Traditional Chinese)





            3 Fall Foliage



 ◆◇Senjojiki Cirque in the Central Alps◆◇◆  From mid-September to late October

    ・・・・Take the ropeways and directly ascend to the highlands 2,600m high, while

                             admiring fall colors from the sky. 

             After you have enjoyed the fall foliage, satisfy your stomach with Komagane’s

            famous Sauce Katsu-don (breaded, deep fried pork cutlet rice bowl with


http://www.chuo-alps.com/en/index.html (Japanese)

http://www.go-nagano.net/modules/contents07/index.php?id=1&mode=disdetailsisetu&cityid=10&junleid=1&indexid=1&kubuncode=1 (English)



 ◆◇◆Tri-Colored Autumn Landscape in Hakuba◆◇◆  Late October

    ・・・・Hakuba is a famous tourist site with its scenic beauty in each season. 

        A galette made with Shinshu Salmon, Hakuba Pork and Hakuba buckwheat

                            are out of the world!

  Click for more info on Tri-Colored Autumn Landscapes in Hakuba

  Click for more info on Hakuba Galettes



 ◆◇◆Kiso (Mt. Ontake, Kiso Koma Highlands, Karasawa Falls, Kaida Highlands”◆◇◆

    ・・・・Mt. Ontake: From late September to early October

        Other locations in Kiso: Best from mid-to late October

  Click for more info



 ◆◇◆Fall Foliage Festival at Kaikoen Garden◆◇◆  From mid-October to mid-                                                                                                                                 November

    ・・・・One of Japan’s Top 100 Castles

    The fall foliage looks especially beautiful against the stone walls of the castle,

              attracting all of the visitors. 

http://www.go-nagano.net/modules/contents07/index.php?id=1&mode=disdetailsisetu&cityid=8&junleid=13&indexid=3&kubuncode=7 (English)



 ◆◇◆Tatami Daira in Norikura Highlands◆◇◆  From late September to late October

    ・・・・There is a “Sunrise Bus” service till the end of September.

        There are three celebrated waterfalls nearby, and you can

                            also visit Matsumoto Castle (National Treasure) in urban Matsumoto. 

  Click for more info

  Please visit the following websites for information about Matsumoto Castle:

  http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp/contents03+index.id+3.htm (English)



 ◆◇◆Yonago Great Falls◆◇◆  Mid-October

    ・・・・See a spectacular view of two water falls side by side!

        In October, take the shuttle bus to the falls from nearby one-day hot spring

                            resort Yukkuland.

  Click for more info on Yonago Great Falls

  Click for more info on Yukkuland





            4 Apple Picking



 ●○●Crown Farm●○●  From early October to early December

    ・・・・They speak English and German!  Absolutely no chemical fertilizers added!

                             Only a 5-minute drive from Togura Kamiyamada Hot Spring.  You can also

                             pick grapes from early September to late October.   

            500 yen for all-you-can-pick-and-eat in the orchard, plus one piece to take


  http://www.sky.hi-ho.ne.jp/crown-farm/access.html (Japanese)

  http://machiaruki.net/unique_nagano/detail.php?id=28 (English)



 ●○●Azumino Tourist Farm●○●  From late July to late November

    ・・・・They speak Chinese!  They also have peaches and blueberries in the summer.

        They grow numerous kinds of fruit — over 30 varieties of apples and 15

                            varieties of peaches!

  http://www.azm.janis.or.jp/~azumino3/ (Japanese)



 ●○●Matsui Farm●○●  From mid-August to early December

    ・・・・They have 2,000 organic apple trees grown with only a small

                            amount of chemicals.

        You can also come empty-handed, and enjoy outdoor BBQ!

        Blueberry picking is also available from early July to early September. 

  http://www.matsui-farm.co.jp/ringo.html (Japanese)

  Click for more info




 ~One last thing


How did you like our first issue of Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter? 

I hope you got to know wonderful features of Nagano in the fall.  Thank you for reading it

to the end! 


In our next issue, we will let you know about our winter attractions (DecemberMarch),

including ski resorts and winter events!  


I am ready to give it my best shot because I am a snowboarder myself.  I hope you will like it!






    ■Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Guide “GO! Nagano”

      ・・・We provide tourism information for you in English, Korean,

Simplified Chinese, Thai and Traditional Chinese!


         Visit the site for various information including model courses

for travelers.

                              http://www.go-nagano.net/                                                                                             ☆

 ★                                   ★



    Nagano Prefecture’s Official Tourism Email Newsletter (Published quarterly)

      Edited by: International Tourism Promotion Office, Nagano Prefecture

      TEL+81-26-235-7252  FAX+81-26-235-7257


      URL: http://www.go-nagano.net/

Hakuba Valley exclusively provides you an in-depth look into Japanese culture!

August 12th, 2014

Otari Taiko Performance & Taiko Trial 

Taiko drum is an indigenous part of Japanese culture dating back more than 1400 years. You not only have chance to experience the awe-inspiring sound of local taiko drum performed by local professional team, but also play the taiko drum together with the team. Let’s enjoy making music and receiving a good physical workout at the same time!

Yoga at Happo One Mountain 

Want to refresh your body & mind with a unique yoga? Look no further our yoga class which offers you an exclusive yoga experience with a breathtaking view of Japan Northern Alps. After stretching out your body and enjoy a tasty light lunch with views of the surrounding mountain peaks, you may hike on peaceful trails to the beautiful Happo-ike Pond. This is one of must-do things in summer.

Yukata Experience & Tea Ceremony 

It is a unique experience to wear Japanese traditional summer clothe, called Yukata. Local staffs are willing to teach you how to wear it. Tea Ceremony is one of the Japanese sophisticated cultures and not only to drink matcha (green tea) but also to learn about the Japanese spirit of hospitality. Share the colorful photos to your facebook and twitter and let your family or friends know this unique fun.

Zazen & Calligraphy Experience at a temple in Nagano 

Zazen (sitting meditation) has been being in the limelight in the world recently. Make yourself sit upright in a traditional temple in Nagano. Let your mind be spacious and your heart be kind and soft. The art of Zazen is simple but not always easy. It allows you a natural refreshing and purifying experience.【Calligraphy writing】Chanting and copying of Buddhist scriptures, called sutra, in a limited time. After you finished calligraphy writing, you can feel accomplishment with your smile!







By Nessa Pang

Experience the Real Japan at Hakuba Sanroku Tours! 


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


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




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