The Great Outdoors will Change Your Life
Nagano prefecture is Japan’s No. 1 mountain resort with 15 mountains at heights of over 3,000m, five national parks and 3 quasi-national parks. Highlands expand under the bright blue sky, sunlight shines through the deep forests, mountains float above the clouds, and limitless stars paint the night sky.
This July to September, Nagano prefecture will be the target of one of the nation’s largest tourism campaigns. During this “Destination Campaign,” we would like to suggest four ways of enjoying a trip to Nagano that may change your life.
We hope that foreign visitors of Japan will also take note of Nagano, which has also received a lot of attention as a tourism destination domestically. The peoples and regions of Nagano Prefecture have come together to share Omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) with all of our guests.
We’re now providing the convenient Nagano Navi application which puts Nagano’s sightseeing and transportation information at your fingertips. Please use it during your trip to Nagano!
Four Great Ways to Enjoy Nagano
No. 1 in Japan for forest therapy courses and day-use hot spring facilities, Nagano is full of places that promote relaxation and healing. In moments of relief, your tired mind can re-energize and focus on what’s truly important.
Places of Healing in Nagano:
Akasawa Natural Recreation Park
The Akasawa Natural Recreation Park is the origin of forest therapy in Japan. Enjoy trails along clear streams and through the beautiful woods of the Kiso Valley.
The Wooded Shrines of Togakushi
Togakushi is located on a plateau above Nagano City and is home to five shrines that dot the wooded landscape. One of the most popular, the Okusha shrine, is a 30 minute hike from the main road and features a lane of 400-year-old cryptomeria trees.
Go! Nagano’s Hot Springs Page
Soak away your worries in some of Nagano’s 100% natural mineral hot springs and enjoy the traditional atmosphere of an onsen town.
Go! Nagano’s Guide to Using Onsen Hot Springs
Never been to a hot spring in Japan? Brush up on your onsen knowledge and find beginner-friendly hot spring facilities.
Kamikochi is the undisputed jewel of the Northern Japanese Alps. Enjoy virgin forests, clear streams, and majestic mountain views from its gentle walking trails.
Nabekura Kogen Beech Tree Forest Therapy
The beech tree forest of Nabekura Kogen is a certified forest therapy area and offers well-maintained, flat walking paths for people of all ages to enjoy.
2. The Outdoors
Nagano is an outdoor paradise where you can enjoy a range of activities in mountains, lakes, and rivers. Push your limits in the wilds and discover the power of survival in yourself. Experiencing the outdoors helps children find this power too!
Outdoor Activities in Nagano:
Go! Nagano’s Hiking Trails Page
Enjoy hiking on some of Nagano’s most notable mountains!
List of Go! Nagano Blogs on Hiking
Go! Nagano’s travel ambassadors have written about a number of beautiful hikes in the prefecture.
Mountain Biking in Hakuba
Mountain Biking has become increasingly popular in Nagano and is available at many of the prefecture’s ski resorts!
Rafting along the Sai River
Rafting is available throughout Nagano Prefecture during the summertime!
Cycling through the Countryside of Chikuma
Enjoy cycling while learning more about the Japanese countryside and its unique culture.
3. History and Culture
From the Jomon Period, “Shinshu” (a former name of Nagano) was said to be the center of Japan. It was also here were many military commanders and clans fought for survival during turbulent times, such as the Sanada clan. By learning about Shinshu’s past—or rather, from its past—you may find some hints for the future.
Historical/Cultural Sites in Nagano:
The Nakasendo Trail
Established during the Edo Period, the Nakasendo trail connects Kyoto and modern-day Tokyo. 69 post towns were developed to accommodate travelers, and several of them remain in the Kiso Valley. The townscapes look much as they did 200 years ago and offer a glimpse into Japan’s past.
Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan’s five national treasure castles. Built over 400 years ago, it still stands proudly in front of the Japanese Alps.
Zenko-ji Temple has over 1400 years of history and is the center of Buddhist faith in Eastern Japan.
Suwa Taisha Shrine
The four shrines of the Suwa area form the Suwa Taisha Shrine, and it is renowned for the Onbashira Festival which is celebrated once every six years.
Obuse Chestnut Path
Obuse is a beautiful, small town surrounded by farms and chestnut orchards. It was loved by Katsushika Hokusai, arguably Japan’s most famous artists, and he spent many years there in his old age. You can see a beautiful original painting of Hokusai’s at Gansho-in Temple, as well as a collection of his works at the Hokusai-kan museum.
The people of Nagano Prefecture have the longest average lifespan in all of Japan, and food plays an important part in that. Using plentiful Nagano-grown ingredients, Nagano aims to introduce health-conscious cuisine, named “Shinshu Yama-Gohan” (Shinshu mountain food), to wider audiences. You can enjoy Shinshu yama-gohan at accommodations and restaurants throughout Nagano. Adopt aspects of Nagano’s traditional food culture in your own life and live healthily!
All about Nagano’s Food:
Go Nagano’s Introduction to Soba: Soba 101
Nagano is famous for soba buckwheat noodles, delicious whether served hot or cold!
How to Make Your Own Oyaki
Oyaki are a type of flour dumpling stuffed with vegetables or sweet bean paste. Apple cinammon oyaki have recently become popular as well.
Nagano’s Latest Gourmet Trend: Gibier (Wild Game)
Nagano’s mountains are home to wild game such as deer, wild boars, and bears. In the past, such game was eaten regularly, and modern chefs and hunters are bringing the tradition back.
About Nagano’s Craft Beer Boom
Learn more about Nagano’s craft breweries!
Fruit Picking in Nagano Prefecture
Pick fresh fruit in Nagano Prefecture throughout the year!
Daio Wasabi Farm
The Daio Wasabi Farm grows one of Japan’s hottest ingredients with thanks to the pure mountain water that supplies its fields. Learn more about wasabi and taste a variety of wasabi-flavored snacks!
For more information, please see the official Shinshu Destination Campaign website here (Japanese only).