I was planning to climb Mt Chausu as part of my research on Nagano City hikes. I found some information on the internet that said the trail started from the Dinosaur Park parking lot. Having googled our way to the car park, my wife and I asked the person in the office for directions to the trail head. She said to walk up through the Dinosaur Park and just keep going. While the hike up the mountain was pleasant and peaceful, we first had to walk the entire length of the Dinosaur Park, which is part of the Botanic Gardens at the base of Mt Chausu. It turns out that this whole park and the gardens are a great place for families with young children. The park itself is about 2km long, and about 150-450m wide. It climbs up from an elevation of 420m at the car park to 650m at the top. In the first half of the walk, we passed by 23 life-sized model dinosaurs. Primary school children in particular will probably love these. Toddlers might be temporarily terrified. Tyrannosaurus, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, Stegosaurus, Pteranodon, Ankylosaurus, Trachodon, Iguanodon, Triceratops and a host of others come to life in glorious and gaudy fiberglass. They are stationed in among some excellent gardens, and on the day we were there, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. There is also a lot of azaleas planted in the lower part of the park, so in May they should be a splendid sight.
The dinosaurs really are a hoot. Many of them have holes in them that the kids can climb into, and some even have slides going down the tail. Further up the park there is an adventure playground where the kids can play in forts and on all sorts of bits of equipment. Up beyond the adventure playground is the “Wisteria Big Tunnel”. This is a very long series of pergola-like structures which are covered in Wisteria vines. Wisteria produces long, drooping purple flowers in June, so if you hike up through the park then, it should be spectacular.
Finally, one might well ask “Why a dinosaur park?” and”Why here?”. According to the brochure, it is not because dinosaur fossils have been found in the area. Rather, there was once a big landslide there, and the scarred landscape reminded the people undertaking the rehabilitation of some kind of primeval Jurassic scene, so they decided that life-sized model dinosaurs would fit in quite nicely.
Full Name: Nagano City Mt Chausu Nature Botanic Gardens and Dinosaur Park
Address: 2358 Okada, Shinonoi , Nagano City
Hours: 8.30am – 5pm; 20 March – 19 December