Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit Japan. At the end of a long winter, colorful flowers burst forth from underneath the snow, and fluffy clouds of cherry blossoms fill its parks and hillsides.
In Nagano, cherry blossoms cover the prefecture from the beginning to the end of April, while snow still covers the mountains and ski resorts are still open for business. It’s a perfect place to see the changing of the seasons, whether you are visiting the ski resorts and parks around Hakuba or taking in the views of the Northern Alps and cherry blossoms at Matsumoto Castle.
While not yet well known among international visitors, the Ina Valley is a great place to enjoy Nagano’s spring and snow. Tucked between the Central and Southern Japanese Alps, it has majestic mountainous views, plentiful cherry blossom spots, and many spring activities. Here, you can take ropeways to incredible heights and enjoy snowshoeing in spring, visit beautiful cherry blossom spots in ancient temples and castles, and pick fresh strawberries in its warm greenhouses.
JR and Alpico bring you direct access to Matsumoto from Hakuba. Whether you would like to visit for the whole day, or just spend the evening there, train services run until 21:08, giving you time to head to the city even after you hit the slopes.
Check out the flyer below or download it here for ideas of things to do and to plan your schedule.
Japan’s major cities are great places to visit but can be packed to the brim with tourists and at times overwhelming. If you step out of the urban sprawl, you can see a completely different side of Japan filled with magnificent mountains, solemn historical sites, and delicious local cuisine.
Matsumoto is perfectly located for a long trip into Central Japan’s history and nature. With the Japanese Alps to the West, the Kiso Valley to the East, and one of Japan’s most popular castles smack dab in the middle of the city, Matsumoto has incredible sightseeing at its fingertips.
To get the most out of your stay in Matsumoto, we’ve put together a three-day trip to one of Nagano’s most cultured and happening cities. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello everyone! Minowa town tourism association have made some promotional videos recently. They are about Minowa town in the Spring, Summer and Autumn. (This time we didn’t film Winter.) It’s filmed and edited by PINTO. Hiroki Oguchi. His video using a drone is so cool!
Spring in Minowa
Summer in Minowa
Autumn in Minowa
I hope everyone knows that the Ina valley is a very attractive area.
Two recent guests from España made good use of Shinano Railway’s new Banzai Pass which provides 2 days of travel all the way from Karuizawa to Myoko Kogen. They spent 2 nights here at Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada and used the pass for a day trip to Karuizawa yesterday and are using it today to go to Nagano for a side trip to see the snow monkeys.
The pass is 2000 yen and can be purchased by people with a foreign passport. Skiiers staying at Akakura / Myoko Kogen could use the pass for a day trip to Zenkoji Temple (Nagano Station) and/or our Onsen Town (Togura Station).
Tofu is by far one of the most well-known Japanese foods.
But have you ever heard of Frozen Tofu?
Frozen tofu, called “koori-dofu” in Japanese, is a specialty of frosty regions.
Just like its more famous cousin, frozen tofu is made with soy milk which is made to coagulate and solidify by adding bittern to it. For those wondering, bittern is a bitter-tasting solution rich in minerals obtained from seawater. Unlike regular tofu, though, it uses less water and more soy beans, making it richer in proteins. Read the rest of this entry »
This place is called “momiji no tunnel.” A lot of tourists and locals come to visit during this time of year. In the evening, the maple trees are lit up and they look really fantastic.
Before the tunnel, you drive around Lake momiji (momiji ko) after seeing the Minowa Dam. The maple trees around the lake are also beautiful!
On November 3rd, there is an festival of Momiji Lake at the event square of Minowa town. There are lots of food stalls and some fun activities to take part in. Also, a walking event is held in the morning so you can walk 8km around the whole lake and enjoy the autumn colors at a relaxed pace.
For more info, please visit Minowa town tourism association.
A ball of pine hung outside means, “There’s sake here!”
When visiting a foreign culture, you would be amiss not to taste the local cuisine and drink while you’re here. In Japan, that includes lots of delicious dishes like sushi, ramen, tempura, and, of course, sake.
Sake, called Nihonshu in Japanese, is considered by many to be a mysterious beverage. It is often referred to as rice wine in English, but that name doesn’t seem to fit quite right. It doesn’t look like wine, and it doesn’t really taste like wine either. It’s something completely of its own. How do you learn more about it? By drinking it, of course!
Whether you have experience tasting sake or not, you can expand your sake knowledge by tasting it right from the source. Japan’s many sake breweries that have been producing this complex libation for centuries, and can enlighten you on sake’s many styles and flavors, from floral, elegant Daiginjo to the straight-forward and dry Karakuchi.
Nagano has over 80 sake breweries around the prefecture—the second highest number of all prefectures in Japan—where you can taste local flavors slowly perfected over the centuries. Below are breweries and specialty shops where you can try a range of the prefecture’s most delicious sake. Read the rest of this entry »
Nakamachi’s popular Japanese culture event from last year is back again this November!
Spend the day in Matsumoto! Participate in fun hands-on activities, such as playing the shamisen or a traditional geisha game; try out a ninja blowgun; make a wooden glider; drink some local sake; and more! You can also see an awesome Japanese swordsmanship demonstration, shamisen and Japanese drum performances, professional kendama players, and a parade of Japanese warriors. The event is family friendly.
See all the activities and schedule of demonstrations and performances on the event flyer. Since Nakamachi is just down the street from Matsumoto Castle, you can also check out the Citizens’ Festival happening on the same day. Certain activities will be cancelled in the event of rain.
Free Sticker Campaign – Starting Oct. 22
Grab some cool stickers when you go to Nakamachi Street after visiting Matsumoto Castle (hold on to your admission ticket stub)!
You can get the first sticker by simply showing your ticket stub at Kurassic-kan or at the Nakamachi Shopping Street Association Office. You can get the other versions when you purchase/use a service or get a bite to eat at participating shops.
See the flyer for more information. The campaign will last until stickers run out.