Last week at the height of cherry blossom season, we headed down to Azumino to enjoy some early spring rafting! The combination of fast currents, snow-capped mountains, and blooming cherry trees are perfect for an exciting and scenic day on the water. Read the rest of this entry »
The Togura Tengu looks out over the Chikuma River Valley from his perch above Togura Station. The park around him, Togura Kitty Park, is ablaze in pink at the moment, clearly pleasing the Tengu.
The park is within walking distance from Togura Station on the Shinano Railway Line, in between Ueda and Nagano Stations. Besides the Tengu, there are a gazillion rabbits, 3 goats, 2 sheep and a godzilla. Plus the longest slide you’ll ever see, a mini zip-line and other playground toys. All with a great view of the valley below. And all bathed in pink with cherry blossoms now.
Ski instructors from around the world train together during IVSI.
While the slopes are relatively quiet during late March, the Hakuba area welcomed delegations of ski instructors from around the world during the 2017 IVSI Congress (International Federation of Snowsport Instructors) for a week of skiing workshops, demonstrations, and lectures. Held every four years, this was the 13th congress and the second one to be held in Japan (Shigakogen in 1989). Read the rest of this entry »
Japan is an amazing country to travel. It’s East meets West, tradition meets trends, and culture meets nature.
I spent a month in Japan and one of my favorite areas were the Japanese Alps. I traveled around the Alps for 6 days during which I visited Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Kamikochi and Matsumoto. Read the rest of this entry »
Last weekend, a few of us traveled from the Northern area of Nagano into the Kiso Valley to walk part of the Nakasendo trail. It was one of five major roads used during the Edo era and connected the former capital of Kyoto to the new capital of Edo (now Tokyo). While it may take weeks to travel the whole thing, we just walked between two post towns: Magome and Tsumago.
One scrumptious way to beat the winter cold in Nagano is to go strawberry picking. You can pick all-you-can-eat strawberries inside a toasty-warm greenhouse. One such location is Agri-Park in Chikuma City. I went there recently with some bloggers from Taiwan. They really enjoyed picking the berries, dipping them in some condensed milk, and popping them into their mouths. Deliciously sweet berries and a warm escape from the cold — a perfect winter day in Nagano.
One of Agri-Park’s greenhouses with the Northern Alps in the background.
Agri-Park is located in the vicinity of the Mori Shogunzuka ancient burial mound, so you can indulge in prehistoric history after you’ve had your fill of yummy strawberries. For further historical intrigue, the Nagano Prefecture Historical Museum is adjacent to the burial mound’s visitors center.
Nagano Prefectural History Museum’s prehistoric village in the springtime with peach blossoms.
Access via public transportation is from Yashiro Station on the Shinano Railway. Bus service from the station is infrequent so either taxi (approx. 7 min., 800 yen) or on foot (2km, 25 min.). By car, Koshoku IC on the Nagano Expressway is approx. 6 min. 3km.
The Northern Nagano valley opens up behind the Madarao Kogen hotel.
The Madarao and Tangram ski resorts sit between Iiyama City and Shinano-machi in Northern Nagano prefecture on opposite faces of Mt. Madarao. They are interconnected and you can ride both resorts in the same day with the 5,000 yen “Mountain Pass.” They resorts are medium-sized with well-rounded courses that suit all levels of skiers and snowboarders. Smooth pistes, moguls, and terrain parks are all available, but these resorts’ specialties are trees and powder, often referred to locally as “Madapow.” Read the rest of this entry »
Tyler shows our group some Showa era graffiti on a local earthern wall.
On a beautiful fall day, I joined a group of foreigners on a cycling tour of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen south of Chikuma City. The area was once home to several mountain castles and a post town so there is a wealth of history in the area. Our guide, local ryokan owner and area expert Tyler, took us along beautiful mountain roads and pointed out interesting relics and features along the way. Read the rest of this entry »
In another attempt to beat the summer heat, I headed up to Shigakogen with a group of friends to enjoy the highland weather and the area’s unspoilt nature. There are a total of 19 trails around Shigakogen that climb its many peaks, wander its marshlands and cut through its forests. In addition to its beautiful ponds and mountains, the views of the Nagano Plain below are stunning. Read the rest of this entry »
When I tell people that I live in Nagano, they always respond with an envious, “Suzushii naaaaa (How Refreshing)!” But while they’re imagining all of the grassy highland fields gently undulating in the cool breeze, I’m sitting in my apartment in Nagano city sweating profusely on my couch. I’ve been doing my best recently to get out of the city and into the cooler parts of Nagano, and this weekend I visited Hakuba for some outdoor adventures. Read the rest of this entry »