Perched several hundred meters above Chikuma City is Obasute Station which boasts beautiful scenery of the Nagano valley. The Shinano line passes through this area on its way between Nagano and Matsumoto cities, and is considered one of Japan’s three best train line views.
The Onbashira festival is finally at an end. After months of preparation and twelve long days of labor, the sixteen onbashira pillars have reached their resting places at the corners of the four shrines of Suwa Taisha.
On Saturday we set out for a tour of Kirigamine Kogen, one of Nagano’s central highland areas connected by the Venus Line. The name Kirigamine means “the misty peak,” because the warm airs of Suwa regularly rise up here and condense into fog. On clear days, however, you can enjoy an amazing view from the top of Kurumayama, the tallest point of the Kirigamine area.
Areas around the globe have been experiencing some crazy weather over the past month due to the dreaded El Niño effect. Wintery parts of the world have been unusually warm and green, and some areas of Japan have been reaching highs of 25℃ or more. It has also meant a late winter for Nagano prefecture, but don’t fear, folks: winter is here. The mountains are capped in white and ski resorts are open for business. Soon enough, your breath will be visible in your apartment and your shampoo will be freezing overnight.
On Friday night of June 20, which is one day before the summer solstice, the “Candle Night” event was held at Matsumoto Museum of Art.
The “Candle Night” is held on the summer and winter solstice every year to enlighten people on environmental issues. But it is also a nice (and free of charge!) event to enjoy the fantastic night by only the light of candles on green glass in the yard of the museum with art and live music.
Matsumoto is popular with its oldest castle in Japan and surroundings of beautiful nature, but also it is a town of a modern culture of music, art, and crafts.
Kids enjoyed running around and adults enjoyed sitting on turf in my favorite courtyard of the museum.
A big objet d’art “The Visionary Flowers” by the world famous modern artist Yayoi Kusama, who is from Matsumoto, was also lit up by candles. and more mysterious than usual during Candle Night.
Matsumoto, in the center of Nagano Prefecture, is now getting more popular by Matsumoto Castle, oldest in Japan, with beautiful mountain views. But, it is also famous for “Craft Town” among many Japanese.
Not only folk handicraft makers, shops and the Matsumoto Folkcraft Museum, now some popular craftspersons escaped from urban life and live in Matsumoto and the neighbor town Hotaka, Azumino. You can see and buy such craftworks and “Matsumoto furniture” in some shops in Nakamachi Street.
Once in every year, during the last weekend of May, “Craft Fair Matsumoto“, which is the biggest and oldest craft fair in Japan, is held in beautiful park “Agatanomori”.
300 craft artists selected among 1000+ applicants from all over Japan exhibit and sell all kind of their craft products including lacquer ware, pottery, silk, wood, dyeing, etc.
Here are photos of this year’s Craft Fair; Read the rest of this entry
Spending an afternoon cross-country skiing in Nabekura Highlands is the perfect respite. Fields of white powder snow welcome you as you follow the trail which is surrounded by mountains. Unlike the fast-pace of downhill skiing, cross country provides a chance to slow-down and experience the nature first-hand. In your light-weight skis and boots you can glide peacefully down the path.
Nabekura Highlands, Mori-no-Ie 0269-29-2888
Address: 1571-15 Teruoka, Iiyama-shi, Nagano-ken 389-2601
Access: 40 minutes from the IC Toyota-Iiyama on the Joshin-etsu Expressway
Cross Country rental available: 2,500 Yen per day (2,000 yen half-day)
Snowshoe rental is also available. Guides can be arranged for an additional fee.
On September 18th, 2 new baby red pandas(lesser pandas) were revealed to the public at the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo. The twins were born June 21st, 2013. At first, the babies can only be seen between 10am and 10:30am and 3pm and 3:30pm as they are getting used to their new environment. Gradually, as they adapt, they will spend more time with the public. There are 19 red pandas at the zoo. Come and check out these “living stuffed animals” that are too cute to be real.
You can even submit names for the pandas at the Chausuyama Zoo Fall Festival on October 19th (Sat) and 20th (Sun) from 9:30am until 4:30pm. Click here
The Nagano Chausuyama Zoo with 64 species of creatures including tigers, lions, wombats and giraffes was established in 1983. Located on the top of verdant Mt. Chausu, the views of the Nagano cityscape are beautiful and nearby there is the Dinosaur Park, Botanical Garden and a mallet-golf course. More info
Hours of operation:
March 1st until end of November 9:30am until 4:30pm
December 1st until end of February 10:00am until 4:00pm
Entrance: 500 Yen for adults, 100 yen for children elementary and junior high school students
Car: 15 minute drive from JR Shinonoi Station
Train: Closest station is JR Shinonoi
Bus: “Zoo-guru bus” runs on weekends from April until the end of October.