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.
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 »
The Tanaka Family Compound, located in Suzaka City, is run by the 12th head of the Tanaka Family which was a family of merchants in Edo-period Japan. Here you will find their family heirlooms on display. The galleries are constantly updated as items are brought out of storage and rotated through. Items include traditional Japanese dolls, clothing, paintings, both Japanese and European style ceramics, and toys imported from overseas. The compound consists of a museum, café, shop, and gardens. Read the rest of this entry »
Enjoy fire festivals, illuminations and more in this winter wonderland.
Winter is here. Snow is falling steadily up in the mountains and people around Nagano are bringing out their kotatsu tables, kerosene heaters and nabe pots. Once again, it’s that time of year for skiing, hot springs and great winter festivals. Why stay inside when you could warm up in front of a magnificent fire festival or in the company of Japan’s many spirits?
Now fall foliage is at the final stage in downtown Nagano.
This morning, at the entrance of Matsumoto City Museum of Art, I was surprised to see beautiful red colored trees collaborating with Matumoto-born Yayoi Kusama’s artwork on the building. Nature’s red and yellow colors are competing with artificial red and yellows.
The artwork was created before fall foliage starts. Is it just coincidence, or calculated art by Yayoi Kusama? Genius!
You can enjoy the Kusama world in the permanent exhibition inside the building.
Beatiful autumn colors from Togakushi over the weekend.
While some of the mountaintops are already experiencing a spell of winter, Nagano’s valleys are finally enjoying the sights of autumn. Red, yellow and golden hues are descending from the highlands and a cool wind is blowing through the valleys. 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 »