May 31st, 2019
Summer Activities in Nagano

Climb Nagano’s tallest mountains. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Japanese Alps. Walk along the ancient Nakasendo. Cycle through the Japanese Countryside.

Surrounded by the 3,000-meter-high peaks of the Japanese Alps, Nagano is a beautiful countryside area of Japan with year-round outdoor activities. While most people know it for its excellent skiing and snowboarding, Nagano also offers plenty to do in summer as well, like mountain biking, rafting, canyoning, and more!

Get out of the stuffy city and see another side of Japan.

What to do in Nagano in Summer

Ride Ropeways to Spectacular Mountain Views
Hike in the Highlands and Japanese Alps
Walk the Nakasendo Trail
Go Cycling and Mountain Biking
Cooling off in Nagano’s Lakes and Rivers

Ride Ropeways to Spectacular Mountain Views

Enjoy the Effortless, Unforgettable Scenery of Nagano’s Mountains

Don’t want to work up a sweat to see the best views? You don’t have to! Ropeways and gondolas around Nagano take people up the mountains to incredibly picturesque viewpoints.

Ryuo SORAterrace at Sunset

Hakuba Mountain Harbor exteriorHappo Pond

Counter-clockwise from top: Ryuo SORAterrace, Hakuba Mountain Harbor’s terrace, Hakuba Mountain Harbor’s exterior, Happo Pond

Ryuo’s SORAterrace

At Ryuo’s SORAterrace, located in Northern Nagano’s Yamanouchi area, you can take a 166-person-capacity ropeway to the top of the mountain and enjoy views of the valley from 1,770 meters high. Under the right conditions, you can see a miraculous phenomenon called unkai, seas of clouds that cover the valley!

Hakuba Mountain Harbor

At Hakuba Mountain Harbor, you have front row seats to the Hakuba Sanzan Mountains (Mt. Shirouma, Mt. Shakushi, and Mt. Hakuba Yari). Enjoy the wonderful views with delicious baked goods and coffee from the City Bakery.

Happo Pond

To stretch your legs a bit, hike to Happo Pond. 90 minutes from the top of the Alpine line lift at Hakuba Happo One, Happo Pond is famous for its views of the mountains reflected in its still waters.

For other ropeways, consider Central Alps Ropeway or Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway.

Hike in the Highlands and the Japanese Alps

Hikers and mountain climbers from around Japan–and recently from around the world–come to Nagano to climb its majestic peaks. Having 9 out of 15 of the tallest mountains in Japan, Nagano is the place to go when you’re looking for fantastic mountainous vistas.

Stroll through Japan’s Picturesque Highlands

While some prefer the challenge of the hike, most would rather maximize their time enjoying the scenery. At Nagano’s many highland areas, you can enjoy leisurely strolls with impressive mountain views. You can see delicate highland marshes, verdant, virgin forests, and plains covered in colorful alpine flowers.

Taisho Pond, Kamikochi

Tsugaike Nature ParkShiga Kogen Onuma Pond

Counter-clockwise from top: Taisho Pond (Kamikochi), view from the Kappa Bridge (Kamikochi), Tsugaike Nature Park, Onuma Pond (Shiga Kogen)


Kamikochi, at the base of the Japanese Alps, is one of the most scenic nature parks for hiking in Central Japan. The views of the Hotaka mountain range from the Kappa Bridge are unforgettable, and there are many other scenic spots around the basin. With many dining and accommodation options, as well as great access from Matsumoto, Kamikochi offers visitors a chance to reconnect with nature without any of the hassle.

Tsugaike Nature Park

Tsugaike Nature Park sits atop Tsugaike Ski Resort in the Hakuba Valley. A highland marsh at 1,880 meters high with an area of 100 hecrates and a trail 5.5km long. You can walk along the marshes and see a myriad of alpine flowers and small ponds with the Hakuba Sanzan mountains in the background. The park also has a trailhead for mountain climbers which leads to Mt. Hakuba Norikura and Hakuba Oike.

Shiga Kogen

Known as one of the largest ski resorts in all of Japan, Shiga Kogen also happens to be a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. There are many nature trails around the highlands here, from easy strolls to arduous climbs. One of the most popular trails is the Ikemuguri Trail, which passes through marshland and around several ponds, among which electric-blue Onuma Pond is a must-see. See trail maps here.

Conquer some of Japan’s Tallest Mountains

With hundreds of routes that span day-hikes to multi-day treks, there’s something for everyone in Nagano. Beginners can enjoy the wonderful views from short, gondola-assisted hikes or relatively flat highland areas. Those looking for a good workout can tackle nearby peaks like Mt. Karamatsu and Mt. Kiso-Komagatake. Finally, hardened mountain climbers can test their mettle on the many three-thousanders around the prefecture, such as Mt. Yari, Mt. Hotaka, and Mt. Ontake.

Counter-clockwise from top: Mt. Tsubakuro, Mt. Yari, Mt. Shirouma, Mt. Karamatsu

Walk the Nakasendo

Built during the Edo Period, the Nakasendo was an important trail that connected Kyoto and Edo (modern day Tokyo). Running from Sanjo Ohashi in Kyoto to Nihonbashi in Tokyo, the trail spanned 526 kilometers. Many small towns were established along the route to support travelers, some of which still retain the atmosphere of the Edo Period today.

The post towns that remain along the Kiso Valley are some of the most well-preserved in Japan. Tsumago, Magome, and Narai post towns are the most famous. Walking along the streets here, you can imagine yourself back in time in the Edo Period.

You can walk part of the trail between Tsumago and Magome, which takes about three hours to complete. Enjoy the serene forests of Kiso and the many remnants of the trail’s heyday, such as old shrines, wooden waterwheels, and tiny hamlets.

Go Cycling and Mountain Biking

Cycling is a great way to see the Japanese countryside during spring, summer, and autumn. You see a more authentic Japan that is otherwise out of reach, like stretches of rural kominka houses surrounded by rice paddies and small shrines hidden in thickets of cedar and bamboo. With a guided tour, you can learn much more about the local area and how it has changed over time.

Cycling through the Japanese Countryside

Counter-clockwise from top: Cycling along the Chikuma River (Iiyama), downhill cycling (Madarao Kogen), Zukudashi Ecotours (Togura Kamiyamada), cycling in Karuizawa

Cycling in Karuizawa

Rent a bicycle near Karuizawa Station and enjoy this international summer resort. Ride through shaded roads and visit beautiful sites like Kumoba Pond and the Kyu-Mikasa Hotel. Enjoy Karuizawa’s natural scenery, chic streets, and shopping! See Karuizawa’s cycling map here.

Cycling Rentals and Tours in Iiyama

In Northern Nagano’s Iiyama area, you can enjoy cycling along the Chikuma River, traveling between its many temples, or challenging some of its steep hilly areas. You can also join a downhill biking tour from Madarao Kogen. Rentals available at Shin’etsu Shizenkyo in Iiyama Station.

Zukudashi Eco tours in Togura Kamiyamada

In the Showa-retro hot spring town of Togura Kamiyamada, you can see into the history and lifestyles of the people here with help from a local guide. See beautiful temples, traditional houses and idyllic orchards while interacting with local people.

Cycling in Hakuba

At the base of the Japanese Alps, you can cycle leisurely through the countryside or race down mountains. Several local tour companies offer cycling tours around the valley.

Mountain Biking in the Heart of Japan

Nagano’s ski resorts aren’t only used during winter. During summer, many places around Nagano turn their ski courses into mountain biking courses. Enjoy the cool breeze as you fly down the mountain!

Hakuba Iwatake, Fujimi Panorama, and Nozawa Onsen all offer mountain biking courses. For beginners and families who want to give mountain biking a try, Miharashi Farm also has a mountain biking course that you can enjoy in between fruit-picking and other workshops.

Cool Off in Nagano’s Rivers and Streams

During the hot summer, getting away from the city and into nature is a surefire way to relax and rejuvenate. Ocean and beaches are lovely, but you can find even more refreshment in the shady gorges of Nagano’s mountains and along the its rivers and highland ponds.

Canyoning in Hakuba

If you want to visit a water park without the crowds or suspiciously warm waters, trying canyoning in Hakuba may just be for you. In canyoning, you descend gorges using natural slides as well as zip-lines. The shade and cool water are incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day, and the activity itself is exhilarating! Time will fly by as you slide, swim, and zip along.

Cruises and River Rafting down the Tenryu Gorge

The Tenryu Gorge is located in Southern Nagano’s Iida City. Carved over the centuries by the Tenryu River, which flows from Lake Suwa out to the Pacific Ocean, it features steep, wild cliffs adorned with verdant greenery. You can enjoy the view from pedestrian bridges over the river or while riding down the river on a traditional fishing boat or raft. See more information here.

Blueberry Picking in Ina and Nagano

Blueberry picking at Miharashi Farm
Nagano Prefecture is the largest producer of blueberries in Japan, and there are many orchards around where you can pick them for yourself. What better way to spend a hot summer day than picking delicious and juicy blueberries right off the bush?

Miharashi Farm in Ina City and Mori-no-Hatake in Suzaka City both offer blueberry-picking during summer. See Mori-no-Hatake’s details below, and this page for details on Miharashi Farm.

Mori-no-Hatake Blueberry Orchard Details

Open Period: 6/21 to 8/4
Hours: 9:00 to 16:30
All You Can Eat (No time limit)
Adults/1,500 yen, Children/1,000, Toddlers/500 yen
Take-home blueberries/300 yen per 100g
Access: From Nagano Station, take the Suzaka Yajima line bus for Watauchi or Suzaka Station. Get off at Ushiike Iriguchi bus stop.

March 8th, 2019
Snowy Mountains and Cherry Blossoms in Spring

Spring is on the way and that means just one thing: Nagano will soon be covered in cherry blossoms and vibrant flowers! From Nagano’s historical sightseeing spots to its wide-open nature parks, you can see brilliant displays of spring around the prefecture from late March to May.

At the same time, snow still covers the mountain tops. The combination of spring flowers and the snow-capped Japanese Alps is one of the highlights of the season. If you’d like to see the snow up close, there are several highland areas such as the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route where you can enjoy towering snow walls and carpets of white.

Table of Contents

Cherry Blossoms
Colorful Flowers
Spring Snow

Cherry Blossoms in Nagano

Nagano is a mountainous prefecture and is long from North to South, meaning that its cherry blossoms bloom over a long period beginning in late March and continuing to the beginning of May.

Last year’s cherry blossoms came in exceptionally early, but so far, the cherry blossom predictions for this year have not been as extreme. Most spots will reach peak bloom a few days earlier than average. Our estimated peak dates are included next to each cherry blossom spot below. The best time to view them is usually within a week of that date. See our cherry blossom watch page for up-to-date bloom info.

Cherry Blossoms and the Japanese Alps

Counter-clockwise from top: Omachi Park (Omachi City), Mt. Hikarujo (Azumino City), Oide Park (Hakuba Village)
You can enjoy spring scenery that you can’t see anywhere else: vibrant, pink cherry blossoms paired with the snow-capped Japanese Alps. Many ski resorts are still open during April, and the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route opens from April 15th. Enjoy spring and winter at once in Nagano!

Head towards the Northern Japanese Alps for the best views. Oide Koen (April 28th), located just a short walk from Hakuba Station, is an idyllic park along the Hime River. Cherry trees and traditional kominka buildings surround the park with the magnificent snow-capped alps in the background. Farther south in the town of Omachi is Omachi Park (April 18th 25th), which sits above the city with fabulous views of the mountains. In Azumino you’ll find Mt. Hikarujo (April 20th), where cherry trees climb the mountain like a dragon rising in the sky. You can take the hiking path up to the top in about 40 minutes and enjoy cherry blossoms and great mountain views along the way.


Oide Park: By train, a 15-minute walk from JR Oito line Hakuba Station. See in Google Maps.
Omachi Park: By train/bus, a 25-minute walk from JR Oito line Shinano Omachi Station, or a 5-minute taxi. By car: a 40-minute drive from the Azumino IC exit. Parking is available at the park.
Mt. Hikarujo: By train/bus, a 35-minute walk or 10-minute taxi from JR Tazawa Station. By car, a 7-minute drive from the Azumino IC exit. There is a parking lot beside the trailhead. See in Google Maps here.

Cherry Blossoms in Nagano’s Historical Sites

Counter-clockwise from top: Ueda Castle (Ueda City), Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto City), Komoro Kaikoen Park (Komoro City)
Nagano’s most popular sightseeing areas have their fair share of cherry trees as well. Walk around ancient castle grounds and enjoy the bounty of spring.
Matsumoto Castle (April 10th) is a must-see attraction any time of year, but especially beautiful during spring with over 300 cherry trees in bloom on the castle grounds. You can also see the distant Japanese Alps on a clear day. Ueda Castle (April 8th) is known for its cherry blossoms and has over 1,000 trees planted around the castle ruins. In nearby Komoro, you can see the remains of a very different kind of castle at the Komoro Kaikoen Park (April 21st). Built on a low plot, this castle’s grounds are obscured by forest and labyrinthian walls. Enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms among Komoro Castle’s ancient remains.


Matsumoto Castle: By train/bus, a 15-minute walk from Matsumoto Station. See in Google Maps.
Ueda Castle: By train/bus, a 15-minute walk from Ueda Station. See in Google Maps.
Komoro Kaikoen: By train/bus, a 3-minute walk from Komoro Station. See in Google Maps.

Night Light-Ups

Counter-clockwise from top: Takato Castle Park (Ina City), Garyu Park (Suzaka City), Ueda Castle (Ueda City)
Cherry blossoms are especially beautiful when illuminated in the evening. In Suzaka City’s Garyu Park (April 14th 18th), you can enjoy night light-ups of over 800 cherry trees as well as a festive hanami atmosphere. About a quarter of these trees surround a pond in the center of the park, and their blossoms are reflected beautifully in the water’s surface.

Takato Castle Park (April 12th 16th) in Ina City is one of Japan’s top three cherry blossom spots. Featuring a unique variety of cherry called Takato Kohigan Zakura, the cherry blossoms grow in so densely that they completely block out the sky during full bloom. At night, the trees are illuminated in a rainbow of colors.

Other cherry blossom spots mentioned above also have illuminations, such as Matsumoto Castle, Ueda Castle, and Komoro Kaikoen.


Garyu Park: By train/bus, a 20-minute walk from Suzaka Station. By car, a 10-minute drive from the Suzaka Higashi Nagano IC. See in Google Maps.
Takato Castle: By bus, 30 minutes from Inashi Station (see details). See in Google Maps.

Lesser Known Cherry Blossom Spots

Counterclockwise from top: Nitanda no Sakura (Ogawa Village), Koboyama (Matsumoto City), Chikumagawa Teibo no Sakura (Obuse Town)
You can find cherry blossoms spots almost anywhere in Nagano, both in the heart of the city and spread across the countryside. As you travel around, you may find that your favorite spot isn’t one of the crowded parks, but rather a singular cherry tree that grows between terraced rice fields. The following spots are popular among local residents, but are still not on international travelers’ radars just yet.

Nitanda no Sakura (April 16th), a hill covered in cherry blossoms in Ogawa Village, blooms in late April. The many varieties of cherry paint the hill in myriad shades of pink, in contrast with the brilliant, white Japanese Alps in the distance.

Koboyama, located south of Matsumoto City, is a small hill that overlooks the urban sprawl and is covered in over 4,000 cherry trees.

In Obuse, along the Chikuma River can be found the Chikumagawa Teibo no Sakura (April 28th), over 600 Yaezakura trees spanning a length of 4 kilometers. At the same time, you can see fields of flowering nanohana and snowy mountains in the distance.


Nitanda no Sakura: By train/bus, A 50-minute bus ride on the Shinmachi Takafu line bus (get off at Takafu bus stop), then a 20-minute walk to trees or 15 minutes to viewpoint. By car, a 45-minute drive from the Nagano IC. Park at the
Bikkurando Gymnasium. There is also a viewpoint along Route 31.
Koboyama: From Matsumoto Bus Terminal, take the Namiyanagi line bus to the Koboyama Iriguchi bus stop. Or, from Matsumoto Station, take the JR Chuo line train to Minami Matsumoto Station, then walk for 30 minutes. See in Google Maps here.
Chikumagawa Teibo no Sakura: a 20 min. walk from Nagano Dentetsu Obuse Station. See in Google Maps here.

More Spring Flowers

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only spring flowers to see. There are yellow nanohana, red hanamomo, purple azaleas and more around Nagano. This year, Nagano is also hosting the Shinshu Hana Festa, a celebration of spring from late April to mid-June.

Shinshu Hana Festa

This year, Nagano Prefecture will be celebrating a new spring event on a massive scale: the Shinshu Hana Festa! Three venues (Matsumoto Skyland Park, Alps Azumino Park Hotaka Area, Alps Azumino Park Omachi Area) will feature grand displays of flowers from April 25th to June 16th, 2019, all at the base of the Japanese Alps.

The main venue, Matsumoto Skyland Park, will feature the Northern Alps Flower Hill, where you can enjoy stunning views of the Alps and over 150,000 spring flowers. In the Alps Azumino Park, you can enjoy colorful tulips and lilies.


Shinshu Hana Festa Main Venue (Matsumoto Skyland Park): 27 min. by Airport line bus from Matsumoto Bus Terminal to Yamabiko Dome Mae. Free shuttle buses will also run to the park from Matsumoto Station between 8:45 and 15:40 every day.

Flowers Around Nagano

Counter-clockwise from top: Anzu no Sato (Chikuma City), Hirugami Onsen Hanamomo (Achi Village), Alps Azumino National Park Tulips (Azumino City), Iiyama Nanohana Festival (Iiyama City)
Located in Chikuma city, Anzu no Sato is one of the largest apricot-growing areas in Japan, producing upwards of 660 tons of fruit a year. The trees bloom from early to mid-April, carpeting the fields in warm pink. In late June to July, the trees produce fruit and you can enjoy them raw or in jams and other sweets.

From mid-April to Early May, the peach blossoms of Hirugami Onsen burst forth in shades of red, white and pink, covering a vast area between the Kiso and Ina valleys. This peaceful, countryside area is surrounded by mountains and famous for its incredible starry skies.

Alps Azumino Park is at the foot of the Japanese Alps. From mid April to mid May, tulips cover the fields and bloom together with cherry blossoms.

In Iiyama, nanohana blossoms cover the fields along the Chikuma River, turning everything a sunny yellow. The park is located on a small hill and has great views of the surrounding countryside. The Iiyama Nanohana Festival will be held from May 3rd to 5th, 2019.


Anzu no Sato: A 15 min. bus ride from JR Yashiro Station.
Hirugami Onsen: From JR Iida Station, 30 min. by bus to Hirugami Onsen. A shuttle bus is available to the park by reservation (1,200 yen roundtrip). By Car, 10 min. from the Chuo Expressway Sonohara IC exit.
Alps Azumino Park: From Hotaka Station, 13 min. by bus or taxi. By Car, 20 min. from the Nagano Expressway Azumino IC exit.
Iiyama Nanohana Park: From JR Iiyama Station, 24 min. by bus (last year’s timetable here). By Car, 40 min. from the Joshin’etsu Expressway Toyota-Iiyama IC exit.

Lingering Snow in the Mountains

While Nagano’s valley areas are filled with flowers, the mountains are stilled covered in snow. Enjoy skiing or snowboarding at large ski resorts until May, and see giant walls of snow high in the mountains. Spring has begun, but winter isn’t gone just yet!

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route connects Nagano and Toyama Prefectures using six different types of transportation along the way. From April 15th until mid-July, you can see snow walls at the 2,450-meter-high Murodo area. Other highlights include the Kurobe Dam, the highest altitude arch dam in Japan.

Senjojiki Cirque

From April to June, you can see the lingering snow at Senjojiki Cirque, a glacial formation at an altitude of over 2,600 meters high. During April, it even operates as a basic ski resort, and people can still enjoy snowshoeing here. On clear days, you can see magnificent views of the Southern Japanese Alps.

Norikura Kogen Snow Walls

Norikura Kogen, a highland area to the west of Matsumoto City, sits at the base of Mt. Kengamine and ranges in altitude from 1,200 to 2,600 meters high. During spring, the road to the top of the mountain is opened and visitors can take a bus to see the large snow walls that remain after winter. While not as tall as those found at the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, the snow walls still reach heights up to ten meters! The Haruyama Bus is planned to run from April 27th to June 30th, 2019. See details of last year’s snow corridor here.

See More Information about Spring in Nagano

Go! Nagano Blogs about Cherry Blossoms
Go! Nagano Blogs about Flowers

November 22nd, 2018
Nagano’s Winter Activities and Events

Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Snow coats the mountains, forests, and valleys in sparkling white. Frosty air brings clear blue skies. Waterfalls and lakes freeze in time. The heavy snows of the Japanese Alps make Nagano a winter wonderland.

Enjoy a myriad of winter activities in Nagano’s ski resorts, glades, and mountains. Over 80 ski resorts can be found around the prefecture, many of which were featured during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. In addition to their world-class courses and majestic scenery, they offer winter activities like snowmobiling, tubing, and more.

And after a long day in the cold, there’s nothing better than sitting by a crackling fire or soaking in a steamy hot spring bath. Don’t forget some spectacular winter festivals that keep us warm during the long nights, whether through copious amounts of sake, raging bonfires, or both!

See our recommendations below for enjoying Nagano’s winter to the fullest!

Table of Contents

Nagano’s Ski Resorts
Winter Festivals
Snow Activities and More

Ski Resorts

Nagano’s mountains are home to fabulous ski resorts with a wide variety of courses, plentiful powder, and beautiful views. Nagano’s ski season begins in mid-December and continues through April, with some resorts remaining open during Golden Week (the first week of May).

Most skiers and snowboarders flock to the Hakuba Valley, Shiga Kogen, or Nozawa Onsen, Nagano’s most famous ski areas. You can see a list of Nagano’s ski resorts and their current statuses here.

The Hakuba Valley

At the base of the Northern Japanese Alps, the Hakuba Valley features incredible mountain views and Olympic skiing. Hakuba is very popular among international guests, in part thanks to its wealth of restaurants and bars which give to a lively nightlife.

Our Recommendations

  • Hakuba Happo-one is Hakuba’s largest resort with over 1km of vertical drop and a longest run of 8km. It’s especially popular for mogul skiers, but it has something for everyone regardless of level.
  • Tsugaike Kogen Snow Resort is a perfect place to begin your skiing or snowboarding career or to enjoy time together with the family. Its wide-open beginner’s course at the base of the mountain gives you plenty of room to learn.
  • Hakuba Cortina Snow Resort: nothing beats it when it comes to powder. The resort is bowl-shaped, meaning you won’t accidentally leave the resort, and the tree area in the middle is deemed a self-responsibility area–you’re free to go in, at your own risk, of course.
  • Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field has arguably the most beautiful scenery of all of Hakuba’s resorts, especially with the addition of Hakuba Mountain Harbor earlier this year.

Shiga and Kita Shiga Kogen

The pristine highlands of Shiga Kogen encompass the 1,300 to 2,300-meter-high plateau above the town of Yamanouchi. With 40 lifts across 19 ski areas, Shiga Kogen is the largest skiing destination in Japan. To the north of Yamanouchi is Kita Shiga Kogen, a collection of ski resorts on the slopes of the northern Shiga and Kosha mountains.

Our Recommendations

  • Shiga Kogen’s serene natural scenery and variety of courses will bring the explorer in you to life. You can spend days trying to cover every course around the mountain! For the best views, visit the Yokoteyama Ski Area and take the lift to the top of the mountain, stopping for a bite to eat at the summit’s crumpet café. For long runs, head to Oku Shiga or Yakebitai. Ichinose is a good spot for beginners and also has plenty of restaurants nearby for lunch.
  • Ryuo Ski Park is a well-rounded resort with something for everyone. It is well-known for its SORA terrace at the top of its gondola lift, and has a variety of snow activities aside from skiing and snowboarding, like tubing and snow buggy rides.

Nozawa Onsen

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort has one of the longest runs in Nagano at a total length of 10km. You’ll love flying down its scenic courses and blasting through the powdery terrain at the top of the mountain. But it’s not just the runs themselves that attract people here, one of Nozawa’s main charms is its pedestrian-friendly hot spring town, which is just a short walk from the hill. The town retains its traditional atmosphere while making room for stylish restaurants, cafes, and bars. Around town are 13 public hot spring baths where you can soak away your fatigue to prepare for another day of skiing.

Nagano’s Winter Festivals

Don’t get stuck hibernating indoors during the long winter evenings. Instead, experience traditional Japanese festivals and other lively events!

Iiyama Snow Festival

Saturday, February 9th, 2019 to Sunday the 10th

Iiyama City is a part of Japan’s “Snow Country,” where heavy snowfall completely covers the landscape. While the snow has been a burden for a long time, residents of Iiyama have taken it and turned it into something enjoyable once again. Now, for two days in February, you can see magnificent snow sculptures in a range of Japanese motifs, from popular anime characters to bullet trains.

Another popular aspect of Iiyama during winter is the Iiyama Kamakura Restaurant. At night during the festival, the igloos here are lit up and you can enjoy beautiful scenery of the igloos and fireworks in the sky.

See more details about the festival here.

Nagano Lantern Festival (Nagano Tomyo Matsuri)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 to Monday the 11th, 18:00 to 21:00

The Nagano Lantern Festival is held annually in reminder of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Zenkoji is bathed in the five Olympic colors, and beautifully-crafted lanterns fill the street between the station and temple. During the illumination a number of other events will happen as well, such as musical performances, sake-tasting and more.

Nozawa Fire Festival (Dosojin Matsuri)

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

On January 15th of every year, the villagers of Nozawa Onsen celebrate the Dosojin Matsuri, a fire festival of epic proportions. Male villagers battle with fiery bundles of straw to burn down a mock shrine built for the festival. 25-year-olds defend the shrine while 42-year-olds sit atop it–both ages considered unlucky for men in Japan. Through the cleansing flames, they rid themselves of their bad luck and pray for the health and success of the first-born sons, as well as for the harvests in the coming year.

Kiso Valley Ice Lantern Festival (Hyousetsu no Hi Matsuri)

Saturday, January 26th, 2019 to Monday, February 11th, 2019

Every year from late January through early February, the Kiso Valley hosts their ice lantern festival along the ancient Nakasendo trail. Beautifully-preserved Edo period buildings glow with warm candlelight and locals set up stalls with festival foods and free hot sake and soup. Interact with local kiso people, try some of its delicious sake, and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of these post towns forgotten by time.

For those unfamiliar with the Kiso Valley, highlights include the Narai, Kisofukushima, and Tsumago post towns, as well as Magome to the south. Many visitors walk the hiking trail which follows the Nakasendo between Tsumago and Magome post towns, or walk along the kilometer-long street of Narai. Kisofukushima is home to two of Kiso’s sake breweries, Nanawarai and Nakanorisan, and has several hot spring hotels and a foot bath to warm up during the cold winter months.

Snow Activities and More

Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to enjoy winter in Nagano. Ski resorts offer an increasing number of activities like snowmobiling, sledding, and snowshoeing around the mountain. These activities are usually available from the beginning of January to the end of March. Don’t forget to visit some of Nagano’s historic sightseeing spots covered in snow, like Matsumoto Castle and Zenkoji Temple—not to mention the snow monkeys of Jigokudani Yaen Koen.


If you want to enjoy the cool winter wind and blast through fields of powder without putting on a snowboard or skis, look no further than snowmobiling! Cruise through the snow and gaze over incredible views of the Japanese Alps. See Hakuba Lion Adventures for snowmobile rides in Hakuba and Shiga Kogen.


Walk through winter forests covered in snow while enjoying the crisp air and calm, or climb up snowy hills for majestic views of white mountains and fields. You can go snowshoeing on your own or arrange for a guide to take you to some of Nagano’s most beautiful winter locales. Ski resorts such as Nozawa Onsen, Iwatake Ski Field, and Madarao Kogen have snowshoeing trails, and areas such as Togakushi and Norikura Kogen are also popular for snowshoeing. See more details here.

Hot Springs

After a long cold day on the mountain, nothing beats a dip in a steamy hot spring bath. Most ski resorts have on-site hot springs, and many hotels throughout the prefecture have natural hot springs on premises. If you stay in a hot spring town like Nozawa Onsen or Shibu Onsen, you can also try public bathhouses called soto-yu, each with their own mineral and healing properties. See our blog on enjoying hot springs in Nagano for more information.

More Resources for Planning Your Winter Trip to Nagano!

Go! Nagano’s Hot Springs Page
Go! Nagano’s Winter Activities Page
Go! Nagano Blog: Nagano’s Hidden Ski Resorts
Go! Nagano Blog: Beautiful Winter Phenomena

August 31st, 2018
Enjoying Nagano in Autumn

The hot summer is beginning to wane as cool breezes blow through the valleys of Nagano. Soon, autumn will be upon us as vivid crimson and yellow leaves cascade down the mountains to Nagano’s many sightseeing spots.

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Nagano. Visitors from around the country flock to Nagano’s highlands and mountainous areas for Momiji-gari, or autumn leaf-viewing. The many ropeways around the prefecture make it easy to see golden alpine scenery or hike around the Japanese Alps.

And who could forget the bounty of harvest season? Fresh apples and grapes are ready for the picking in idyllic orchards; fields of mature buckwheat become delicious, aromatic soba noodles; and chestnuts are baked into tantalizing desserts.

See some of our favorite scenic spots and places to go fruit-picking below!

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Autumn Scenery
Fruit Picking

Best Places to see Autumn Colors in Nagano

From September through November, autumn colors slowly spread from the mountain tops to the valley and head south. Below are some of Nagano’s best places to see autumn scenery. You can also check our Fall Colors Watch page for up-to-date reports.

Senjojiki Cirque
(Komagane, Southern Nagano)

Early September to Early November

The steep slopes of the Senjojiki Cirque were carved by glaciers some 20,000 years ago. During autumn, the cirque becomes a colorful tapestry interwoven with the red leaves of the mountain ash trees.

Ryuoo SORA terrace
(Yamanouchi, Northern Nagano)

Late September to Early October

Located at the top of Ryuoo Ski Park’s ropeway lift is the 1,770m-high SORA terrace. It has stunning views of the surrounding mountains as well as unkai, a sea of clouds that appears below.

Happo Pond
(Hakuba, Northern Alps Area)

Late September to Late October

From the top of Hakuba Happo One, you can see beautiful views of the Hakuba Sanzan mountains and their autumn colors. 90 min. on foot from the lift is Happo Pond, one of the area’s most scenic spots.

(Matsumoto City, Northern Alps Area)

Early to Mid-October

Kamikochi is the crown jewel of the Japanese Alps. On this remote basin at an altitude of 1,500 meters, you can see crystal clear rivers, unspoiled forest, and the majestic peaks of the Hotaka mountain range and Mt. Yari. Stroll around the valley or hike up the mountains to see spectacular vistas. Popular autumn leaf-viewing spots include the valley floor and the Karasawa and Dake Cols.

(Nagano City, Northern Nagano)

Mid October to Late October

Located about 1,200 meters high, Togakushi’s highlands are covered in pristine forest that were once home to ascetic monks and ninja. Togakushi’s most popular sights include Kagami Pond and the Okusha Shrine.

Nezame no Toko
(Agematsu, Kiso Area)

Late October to Early November

Nezama no Toko, outside of the town of Agematsu in Kiso, is a group of strange rock formations along the Kiso River—a perfect place to take a nap or relax. Enjoy the sounds of the flowing river along with the beautiful colors of autumn.

Akasawa Forest Park
(Agematsu, Kiso Area)

Late October to Early November

This natural forest in Kiso is the birthplace of Shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing in English. There are many trekking paths and a working railroad in the park that makes for great photos.

Komoro Kaikoen
(Komoro City, Eastern Nagano)

Late October to Mid November

Komoro Kaikoen is home to the remains of Komoro Castle. The keep no longer exists, but its maze-like stone walls still stand covered in moss. It is well-known for its cherry blossoms and autumn leaves as well.

The Tenryu Gorge
(Tenryu-kyo, Southern Nagano)

Mid November to Late November

Carved by the flow of the Tenryu River, the Tenryu Gorge features picturesque cliffs and beautiful autumn colors in November. Visitors can enjoy the view by pleasure boat.

Where to Pick Apples and Grapes in Nagano

Did you know? Nagano is the second largest producer of both apples and grapes in Japan! The countryside is full of farmland and orchards where you can pick and eat your own fruit. Grapes are ripe from August to mid-October. Apples can be picked from August to mid/late November.

See More about Fruit-Picking in Nagano

Outdoor Activities for the Whole Family in Northern Nagano (Apple-Picking at NTA Farm)
Picking Grapes in early Autumn (Sorimachi Noen)
Experiencing the Japanese Countryside in Chikuma (Crown Farm)
Nagano Fruit-Picking Orchards PDF

Below are some of Go! Nagano’s recommended orchards for picking grapes and apples:

Shiozaki Noen & NTA Farm
(Iiyama City, Northern Nagano)

Located just 7 minutes from Iiyama Station, Shiozaki Noen and NTA Farm offer grape and apple-picking during the autumn season. Both grape and apple-picking are all-you-can-eat (with no time limit!). For the former, you also receive a bunch of grapes to take home. For apple-picking, English-speaking guides help explain the apple-growing process, as well as aspects of daily life around the area and its sightseeing spots.
8:30 to 16:30 (Apple-picking until 16:00)
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat + One Bunch): 1,500 Yen
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat): 1,200 Yen

Yamanouchi Area Farms
(Yamanouchi Town, Northern Nagano)

Yamanouchi, famous for its wonderful hot springs and the snow monkeys that soak in them, also has plentiful orchards where you can enjoy fruit-picking. Inquire about fruit-picking in Yamanouchi on their English website.
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat + Gift): 1,500 Yen
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat for 30 min. + Five Apples): 1,500 Yen

Shinshu Fruitsland
(Nakano City, Northern Nagano)

Located near the Shinshu Nakano IC of the Joshin’etsu Expressway, this orchard is perfect for those traveling by car. It has a large souvenir shop with all kinds of fruit and fruit products like jam and cookies. You can pick apples or grapes in the orchards behind the shop.
8:00 to 17:30
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat for 30 min.): 1,000 Yen
Grape Picking (Pay Per Bunch): 500 Yen ea.
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat): 440-490 Yen

Crown Farm
(Chikuma City, Northern Nagano)

The owners of this farm near Togura Kamiyamada Onsen have been abroad and can speak English. They’re happy to introduce their orchards to guests. You can see more details of Crown Farm on the Unique Nagano website.
8:00 to 17:00
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat + Six Apples): 1,300 Yen

Sorimachi Yuran-en
(Suzaka City, Northern Nagano)

This orchard in Suzaka City sits along the Fruits Line, 15 min. on foot from Kita-Suzaka Station. You can pick you own grapes or apples here and pay by the bunch (no all-you-can-eat plans).
8:30 to 17:00
Varies by bunch

Hara Noen
(Shiojiri City, Central Nagano)

Shiojiri City is well known for its grapes and wineries. Hara Noen is a 15 min. walk or 6 min. taxi ride from Shiojiri Station and has many delicious varieties of grapes and apples to choose from. All of their fruit-picking plans are all-you-can-eat. For more varieties, you can upgrade your plan for a few hundred yen.
9:00 to 18:00
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat*): 500 Yen
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat* + Kyoho variety):1,000 Yen
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat*): 500 Yen
*For two or more varieties, add 300 Yen

Fumondi Orchard
(Shiojiri City, Central Nagano)

Similarly to Hara Noen, Fumondi Orchard is a 15 min. walk from Shiojiri Station. They have over 16 varieties of grapes to try, including some of Nagano’s most popular varieties such as Shine Muscat and Nagano Purple.
9:30 to Sunset
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat of Two Varieties): 1,080 Yen
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat of 5 Varieties + one bunch of Shine Muscat): 3,260 Yen

Miharashi Farm
(Ina City, Southern Nagano)

Miharashi Farm is an agricultural park with year-round activities for the family. In addition to its grape and apple-picking, it also has restaurants, hot springs, cooking lessons and workshops. See the Miharashi Farm page on our website for more details.
9:00 to 19:00
Grape Picking (All-You-Can-Eat for 60 min.): 1,200 Yen
Apple Picking (All-You-Can-Eat for 60 min.): 600 Yen

June 12th, 2018
Enjoy Nagano’s Picturesque Mountain Scenery

Summer is on its way and the routes to Nagano’s highest peaks have revealed themselves after a long winter’s slumber. Hiking trails and Nagano’s many nature parks are now open for exploration!

Ropeways to the Sky

Nagano has over 80 ski resorts across the prefecture, some of which operate their lifts during summer. Take a ride into the sky and enjoy the views from incredible heights.

  • Ryuo Ropeway (SORA terrace)
    Ryuo Ski Park’s summer ropeway is known for its views of vast seas of clouds which can be seen from its stylish terrace. The nearby, newly renovated Sora Cafe offers coffee, sparkling beverages, and a variety of light snacks.
  • Ontake Ropeway
    See the Kiso Valley from the mountainside of Mt. Ontake, Japan’s second highest volcano and one of the country’s most sacred mountains. Shrines, stone monuments, and waterfalls are scattered around the mountain and the forests below.
  • Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway
    Trek through the highlands of Yatsugatake while enjoying panoramic views of Japan’s three alp ranges.
  • Chuo Alps Ropeway
    Travel to Japan’s highest ropeway station (2,612m). The ampitheatre-like shape of Senjojiki Cirque

Highland Trekking

Nagano’s highlands are a perfect escape from the heat of summer. Enjoy cool breezes and beautiful views in Nagano’s mountainous regions.

  • Shigakogen
    A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with a variety of trekking and hiking trails. Enjoy panoramic views from Mt. Yokote or walk among highland marshes and ponds on the popular Onuma Ike route.
  • Tsugaike Nature Park
    Trek through Tsugaike’s highland marshes while enjoying the views of the snow-capped Hakuba mountains. Delicate alpine flowers bloom from mid-June through August.
  • Kamikochi
    Nagano’s representative highland resort area. The views of the Northern Japanese Alps from the Kappa Bridge are breath-taking. Trek through the woods along the Azusa River or hike up to one of the peaks around Kamikochi; the valley has something for everyone.
  • Happo Pond
    Atop Happo One’s ridgeline is a tranquil pond called Happo Ike. It has amazing views of Hakuba’s sanzan peaks, which reflect beautifully in its waters. The pond is just a 90-minute hike from the top of Happo One’s lifts.

If you’d like to see some of Nagano’s mountain activities from the perspective of our Go! Nagano ambassadors, check out the Mountains and Hiking section of our blog.

May 11th, 2018
Vibrant Spring Flowers and Parks

The days are warmer and cherry blossoms have given way to a variety of other colorful flowers. The fields of northern Nagano are carpeted in yellow as nanohana flowers bloom. In parks and highlands around central Nagano, shades of pink, purple and red azaleas brighten the landscape. Snow continues to melt from the mountaintops as trees and hillsides glow in emerald green.

One of the best ways to enjoy the idyllic Japanese countryside during spring is by bicycle, and there are many places throughout Nagano where you can rent one and ride through flowering fields. See our cycling page for more information.

April 2nd, 2018
Pretty in Pink

The new year has begun in Japan. The shirts of business men and women are tinted with the playful pink of spring, and cherry blossom-themed snacks and products pack the shelves of convenience stores. While some of us may be crying with hay fever blues, others are excited for new opportunities and the colorful flowers to come.

Nagano’s historical sites and towering mountain ranges look even more impressive when paired with delicate cherry blossoms. For all three, look no further than Matsumoto Castle, a national treasure and the pride of the region. For views of the alps, consider traveling to Kozen-ji Temple in Komagane before taking a ride up to the 2,600m heights of Senjojiki Cirque. If you’d like to see illuminated blossoms reflected in the water, then Garyu Park in Suzaka City is a must-see (pictured).

Due to this year’s unusually warm temperatures, cherry trees in many places around Japan are blooming as much as ten days earlier than last year. For peak flower-viewing in Nagano, get your picnics ready for early and mid-April. Since Nagano is long from North to South and quite mountainous, some areas will still be blooming in late April to early May.

For more information, see our 2018 cherry blossom forecast as well as our bloom watch page!

December 4th, 2017
Winter is Here!

Snow is falling and Nagano’s ski resorts are turning into winter wonderlands. Several resorts are already open for the season with a majority of resorts planning to open in mid-December. Head to the slopes early for discount ticket prices and short lift lines!

Winter is also full of special events and other activities. During the day, go snowshoeing, sledding or snowmobiling, and at night, enjoy illuminations and fire festivals that embody the magical and cozy charms of the season.

See more information about current conditions of the resorts below by clicking on the links:

Northern Nagano

Hakuba Valley

Eastern Nagano

Kiso Valley

September 19th, 2017
Autumn Colors in Nagano

Autumn is on its way! Cool evenings are filled with the chirps of bell crickets, and slowly but surely trees are blushing with autumn color. As we move into October and November, areas throughout Nagano will turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and gold.

Enjoy autumn in Kamikochi, Nagano’s premier sightseeing spot. Gaze upon wide-open mountain vistas in Shiga Kogen, Tsugaike Kogen, or Senjojiki Cirque. Explore Nagano’s history at Matsumoto Castle, at Komoro Kaikoen, in Togakushi, or along the Nakasendo!

For up-to-date information on the best spots for fall foliage, see our Fall Colors Watch page!

June 6th, 2017
To the Highest Peaks

June is the start of hiking season in Nagano. Snow has melted from many of the mountain peaks and the valleys are full of vivid green hues. Areas known for skiing in winter such as Shiga Kogen and Tsugaike reopen as highland nature parks in summer, with leisurely trekking courses and hiking assisted by ski lifts.

Kamikochi, undisputed gem of the Northern Japanese Alps, enthralls visitors with its pure waters and majestic scenery. Photographers flock to the Kappa Bridge and Taisho Pond for breathtaking pictures while nature lovers walk the long, riverside trails and hikers ascend Mt. Yari, and other 3,000m peaks. Day hikes such as Mt. Yake are quite popular as well.

Ropeways offer opportunities for everyone to enjoy the cool breezes and expansive scenery of the highlands. Take the Komagatake Ropeway to Senjojiki Cirque; the Ryuoo Ropeway to the Sora Terrace; the Ontake Ropeway to the heights of Kiso’s spiritual center, or the Kita Yatsugatake Ropeway to amazing scenery of Yatsugatake and the Southern Alps.