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.
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!
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.
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.
May 2nd, 2017
In Full Color!
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, and bright red and white hanamomo blossoms decorate southern Hirugami Onsen. Snow continues to melt from the mountaintops as trees and hillsides glow in emerald green.
Kamikochi opens its doors once again, allowing visitors to witness the majesty of the Northern Japanese Alps and walk along untouched forests and pure waters.
While snow still occasionally drifts through the morning air, the warmth of spring has come to Nagano and slowly but surely flowers are beginning to bloom. Fresh greenery has made its way back to Nagano’s valleys and snow glistens on the mountaintops. In mid to late April, cherry blossoms will bring the parks and hillsides to life, and people will be out celebrating in typical hanami fashion with festivals, picnics and plenty of beer.
Don’t miss out on some of Nagano’s—and even Japan’s—most beautiful cherry blossom spots this year! Enjoy panoramic views of the Japanese Alps framed by cherry tree branches and clouds of cherry blossoms so thick that you can’t even see the sky! Learn more about some of our favorite cherry blossom spots here, or see our sakura watch page for up-to-date bloom information.
December 16th, 2016
Ski Season is Here
Ski season is here! One after another, ski resorts have been opening throughout Nagano prefecture. We’ve already enjoyed several days of soft, fluffy powder on the slopes and this year is looking to be a great one! Get your gear ready and head out to the slopes for some amazing skiing and snowboarding.
More resorts will be added as they open. Check the links for more detailed information about each resort and current conditions.
For a full list of ski resorts and their opening dates, see the Nagano Snowlove website for more information (in Japanese only).
October 4th, 2016
Nagano’s Golden Season
Autumn is finally upon us! The mountaintops are turning vivid shades of red, yellow and gold, and the fall colors are slowly spreading down into the valley. Venture out into the wilderness and enjoy the scenery while it lasts!
Take in the majestic views of the burnt mountains in Kamikochi; enjoy the colorful forests in the steep, narrow valleys of the Kiso Valley; or feel the autumn breeze at an altitude of over 2500 meters at Senjojiki Cirque.
Cycle through Nagano’s Beautiful Fields and Forests
Summer is in full swing and now is the perfect time for exploring Nagano’s great outdoors. Hikers climb to Nagano’s highest peaks, children splash and play in the rivers, and enthusiasts pedal along Nagano’s idyllic rice paddies.
Cycling isn’t just for fitness, it’s a great way to see Nagano’s sights and learn more about its history and culture. You’ll see the everyday lives of local farmers, ancient temples and beautiful vistas that you’d never notice by car or train. As summer turns to autumn, you can enjoy the bright red, yellow and gold leaves and crisp weather.
Adventure enthusiasts can try mountain biking in and around Nagano’s many ski resorts. From beginner tours to free riding down steep, rocky terrain, there’s something for everyone to try.
See this blog post for more about mountain biking in Nagano. For cycling tours, take a look at some of these options below:
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.
Over the course of the season, visitors can enjoy fields of colorful flowers like Mizubasho, Watasuge and Day Lilies in the Tsugaike and Shigakogen Nature Reserves. Drivers can take in spectacular views of central Nagano’s highland areas while cruising along the Venus Line. And hikers can embrace the majesty of the Japanese Alps.
For panoramic views of Nagano, take a ride up to the mountain tops on a summer gondola. The Chuo Ropeway, Ontake Ropeway, Kita-Yatsugatake Ropeway, and Ryuo Ropeway are all open for the Green Season.