5 Great Winter Festivals in Nagano

December 9th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Information, Seasonal Topics

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?

Make some wonderful memories this winter with some of the festivals below!
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Summer Mountain Biking in Nagano

August 19th, 2016 by
Category: Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

Suzushii naaa!

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.
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Enjoying Onsen Hot Springs in Nagano

June 10th, 2016 by
Category: Onsens (Hot Springs)

An outdoor bath with beautiful views of the Yatsugatake mountain range in Komi city[1].

Japan is one of the most volcanically active countries in the world, blessing it with thousands of naturally heated mineral springs. These hot springs, or Onsen, have served an important role in Japanese daily life for hundreds of years. Locals came to the baths to cleanse themselves and socialize, and others came from far and wide to soak in springs that would cure their ills. Now, soaking in hot springs is an popular pastime attracting visitors from around the world.
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Fall Family Fun in Nagano — Chausuyama Zoo & Dino Park

October 19th, 2014 by
Category: Experience, Outdoor Activities

I took our 2 elementary school age kids to the Chausuyama Zoo and Dinosaur Park in Nagano City’s Shinonoi District one recent fine autumn day.

I was reminded how fun it is to climb a dinosaur,

Our daughter Misaki climbing the Chausuyama Dino Park triceratops, with the Zenkoji Plain in the background.

and just how cute the zoo’s lesser pandas are.

One of the Chausuyama Zoo's popular lesser pandas entertaining the audience

Chausuyama makes a great play date destination for families with small kids.

By the way, Chausuyama Zoo’s 2014 edition of its annual Zoo Festival takes place October 18th and 19th. Besides the normal activities such as feeding the giraffes and pony riding, there will also be turtle races (?), naming the baby lesser pandas, and other fun events.

Chausuyama Zoo and Dino Park

For access by train, the “Zoo-guru” bus runs from Shinonoi Station on the JR Shinonoi Line on weekends and holidays through Nov. 3, 2014.

Cross Country Skiing at Nabekura Highlands

January 20th, 2014 by
Category: Experience, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

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.

Details:
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.

Azumino Fishing Center あずみ野フィッシングセンター

November 12th, 2013 by
Category: Experience, Outdoor Activities

Looking for a place to fish? While Nagano is land-locked; you can enjoy fishing at the Azumino Fishing Center year round. Choose from bait fishing and take the fish you caught home and they will even gut the fish for a small extra fee. Or, try your hand at lure or fly-fishing (catch and release). See the website for prices.

This spring-fed fishing center provides majestic views of the Northern Alps and is located near the Daiou Wasabi Farm.

Open:
7:00am-5:30pm (4/1-9/30)
7:00am-5:00pm (10/1-3/31)

Telephone: 026-82-3372
Website: http://www8.ocn.ne.jp/~azuminof/

Access:
Car: 5min from the Azumino IC.
Address: 3581-1 Hotaka, Azumino-shi, Nagano-ken 399-8303

Twin baby Red Pandas at the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo!

September 27th, 2013 by
Category: Events, Experience, Information, Outdoor Activities, Report, Sightseeing

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

Access:

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.

http://chausuyama.com/news/258

 

 

 

30th Hijiri-Sanzengoku Festival 大岡 第30回ひじり三千石まつり

July 17th, 2013 by
Category: Events, Experience, Outdoor Activities

Ever wanted to catch a fish by hand? Come out to Oooka during O-bon and try  catching iwana (mountain trout) by hand, watch a taiko performance and support the local economy by purchasing locally made specialty products. This picturesque hamlet is a scenic drive from Nagano City and provides great views of the Northern Alps on a clear day. Escape the humidity in the city and head out to the mountains!

Date: August 14, 2013 (Wednesday) 9:30am until 2pm (cancelled only if there is heavy rain)

Place: Nagano city, Oooka Hijiri-shinsui Kouen (長野市大岡ひじり親水公園)

Access:

By Taxi: 30 minute taxi from Shinonoi Station

By Car: 20km (30min) drive from Omi I.C. (麻績)

New Ninja Dojo in Nagano City — Mesmerizing fun for kids and adults!

June 23rd, 2013 by
Category: Experience

An NPO trying to find uses for empty houses and buildings around Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City hooked up with another NPO teaching ninjutsu to kids. The result is the Monzen Ninja Dojo.

Miyashita-ninja in front of Monzen Ninja Dojo by Zenkoji Temple in Nagano City

Officially open for business, the owner Miyashita-ninja gave me a tour of the dojo recently. The tour included crawling through holes in the walls and floor, jumping off the 2nd floor roof, and throwing shuriken darts — not your typical everyday experiences!
I am looking forward to taking our kids there for some father-son bonding through ninja training!

Ninja Training Lessons by Miyashita-san, a master of the Togakuredo school of Ninjutsu, are available to the public. He offers 3 lessons per week, on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30am. Price is 2000 yen per person.

How to go up to the 2nd floor ninja-style

Lesson content varies according to the interests and abilities of the participants. Want to learn how to walk stealthily like a ninja? Or are you interested in learning some basic self-defense manuevers? How about throwing shurikens? Or climbing up walls to reach the roof of the building — and then jumping down from the 2nd story? The Monzen Ninja Dojo is the place for you!

Anyone can participate in the lessons — from kids to adults, and even kids WITH adults

For information and/or reservations, call or e-mail Miyashita-san at 090-3558-0179, 200111hayaki@ezweb.ne.jp.  (English OK)

Mt Chausu Botanic Gardens: Dinosaurs and Fun for all the Family

April 16th, 2013 by
Category: Outdoor Activities

This dinosaur may have become extinct due to a lack of appropriate camouflage coloring

I was planning to climb Mt Chausu as part of my research on Nagano City hikes. I found some information on the internet that said the trail started from the Dinosaur Park parking lot. Having googled our way to the car park, my wife and I asked the person in the office for directions to the trail head. She said to walk up through the Dinosaur Park and just keep going. While the hike up the mountain was pleasant and peaceful, we first had to walk the entire length of the Dinosaur Park, which is part of the Botanic Gardens at the base of Mt Chausu. It turns out that this whole park and the gardens are a great place for families with young children. The park itself is about 2km long, and about 150-450m wide. It climbs up from an elevation of 420m at the car park to 650m at the top. In the first half of the walk, we passed by 23 life-sized model dinosaurs. Primary school children in particular will probably love these. Toddlers might be temporarily terrified.  Tyrannosaurus, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, Stegosaurus, Pteranodon, Ankylosaurus, Trachodon, Iguanodon, Triceratops and a host of others come to life in glorious and gaudy fiberglass. They are stationed in among some excellent gardens, and on the day we were there, the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. There is also a lot of azaleas planted in the lower part of the park, so in May they should be a splendid sight.

The dinosaurs really are a hoot. Many of them have holes in them that the kids can climb into, and some even have slides going down the tail. Further up the park there is an adventure playground where the kids can play in forts and on all sorts of bits of equipment. Up beyond the adventure playground is the “Wisteria Big Tunnel”. This is a very long series of pergola-like structures which are covered in Wisteria vines. Wisteria produces long, drooping purple flowers in June, so if you hike up through the park then, it should be spectacular.

Finally, one might well ask “Why a dinosaur park?” and”Why here?”. According to the brochure, it is not because dinosaur fossils have been found in the area. Rather, there was once a big landslide there, and the scarred landscape reminded the people undertaking the rehabilitation of some kind of primeval Jurassic scene, so they decided that life-sized model dinosaurs would fit in quite nicely.

Full Name: Nagano City Mt Chausu Nature Botanic Gardens and Dinosaur Park

Address: 2358 Okada, Shinonoi , Nagano City

Tel: (026)293-5168

Hours: 8.30am – 5pm; 20 March – 19 December

Entry: Free

Either it is a very large navel, or this dinosaur has had a tracheotomy.

 

A dinosaur grazing on cherry blossoms.

This dinosaur saw the funny side of it.

I think this one just wanted a hug.

 

Not so much smoke and mirrors, as fiberglass and wires.