“Madapow” at Madarao Kogen and Tangram

January 27th, 2017 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities, Report, Seasonal Topics

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.”

Tangram’s resort has several steep sections, but plenty of wide-open terrain for beginner/intermediate riders.

Mt. Madarao’s proximity to the Sea of Japan, which you can see from the summit on a clear day, blesses it with plentiful powder snow which is left ungroomed on over half of its courses. A number of tree runs are open throughout both resorts, and the overall geography of the area prevents anyone from getting helplessly lost in the side country. Courses such as Crystal Bowl in Madarao and Anzu in Tangram are quite wide, making it easy to find powder even into late morning and early afternoon. Both resorts have also introduced entry level tree runs for intermediate level skiers/boarders and families.

One of Tangram’s tree run courses, “Momo,” with emergency contact information dispersed throughout.

Park rats can enjoy beginner to intermediate level jibs and kickers here as well, with ride-on and jump-on rails and boxes, and jumps from 3 to 8 meters in length. The sidewall of the park has also been pruned into a gentle (but powdery) quarter pipe. Those looking for more extreme or natural features may be interested in the Ninja course, which begins with a sizeable drop off of a log into the valley below.

Granted the biggest part of the burger is definitely the bun, it’s still delicious (and really messy).

For lunch, there are plenty of restaurants on the Madarao side to try, and Tangram offers delicious Japanese standards at their Hotel cafeteria. At Madarao, my personal recommendation is the Big Burger from Restaurant Tirol (1,400 yen). In Tangram, try the Tarekatsu-don (1,100 yen). If you would like a view, grab a window seat at Restaurant Heidi to watch as people wipe out in the park.

If you’d like to take a break from skiing, you can also try snowshoeing, snow rafting or snowmobiling while you’re here. Snowmobiling runs from 2,000 to 6,000 yen depending on the course. Snow rafting is 500 yen. Kids can enjoy sledding in the kid’s park area for 500 yen.

Our first time riding together and we already had matching outfits.

Madarao and Tangram have something for everyone, which is why you can find me there almost every weekend. The range of terrain and tree courses can keep you entertained for days and the mountain pass is a great value. With increasing English language service, good public transportation, and activities for kids and non-riders too, this is a highly recommended area for any ski trip. Hope to see you there!

Access

The closest station to Mt. Madarao is Iiyama Station, and from there you can reach Madarao and Tangram ski resorts by bus or car. See here for the bus timetable.

Additional Information

See the resorts’ English webpages for more detailed information: Madarao Kogen, Tangram.

Madarao 1 Day ticket: 4,500 yen
Tangram 1 Day ticket: 4,200 yen
1 Day Mountain Pass: 5,000 yen

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!
Read the rest of this entry »

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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)