Autumn Colors in Nagano’s Golden Season

October 24th, 2016 by
Category: Information, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

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.
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Nothing But Flowers

March 14th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Information, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing
Wild white flowers bloom above the green leafy brush of a mountain clearing

Cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing to see in Nagano, whose wide variety of climate and terrain is suitable for all sorts of beautiful flowers and plants. During Spring, fields bloom in dazzling shades of yellow, red, pink and purple as the white-capped Japanese Alps stand majestically in the distance. It’s a great time to visit Nagano’s sightseeing spots and enjoy its natural beauty.

Below are some of Nagano’s best and most beautiful orchards and gardens to visit during the Spring months. See some of Japan’s largest apricot orchards, azalea parks and more!

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Little Secrets of Kiso Fukushima

February 12th, 2016 by
Category: Cuisine, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing
Latticed wood buildings form a long alleyway to the gate of a buddhist temple.

A picturesque alleyway that leads to Daitsu-ji in Kiso Fukushima.

The Kiso Valley is a very popular destination in Nagano prefecture, especially for backpackers and history buffs who enjoy its beautiful forests and undisturbed post towns. Most visitors head straight for Narai, Tsumago or Magome-juku, but there are eight other historical towns in this forest valley with their own secrets waiting to be uncovered by adventurous travelers.

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Winter 2016 Illuminations and Festivals

January 29th, 2016 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Areas of Nagano prefecture are getting ready for a series of festivals in February, and in that spirit I thought I would put together a list of current and upcoming events for the Winter season. Tear yourself away from the ski resorts for a night and visit some of Nagano’s other scenic spots!

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The Nakasendo: Narai-juku, Suwa and beyond

October 30th, 2015 by
Category: Cuisine, Events, Information, Sightseeing

Princess Kazunomiya in the post-town of Narai.

From Kyoto, the Nakasendo passes through the Kiso valley and continues into the Eastern area of Nagano prefecture. There are 15 more post-towns along the way up to Karuizawa, many of which have preserved parts of their history. Recently, there has been resurgence in interest in these less-traveled areas, particularly in regards to one of its travelers.

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Kiso Route Hiking

March 21st, 2015 by
Category: Information

waterfall along Nakasendo

watermill along the way no more in use

accommodation still in business

The temperature has become much warmer recently, and we ventured to go on a hike along an ancient Nakasendo lane.

 

Nakasendo Lane is now paralleled to the state route 19, and some parts of it are preserved as they were during the ancient times from the Samurai Period.

In the Edo Period, this lane was one of the main official routes which ran between Tokyo and Kyoto al the way for more than 600km.

All through the route, there used to be altogether 69 post station towns to cater for travelers.
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Ancient Post Station Towns along the Ancient Highway

June 4th, 2014 by
Category: Information
Narai-juku

before the Edo period, most travels are on foot

One of the many tourists attractions in Nagano is to stroll through some ancient post station towns along  one of ancient highways.

 

Among some ancient travel highways through Nagano , the longest is Nakasendo-highway.

Nakasendo-highway was designated as one of the 5 government official highways by the Tokugawa-Shogunate government.

So it explains the palanquin above.

There have been 2 highways conneting Edo( the present day Tokyo), where the Shogun resided, and Kyo( the present day Kyoto), where the Emperor resided.   They were Tokaido highway and Nakasendo highway.

While Tokaido highway became the base of the present national route No. 1 and thus changed its appearance to a much  busy road, the other Nakasendo highway , which trailed through Nagano, has retained its ancient atmosphere here and there.

Especially in Kiso area, there are some post station towns where the locals try to preserve the historical touch .
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Snowboard like a pro

January 25th, 2010 by
Category: Outdoor Activities
Image courtesy of www.dmksnowboard.com/

Always wanted to snowboard like a pro?  . . .here’s your chance.

This weekend, January 30th and 31st 2010, Burton snowboarder Michiyo Hashimoto will be rippin’ up the slopes of Otaki Village’s Ontake 2240 ski resort.

The event is being organized by the Tokyo NGO, Gaia Initiative, through their “+1 Forest Program”.  The group has partnered with Otaki to help raise awareness about and support for the village and its forest environment.

Details about the tour, which leaves from Tokyo, can be found here (sorry, Japanese only).  In addition, individuals who are not part of the tour can have a chance to ride with and learn from Hashimoto.  The cost for this is ¥5,000.

Those interested can contact me at otakimura@gmail.com

World of silver

January 18th, 2010 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities

img_7109

Winter turns the Kiso Valley into a silvery world; one only ambiguously defined through dim rays of sunlight.  The cold, dry air is difficult to be in; driving is treacherous; and the days are short.  However, it is this season, more than any other, that brings a true sense of appreciation to those who are patient enough to seek it out.

Shizen-ko, a lake that sits about 10 kilometers beyond the central part of Otaki Village, is, even in summer, a surreal landscape.  In winter the frozen lake takes on ephemeral qualities–one may feel they simply dreamed the place. (Read more about Shizen-ko here).

Photo courtesy of 水と緑のふるさと王滝村

Photo courtesy of 水と緑のふるさと王滝村

Ice fishing is popular on Shizen-ko both among locals and outsiders, and wakasagi (the small smelt of a Japanese variety) is the main catch.  Batter and fry these little suckers (on the spot if you’d like) and you’re in for a culinary treat.  Of course, ice fishing can be dangerous, so please use the proper caution and find a knowledgeable person to tag along with.

Long live winter.