What are the best places and times to see cherry blossoms?
The most famous place for cherry blossoms in Nagano is Takato Castle Ruins Park. Matsumoto Castle, Ueda Castle Remains Park, Mt. Hikarujo in Azumino, and Southern Nagano’s Singular Cherry Trees are also popular. See this Go! Nagano blog post on Nagano’s top cherry blossom spots for more information.
Besides cherry blossoms, the apricot blossoms of Apricot Village in Chikuma City are also popular. They bloom in early to mid-April.
When and where can I see autumn leaves?
Because Nagano is very mountainous and covers a large area from North to South, autumn leaves can be seen over a long period from early October to late November. The most popular destination for autumn leaves in Nagano is Kamikochi, followed by areas such as Senjojiki Cirque, Komoro Kaikoen Park, the Akasawa Forest Therapy Park, Tsugaike Kogen and the Matsukawa Gorge. See each page for details, or learn about some other autumn spots here.
When is ski season in Nagano prefecture?
Ski season in Nagano prefecture generally begins in mid to late December and continues until late April. A variety of snow activities are also offered in Nagano from early January to late March. Always check with resorts and facilities in advance as availability may change due to weather conditions.
Where can I try Snowmobiling and/or other snow activities in Nagano?
Hakuba, Madarao Kogen, and Shigakogen offer snowmobiling. Ryuoo Ski Park in Kitashigakogen offers a variety of snow activities including sledding and snow buggy rides. See our Snow Play page for details.
I want to go fruit picking. Where and when should I go?
Fruit picking is available in Nagano from January to late November. There are many orchards throughout the prefecture, but ones which cater to overseas customers include Shinshu Fruitsland and Crown Farm (Northern Nagano), Karuizawa Garden Farm (Eastern Nagano), the Fumonji Grape Farm (Central Nagano), and Miharashi Farm and Sanwa Orchard (Southern Nagano). Each fruit’s typical season can be seen below (may differ from orchard to orchard):
Strawberries: January to June
Blueberries: June to August
Grapes: Late August to Late October
Apples: Early September to Late November
Is it possible to go to Kamikochi in the winter?
The road to Kamikochi is closed between mid-November and late April so the area can only be reached on foot (snow shoes recommended, 6-8 hours round-trip). For winter-time mountain climbers, avalanches and sudden changes in the weather can make conditions dangerous, so it is imperative that proper precautions are taken and that mountain conditions be checked beforehand. Nearby Norikura Highlands are accessible by car in winter.
Do the Japanese Alps have snow in May?
Yarigatake and other 3000-meter peaks have snow into the middle of June. Mountain climbers are advised to be prepared for bad weather at all times and to always check mountain conditions.
Transportation/ Travel Passes
What JR passes can I use? Does my JR pass cover all of Nagano Prefecture?
The JR Railway companies offer several passes that can be used in Nagano prefecture. There is the nationwide JR Rail Pass, the JR East Nagano-Niigata pass, JR EAST Hokuriku Arch Pass, as well as the JR Tokai Takayama-Matsumoto Pass. Depending on your itinerary, they may be useful to you.
Be aware that several train lines in Nagano prefecture are non-JR and therefore not covered by JR passes. These include the Nagano Dentetsu train line (between Nagano and the Snow Monkeys) and the Kamikochi train line (between Matsumoto and Kamikochi). Non-JR buses are not covered either (unless otherwise noted), and most bus lines in Nagano are run by the Alpico Group or Nagaden.
Should I buy a train or bus pass during my stay in Nagano? If so, which pass should I buy?
There are a number of bus/train passes available for Nagano prefecture. The Alpico Group offers several passes, like the 4-Day Wide Alps Free Passport, the 2-Day Alps Free Passport, the Nagano City Mini Trip passes (Togakushi, Nagano City, Matsushiro) and the Nagano Snow Resort Pass. The Nagaden Group offers the Snow Monkey Pass for travel between Nagano and the Snow Monkey Park.
Can I use my Suica or Pasmo in Nagano prefecture?
Most stations in Nagano prefecture do not accept Suica or other travel cards. Suica is only accepted at Matsumoto Station. Therefore, you can use your Suica when traveling between Matsumoto and the Tokyo metropolitan area.
How do I reach Nagano from OO?
Please see our access page for the most convenient methods of transportation between major cities and Nagano prefecture.
Do I need to make reservations for my bus or train?
Reservations are necessary for certain highway buses and the Kagayaki Shinkansen. Buses to areas such as Shigakogen, the Snow Monkey Park, and Hakuba do not accept reservations. JR line local trains and most JR line express trains do not require reservations.
Are there any mixed-bathing outdoor baths?
You can find some in Shirahone Onsen and the Takayama Onsen district.
Are there any youth hostels in Nagano?
There are youth hostels in Nagano City, Ueda, Hakuba, Obuse and Azumino(Hotaka), among other places. There aren’t any hostels in downtown Matsumoto, but there are backpacker’s lodgings.
Can I stay in a traditional Buddhist lodge?
The Motoyoshi-cho area surrounding Zenkoji is home to 39 Buddhist ‘Shukubo’ lodges where pilgrims and interested travelers can stay. The Fuchinobo lodge is a popular location with foreign guests. In Togakushi, Oumei-tei Tsuji Ryokan retains a sprititual atmosphere as a former Buddhist lodge (with additional Shinto influences).
Is there any Baggage Storage available at train stations?
Several train stations have coin lockers. See under Useful Trip Info.
Is there any parcel delivery service?
Parcel delivery service is provided by Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express. Both have English websites. It is possible to arrange delivery for a specific day to your desired destination (hotel, etc.).
I’m planning on travelling along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route to Toyama. Is it possible to send my baggage from Nagano to Toyama?
Luggage is accepted at Omachi Onsen hotels and ryokans until 8:30 am and at the Alps Roman-kan next to JR Shinano Omachi Station from 8:00 am until 11:10 am for delivery to Toyama City hotels by 4:00 pm the same day. See here for details.
I will be traveling along the Nakasendo between Tsumago and Magome. Is there baggage delivery service available?
Baggage service is available between Tsumago and Magome through their respective tourism information centers for 500 yen per bag. From March 20th to November 30th, baggage delivery service is available every day. Between December 1st and March 10th, baggage delivery service is available on weekends only.
Drop off is from 8:30 to 11:30, and bags arrive at your destination’s tourism information center at 13:00.
Are there coin lockers at Kamikochi?
There aren’t any coin lockers, but the Kamikochi Bus Terminal provides baggage storage.
Are there any ATM’s that provide cashing services for overseas credit cards?
Certain cards can be used at ATMs in post offices and 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Where can I see Geisha?
Togura Kamiyamada Onsen has an active Geisha guild.