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Japan Regional Information

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Nagano

A flower paradise with blooming alpine plants of various kinds
Karuizawa is one of the most famous summer resorts in Japan
Nagano Prefecture is an inland prefecture situated in the central part of the Japanese mainland and covers the Central Highland also known as the Roof of Japan. Because it is situated between Kanto and Kansai regions, it developed whilst being influenced by both the cultures of the east and west. In the central part of the prefecture are mountains that belong to three volcanic mountains, Nasu, Fuji and Norikura, and the 3,000 meter-class Japan Alps Mountains on the west. Nagano has both a high and severe mountain region as well as a more moderate stretch of highlands. In the summer it becomes a flower paradise with blooming alpine plants of various kinds. The natural beauty here is grand and fragile. In the winter ski resorts open in various places throughout the prefecture and many skiers visit.

The line of tourists does not seem to end throughout the year. They visit scenic spots like Jyoestu Kogen National Park, which has Mt. Asama and Mt. Yokote , Minami Alps National Park, and Chubu Sangakau National Park. They also visit Karuizawa, which is one of the most famous summer resorts in Japan, and Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano City, which hosted the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, as well as Ueda, and Matsumoto cities, which prospered as castle cities. Famous hot springs include Nozawa onsen, and Shibu onsen known for bathing monkeys in the rock bathes at Jigokudani Yaen Koen (Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park).

Getting there
About 1 hour 45 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line. About 1 hour from Shin Osaka Station to Nagoya Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and about 2 hours 47 minutes from Nagoya Station to Nagano Station by JR Chuo Honsen Line.

  • Nagano City
    Developed as a Zenko-ji Temple town. The site of the Nagano Winter Olympics.
    Nagano in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture is located at the basin of Chikuma-gawa River that runs through Zenko-ji Daira. It developed as a temple town of Zenko-ji Temple that is said to have been built at the beginning of the 7th century. Chuo Dori Street, which stretches from Nagano Station North Square, is Omote Sando, the front approach to Zenko-ji Temple, and is now the largest shopping mall in the city. Omote Sando was renovated at the time of the Nagano Olympics in 1998, and it is lined with buildings in both Japanese and western architectural styles arranged in a modern manner. Along the street you can see mini street-corner museums that are part of shops, such as the Fire Fighters' Museum that exhibits pumps and fire-resistant clothes, the Clock Museum that exhibits old clocks from all over the world, and the Glass Museum at which you can see various kinds of lamps and glass products.

    Inside the ice skating rink M-Wave, that was one of the venues for the Winter Olympics, is the Nagano Olympics Museum where you can try to bobsled on a bobsled simulation machine. Kawanaka-jima War Field, which left many episodes during the age of civil wars in the 16th century, is maintained as Hachiman-para Historical Park.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line. About 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin Osaka Station to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
     

  • Zenko-ji Temple
    Zenko-ji Temple is the main tourist spot in Nagano
    Experience the ordination designed to grant priests with commandments
    Zenko-ji Temple, said to have been built in the early 7th century, never sees the end of a line of visitors and is the main tourist spot in Nagano. Go through the Great Outer Gate and Deva Gate and you will see the Temple Gate, about 20 meters high, at the end of the approach. This Gate is designated as an important cultural asset. The main temple has two layers of roofs thatched with layers of cypress bark, and the characters for Zenko-ji Temple bore on the very front of this roof are known to have every stroke of the characters assuming the shape of doves.

    Further behind the Temple Gate is the main temple designated as a national treasure. It was rebuilt in 1707 and is the third largest wooden architecture in Japan. In the altar is the Amitabha Tathagata statue that is normally not open to the public but every seven years Zenritsu Honzon, which is the alter ego, is made open to the public. At other times you make indirect contacts with the sealed statue. Right underneath the altar is a dark tunnel where you can experience going through the ordination platform designed to grant priests with commandments, and try to find and touch the key said to be that of paradise. Here you can meet many deities including Nure Botoke, which is said to protect children.

    Getting there
    About 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line. About 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin Osaka Station to Tokyo Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
     

  • Asama-osen Hot Spring
    Gateway to Utsukushi-ga-hara, Asumino and Kamikochi Heights
    Parade with 100 torches in a hot spring town
    Asama-osen Hot Spring is located in eastern Matsumoto at the center of Nagano, and is one of the most popular hot springs in Nagano. This hot spring is said to be effective in curing rheumatic diseases, gastronomical troubles and external wounds. Only the feudal lords residing in Matsumoto Castle, built around 400 years ago, used to be entitled to use this hot spring. Today it is the gateway to Utsukushi-ga-hara, Azumino and Kamikochi Heights as well as to climbing the Northern Japan Alps.

    The Asama hot spring center, called Hot Plaza Hall, is where you can enjoy 7 variations of baths including an air bubble bath in which air bubbles stir the bath water and a falling bath in which you are doused with falling hot spring water that massages you. There is also another public bathhouse called Yuyuan-Biwa where you can enjoy open-air baths. In addition, you can buy a ticket and use the elaborately designed hot spring baths to your heart's content without having to stay overnight. The Asama Onsen International Skating Center offers you the pleasure of skating as well.

    The Onsha jinja Shrine celebrates the Torch Festival every autumn. A parade marches through the town holding over 100 torches. The larger torches may be as big as 2 meters in diameter and 3 meters long. Visitors can join in, either carrying the torches or pulling the palanquins.

    Getting there
    Take a limited express train on JR Chuo Main Line for 2 hours and 38 minutes from Shinjuku Station (in Tokyo) to Matsumoto Station. If you are coming from Osaka Station, take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line and a limited express train on Chuo Main Line for 3 hours from Shin-Osaka Station to Matsumoto Station. Take a bus for 20 minutes from Matsumoto Station to Asama Onsen Kaikan.

     

  • Bessho Hot Spring and Ueda
    Ueda Castle provides a sense of Japan's civil war era
    Bessho Hot Spring, where you can try out all sorts of hot springs
    Ueda is a castle town in the marshlands of eastern Nagano, and is situated on Chikuma-gawa River, which runs quietly through the town. The town was built around Ueda Castle, which was constructed in the sixteenth century by the military commander Sanada Masayuki. In the remains of Ueda Castle, three turrets and the Higashi Toraguchi Yagura-Mon (turret gate) have been restored, and along with the stonewalls they provide even today a sense of Japan's civil war era.

    Walls covered with square tiles (arranged in a lattice pattern and joined with raised plaster) and the pure white storehouse walls of the merchant houses give the feeling of having traveled several hundred years back in time. Also, Ueda prospered from the 1910s in the silk industry, producing silkworms and silkworm eggs, and is now known for specialty traditional fabric products Ueda Tsumugi.

    In the southeast of Ueda basin is Bessho-onsen Hot Spring, which is said to have been discovered over 1,000 years ago. It contains hot springs each with its own individual charm, which can be enjoyed by anyone no matter where they are staying. These include Ishi-yu, O-yu, Daishi-yu, Aoino-yu. There are also many historic cultural monuments, such as the three-tiered pagoda in Zenzan-ji temple, and in the center of town, Kitamuki-kannon and Anraku-ji temple, which has a three-tiered octagonal pagoda that has been designated a national treasure. Banners designated as intangible national treasures are also well known because they feature in the annual rain festival, a strange festival held every summer.

    Getting there
    Ueda Station is 1 hour 13 minutes from Tokyo by JR Nagano Shinkansen Line. Bessho-onsen Station is 27 minutes from Ueda Station by Ueda Kotsu Bessho Line.

     

  • Central Alps
    A mountain range left with geographical features of the Ice Age
    A ropeway with a 950-meter difference in altitude
    Central Alps is synonymous with Kiso Mountains that stretches from the southwestern part of Nagano to the border of Gifu and Aichi. The principal peak that runs from northeast to southwest for 80 km is the 2,956 meter-high Mt. Komagatake (also known as Mt. Kiso-Komagatake), and it has many points worthy of note including Nou-ga-ike Pond, a treasure box of rare species of flowers situated in the northeastern part of the summit, as well as parts of the slope on the southeast called Senjojiki Cirque that was scooped out by a glacier. The mountain range consists of 2,000 meter-high mountains but it is relatively easy to climb, and day trip routes are possible as well.

    You can climb up from Komagane Heights at the eastern foot of Mt. Komagatake to the Senjojiki Cirque by ropeway from Shirabi Daira. The ropeway takes you up a distance of 950 meters in 7 minutes 30 seconds to the top station, and from there you can enjoy hiking on a looped course of about 50 minutes.

    Also at Komagane Heights is Komagane Heights Museum that exhibits art of distinct characteristics by artists such as Masuo Ikeda, old temples surrounded by 100-year old giant cedars and Kozen-ji Temple with a garden of miniature hills and lakes.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Okaya Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express. About one hour 10 minutes from Okaya Station to Kamagane Station by JR Iida Line. About 1 hour 50 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Toyohashi Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 3 hours 40 minutes from Toyohashi Station to Komagane Station by JR Iida Line.

     

  • Hakuba and Azumino
    Enjoy skiing and trekking throughout the year
    A magnificent view of the Northern Japan Alps
    Hakuba is a highland resort that stretches out from the foot of Hakuba Sanzan Mountains in northwestern Nagano where you can enjoy skiing, trekking and all kinds of other sports throughout the year.  The magnificent view of the Northern Japan Alps and other mountains is the most recommended feature of this area. There is a 6km long Happo-one Natural Study Path, a popular easy trekking course. A ropeway and lift run throughout the year, offering the attractive aerial walk looking down on the sea of trees.

    Azumino is situated in the mid and upstream areas of the Azusa-gawa River to the south of Hakuba. It is a pastoral area that stretches to the north of the Matsumoto Basin. The greenery of the pastures and the remaining snow in the Northern Japan Alps form a nice, peaceful sight. Azumino is also characterized by many rivers that flow with snow water. The Daio horseradish farm, the largest farm in Azumino, takes full advantage of this natural gift and produces high quality horseradishes that grow only in clean, pure water. Another symbol of Azumino is the Rokuzan Museum, an ivied church-like building.

    Getting there
    Take a limited express on JR Chuo Main Line from Shinjuku Station (in Tokyo) for 2 hours and 40 minutes to Matsumoto Station, then take a limited express on JR Oito Line for 55 minutes from Matsumsoto Station to Hakuba Station. If you are going to Azumino, take JR Oito Line for 26 minutes from Matsumoto Station to Hodaka Station.

     

  • Ina
    An excellent choice of outdoor sports such as paragliding and canoeing
    A park renowned for its 2,000 cherry trees and 1,000 azaleas
    Ina, in the south of Nagano, is located between the mountainous regions of Ina in the east and Kiso in the west, along the upper reaches of the Tenryu-gawa River. The city prospered for many centuries as the main settlement along the Ina-kaido or Ina Route, an important thoroughfare.

    Kasuga Park is situated on the small hill overlooking the city. The park, which contains the ruins of the Kasuga Castle, is renowned for its flowers with around 2,000 cherry trees and 1,000 azaleas. Miharashi Farm at the Habiro Agricultural Park is a farm where visitors can enjoy strawberry picking, and the enormous 120,000 sq. meter site also includes public hot spring facilities and lodgings. Visitors can also experience first-hand bamboo processing, vegetable dyeing, weaving, and the art of making soba (buckwheat noodles).

    Near the farm is the Hatobuki-yama Paraglider School where you can experience the thrill of paragliding, as well as a canoeing school, and mountain bike rental shops. For something a little different, try driving a go-cart or mini-bike at Rally-Kids Ina.

    Getting there
    Approximately 2 hours 20 minutes to Okaya Station from Shinjuku Station by JR Chuo Honsen Line Limited Express, and 45 minutes from Okaya Station to Ina Station by JR Iida Line.

     

  • Kamikochi
    One of the most scenic spots in Japan
    Vast virgin forests of birch trees and Japanese larch trees
    Kamikochi is a small basin, 1,500 meters above sea level on the upper stream area of Azusa-gawa River, which runs through the western part of Nagano. The Hodaka Mountains, Yake-dake Mountains and Jonen Mountains surround Kamikochi. It was Walter Weston, a British missionary and mountain climber who introduced this place to the world in the 19th century and since then many climbers have come to know about this place. Kamikochi is one of the most scenic spots in Japan and belongs to Chubu-sangaku National Park.

    The whole area is covered with virgin forests of birches, Japanese larch trees and Japanese hemlocks. Taisho-ike Pond, Tashiro-ike Pond and Myojin-ike Pond are scattered in the forest and produce a beautiful landscape by reflecting the high-rising mountain peaks. Taisho-ike Pond presents a very special scene. In the early 20th century, Mt. Yake-dake erupted and dammed Azusa-gawa River to form Taisho-ike Pond, where trees stand decayed in the blue water. The young leaves of birch trees are so beautiful in June that they are called "light green mist", and attract many tourists. The foliage is at its peak in October and many visitors come to admire their beauty. The wooden suspension bridge on Azusa-gawa River, Kappa-bashi Bridge, 36.6 meters long and 3.1 meter wide, is the symbol of Kamikochi. With Hodaka Mountains rising in front and Mt. Yake-dake in the south billowing white smoke, Kappa-bashi is known as one of the most scenic spots in Kamikochi.

    Getting there
    From Shinjuku Station, 2 hours 40 minutes by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express to Matsumoto Station. From Matsumoto Station, 30 minutes to Shin-shimashima Station by Matsumoto Dentetsu Line. The bus from Shin-shimashima Station to Kamikochi takes 1 hour 7 minutes.

     

  • Karuizawa
    Highlands covered with larches and white birches
    A popular summer resort with a cool climate
    Karuizawa is situated at the foot of Mt. Asama in southeastern Nagano. It is on a plateau with an altitude of 1,000m and surrounded by Mt. Asama, Mt. Hanamagari and Usui-toge Pass. It has thrived as the most popular international summer resort in Japan since the late 19th century because of its cool summer and the breezy environment with many larches and birches.

    Yagasaki Park, with an area of 46,000m, is in front of Karuizawa Station. It is the place for relaxation for the residents. Mikasa Hotel stands on Mikasa-dori Street that runs straight to the north of the station. In the Karuizawa Ginza, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and fashion goods shops stand side by side, making Karuizawa a fashionable resort for young people.

    There are several rent-a-cycle shops around the station. Many visitors enjoy cycling through the woods to immerse themselves in the forest air. Camping grounds, tennis courts, skating rinks, golf courses and many other tourist attractions are well maintained in the surrounding area. There is also Shiotsubo hot spring and Hoshino hot spring so visitors can enjoy this summer resort through all the seasons.

    Getting there
    Take JR Joetsu Nagano Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 20 minutes from Tokyo Station to Karuizawa Station. If you are coming from Osaka, take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station.

     

  • Kiso
    The whole valley area is one of the most beautiful wooded areas in Japan
    Beautiful old houses are restored along the stone-paved sloping roads
    Kiso is located on the upper reaches of the Kiso-gawa River that is at the border of Gifu and Nagano, and the whole valley area is counted as one of the most beautiful woods in Japan. Surrounded by steep mountains, Kiso-ji is a highway, which developed as a point of transportation that connected Edo (today's Tokyo) and Kyoto. In Magome-juku at the mouth of Kiso-ji there remains old rows of houses with lattice along stone-paved sloping roads. In order to avoid ruining the town's Edo-era look of almost 300 years ago, all overhead power-lines and cables etc are laid underground so that they cannot be seen.

    Beyond the 801m high point on a mountain road, you will reach Tsumago-jyuku. The town suffered a temporary decline because of fires, however, the campaign for preserving the town has been going on since 1968 and it has helped to restore the town to its original state. It is now registered as one of the Japan's most important traditional building conservation areas. The Bunka-Bunsei-Fusoku-Emaki-Gyoretsu that is held in Tsumago every autumn is the big parade where people dress up themselves in costumes from the Bunsei period of late Edo-era in 19th century.

    Getting there
    By JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 50 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. By JR Chuo Main Line for 50 minutes from Nagoya Station to Nakatsugawa Station. By bus for 30 minutes from Nakatsugawa Station to Magome.

     

  • Kurobe Valley
    View the breathtaking view of Japan's deepest valley
    An exciting trolley ride that goes through 41 tunnels and over 25 bridges
    Kurobe Valley is located in the eastern part of Toyama and lies between Tateyama Mountains and Ushiro-Tateyama Mountains. It is the deepest valley in the whole country. If you take the trolley ride you can view the beauty of the canyon between Unazuki-Onsen Station and Keyaki-daira Station. The trolley ride takes 1 hour and 20 minutes for the distance of 20.1 km and includes going through 41 tunnels and over 25 bridges. One of the bridges is called Atobiki-kyo, which lies over the deepest part of the valley, and is 55 m long and 56 m high. The view from this bridge is one of the best in this area.

    There are many hot springs along the trolley route such as the Kuronagi-onsen, Kanetsuri-onsen and Meiken-onsen Hot Springs and these supply water to Unazuki-onsen Hot Spring. You can get off the trolley at any one of those springs and enjoy the spa. Kanetsuri-onsen Hot Spring is known for distinctive characteristic that you can dig anywhere along the Kurobe-gawa River and have hot spring water so that you can indulge yourself in your own private spa, anytime and anywhere.

    If you take a 1 km walk from Keyaki-daira Station, the last stop of the trolley route, you will see Kurobe-gawa River from the precipitous cliff called Sarutobi-kyo Valley. Also there is also Yamagoya-Babatani-onsen Hot Spring in the surroundings where you can relax and have a rest.

    Getting there
    By JR Jyoetsu Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Echigo-yuzawa Station, then to Toyama Station for a total time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. From Osaka, by JR Hokuriku Main Line for 3 hours and 10 minutes from Osaka station. By Toyama Chiho Tetsudo Honsen Line Limited Express for 1 hour from Dentetsu Toyama Station to Unazuki Onsen Station. From there, walk for 3 minutes to Kurobe Kyokoku Tetsudo Unazuki Station.

     

  • Lake Shirakaba-ko and Yatsugatake
    The highland area has many ateliers and museums
    A teddy bear museum with over 5,000 teddy bears from all over the world
    Lake Shirakaba-ko is an artificial lake that is up to 9 meters deep and 1,416 meters above sea level. It is located at the western foot of Mt. Tateshina in the northern part of Chino, Nagano Prefecture and belongs to Yatsugatake Chushin Kogen Quasi National Park. On the surface of the lake between Mt. Kirigamine and Mt. Tateshina are tour boats and pedal boats. You can enjoy cycling around the roads on the lakeside, and there are camping grounds and skating rinks in the vicinity. On the eastern side of the lake is Lake Shirakaba-ko Family Land, which has leisure facilities such as Luna Park, a heated swimming pool, hot springs that you can go in with a swimming costume on, a museum and a forest railroad.

    Yatsugatake is a chain of mountains on the southeastern side of Lake Shirakaba-ko. There are many climbing routes set up along the moderate slopes of the mountains covered with forests, and with the help of convenient transportation routes from the metropolitan area, many climbers visit Yatsugatake. The foot of Yatsugateke is known as an area where artists such as painters and sculptors gather and the area is dotted with hard-core museums such as Yatsugatake Art Museum, Ito Modern Art Museum and Rene Lalique Museum as well as other unique museums, ateliers, and galleries. The Tateshina Teddy Bear Museum in Suwa has over 5,000 teddy bears from all over the world and is a popular tourists spot among adults, too.

    Getting there
    Lake Shirakaba: About 2 hours 15 minutes from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Chino Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express. About 50 minutes from Chino Station to Minami Shirakaba-ko by bus.
    Yatsugatake: About 2 hours from Shinjuku Station to Kobuchizawa Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express, and about 25 minutes from Kobuchizawa Station to Kiyosato Station by JR Koumi Line.
    Suwa: About 2 hours 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station to Kami Suwa Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express.

     

  • Lake Suwa-ko
    One of the world's largest geysers is a splendid sight at the lakeside
    Frozen water fishing is a seasonal scene during the winter
    Lake Suwa-ko is situated almost right in the center of Nagano. It is the largest lake in the prefecture with the altitude of 759 meters and circumference of16.2 km. In the winter when the lake surface freezes, you will see people frozen fishing for pond smelts alongside ice skaters, adding poetic charm to the season. Also, when they have 10 or more of days with a temperature below minus 10 degrees Celsius, as a result of the contraction and expansion of ice, you can hear a loud noise as cracks on the lake surface appear and the ice on the surface rises by about a meter. This very rare phenomenon is called Omiwatari (God's Cross/Passage).

    At Lake Suwa-ko Geyser Center, which faces the Lake, you can see a geyser that spouts water up to about 40 to 50 meters high every hour. It is one of the biggest geysers in the world. In the Center there is also an indoor pool and an exhibit of Omiwatari Georama. Suwa-taisha Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan with more than 10,000 branches. The Shrine consists of two shrines, the Kami Suwa (Upper Shrine) and the Shimo Suwa (Lower Shrine). The gods enshrined in Suwa Shrine are of chivalry, farming, hunting and wind, and it has many believers. Every six years in spring Ombashira-matsuri Festival is held. It is a dynamic festival during which four large timbers for the four corners of the Shrine are cut down from a mountain, slid from atop a 30-degree hillside on which Ujiko climb up to roll down.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Kami Suwa Station by JR Chuo Honsen Tokkyu Limited Express. About 20 minutes from Kami Suwa Station to Shimo Suwa Station.

     

  • Matsumoto
    A castle town with Japan's oldest donjon
    A Japanese drum summer festival is held in the castle
    Matsumoto, situated almost right in the center of Nagano and known as the gate to the North Alps' climbing routes prospered as a castle town at the foot of Matsumoto Castle. The Castle's donjon that was built in 1615 is Japan's oldest existing donjon and is designated as a national treasure. In the summer, Taiko (Japanese drums) Festival and Takigi No (No-play under torchlight) are held in the castle and attract many visitors.

    Along the Nakamachi Dori Street on the south of the castle are many old merchant houses built in the old godown style and warehouses built with walls covered with square tiles jointed with raised plaster. Matsumoto-shi Hakari Kan is a former warehouse of the Tanakas, a weights and measures shop that was established in 1902, and exhibits a collection of measuring tools. The former Kaichi School building is a western style building built in 1876 and is open to the public as an education museum. The large, green Shiroyama Park, at an altitude of 800 meters, is where Dejiro the guarding branch castle for Matsumoto Castle used to be. The view of North Alps from the park is beautiful, and it is a famous cherry blossom spot in the spring. The neighboring Matsumoto City Alps Park has popular field athletic facilities, as well as the 995 meter-long Dream Coaster.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours 40 minutes from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express. About 51 minutes from Shin Osaka Station to Nagoya Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line, and about 2 hours from Nagoya Station to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express.

     

  • Minakami-onsen Hot Spring and Mt. Tanigawa
    A hot spring resort where you can also enjoy numerous outdoor sports
    Minakami-onsen (hot spring resort), located in the northern part of Gumma, is said to have been found in around 16th century and is a generic term for Minakami, Yubiso, Tanigawa, Unose, Takaragawa, and Yunokoya Spas.

    Minakami-cho, which includes Minakami Onsen, commands fine views of Mt. Tanigawa, Mt. Hotaka, Mt. Shibutsu. The town has several scenic spots such as Lake Fujiwara-ko, Lake Togen-ko, and Lake Okutone-ko. The town is also known for its skiing grounds such as Tenjindaira slopes. You can also enjoy outdoor sports like rafting. Mt. Tanigawa is a mountain located in the northwestern part of Gumma, on the border with Niigata. The mountain belongs to Jyoshinetsu Heights National Park. It consists of two peaks, Tomano-mimi and Okino-mini, also called the two mimis (two ears). It is also known as the lowest mountain in Honshuu that keeps perpetual snow. It takes about 10 minutes to cover the 2.3 kilometers between Tanigawa-Doaiguchi and Tenjindaira, 1,321 meters above sea level, by the Tanigawadake Ropeway. The grandeur of the Tanigawa Mountains enjoyed from the window of the ropeway car never fails to fascinate.

    Getting there
    Jyomo Heights is about 1 hour 20 minuets from Tokyo Station by the JR Jyoetsu Shinkansen Line. Then take a bus from Jyomo Heights to Minakami Onsen, which takes about 10 minutes. In order to get to Mt. Tanigawa, take another bus from Jyomo Heights to Tanigawa Ropeway, which takes about 55 minutes. Tokyo Station is about 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Norikura
    A plateau surrounded by white birch, plum and larch trees
    The drinkable hot spring water is good for all sorts of ailments
    Norikura is a plateau around Nagano's western border with Gifu. It ranges in height from 1,400 to 1,500 m, and is surrounded by white birch, plum and larch trees. Mt. Norikura-dake near the plateau contains Ushidome Pond, which was formed by a volcanic eruption. It is surrounded by evergreen trees, and its surface reflects their green leaves and the 23 peaks of Mt. Norikura-dake. In Ichinose Pasture, located almost in the middle of Norikura Plateau, dairy cows are put out to graze from early summer till the autumn. There are lots of walks to enjoy around the pond. The time required for them ranges from 40 Minutes to 1 Hour 20 Minutes. On the walking course near Zengoro-no-taki Fall, you can go near enough to the waterfall to be showered by spray.

    Shirahone-onsen Hot Spring in the north of Norikura is said to have been opened about 600 years ago. The hot water is milky and contains pure hydrogen sulfide. It is drinkable and retains heat, making it good for ailments of the stomach and intestines.

    Getting there
    Matsumoto is 2 hours 40 minutes from Shinjuku Station by Limited Express by JR Chuo Honsen Line. It takes 30 minutes by the Matsumoto Dentetsu Kamikochi Line to get from Matsumoto Station to Shin-shimashima Station. A Matsumoto Dentetsu bus takes 40 minutes from Shin-shimashima Station to Odakimae or 55 minutes to Shirahone-onsen Hot Spring.Z

     

  • Shiga-kogen Heights
    From spring to autumn there are more than 500 types of alpine plants
    A popular location for skiing and other winter sports
    Shiga-kogen Heights is in the northeastern part of Nagano. Formed by volcanic activity, it has a mountainous landscape and is studded with more than 70 ponds and marshes. From spring to autumn, more than 500 types of alpine plants bloom in the area, creating an uplifting spectacle.

    Visitors can experience Shiga-kogen's natural wonders first-hand at the Higashi-Tateyama-kogen-shokubutsuen (Alpine Plant Park), whose most noteworthy attractions include orange-yellow day lilies that bloom from mid to late July. Another local attraction is the Yokoteyama Observation Deck, which at 2,305 meters above sea level is Shiga-kogen's highest point. Accessible in about 10 Minutes using a skylator and the Natsuyama Lift, it affords views of Shiga Kogen, the Kusatsu Hot Spring area, the Northern Alps, and even Mt. Fuji.

    Thanks partly to the 1998 Winter Olympics, Shiga-kogen Heights are also known as a venue for skiing and other winter sports. The nearby Yudanaka-onsen, Shibu-onsen, and Oku-shiga-onsen Hot Springs are perfect places for tired visitors to relax after sports, nature walks, and other activities.

    Getting there
    The Oku-shiga-kogen bus stop is about 1 Hour and 10 Minutes from Yudanaka Station by Nagano Railway Bus. Yudanaka Station is about 40 Minutes from Nagano Station by Limited Express on the Nagano Dentetsu Line. Nagano Station is about 1 Hour and 55 Minutes from Tokyo Station on the JR Nagano Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Takato
    The 1,500 small, reddish cherry blossoms are illuminated at night
    The town's oldest merchant's residence is open to the public as a museum
    Takato is located in the Ina Basin along the Fujisawa-gawa River, a tributary of the Mibu-gawa River, and Yamamuro-gawa River in the northwestern Ina Mountains in southeastern Nagano. It is surrounded by mountains of the Central Japan Alps on all sides and was a castle town of the feudal lord Naito from the end of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century.

    Although only the stonewalls and fences of Naito's castle remain today the site was transformed into the Takato Castle Ruin Park. There are over 1,500 Kohigan-Zakura cherry trees in the park. Their blossoms are smaller and more reddish than typical cherry blossoms, and they are designated as a precious natural property of the prefecture. When they bloom, the blossoms are illuminated at night, and the park becomes crowded with people who enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms.

    Inside Takato, the town's oldest merchant's residence is open to public as the Ikegami Residence Merchant Folk Material Museum. The Takato Local History Museum stands at the side of Lake Takato-ko, displaying the palanquins used in the Toro Matsuri, or garden lantern festival celebrated in autumn. Within the museum, there is a historic site called Ejima-Kakomi Yashiki, the residence of an exiled high ranked lady Ejima who had served a Shogun's wife. This residence has a restored living room, bathroom, lavatory and wooden fence of the Edo Period in the 18th century.

    Getting there
    Take a limited express on JR Chuo Main Line and Iida Line from Shinjuku Station (in Tokyo) to Inashi Station via Okaya Station. It takes 2 hours and 55 minutes. If you are coming from Osaka, take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station, and then take JR Chuo Line for 14 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shinjuku Station.

     

  • Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
    Enjoy the beautiful mountain route through all seasons
    Kurobe Dam is the highest dam in the country
    Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route has a distance of 86 km and goes from Tateyama Station on the Toyama Chiho Tetsudo line to Nagano Ogisawa, by a combination of bus, cable car, and ropeway. This route was started as a transportation route to construct the Kurobe-gawa River No. 4 electric power plant, and was opened in 1972.

    Tateyama was known as disciplined place for religious believers. Jigoku-dani Valley is the area where you will notice the strong smell of sulfur. There are no trees or plants here. Moreover there is Mikuriga-ike Pond, which is the largest crater lake in Tateyama. Also, there are areas where you can see snow covered mountains even during the summer time. Mountaineers and tourists will visit in the season of fresh green to the season of tinted autumnal leaves. Kurobe Dam is built at the upper stream of Kurobe-gawa River with a capacity of 200 million tons of water and at a height of 186 m. The dam is formed in the shape of an arch and the scene as water drains is exciting and insatiable. On the way to the Alpine-route, there are many scenic spots such as the Akushiro-no-kabe rock, Syomyo-daki Falls and also Murodo where a spring of 2-5 degrees Celsius gushes out even in summer.

    Getting there
    By JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Echigo-yuzawa Station, change there and on to Toyama for a total journey time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. From Osaka, by JR Hokuriku Main Line for 3 hours and 10 minutes from Osaka Station to Toyama Station. Then by Toyama Chiho Tetsudo Tateyama Line for 2 hours from Dentetsu Toyama Station to Tateyama Station.

     

  • Tenryu-kyo Valley
    Boating down the Valley lined with keen-cut cliffs and huge rocks
    The captain catches river fish, which he grills on the boat for the customers
    Tenryu-kyo Valley is situated on the southern tip of Ina Basin in Nagano and is a transverse valley that cuts its way through Ina Mountains. You can enjoy its picturesque scenery by going down the valley by boat, with chains of dynamic cliffs like Eboshi Iwa and Ryukaho on both sides. Tenryu Kudari is boating down the stream from Benten Port near Ina Yawata Station on the Iida Line. You can enjoy the nature to your heart's content on this rapid stream going over difficult points such as Garyu-kyo Valley, sometimes getting wet with splashes of water. It takes about 1 hour to the final destination, Tenryu-kyo Port near Tenryu-kyo Station. The vicinity is famous for azaleas and cherry trees and its autumn leaves are also beautiful, and attract many visitors.

    An approximately 50-minute Tenryu Rhine Kudari is also available from Tenryu-kyo Port going slowly down along the calm stream. The boat captain throws a net into the stream to catch river fish, which he then grills on the boat to serve to the customers. You can enjoy the beauty of Tenryu-gawa River from Koya-kyo Bridge near Tenryu Station as well as the hanging bridge, Tsutsuji-bashi Bridge, about 500 meters down from Koya-kyo Bridge.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) to Okaya Station by JR Chuo Honsen Limited Express. About 2 hours 50 minutes from Okaya Station to Ina Yawata Station by JR Iida Line. About 3 hours 5 minutes to Tenryu-kyo Station. About 1 hour 50 minutes from Shin Osaka Station to Toyohashi Station by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. About 2 hours 40 minutes from Toyohashi Station to Tenryu-kyo Station by JR Iida Line and about 3 hours to Ina Yawata Station.

     

  • Togakushi and Kurohime
    A performance of traditional sacred music and dancing
    The Fairy Tale Museum collects fairy tales from all over the world
    Tokakushi Heights is situated in the north of Nagano within the Joshinetsu National Park. This volcanic area has an altitude of 1,200m and is located in the foot of the two volcanoes, Togakushi and Iizuna. In the midst of a wood with cedar trees that are over 100 years old, there stands the Togakushi-jinja Shrine. You can see Kagura, a performance of traditional sacred music and dancing with themes selected from myths at the grand festival in autumn. Togakushi is also noted for the production of buckwheat noodles and soba.

    Kurohime Heights spreads to the southeast of Mt. Kurohime, situated near the border of Niigata and known as Shinano-Fuji. It is a popular summer resort with larch and birch woods and skiing in winter. Around the area named a forest of fairy tales, there is the Kurohime Fairy Tale Museum that collects fairy tales from all over the world, as well as the Oike Pond, Nanatsuike Pond and other volcanic crater lakes, cosmos fields and cattle grazing fields. The Lake Nojiri-ko at the eastern foot of Mt. Kurohime gained sudden eager attention when fossils of an Elephas Naumanni were discovered from the lakebed. You can see the fossils and other excavated articles in the Nojiri-ko Museum.

    Getting there
    Take JR Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 55 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagano. Take a bus for 1 hour from Nagano Station to Togakushi Chusha. If you are going to the Kurohime Heights and Lake Nojiri-ko, take the JR Shinetsu Main Line for 25 minutes from Nagano Station to Kurohime Station.

     

  • Utsukushi-ga-hara Heights
    A 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding mountains
    An open-air exhibition hall where sculptures are permanently displayed
    The Utsukushi-ga-hara Heights is located at the center of Nagano, in the north of Yatsugatake Chuushin Kogen Quasi-National Park. It is a tableland of a lava plateau that extends in the highlands with the altitude of 2,000m. There are few rises and falls, and it covers Matsumoto, Takeishi-mura and Wada-mura.

    The view from Ogato, the highest spot of the Utsukusi-ga-hara Heights is magnificent. You can overlook the Northern, Central and Southern Japan Alps, as well as the Yatsugatake Mountains, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Asama, and enjoy its 360 degree panoramic scenery.

    Cows graze freely in the Utsukushi-ga-hara Kogen Farm with an area of 4 million sq. meters offers a peaceful, pastoral scene in summer. Other attractions are the open-air museum on the eastern slope of the 1,990m high Mt. Ushifuse and the Utsukushi-ga-hara Kogen Art Museum. The entire area of 133,000 sq. meters is crowded with milk vetch azaleas and gypsy roses and there is an open-air exhibition hall where around 400 pieces of sculptures are permanently displayed. In the Children's Art Museum in the premise, you can directly touch the art objects.

    Getting there
    Take a limited express on JR Chuo Main Line for 2 hours and 40 minutes from Shinjuku (in Tokyo) to Matsumoto. Take a bus for 1 hour and 30 minutes from Matsumoto Station to Utsukushi-ga-hara Art Museum. Or take another bus from Matsumoto Station to Utsukushi-ga-hara Heights. It takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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