Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nagano
Population
2,214,409

Nagano

Monkey business in the Japanese mountains

World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Nagano hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1998 and the various ski resorts bear the hallmark of international public interest. The prefecture is equipped with a diverse range of accommodation, restaurants, and other facilities catering to foreign visitors while working hard to offer a distinct Japanese winter experience.

5 Famous Foods You'll Find in Nagano

The Hakuba Valley comprises nine ski resorts with over 200 runs, the most popular being Happo-one, with a season lasting from early December right until May. Shiga Kogen is Japan’s largest ski area with over 21 interconnecting resorts especially suited to beginners.

The resort attracts tourists thanks to a great choice of off-the-slope activities, including the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park where you can spot wild monkeys bathing in the hot springs. If you’re not comfortable getting in a bath with a monkey, there are a number of picturesque onsen (hot spring) resort towns in the Yamanouchi area. Nozawa is a lesser-known ski resort where you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the crowds.

A little camping in the autumn colors of Karasawa at Kamokochi.

In the summer, Nagano provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Hiking, rafting, canyoning, and camping all come with a jaw-dropping backdrop. National parks abound; namely the Joshinetsu Kogen, the Minami-Alps and the Chubu Sangaku. Kamikochi basin is beautiful in the spring and summer, while the Matsukawa ravine is a riot of reds, oranges, and greens in the fall. The prefectural capital of Nagano city is home to the venerated Zenko-ji temple. In central Matsumoto you’ll find one of Japan’s most stunning original castles, Matsumoto Castle.

Nagano is credited for its high-quality soba noodles, grown in the prefecture’s fertile highlands, as well as the less appetizing tsukudani, a dish of boiled locusts that was an important source of protein in the isolated hills before 7/11 came along.

Trivia

5 Famous Foods You'll Find in Nagano

Anyone for soba or horse sashimi?

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Places to visit

Mt. Yatsugatake

Yatsugatake Mountains

Hike. Onsen. Star gaze. Repeat.

Ryuoo Sora Terrace Observation Deck Kita Shiga Kogen

Ryuoo Sora Terrace Observation Deck

A heavenly view like no other.


Skiers on the Sora Terrace at Ryuoo Ski Park Kita Shiga Kogen

Kita Shiga Kogen

Witness the “sea of clouds” and hit the slopes in Nagano.

Matsumoto City

Brisk mountain air and local beers in Nagano's coolest city.


Togakushi Village

Ninja time in the mountains.

matsumoto city of art

Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Seeing spots with the world-renowned Yayoi Kusama.


Scenery of the Ueda castle

Ueda

Gaze the stars from onsen and forget it all.

Mount Jonen

A brisk day hike accessible from Matsumoto.


Matsushiro

Shhhh. Don't wake the samurai spirits.

shibu onsen

Shibu Onsen

A prelude to the hot spring monkeys.


The Northern Japan Alps

Unforgettable experiences above the tree-line in one of Japan's most picturesque mountain ranges.

Daio Wasabi Farm

A spicy taste of rural Japan.


5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Nagano

If you are going to try horse sashimi, we recommend you do it here!

Ringo-no-Yuya Obu Spa

Experience “naked friendship” at Matsumoto's favorite bath house!


Narai-juku

A quaint stop along the Nakasendo Trail.

obuse town, nagano

Obuse Town

Never too many art galleries, or chestnuts, in this quaint town in Nagano!


Zenkou-ji Temple

Walk in darkness on a path to this “secret Buddha” and (maybe) find enlightenment.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

The snow monkeys know how to enjoy life — they go to hell.


Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

Perfectly preserving the past with the world’s largest private collection of woodblock prints.

Kamikochi

With clear skies and bright blue river streams, it's one of the best hikes in Japan.


Matsumoto Castle

One of Japan’s top historic castles that entrances with an elegant moon-viewing room and rare artifacts.

Snowshoeing Tour in Nagano

Just when you think you’ve seen all that Japan has to offer in the winter, a snowshoeing tour in the epic Japanese Alps comes along.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya City Aichi Park

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Echizen Ono Castle in Fukui, Japan.

Fukui

Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui!

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture

Gifu

Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Hatago Iwa Rock Ishikawa Noto Hanto

Ishikawa

Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture

Niigata

The rice is right in Niigata prefecture where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Mountain Fuji and Shimizu City in Shizuoka, Japan.

Shizuoka

It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.

Lake Kurobe in Toyama Prefecture

Toyama

Toyama's speciality is mountains and there's no better place to experience them than here.

View of Mt Fuji Yamanashi Prefecture

Yamanashi

Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.

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Nagoya City Aichi Park

Aichi

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Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower

Tokyo

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Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.

Akihabara

Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.