Travel

Search
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, equipped with a diverse range of accommodation, restaurants and other facilities that cater to foreign visitors while working hard to offer a distinct Japanese winter experience.

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.

In the summer, Nagano provides plenty of opportunity 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 is one of Japan’s most stunning original castles, Matsumoto-jo.

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.

Places to visit

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.

Mt. Yatsugatake

Yatsugatake Mountains

Hike. Onsen. Star gaze. Repeat.


Matsumoto Castle

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

Kamikochi

The epitome of Japanese mountainous nature hidden in Nagano with clear skies and bright blue river streams.


Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

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

Jigokudani Monkey Park

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


Zenkou-ji Temple

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

obuse town, nagano

Obuse Town

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


Narai-juku

A quaint stop along the Nakasendo Trail.

Ringo-no-Yuya Obu Spa

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


5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Nagano

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

matsumoto city of art

Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Seeing spots with the world-renowned Yayoi Kusama.


Daio Wasabi Farm

A spicy taste of rural Japan.

The Northern Japan Alps

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


Togakushi Village

Ninja time in the mountains.

shibu onsen

Shibu Onsen

A prelude to the hot spring monkeys.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture

Aichi

Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Karamon Gate in Fukui Prefecture

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.

Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref

Ishikawa

Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery - if you're into that sort of thing.

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.

View of Mount Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture

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.