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Largest City


Gaze the stars from onsen and forget it all.

Located in Nagano Prefecture, a little over an hour away from Tokyo by shikansen (bullet train), Ueda city is something of a hidden gem of this part of Japan. Whilst Karuizawa may be more popular for winter retreats, and Matsumoto perhaps has a more storied history, Ueda is one of those places that has a little bit of everything for those wanting to sample the best that the Shinshu region has to offer in a short space of time.

Ueda Castle

Scenery of the Ueda castle

Ueda Castle is located in Ueda city, Nagano.

Undoubtedly the star attraction of this great city, Ueda Castle dates from 1583, and served as a local base of operations for the Sanada clan, during Japan’s Sengoku period. Several bloody conflicts and change of owners later, the castle finally found its way into the hands of the Matsudaira clan, towards the end of Japan’s Edo Period, approximately 140 years ago.

During the year, the castle grounds are host to an autumn festival when the castle is enraptured in fall foliage. This usually takes place in October/November. In April, the castle sees locals and tourists alike for the Ueda Castle 1000 Sakura Festival. Amassed in pink cherry blossoms, the castle is stunning and this is another fantastic season to visit. Dates typically change from year to year for the events at the castle, so visitors should check the castle’s website (Japanese) for a schedule.

A hilltop castle, with the clear waters of the Chikuma River running alongside it, Ueda Castle is great both for history buffs and photo lovers alike.

Stargazing and art museums

Perhaps tourist traps such as castles aren’t really your thing. If so, then perhaps a trip to Ueda’s Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum would be more to your liking. This museum, which opened in 1981, is up in the hills on the outskirts of Ueda, with plenty of local onsens nearby too.

Whilst the museum is a great place to visit in the daytime, it is at night, when the full beauty of the night sky can be seen, away from city lights, that Utsukushigahara fully lives up to its name as a “field of beauty.”

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The surrounding park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. Ueda Castle keep and the adjoining museum are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays). Admission to the park and castle grounds is free, admission to the keep and the museum is ¥500 per person. 

How To Get There


Japan, 〒386-0026 Nagano-ken, Ueda-shi, Ninomaru, 4, 上田招魂社社務所

By train

Take the bullet train from Ueno station bound for Kanazawa and get off at Ueda Station. The journey should take around 90 minutes and costs ¥6,660.

By bus

From Ueda Station, Utsukshigahara can be reached by a 90-minute bus ride from Ueda station. Bus times vary by season.

By car

Ueda Castle is a short taxi ride or 20-minute walk from Ueda station.

Where To Stay

Hotel Route-Inn Grand Ueda Ekimae
  • 1-5-7 Tenjin, Ueda-shi, Nagano, 386-0025 Japan
  • ¥8,600 - ¥36,700
  • 4.48/5 (516 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Ueda Ekimae Royal Hotel (Route Inn Group)
  • 1-2-31 Tenjin, Ueda-shi, Nagano, 386-0025 Japan
  • ¥6,600 - ¥15,600
  • 4.17/5 (255 reviews)
  • 0.9 km
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Nagano-Ueda
  • 1-8-2 Tenjin, Ueda-shi, Nagano, 386-0025 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥15,930
  • 3.88/5 (1,186 reviews)
  • 1.0 km
Ueda Tokyu REI Hotel
  • 4-24-1 Tenjin, Ueda-shi, Nagano, 386-0025 Japan
  • ¥7,100 - ¥27,400
  • 4.12/5 (1,626 reviews)
  • 1.2 km
Hotel Route-Inn Ueda Route 18
  • 2-2-5 Zaimokucho, Ueda-shi, Nagano, 386-0014 Japan
  • ¥7,300 - ¥18,000
  • 4.06/5 (384 reviews)
  • 1.8 km

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