Are you tired of Tokyo’s scorching summer heat or simply want to escape the crowd? Nagano Prefecture is located only a short shinkansen ride north of Tokyo and has a lot to offer. Onsen, georgous mountains and monkeys are only few of the landmarks of this area of Japan. Here’s some of GaijinGoJapan’s recommendations:
JIGOKUDANI The japanese snow monkeys are probably one of the most emblematic figures of Nagano prefecture. Located at Yudanaka onsen, the snow macaque enjoy the volcanic hot springs of Nagano’s mountain range. They bath all day, only waiting for you to visit them!
ZENKO-JI Nagano city is not particularly recognized for being a town with historical landmarks, but Zenko-ji temple will surprise you. The Dalai Lama visited Zenko-ji, so why not you?
LAKE NOJIRI AREA Lake Nojiri is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. It is especially popular among Germans who apparently have a small community of cottages along the lakes’s shore. I think lake Nojiri area has a lot to offer to non-Germans as well, anybody can enjoy gorgeous scenery, right?
NOZAWA ONSEN Nozawa Onsen receives lots of snow in winter, and happens to have lots of volcanic activity too. This makes Nozawa a ski and “onsen” Mecca of Nagano prefecture. Dozens of those hot baths are located around the city and the best: they are available for free.
WASABI FARM You like this Japanese mustard that burns its way straight to your nose? Ever wondered where is comes from? Wasabi is actually a root that is cultivated in a well-irrigated bedrock. Come see how its done and taste it at wasabi farm.
MATSUMOTO CASTLE Matsumoto Castle is one of the rare preserved castles in Japan. By preserved, I mean that the structure is the same as when it was built: no fancy elevator will bring you to the top. Instead, one must climb its way up using the original steep wooden stairs. A lot of fun!
TATEYAMA MOUNTAIN AND KUROBE DAMM This one is technically not in Nagano prefecture, but the journey starts there so it might count as well! The Kanden Tunnel Trolley bus takes you from Nagano prefecture to the Kurobe Damm and mount Tateyama in Toyama prefecture. Lots of breathtaking mountain scenery on the program!