Things to do in Nagano

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:

Monkey Scratching Head
Japanese Snow Macaque
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!

Zenkoji Temple
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 and mount MadaraoLAKE 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 snowNOZAWA 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.

Bridge Crossing Wasabi Field
Bridge Crossing Wasabi Field
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
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!

View from Murodo StationTATEYAMA 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!

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Gaijin San

Since my better half is Japanese I often have the chance to travel to Japan. I grew fond over time of this magnificent country. I thought of sharing with you some places worth visiting in this little but growing travel guide to Japan. I try to show with images what I can't express with words. I hope you may find here some inspiration! For those who wonder, I chose the moniker Gaijin-San after being called like this by a waitress at a grilled eel restaurant. "Gaijin" means foreigner and "San" is a honorific suffix in Japanese.

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