What to do and see in Nagano, Japan: The Best Places and Tips

March 30, 2018 Matilde Konrad

One of the main attractions in Nagano is Zenkō-ji, a colorful 7th-century Buddhist temple with proud architecture and a humbling presence. The compound contains lovely gardens, a treasure house, sacred statues and a massive incense burner. Kids will love the “ancient” appeal of the Chausuyama Dinosaur Park, adjacent to the Nagano Chausuyama Zoo. Test your stealth skills at the Chibikko Ninja Village, then reward your hard work with a tasting tour at the Nishi-no-Mon sake brewery.
Restaurants in Nagano

1. Togakushi Shrine Okusha

Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-254-2014
Excellent
55%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 469 reviews

Togakushi Shrine Okusha

Reviewed By Stephan1954 - The Hague, The Netherlands

The shrine itself is nothing special but combined with the walk/climb it is an interesting and rewarding experience. One passes through a path lined with gigantic cedar trees and some smaller shrines. The last part of the climb is doable but not easy.
Good for a walk in the fresh air among the Japanese.

2. Zenko-ji Temple

I-491 Motoyoshicho, Nagano 380-0851, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-234-3591
Excellent
48%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Zenko-ji Temple

Reviewed By Cm K - Prince Frederick, Maryland

This temple dates from the 1700's and is well preserved...it is said this is the place Buddhism arrived into Japan from Korea in 522. The arrival predated the religious splits in Japanese Buddhism, and the temple site was the historical location of several major battles of the Japanese feudal clan wars.The main hall is very large and designated a national treasure. It is the home to a very sacred Buddhist statue (which is never displayed). Down from the main hall are six roku-jizo (enlightened beings) who postponed Buddahood to save living beings from 6 different realms: hell, starvation, beasts, carnage, human beings and heavenly beings. he Roku-Jizu -their are six. They are enlightened beings who save human beings from the six realms; beasts, starvation, carnage, other humans and from other heavenly beings. We had a volunteer English-speaking guide (but he had a lot of difficulty finding the words to explain things) to show us around, but would forgo that and just read the signs.

3. Togakushi Shrine Chusha

3506 Toagakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-254-2001
Excellent
27%
Good
53%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 179 reviews

Togakushi Shrine Chusha

Reviewed By 338unik

We went during winter, so okusha was not available by bus. Chusha has a small waterfall next to it, and an area that sells local charms and other religious goods. The trees that surround the temple look hundreds and thousands of years old, and are an amazing sight to look at. Try uzuraya (best soba restaurant in the area) after visit, it's right next to the entrance to the temple.

4. Lake Kagami

Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture
Excellent
35%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 132 reviews

Lake Kagami

Reviewed By Vanessa Y - Tokyo, Japan

We didn't get a perfect day ... but the fog made it very mystical. It's easy to picture just how magical it would be on perfect Autumn day ... you'd probably have to beat the crowds, though!

5. Sanada Treasure Museum

4-1 Matsushiromachimatsushiro, Nagano 381-1231, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-278-2801
Excellent
35%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
17%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 79 reviews

Sanada Treasure Museum

Reviewed By Simone R - Melbourne, Australia

Matsushiro was possibly more popular than it usually is when we visited it, thanks to the NHK drama 'Sanada Maru', currently airing on TV. The exhibition at the museum was in relation to the drama. The museum had some great artefacts on display, especially the three armour sets we got to see. Sadly, only the labels and the introductory panel were translated into English, so you were stuck understanding what the artefacts were in relation to if you knew nothing of the history. It was only that we'd previously read up on the history of Yukimura Sanada that we had some idea, my average Japanese skills were failing me when I was trying to read the interpretation panels.
You can buy a discount pass that includes entry to Sanada House and the Literary School which makes it a worthwhile couple of hours of sightseeing.

1-4-4 Hakoshimizu | Zenkoji Higashidonari Shiroyama Park Nai, Nagano 380-0801, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-232-0052
Excellent
49%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
13%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 99 reviews

Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum Higashiyama Kaii Gallery

Higashiyama Kaii Gallery is temporarily closed for renovation from May 31th 2017. Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum is also closed for reconstruction from October 1st 2017.

Reviewed By ShonWata - Singapore, Singapore

I visited this museum to join a special exhibition on Peter Drucker collection on Japanese art. The collection consists of great master pieces of Japanese paintings in 15- 20th century, which we all loved.
The booklet of this special exhibition captures well this great collection and it certainly worth buying.
This museum stands just next to Zenkoji. I highly recommend visiting this place together with your Zenkoji visit. Their regular and permanent exhibition for Higashiyama Kaii is definitely worth viewing. His great pieces of paintings on the nature of Nagano will impress you for sure.

7. Togakushi Folk Museum Togakushi Ninja Museum

3688-12 Togakushi, Nagano 381-4101, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-254-2395
Excellent
52%
Good
40%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 67 reviews

Togakushi Folk Museum Togakushi Ninja Museum

Reviewed By RockMeAsmodeus - Southport, United Kingdom

Secret doors with varying means of opening them, a hidden tilted room and mazes with sliding panels - each segment of the ninja house challenges your perception and your ability to think rationally, and also think outside the box. Took me about 20 minutes to get through (though I was making sure I hadn't missed anything).
The museum is less interesting, just a collection of artefacts with little explanation. There are better folk museums elsewhere in Japan (e.g. Hida-Takayama)

Nagano, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-286-4621
Excellent
35%
Good
55%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 67 reviews

Matsushiro

Reviewed By DAVID V - Bangkok, Thailand

Easy to get to outside of Nagano, remains of the castle and about 6 old Samurai houses, its a great half day side trip

9. Midori Nagano

1 Minamichitose, Nagano 380-0823, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-224-1515
Excellent
16%
Good
66%
Satisfactory
18%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 71 reviews

Midori Nagano

Reviewed By wombatdavid - Tasmania

This shopping centre is linked to the railway station. You can buy local specialities and also enter the metropolitan hotel without going outside. Try the apple pie at Ringonoki.

10. Sanada House

1 Matsushiro, Matsushiromachi, Nagano 381-1231, Nagano Prefecture +81 26-215-6702
Excellent
16%
Good
70%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 62 reviews

Sanada House

Reviewed By Simone R - Melbourne, Australia

Sanada house is in wonderful condition, and unlike a number of other old Japanese houses, it did have a small amount of furnishings in some of the rooms to give an idea of how the rooms were used. As always the Gardens were a highlight, especially as it was a lovely sunny day.
The NHK exhibition showing some of the costumes and concept art from Sanada Maru makes this place possibly a bit more interesting that it would normally be. The exhibition runs through till the end of the year. All in all we spent less than 30 minutes here.
Be sure to get a discount pass with entry to the museum and Literary school. The price of entry for this place alone might not feel quite worth it.

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