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

July 13, 2017 Emerita Lamoureux

Nagano Prefecture (長野県, Nagano-ken) is a landlocked prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region on the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Nagano. Due to the abundance of mountain ranges in this area, the land available for inhabitance is relatively limited.

1. Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun 389-2502, Nagano Prefecture +81 90-6507-7719
Excellent
67%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 637 reviews

Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort

Reviewed By daveskiss - Doreen, Australia

If you want an experience that includes something other than snow skiing this is your destination. The village dates back to the Edo Period in Japan’s past. There are lots of interesting places to eat. Being an hot Springs area there are plenty of public and private Onsens to indulge you.

2. Nakasendo Walking Trail, Tsumagojuku

Nagiso-machi, Kiso-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Excellent
65%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 338 reviews

Nakasendo Walking Trail, Tsumagojuku

This historic footpath through the Kiso Valley connects the villages of Tsumago and Magome. The partially paved trail is approximately 8 kilometers in length and passes by several historic and natural wonders.

Reviewed By Wonder80 - Los Angeles, California

Follow the guidance in Japan-guide.com to get to Magome, a lovely old postal town in the central Mountains of Japan. Then continue uphill to the Nakasendo Trail, part of the old traveler's route between Edo and Kyoto. The trail is uphill until about 1/3 of the way, then mostly downhill to Tsumago. The path along the old paving stones is difficult on the feet and ankles so good shoes must be worn but not all the trail is like that, the parts along the road (protected pathway) and sandy trails are much easier. Nearer Tsumago, the hike is along a clear forest stream and one can imagine stopping for a dip in the summertime. It took us from about 11:30 or so till 4:00 including admiring the pretty post towns of Magome and Tsumago so the Japan Guide's 2-3 hours would be for the young and fit. Once we got to Tsumago, we were already late for our train so we took a taxi to the Nagiso Station. Interestingly, we just asked around and a lady gardening just asked her husband who was sitting in the bus to change to the taxi and drive us down to the station. Took only about 10 minutes, compared to the 30 minute bus ride from Nalatsugawa to Magome. Suggest taking the 9 or 10 a.m. train from Nagoya and connect to the bus to Magome at Nakatsugawa. Then if you walk leisurely like us, take the 4:56 from Nagiso back to Nagoya to be less rushed. There is also a 3:56 if you plan to walk faster or start with the 9 a.m. train.

3. Picchio Visitor centre - Day tours

Nagakura 2148, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0194, Nagano Prefecture +81 267-46-7777
Excellent
77%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 90 reviews

Picchio Visitor centre - Day tours

Picchio, established 1992, offers fine eco-tours and nature tours such as Bird watching tour, Flying squirrel watching tour and other animal watching tours. We currently have 12 professional guide that specializes on wild animals and birds and more than 39,000 participants joined our tour in 2012.We also conserves wild animals such as Asian Black Bear since 1998.

Reviewed By ckm818 - Hong Kong, China

We visited this centre and joined the eco-tour on a winter day.
Our eco-tour guide reassured us that winter visit isn't necessarily a disadvantage. I didn't understand. Soon, we were shown animal footprints on snow path; those unique marks left by the wild life won't be visible otherwise. Amazing naturalist guide told us everything during the two-hour walk.
I am sure this is one of the best reasons for returning to Karuizawa during another season, to savour another magical walk. You should, too.

Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Excellent
66%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 204 reviews

Happoone

Reviewed By Audun007 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Happone is one of the biggest ski hill is in Hakuba and located centrally, very close to Hakuba station. Very good snow conditions and a hefty 1000 m elevation from the top station to the bottom of the hill, basically ski back to Happo center. Happone has something for all levels of skiers.,

5. Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

6845 Heion, Yamanouchi-machi, Shimotakai-gun 381-0401, Nagano Prefecture +81 269-33-4379
Excellent
64%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

Reviewed By Mel A

We went to the monkey park in Kyoto as well however this was far better! Not as steep a hike (quite pleasant actually) and beautiful scenery - Waterfalls, rocks, forest.. it wasn’t snowing when we visited so the ground was easy to walk on and wore normal sneakers. Seriously great experience!

6. Matsumoto Castle

4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto 390-0873, Nagano Prefecture +81 263-32-2902
Excellent
54%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Matsumoto Castle

Reviewed By Fuet-i-mate

Inside the castle there is an exposition but is not very interesting. I think that is too much expensive although is cheaper than Himeji Castle. There is a way to pay one ticket but two people get inside. Read about it in fuetimate

7. Senjojiki Cirque

Akaho, Komagane 399-4117, Nagano Prefecture
Excellent
60%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 218 reviews

Senjojiki Cirque

Reviewed By DarkRide - Ottawa, Ontario

What can I say...
it was just gorgeous, that is it.
Check this website in English,
http://www.chuo-alps.com/en/index.html
(Official website)
The only thing that I should mention to you is that you can't get to the bottom of the gondola with your own car. You need to leave your car at the Shinobidaira bus station and take their bus that goes on such a narrow road for 30 minutes. It's narrower than regular one-way streets. So that's why they have the system I guess. And the best is to start this from the early morning around 8:00. The summer is their busiest time!
There are so many beautiful Mountains in Nagano!!! This is one of them. If you love Mountains and climbing, you should visit here once in your life for sure.

8. 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.

9. Azumino Chihiro Art Museum

3358-24 Nishihara, Matsukawa-mura, Kitaazumi-gun 399-8501, Nagano Prefecture +81 261-62-0772
Excellent
61%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 147 reviews

Azumino Chihiro Art Museum

Reviewed By ShonWata - Singapore, Singapore

Visited this museum for the first time. I have known this museum for long time but did not have chance to visit so far. This time of visit has been a bit of dream come true experience. After spending more than an hour of quality time viewing nice piece of works and learning about Chihiro Iwasaki's life, I became even greater fan of her and her works. I guarantee that her truly a heart warming water paintings mochiefed on children will last in your heart after your visit.
Stands in very nice location at the foot of Northern Japan Alps. Visiting Azumino itself is an absolutely wonderful experience.
Reco to visit.

10. Suwa Shrine

1 Nakasu Miyayama, Suwa 392-0015, Nagano Prefecture +81 266-52-1919
Excellent
43%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 341 reviews

Suwa Shrine

Reviewed By edmundduck - Hong Kong, China

I visited many Japanese shrines. This Suwa Shrine (諏訪大社) was definitely an amazing and inspiring one comparing to others. I certainly enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere there, however I wanted to visit all 4 of them within 1 day, so it became kinda rush. Let me share my experience.
This shrine is divided into 4 parts as below,
1. 上社本宮
2. 上社前宮
3. 下社春宮
4. 下社秋宮
The 1st and 2nd one are in southern part of Suwa, and 3rd and 4th one are in northern part. They are indeed very far from each others. In Spring season, day time is still short, so if 1 day tour for all is what you need, then don't take train, get a rental car instead.
The 1st one is the most notable and the largest one, so we visited it first, and spent most of the time there. After that, visited the 2nd one. When we finished that, it should be afternoon, had a quick lunch. We spent a while to visit the shops nearby the 1st Shrine, and bought some Japanese food. Finaly, we drove and visited the 3rd and 4th one. When we finished the 4 Shrines tour, it was already sunset, that's close, but it's worthwhile!

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