Remote Nagano, Nagano Prefecture Japan Published on: 01-04-2016

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Nagano Prefecture (長野県) is a wonderful place to visit for its regal mountains, rich cultural history, fine architecture and cuisine.

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Why Nagano is special ?

Nagano is an inland prefecture situated in the central part of Honshu that spreads across the Central Highland, also known as the Roof of Japan. Because it is situated between the Kanto and Kansai regions, it developed while being influenced by the cultures of both eastern and western Japan.

In the forested mountains northwest of the city center lies the Togakushi area which attracts tourists with its popular shrines and as the legendary home of the Togakure Ninja School. The Togakushi Ninpo Museum and the Kids Ninja Village provide good entertainment and a glimpse of the area's ninja past.


What to explore at Nagano?

In the central part of the prefecture are mountains connected to three volcanic mountains, Mt. Nasu-yama, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Norikura-dake, and the 3,000-meter-class Japan Alps Mountains to the west. Nagano has both a high and steep mountain region, as well as a more moderate stretch of highlands. In summer it becomes a flower paradise with blooming alpine plants of various kinds. The natural beauty there is both grand and fragile. In the winter, ski resorts open in various locations throughout the prefecture, attracting many skiers.

The line of tourists visiting Nagano does not seem to end throughout the year. They visit scenic spots like Joshinestu Kogen National Park, which has Mt. Asama-yama and Mt. Yokote-yama, Minami Alps National Park, and Chubu Sangaku National Park. They also visit Karuizawa, which is one of the most famous summer resorts in Japan, and Zenko-ji Temple in Nagano City, the city which hosted the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, as well as the cities of Ueda and Matsumoto, which prospered as castle towns. Famous hot springs include the Nozawa-onsen and Shibu-onsen, known for the monkeys that are often seen bathing in the rock baths at Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park.


How to get to Nagano?

By train

Tokyo and Nagano are connected with each other by the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The one way trip takes 80-100 minutes, costs about 8000 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass. There are multiple trains per hour.

By bus

Multiple bus companies operate frequent daytime highway buses between Tokyo and Nagano Station. The one way trip takes about 3.5 hours. Conventional bus companies charge about 4000 yen while fares by discount bus operators, such as Willer Express start around 2000 yen one way.

Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.


The city's transport hub is Nagano Station, which is served by all trains in the region, including the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, other JR trains, Shinano Railway and the Nagano Electric Railway (Nagaden) which runs from its underground station next to JR Nagano Station to Yamanouchi. Nagano Station is also at the center of a bus network that provides connections to Zenkoji Temple and the former olympic facilities.

The Togakushi area with its shrines and ninja related attractions is located about an hour by bus in the forested mountains northwest of the city center. The area's attractions are spread across several kilometers, and good walkers can use hiking trails to walk in between them.

Rental cars are a good option to cover more of the city in less time. Most companies have outlets around Nagano Station.


Selling points

  • The 'Roof of Japan'
  • Regal mountains
  • Fine architecture
  • Great cuisine
  • Beautiful landscapes
9 day self-drive trip in Tokyo for family with kids

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9.0 days
1,379.63 USD
Total travel distance
Number of places
28 places




Nagano, Nagano Prefecture Japan

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Tips for you

  • Nagano has a wide variety of places to stay with many in the area of Nagano Station.
  • Nakamise dori inside the grounds of Zenkoji has a number of souvenir shops and local soba noodle restaurants. There's a selection of bars and izakaya also on Chuo dori.
  • Nagano's big summer festival, held on the first Saturday in August.
  • Nagano's best festivals include the Tomyo Festival in February when Zenkoji is illuminated in five different colored lights symbolizing the Olympic rings.
  • Nagano is a popular destination for indoor and outdoor sports enthusiasts.
    Things to do
  • It's also a key launching point for trips to onsen and ski resorts in the nearby mountains, which are often referred to as "the Japanese Alps".
    Things to do

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