Nagano - Japan Travel Guide - Japanspecialist


Ski, nature and ninjas.

About Nagano
Nagano is a mountain town north of Tokyo. The area is most famous as a ski resort and host city at the 1998 Winter Olympics. The city has a long history and many exciting and beautiful sights.

Mountain shrines and ninjas
The city emerged in the 600s as a temple town around Zenkoji, still one of the most important temples in Japan. The main street from Nagano Station to the temple is filled with nice shops, especially the food stalls selling local specialities. Here you will also find some of the country's best sake, as the pure mineral water from the surrounding mountains makes the rice wine extra delicious. Nagano has also long been a producer of wine from grapes, which at first was completely undrinkable. However, the wine has recently won several awards for the best wine, as the area receives both the important frost in winter and the many hours of sunshine in summer. To the northwest of the city lies wooded mountains that house Togakushi Jinja, a three-part sanctuary in the middle of nature. One reaches the shrine by wandering through towering cedar trees. You can also take a bus some way to avoid the long walk - the top sanctuary is 4km uphill from the lower one! Along one of the paths towards the upper shrine lies Kagamiike, the "Mirror Pond", which reflects the beautiful mountain landscape. Also located at the highest shrine is the Ninpo Museum ninja museum, and at the middle shrine is Kids' Ninja Village, a ninja-themed theme park.

Other attractions in Nagano
About one hour’s drive away is the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where wild snow monkeys bathe in hot springs. The nearby Hakuba Valley is one of Japan's coolest ski areas with something for every level and interest. This is where many of the skiing disciplines at the 1998 Winter Olympics took place.

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