Largest City


Monkey business in the Japanese mountains

World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Nagano hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1998, and the various ski resorts bear the hallmark of international public interest. The prefecture is equipped with a diverse range of accommodation, restaurants, and other facilities catering to foreign visitors while working hard to offer a distinct Japanese winter experience.

In the summer, Nagano provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Hiking, rafting, canyoning, and camping all come with a jaw-dropping backdrop.

Nagano is notable for its high-quality soba noodles, grown in the prefecture’s fertile highlands, and the less tasty tsukudani, a dish of boiled locusts that was an essential source of protein in the isolated hills before Seven-Eleven came along.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

The tranquil “Crow Castle.”

The prefectural capital of Nagano City is home to the venerated Zenko-ji temple. As one of the major landmarks of the region, the temple is home to the first Buddhist statue that was brought into the country. To get to the temple, it’s a quick ten-minute bus ride from Nagaden Nagano Station.

Discover Jigokudani Monkey Park

South of the capital city you’ll find Matsumoto, the second-largest city in the prefecture. Here you’ll be able to visit one of Japan’s most stunning original castles, Matsumoto Castle or “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior. While some castles around the country remain in ruins, Matsumoto Castle remains completely intact. Retrace samurai footsteps as you explore your way around the castle grounds and within the ancient halls.

Aside from Matsumoto Castle, the city serves as the jump-off point for exploring the vast nature of the Japanese alps. Multiple hiking trails are available to cater to varying levels of difficulty. After you’ve spent your day in the great outdoors, relax in the many open-air hot springs that border the city.

If you still have some energy to spare, take a detour at the Matsumoto Museum of Art. The museum plays host to various works by Yayoi Kusama, a world-famous Japanese contemporary artist.

Hakuba Valley

Hakuba Valley Nagano

View from Lake Happo in Hakuba.

For more nature, Hakuba Valley serves as one of the more frequented destinations in Nagano. The valley comprises nine ski resorts with over 200 runs, the most popular being Happo-one, with a season lasting from early December right until May. Shiga Kogen is Japan’s largest ski area with over 21 interconnecting resorts especially suited to beginners.

The resort attracts tourists thanks to a great choice of off-the-slope activities, including the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park where you can spot wild monkeys bathing in the hot springs. If you’re not comfortable getting in a bath with a monkey, there are a number of picturesque onsen (hot spring) resort towns in the Yamanouchi area. Nozawa is a lesser-known ski resort where you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the crowds.

Plan your trip to Nagano with the links below!


Discover Jigokudani Monkey Park

Anyone for soba or horse sashimi?


Places to visit

Zenko-ji Temple

Walk in darkness on a path to this “secret Buddha” and (maybe) find enlightenment.

Jigokudani Monkey Park

These snow monkeys know how to relax.

Mt. Yatsugatake

Yatsugatake Mountains

Hike. Onsen. Star gaze. Repeat.

Ryuoo Sora Terrace Observation Deck Kita Shiga Kogen

Ryuoo Sora Terrace Observation Deck

A heavenly view like no other.

Skiers on the Sora Terrace at Ryuoo Ski Park Kita Shiga Kogen

Kita Shiga Kogen

Witness the “sea of clouds” and hit the slopes in Nagano.

Matsumoto City

Brisk mountain air and local beers in Nagano's coolest city.

Togakushi Village

Ninja time in the mountains.

matsumoto city of art

Matsumoto City Museum of Art

Seeing spots with the world-renowned Yayoi Kusama.

Scenery of the Ueda castle


Gaze the stars from onsen and forget it all.

Mount Jonen

A brisk day hike accessible from Matsumoto.


Shhhh. Don't wake the samurai spirits.

shibu onsen

Shibu Onsen

A prelude to the hot spring monkeys.

The Northern Japan Alps

Unforgettable experiences above the tree-line in one of Japan's most picturesque mountain ranges.

Daio Wasabi Farm

A spicy taste of rural Japan.

5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Nagano

If you are going to try horse sashimi, we recommend you do it here!

Ringo-no-Yuya Obu Spa

Experience “naked friendship” at Matsumoto's favorite bath house!


A quaint stop along the Nakasendo Trail.

obuse town, nagano

Obuse Town

Never too many art galleries, or chestnuts, in this quaint town in Nagano!

Japan Ukiyo-e Museum

Perfectly preserving the past with the world’s largest private collection of woodblock prints.


With clear skies and bright blue river streams, it's one of the best hikes in Japan.

Matsumoto Castle

One of Japan’s best historic castles.

Snowshoeing Tour in Nagano

Just when you think you’ve seen all that Japan has to offer in the winter, a snowshoeing tour in the epic Japanese Alps comes along.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya City Aichi Park


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Echizen Ono Castle in Fukui, Japan.


Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui!

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture


Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Hatago Iwa Rock Ishikawa Noto Hanto


Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture


The rice is right in Niigata, where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Mountain Fuji and Shimizu City in Shizuoka, Japan.


It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.


Majestic mountains, tall dams, traditional villages and walls of snow.


Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.

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Nagoya City Aichi Park


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower


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Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.