Top 25 things to do in Nagano

Nagano, the home to one of Japan’s most beautiful mountain areas, Kamikochi, is also the home of one of Japan’s most famous temples, the Zenko-Ji Temple.  What makes these temple so special is that they exist in perfect harmony with the nature surrounding them. Nagano itself is also well known for it’s beautiful natural scenery. Many places like the Shiraito Falls, Shinsho Venus Line, Shirahone Onsen, and many other places in Nagano proof just how beautiful the natural scenery is in Nagano. Here is a list of top 30 things to do in Nagano, enjoy!

Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street
Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street
There are various shops lining the street including shops specializing in the traditional handicraft of Karuizawa carvings, and cafés. Karuizawa French Bakery, visited by John Lennon who loved Karuizawa, is also a very popular store.
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Jigokudani Monkey Park
Jigokudani Monkey Park
Wild Japanese macaque monkeys searching for warmth soak in an “onsen” in a valley covered with deep snow. The park is popular as many people from around the world visit after seeing the famous pictures of the monkeys sitting in the hot springs.
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Togakushi Shrine
Togakushi Shrine
The shrine complex consists of the main shrine of Oku-sha at the foot of Mt. Togakushi and then up on the mountain is Kuzuryu-sha, Chu-sha, Hinomiko-sha and Hoko-sha, making a total of 5 shrines. Togakushi Shrine is famous as one of Japan’s foremost power spots.
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Zenko-ji Temple
Zenko-ji Temple
Zenko-ji Temple has not belonged to any sect from the time of its construction. Thus, believers of all beliefs are welcomed. The temple is especially famous for its Gokaicho ceremony, held every 7 years, in which the replica of a hidden Buddha is shown to the public.
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Shibu Onsen
Shibu Onsen
All of the hot springs in the town are drawn 100% straight from the source springs. Enjoy a stroll through the town or experience the “Kyu-to Meguri” which is a tour of the 9 outdoor baths. The retro atmosphere and the rich variety of qualities of the hot springs is delightful. Nearby there is Jigokudani Yaen-Koen (Monkey Park).
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Shaw Memorial Church
Shaw Memorial Church
Shaw Memorial Church is Karuizawa’s oldest church built by priest A.C. Shaw who is called the father of Karuizawa. Located in back of Karuizawa Ginza Street, you can get a sense of the history of the area, developed through an exchange with Western culture.
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Kumoba Pond
Kumoba Pond
The scenery of the four seasons is beautifully reflected on the pond surface. The reflection of the fresh leaves of spring and the autumn maple leaves look amazing, so this is a famous spot in Karuizawa that you should not miss.
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Manpei Hotel
Manpei Hotel
A pioneer Western style hotel situated in the resort area of Karuizawa. The Manpei Hotel has been recognized by people of importance all around the world as a hotel of elegance. You can see its history in the Oriental style interior.
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Shinshu Venus Line
Shinshu Venus Line
Extending from Chino City to the Utsukushigahara Highlands, this is a route which goes through popular resorts such as plateaus, lakes and marshes. While thoroughly enjoying Mother Nature, you can also appreciate the works at the art museums in the area.
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Old Mikasa Hotel
Old Mikasa Hotel
This traditional and elegant hotel was designated as an Important Cultural Asset and turned into a museum. The surrounding resort area is the oldest in Karuizawa, where you can experience the relaxing sensation of a high class summer resort.
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Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto Castle, a National Treasure, has a castle tower that has existed since the 16th century. You can see the many defenses that have been devised against enemies for this castle built upon a plain.
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Shirahone Onsen
Shirahone Onsen
Shirahone Onsen is a hot spring town which is filled with a rustic beauty surrounded by deep forest and the Yukawa Valley. There are 10 springs in the town, and its charm lies in the enjoyment of the subtly different qualities of the waters at each inn.
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Ueda Castle
Ueda Castle
Ueda Castle which became famous for its impregnable defenses is now established as a castle ruins park and has become a tourist destination for Ueda City as a famed site for century-old Japanese zelkova trees and 1000 cherry trees.
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Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza
Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza
A huge outlet mall in Karuizawa popular as a resort area as well as a ski resort. It boasts a wide range of name brand shops and stores geared toward families.
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Nozawa Onsen
Nozawa Onsen
Earning 2 stars on the Michelin Green Guide Japon, many types of hot springs can be enjoyed along with outdoor baths, foot baths and facilities for day trips.
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Daio Wasabi Farm
Daio Wasabi Farm
A huge wasabi farm which covers an area 11 times the size of Tokyo Dome. With the landscape of Azumino in the background, you can take a stroll through the farm and view areas such as the water mill that was used in a Kurosawa film for free.
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Kappabashi Bridge
Kappabashi Bridge
A place of scenic beauty that is symbolic of Kamikochi. There is a wonderful view from the bridge which has an informative visitor center, and the bridge itself is also the venue for the ceremony commemorating the opening of the area.
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Senjojiki Curl
Senjojiki Curl
A superb view at an altitude of 2600m reached by Japan’s first mountain ropeway. The dynamic 25m waterfall made from snowmelt and the seasonal flowers and trees on the highland are well worth seeing.
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Taisho Pond
Taisho Pond
Taisho Pond has a beautiful surface which reflects the Hotaka Mountains, and with surrounding scenery symbolizing Kamikochi such as standing dead trees and the morning haze, it has an attractive walking course on which you can fully appreciate nature.
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Kamikochi
Kamikochi
Walking through the area while viewing the precipitous 3000m mountains is a popular activity. Along with scenic spots such as Kappabashi Bridge and Taisho Pond, the 1500m mountain resort is also a place where you can encounter wild monkeys.
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Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls is located on the Shiraito Highland Way which is beautiful no matter what the season. This waterfall which stands at 3m and has a width of 70m has underground water flowing from its rock face to draw out soft curves that leave quite an impression.
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Myojin Pond
Myojin Pond
Myojin Pond is a gourd-shaped pond consisting of a larger pond and a smaller pond. While the landscape can naturally be enjoyed, there is also the rear shrine of Hotaka Shrine on the shore which is also popular as a power spot.
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Tsumago-juku
Tsumago-juku
Tsumago-juku was the 42nd post town on the Nakasendo, one of the 5 main routes during the Edo Era. In the townscape that has splendidly preserved and recreated the appearance of life back in those days, you can enjoy elegant buildings and many kinds of events.
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Miharashidai
Miharashidai
Miharashidai is an observation point from the Usuitoge Pass which was also written about in the Man'yōshū, Japan’s oldest collection of Japanese poetry. The landscape that can be viewed from Miharushidai such as Mt. Asama, Mt. Myogi and the Kanto Plain in the distance hasn’t changed since ancient times.
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Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
In addition to a display of the works by artists with a connection to Matsumoto City, there are also 4 special exhibitions held every year. The world-famous Matsumoto-born artist Yayoi Kusama also has a permanent exhibition of her works here.
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