A treasure trove of nature with 3000m-high mountains whose name became known to the world with the hosting of the 1998 Olympics

Area Characteristics

Known by its other name of Shinshu, it is the 4th –largest prefecture with an area of 13,562km2(5,236mile2) which makes it larger than the 163rd-ranked nation of Vanuatu(12,189km2=4,706mile2). The 1998 Winter Olympics were held in Nagano Prefecture which brought it international fame. The 3000m-high range consists of 15 mountains representing the Japan Alps which make up two-thirds of the mountains in its class nationally.

Major Sites

Filled with winter sports, at Nozawa Onsen and Hakuba, you can go skiing by day and then soak in a hot spring at night. The Jigokudani Monkey Park which has onsen visited by Japanese macaques is forever visited by foreign tourists. Tourist spots that are also famous in Nagano Prefecture include the scenic area of Kamikochi, shopping in Karuizawa, Matsumoto Castle which has Japan’s oldest surviving keep and Zenko-ji Temple.



The one famous product of Nagano is soba. Nozawana greens are famous as pickles on the soba but eating it with tempura is the local tradition. Also, there are other regional dishes such as oyaki dumplings, romen noodles, horsemeat sashimi, and tempura manju buns.



To reach the northern area of Nagano Prefecture where Nozawa Onsen, Zenko-ji Temple, Jigokudani Monkey Park and other sites are located, the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Bullet Train) takes 1 hour and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station while a trip to Karuizawa takes 10 minutes less. The special express Azusa train takes around 3 hours to reach Matsumoto which is close to Kamikochi, Hakuba and Matsumoto Castle. Renting a car is good to move about a wide area in the prefecture, but there is also a tour bus which goes to the major stations in Nagano and Matsumoto Cities.



There are also plenty of accommodation facilities. Naturally, the Shinkansen and express buses stop at Nagano and Matsumoto stations but there are also stops in the south at Iida and Komagane, and then there are Kamikochi and Karuizawa, followed by Hakuba, Azumino and Nozawa Onsen in the north. Around these tourist spots, there are numerous accommodations with a wide variety of hotels, ryokan and pensions.