Museum / Science Museum Spots in Nagano Area

  • Postal Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Kisogunnagisomachi Aduma 2197-5
    This historical museum is located in Nagiso Town, Kiso County, Nagano Prefecture, and adjoins the Tsumago Post Office, which is still in use today. Tsumago Post Office was featured in Toson Shimazaki’s “Before the Dawn,” and was restored under the guidance of the current Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in fiscal year 1978. It has Japan’s only black mail box modeled after that in use when the post office first opened. Inside you can find Japan’s first stamp, the actual marks used before the current postal mark, correspondence from Toson Shimazaki’s older brother and niece, and other items for a total of approximately 270 articles being stored and exhibited.
  • Japan Ukiyo-e Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Shimadachi New cut 2206-1
    The Sakai collection, as it is called, started with the woodblock prints of sixth-generation Yoshiaki Heisuke Sakai. It was the10th-generation Fujiyoshi Sakai who took the works spanning a period of 200 years and established the Japan Ukiyo-e Museum in 1982 in order to share the precious collection, which includes handwritten works and woodblock-printed books, with the rest of the world. It is the largest collection of 19th-century woodblock prints in the world. It’s a minute by car from the Matsumoto Interchange on the Nagano Expressway.
  • Matsumoto Timepiece Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Chuou 1-21-15
    This museum displays a wide range of timepieces centering on a collection donated by antique timepiece researcher Chikazo Honda. The museum has a policy of displaying each timepiece in its collection (which contains more than 1,000 items) in working condition whenever possible. The museum also exhibits a number of phonographs, which have a deep connection to the history of timepieces. The museum is notable for the massive pendulum clock, one of Japan's largest, which is built into the front of the building. The museum is a 10-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
  • Japanese Light Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Kamitakaigunobusemachi Obuse 973
    This museum, focusing on Japanese lights and lighting, is located in the center of Obuse Town. Centering around the Kitashinano and Surrounding Area Lamp—Masami Kanebako Lamp Collection, a nationally designated Important Cultural Property, the museum displays a variety of works and crafts connected with lamps, lights, and lighting. The museum also offers a candle-making workshop (advance reservation required).
  • Shinshu Shinmachi Fossil Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Nagano-shi Shinshushinmachi Kamijo 88-3
  • Obsidian Experience Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Chiisagata-gun Nagawa Machi Daimon 3670-3
    This activity-oriented museum is located in the Hoshikuso Pass, a National Historic Site located on the northeastern tip of the Kirigamine Highlands in Nagano Prefecture. The obsidian found in the Hoshikuso Pass was formed in a volcanic eruption some 870 thousand years ago; easy to shape, its edges when broken or napped are extremely sharp, and there are several large Stone Age and Jomon period archeological sites in the area. The museum is located at the foot of a historic obsidian mine. Via actual stone tools, animated videos, and models, visitors can learn about life in the Stone Age. The museum also opens up actual obsidian mining sites in the area for visitors to view. In addition, visitors can choose from a variety of activities such as making stone tools and traditional magatama stone comma-shaped jewels.
  • Ina City Takatomachi History Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Ina-shi Takatomachi Higashitakatoo 457
    A museum in Higashi Takato, Takato-machi, Ina City. In addition to Takato Castle and its castle town, the museum exhibits items on the history, culture, and folklore of the region from primitive times to the present day. In addition to precious items designated as municipal Cultural Assets and a model replica of Takato Castle, there's also a replica of the Ejima Kakomi-yashiki residence where during the reign of the 6th Tokugawa Shogun Ienobu, a high-ranking woman known as Ejima, lived out her days due to the Ejima-Ikuushima Affair.
  • Oshika Median Tectonic Line Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shimoina-gun Oshikamura Okawara 988
    This museum has exhibits on the Median Tectonic Line. It's the largest fault line in Japan running along the western half of the Japanese archipelago from Kanto to Kyushu. It's almost directly below Mt. Akaishi and the main peaks of the southern Alps near Shizuoka's prefectural border. Though it runs overland for 1,000 kilometers, this is one of the rare portions where you can observe a fault outcrop and other unique geological features. The curator will take the time to explain in detail everything from the creation of the Japanese islands to the geology of earthquakes.
  • Togariishi Museum of Jomon Archaeology
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Chino-shi Toyohira 4734-132
    This museum is located inside the Togaishi Ruins, a historic site and park which is considered one of the best examples of Jomon culture sites found at the foot of the Yatsugatake Mountains. The museum displays around 2,000 artefacts created by the Jomon people, who flourished here 5,000 years ago. The area at the foot of the Yatsugatake Mountains is the location of one of the largest caches of obsidian, a material used to make stone tools, in Japan, and it is believed the Jomon people flourished here due to the forests which grew here and provided broadleaf tree seeds as well as ample deer, wild boar, and river fish hunting. The museum's Jomon Venus, a deformed depiction of a pregnant woman; and Masked Goddess statue are valuable cultural properties which have been designated National Treasures.
  • Matsumoto City Shiga Fossil Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Matsumoto-shi Nanaarashi 85-1
    "When local elementary school students discovered part of a whale fossil in 1986, a large excavation was conducted. They uncovered the ""Shiga Sperm Whale,"" now the museum's main exhibit. Located in northern Matsumoto City, this region is known as a prefectural treasure trove of marine mammal fossils (whales and pinnipeds). It was only the second complete fossil sperm whale skeleton ever excavated along the Pacific Rim, as well as the world's oldest. Fossils of shellfish, fish, and plants are also on display."
  • Shimosuwa Konjakukan Oideya, Watch and Clock Museum Gishodo
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Suwa-gun Shimosuwamachi 3289
    "A 10-minute walk from Shimosuwa Station on the JR Chuo Main Line. Shimosuwa is known as the birthplace of the modern clock in Japan, and ""Shimosuwa Konjakukan Oideya"" is a museum where you can learn about how clocks work. The courtyard has the world's first fully restored and operational water-powered astronomical clock tower. They also have an experiential program where you can assemble a mechanical watch under the guidance of a nationally qualified technician. You can take the completed watch home with you the same day. You can also learn about the local culture and obsidian during the Jomon period at the adjacent ""Hoshigato Museum Yanoneya""."
  • Suwa City Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Suwa-shi Nakasu Jinguji 171-2
    "A museum with the theme of ""Time, Nature, and Faith"" in the Suwa area, known for the septennial Onbashira Festival and Lake Suwa's Omiwatari phenomenon. It showcases the background and distinguishing features of Suwa's special beilef through video and displays of cultural properties. The special exhibition room displays about 2,000 specimens of butterflies from around the globe. There is also an illustrated encyclopedia published by a British zoologist on birdwing butterflies. There are few like it in the world. The red installation in front of the museum represents the shrine's torii gate and the pillars of the Onbashira Festival. They face the sacred mountain nearby."
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Kitasaku-gun Miyotamachi Maseguchi 1901-1
    "This museum is part of the Ecole Miyota cultural complex. Its themes cover the Jomon period between 15,000 and 2,500 years ago, as well as Mt. Asama, a symbol of Nagano. There are 13 sub-themes and displays include pit dwellings and hunting tools. More than 100 of the items are National Important Cultural Properties. There are plentiful workshops that take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour making Jomon pottery, building fires, and making comma-shaped magatama beads and ""Jomon coasters."""
  • Azumino Tensan Center
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Azumino Hotaka Ariake 3618-24
    A museum located in Azumino City which introduces the history of the cultivation of the Japanese oak silkmoth. Thread made using the cocoons of the moths is produced similar to that of regular silk, but the resulting fabric is lighter and softer, and possesses a distinctive color and luster. Inside, visitors can learn about the history of Japanese oak silkmoths and their ecology. In the adjoining studio, visitors can watch as textiles are woven from the moths' cocoons. The museum's shop sells Japanese oak silkmoth silks and accessories. In addition, visitors can also see actual Japanese oak silkmoths being raised in an open breeding house on the grounds.
  • Azumino Municipal Toyoshina Folk Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Azumino Toyoshina 4289-8
    A folk museum which introduces the history of Toyoshina, Azumino City. A painting depicting Azumino as seen from the south is displayed in the entranceway. Next to that, there are exhibits containing trace fossils of shrimp and crabs, which indicate this area was once ocean. In the museum's standing exhibition space, everything from daily life in the area to seasonal events is portrayed in great detail, presenting the area's way of life. There's also an activity corner with a water play area. In addition, the museum regularly holds special exhibitions and events, and the facility plays a role in passing on the area's culture.
  • Shiojiri Tanka Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shiojiri-shi Hirokaharashinden 288-1
    "A museum operating out of a fascinating old Japanese residence built in 1868 which was dismantled and moved to this site. Located in the center of the city a five-minute drive south of the Shiojiri-kita Interchange on the Nagano Expressway, the museum displays personal belongings and documents belonging to tanka poets connected to Shiojiri. The museum's collection notably primarily consists of letters, hanging scrolls, and poetry anthologies, and the facility focuses on ""poets"" over ""individuals."" The museum also invites celebrated poets to participate in high level tanka poetry classes, and is also used as an event space in order to promote interest in tanka poetry."
  • Shiojiri City Hiraide Historical Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shiojiri-shi Soga 1011-3
    A museum situated along the scenic Shinonome no Michi road a 10-minute drive from the Shiojiri Interchange on the Nagano Expressway. Hiraide is the location of the Hiraide ruins, one of Japan's three largest archeological sites, and this museum primarily displays around 20 thousand pottery and stone tools excavated at the site dating to between the Jomon period and the Heian period. Some of the objects on display are extremely valuable and rare, such as the Prefectural Treasure-designated Shibamiya Dotaku bell; and the Shobusawa Gato spire, Japan's largest at 232 centimeters tall. The museum also holds events which enable participants to experience what life was like for Japan's ancient peoples, such as fire starting, pottery making, and magatama comma-shaped stone jewel making classes. The museum has designed the events to enable children to experience the wonders of ancient times, as well.
  • Shiojiri City Museum of Natural History
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shiojiri-shi Shiojirimachi 1090
    A seven-minute taxi ride from Shiojiri Station on the JR Chuo Main Line. A fun and educational destination for adults and children alike, this museum has a variety of exhibits on the natural world, animals, and insects, and also hold special seasonal exhibitions. The museum's nature watching events, held throughout the year, enable participants to see seasonal plants and animals in the wild, including the wilderness of Kamikochi and waterfowl on the Saigawa Swan Lake. The museum holds five special exhibitions a year as well as plant painting exhibitions, insect specimen exhibitions, and a variety of events. The museum shop's cardboard 3D insect puzzles are particularly popular.
  • Kiso Lacquerware Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shiojiri-shi Kisohirasawa 2324-150
    A 10-minute walk from Kiso-Hirasawa Station on the JR Chuo Main Line. This museum was remodeled and reopened in June 2001. The museum collects and displays 3,729 designed National Important Tangible Folk Cultural Properties, examples of Kiso lacquerware and the tools used to create this craft, and items created by artisans designated Living National Treasures and Living Prefectural Treasures. Particularly eye-catching are the lacquerware face washing basins and the vessels and boxes used to transport food as part of high etiquette from the middle ages to the early modern period. The museum also holds events in which visitors can try lacquering, decorate chopsticks, or watch as a master creates lacquerware.
  • Niekawa Sekisho
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Shiojiri-shi Niekawa 1568-1
    A five-minute walk from Niekawa Station on the JR Chuo Main Line. Standing at the northern entrance to the section of the Nakasendo Road known as the Kisoji road, this ancient checkpoint barrier was built as a substation of the Fukushima Sekisho, considered one of the three most important checkpoint barriers in Japan. Before it was demolished in the early Meiji period, the barrier was used as a guardhouse to monitor the comings and goings of people and property on the Nakasendo Road, and to control the movement of runaway wives and shipments of unfinished lumber. The barrier was rebuilt on land owned by JR based on a large number of documents; even the layout and plot size have been faithfully recreated. Inside, visitors can view exhibits on the barrier as well as pottery and stone tools dating to the Jomon period discovered as part of archeological excavations in the Kiso area.

Nagano Areas


Nagano prefecture is an exciting mix of mountains, hot spring monkeys, and preserved Edo history. At the heart of the Japanese Alps, Nagano is one of the country's most popular destinations, whether in winter for its snow sports and the much-loved Jigokudani Monkey Park or in the warmer months for discovering the undulating hills on foot. For fantastic Edo architecture, head to the Kiso Valley for a 60-kilometer stretch of quaint wooden buildings that marked the Nakasendo route 200 years ago.

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