History / Culture / Tour Spots in Nagano Area

  • Zenkoji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Naganomotoyoshichou 491-b
    "Located in Nagano City, this temple does not belong to any sect. Any sect is free to worship here, which has received veneration for having Japan's oldest Ikko Sanson Amida Nyorai as the main deity. During the Edo period, it was said that ""once in your life, visit Zenkoji Temple,"" The ""oasaji"" is performed every day during the sunrise. If you purchase a ticket for the inner sanctum, you can worship up close. The ""zenritsu honzon"" is performed once every seven years. About 15 minutes by bus from JR Nagano Station."
  • National Treasure Matsumoto Castle
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Marunouchi 4-1
    "Matsumoto Castle is said to feature Japan's oldest surviving five-storied six-floor pagoda. It is one of the few castles designated as a National Treasure, and maintains the image of the past. The black and white contrast of the castle rising amid the Alps in the background is beautiful, and the castle has become a symbol of Matsumoto City. In addition to the castle facilities of the Sengoku period, such as the stone drops meant to rebuff invaders, or samurai windows or the gun slits, there are exhibits such as the ""Matsumoto Castle Gunhouse"" centered around matchlock guns, and artifacts unearthed during the ninomaru palace excavation performed from 1979-1984. In the precinct, you'd do well to see the black gate with eave roof tiles marked with the family crests of historical castle lords, or the taiko gate which was restored in 1999."
  • Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine) Kamisha Honmiya
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Suwashi Nakasu 1
    Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine) Kamisha Honmiya, one of the oldest shrines in the country and the head shrine of over 10,000 Suwa shrines throughout Japan, has no main building, but only a “heihaiden” and a “katahaiden,” a unique style known as the Suwa style. Many precious buildings remain, and six of them are registered as Important Cultural Properties. In olden times, people worshiped at Suwa Myojin to pray to the guardian deities of wind, water, and the harvest, as well as brave men. Nowadays, it is believed to house the deity that guards life and livelihood. It’s about five minutes from the Suwa Interchange on the Chuo Expressway.
  • Togakushi-jinja Shrine
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi
    Togakushi-jinja Shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Togakushi, Nagano City and consists of five shrines each named Okusha, Chusha, Hokosha, Kuzuryusha and Hinomikosha. It is said that the temple’s origins lie in the Iwato legend of mythology, and has been worshiped by many people as a sacred place since ancient times. The avenue of 400-year-old cedar tree which cover the approach road to Okusha have a powerful lure and this area was also used as a shooting location by commercials. There are also points on the road between the shrines with steep drops, so it is recommended to wear clothes which are easy to walk in if you plan to walk around by foot.
  • Ueda Castle Park
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Uedashi Ninomaru 6263 - a
    Ueda Castle was built by Sanada Yukimura’s father, Sanada Masayuki. By repelling the Tokugawa Army twice before, the castle became known as the impregnable castle. Today it is maintained as the Ueda Castle Park and it is famous as a cherry blossom viewing spot during the spring every year at the Ueda Castle Thousand Cherry Blossom Festival.
  • Suwa Grand Shrine Kamisha Maemiya
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Chinoshi Miyagawa 2030
    One of the shrine buildings on the grounds of Suwa Grand Shrine standing along National Route 152 in Miyagawa, Chino City. Suwa Grand Shrine is the head shrine of all Suwa Shrines in the country. The area where this shrine building is located is believed to be the location where the god worshipped by these shrines, Suwa Daimyojin, first took up residence, and as such can be considered the origin point of the Suwa faith.
  • Suwa Grand Shrine Shimosha Akimiya
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Suwagunshimosuwamachi 5828
    A Shinto shrine located in Shimosuwa Town, Suwa County, Nagano Prefecture. The Akimiya is one of six shrines which comprise Suwa Grand Shrine, the head shrine of some 25 thousand Suwa shrines located across the country. Worshipped for providing abundant harvests and granting bravery since ancient times, in recent times the shrine has also come to be worshipped for protecting life and livelihood. The Kagura-den hall, with an eye-catching giant rope hanging in front, and the two-storied Heihai-den (worship and offering hall) are designated Important Cultural Properties. Other shrine highlights include the Neiri no Sugi, an 800-year old Japanese cedar tree. The shrine is famous for the Ombashira Festival held every seven years, as well as the Boat Festival (Ofune Matsuri) held on August 1.
  • Narai-juku (post town)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Shiojirishi Narai
    Long ago, the Nakasendo was an important highway connecting Edo and Kyoto, and many travelers stopped at the post town of Narai-juku before or after crossing the Torii Pass following this route. The post town once prospered due to the many people moving along the highway, and the town was even described as “Narai Sen-ken” (1,000 buildings of Narai). Narai was quite large, and divided into three districts—uptown, midtown, and downtown, and today the townscape remains mostly unchanged from its heyday. In 1978, the post town was designated an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings.
  • Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine) Shimosha Harumiya
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Suwagunshimosuwamachi 193
    Suwa Taisha, one of the highest-ranked Ichinomiya shrines of the old Shinano Province, is said to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan and is the main shrine of the various Suwa shrines throughout the country. The granite torii gates at the entrance are said to have been built in 1659, evidence of its long history. The lower shrine holds various ceremonies, including “Senzasai” ceremonies which are said to have an influence on the Years of the Tiger and Monkey as well as biannual “Harumiya” and “Akimiya” ceremonies. It’s about 15 minutes from the Okaya Interchange on the Nagano Expressway.
  • Togakushi Shrine Okusha (Main Shrine)
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi Okusha
    Togakushi Shrine is the general name given to five shrines scattered around the foot of the sacred Mt. Togakushi in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture: Okusha, Chusha, Hokosha, Kuzuryusha, and Hinomikosha. The Okusha is in a spot located around a two-kilometer walk along a 2.5-kilometer roadway from Chusha. The enshrined deity is Amanotajikarao-no-Mikoto. Passing under the Zuishinmon gate along the shrine road, one will come upon a line of Japanese cedar trees 400 years old which makes for a mystical backdrop as you proceed down the road. It is the main shrine of Togakushi Shrine, and a spot where a great many people come to pray for better fortune, fulfillment of their heart’s desires, good harvests and sports victories.
  • Utsukushi-ga-Hara Open-Air Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Uedashi Takeshikamihoniri 2085-70
    An outdoor sculpture museum located on the Utsukushigahara Highlands in Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture which displays some 350 modern art sculptures on a meadow 2,000 meters above sea level. Dotted with pieces by such famed domestic and international artists as César Baldaccini, Alexander Liberman, Izumi Ando, and Masuo Ikeda, the museum’s meadow is truly a stunning sight. The museum is also surrounded by magnificent mountains, and lovely mountain plants bloom from spring to fall. The museum is open from late April to mid-November.
  • Kozenji Temple
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Komaganeshi Akaho 29
    Kozenji Temple contains ten halls and is widely revered as the dwelling place of many deities of the South Shinshu region. It was established in 860 by Honjo Shonin and was mainly built to worship Acala, the God of Fire. The temple is undergoing renovations and maintenance until 2020, so some pathways have been changed. Make sure to confirm in advance. It’s about 10 minutes by car from the Komagane Interchange on the Chuo Expressway.
  • Matsushiro Castle Ruins
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Matsushiromachi Matsushiro 44
    These castle ruins are located in Nagano City. The castle was constructed as the base for the Takeda side during the Battles of Kawanakajima between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. It is a natural fortress that uses the Chikuma River as a moat. In addition, Sanada became the ruler in the Edo period (1603-1868), and it developed into the castle town of Sanada Jumangoku. Destroyed in the Meiji period (1868-1912), only the stone walls of the buildings remained, but now the gate and earthworks are maintained.
  • the Fukushima Sekisho-ato
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Kisogunkisomachi Fukushima Seki, Mie 4748-1
    Fukushima Sekisho was a checking station on the Nakasendo which was one of the four largest checking stations in Japan along with the Hakone checking station on Tokaido. During the Edo period, the policy of “Weapons in, Women out” was severely controlled. The checking station, of which gate and fortress have been restored to their original state, turned into a historical park, and a checking station museum has been established displaying such things as materials and arms related to peoples passage through the checking station.
  • Nakamura Residence
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Shiojirishi Narai 311
    The wood manufacturing industries such as comb manufacturing and lacquerware flourished in Narai-juku during the Edo period. The “Nakamura Residence”, which was the residence of Nakamura Rihei who ran a comb wholesalers in Narai-juku is a typical Narai-juku merchant’s style building with the feature of the second floor slightly jutting out (overhanging beam structure). It has been registered as a Tangible Cultural Property of Shiojiri City, and the residence is open to the public as a museum.
  • Matsumoto City Museum of Art
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Chuou 4-2-22
    This is a private art museum in the center of Matsumoto City. The museum houses a collection of pieces by artists connected to Matsumoto City such as world-famous avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama, calligrapher Shinzan Kamijo, and lifelong Shinshu (Nagano) natural vista painter Kazuo Tamura. Special exhibitions and exhibitions of works submitted by the general public are held at the museum several times each year. A 12-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station.
  • 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.
  • Matsumoto City Court and Historical Village
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Shimadachi 2196-1
    Focusing on the theme of the modernization of Shinshu (Nagano), the Matsumoto City Historic Village contains a collection of precious buildings from the early Edo period through the Showa period. The Former Matsumoto Branch Court of Nagano District Court, a Prefectural Treasure, is a courthouse built in 1908 and is designed in the modern Japanese architectural style representative of the Meiji period. Visitors can also see a variety of other structures in the museum, such as Former Silk Mill of Showa Manufacturing Company and the Birth Home of Naoe Kinoshita.
  • Rokuzan Art Museum
    Leisure / Hobbies
    Nagano Pref. Aduminoshi Hotaka 5095-1
    This facility was opened in 1958 with the goal of preserving the works of Rokuzan Ogiwara, nicknamed the “Rodin of the East.” In addition to his masterpiece carvings such as “Woman” and “Despair,” the museum also displays the works of Kotaro Takamura, who was deeply connected to Rokuzan. The impressive building, covered in ivy and church-like in appearance, is beloved as a symbol of the Azumino region. A 10-minute walk from JR Hotaka Station.
  • Hokusai-kan
    Travel / Tourism
    Nagano Pref. Kamitakaigunobusemachi Obuse 485
    This museum was built to commemorate famed artist Katsushika Hokusai, who stayed in Obuse several times from the age of 83 and left several works behind there. The museum displays hanging scrolls and hand-painted pictures by Hokusai as well as videos which present the history of the artist. The main exhibition room contains two festival floats whose ceilings were painted with Hokusai's Surging Waves and Dragon and Chinese Phoenix. A 12-minute walk from Obuse Station.

Nagano Areas

around-area-map

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.

Nagano Photo Album

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