What to See in Nagano: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

What to See in Nagano: A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Introduction to Nagano

Welcome to Nagano, a captivating city located in the heart of Japan's Chubu region. Nagano is famous for its rich history, breathtaking natural beauty, and cultural heritage. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the fascinating Japanese culture, Nagano has something for everyone.

1. Zenkoji Temple

No visit to Nagano would be complete without a trip to Zenkoji Temple, one of the most important and revered Buddhist temples in Japan. Take a walk through the serene temple grounds, witness the stunning architecture, and experience the spiritual atmosphere that permeates the area.

2. Matsumoto Castle

Marvel at the impressive Matsumoto Castle, also known as the "Crow Castle," with its distinctive black exterior. Explore the various levels of this historic fortress, admire the panoramic views from the top, and learn about the samurai era that shaped Japan's history.

3. Jigokudani Monkey Park

Make your way to Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you can observe the famous snow monkeys as they relax in the natural hot springs. This unique experience allows you to witness the playful interactions and daily routines of these adorable primates in their natural habitat.

4. Kamikochi

Embark on a journey to Kamikochi, a picturesque valley within the Northern Japan Alps. Take in the breathtaking mountain scenery, pristine rivers, and enchanting forests. Hike along the well-maintained trails, and be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks, including the iconic Hotaka Mountains.

5. Togakushi Shrine

Visit Togakushi Shrine, a sacred Shinto shrine nestled in the tranquil forests of Nagano. Explore the five separate shrines and wander along the sacred pathways that lead to each one. Togakushi Shrine also offers beautiful hiking trails and stunning views of Nagano's natural landscape.

6. Nagano City Museum

Delve into Nagano's history and cultural heritage by visiting the Nagano City Museum. Discover ancient artifacts, traditional crafts, and artworks that showcase the city's captivating past. Gain a deeper understanding of Nagano's significance in Japan's historical context.

7. Onsen Experience

No trip to Nagano would be complete without indulging in a traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring) experience. Unwind and rejuvenate your body and mind in one of the many hot springs scattered throughout the region. Choose from a range of settings, including outdoor baths with stunning mountain views or intimate indoor baths.

8. Local Cuisine

Don't forget to treat your taste buds to Nagano's delicious local cuisine. Savor the region's renowned soba noodles, known for their smooth texture and delicate flavors. Enjoy authentic Japanese dishes made with fresh local ingredients, such as Shinshu beef, apples, and various mountain vegetables.

9. Nagano Olympic Stadium

For sports enthusiasts, the Nagano Olympic Stadium is a must-see. This iconic stadium hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998 and provides a glimpse into Japan's sporting history. Explore the stadium, witness the preserved Olympic facilities, and learn about the events that took place during this monumental event.

10. Narai-juku

Step back in time as you visit Narai-juku, a well-preserved post town along the Nakasendo Trail. Stroll through the narrow streets lined with traditional wooden buildings, old merchant houses, and quaint shops. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of this Edo-period town and imagine what life was like centuries ago.


Nagano's charm and diverse attractions make it an ideal destination for travelers seeking both natural beauty and cultural experiences. From ancient temples and majestic castles to stunning natural landmarks and delicious cuisine, Nagano offers a wealth of activities and experiences. Take your time to explore and immerse yourself in the wonders of this captivating city.