Japan has 23 mountains as high as 3,000 meters, 15 of which are in Nagano Prefecture. There are many snow resorts all over the prefecture, and snow sports are popular as well. Many people come from home and abroad for the fine powder snow. The ski resort in Shiga Kogen highland has a stunning view. Located in Joshinetsu Kogen National Park in the northeastern part of Nagano, it is a place where you can enjoy snow sports throughout the season from the middle of November to the end of May every year.
HAKUBA VALLEY, located at the foot of the Northern Alps in Nagano, is one of Japan’s largest snow resorts, stretching over Omachi City, Hakuba-mura and Otari-mura. You will find the magnificent mountains and nice powder snow thoroughly satisfying.
Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort is one of Japan’s major snow resorts. There are as many as 44 ski slopes, and the longest course is approximately 10,000 meters long. You can ski while enjoying the beauty of natural snow you can have only in areas of heavy snowfall.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, various snow activities are popular at snow resorts. During trekking with snowshoes, you can feel the depth of snow when stepping on soft snow. The vast expanse of the snowscape is overwhelming.
At Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, the Zip-Skyride, by which you can ride down from a height of 122 meters in one go on the wire cable from the top of a ski slope, has achieved popularity. It is thrilling with a maximum speed of about 70 kilometers per hour. The 3,129-meter-long New Nagasaka Gondola, introduced in December 2020, offers a 360-degree view of the snowscape of Kitashinshu.
The Japan Ski Museum is near the Isemiya ski slope in Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort, and it exhibits valuable materials from the birth of skiing in Japan to the present. A collection of small and elaborate skiing dolls is also a must-see.
Nagano is one of the leading hot spring resort locations in Japan. Nozawa Onsen, where you can take a tour of 13 communal baths, has all-natural hot springs with a high temperature. Water is drawn from over thirty hot springs, which include Ogama, a natural monument with a 90-degree hot spring. There are also foot baths, so you can relax with a light heart while walking around the hot spring district.
Nagano has a hot spring that provides even monkeys with comfort as well. Jigokudani Wild Snow Monkey Park is at a short distance from the ski resort in Shiga Kogen highland and is ideal for sightseeing. You can see monkeys up close comfortably in a hot spring, and it is appealing especially on a cold snowy day.
Oyaki is a local dish of Nagano, which you can eat in the hot spring district and downtown. The dough for the outside is made from wheat and buckwheat, and there are a variety of fillings such as eggplant, mushroom, pumpkin and sweet bean paste as well as Nozawana, typical pickles of Shinshu. It has a simple and nostalgic taste.
Another local dish is Shinshu-soba noodles. Since the temperature difference between day and night is large and its climate is cool, Nagano is suitable for making buckwheat flour whose starch is well matured. Shinshu soba noodles made with the cool water in Nagano is smooth with a delicate taste. The rich flavor of natural soba noodles spreads in the mouth.
Photo credit: Oyaki (Fukudaya Shoten), Shinshu soba noodles (Daimon)