Nagano Sightseeing & Attractions
Our top picks of things to see and do
Aside from skiing and snow boarding, Nagano has plenty of sight seeing to including temples, shrines, museums, onsens (hot springs) and don’t forget, the monkeys!
The venerable Zenkoji Temple was built over 1400 years ago and remains the most important temple to the Buddhist religion. In the inner sanctum of the Temple, well hidden away from the public lies the first Buddha statue ever brought to Japan.
The temple starts off with the massive Niomon Gate, which is then followed by a long approach to the main hall and courtyard. Along the approach you can find vendors selling snacks and memorabilia.
To the rear of the main hall there is a four story pagoda which conatins the Zenkoji History Museum.
Motoyoshichō-491 Nagano Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken, Japan
Nestled away high in the Japanese Alps in Mount Togakushi is a network of five ancient shrines of which the deities are part of the Creation of Japan Myth. A winding trail over several kilometers through the Togakushi Forest Reserve will take you to said shrines. On the way you’ll have the opportunity for two side trips at the Kids Ninja Village and Togakure Ninpo Museum (Ninja Museum)
To get to the lower shrine where your journey begins it will require an hour trip from Nagano via bus, for a fair of around 1200 yen (one way).
3506 Togakushi Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken, Japan
If you’re in the neighborhood of the Togakushi Shrine, take a stroll on down to the Ninpo Museum for some good old fashion ninja fun! The museum features the Togakure School of Ninpo, a ninja group that has existed for over 800 years in this region. The museum has many rare photographs of ninja training, as well as an impressive weapons selection. You can even go to a shuriken (ninja stars) throwing range!
3688-12, Togakushi, Nagano City
Although it is classified as a town, Yamanouchi is a rather large region, covering 265 square kilometers. The town is home to a variety of hot spots including ski resort Shiga Kogen, Shibu Onsen, Yudanaka Onsen and last but not least the Jigokudani Monkey Park, a man made hot spring where the local monkeys call hang out and get gawked at by crowds of visitors. The park is open all year around and there is a 500 yen fee.
And no you can’t touch or feed the monkeys; shucks!
Matsumoto is Nagano Prefecture’s second largest city and lies about thirty miles south west of Nagano city. The gem and only real reason to visit Matsumoto is for its grand four hundred year old castle, being one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most photographed castles in Japan.