More photos of Nagano
Nestled at the heart of the Japanese Alps, the city of Nagano (pop. 385,000) is famous around the world for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics. The surrounding country of the Nagano prefecture is renowned for apples, hot springs, hiking and skiing. Nagano is a good base to sample all of them.
Like the town of Narita, life in Nagano revolves around one temple, the Zenkō-ji, bringing all by itself millions of visitors from all over Japan. The temple's treasure house is one of Japan's top attractions outside the Greater Tokyo and the Kansai region.
Central Nagano Zenkō-ji Temple, sites of the 1998 Winter Olympics and other attractions.
North & East of Nagano Hokusai Museum in Obuse, Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani, Yudanaka Onsen, and ski slopes in Shiga Highlands.
How to get there
Most direct trains to Nagano leave either from Tokyo or Nagoya. The Japanese government has financed the extension of a shinkasen line from Tokyo to Nagano for the 1998 Olympics. Therefore the fastest way to Nagano usually transits through Tokyo. The journey from Tokyo station or Ueno station takes about 1 hour 45 minutes and cost approxiately ￥7,500. If you leave from Shinjuku or Ikebukuro station, you will need to change at Oomiya. Trains to/from Nagoya take approximately 3 hours (￥6,600). There are also direct connections from Matsumoto (1 hour 20 minutes, ￥1,100).
The cheapest way to access Nagano is by bus. Nagaden Bus operates from Tokyo Ikebukuro station (￥4,000 one-way, ￥7,200 return) six times a day. Kawanakajima Bus connects Nagano to Tokyo Shinjuku station (4 hours, same price as Nagaden) with departures every hour. They also have highway buses between Nagano and Kamikochi (2 hours 45 minutes, ￥2,800 one-way), Nagoya (4 hours 30 minutes, ￥4,500), Kyōto (6 hours, ￥6,700) or Osaka (7 hours, ￥6,700).
Map of attractions in Nagano