Featured Destinations Nagano (Shinshu)

Nagano (Shinshu)

Shinshu is the traditional name for Nagano Prefecture. Located in central Honshu—the primary island of Japan—Shinshu flourished in ancient times as a cultural crossroads between Eastern and Western Japan. With the easy access from Tokyo and the fame the 1998 Winter Olympics brought to Nagano, Shinshu is today a popular tourist draw for people from both within and outside Japan. Bordered on the west by the Japanese Alps, a range of 3,000-meter class mountains, Shinshu provides excellent opportunities for such activities as skiing at Hakuba and hiking in Kamikochi (the Upper Highlands) as well as beautiful mountain views and other natural scenery. To the east lie towns filled with historical buildings and sites, including such treasures as Zenkoji Temple (near Nagano Station) and Matsumoto Castle (near Matsumoto Station). For food, one of the great delights to be found here is Shinshu soba, noodles made from local buckwheat grown with the pure water and natural goodness of Shinshu.
Although Shinshu has many tourist attractions considered prominent in Japan, there are many other attractions virtually unknown except to local residents. What treasures await you in Shinshu?


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Recommended Sights

Zenkoji Temple, Symbol of NaganoZenkoji Temple, Symbol of Nagano

Zenkoji Temple, Symbol of Nagano

Nagano's symbol Zenkoji Temple has drawn a large number of people of any belief since ancient times. Today, some six million people visit the temple per year. In Nagano City, which flourished with Zenkoji as its center, travelers can see historical buildings worth visiting.
Located next to Zenkoji Temple are famous soba shops. And don't forget to buy an oyaki, a special food made in Shinshu.
(Take the Zenkoji Temple bus from JR Nagano Station, approx. 15 minutes. Get off at Zenkoji Temple Daimon.)

Matsumoto Castle, a National TreasureMatsumoto Castle, a National Treasure

Matsumoto Castle, a National Treasure

With 400 years of history, Matsumoto Castle is a National Treasure that every traveler should see. Once inside the keep, look out to the beauty of the Northern Alps. Matsumoto has an abundance of spring water. Spring water and wells can be found throughout the town. Pick up a copy of the Guide to Shinshu's Natural Water Features to appreciate the natural springs and wells around Shinshu.
(Take the North Course on the Town Sneaker Bus from JR Nagano Station. Get off at Matsumoto Castle/City Hall.)

The snow monkey is a popular Shinshu attractionThe snow monkey is a popular Shinshu attraction

Snow Monkeys, Popular the World Over

"Snow monkeys" (Japanese macaques) are an attraction everyone should see. This is the only location in the world where wild monkeys bathe in the open air. This tour is a marvelous opportunity to observe snow monkeys in their natural habitat.
(Take the bus from Yudanaka Station on Nagano Dentetsu Line, 30 minutes on foot. Get off at Kambayashi Hot Spring.)

The Kappa Bridge in Kamikochi with the Japanese Alps in the backgroundThe Kappa Bridge in Kamikochi with the Japanese Alps in the background

Kamikochi - the Most Breathtaking Alpine Wilderness in Japan

Surrounded by mountains over 3,000 meters in altitude, Kamikochi is the ground base for mountain climbing in the Japanese Alps. The best thing about this tour is the powerful impact that the mountains make at such short range. Even if you don't know the first thing about mountaineering, you can enjoy hiking all around Taisho Pond and Kappa Bridge. With clean air and beautiful natural scenery, Kamikochi is a place where both mind and body can relax.
(Take the bus from JR Matsumoto Station, approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes. Get off at Kamikochi. Alternatively, take Matsumoto Electric Railway from JR Matsumoto Station and get off at Shin-shimashima Station. Then take the bus, approx. 1 hour, 10 minutes. Get off at Kamikochi.)

Karuizawa Prince Shopping PlazaKaruizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Located in front of Karuizawa Station's south exit, this mall features a wide variety of stores from luxury designer boutiques to reasonably-priced outlets. For skiing and snowboarding you can visit the easily accessible Prince Snow Resort just one minute by shuttle bus from Karuizawa Station. You can also enjoy other sporting activities in the area such as golf, horseback riding, tennis, and more, while surrounded by picturesque scenery.
(5 minutes on foot from Karuizawa Station)

Hakuba Alps Flower FestivalHakuba Alps Flower Festival

Hakuba Alps Flower Festival

Visit the foot of Mt. Hakuba, covered in flowers. Enjoy the beautiful wild grasses, alpine plants and flowers of the alps.

Mt. Kirigamine (Nikkokisuge and Japanese Azalea)Mt. Kirigamine (Nikkokisuge and Japanese Azalea)

Mt. Kirigamine (Nikkokisuge and Japanese Azalea)

Enjoy seasonal alpine plants such as Japanese azalea and nikkokisuge. On clear days you can take in an amazing view of Mt. Fuji, the alps and the Yatsugatake Mountain Range.

Lake SuwaLake Suwa

Lake Suwa

This lake is in the Suwa Basin in the center of Nagano Prefecture and can be easily accessed from the metropolitan area via the Chuo Line. The lake is about 17 km in circumference and surrounded by gently rolling plateaus, an ancient hot spring and the famous Suwa Taisha shrine where the Onbashira festival is held every seven years.

Recommended Joyful Trains



This train was created around the idea of a typical Japanese village to bring comfort and relaxation to everyone who boards.
Service interval: Nagano to Tokamachi Stations

Resort View FurusatoResort View Furusato

Resort View Furusato

Along the line enjoy the panorama from Obasute Station on the Shinonoi Line, counted as having one of the three greatest train views in Japan, and the wonderful views of the mountains, the fields and the lake of Azumino.
Service interval: Shinonoi Line, Oito Line



Created around the concept of "the train nearest the heavens," this train provides service on the Koumi Line, including Nobeyama Station, at some of the highest altitudes of any JR line. Enjoy panoramic views of the mountainous terrain, including Mount Yatsugatake and other beautiful features of the area.

Nagano (Shinshu) at a Glance





An economical bus excursion ticket for Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa!

An economical bus excursion ticket for Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa!

The wide area connecting Kanazawa, Gokayama, Shirakawa-go, Takayama and Matsumoto embraces some of Japan’s greatest tourist attractions, such as Kenroku-en Garden, villages of thatched “Gassho-zukuri” farmhouses (World Cultural Heritage sites), quaint streets of Hida Takayama, and Matsumoto Castle (a National Treasure) – all highlighted with three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan, hence earning the nickname “Mitsuboshi Kaidou” or Three-Star Road. Why not explore the Three-Star Road and Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, another three-star attraction, using the convenient Hokuriku Shinkansen superexpress (serving between Tōkyō and Kanazawa) and the Three-Star Route Option Ticket?

Nagano Prefecture Unlimited-ride Excursion Ticket 「NAGANO PASS」

Nagano Prefecture Unlimited-ride Excursion Ticket

Introducing a 5-day unlimited-ride pass from Nagano’s 4 private railways!
Plus, this pass grants you special offers, discounts, gifts, and more atnd tourist attractions and other facilities along the included lines.
Use the NAGANO PASS to get great deals when you travel around Nagano!

Adult 5,000 yen (ages 12+)/Child 2,500 yen (ages 6 - 11) ※Ages 5 and under are free.

※Available only for holders of one of these passes:JR EAST PASS (Nagano/Niigata area),Hokuriku Arch Pass,JR TOKYO Wide Pass