Nagano Region attractions

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Nagano

Zenkō-ji

Founded in the 7th century, National Treasure Zenkō-ji is home to the revered statue Ikkō-Sanzon, said to be the first Buddhist image to arrive in Japan (AD 552). Not even 37 generations of emperors have seen the im…
Top Choice Shinto Shrine in Togakushi

Togakushi-jinja

Comprising three sub-shrines, Togakushi-Hōkōsha, Togakushi-Chūsha and Togakushi-Okusha, each a few kilometres apart, Togakushi-jinja honours the 1911m-high Togakushi-san. According to legend, the mountain is where s…
Top Choice Gallery in Obuse

Hokusai Museum

Japan's most famous ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist, Hokusai, spent his final years in Obuse. There's an audiovisual presentation on his life in the theatre, and his '36 Views of Fuji' plus other works are exhibite…
Park in Karuizawa

Asama-yama Magma Stone Park

Here's your chance to get up close and personal with Asama-yama – so close, you could almost touch it. Formed in 1783 by Asama's last violent eruption, this 'Hurled by Demons' park has a surreal landscape of jagged,…
Gallery in Karuizawa

'Umi' Museum of Contemporary Art

This light-filled gallery showcases an impressive collection of contemporary work by Japanese artists who have found fame abroad in genres such as oil painting, 3D art and sculpture. It's in a lovely forested spot b…
Wildlife Reserve in Nagano Region

Jigokudani Monkey Park

Pleasant in winter when shrouded in snow but less appealing when seasonally bare, Jigokudani Monkey Park is wildly popular. Made famous by the 1992 film Baraka, where wild monkeys appear to bathe in natural onsen po…
Viewpoint in Karuizawa

Usui Pass Lookout

On the border of Gunma and Nagano Prefectures, about 4km east of Karuizawa on Rte 18, you'll find the Usui Pass, historically an important point on the Nakasendō, one of the two routes of the Edo period that linked …
Shinto Shrine in Togakushi

Togakushi-Okusha

From Okusha bus stop it's 2km (40 minutes' walk) to Okusha (meaning 'Upper Shrine') – the innermost of the three sub-shrines making up Togakushi-jinja – via a magnificent 500m-long cedar-lined path (­杉並木; suginamiki…
Museum in Togakushi

Togakushi Folk Museum & Ninja House

Above the Okusha bus stop you'll find this museum housing artefacts from a time when local yamabushi (mountain monks) practised what became known as ninpo (the art of stealth). The Ninja House is the most fun, cleve…
Buddhist Temple in Bessho Onsen

Kitamuki Kannon

The grounds of this Tendai temple have some impressive ancient trees and sweeping valley views. The temple's name comes from the fact that this Kannon image faces north, a counterpart to the south-facing image at Ze…