Top things to do

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 Mall in Karuizawa

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Outside the south exit of JR Karuizawa Station, this gargantuan outlet shopping mall has most of the big names. There's a high likelihood of finding bargains and hard-to-find or only-in-Japan merchandise. Shopaholic…
Top Choice Fusion in Nagano

Fujiya Gohonjin

Until recently this imposing 1923 building was Nagano's most venerable Hotel Fujiya, and had been since 1648. It has since been transformed into the city's most elegant Western restaurant and function centre. The sp…
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 Mt Togakushi. According to legend, the mountain is where …
Cultural in Nozawa Onsen

Dōsojin Matsuri

Each year on 15 January crowds gather for the famous Dōsojin Matsuri, a kind of cleansing ritual for men aged 25 and 42, the so-called 'unlucky ages' in Japan. The 42-year-olds' task is to defend a purpose-built two…
Park in Karuizawa

Mt Asama Magma Stone Park

Here's your chance to get up close and personal with Mt Asama – 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, h…
Diner in Karuizawa

Roast Chicken Kastanie

For something a little uncommon in Japan, pop into this original diner for succulent and tender roast chicken dinners, roast vegetables, sausage platters and all manner of Western treats, presented with Japanese att…
Viewpoint in Karuizawa

Usui Pass Lookout

On the border of Gunma and Nagano Prefectures, about 4km northeast of Old Karuizawa, you'll find this observation platform with stunning views of Mt Asama and surrounding mountains. There's no public transport – for…
Gallery in Obuse

Hokusai Museum

Japan's most famous ukiyo-e (woodblock) artist, Hokusai, spent his final years in Obuse. Over 30 of his works are exhibited in this gallery, which recently reopened after extensive renovations. It's a 10-minute well…
Fusion in Karuizawa

Kawakami-an

This is a wonderful place to sample a wide variety of Japanese and Western dishes, including an excellent large serve of tempura soba (¥1940) or, for something different, avocado and Camembert salad (¥790). Or just …